Thea Sokolowski




United States


Social Impact



By Thea Sokolowski

Hellary on Wheels

As we forge into Hilary Term (lovingly nicknamed “Hellary” from the combination of cold, dark winter weather and building intensity in the MBA), we’re settling more into ourselves as business students. Now more selective when it comes to how I spend my time, I can feel myself becoming focused, moving from exploration to a deep dive into the areas that really excite me. I think we all came here with certain tendencies (some more than others) and distinct passions that continue to surface. As those passions and ideas and hints of our future take shape, there is no shortage of outlets through which these can be explored and expressed.

Being an MBA is sort of like living in a safe zone. We’re business people with training wheels on. We have this unique opportunity to build a company, to compete in investment competitions, to become temporary consultants, to explore our marketing skills and play with financial analysis. We do this from the safety of the SBS walls, without the constraints of working with real capital, without the pressures of being part of a real company or holding down a job. All the while we’re guided by the professors and advisors and industry experts at our fingertips who have done it before. Basic necessities accounted for, we have all our time to focus on learning how to stay afloat.

For instance, EP. Training wheels: on. Reminiscent of my days working with entrepreneurs at MEST, our monumental Entrepreneurship Project officially kicked off this week with a lengthy presentation outlining tactics and tools we’ll be using in the coming weeks as we attempt to create our own businesses. It seems the tables have turned, and I have now become my former students. Good thing I still have my slide decks.

Personally, I’m excited about the ideas my class will bring to the table. Having been part of plenty of ideation sessions, I know that arriving at a direction is not an easy task. The massive range of skill sets and interests brewing among this class will undoubtedly spill over into some innovative projects. It’s possible these will end up becoming real businesses, as has happened in the past. The idea is that we remain open to that possibility, treating this as a real startup, while recognizing it as an opportunity to practice in our safe space.

I’ve already experienced a bit of the turbulence and triumphs that come with being part of a startup within the first few weeks. It’s thrilling, exhausting and extremely educational. In the real world, falling flat with a startup can have some serious consequences, at least financially. In the MBA world, it results in significant lessons learned, and perhaps a hit on our EP grade. There are worse things. But at least we’re making our mistakes here so we know what to do when the training wheels finally do come off.

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