Growing up an avid sports fan, particularly of NCAA and professional basketball, I tend to utilize sports analogies to describe my various life experiences. When thinking about how to best describe my experiences as a first-year MBA at UNC Kenan–Flagler – particularly our core classes – Jim Valvano’s classic line appropriately sums it up: “Survive and advance.”
Core classes provide the foundation of knowledge and skills that students build on throughout the MBA program. The required classes – which cover subjects like marketing, finance, strategy, economics and communications – are primarily taken during the first six months of your first year in the MBA program.
The duration of the Core is like an Ironman Triathlon – a test of your endurance and mental fortitude. There are inevitably going to be periods of highs and lows, but tempering these ebbs and flows is critical if you want to survive and advance.
Although at times it seemed there was no end in sight, my classmates – for whom I am blessed to call lifelong friends – helped me see the light at the end of the tunnel. The experience has not only been great from an academic standpoint, but has also bonded us together as classmates, enabling us to forge enduring relationships and lifelong friendships.
Here are three pointers for tackling the MBA core curriculum that I learned along the way:
Strike a balance. First-year MBA students have many competing priorities, from coursework to recruiting and networking events to extracurricular activities and family obligations. We are all susceptible to getting overwhelmed and in over our heads at times – but by maintaining a healthy balance of priorities and understanding that trade-offs and compromises are inevitable, the light at the end of the tunnel can and will be exposed.
- Be a team player. As the son of two Tar Heel alums, attending UNC Kenan–Flagler has been a lifelong dream of mine. Words cannot describe how excited I was to be accepted into the MBA program. What makes the UNC Kenan–Flagler community unique is that we are all willing to help each other succeed. The people on this campus and in this community are what makes this experience so rewarding and memorable, and I am forever grateful to be surrounded by students, faculty and alums who are all willing to help one another achieve our goals.
Point to the passer. We must remember how we got to where we are today – the people we’ve met, the friendships we’ve forged, the mentors who have given us the much-needed guidance and advice in difficult times, and our faculty who have given us the resources and platforms to pursue our dreams. Together, we are one. As we prepare to embark on summer internships or post-grad positions, it’s our turn to use what we’ve learned and represent UNC Kenan–Flagler and the Tar Heel community to the best of our abilities.
My first year at UNC Kenan-Flagler was a life-changing experience – and while the last few months as a first-year MBA were bound to push me to my limits, it was a challenge I willingly embraced with open arms.
I’m Bryce Parrish, and I’m proud to be a Tar Heel.
By Bryce Parrish (MBA ’16), student director – Basketball Analytics Summit