Juan Irias

MBA for Professionals Class of 2014 – Evening

Business Administration, University of Detroit Mercy
Senior Financial Analyst, BP


My MBA experience at Rice began this past summer in July, starting with the MBA for Professionals Kickoff and Immersion Week. Kickoff was a day of excitement and curiosity that marked the official start of my MBA endeavor. During kickoff we were welcomed to the MBA for Professionals program by Dean Glick and he shared his vision of the future for the Jones Graduate School of Business. Kickoff also allowed us to meet our fellow classmates as well as our respective teams. At the Jones School, everyone is placed on teams of about four to six people during the first year. This allows a cohesive mix of personal backgrounds, professional experiences, and strengths in different subject areas that come in very handy when completing team assignments throughout the semester.

I really liked the fact that both the Evening and Weekend MBA for Professionals students participated in the Kickoff activities together, as it gave me an opportunity to network with the students in the other program. Other activities during Kickoff included meeting the Jones School staff, participating in really fun yet competitive team building activities, and networking. The day ended with a relaxing night at St. Arnold’s Brewery, where families were able to join the students to celebrate the start of the school year. Kickoff was a great precursor to what was to come during Immersion and my new business school reality.

As a working professional, I took time off from work in order to participate in Immersion. Immersion set the stage of what my future Rice MBA journey would be like: challenging and rewarding. Immersion disconnected me from my day to day routine and allowed me to completely focus on school. During the day, we would attend classes and presentations that would last into the early evening. I was very impressed with the method of teaching and energy level of the faculty at Rice. My professors were very engaging and had a witty sense of humor that encouraged me to participate and kept classes exciting. The faculty also earned my respect right away. Providing guidance along the way, the faculty was always available to answer any assignment questions, even during the late hours of the evening.

Another aspect of Immersion and working in a team is that it took me out of my comfort zone. Nevertheless, I did not have to worry; my team represents a good mix of professions with backgrounds ranging from business to engineering to teaching, and we are all very engaged and focused. As an MBA student, you learn the importance of listening and how to respect and challenge differences in opinion.

Immersion week definitely prepared us to what was to come as Rice MBA students!