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MIT MBA - The Full Experience [part 3]

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Published: January 12, 2024
Episode Description:

Attention recent admits! Praew gives specific advice on how to plan for the MBA experience and optimize your time abroad.


Get Ready for Your MBA: Insights from an MIT Sloan Student

Praew shares her advice and experiences for incoming students.

  • Step outside your comfort zone: Don't just attend classes – actively participate in events, clubs, and leadership roles. This is where the real learning and growth happen.
  • Embrace the discomfort: Being in a new environment, surrounded by unfamiliar people and cultures, is naturally uncomfortable. But pushing through it leads to personal and professional development.
  • Understand your limits: While pushing yourself is important, recognize your capacity for social interaction and prioritize mental and emotional well-being.
  • Build your endurance: Just like physical exercise, your social stamina can be improved. Learn to pace yourself and take breaks when needed.
  • Connect with the community: MIT Sloan fosters a supportive environment where current students and alumni are happy to help and guide you.

Praew's welcome video for another Thai student highlights the strong sense of community and camaraderie among MIT Sloan scholars. Check out Praew's other podcast episodes for more insights. Connect with current MIT Sloan students and alumni for guidance and support. Embrace the challenges and opportunities that your MBA journey brings


MIT Sloan, MBA, international student, leadership, comfort zone, personal growth, mental health, community, support


Dane Phillips:Okay, welcome back to insights, Episode 42, part C, part three, I forget again how Fernie does this. But anyway, third and final section. There's still a couple of things that I really wanted to talk to Praew about. I'm loving this, I could do this all day. But we'll, we'll try to wrap this up in the next 20-25 minutes, but Praew: I feel like our conversation has really revolved around the social element, and some of that still active learning. You know what I mean? Definitely there's an education element with this as well. But I think the key here is that it does not all happen inside the classroom. In fact, the majority of it does not.

With that in mind, for all of the people listening that got in round one, they just got that great news, or they're powering through round two with the aspirations of getting the acceptance that you got, what should they be thinking about? What advice would you give them as they prepare for the actual MBA?

Praew:Yeah, of course, I think I have so many things I'd like to say about how to prepare for your MBA. However, I think one of the most important things that people should try is to, don't be too comfortable, and just get out of your comfort zone. Like, of course, you'll be in a new location, new environment, new friends, school, like going back to school after work, that would leave be a stretch, and definitely be out of your comfort zone.

And with that in mind, I realize, at least for me, that I also have a tendency to revert back to being comfortable, like talking in Thai and being around Thai people, or doing things that I know would like, be something familiar, like, to what I'm used to. However, I think like we all will learn best and learn so much by being in distress zone. And for example, for me, I'm, I think I'm an introverted person, like, I need my quiet time, I need my me time. And I need to be comfortable to a certain point, like talking in Thai getting Thai food here or with Thai friends. But also, I learned so much from putting myself out there from signing up to become the social share, to lead the entire class of English speakers when I'm a secondary speaker.

And I learned so much through that experience in which I noticed that people usually – especially international students, I noticed that sometimes they are less likely to put themselves out there to lead the class, the club or having leadership positions. However, I do encourage people, I do encourage international students and Thai students, or secondary speakers like me to step up and to sign up for all those leadership roles. And you will realize that, of course, it'd be really scary. And it takes a lot of courage to speak in front of people to lead initiatives, and to steer people, convince people to do things that you want them to do. But once you get it right the first time, second time or third time you have any questions, and you are more likely to step off to even more leadership positions.

So this is what I would like to share with the students, the incoming class, that like put yourself out there, do something that you're not familiar with, and do something that's totally out of your comfort zone in your stress zone. And you'll learn so much from being in that position. And you learn so much from doing something new and different when you're here doing your MBA.

Dane Phillips:Absolutely. I think that's fantastic advice. And I like the specificity of it right? I mean, we've definitely heard, be willing to get out of your comfort zone, etc. But I mean, I think the details of what you're describing is, is what's so helpful for that because, you know, you talk about leadership role, right? That can be formal or informal, right? So for example, you don't have to literally be the head of the social club, you can be one of the people that walked up to you after class and said, “You know what, I'm willing to help,” you know, that's still stepping up that's out of your comfort zone. Showing up at these events when you may – definitely would prefer to stay home after a long day.

And I think you bring up a really, really good point which is everything is already outside of your comfort zone. You're all already living 10,000 miles from home, you're in your apartment, you're eating strange food, you're having to go back to school for the first time in a long time. There's the weather. I mean, Life is stressful, right? So I think for, for people to say, you know, I went through all this, I'm already uncomfortable. So why don't why shouldn't I have a couple of chill hours at home with some friends and take it easy?

And definitely you – I think – you have to balance it right? You have to balance your emotional health with these things. But point is yes, you're already uncomfortable. But pushing it that little bit further is going to be so rewarding as you describe, because I can tell you, Americans have to do the same thing, right, because the Americans have to go out. And they grew up in Minnesota and have never left you know, and then you invite them out for Thai food. And that's scary, you know, or they're around a bunch of international students speaking different languages coming from different religions.

Obviously, we just had the holidays. I mean, there's three, four or five different major religious holidays going on. They're used to being in control, they're used to knowing everything, think about MBBS, or whatever, where they're like, I know everything I have always been the smartest person in the room. And then suddenly you walk in and you're like, none of this is familiar. Never heard that. I don't know these languages. I don't understand these religions. This culture is new, the situation is new, this meal is new. I don't know how to bowl, whatever it is, right. So I think Americans are going through it as well. And Westerners, everybody is going through it and you kind of got to meet in the middle. And that middle point is by nature, going to be a little bit uncomfortable, but also ultra rewarding.

And you mentioned the introvert extrovert. I think I love to reiterate to people that an introvert is not somebody who can't talk. And an extrovert is not somebody who's great at talking and socializing. That's not what it is. When people hear you they think extrovert, you're really well spoken, you've taken on a leadership position, you're fluent, you're dynamic, you have urgency in your voice, you're really fun to talk to, I think 9.9 out of 10 people would say extrovert, but you know yourself. And you know, that's not the case. I will say for me, personally, everyone, everyone assumes that I am an extrovert because I talk for a living. I mean, this is literally what I do all day, every day. And I love it. I love, love, love what I do. But it is ultimately emotionally exhausting. I mean, at the at the end of a season, I can feel just how little I have left in me. And part of that is because I am to some degrees an introvert. And what that means is an extrovert is energized by interaction. That's it, you know, they're the people that want to go to the after party, you know, you go to the first thing, and it's, it's so cool that you're like, oh, let's go to a bar. And everybody else is like, Let's go to sleep. So an extrovert is energized, an introvert can be super cool life of the party is very active, great speaker, everybody loves them. But they're sapped of energy at the end of that event. And they need to go back and like you said, sit in a quiet room, and just kind of decompress. And I think that I'm actually much more like that. Especially because of what I do for a living. I, every day, I'm talking to people going through what is probably the most stressful experience of their lives. I mean, just think about how terrifying this was for you. And multiply that by 60. And if you actually care about what you do, you're invested, right? You have the weight of the world on your shoulders all the time. So if you're really, again, if you're doing this, what I would consider the right way, which is emotionally invested in the success of the people around you, you are going to be emotionally exhausted. And you but you can't let that stop you from making those efforts. And live again living in Thailand for 15 years. And at the end of the day, it's very easy to say no, I'm not going to go to this cool Thai event or I'm not going to do Songkran this year. I'm not gonna go to Loy Krathong or whatever the case may be – a Thai wedding, you know, for 14 hours. It's easy to say no. But the most rewarding experiences in my life and Thailand have been from saying yes and doing those things.

So yeah, you got to balance your mental and emotional health. I definitely don't want to discount that. But what you're describing of getting out of your comfort zone and making those efforts and really just making the most of the experience – everybody's spending the same amount of money – it's 8 million baht no matter what, right? So you're getting more for your buddy than some people do. So, you know, invest in yourself invest in those experiences, I think that's fantastic advice. And you can take a nap when it's all over.

Praew:I would like to add a bit on our conversation about introvert/extrovert. And what I have learned so far, like from my MBA experience is that I, as I talk like you earlier about organizing events, putting myself out there, trying new things, being in this new environment – it's all important, but also I think this is such a good learning experience for me to understand my own capacity of how much I can handle the social interactions.

And when do I need to pull back in order to operate efficiently, not only socially, but also academically, and emotionally, and mentally, and because, for me, my goal is to become a more people person. And to reach that point, I know, I need to have the capacity to handle the social interactions. So I think putting myself out there – I'm expanding my capacity. But on the other hand, I will also learn more about myself and how much I could handle comfortably, while learning and while knowing when to pull back.

So, throughout the semester, I've learned so much. I've had breakdowns from doing too many social events. But also now I learned that, oh, this is my breaking point, I am on my way to a breaking point – and when to communicate and when to ask for help. And when do I need to pull up and I think the skills will be valuable skills. After I graduated – after I go back – after I have my own team, and I have to manage people and manage relationships, I know that these skills would definitely be very valuable for me, like in the future.

Dane Phillips:I love that. I love the combination of those two things. And it reminds me, I know you like to work out, right? Working out is really important to you. And to me, that's what this sounds like, right is that you're both pushing your endurance, but also note learning your limits simultaneously, right? I mean, you can go out and run every day. And you know, sometimes it's a marathon, sometimes it's a sprint, and you can push yourself, but you're also learning when you need to take a break, you're learning when you need to, as you said, maybe rely on other people and ask for help.

So, it is a little bit like that emotional energy is a little bit like physical energy. And that yes, you can build it. Yes, you can…you know, as an athlete, we always say I can always run a little bit more, I can always put in that extra mile, whatever the case may be. But realistically speaking, everybody has a limit. And it's really important to learn where those are, or you're going to end up overexerting yourself and of course, that's dangerous as well.

So, you know, I think this is about endurance, it is about, yes, improving endurance, but everybody has their limit, and you will be better to yourself and to others if you take care of yourself along the way. So I think that's really good advice that you are pushing yourself but also paying attention and learning about yourself at the same time.

Very cool. Well, Praew, it was fantastic catching up with you. I know you have to go to lunch and go off and do more socializing. So, I will let you do that. But thank you so much for taking the time to catch up with me just on a personal note, even if we hadn't been recording this. That was a great conversation. I really enjoyed it. And then, of course, for the listeners out there, I think they're going to get so much out of this conversation and your experiences.

Praew 1:All right. Thank you so much for having me here today. And I'm really excited for our listeners who are applying or who got accepted in Round 1, or if you're working on your acceptances in Round 2 – I wish you all the best and reach out to me or Dane if you have any questions or if you want to learn more about MIT Sloan. I'm here as your resource and will be really excited to connect to everyone.

Dane Phillips:Awe, that's really sweet. Very cool. And it actually reminds me of something you told me earlier, which is that you get to celebrate – obviously you're always wanting to help those people but you get to celebrate their successes, too – like your welcome video for Punpun when you got in, right?!

I love that scholars are always rooting for other scholars, but just in general, you know what it takes to get through this and to get in. So sending that welcome video and having your classmates welcome him to the MIT Sloan community. I thought that was a beautiful thing to do. And it just shows you the camaraderie that exists within this community. I regularly tell people to do their due diligence, go find out how other people got in, what did they do? What were their experiences like? Do your research. Because Thais are super cool. If you want to go to a school, find the type people at that school and say, “Hey, I'm Thai. Can I ask you a few questions?” and overwhelmingly people will be willing to help so very sweet of you to offer. Thank you so much for that.

For all the listeners out there, please check out both of Praew's podcasts episodes. They're fantastic. And of course, as she points out, the MIT current students and alumni are going to be there to support you and root for you and help you during this life changing process. So, good luck to everyone out there. Proud. Thank you so much. Again, really appreciate it. And we'll do an episode in another six months. We'll just keep doing this forever.

Praew:Of course,

Dane Phillips:Thank you so much. All right. Awesome. So proud. Thank you again, and I will talk to you again soon. Take care!


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