I think back to all my anxieties and fears over the last few weeks and months: Will I like the people in my MBA class, whom I will be with for the next two years of my life? Will I find a group of women I can relate to? Can I be married and in grad school? I’ve been out of school for years; will I be able to adjust to being a student again? How will it be to live in South Bend, Indiana? Will I be the only person there with a Southern accent???
I laugh off my old fears as I look around the room.
We are discussing our visions. Not just for our careers but for our lives.
“Being a family man as well as marketing executive,” says one of my classmates.
This vision particularly resonates with me. I want to have an outstanding career, but I also want to have a very strong family life, and I am relieved to find that many of my classmates feel the same way. Being a married student, I was also happy to find that the majority of my classmates have significant others and we all help each other to prioritize a work-life balance.
As I head to our break I find myself excited to speak with the other MBA students. Has it been only a week? Since the start we have been together pretty much 24/7 —working in groups discussing ethical dilemmas, exploring the campus and city of South Bend (which has more to do than I originally thought, though only slightly), eating meals at Legends, the Notre Dame-themed casual restaurant next to the business building; having a beer at Brothers, a bar and grill a few blocks away.
There are certain experiences in life that are short in length but have such a profound effect on you and bind you with the people who share those experiences. Even in my first week at Mendoza I can tell that business school is going to be one of those experiences for me.
Everyone is excited for the next event of orientation: a tour of the stadium locker room and lunch in the press box overlooking the football field. I’m not really much of a football fan, but even I can’t help getting excited in anticipation of the famous Notre Dame football games. As I walk through the halls and witness the tradition of football here, I make a mental note to study up on the history so I won’t look like a complete moron when meeting alumni at the MBA alumni tailgates, which I am very excited about.
As I reflect on the day and my short time here, I am so thankful that I took the time to look at Notre Dame and apply to the MBA program. I applied to a few different schools and the time spent completing each application was exhausting. But at this point, I cannot imagine if I hadn’t done so.
I am proud to be a part of the class of 2014. My classmates have started businesses, worked as engineers, served in the military, worked in nonprofits — and that only scratches the surface. I’m in awe of the diversity of talents and experiences. And even better, I find myself part of it.
This experience has already given me a renewed excitement, energy and focus on my career that I felt was lacking for the past few years. I can’t wait to see what next week brings.
Originally from Greensboro, N.C., Emily Batts earned her bachelor’s degree in history from Presbyterian College in Clinton, S.C., in 2006 and was most recently a marketing specialist for MAP International in Atlanta.