Jul 24, 2017

Ready for an MBA? Here’s My Advice

By Laura Shen T'17

I grew up in New Hampshire and I am pretty sure I was that rebellious 18-year-old who said they would never be back. Well … I came back eight years later … by choice to attend Tuck. These past two years at Tuck have been transformational—both from a professional and personal perspective. I have learned from professors, classmates, and visiting executives. I have explored the world—hiked the mountains of Nepal while completing an FYPGO (Global First-Year Project), sailed the Italian coast in an MBA regatta, bungeed in New Zealand, and led a group of 26 students on a GIX (Global Insight Expedition) to Myanmar and Singapore. I have taken risks, failed, and been supported by the community here at Tuck. For those ready to embark on an MBA and time at Tuck, here’s my advice. 

Immerse yourself.

I chose Tuck because of its location. Not only did I enjoy the outdoors but I also felt that being in a remote area created a stronger sense of community. In a city, I thought I would revert to old friendships and fail to embrace the full-time MBA experience to the fullest. At Tuck, there is no escaping one another. You’re together in the dorms, classes, study groups, and dining hall. You get a fully immersive experience—and that’s what I wanted. If I was going to invest the resources and time into getting a MBA, I wanted to take full advantage to really get to know my classmates and professors.

Canoe on the water at Tuck School of Business

Fall A: Skipped out early on a weekday recruiting event to rent canoes from the Ledyard Canoe Club and overnight on an island. Back in time for 8:30 a.m. Managerial Economics.

Tuck students during Fall A

Enjoying Fall A Tuck traditions.


Be intentional.

On our first day of orientation, Dean Matthew Slaughter told us we had 651 days left of our MBA and encouraged us to be intentional and make sure we spend our figurative “dollar” wisely. I was pretty sure that my first tuition bill was more than $651 dollars, but the idea resonated with me. Each day, I kept a list of how I spent my “dollar.” What was the highlight? What did I do that was meaningful? Looking back at that list, my accomplishments ranged from scoring my first goal in Tripod hockey, to performing at Diwali, to cracking a case, to learning how to shingle while helping a classmate build a cabin in the White Mountains, to delivering my final speech in Communicating with Presence.

One of my regrets from during my undergrad experience was not utilizing professors, so at Tuck I wanted to take full advantage of the faculty resources. I worked with Professor Paul Argenti to organize a first-time GIX (Global Insight Expedition) to Singapore and Myanmar examining the development trajectories of two former British colonies. I also assisted him on a project with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. I had the pleasure of completing an independent study under the guidance of Professor John Lynch and Dean Slaughter on Amazon’s culture and had the opportunity to travel to Amazon’s Seattle headquarters and interview 10+ senior executives.

Know what you want out of Tuck. I remember one of the admissions questions was “What are your short- and long-term goals?” Once you are accepted, take time to really reflect on what those questions mean for yourself (not in the eyes of the Admissions officers). Set goals for your MBA experience. Create a bucket list. Make the most of each day.

Photo collage - student experience at Tuck

From top left to bottom right: Finally winning a tripod hockey championship, learning life skills like how to use an industrial nail gun, making sure to read The Goal from Annapurna Base Camp in Nepal, representing Tuck at the MBA Rolex Regatta & Conference in Portofino, Italy.


Take risks.

Don’t be afraid to fail. Tuck provides you the opportunity and resources to try new things. Tuck was the time to push myself outside my comfort zone.

I came to Tuck to pursue consulting—a traditional post-MBA career path. However, I also wanted to use this time to be entrepreneurial and explore the intersection of international development and technology based on my prior experience at the World Bank and Clinton Global Initiative. I self-sourced a First-Year Project with an organization that used drones for humanitarian relief and convinced four other classmates to join the project. It didn’t necessarily go as planned. When we arrived in Nepal for a week-long workshop during spring break, plans fell through. The organization wasn’t able to secure the necessary permits from the government and the event had been cancelled. We had to create a plan B and salvage the trip in order to deliver value for the client and for our First-Year Project. Coming back to campus, I was terrified that the Tuck staff would be upset that the trip didn’t go as planned. However, I was surprised by their calm reaction. Maybe I have been too Type A my entire life, but this experience taught me how to deal with situations that you can’t plan for, recover, and pivot as needed.

Tuck students on a flight with Tuck veteran pilot

The perks of having classmates who were pilots in the military prior to Tuck. Sightseeing tours of the Upper Valley from the air.

Tuck MBA alumna Lauren Shen T'17 bungee jumping

Taking the leap of faith—bungee jumping outside Queenstown, New Zealand.


Stay true to yourself.

It’s easy to get swept away in group think. Remember that each person’s MBA journey is unique. Learn to prioritize what is important to you—whether that is school work, clubs and activities, family, friends, recruiting, entrepreneurial ventures, hiking, or coffee chats (or a late-night drink at Murphy’s) with classmates. These two years are a time for self-reflection and self-realization.  

Best of luck,


Tuck Investiture 2017

Tuck Alumnae celebrate at the 2017 Investiture ceremony.