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Advice for New Graduate Students

During the Bryan School’s 2019 reception for admitted graduate students, alumna Tasmin Farzana shared some of the lessons learned during her MBA experience, and her tips for new students.

Tasmin is a self-described “supply chain enthusiast” working at Hanesbrands, a Fortune 500 company and one of the top leaders in the apparel industry with a very strong global supply chain. She began her career in supply chain with a small, local company she learned about through the Bryan School’s graduate career counselor. At the time, she shared, she wasn’t even aware what a “sourcing” job entailed! After researching the field, she secured the job and became a sourcing analyst, and later a sourcing manager, before joining Hanesbrands.

Here are her top tips for graduate students:

Ask Questions

I can’t tell you how important it is to speak up and feed your curiosity. I was relatively quiet in my classes. When I was confused, I wouldn’t ask for clarification because I was afraid of what my classmates or teacher would think about me. Or, I was simply lazy to raise my hand. In the corporate world, in a room full of subject experts, you must ask questions in order to make your project successful. Your classroom environment is perfect for practicing. Sometimes you will be amazed to see how others are also benefiting from your questions.

Get comfortable with “No” and “Never”

I think I hear “no” and “never” more every day than “yes we can do it!” I used to struggle hearing “no” early in my career, but I realized that all the changes and great works in history received some resistance.

Think of China’s richest man, Jack Ma, who founded the e-commerce site Alibaba. Before he was the richest person in China, he went through a lot of rejections. He applied for 30 jobs and got rejected from them all – including a rejection from Kentucky Fried Chicken. In his own words, “When KFC came to China…24 people went for the job. 23 people were accepted, and I was the only guy who was rejected.”

Clearly hearing no did not stop him! Instead of complaining and whining, he accepted his situation, took responsibility, and moved forward with different strategies.

There are moments when you will hear from credible sources that “it’s not the right time” or “you are not ready for this promotion or job.” I encourage you – if you think you are ready and have the courage to do it, then “Just do it!”

Watch out for Blind Spots.

We all have faults or beliefs that unknowingly prejudice our decisions, and those are our blind spots. In business, those blind spots can lead to organizations growing complacent. Consider Blockbuster video: they thought that their business model could not be disrupted. As we all know, Netflix brought new ideas to the marketplace and Blockbuster is now history.

One of my favorite business leaders, Ray Dalio, Founder and Ex-CEO of Bridgewater, said, “The two biggest barriers to good decision making are your ego and your blind spots.” So be mindful about the unseen when you are making a business or personal decision.