With Halloween just a few weeks away and the new season of The Walking Dead starting, it’s easy to get distracted by pretend-scary ghouls and zombies. Little did you know that you have much more terrifying characters waiting for you in business school. If you dare, check out the five scariest people you’ll meet in b-school.
Everyone knows the Gunner because the Gunner is unavoidable. At summer orientation, the Gunner can already recommend the best pizza near campus. In class, the Gunner has already read through every case study. She volunteers to lead every discussion group. She shouts out every correct answer, and they’re always correct, and carries five copies of her resume and business cards in a neat leather folio. Embossed with her initials, naturally. Why is the Gunner scary? She’s got this MBA thing figured out, and she’s not scared to show it. Gunners can be intimidating, irritating, and demoralizing to the group dynamic. Recognize yourself? Give other people a chance to shine. Leaders know when to take credit and when to lift others up. Know a Gunner? Don’t sweat them. Everyone has their own path to b-school success.
The Party Animal
Who goes out on a Monday? Party Animal. Who comes to class smelling vaguely of last night? Party Animal. Whether he’s reliving his undergrad glories, or making up for lost time, Party Animal is impossible to keep up with. We all have priorities, and his revolve firmly around his social life. Hanging out with him is fifty shades of fun until you’ve slept through a deadline or woke up in a strange apartment across town wearing a poncho and a feather boa. You might be a Party Animal if you know the tap rotation at the local bar better than your course syllabus. Getting an MBA can be as much about building valuable social networks as it is about in-class learning. Try and think of an MBA like a mullet: business in the front, party in the back.
Is he the heir of an international shipping magnate? He certainly lives like one. The Yachtsman may or may not have an actual yacht, but he lives life on the edge of one. From organizing a weekend skiing trip… to Gstaad to using an iPad as a coaster, the Yachtsman is living inside a Rick Ross video. Like Harvard Business School’s infamous Section X, keeping up with b-school’s Yachtsmen is an expensive endeavor on top of your tuition investment. Trying to keep up with your high-rolling classmates? Don’t, or pick your battles. Your invaluable social experiences can come from a weeknight trivia game at your local pizza place, too. Don’t get dragged into a game of oneupmanship. It’s rarely worth it when the champagne has dried out.
The One with the Startup/App
How do you know if your business school classmate has an app or a startup? She’ll tell you about it! Starting a startup or launching an app has become the opposite of Fight Club. Whether it’s “like Uber but for cupcakes” or “it’s Instagram for your grandma”, the One With The Startup can’t wait to talk your ear off about her business plan, her plans for funding (hey, would you like to contribute?) and her goals of becoming the next billion-dollar-valuation unicorn. Recognize yourself? Bouncing ideas off of your classmates is one of the best parts of an MBA experience, but if you start to notice people beeline for the stairs when you get on an elevator, you may have crossed the line to shameless self-promotion. Have to deal with a future internet mogul? Be supportive and kind if you can, or take the stairs!
The Cardiac Kid
Group project due at midnight? The Cardiac Kid hits “send” at 11:59 p.m. and not a minute before. Have only 15 minutes before a presentation? The Cardiac Kid is still furiously revising his slides. Fifteen minutes? That’s plenty of time! The Cardiac Kid sees deadlines as a game of chicken. Being able to work under pressure is a terrific skill to cultivate, making teammates sweat because minutes float in and out of your life like snow? Less endearing to your future coworkers. Trying to manage one of these mavericks? You’ll need patience, follow-ups, and a whole lot of faith. And a Plan B. See yourself in this description? Then you probably have something more pressing due (studying for the GMAT, maybe?) so get back to work!