Adjusting to the New Normal


Since I last wrote about Kick Off Week in Chicago, I have been adjusting to the “new normal”. No, I’m not referring to a new era of low interest rates, but to the crazy life in which me and my fellow students combine the most academically rigorous MBA programme in the world with doing well at work, not getting dumped by family and friends, staying healthy and sane, showing concern for the wider world and finding time to sleep. I have always been told that something would have to give and have been experimenting with various alterations.

My first cunning plan was to study microeconomics before work, when my brain was still fresh and my inbox quiet. However, once your colleagues and clients find out you are up early, it means that your work day simply starts earlier (my tip: if you study before work, guard this filthy secret your life). After several failures of the first initiative, I decided to try studying after work, but quickly realised that work events, client dinners and my aforementioned friend and family responsibilities make that impossible too. This now means that I am saving my geekiness for the weekends, which is very very hard during a London heatwave. The lack of sleep and constantly being pulled in different directions shows that this degree is not simply about the academics and the networking - a big part of it is learning how to thrive under extreme pressure and not be taken away by the men in the white coats.

Maybe he was just stressed about his Micro mid-term?

I believe the university does understand this, which is part of the reason they show us brilliant successful graduates of the programme. For example, a month ago, David Booth came to the London campus and talked about how his MBA led him to start his fund, which eventually led to a $300 million gift to the University of Chicago. I eagerly sat in the front row, buzzing on caffeine while one of my classmates was taking an involuntary nap in the audience. The overarching point is that “the new normal” means that lazy Sunday mornings with breakfast in bed are a distant dream.

David Booth in conversation with Prof John P. Gould in London

Another theme I have noticed from my own experience and from conversations with my classmates is the intense questioning of one’s career choices. So many avenues have opened up at once that it is difficult to remain satisfied with the status quo. Of course, none of us are putting ourselves through this challenging experience to stay in one place, but I did not expect this evolution to start so quickly. One of the students from the year above told me that this is typical and that his employer is getting more and more nervous the closer he gets to graduation. They expressed their nervousness with a good bonus, which seems a positive way to express their concerns! (Employers please note: I’ll also accept your money if you feel uneasy.)

After three measly weeks of adjustment and hurried studies, we had another study week in London! This involved a lot of caffeine, the discovery that we are all irrational and working out how much soup you would trade for bread. All this will be in my next post. Time for me to study.

Sophia Matveeva EXP-21