Saturday, October 12, 2013

Major Misconception

I had an interesting experience last night that I've been mulling over today and I thought I'd share it with all of you.

Short story: a few of my classmates and I were at a bar griping about one of our assignments when a guy playing pool near us interjected, "are you guys grad students too?" We assumed he'd overheard something he could relate to and wanted to contribute to our grousing. So we invited him into our conversation, asked what he was studying (political science) and told him we were MBA students. As soon as he heard this, he started ranting angrily about what douchebags we are and how pathetic our choice of study is. He even went so far as to ask what our program is ranked, scoffing at UC Davis' "low ranking". (Actually it's top 40, and why would you make fun of the university that you are also attending?!) Anyway, we were a bit shell-shocked and eventually just shut him out of our conversation.

Of course none of us really care what this psycho thinks about our life choices, but it got me thinking. What would cause someone that knows nothing about any of us jump to so many conclusions about our character? Obviously there is a misconception out there about what business school is and the type of people that choose to pursue an MBA. I will be the first to admit that I had my own set of misconceptions about MBA students, even after I'd decided to attend business school. For one, I thought everyone in my classes would be exactly the same: type A, aggressive, competitive. I imagined myself struggling to conform to some pervasive corporate culture that we would all be groomed for. I COULD NOT HAVE BEEN MORE WRONG.

Here is what I have learned: MBAs want to innovate and to effect positive social, environmental and economic change. We are ambitious and goal-oriented, but also humble and grounded. We want to make the world a better place. Of course, that means something different for everyone, but I have yet to meet anyone whose sole objective from the program is to get filthy rich. Maybe it's unique to the program I'm in, I can't speak to what it's like at Harvard or Stanford. What I do know is that my classmates come from such varied backgrounds that there is no such thing as a typical MBA student in our class. I've already learned so much through this diversity -- and we've only been in school for 2 weeks!

Classmates, what do you guys think? Did you have misperceptions that have been shattered? Let me know what you think! I'd also love to hear what any of you non-MBAs out there think of us :)

I have more to add on this topic in terms of my personal goals and how I feel about business as a mechanism for empowerment, but I'll save it for another time. I also promise to write more about b-school fashion soon, promise!!



  1. I have come across lot of psychos (In India we call them "Gadhe") who specialize in a particular field and have a negative opinion on MBA as a course. Their line of thought is so uni dimensional that they can never take a decision that involves looking at a problem from multiple perspectives. Ignoring them is the best way out.

    1. I totally agree -- there's no sense in dwelling on someone's negative and ignorant opinions. Thanks for reading, Harneet!

  2. I can't say that my perceptions have been shattered, since I am not sure what I expected. A lot of Type As and butting heads, I guess? I will say that I have been pleasantly surprised by everyone. I've genuinely enjoyed interacting with all our classmates so far.

    To your other point, I have been lectured at length on a multitude of occasions, by complete strangers, about how business students and MBAs are the downfall of our society. Most won't even give me an opportunity to say what it is that I'm interested in doing, or give me a chance to interject. It is a little frustrating but not altogether foreign ground. As you might expect, being affiliated with the military tends to garner its share of unwanted attention and people willing to share their opinions.

  3. I also have been pleasantly surprised (and continue to be) with how well we are all getting on. Our class is pretty cool.