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3 ways to make the most out of class projects at Emory Goizueta Business School

The MBA program goes beyond teaching students the academic content they need to navigate the business world; it also adequately simulates a manager’s day by stuffing too much to do in too little time. From recruiting to networking and socializing, it can be a struggle to give class projects the appropriate time necessary for the full educational value to be unpacked. However, having to juggle these conflicting demands is itself a valuable opportunity to evaluate different time-management practices in a low-risk environment. Based on my experience there are a few factors that make the juggle not only bearable, but engaging and fun.

Prioritize ruthlessly The best way to ensure you are getting to do the things you value is by ruthlessly prioritizing ahead of time what aspects of the MBA process, and which projects, you value most in terms of completion and learning. Attempting to complete and do everything to the same standard, although the goal, is not realistic. Life is much easier from the outset if you decide what projects you think are critical to your learning and dedicate your efforts to those projects first, regardless of whether other projects are more time pertinent. For the other items, do what is necessary to get the job done. Just as in the real world, it is more important to do what matters well than to deliver middling performances on everything.

Focus on what moves the needle Within each class project, there will always be a central lesson or factor that truly matters. Class projects are a great opportunity to take risks and go beyond the safe answer to try and find the heart of an issue. Not only does this accelerate learning by forcing you think extremely critically about the topic at hand, it also provides the greatest return on invested time by focusing on quality over quantity. There is of course a risk in not including absolutely everything that could be considered, but now is the time to take risks and the savings in time are considerable.

Leverage interests Any project has lots of elements that can be tackled, but focus on the elements that interest you or try to find an angle of interest through which a problem can be interpreted. The more that you can make a problem about creating learning you personally value, the higher the quality of work will be. An additional benefit is that the more fun you can make a project, the more de-stressed you will come out of it on the other end. As a result, work will go fast, be fun, and leave you ready to focus on other aspects of the MBA.

These three tips sound obvious, but they have helped me tremendously to get the most out of my experience. Thinking of the MBA as an integrative challenge of managing career moves, people, conflicting objectives and work-life balance transforms the experience into a pragmatic lesson on how to do a lot with little time.

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