To Be A Yale SOMer

Daniel Feng

IMBA Class of 2016


Yale University has been a holy land for me since childhood, where it is mysterious, sacred, inspiring, authoritative, beautiful, presidents and Nobel Prize winners everywhere on campus, etc. I would try to find any words and phrases beautiful to describe it. The moment I received the offer from Yale School of Management (SOM) congratulating me to be a “Man at Yale”, I was eager to blow away the myths covering it.

Leadership Spirit

My Yale SOM journey started with Dean Snyder’s welcome speech that taught me some very important principles, which can be concluded as following:
"Be authentic,
Be comfortable with your uncomfortable zone,
You are not born to be a leader, but you can always learn to be a leader from getting feedback and learning from that."

At that moment, I didn’t expect those words would be so important to me in the following days. When I look back to what he said, I find that these principles actually have run through every Yale SOMer’s daily life, such as studying, job searching, and social network. Now, I understand by heart how well intentioned those words are.

The Honor Code

This is definitely a huge, serious and hard topic that everyone should be aware of, including self-protection from culture assault, discrimination, harassment and sexual assault, and plagiarism prevention.

Cross-culture management is the first lesson that all Yale SOMers need to learn. At Yale SOM, students’ backgrounds are extremely diversified on the basis of different nationalities, ethnicities, and color of skins. For instance, over 400 students of class 2017 represents over 60 nationalities and more than 30% of color. Indeed, approximately 15% students reported sexual assault annually. During orientation at the very beginning of first semester, I was impressed and inspired by a half-day Broadway-style show, revealing how those hostile affairs actually happen under different scenes, how victims truly feel from the angle of a third party, what people should do to avoid being a victim and, even more, to defuse such conflicts. What I learned from that is, as a leader, the easiest way to deal with conflicts is to sit down and communicate directly.

Plagiarism issue, the bottom line that nobody dares to touch, likes an alarm and shame bell hanging upon everyone’s head. When the siren is on for someone, there’s no doubt that his/her journey as a member of Yale community comes to a dead end. Nobody wants that!

The Orange Cohort

This represents Master of Advanced Management (MAM) class which is the program I am in and is definitely the best cohort in Yale SOM (I believe it so much).

In MAM Class of 2017, I have 61 MAM classmates from 28 countries speaking over 30 languages as their mother tongue. When I had conversations with such diversified classmates, I was shocked by their fantastic backgrounds - lawyer, brand manager, entrepreneur, teacher, financial professional, consultant, architect, and government official. Some of them were even professional model, navigator and boxer! Amazing! I also had a classmate called “President Dan”. We call him “president” because he has a dream to be the President of Uganda one day and devotes himself to make a better place for his people in Uganda. Whenever he talks about it, I can always feel the passion and urgent hope in his eyes.

This is also a friendly competitive community. Everyone has an extremely tight schedule on their colorful calendar, fulfilled with homework, coffee chats, interviews, academic lectures, social events, and entertainments. Because of that, SOM is quite a busy place where people don’t usually have leisure greetings and small talks. When people try to have a conversation with each other, it starts with no doubt by saying, “Do you have time now for…?” Yes, sometimes the professional environment makes me feel quite impersonal. But, once people have extra-time, they will actively respond to your request and do their greatest to help.

This is also a community where people strongly believes in “Work Hard, Play Harder”. Working and studying till deep night is a culture and normal thing, but going to GYPSY (a famous pub only open to Yale graduate students) in midnight is also a culture.

Words in The End

I accept everything here because I chose it. I won’t say that Yale changes my life, but I learn, suffer and benefit from this holy land quite a lot. So far so good and I love it.