Written by Sebastien Hammacher
What value did you get out of attending orientation?
The biggest value that I got out of orientation was meeting my fellow peers in a fun environment. Although I felt a little shy during the first day of orientation, we were immediately made comfortable by those who organized the orientation and this helped me to quickly make friends.
What activities take place during orientation?
During the international orientation week, we had cultural and language seminars. During that time, I got to meet all the other international students before starting the general full-time orientation. The cultural seminar with Lionel Laroche helped me to understand the basics of Canadian academic and work culture. Throughout the first year of my MBA program I sometimes looked back at the material I learned during the cultural seminar and I was able to use it to work more effectively during group works with Canadians. The English seminar inspired me to improve my written skills to at least reach the level of a native student. I had the opportunity to improve my writing skills throughout the first year and classes such as Leadership Skills, Managing People and Ethics, where some of the assignments included papers.
The full-time orientation consisted of career management and MBTI seminars, our first SMO 652 Leadership class and some social activities to get to know fellow peers. Although I don’t really believe in the MBTI personality test as I feel it puts people into boxes I believe that most students appreciated to get to know themselves better. Moreover, it is the first time I was working with teams in a relaxed environment (no grades assigned). In one instance we had to complete a group project within 3 hours and most students agreed that this was the most stressful task during orientation as everyone is so competitive and it’s almost impossible to complete the task on time in an acceptable way but it was mainly testing us how we cope with stress.
What surprised you the most about orientation when you attended?
The diversity of the class. We have students from Ukraine, Columbia, Italy, Rumania, Bulgaria, China, India, and plenty of other countries. Some students are married and have kids. Some are as young as 23 and some as old as 45. We have students that work in all kind of positions such as entrepreneurs, stockbrokers, marketing managers, project managers, consultants. Every time I met a new student I got inspired by his or her story, which only motivated me even more to take advantage of the Alberta MBA program.
What was your favorite memory from orientation?
My favorite memory from orientation was the fun, social sporting activity & BBQ. I love soccer and I got to play soccer during that day followed by some delicious BBQ.
What advice would you have for an incoming student attending orientation?
Attend all events at the beginning to get to know as many students as possible. Don’t be shy and push yourself to step outside your comfort zone. Start doing your reading for SMO 652 class right from the beginning and take good notes from Dr. Richard Field’s class in order to succeed on his final exam. Although he might look like a professor that gives every student an A, the class average was actually one of the lowest during the Fall 2015 semester. You will love Lionel Laroche class on cultural adaptation in Canada. Take the initiative to organize a social event with some of your international peers during the first day so that you don’t have to hang out alone at home after your first day of orientation.