By Tuhina Chakrabarti, Executive MBA Metro NY ’18
Even after reading all of the information packets and fact sheets about the Executive MBA Metro NY program, it’s impossible to understand the education you will receive from your classmates and friends. The journey from being strangers to becoming allies has been an incredible one. If I wrote about what I’ve learned from each and every one of my classmates, you’d be reading for an incredibly long time, so I’ll break it down into a few lessons learned from these brilliant people.
Cue the song: “We are a Family!”
For some, walking into a room filled with strangers is a fun challenge, and for others, it is absolutely terrifying. If you are afraid of getting to know strangers, the Executive MBA Metro NY program makes it easier. Whether you’re being introduced to one another in groups for class, or having a meal with the kind and compassionate personalities that will never let another eat alone, this community of students tries their best to make sure no one feels isolated. I remember being on Cornell’s ropes challenge course for team building on day one while I was still trying to keep names straight, but my classmate Tukunbo treated me like I was his pal for years. I soon learned that this was the attitude of many. Once you start warming up, getting close to classmates, and getting to know people outside of your comfort zone, you will find some phenomenal new friendships and even future colleagues at work.
What has brought us together the most? Positive attitudes! Positivity just attracts the same kind of energy. It’s what allows us to keep going and continue supporting one another when life is stressful. It is easy to get caught up in a negative moment at school or at work, or in your personal life, so having positive attitudes around you not only lifts you up but can give perspective. When we have a moment together to unwind we are able to fit in laughs, hugs, stories, and encouragement. When we look back on this program a decade later, we might be able to remember who was brilliant in one of our courses, but we will definitely remember those positive personalities that helped us through and shared some laughs.
It’s hard to believe that after one year, we have bonded and built trust in many of our relationships within this program. While some classmates may offer trust right at the beginning, and others prefer it to be earned, if you take the time to get to know the people around you and build relationships, trust comes pretty easily afterwards. Whether it’s trusting a partner on a project or trusting someone as they hold your beautiful baby, it’s a great feeling to have trust established and it makes the executive MBA journey a lot smoother. To be able to confide in and have others confide in me is one of the greatest gifts this program has given me. I don’t take it for granted, and I know others don’t either.
To get to know the people in your class well, it’s important to know who else is a priority in their lives. So many of the students in our class have spouses, partners, children, and parents that mean the world to them. On my first day at Cornell University, I met a classmate named Eleonore who was a mother of a newborn. I was in awe of how she was able to balance her busy life as a new mom with her career and a challenging MBA program. But she’s handling it all with no complaints, and as I’ve gotten to know many of the other parents in my program, they are getting things done while keeping their families a priority. Seeing photos, hearing stories, and watching these classmates flourish at home and in the classroom is an inspiring thing. In addition, knowing the families of my classmates are supporting them through this journey and sacrificing time with that family member gives me admiration to the loving people that surround them on their journeys. I have enjoyed meeting the loved ones of my classmates, as they are an important part of our executive MBA family, too. We have tried to have gatherings that include the families of our classmates and that just makes us all so much closer.
These are just a few of many lessons learned in getting to know the wonderful and brilliant people that surround me in the Executive MBA Metro NY program. The time we spend together every other weekend is intense but makes us grow closer as colleagues and friends. My classmates have shared not only their industry knowledge and career advice, but also their dreams and life stories. Being able to pick up the phone at this very moment and ring someone from class just to vent or share some good news is a reality. I could have never imagined this being the case on our first day when we were just a room of strangers sharing formal introductions…but it is.