One of the main differences between my experience as an undergraduate student and that as an MBA student is that I’m old(er) and have had more real world experiences. I have found that an important lesson to learn as you make your first steps in the real world is that getting involved, really getting your hands dirty, is priceless.
As students at Columbia Business School (CBS) and in NYC, we have incredible opportunities to integrate our classroom education with real world experience. These include: Master Classes, school-year internships, the Small Business Consulting Club, the Social Enterprise Consulting Projects and Field Studies, Pangea Advisors, and the Global Immersion Program to name a few. Opportunities like these are why I wish business school could have lasted longer than just four semesters.
As an InSITE Fellow I have worked with a group of students from NYU and Columbia Business, Law, and Medical schools for a different startup company each semester. Getting together with fellow students from various backgrounds and working with the entrepreneurs has been nothing but inspiring. You can read more about the pitch event in the InSITE blog post I wrote in 2011.
The nature of my work with Investors’ Circle (IC), the largest and most successful impact investing network in the world, is quite different. Twice a year, before the fall and spring Venture Fairs, IC selects students from top business schools to review business plans and screen deals. It’s always fascinating to evaluate so many innovative companies and to work together with other fellows in my trek on recommending startups to the IC Investment Committee.
The application process for both fellowships is rather selective, but I’m so glad I put the time and effort into making it happen. In addition to the intimate insight into the entrepreneurial ecosystem, fellows usually gain access to speaker events (Fred Wilson fireside chat) and really cool volunteer opportunities (e.g., 2012 Business Insider Startup Conference, 2013 IBM SmartCamp Global Finals).
There is literally nothing you can’t do here as a CBS student. The real challenge is to prioritize your goals and time and to take responsibility for directing your business school journey. Now, isn’t that a wonderful real world life lesson to learn in school?