When I started the MBA program, my oldest sister joked that it wasn’t a real graduate program, it was just finishing school for business people. The truth is, I kind of agree with her. It’s not that we don’t learn a lot. We do. But it is a type of finishing school. Of course, that may be because my focus is on the “soft skills”. Although, the fact that the skills are soft does not mean that acquiring them is easy for everyone, as I’m discovering. I thought most of these skills would be intuitive. Such is not the case.
So, here is a list of things that I am learning in “finishing school”:
- Thank you notes are very important. Writing them properly is less important, but spelling names correctly is…and lots of people misspell names.
- Leadership is not intuitive for most people.
- You should think before you speak. If you don’t think about you’re audience, you are going to be surprised by how you offend people. If you do think about you’re audience, you will still offend people. You just won’t be surprised by it.
- People like to joke about HR (think Toby from “The Office”) and it would be easy to get offended. To those people I say, “Just remember who had job offers and how many they had.” (Oh, and if anyone thinks that I’m like Toby, just try working with me.)
- Feedback really is a gift. And I am like, the best gift giver EVER. Oh, and when someone says, “I’d like some feedback on…” it’s a good idea to clarify what the person actually means. The question I like to ask is this: “So, when you say you want feedback, do you mean that you actually want me to tell you what I think, or do you just want me to give you a little ‘pat on the head’ and say ‘good job’?” And admittedly, I admire people who ask for a ‘pat on the head’ as much as those who want the real deal. I always admire honesty and self-awareness.
- Which brings me to self-awareness. I have been amazed to learn about the incredible lack of self-awareness that exists among the general population. On that same note, I have been equally amazed to learn the extent to which I am self-aware and that it probably merits some therapy (or a lot of therapy).
- Networking is an art. Some people are naturally gifted. Some really have to work at. But there are rules that we all need to learn.
- Decision making should involve some kind of strategy and end goal.
- Everything is negotiable…but not unless you actually know how and what to negotiate.
- Graduate school is way better than undergrad. It is making those four (or six?) years of college totally worth the effort (and by effort, I mean showing up for tests when I wasn’t skiing).
Yes, I am learning more than just the finishing school stuff, but the ins and outs of organizational structures, Kotter’s Leading Change model, McKinsey’s 7-S model, etc, just didn’t seem like they’d appeal to the five or so people who still check my blog. Or at least, not without a lot of explanation, and I don’t want my blog to feel like homework.
Quantity of job offers is a poor indicator of success. Just sayin'…It's like getting married or well really getting proposed to…you only need one…if it's the right one. 🙂 Congrats on the job in New York! I loved reading about all your adventures in the Big Apple. I unfortunately haven't been there yet…but hoping to make it there sometime in the next year. It sounds like my kinda place! 🙂
These are pretty good tips for the rest of us too. 🙂
Everyone is different about if they want the honest truth or just a pat on the back. What do you say if you don't want to lie but they just want a pat on the back?
I congratulate you on going to Grad School after Undergrade I was exhausted and didn't want to go back to school again. But we are always learning. Networking is an art I agree. Love the blog.
It caught my attention, but of course my husband did his graduate work on Organizational Development so it sounds all too familiar to me. I've been having fun reading your blog, you lead such a fascinating life!