Your favorite bloggers wanted to share some of our experiences from the first semester in the M.S. in Commerce (MSC) program. We reflect on what surprised us (in good ways and bad), our biggest takeaways, some of our most best memories, how the program has measured up to our initial expectations, and how MSC has changed us. We hope these reflections give you a truly intimate perspective on what it feels like to be halfway done with graduate school!
The first half of the MSC program actually exceeded my expectations. Going into the program, I expected a fast-paced, rigorous course load and the opportunity to interact with a really smart and diverse group of people. I got all of that and more.
First off, the level of faculty engagement was unlike anything I’ve ever seen (and my professors in undergrad were pretty amazing). Never before have I interacted with professors so accessible and willing to answer questions, discuss career interests or just chat. Some faculty members even extended invitations to their homes for Thanksgiving dinner for students who were unable to go home during break!
In addition to the great people, the resources and network that McIntire boasts are unrivaled. It seems like every day there are alumni from companies across the country talking about their experiences and looking for new prospects. You must be doing something right if that many alumni are so eager to come back! I’m already looking for excuses to get back to C’ville next year 😉
Moving into next semester, I feel more confident in my ability to analyze and solve business problems. I also feel that, as a result of this program, I am a better communicator and a better teammate. I’ve learned that I do better work when I’m having fun and am relaxed (i.e. not crammed in the library like I was in undergrad) so I’ll definitely be interacting with my fellow “MS Comm-ers” all throughout next semester.
In case I haven’t made it exceedingly clear, I am so glad that I am in this program. I feel beyond prepared to be a powerhouse in the workplace and I could not recommend the program highly enough. If you’re on the fence, don’t be…do it!
Here’s to a great second half!
Katie Nell Taylor
August 1st seems like just yesterday, but we have all come so far since then. While there were many things that I expected going into the program, it has far exceeded my expectations in so many ways.
What I expected:
Throughout the application process, I talked to both students and admissions counselors, who warned me of the intensity of the program. This was part of the reason I applied. I wanted to be challenged and that is exactly what I got. We completed nine courses, and nearly 20 hours in our first semester, and we have all worked extremely hard and learned so much. The first semester definitely met the expectations I had academically.
A few things that surprised me:
I am constantly surprised by just how incredible both the students and professors are. I felt like any graduate program would be extremely competitive, but I have realized that while my classmates are competitive with themselves, they genuinely want each other to succeed as well. Having classmates that are in it with you has made the experience SO much more fulfilling, and the workload so much more manageable.
I was also pleasantly surprised how my first choice for GIE changed since starting the program. In August, I felt sure that Europe would be my top choice. I had traveled to many countries in Europe before, and it seemed comfortable yet exciting. But after getting to know so many students from different parts of the world, and learning so much about the significance of unfamiliar countries to the entire global economy, the decision became more challenging as each choice grew more appealing. I am so excited to be going to E. Asia, and it’s pretty cool to think that just months ago, I may not have even ranked E. Asia as one of my top choices.
I have grown in so many ways since starting the program. My career goals have shifted as I’ve learned about so many different areas of marketing that I didn’t even know existed. I’ve realized the value of working as a team through challenges to achieve success. And I have started to see aspects of business strategy, wherever I am, even when I’m not looking for it. It’s fulfilling to look back and realize how much our work has paid off.
Hi, everyone! It’s Logan, and it’s been 12 days since my last Microsoft Word document. And with 12 days of distance from my first semester in the MSC program, I have a confession to make. I’m also counting the days until I return to Charlottesville for the second semester (23 days!). So embarrassing. What a nerd.
Why am I doing that? A countdown to the end of school seems normal, and I’m not going to lie to you: I totally did that, too. This program has presented me with the biggest academic challenges I have ever faced. So why have I subconsciously started a countdown to the start of school? Well, I think MSC has slowly converted me into one of those people who weirdly craves a challenge. You know, that annoying fake line you’re supposed to slap somewhere in your cover letter: “Oh yeah, I just love to be constantly challenged!” Uh huh, sure, I used to think.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I couldn’t face a challenge before this program. (I went to UVA undergrad. School has been rigorous for a while.) The difference now is that, after a semester at McIntire, I feel calmer about challenges—more prepared, kind of? Even a little (wow, this is embarrassing) excited to show people what I can do? It’s like…I know that my professors are going to guide me out of my comfort zone with assignments and tests and projects and presentations, but…I did all that last semester when I had essentially no confidence, so I can definitely do it again this coming semester.
This still probably sounds phony to you, but I promise it’s true. I really feel proud of how much I’ve grown. (It’s weird to write that and have it not be fake.) I think the main reason I’ve started to feel this way has been those professors. More often than not this past semester, I would read an assignment’s instructions and think, “Okay, so…wait, what?” But these McIntire professors…they actually do that cliché teacher thing where they show you that you’re capable of more than you thought. They’re so supportive, and they want so much success for each and every one of us. Honestly, we hit the faculty jackpot. (That’s not even to mention the insanely amazing Career Services and Graduate Programs offices. I’m telling you, the support you feel here is unreal.)
Also…I love my MSC friends! I just need to throw in here that you’ll make amazing friends in this program. Everyone in MSC is smart and fun and nice and just awesome. I’d call us a tight knit group for sure: we commiserate together and celebrate together! At the risk of sounding even more cliché, I really can’t wait to see everyone in January and start making more MSC memories!!!
Coming into this program, I was beyond excited. I would be getting the chance to attend my dream school since high school and from the blog posts I had read and the information session I attended the program seemed perfect for me. As Ryan mentioned, it was everything I thought it would be, and more!
I can honestly say that I was surprised by how quickly I adjusted to a new state, a new campus and a new school. I completed my undergrad education at Lehigh, which was only an hour and 15 minutes away from home so it was weird suddenly being six hours away. Within only a few days, however, Charlottesville felt familiar and natural to call home when talking to family and friends. It was like I had always belonged here and there was no homesickness or anything, I just felt completely content and happy and I absolutely cannot wait to go back to school (that’s a weird thought right? Especially since throughout undergrad I always wished my break were longer).
I will say that grad school is not like undergrad; you definitely work hard and the assignments are meant to challenge you and you will be confused at times. I’ll admit I’ve been closer to pulling all-nighters this past semester than in undergrad, although I always make sure to at least get a few hours of sleep (and supplement the rest with coffee). However, you find that the craziness is enjoyable, you’re surrounded by people in the same boat as you and it just becomes a strengthening and bonding experience, that now we’re all able to joke about. It teaches you that you can handle so much more than you ever thought you could.
The faculty is unlike any I have met before; they are all willing to help you in any way they can; be it giving you advice on career decisions, helping you prepare for case interviews, or just being there when you feel stressed. They truly care about all students as individuals. A concept that is extremely impressive considering you only take some classes for a few weeks. Likewise, Commerce Career Services has gone above and beyond my expectations. I have felt extremely comfortable dropping in or calling them up for a quick question at any time, as well as, scheduling appointments to take about my future and have my resume reviewed.
After the first half of this program, I have gained so much self-confidence in not only my academic abilities but the direction of my future and my independence as well. I’ve gotten so much more confident in my quantitative abilities, which is saying something since before this program the last math class I took was first semester freshmen year in college. I’ve even learned to love computer programming through Business Analytics, which I’m sure my family and friends are equally as surprised about as I am. All in all, I cannot recommend this program enough! It has driven me so much and I’ve grown so much, not only academically but personally as well. Goo Hoos!!
Happy New Year!!
-Written by your MSC bloggers