By Dan Jackson, M.B.A. ’12

I was nervous, and did not know what to expect as I walked from the 11th and Harmon Parking Lot into Schulze Hall.  As I descended the stairs towards the Schulze Hall Auditorium, excitement started to build as I saw members of my MBA class (the Class of 2012) being greeted by the full-time MBA faculty and staff, obtaining the necessary packet of information, name badges and name plates that were needed for the week ahead and introducing themselves to each other.  It was a moment that I will never forget and continues to be one of the vivid memories of my full-time MBA experience.

Working in the MBA admissions office, I had an opportunity to re-live this experience recently as members of the full-time Class of 2014 began their 21-month journey at the Opus College of Business during Launch Week.  Being on the other side of the table this time, I could relate to what many students in the Class of 2014 were feeling on Monday morning.  It was great being able to greet students and put them at ease, ensuring that they had everything they needed and all of their questions answered.

While most MBA programs have orientation sessions of various lengths, we at the University of St. Thomas host Launch Week.  Launch is a time to get acclimated to the expectations of MBA life as well as get to know the group of people with whom you will spend the next few months.  Outside of the traditional welcome activities that are completed during an orientation session.  Students are fully engaged in what to expect in their classes and are led by professors down the pathway towards a productive and successful MBA experience.

Even before arriving for the first day of Launch, students receive their marching orders from various departments on campus.  Graduate Business Career Services provides a list of activities to help the students become better professionals and land that full-time opportunity upon graduation.  Readings are assigned and writing assignments given that prepare students to learn more about the purpose of business, their role and how they fit in here at the Opus College of Business.  During Launch, students receive a welcome from Dean Puto, have a chance to meet and hear introductions from the entire faculty and staff, find out a little more about their groups/teams that will get them through the semester, are introduced to the case method, receive a brief snapshot on branding, all before being ushered off to their first mix and mingle event with the faculty, staff and the Class of 2013…and that’s only on Day 1.

By the end of the week, students have had a chance to work intensely with their teams on their first major group assignment and are ready to present their findings to the faculty and staff during the Launch Week final presentation.

Similar to other full-time UST MBA classes, the Class of 2014 boasts a variety of individuals with varied interests.  Outside of Minnesota and Wisconsin, students hail from as far as New York and Alaska and a host of countries located in Central and South America, Europe, Africa and Asia.  One student has been featured on the Oprah show, another a black belt in judo.  One student has travelled to every state within the United States another student is a certified yoga instructor.  Many students enjoy the Latin-style dance of Salsa, while still others spend their free time cooking and baking.  Long-term professional interests include a desire to pursue asset management, to health care administration and management, to human resources, to non-profit management, to entrepreneurship and more.

In sum, this group of first-year MBA students is off to an excellent start for the school year.  Class of 2014…welcome to the Opus College of Business and best of luck over the next 21-months!!