The first week of Wharton’s EMBA program is always an exciting time for students. In addition to orientation and classes, they also participate in teambuilding activities to get to know each other. Having recently attended her first week at Wharton | San Francisco, we asked Ammi Tan, a project manager at Chevron in Bakersfield, CA, to tell us about her experience. Here’s what she said:
I was really looking forward to a week away from work to get back into an academic environment. I was happy the first session was a full week because normal class weekends would be tough trying to balance work, home and school, especially for those of us not in the Bay Area. Having that full week would let us focus on school and give us more time to get to know each other.
The week was a combination of classes, learning about the resources available to students, and teambuilding activities. The classes were amazing and really stimulating. I could tell that the professors knew their subjects well, and they were funny! I didn’t expect to laugh in an accounting or economics class, but I did. The other students were so refreshing—they were intelligent, opinionated and very real. We could talk about pretty much any subject from world politics to work situations to TV shows. It reminded me of being a freshman in college where everyone is in the same boat. In our free time, we were organizing social events after-hours just so that we could get to know each other better.
One of the highlights of the week was a diversity exercise we did with our study groups. The facilitator explained how we all have different roles in our lives. He talked about how he’s a dad, brother, son, employee, male, etc. Then he discussed how those roles affect his outlook on various situations. We broke into our study groups and essentially continued that same discussion about how our own roles impact our personal outlooks. Having just met my study group on Sunday, it really helped break down walls. It was a very powerful experience.
We also participated in a teambuilding exercise where we built mechanical arms (for an organization called Helping Hands) that would actually be used for people who have lost a limb. This time, we were divided into teams alphabetically and then switched our teams throughout the exercise so we worked with more people. About half-way through, we were given the option to work with only one arm so we could better appreciate what the recipients of the limbs go through.
At the end of the week, we were all pretty exhausted, but also excited to come back for more. I felt a strong sense of camaraderie with my classmates, as I’m now part of the Wharton community. I feel like it’s my job not only to get through the program, but to help my classmates as much as possible because we are part of each other’s support systems. We may be busy, but if you ask anyone in the class for help, they’ll drop what they’re doing to help you.
I’ve gone back and forth over the years (yes, years) on whether or not to spend the time and money to get my MBA, but coming to Wharton has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I’m so excited to be in this program and am looking forward to more class sessions with my new classmates!