Here’s A Solid Plan For Preparing To Come Back To School — It Worked For Me

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By Makura Compton, MBA ‘19

There’s no single “right” way to approach returning to school full-time after getting used to life as a working-professional.

But, I think it’s important that this transition is something you spend time thinking about. I think the wrong way to approach the transition is to not give it any thought prior to getting to campus and to expect that everything will work out just fine.

For me, business school has been an environment characterized by a heightened level of ambiguity and uncertainty. For the first time in years I didn’t have a clearly defined job title or job description—so how was I to know what to do with myself?!? There’s no manager to check in with for performance feedback or direction—so how would I know if I’m on a path to “success”?!? And there’s enough school work, social activity, and professional opportunity to literally keep me busy forever—so how can I figure out where to spend my time?!?

These are all important questions that have an impact on your success at Ross.

So, if you’re starting an MBA program or transitioning to business school soon, I wanted to share my strategy for navigating the transition in hopes that you can come away from this blog with at least one approach to managing your transition from career to campus.

Set Goals In Three Categories

My preparation began with a lot of deep reflection and journaling during my summer before school about what I wanted to accomplish in my first year at Ross.

I broke my goals down into 3 categories to help organize my thoughts—Career, Academic, and Social. I then ordered them by personal priority (your prioritization may differ from mine).

Under each category, I brainstormed an exhaustive list of goals/accomplishments that ranged in specificity from “Strengthen my analytical skills” to “Take on a student leadership role within the Tauber Institute”.

My final steps were prioritizing my goals/accomplishments within each category and listing action items for achieving any goals that required extra leg work. In all, the exercise took me a few weeks as I revisited the Ross website searching for the right opportunities to help me achieve my goals.

Here’s an example of what the Career section of this might look like when you start the process:

CAREER

 

Goal

Priority

Action Items

1

Find the right Operations career path for me

High

Attend corporate presentations in diverse set of industries to learn about the different options

Regularly attend Operations FACT group meetings

Conduct at least 1 informational interview per week with either an alum or MBA 2

2

Sharpen networking and interviewing skills for recruiting

High

Commit to at least 2 live mock interviews for each of my top 3 companies

Hone my “circle of death” skills by practicing and implementing best practices from MBA 2s

Develop a good framework for following up after interviews/networking events by getting advice from CDO and MBA 2s

3

Optimize LinkedIn profile for job search

Medium

Document key accomplishments and professional stories throughout the year for easier recall and updating

 

Then, just do this two more times — once each for your academic goals and your social goals.

I even created a template you can use to start this process for yourself - check it out and if you want to use it, feel free to make a copy and get to work.

Get the Template

If pre-made spreadsheets aren’t your jam, you can easily just start jotting down your thoughts in a notebook or sketchpad.

The true value of this exercise was that it gave me a clear, personal definition for success that kept me grounded throughout the school year. It helped me maintain my focus on my own lane rather than falling into the trap of comparing my accomplishments to others’. But I guess the most important measure for this process is how helpful it was in facilitating my achievement of the goals that I listed to begin with.

Wouldn’t it be the perfect ending if I could tell you that I achieved every single goal that I put on my list…But as you’ll soon discover, the typical MBA journey is fraught with ups and downs.

Fortunately, I set the bar high and I’m proud to say I did achieve most of my goals. Some of the highlights include being elected incoming President of the Tauber Institute for Global Operations Student Advisory Board, working in artificial intelligence at Microsoft for MAP, becoming a Ross Student Ambassador, and successfully completing the Sanger Legacy Lab which took my “zen” to an entirely new level by equipping me with a life purpose statement and renewed sense of clarity about my core values (don’t knock it ‘til you try it).

This summer, I’m looking forward to hitting refresh and going through a similar process in preparation for my second year.

Even if you decide that this exact process isn’t for you, I hope that you can find something that helps keep you grounded and makes your transition as seamless as possible.

Just be sure you leave a little wiggle-room in your plans for all of the new opportunities that Ross has on the horizon!

Go Blue!

Connect with Michigan Ross        

Makura Compton
MBA '19


ABOUT MAKURA

​What are you up to this summer?

This summer I am interning at Cummins in 3D printing strategy and implementation.

Tell us about your campus involvement

I am the incoming President of the Tauber Institute for Global Operations Student Advisory Board and member of the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management.

Anything we can help you with?

My wife is also a rising MBA 2 at Ross and we're thinking about getting a dog before our MBA careers end. We've got our eyes on a Morkie and welcome any suggestions on the best places to get one!


Learn more about the Michigan Ross Full-Time MBA Program

Get a copy of Makura's Goal Spreadsheet