With just a few weeks left before I step back into my “real life," I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on my past two years at Tuck. My hope is that my takeaways will speak to you and be useful during your own Tuck experience and beyond.
4 Things I’m Glad I Did at Tuck
Try as many things as possible. Well, some more than the others.
Say, "Yes!" Say, "Tell me more!" Say," I am in!" You will surprise yourself by what you learn about others and yourself. Can you make the Hockey A team? It's pretty hard. Could you become social chair or run Frosty Jester? Hard to say. Either way, you should still play tripod and run for student board. You will discover more opportunities to get involved every day, and that may get exhausting at times. (Never has there been a time in my life when I’ve been such an effective napper.)
99 percent commitment is not enough for the things you really want to do.
After your first year, you will find the things you are truly passionate about at school, if not before. Whether that is helping with an admissions interview, becoming a fellow to one of the centers, participating in the Deanery Fellows project, leading a fun trek, running TuckGives, or helping out with Dis-Orientation, do it with your absolute passion. These are the things you will be remembered for at Tuck.
Pay it forward
Just do it, wholeheartedly. At the end of the day, that is what the Tuck fabric is all about. You're in it from the moment you decided to apply. It is impossible to describe the feeling when you see your classmates and the first-years doing well at the things they care about. It's almost an honor to be part of their journey. Looking back, you will get from Tuck as much as you put into Tuck.
Get to know Tuck faculty.
I doubt there are any business school faculty out there who are more approachable than Tuck faculty. Beyond the classroom and office hours, you can go biking, walk dogs, travel, drink wine, and cook food with them. You will visit their homes, meet their partners, children, and pets. You can talk about anything in life with them. All of them have amazing life stories. Make your teachers your friends and learn from them, but maybe start by doing well in their classes.
3 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before Tuck
Assume unconditional excellence.
When you are overwhelmed in Fall A and feel lost among the 286 new faces, the one thing to remind yourself is that you and your classmates are in this together. When you feel unsure of yourself, especially in a social setting, here are a few scenarios that are most likely happening: A: You are simply overthinking. B: You are probably unconsciously judging yourself and projecting it into your environment. C: Your classmates are feeling exactly the same!
Being at Tuck is like sitting on a gemstone mine, where you will find rare stones of all kinds: diamonds, rubies, emeralds, sapphires, and many more. However, the responsibility to recognize your stone/my stone relies on you.
Mindfully prioritize, and more importantly, communicate.
Like it or not, admit it or not, time is the most scarce resource at bschool. You may not think so at first, but time will fly by and before you know it, you’ll be counting your last days on campus. At any given time, there will be multiple events going on and things for you to choose to participate in. Therefore it’s crucial to prepare yourself for what to say yes to and what to say no to. More importantly, make peace with your decision.
When people talk about recruiting, social, and academics, don't just settle on "I am prioritizing recruiting over academics." What does recruiting mean to you, really? Does it mean to get your dream job, or to try something completely different? If it comes down to it, what is your tradeoff between? Is it function, industry, people, and location? How much effort are you willing to put in? Similarly, what does social and academic mean to you? Do you want to make many friends or focus on building fewer but deeper relationships? Do you want to graduate as a Tuck Scholar or simply explore as many different aspects of academics as possible, say perhaps undergraduate drama classes at Dartmouth?
They are not at odds at all times, but sometimes they unfortunately are. Not all your decisions affect others, but they very likely will, as you are certain to be on group projects at all times. My study group stormed in Fall term, but we got back together after Winter term. I wish I could have gone back in time and gathered all the courage to share my fears with them, instead of waiting until my Tuck Talk. Again, I can't stress enough the importance of talking to your teammates early and often, as they will be your sounding board. And vice versa, ask your teammates often and early what you can do to better support them!
Do stress, but don’t stress out.
We want everything ideally to happen all at the right time. That’s just not very likely. Stress visited me over and over again. Not until recently did I realize it was more due to personal insecurity that I am short of the gap between my expectation and reality. I leveraged my stress as my motivator half of the time at most, but for the other half, stress got the upper hand, especially at the very deep end of recruiting. Long story short, a 10-hour trip that only got me to the door of my first interview liberated me, as I was simply exhausted beyond what I could handle.
Another life-long challenge that I am working on, and I encourage others to work on as well: if you can't help but comparing, do it only with yourself to see how much you have grown—not with others. When you are actually stressed, treat it as a big shiny light bulb shedding generous light upon areas for you to stretch and grow in order to be a better version of yourself.
At the end of the day, before you leave Tuck, consider what you want your reputation to be among your classmates, the class before and after, school administration, and faculty. Think about what you want to be known for and affect others with your passion. I am jealous that you are embarking on this amazing journey. Have a lot of fun!
See Emma hosting a small group dinner below!
Emma is a recent alumna of the 2017 class. She is originally from Beijing. Previously, she worked in consulting for SMS Management Consulting and Deutsche Bank in Hong Kong. Post MBA, she is joining McKinsey’s Chicago office as a consultant.
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