It’s 6 a.m., and while most of my city is still sleeping, I’m quickly packing for my upcoming trip.
Nameplate and school ID? Check.
Work laptop? Better bring it.
Textbooks? Leave behind.
As I lift my bag, I realize it’s lighter than I expected. Why? As a first-year Wharton Executive MBA (WEMBA) student, I received my iPad two weeks ago, pre-loaded with all kinds of information to lighten the load, so to speak. Given that Wharton EMBAs travel from all over the country for class every other weekend, these devices quickly became our life-line for our commutes. iPad in hand, I’m off to the airport for a few work-related calls before catching the flight for my first regular class weekend.
Living in New Orleans is incredibly rewarding, but it also has its challenges. Commuting to Philly will be one of those. I fly in a day early, sometimes leave a day late, and I am getting to know all the connecting airports along the way. As I’m learning this weekend, having a few extra uninterrupted hours to study on flights is the silver lining.
Three weeks ago, our class dove into school with “boot camp” week, an intense six days of class, papers, cases, and getting to know my classmates. Wharton’s team-oriented program helps tremendously – after meeting the first day, my team quickly bonded over late-night problem sets, crazy commuting stories, and early morning math. The week flew by, and I didn’t realize how exhausted I was until a flight attendant woke me up after landing on my return leg. As I reviewed the pile of assignments that Sunday, I wondered if this even scratched the surface.
Luckily, at the office the following Monday, I found myself referencing a case from management class, and later that day, studying our company’s pro forma assumptions. I was floored that I could apply what I learned so quickly! Case in point for why I chose to pursue an EMBA.
For Wharton, my background is about as unique as my city. After majoring in engineering and spending years in investment banking, I was ready for a change. I left my corporate job to join the ground floor of what has become a highly successful market research tech start-up. Responsible for sales, human resources, and finance, every day is challenging and different. I realized that an MBA would help in so many situations. My supportive management agreed, and our growing company is the perfect place to practice by day what I study at night.
Although I now generally know my way around campus and have a sense for the workload, I’m still trying to find my new balance of school, work, and family, while still finding time to enjoy New Orleans. The real test will be juggling tax and audit season, Mardi Gras, and midterms – as well as trading my beloved jambalaya and pralines for cheesesteaks and Tastykakes.
But for now, I’m focusing on one class weekend at a time. With an hour still in the air, I’m wrapping up my case reading on my iPad, but I’m distracted by the excitement of catching up with my team over dinner – a second silver lining of our travel schedules.
Christy Luquire lives and works in New Orleans and is a first-year student in Wharton’s Executive MBA program.