The Night Before Saunders...
As one of the older students in this cohort I wasn’t sure what to expect from the orientation experience. What I knew is that the overall program is rigorous, time-consuming, and may contain a moment (or 15 months) of stress! So why not have a big dinner, maybe a beer or 2, and watch TV until at least midnight? Strangely, I didn’t sleep well the night before orientation. I swear, excitement (not anxiety!!) was the cause. I haven’t been in an on-campus college class setting in many years, but I knew that the EMBA experience was meant to be life-changing for me. And I may have had a bit of anxiety after all, too.
Wednesday morning… bright and early. You could sense the nervousness of everyone walking in as we went to meet our cohort. With so many different backgrounds and stories, I had a good feeling I was in the right place at the right time. The day flew by! We enjoyed nice conversation at breakfast before morning intros, overviews and computer setup. The highlight of the morning for me was finding out who my teammates would be - our personalities meshed well together and felt like we started to click right away.
We finished the day off with an excellent team-building activity where the cohort was divided into two groups. The groups went through a series of escape room challenges, and team members had different roles throughout. What a great job by the EMBA staff of putting it together. It was challenging AND fun. And although our team did not win the activity, we had a lot of fun getting to know more about each other. (We’re sure the other team cheated though… there’s no way they could beat us again!!)
Breakfast and intros were followed by the start of our first EMBA course, Team Building and Ethics. I believe I speak for the cohort when I say that Dr. Bob Barbato is a great lecturer! I really enjoyed the content and the cases that were presented to us. It was around this time that the experience started to become real for me. After lunch, I learned interesting things about my communication style during the DISC debrief. We ended the day with an intro to our upcoming Leadership Development Skills 1 course. It was a tiring day, but I felt ready to keep going.
We dug right into part two of our Team Building and Ethics course. The diverse background of the cohort provided for a lot of interesting discussion. Our first Final Exam is due in a week and if there was any doubt left, this experience is real for me now! Next, Dr. Bill Dresnak gave a colorful presentation regarding his first course with us, Accounting and Organizational Goals. He had a very engaging style and the cohort seemed to enjoy him.
After lunch, we heard the firsthand experiences of three EMBA alumni. I’m certain most of the class would agree that what they shared made us nervous, but it also gave me a feeling of purpose and understanding of why we’re going through this program. Their points being that there will be a lot of work, both individual and team, maybe a rough patch or two, but hopefully a lot of personal and professional growth. I was thankful for this perspective.
We closed the final day of Orientation with dinner at Casa Larga. It was a beautiful night and great for getting to know more about our classmates, and for our spouses to meet the cohort as well. We shared a lot of laughs while learning about each other’s families and some of the challenges we face. Another highlight was listening to Brian Deane (EMBA Grad) and his wife Maureen talk about Brian going through the program. I think it was important for the cohort and our significant others to hear their challenges and how they made it work.
Post-Op (aka Post-Orientation)
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that in this time of COVID-19, the staff did a great job of preparing for the on-campus cohort to actually be held on-campus. The last part of that sentence sounds silly to me, but I truly appreciated the effort and preparation it took for us to be attending on-campus.
It’s now 10 days post-orientation, and already I’m looking forward to the next weekend in the classroom. The work has really begun - I’ve submitted the Final Exam for Team Building and Ethics and the first quiz for Statistical Analysis for Managers, I’m reading the Power of Habit for Leadership Development Skills 1, and starting to look over the coursework for Accounting and Organizational Skills. To say I’m busy is an understatement. I’m spending time every day reading and/or writing; my amazing team is meeting regularly, working well together, and supporting each other; I’m working full-time; and finally, I’m annoying my wife as much as humanly possible!
My goal is to look back on this experience 15 months from now, EMBA degree in hand, proud of every step of this journey with my team and the rest of the cohort! I’m truly happy, and excited, for what I see to be an amazing experience to come.
Read more about the orientation experience: