Over the holiday break I read books. Just for fun and unrelated to school (or so I thought). I really started to feel like a second year!
My book of choice was Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, by Susan Cain. How does this relate to business school, you ask? In addition to the chapter where she interviews students about surviving business school, it helped me understand myself a little bit better as someone who falls in the middle of the introversion/extroversion scale. More importantly, it helped me understand some of my classmates who are on the opposite ends of the scale.
One of Cain’s salient points is that our American culture rewards extroversion. This can apply in business school where grades may depend on class participation and every night contains an option to socialize. At Columbia, I feel myself occasionally overwhelmed by options and look forward to a night at home on my couch with an episode (or six) of Downton Abbey. At times likes these I wonder how some of my classmates not only don’t seem drained, but are energized by night after night of endless revelry. I wondered if I was missing the point of business school.
Then I thought about FOMO, the fear of missing out, which is present in every business school student I know. I thought about how each person handles it very differently. For me, the fear is often outweighed by the need to recharge, so I will choose to decline social outings occasionally. However, this behavior might seem bizarre to my most extroverted classmates. But I can promise you that both introverts and extroverts thrive in business school. The key (and in my opinion, the key to getting into business school in the first place) is to know yourself and be yourself. Reading Susan Cain’s book can’t hurt either.