The Five People You Meet In Business School

The rigorous application process at top MBA programs produces some remarkable concentrations of brainpower and professional success at campuses around the world. As a result, the first few weeks of classes can be both humbling and enlightening, as many students find themselves surrounded for the first time by peers smarter and/or more accomplished than themselves. If you’re an incoming MBA, you’re going to meet some impressive people.

Even in a group composed exclusively of high-achievers, there will be some memorable characters who stand out from the rest of the class. Below you’ll find what you might call MBA personas — rough sketches of personality types that pop up regularly in national MBA programs. This list comes with the usual caveats about every individual being a unique snowflake and irreducible to a simple stereotype, and these really should be taken more as light-hearted suggestions than substantive analyses.

Having said that, here are the five people you will definitely meet when you go to business school:

THE FUTURE CEO

Graduate business schools produce a lot of C-Suite executives. Depending on your school and the size of your class, chances are that you’ll share a graduation date with more than one future executive of a Fortune 500 company. But what you might not realize is that some of your classmates will seem destined for the job even while they’re still in the school. These are the Future CEOs; be nice to them, because they’ll be your boss one day.

Common characteristics:

In 25 years:

THE BUSINESS HIPPIE

Business school is no longer just for capitalist pigs. More and more MBAs with “nontraditional” backgrounds are entering the fray, and they’re bringing with them some wild ideas about the role business should play in society. Get to know the Business Hippie, who thinks businesses should make the world a better place at the same time that they make a profit (crazy, right?).

Common characteristics:

In 25 years:

THE SMARTEST PERSON YOU’VE EVER MET

Despite business school’s reputation as two years of relative relaxation, classes can get really, really hard. Fortunately, you’ll have a few folks in your class for whom academics present no challenge at all — and who can teach you everything you need to know about quantitative analysis. Yes, you’ll meet the Smartest Person You’ve Ever Met in business school, and they just might keep you from failing your quant exams.

Common characteristics:

In 25 years:

THE COOLEST KID ON CAMPUS

Social life is one of the three pillars of business school life (along with academics and recruiting), but for some of your classmates it will seem like the only pillar. This is just one of many ways in which MBA social life resembles high school, and the Coolest Kid on Campus was definitely cool in high school, too. You will know if you are friends with this person (you’re probably not).

Common characteristics:

In 25 years:

THE OLYMPIC HOPEFUL

For some students, there is a fourth pillar of business school life: working out. Always dressed in workout gear and occasionally spotted jogging in the rain, the Olympic Hopeful is in unreasonably good shape (and sometimes likes to talk about it). You can raise an eyebrow at their gluten-free lunches and Michelob Ultras, but they might help your team win the intramural sports tournament, so at least let them be the captain.

Common characteristics:

In 25 years:

Hopefully, the lesson here is that business school classes attract an unexpectedly broad (and vibrant) cross-section of the population — though lots of work remains to be done in the area of MBA diversity. This completely subjective and slightly humorous list notwithstanding, you should enter your MBA experience with as few preconceived notions as possible. It is really difficult to overstate how much your classmates will surprise you; get to know as many as possible, and maybe you’ll run into someone who reminds you of those who made this list.


The Five People You Meet In Business School by Zach Mayo on October 11, 2016

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