Advice from MBA students and partners

How can “the student” help “the partner”?

  • Look for opportunities for the partner to join you at social events or school events (taking classes, leading groups, attending speaking engagements).
  • Make 1:1 time and create non-b-school activities/getaways and conversations. B-school is a whole world he or she is not living & breathing and he shouldn’t be subjected to all b-school-all-the-time. A  break from it will do your partner (and you) good.
  • Respect your partner’s goals, achievements and make sure you are prioritizing things as a team.
  • Ask and listen for feedback from your partner on how he is feeling. Be open to changing things up to benefit the health of the relationship.
  • Find other couple friends early on. The key is for the partner to feel part of the community, because its then not me hanging out with “my” friends, but us hanging out with our friends.
  • Reconnect with things that you used to do before school, because not everything needs to be about school. In reality, school=you and not the partner.
  • Keep each other updated during the day via whatever communication mechanism works. Several people mentioned feeling good about “surprise” text messages.
  • Remember that partner groups don’t always apply to your partner’s specific circumstances. Often times, partner groups may skew towards those who aren’t working, or other different situations.

How can “the partner” help “the student”?

  • Be understanding that sometimes things do get hectic and to honestly communicate when there is frustration. Know that the situation may not get solved right away (but should eventually).
  • Understand the b-school lifestyle and know what you’re signing up for as a partner–a few examples: 1) first semester is a whirlwind while your partner adjusts to being a student again, 2) recruiting season is stressful and you will likely need to learn how to mock-interview your partner (be kind), and 3) there are some events where you just have to go with the flow out of tradition (i.e. “what’s a white party and why do we have to wear wigs?”).
  • Remember that MBA events are not always fun! An evening at a fancy restaurant or a cocktail hour can often be stressful for the student because he/she may be sitting across a future employer!
  • Communicate what is working, what’s not working and what you need. Don’t be afraid to speak up and address things early before they become real problems.
  • Be open at work about your changed circumstances, and ask about work flexibility. It may free time to better enjoy the overall experience!