It’s been six months since I’ve started my one year program at Stanford GSB, called Stanford MSx, for experienced leaders. In a nutshell — being at Stanford is a surreal and once in a lifetime experience, there are so many opportunities, lectures and meetings that it’s hard to keep track. Relocating across the world for this program, I wanted to make the most out of this year, based on what is important to me to learn and grow. Therefore, I’ve decided to write these recommendations that will help you come prepared to your Stanford GSB experience.
So many opportunities, so little time
From the very beginning, you’ll be constantly bombarded with new terms and new things to do — career and life coaches, entrepreneurship focused resources and of course — amazing classes. Since I only have a year, it was crucial for me to be able to understand what are the resources that I have and more importantly, which ones I want to use and the ones I don’t.
Focus, Focus, Focus
I can’t stress enough how important this is — there is a huge difference between students who come prepared with specific goals they want to achieve and students who don’t.
For example, I decided to focus on the three areas: entrepreneurship, management skills and establish a strong business network in the bay area. Having set my goals, helped me a lot navigating through everything the school has to offer.
Do your research
Before coming to Stanford, I found it a bit overwhelming reading through endless lists of courses, each sounds more interesting than the other. If you feel the same and want to hear from first hand, but don’t know a lot of people at the GSB, I suggest the following -
LinkedIn — everyone who goes to the GSB adds it to their profile , so you have an opportunity to reach out to these people and ask them about the program, and about their favorite courses. I’d suggest to start reaching to current students first, since there are new classes at the GSB each year and the courses are still fresh in their memory. Simply search for people that have ‘Stanford MSx’ or ‘Stanford MBA’ as their current role. If you want to extend the search, you can search for people who have Stanford as part of their education.
Course list — There are multiple ways to review course lists, some are available before and some are only available after you are admitted. It is important that you review the courses available to you before the submission here —
https://explorecourses.stanford.edu/ — this list contains all courses from all schools at Stanford, each has initials to indicate which school they belong to — here are the key ones:
- GSB school — GSBGEN, OB, OIT, STRAMGT, FINANCE, ACCT, MKTG
- Computer Science school — CS
- Management Science and Engineering school — MS&E
I would suggest to create an excel file that contains the list of courses that you are interested in from each quarter — please note that many courses are given only once or twice a year, so this is a great way for you to start building and exercising your prioritization skills. In addition, I suggest to create this initial list before you speak to current students and alumni — this will help you focus the conversation and for them to understand in what are you interested.
School clubs — there are so many cool clubs at the GSB. I suggest that you register to no more than 5 clubs. The clubs start operating during the Autumn quarter each year and offer a variety of interesting experiences — small group dinners, Brown Bag lunches with interesting personas (aka — BBL), excursions to successful companies and more. The clubs I found most relevant for me were -
- Entrepreneurship club
- VC club
- Tech club
- Retail club
Explore — take classes in other Stanford schools
Leverage the opportunity to take classes from other schools at Stanford, specifically the CS, D.School and MS&E schools. If you are focused on entrepreneurship for example, each one of the schools offers it’s own version of the famous GSB class — ‘StartUp Garage’ and many more entrepreneurial, design thinking and technology classes. I believe that taking classes across the street gives you leverage -
- Finding potential co-founders — you will be surrounded by top engineers and computer science majors.
- Competitive advantage and ability to stand out — you will be able to bring your knowledge from the GSB classes to the other schools.
Meet with faculty members
It took me a while to realize that, but all your professors are very invested in your success — not just in their class — but at the GSB and in life. I strongly suggest to make these valuable connections with them, if you want to learn more about a subject, or consult about your start up idea or next career step — they will be there for you and give you valuable advice, and even can connect you to others. Use this valuable resource wisely.
To conclude, you will have the time of your life either way, but the tips above can help you enjoy and learn even more. Have other valuable tips you have learned along the way? share them! I still have six more months :)