One Month In – An M.S. in Commerce Snapshot

We blinked and it happened. In the span of four weeks, our class of 124 went from strangers to classmates to friends. We started—and nearly finished—one class, and then picked up four more. Some of us gave our first presentations before a panel of alumni judges, while all of us enjoyed the company visit to Capital One and attendance at McIntire’s annual Business Analytics Colloquium. How can four weeks fly by so quickly? Let’s take it week by week to the start of an amazing year.

Week 1. The first week began like any first day of school: smiling professors and a somewhat nervous incoming M.S. in Commerce class. Professor Ira Harris and Dean Danny Steeper led orientation and hammered home three important takeaways: honor, teamwork, and class participation. We met and solidified team bonds through a scavenger hunt across Grounds and later through a variety of activities on the Lawn. The next day, we began with three classes and were already behind in sleep.


Orientation Adventure: Discovering Scott Stadium on the Scavenger Hunt

Week 2. After several trips to the University bookstore, we started the second week by digging into two classes: “Consulting” (i.e., “How to Get a Job”) with Professor Brendan Boler and “Strategy and Systems” with Professors Ira Harris and Steven Johnson [check out faculty profiles here]. Students are divided either a morning or afternoon section, and each worked through practice case interviews and debated business models and strategy, all the while learning each other’s names and personalities. During breaks, we dashed to the Corner for a hard-earned Bodo’s bagel or a caffeine boost from Starbucks. Because the M.S. in Commerce started two weeks before the rest of the UVA, we ruled the halls of McIntire.

Week 3. In the third week, the hallways were suddenly bustling with unknown faces and study, rooms were at a premium. On Monday, the clouds parted briefly to grace us with a glimpse of the historic solar eclipse before we dashed back to class. We also started two more classes, “Cost Accounting” and “Finance,” and had to dust off our calculators. Nervous and maybe a touch sleep-deprived (it was our own fault), we turned in our first process memo for “Strategy and Systems” before a company visit to Capital One. We heard from UVA alumni, toured their beautiful campus, and learned about trade-offs and tough decisions in a simulation-based game. After the visit, many of us added Capital One to our list of prospective employers.

Week 4. We could practically see the pages of the calendar fly by as we began the fourth week. By now, we were all pros at mastering the non-traditional schedule of classes and could confidently discuss the merits of a business article or current event. If we hadn’t hit our stride before this week, we certainly did now, particularly when a new set of presentations began for the “Finance” course. We ended the week by attending the Business Analytics Colloquium and heard from representatives from over 15 companies discuss emerging trends of analytics in artificial intelligence, automation, and the customer experience.

Breakout Session of Business Analysts at the Business Colloquium

These past four weeks have been remarkable. We have gone from 124 individuals with widely different backgrounds to a tight cohort, while simultaneously packing in what could have been a semesters’ worth of learning as an undergrad. Cheers to the rest of the year and the exciting possibilities ahead!

Haley Hickey, M.S. in Commerce ’18

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