Avoid having to check back and subscribe to Roll Away the Dew by email. It will take a whole pail of water just to cool you down!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Risk and Return of the MBA Social Scene: Cheesy Mustache Parties and other Important Decisions

There is a lot of career development opportunity at MBA programs. MBA's work on business plan, develop the language and skills to switch careers, gain field experience, and there's class. There is also a lot of personal development. That usually comes in what has been described as the second adolescent phase that can be the MBA program. You are back in school and you know now what you wish you knew then. You start to think about being popular again. There's also the combination of a non-structured schedule and alcohol. My classmates who were in the Follies program (a comedy theater production that every MBA program has) started to say that they attend the Wharton School for the Performing Arts. The phrase "hooked up in the bathroom" will pass your lips.

In short, you may not only be changing your career but your social life. A relatively unknown part of the MBA program is wrestling with the risks and returns of bold social moves.

Social scenes are different at each program. I attended an east coast urban finance school (Wharton) which has the fairly non-demure social scene. On the political scale, it's partisan. On the other end of the spectrum are the more suburban general management programs where the social scene is more family friendly. Reaching across the aisle at those programs does not involve slipping dollar bills into g-strings. Therefore, keep the context in mind with my theory below. Equally important, be true to yourself. No one will dramatically change themselves socially. But you would be surprised how far you can stretch your limits.

Most MBA's wisely see their classmates as their future business contacts or current project or study group partners. They figure that that the best approach is to be conservative, stop drinking when they've reached their limit, and wear a full set of clothes to all parties. However, with nothing ventured, nothing will be gained. You are more likely to bond with your classmates and get that life-long connections from streaking then from a simple dinner that ends at 9:30.

Now the tricky part is balancing the risky behavior with the return. Here are some activities to avoid and here are some that you should be pursued with the gusto of Great Odin's Raven!


  • Blowing a breathalyzer higher than your college GPA: You are at events with lots of free alcohol, you are within walking distance from your house, and you are celebrating completing exams, a week of class, or an Excel spread sheet. Your tolerance is lower than it used to be. As a result, you drink yourself into a puking mess and suddenly the administration cracks down on free on-campus beer parties. It sounds like an easy thing to avoid and that it's not going to happen to you. However, I threw up at more rugby parties than I care to remember (but as a collary it's okay to boot at all male sports-sponsored drinking fests. In fact, it's downright honorable).

  • If you have to ask what being kind means, don't ask: Smoking weed or other assorted soft drugs can be pretty common at some colleges or even some high schools. However, while MBA's will happily drink up any swill beer, they are very discreet with drugs. The reasons should be fairly obvious but even those who smoked enough dope in consulting to open their own brand of baked goods, do not broadcast it at an MBA program. Best not to advertise unless you are very careful. It's not a repuation killer but it's certainly not an enhancer.

Great Odin's Raven: Embrace these Activities with the gusto of Ron Burgundy playing Jethro Tull on a flute:

  • Consider an afro wig, 70's shirt, halter top, and body paint to be an essential school supply: 90% of MBA parties will be theme parties. Towards the end of the year people will get so exhausted of themes, that the theme will be a no theme party. It's hard to put together a suitable costume the afternoon of the party even but you should put the effort into it. Going with the theme will make you more friends than fighting it. There is incremental benefit for every additional hour you spent dressing up. You don't get any credit for throwing a set of madi gras beads for the 70's party but you will for having a polyster shirt open to your naval complete with chest hair wig and medallion.

  • Bodies are beautful: At the finals of the MBA Rugby Championship of the Free World held every year at Duke in North Carolina, spectators casually look at the Texas ruggers who are streaking in cowboy boot and hat again. At your MBA program, women will flash classmates, guys will streak, you won't wear pants, you'll cross dress, or wear your bra on the outside (both sexes). As long as it's not done during McKinsey's presentation or in a dark stairwell of your classmate's apartment, the enthusiasm will be appreciated. Don't worry about your body but show it off.

  • Grow the mustache (men only): When the bulk of interview are over, the guys start growing strange facial hair. This should be encouraged. One of the highlights of my MBA career was winning the first ever Cheesy Mustache contest with an enthusiastic walk off. I still remember standing on a chair, squinting past the glow of the stage lights, to hundreds of cheering classmates. With this moment, I knew how it felt to be Ron Burgundy. Stay classy, MBA's.

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails