by Clara Estol, MBA ’23 | MBA Core Fellow
An MBA is an inflection point in every student’s life (both personally and professionally): 2 years in which
we can reflect, explore, choose, and decide what to do next based on trial and error.
I like a definition that we talked about a lot during my time at McKinsey called “insecure overachievers”.
This is a term used to describe some of the best and brightest performers in professional services firms
and beyond. What does this mean? Basically that you are incredibly smart, yet insecure, and that
insecurity is what drives you to become better, never settle, and work as hard as you can to achieve
everything you want in life.
I think we’ve all wondered at some point in our life if our employer made the right decision by hiring us,
or now at Sloan, if the Admissions Office made the right decision by admitting us. Let me tell you
something I constantly remind myself: first of all, chances are that they didn’t make a mistake, there are
very strict and scrutinous processes in place just to make sure that these kinds of mistakes don’t happen.
Second, believe in yourself and others will too; you probably did great things before joining MIT, and
you’ll probably be very successful after you graduate.
Always remember that you are part of a very select group of people with the highest professional
qualifications that anyone – in the world – can have. You are doing great! And make sure to remind
yourself that “if you are the smartest person in the room, you are probably in the wrong room”, surround
yourself with people that challenge you, make you want to become a better version of yourself, not
because of your insecurities, but because you are aware of your incredible potential and everything you
have to offer to contribute to this world becoming a better place.
As MIT students, we believe in science-backed data which is why I’m citing Professor Thomas W.
Malone’s study of Collective Intelligence. His study shows that there are three factors that predict
collective intelligence: (1) The average social perceptiveness of group members, (2) The degree to which
people participate equally in a group conversation, and (3) The percentage of women in the group. These
results emphasize how we can truly get to the best outcomes possible if we work collectively as a group.
As we have all seen in the Cafeteria at E62, there is a big banner stating “smart enough to know we are
smarter together”. This is probably one of my favorite quotes from MIT given that it truly embodies what
MIT as an institution stands for: collaboration and collective intelligence. MIT gives us the incredible
opportunity to meet a very diverse and outstanding group of people, and it is our duty as students to
take advantage of this. I hope that I can look back into this life-changing experience and be proud of
what I accomplished so far, and be certain that I will accomplish far more in the years to come. I truly
hope you can do this too.