While most of the Columbia Business School community will be starting the spring semester this week, the newest members of the Class of 2014 actually began two weeks ago -- during J-term (January term) orientation. J-termers begin their time at Columbia one semester later than those who start in August. They then go to school through the summer and subsequently graduate with their fall counterparts (the August-entry class). As a proud member of J-term, I can attest that this is a great option for people who want the full MBA experience within in a condensed timeframe.
This experience begins with orientation. It is the first opportunity to meet fellow classmates, get exposed to academic and professional opportunities, and to learn about the school’s culture – all fit in to a busy, but rewarding five days. During this week, I worked as a Peer Advisor (PA). PA’s are a group of current Columbia Business School (CBS) students from diverse backgrounds who help familiarize the incoming class.
When I started my MBA last winter, I was a career switcher who came to New York with little more than a few suitcases – and plenty of uncertainty about what the next sixteen months would hold. Thankfully, those questions were answered and those fears assuaged by Peer Advisors -- who were in the same spot only months before. I tried to impart that sentiment on my new colleagues – and offer whatever bits of advice I’ve gained in my year on campus.
The week was full of presentations, social gatherings, and plenty of free food. The new students were introduced to their cluster, a group of 70 students that takes core classes together. And they began to work with their learning team, a small subgroup within the cluster that will work on group projects together.
By Friday, everyone was exhausted – but I think that the new students and PA’s alike felt that there was a place for them at CBS.
(One of the lighter moments of orientation. The new cluster asked the PA's to make a human pyramid — and we, of course, obliged.)