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Starting at Yale

I made it through the notorious first two weeks of class known as Camp Omni, the in-residence period of the MBA-E program

If the days, weeks, and months leading up to starting classes at Yale were defined by a sense of anticipation, then the past month of my life can only be described as one of pure exhilaration as a member of the Class of 2010. Having spent my entire life aspiring to this level of academia, all I can think about since arriving is savoring every moment.

I made it through the notorious first two weeks of class known as Camp Omni, the in-residence period of the MBA-E program. Living at the Omni Hotel in New Haven with my new classmates, I faced a semester's worth of microeconomics, financial accounting, and financial reporting crammed into a two-week period. It was made clear to our class on the first day that the integrity of the Yale degree was paramount. We would be completing all the requirements of the full-time MBA under the same academic standards but in a compressed time frame. For anyone contemplating such an MBA, the time commitment and demands are legendary.

Soon after arriving on campus for the two-week summer bootcamp, our class was split into teams of four or five students. Yale did a great job of creating teams that took our relative strengths, weaknesses, and personalities into consideration. First we spent an orientation weekend getting to know each other through various team-building events. We were given a formal welcome at the Union League Café with a great dinner, good wine, the company of our boot camp professors, new friends, and "Handsome Dan" bulldog chocolates wrapped with a Yale blue bow. Everyone was eager, relaxed, and excited to begin.

At 9 a.m. Monday morning in late July, the bootcamp's classes officially commenced and the small talk was over. We started and we simply didn't seem to stop. The experience was nothing short of a free-fall from my "known"world of health care, straight down the rabbit hole into the unknown world of business management. Undergoing immersion at its best, I faced culture shock navigating a world with its own relationship to time (none) and its own language. This was a curious place that ran parallel to a hall of mirrors. Sunk costs never influenced a future course of action, debits and credits were left and right, minding the "GAAP" had nothing to do with the London underground, and "senior debt" took on a new meaning all together.

Every day and night during those initial two weeks included six hours of lecture, lunch-and-learn sessions, evening Excel tutorials, extensive readings, small group work, and individual assignments. Somehow during week two, we managed to squeeze in attending a dinner with a biotechnology panel moderated by a CNBC news correspondent—an evening that provided a thought-provoking exchange of ideas and new perspectives on health care costs and profits for someone with my clinical background. Day after day new ideas were broached and slowly the pieces began to make some sense. I was tired and sleep became a coveted commodity. The fledgling economist in me trusted that my choices were inherently rational when I was budgeting time to sleep and time to study; the experience of assigning value to both helped me better understand the concepts of utility, happiness, and indifference curves.

Those first two weeks at Yale may have been grueling, but there were jewels hidden in the workload. Friendships that began the first short weekend were solid within days and have only grown stronger. I have the benefit of a remarkable group of individuals to learn with and learn from; I admire every one of them. Members of my class are as likely to hold the title of executive of a health care startup as physician, finance manger, bioengineer, surgeon, psychiatrist, or pharmaceutical director. Dialogue in class was engaging and substantive; life experience coupled with extensive work experience has shaped complex points of view and strong opinions. Such is a particular benefit of an executive program.

After two weeks back at home, we returned in late August for the fall semester. It kicked off with one of the highlights of my experience so far—a New York trip. I had the opportunity to spend an afternoon in New York at the Clinton Foundation in Harlem, followed by a celebration with the entire SOM class of 2010 on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. It was a perfect ending to my first month of business school and a great way to ring in the fall semester. Having gone through the intensive summer course, the fall semester seemed like nothing short of pure luxury.

Now my business education is well underway. It's hard to believe but I have already completed more than 10% of my MBA. I've moved on to new classes covering finance, statistics, and negotiation; my schedule of classes and luncheons with visiting scholars and executives is tightly mapped out through January. But if my experience with Yale has shown me anything thus far, it is to expect the unexpected, and to delight in it.

Craib is an MBA Journal writer and member of the Class of 2010 for the Yale School of Management Health Care Executive MBA program.

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