Finding the Humor in B-School

Welcome back, dear readers, to the third installment of Jonathan Stern's Adventures in Business School.In our last chapter, I was in the midst of what I described as the busiest time of my life.Now, as I sit here at my keyboard, mere hours from the start of my second quarter at the Anderson School of Management (Anderson Full-Time MBA Profile), I suppose it's time to reflect on the quarter I have just completed and, I hope, recovered from.

The best way for me to do that is to address the questions friends and family ask me most. "How was your first quarter? Did you have fun?" Deep down, I know it was a great time and a hell of a ride, but I really have to think about it to make sure. That's because school can be overwhelming at times. Five classes that you're somewhat unfamiliar with over the course of 10 weeks make for an intense quarter. It consumes you to some extent. It's all you and your friends talk about. For instance, I consider myself a student of comedy. I interned at Late Night and The Daily Show in college. I like to think I know what's funny. At one point, I'm fairly certain the only jokes I and my fellow students were cracking were statistics-related. Is p-value really that funny? After some decompressing time, I'm pretty sure it wasn't that funny, but at the time, it was hilarious. And if we're making class-related jokes, that means we've learned something, right? I'm going to say, "Yes." Definitely, yes.

But such feelings appear to be the norm at Anderson. It's really the nature of the beast. We start classes later than most programs, and there's a lot of material to pack into a short period of time, especially because we're on the quarter system. It's a rite of passage. The second years assure you you'll get through it, you doubt them, you take four grueling finals in four days, and then you realize they were right and you don't understand why you didn't trust them in the first place. I have no doubt some first-year students will question my wisdom next year, and I'll just smile and crack a p-value joke, and he or she will laugh uproariously.

A Ride From the Airport

Admittedly, I just painted a somewhat bleak picture. So how can I say business school has been enjoyable? Well, that's because, while I may have underestimated just how time-consuming the program would be, all the rumors about the social and networking opportunities I heard are most definitely true. For all the work we do, there's always a chance to blow off steam afterward, be it a karaoke night with your section, the school ski trip to Breckenridge after finals, or a winter break jaunt to Israel. Over the course of these experiences, I really can't fathom the number of friends I've made. I'm about to leave New York for my flight back to Los Angeles, and two of my classmates offered to pick me up from the airport. I didn't even ask. Do people really just offer to do that out of the goodness of their heart? Am I that fun to be in a car with? Maybe I've been living in New York too long (plus no one has a car here), but that's a first and second for me. I think I'll keep an attentive eye on my wallet, just in case.

It's not just school and socializing that keeps me busy, though. Naturally, I've joined some clubs and organizations, with the brunt of my time devoted to the Anderson Entertainment Management Assn. (EMA), since I aspire to return to that world after I graduate. Media and entertainment companies primarily hire on an as-needed basis, so they're not exactly part of campus recruiting. As such, the EMA has been a real boon. The association puts on workshops, organizes on-site visits to media companies (what we call Days on Job), and there's even a trip to Sundance in January. I'm currently a director for February's Career Night, as well. I hope using these resources, in addition to those at the Parker CMC (our career management center), will put me on track for that ever-important summer internship.

In the meantime, things are not going to slow down one bit. After taking five classes in a quarter, we are required to take only three in the winter. Those courses are Marketing Management II, Corporate Finance, and Operations Technology Management. In addition, I'm taking an elective, Feature Film Marketing, at UCLA's Producer's Program, and I also scored an spring internship at Fox Filmed Entertainment. Needless to say, I'm expecting to be frantic and frazzled for the next couple of months. But when it's all said and done, and you ask me how it was, I have no doubt I'll pause, take a deep breath, and say, "Fantastic." This is, of course, assuming that I'm not left waiting curbside at the airport in a couple hours. Two friends offering rides? It has to be too good to be true.