A lot has happened since my last post. Almost overnight, finals were just around the corner, as well as a meaningful but time-intensive field project for management class. Stressed, I found myself even dreaming about finals, but just as fast as they arrived, our first term was done.
As I left for finals weekend, my husband, who works in the offshore oil industry, cautioned me that Hurricane Irene was barreling toward the Northeast. With finals on my mind, I laughed at the thought, thinking that the chances of a hurricane turning towards my hometown of New Orleans were far greater than one actually heading towards Philly.
Late Friday afternoon, Wharton moved to the finals contingency plan, and I realized I was wrong. Wharton accelerated our exam schedule, so we had early Saturday morning back-to-back exams in order for all students to finish early and attempt to get home. The challenge was that train routes and flights were already being canceled. Between exams, teammates were frantically trying to book any flight going west in last-ditch attempts to make it home and not disrupt vacation plans. The bulk of our class was trying to find operating train routes before the trains shut down, and then a significant group threw in the towel and started planning the hurricane party near campus. I had to get back for an annual companywide meeting Monday morning in New Orleans, but amazingly, after four flight delays, two plane changes and lost luggage, Delta came through and I made it back early Sunday morning. What a way to end the term!
In between terms, we had an eighteen-day break, which essentially amounts to one extra weekend off. My company is growing quickly, and therefore it was such a great feeling to finally give my undivided time to my company again. I also managed to fit in three grocery store excursions and a few home-cooked dinners, which probably sounds silly but was something I totally missed. I think I cooked one time during first semester, maybe this term will be better?
I blinked and the break was over, back to Philly. I was a little anxious about starting back but also excited to see everyone again. In addition to new courses, it was the WEMBA East-West weekend, where we had the opportunity to meet the San Francisco students. WEMBA’s West program is essentially identical to our East program, but the student backgrounds couldn’t be more different. East students often focus on consulting, healthcare, and banking, whereas West is heavily entrepreneurial. Given that I work for a start-up and would love to start my own company someday, I strongly considered applying for the West program or at least spending one term on that coast. Therefore, I was excited to finally meet our West counterparts!
I’m sure it was no small feat for Wharton to organize networking for approximately 200 students. One interesting way they connected us was through a “speed networking event” on Thursday evening, where we spent exactly eight minutes individually with ten different students based on our interests. I was paired with West entrepreneurs, who were full of business ideas and knowledge about the start-up process. It was so inspiring to talk with them and hear their unique perspectives. Then every evening our social chairs organized outings around Philly, where I found myself talking incessantly with my newfound colleagues.
The weekend was so much fun, and in typical Wharton style, it flew by and I flew home Sunday, exhausted and practically voice-less from the late nights catching up with my old friends and meeting new ones. As I said farewell to our West counterparts, I remembered another perk that attracted me to WEMBA: the opportunity to spend a term on the West coast. J
Christy Luquire lives and works in New Orleans and is a first-year student in Wharton’s Executive MBA program.
Her previous posts on Poets&QuantsforExecs: