Executive MBA Program Blog

Into the Octagon: My EMBA Virtual Orientation Experience

Posted by Scott Garsed-Donnelly on Jan 19, 2021 1:24:56 PM

 

An Orientation Via Zoom - I'm Skeptical!

I really didn’t know what to expect from our three-day orientation session in advance of starting Class 29 of RIT’s Online EMBA program. I think so many of us – especially this past year – have sat through mind-numbingly long Zoom meetings, where you’re writing email and chatting online with colleagues about how you’d rather be watching paint dry than be here right now, all the while trying to keep at least a tiny part of your brain focused on the proceedings. And I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was worried that the next 20+ hours might end up like that, too. But given where we are in our global struggle with COVID, it makes perfect sense that what would normally be an in-person experience in Rochester would have to happen online. So I fretted a bit, prepared myself for the inevitable, and waited.

When my iPad and swag box showed up from RIT, it definitely raised my excitement level; everyone likes two Christmases so close together! So many great things in the shipment, and the book aimed at spouses and partners was a thoughtful, kind approach – being part of program that understands that this experience (and the workload that comes with it) affects everyone in the house set a great tone for my wife and me.

Then it was Wednesday morning, bright and early here in Mountain time. Coffee’d up, ready to go, and something felt… different. Sixteen strangers from around the globe (literally, this time), at first all just staring at each other through our webcams. But then, we started talking. First, as we were getting organized, then in Zoom chat while our moderators were moving things along, and then eventually in Slack over the course of the three days, we continued talking, sharing, and getting to know each other. Sharing our excitement and hesitations, our worries about numbers and schedules, our kids and our pets. It felt easy to talk with all these people – to laugh, and be nervous and confused, all at the same time. 

 

 

From conversation, to exercise, to breakout room, I think we could feel the group really gelling. Our Team Building + Ethics class that filled two hours of each day got our brains readjusting to thinking like students again, wrestling with tough questions while scribbling notes. Spending time with faculty in small groups gave us the chance to chat with them as people and partners, and hearing alumni validate our fears while talking us through their tips and tricks for program success put a friendly and successful face on our 17-month trek ahead.

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Topics: online learning, Experiential Learning, Executive MBA

Welcome to Your 100% Virtual Orientation...This is Your New 2-Dimensional Family!

Posted by Kelly Fidler on Jan 19, 2021 12:56:37 PM

 

How Powerful Can a Virtual Orientation Really Be?

When I first applied to the EMBA program at RIT, I knew it was the right fit for my busy working life, because I could complete the entire program online from the comfort of my home, or whatever hotel room I’d be hunkered down in on another business trip. There was the minor inconvenience of a global pandemic raging while I completed my application, but I was confident I’d meet the students and faculty in the New Year in person to kick off this next exciting chapter in my life. Little did I know I wouldn’t take another business trip, nor would I grace the halls of RIT before embarking on this journey.

We rang in the New Year hopeful for vaccines and freedom from lockdown, and before we knew it our Orientation Week was finally upon us. Despite having more than 10 months under our pandemic belts at this point, the surge persisted and we were forced to remain completely virtual. So many questions entered my mind.

Would a virtual Orientation even work?

Can you even make meaningful team connections without ever shaking a hand or laying eyes on someone?

Will I make any friends?

Can we possibly endure another 3 full days on Zoom?

 

Day 1

Day One of Orientation came bright and early for me on the West Coast, leaving me grateful for the short commute to my kitchen for coffee. Little did I know I’d be the rookie time zone warrior in our cohort, as colleagues soon dialed in from as far away as India and Uganda. With smiles and nervous excitement, we began Day One of the next year and a half of our lives.

We spent the better part of the day getting to know one another as a broader group and with 1:1 conversations before getting a chance to meet our smaller team. Jeff, Lauren, Emilee, and Jessica were fantastic facilitators, and in between finding fun ways to have us interact and getting us to journal our thoughts, they took time to field our many questions and familiarize us with the program flow team cohort structure. Dean Mozrall joined in to welcome us to the program, and we got a sneak peek into the concept of transactive memory, and how this collective memory would help steer our team’s success throughout the program.

After what was undoubtedly the fastest 8 hours of Zoom I have participated in to date, we closed our screens on a great first day, excited for what Day Two would bring.

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Topics: online learning, Experiential Learning, Executive MBA

On Campus Orientation - Three Action Packed Days

Posted by Shannon O'Brien on Aug 18, 2020 2:14:23 PM

 

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.

Day 1

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!!)

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Topics: online learning, Experiential Learning, Executive MBA

On Campus Orientation - Social Distancing Only Makes for a Stronger Cohort!

Posted by Jen Hoock on Aug 17, 2020 1:34:33 PM

 

I entered the three-day orientation on campus with a little trepidation. You could sense the nerves in the air, even through our masks, although we were familiar with the "new normal" by now. It was the anticipation of a life-changing journey that set this moment apart. The faculty and staff made us instantly at ease, as we had been in touch frequently already and were comfortable with them by the first day. The entire process was extremely organized and special, down to every detail. The EMBA team excelled at communicating the necessary information, and they navigated the new rules with such grace that we barely noticed things may have been different pre-pandemic. And let's not forget one of the best parts of the experience: RIT EMBA swag galore!

Before the experience began, I remember hearing how common it was to develop an instant bond with your cohort and team, but I was skeptical this could happen in three days. By the end, I was proven wrong. Given how rigorous and packed our schedule was, I was especially surprised to realize I had personal conversations with almost each and everyone of my 18 peers. After one particular session, my team discovered how well our strengths and weaknesses paired up. Amidst much self-exploration, we all managed to develop an instant comfort with each other. My favorite picture is when half of us were outside with masks after winning a team building challenge. Someone joked about how we were still smiling underneath, and when the picture came out you can see we had started to laugh. 

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Topics: online learning, Experiential Learning, Executive MBA

Orientation Experience - The Beginning of Something BIG

Posted by Lauren Apt on Jan 30, 2020 2:12:29 PM

 

When I initially heard the details for my three day EMBA orientation experience, I was more than a little skeptical. It was hard to imagine what could possibly fill three full (and I mean full) days that couldn’t be done in much less time. Not to mention, it’s difficult to think about disconnecting from your routine, taking time off of work, and being away from your family mid-week. By the end of the first day I knew I couldn’t have been more wrong.

There was truly not a moment of the orientation experience that wasn’t completely necessary and beneficial in countless ways. On a practical level, getting all of our accounts set up and ready to go helped us to be prepared for the weeks to come with the materials we will need and the ability to use the technology we are being given. We were able to experience our first class, led by a phenomenal instructor who managed to hold our attention for hours at a time and challenged us to think and discuss in ways I suspect most of us hadn’t had the opportunity to do in a long time. I think we could all have happily spent another three days just finishing some of the engaging conversations we started during this session.

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Topics: online learning, Experiential Learning, Executive MBA

Orientation Experience - From Strangers to Tribe in 3 Days Flat

Posted by Veronica Cintron on Jan 30, 2020 2:11:09 PM

 

Gaining admissions to the Online Executive MBA Program at RIT, and attending the 3 day orientation experience was one of the most rewarding things I’ve done. I knew that I was going into a jam-packed, back to back experience for 2.5 days. What transpired in those two full 14 hour days and one short 8 hour day was completely unexpected.

Though it was a high intensity experience, all of the information was precisely delivered and more than palatable, despite the robust content. There was a combination of what to expect in the program and how to properly prepare for what’s coming. In addition, we had team building activities, courses, and homework. We went over an explanation of available resources, technology setup, and enjoyed group dinners in the evenings. All of the activities were engaging and presented in an entertaining way.

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Topics: online learning, Experiential Learning, Executive MBA