Nov 14, 2017

Opt In

Jamie Mittelman T'19By Jamie Mittelman T’19

I’m lying on wooden oars, surrounded by snoring classmates who I met 12 hours ago, our boat gently rocking up and down. I’ve counted three shooting stars, my belly is full with the tacos my classmates made, and my arms dangle by my sides, sore from rowing—there was not much wind today. I had made fast friends with the two other ladies on sailboat Llama. As our instructor mentioned, holding up sarongs to give each other “privacy” while relieving ourselves has a tendency to bring you together quickly. It’s night one of Outward Bound, one of Tuck’s pre-orientation programs.

Flash forward three weeks to the first day of school and Section 3 has the Analysis for General Managers course. We’re role playing a CEO on her first day; the company is under duress, countless employees approach with questions, and issues— both urgent and non-urgent—pop up. What do you do first and why? What are your priorities and how do your actions dictate how others will treat you as a boss and fellow employee? 

Section 3 is now sitting in the Leading Individuals and Teams course, assuming the managerial role of a firm’s top performer, Rob. Rob is leading our organization in sales, but he doesn’t fit in culturally. We had promised Rob a promotion when we had personally recruited him, but given the strong animosity directed towards him from throughout the organization, don’t know if a promotion is appropriate. How did we get in this situation and how could we have been better leaders?

It’s now 9:30 p.m. and two girlfriends and I are sitting on my dorm room floor drinking a bottle of wine, toasting each other’s successes from the week: we had survived our first cold calls, gotten to know our study groups a bit better, made time for a yoga class or two, and even managed to log eight hours of sleep a night. Our plastic wine-filled Outward Bound mugs clink as we cheers.

Fall A was a whirlwind of intense learning and growth. Tuck’s core curriculum of Analysis for General Managers, Managerial Economics, Statistics, and Leading Individuals and Teams lay a foundation of business skills I look forward to building on throughout my two years at Tuck. As someone with a background in corporate social responsibility and nonprofit management, Fall A courses pushed me to think in new ways. While historically I would have identified trends more qualitatively, Statistics gave me the ability to quantitatively explain patterns with confidence intervals. Managerial Economics taught me about how different business conditions such as the competitive nature of industries impact product prices and quantities.

This said, while the courses of Fall B will continue to arm me with the hard skills I need to succeed in the business world, many of my greatest learnings have originated outside the classroom from simply being with my classmates. Tuck is an incredible academic institution, but what makes Tuck Tuck is the people who opt to be here. You don’t enroll at Tuck so you can intern part-time in the big city of Hanover, because you have a large established friend group that happens to be living in the Upper Valley, or because you’re drawn to the consistent warm climate of the Northeast. Tuckies opt in because we want to be a part of this community and as a result, students are actively engaged in all aspects of Tuck life.

When I went on Outward Bound or was on my dorm floor, I was surrounded by individuals who were fully present, classmates who were and continue to bring their full selves to every activity. Last year when applying, I was struck by the following question on the Tuck  website: “Are you ready to become part of something bigger than you?” Growing up I’d always been a community-oriented, people-first yes-woman. Want to try something new? I’m in. Ready to meet new people? Let’s host a party where we can only invite people we don’t know. That said, prior to Tuck, I had never been a part of such a large community where everyone fully wanted to be there, where every individual opted in and pushed each other to be the best versions of themselves they could be. Every day, I am humbled by how smart, creative, and just downright awesome my classmates are. To be blunt yes, I am excited about all the future courses I will have the opportunity to take, but I am even more psyched that I get to learn from my classmates, going on whatever adventure we choose to opt into next. 

If you’re a prospective student, I challenge you to opt in too.

Jamie Mittelman T'19 is in the Tuck Center For Digital Strategies MBA Associates Program. She hails from Dover, MA and has a BA in international studies from Middlebury College.