I won't spend too much time discussing my own personal experience, but suffice it to say, peer advising—and my role as part of the leadership team—defined my second year and was certainly at the top of the list in terms of overall experience. Why? Because you get a chance to work with 50+ of your most enthusiastic CBS peers to instill our community's core values across an entire business school class, the most important word being "values." Not in the hokey "do what is right" way—although, it is part of it—but in the all-encompassing sense of what are the components of the CBS experience that are most important to us as students and the broader community.
Baked into that are things like our honor code and other good-citizen topics, but it also extends to areas that are equally as important: inclusiveness/cohesiveness; diversity of views, ideas, and backgrounds; expanding intellectual and personal boundaries; friendship; teamwork, loyalty (cluster, friends, etc.); altruism; selflessness; commitment; and, very simply, having fun. While each person may define these items differently, each will find that they are the components that, in some way, shape, or form, define his or her experience at Columbia Business School. The starting point—at least in earnest—is during Orientation where, again, a group comprised of the most committed students gives up their free time to welcome the next class and introduce them to these and other values.
Finally, these defining experiences develop in a number of ways, which I won't go into here, but I will say they happen when it is most and, more importantly, least expected. When reflecting on the times that pleasantly surprise, one will inevitably return to the incredibly tight bonds with clustermates. This bond is the driving force that leaves one open to these experiences, and this openness culminates in Orientation because of the peer advisors.
I challenge all new students to follow their lead, immerse yourselves in the experience from day one, and find a way to make the community better. I challenge all new peer advisors to strengthen the link between past classes by focusing on building and reinforcing these values and others. Most importantly, have fun. It goes by quickly.