When I arrived at Babson for the first time I was a bit overwhelmed. I had read the reviews and understood I would receive a world class education, but I had no idea who I would be studying with. Coming from a town in Maine I had fairly sheltered experiences and I quickly realized the socioeconomics I had grown familiar with would not be my reality while at school. While this may seem like a trivial realization, it took me about two years to realize how advantageous it is to understand the subtleties of interacting and adapting to the etiquette associated with being a businessperson. It is important to understand that growing up in a wealthier community means attending “better” schools, and with that comes a certain approach to learning. While I believe my upbringing has helped me understand a lot more about what it means to be on the other side of management, I also have been able to identify what my education did not provide me. When I arrived at Babson I did not have any advanced placement credits, although I took the courses. My school never thought to tell students you could use those courses to your advantage when arriving at your college. While this may not seem important, it is the reason why I am taking courses I do not care about while my friends from private schools are enjoying selecting courses of their choice to hone their business skills. This post is not meant to be a rant of how tough it is to come from an alternative background, but it is to identify there are ways to identify and improve on the things you may have missed out on. Here are a few.
Laugh now, but if you are the only one who hasn’t put their napkin on their lap you will feel quite out place. Try not to be a finicky eater on a first impression, and always try to accept food or drinks offered to you. When in doubt, pay close attention to what other order and go from there.
If you can’t afford to spend as much as the crowd, it is OK. Do your best to identify what you can avoid wasting your cash, and realize that things are much manageable if you avoid excess in general. Quality and not quantity is a lesson to be learned for many.
Be Proud and be honest
If you did not grow up in a family involved in big business, who cares? Be proud of whatever background you have because it is who you are and the experiences you can draw on are unique as well as advantageous. You can not run a great company without understanding what it is like to be an employee.
Chances are you probably need to make money to buy beer and pay your tuition. Be entrepreneurial and find a way to leverage your work experience. Once you realize that everything you do is growing your personal skill set, you will have an easier time finding creative ways to make some money while honing your skills. Get involved in a startup or find a job where you can do your homework, but whatever you do be sure you are leveraging your situation.