Student Voices: My Immersion Weekend Experience

They say time flies when you’re having fun.

That couldn’t be truer for me as an MBA@UNC student. We are now more than half way through the quarter and my cohort is a third of the way through the entire program. It’s hard to believe we’re only a month away from the next immersion weekend in San Francisco since I’ve only just begun to process the experience of the first one we had in December.

I’ll be the first to admit I was a little hesitant about the first immersion weekend, which took place in Chapel-Hill, N.C. What would it be like to spend three solid days with people I only knew through a virtual classroom?  My undergraduate degree and first master’s were both traditional degree programs so the concept of an immersion was as foreign to me as a virtual classroom was six months ago.

In the end, the weekend was better than I could have imagined on every level.  The MBA@UNC team continues to impress me [by delivering a learning experience that exceeds any and all expectations of an online program]. Meeting my classmates for the first time felt like a reunion rather than an introduction, albeit a very intense reunion filled with seminars and activities focused on leadership development. By Sunday afternoon we found ourselves utterly exhausted from the long days and late nights.

While we waited for cabs to the airport, a few of us laughed and rehashed the weekend’s experiences. It reminded me of the friendships I formed as an undergrad after living through my first all-night study session.  Thankfully I haven’t had to pull an all-nighter for my MBA, though the operations management simulation project this quarter might change that. (The competitive spirit is starting to get the best of our cohort… we’ll see).

Like all of our assignments, the main purpose of the project is academic, and getting to know my classmates better is an added, if unexpected, benefit. As the camaraderie of our cohort grows day by day, I never feel as if I am missing something in the MBA@UNC that I could only find in a traditional program.  This is also true on the academic front. Looking at the schedule for the upcoming immersion weekend, there are going to be so many interesting sessions and speakers planned as we will be learning about entrepreneurship in San Francisco. Time is definitely flying on this journey, and I can’t wait to see what’s next.

About Kristen Fanarakis: Kristen spent the last 13 years working in financial services after graduating from UNC-Chapel Hill with a BA in economics and political science.  She started her career in investment management in Boston where she earned her masters in international economics part-time.  She spent the last seven years in foreign exchange sales covering institutional managers for various Wall Street banks.