A Beginner’s Guide to Drinking from the Firehose | MBA Core Fellows Series

by Raghad Talib AlAttas, MBA ’23 | MBA Core Fellow

Before you start reading this, know that every person’s MBA experience is unique. Along your journey, you may have people telling you what should or shouldn’t be part of your experience, but what you prioritize and value is unique to you and will even keep changing over time. Therefore, it is only natural that the components below may not add up to an exact 100% – and some may not make sense for you to include at all.

In your first semester at MIT Sloan, you’ll hear about ‘drinking from the firehose.’ The phrase describes managing the incredible number of opportunities you have at MIT. Every person has their own unique combination of components to navigate through; but below is my combination, with some insight into the role of each component:

Grit: 32.8%
Intention: 60.3%
Self-Confidence: 100%
Action: 80.3%
Networking: 41.4%
Unlearning fear of missing out (FOMO): 99.9%.

Please read the ideas below with an open heart and mind, and think about the ways they can impact your experience. Also, don’t put too much pressure on yourself –  remember that this is just one of many life experiences.

First (Grit: 32.8%)  Congratulations to YOU for making it this far and succeeding into getting admitted to MIT. For those of you who did not, that is okay, the person writing this is an MIT Sloan re-applicant. The reality is that people don’t often speak about the rejections that they encounter while being in school, but that is simply part of the process and the more you normalize them, the easier it is to not let them bring you down. Your grit journey continues beyond the application process, and getting into MIT is just the beginning – the only difference is that you now have a bigger support system surrounding you.

Second (Intention: 60.3% )  As you get access to a plethora of choices and many different voices around you, filter through them and block those that are not relevant to you. Whether if it’s focusing on academics, making friends, pursuing the job or startup of your dreams or just taking a break and relaxing. Always remind yourself of why you came to business school in the first place, because that will help you stay grounded and true to your goals.

Caveat: Based on my experiences, I recommend keeping an open mind and allowing yourself to experience things other than those you set out for yourself at the start, just remember not to get too carried away with that.

Third (Self-confidence: 100% )  Yes, imposter syndrome is real and can be paralyzing, and yes, you deserve to be here and no, this is not a mistake and yes, your contributions matter and no, there is no such thing as a stupid question. The faster you get over what’s holding you back, the easier it will be for you to explore new opportunities and reach new limits for yourself. Be confident in the person that always stood out in the crowd (anything beyond that 100% is simply unnecessary). Although you will be surrounded by many unique people, you are still one of a kind.

Fourth (Action: 80.3%)  After all is said and while not all is done, words are meaningless if you don’t put them into action. It is okay if you find yourself lost, overwhelmed and simply not where you planned to be. Keep going and if you need to, pause for a minute, seek help from others, change your mind quickly and move on. The best art that you can master during the MBA is the art of letting go. Letting go of what could have been and what should have been.

Fifth (Networking: 41.4%)  Given the nature of the program, whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, you will always be meeting new classmates, professors, alumni, future employers and even reconnecting with previous ones. This is the place where you can decide how much or how little of your time you want to spend on building relationships. Which ones would you be okay with lasting for less than five minutes? And which ones do you want to last for a lifetime?

Finally (Unlearning FOMO: 99.9%)  There will always be something that you can be: an intern, a teaching assistant, a club leader or a co-founder. And there will also always be somewhere you can be: a career event, a club mixer, a friend’s birthday, a c-f(x), a trip, and many other countless places. FOMO will not help you in the process of making decisions about what to prioritize, especially during the core semester, when you are juggling it all at once. The best way to navigate through that is by leaning on your core team and allowing them to lean on you, because this is the time when FOMO will be at its peak, but with the insights you share with each other as a team, the path will be clearer and the FOMO will gradually get better.

While there are many things that you will not be part of, never mind them as you pursue or create your own future. MIT (beyond Sloan) is an amazing place that everyone deserves to explore it and enjoy it in their own way. So have fun and enjoy this journey!


By MIT Sloan CDO