I finished my first semester at the Yale School of Management this week. Seems like an appropriate time to reflect on everything that’s happened since I rooted up my life six months ago to come here. The first lesson is that I rather like being back in school again. For better or worse, the academic schedule is much less demanding on one’s time and stamina than being in the “real world.” Thing is, it didn’t really seem that way until I got to take off for my parents’ house in the middle of a weekday for a nearly month-long break. Until then, I gotta be honest, it was kind of intense. The program here, while still somewhat in “beta” mode, has a lot of promise in my opinion. I never thought I would be interested in things like managerial accounting or the UK market for premium showers, but the concepts we learn can really be applied to pretty much anything. And just when I was starting to get jaded about my schoolwork this semester, we get this fantastic case on the Competitor exam about the One Laptop Per Child program and its ongoing, and often uncomfortable, relationship with Intel. For one glorious morning, everybody in my class, bankers and tree-huggers alike, had to write about the challenges of a mission-oriented nonprofit competing for the same market with a major multinational corporation—using as primary sources news articles that were less than three weeks old. Now that is awesome!

That wasn’t the first time this fall that I have found myself fascinated by a business school case that was rooted in the nonprofit world. For the Deloitte-sponsored Net Impact Case Competition in November, a raucous all-night affair that bookended intensive work around the case with a party at the graduate center bar, we analyzed a (real) profit-generating initiative by a (real) charity for autistic adults and children in the local area. The case, which was published by SOM’s Program on Social Enterprise, was a big hit among the competition participants. I’m looking forward to Sharon Oster’s Strategic Management of Nonprofit Organizations course in the spring where we’ll be doing a lot more of this kind of stuff. The only downside is that it meets Mondays and Wednesdays at 8:15am—for the entire semester. Alas, five and a half years of post-college maturation has not made me any more of a morning person.

The second half of SOM’s Organizational Perspectives series completes my courseload in the first spring session. In addition to Oster’s course, I’ll be taking Employee, State & Society, Operations, and Innovator. That all seems far away right now, though. For the moment, I’m home with the family and looking forward to my trip to Israel and Turkey as part of my International Experience next month.

Thanks to all of you who have been reading the blog thus far, and I hope to keep entertaining you in the new year. If you ever have any feedback for me, please feel free to leave a comment or email! Take care and happy holidays, everyone.