Having graduated from college with a BA in English Literature and Dance, and somehow finding myself in a career in sales, I had often toyed with the idea of going back to school to earn my MBA to ground some of the skills I’ve learned in practice in the classroom. Well, I finally bit the bullet and after a lot of research, a few application essays, and an interview, I found myself sitting in a lecture hall in Rochester at RIT’s Executive MBA orientation.
We started the first day off with an ice breaker and were tasked with generating a list of things we had in common with the group of people that we happened to be seated with. As we began to throw out random facts about ourselves, someone expressed their concern about the level of commitment needed to complete such a rigorous academic program while still meeting the demands of our work and family lives. As everyone at the table nodded in agreement, I realized that I wasn’t alone in my anxiety. Starting the orientation process off with that immediate sense of comradery was a great way to set the stage for the rest of the day.
After getting acquainted with the technology we’d need to use throughout the program, we launched into the nitty gritty – the formation of the team we would be working with for the next 17 months. Throughout the admissions process, everyone I spoke with stressed the importance that our team unit would have in our learning and development as EMBA students. For that reason, when we were tasked with developing a team contract outlining our expectations of one another and ways of working, everyone really took the task seriously. What was probably intended to be a half-day activity turned into a three-day long conversation that allowed our team to get to know one another as much as possible in such a short amount of time. We discussed what we were personally hoping to get out of the program, what our strengths and weaknesses were, and what we were hoping our teammates would be able to help us with.
We also had the pleasure of attending our first class, Ethical Decision Making, with Dr. Robert Barbato. Bob was an incredibly dynamic speaker and engaged the group in some great conversations. As the class came to an end, I remember thinking, “I forgot how energizing it is to be in a classroom learning something new!” This first official class session, as well as a second ethics session with Bob and our first accounting class, truly got me energized and excited about embarking on this journey – so much so that some of my initial anxiety began to fade.
While the activities of the first day of orientation left me energized and enthusiastic, the second day definitely left me feeling like I would have a strong support system moving forward. We began the day with a session with Dr. Pat Scanlon, our writing coach. After jogging our memories about the do’s and don’ts of effective academic writing, Pat spent the majority of his time explaining how we could use him as a resource. Our introduction to the resources available to us continued with a visit to the library and an introduction to Jen Freer, the Business Librarian, who walked us through some of the tools we will have available to us. During my process of deciding where I wanted to earn my degree, I really struggled with the notion of an online program because I didn’t want to be left to my own devices to teach myself all of the material and figure things out on my own. I wanted a community with the support necessary for me to be successful and learn, not just graduate. Our time with Pat and Jen reminded me of why I chose RIT’s online EMBA program – the faculty and staff at RIT really do everything within their power to make you feel a part of the RIT community.
Our indoctrination to RIT culture continued with a campus tour and getting student IDs. In addition to really feeling like a part of the community, regardless of it being an online program, I was giddy with the prospect of getting student discounts again!
The third and final day concluded with our continued team building and “getting to know you” process as we discussed the class results from a personality test that we’d taken prior to orientation. At the end of our three days together, I really came away with a strong sense of community, support for what will undoubtedly be a challenging yet rewarding 17 months, and excitement for all that’s still to come!