Career EXCERPT: The Memoirs of a B-School CadetBy Bain W. Kuang
An excerpt from my memoir reflecting on the grueling experience of a top tier b-school program
It’s been quite a bit of time since I graduated from business school, but I remember it all vividly even to this day.
In the dead of night, Professor Yatzkowitz woke me from a deep sleep when his leg splintered through my bedroom door. “Hooah maggot, you’ve been accepted into business school!” he screamed at me, so close he covered my face in spittle. He haphazardly rolled a Samsonite carry-on towards the foot of my bed. “You’ve got a flight that leaves in 02 hours sharp for Cleveland – no TSA pre-check, no lounge access, a half-charged palm pilot and you’ve got a deck that needs to be drafted, approved and presentation ready at 07 hours sharp.” “Sir, yes, sir!” I yelled. “I can’t hear you, let’s try that again!” he yelled back. “SIR, YES SIR!”
Up to that point, people told me going to business school wasn’t going to be easy, but I wasn’t expecting anything like that. That morning was when I lost all my innocence and began the difficult journey to becoming a real businessman.
The first trip was a blur, and probably one of the most intense things I had ever experienced. Blurry-eyed and with no time for coffee, I somehow managed to find an executive car to get me to the airport on time. I used all my strength to get through security and my instincts to find a spot where I could have access to an outlet for charging and a comfortable seat to work on the slides from. I shared the slides with the team, but the revisions kept coming, and coming, and coming. It was a barrage of comments I’ve never even seen the likes of before. I ended up making it to the client site with minutes to spare, only to be told their key people were out of town this week and we would have to reschedule. If they were trying to break me down, they succeeded in that very moment.
In the coming weeks, I would meet my future network. During our first orientation, Yatzkowitz told us “Exchange business cards with the person to your left and the person to your right. By the end of this program, one of you will be in corporate upper management, one of you will be working at a startup, and one of you will be in rehab after a failed stint at your daddy’s firm. That is just how statistics work.” It was eye-opening for sure and would shape the way we approached the program from that point on.
Together we would collaborate on demanding spreadsheets and analysis reports in between intense sprints of simulated client dinners and cocktail hours with open bar tabs. My wrist still hurts from all the corporate AMEX swipe training they put us through. We drafted thousands of memos that we needed to distribute across the entire office, and we suffered from severe sleep deprivation as we were woken up at all hours of the night to participate in conference calls with our counterparts in all different time zones all over the world.
One night as I was filing my third expense report that week, I just remember thinking “I will never be doing this crap ever again. I am going to do whatever it takes to get into upper management and have others do this for me.”
By the time I graduated, I felt a sense of pride. It wasn’t an easy program, but it prepared me for the future in business that lay ahead of me. We were the few, the proud, the B.S.