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Mark's Duke Fuqua First Year Overview
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Fuqua First Year Overview

This is a summary of activities and things you should consider here at Fuqua. I will add as I have time, and additions will be clearly marked.

Revision History
January 09, 2005 Initial write up
February 1, 2005

Added four paragraphs starting at Companies and Tools

May 5, 2005 Updated after finishing the first year
May 12, 2005 Added a Parking section in the Before School section.
July 13, 2005 Added Term 1 Thoughts and orientation.
Aug-Dec, 2005 Added many things throughout this time
January 04, 2006 Added note about hotel reservations

Note to other current students: Please send suggested changes. I likely left important points out, and I want to make this as complete as reasonable for the class of 2007.

Before School


Before school starts, there are some events that are attended by classmates and you'll have the opportunity to get to know your classmates ahead of time, which is an advantage, and a lot of fun. I participated in LEAD (see below) and got to know many of my classmates during the month before school. Some of the pre-orientation activities include Math Camp, Health Sector Management seminar, international students' summer institute.

If you can come to the campus early, you will benefit from the parties and informal gatherings where you will get to know your classmates in a low-pressure situation. Otherwise, you will get to know them only during the crushing time constraints of terms 1, 2 and 3. You won't be an outsider if you don't do this. But it's a very nice extra to come early.


A "Green Lot" permit will be available to all first year students.  The second year students will be able to get a permit for the "751 lot" (which is closer to Fuqua).  There will be a few first year students who will be able to buy a 751 permit (usually chosen by lottery or some other mysterious means).

BOTTOM LINE: if you can get a permit for the 751 lot, I recommend it.  But some students who have the option, choose the Green lot anyway (I'm assuming for cost reasons).

Note: There are actually many "green lots" but only one that is fairly close to Fuqua.  The entrance to that lot is close to the entrance for the 751 lot, but most "green" spots are much farther than the 751 spots.

Here is a breakdown of the three most commonly considered permits:

Type of Parking Pass Notes
  • This is available to second year Fuqua students and for a very few first year students (generally, about 50 students)
  • This costs is roughly $250 per year.
  • You can park in the 751 lot which means you will be relatively close to Fuqua even from the spots that are the farthest away.
  • Advantages include: Going home in the middle of the day is more feasible, and you can generally arrive as late as 6 minutes before class and be prompt.
  • The disadvantage is the higher cost.
  • This is available to all Fuqua students.
  • This costs roughly $120 per year.
  • You park in one of the many Green lots. The one closest to Fuqua has a few spots that are very good (taken soon after about 7:00 AM on normal days - earlier in the first week of school). The other spots range from a long walk to a very long walk. However the shuttles circulate throughout the parking lots about every 5 minutes in the morning.
  • The Disadvantages include: Arriving 10 minutes before class is likely to make you late. Further, going home in the middle of the day requires much more time, and if you had a good spot, you'll likely not find another when you return.
  • The advantage is a lower cost.
Hybrid (751&Green)
  • This was an option in 2005 for those selected for the 751 lot.
  • This costs roughly $210 per year.
  • You park in the 751 lot on Monday through Thursday
  • On Friday, you use the Green lot
  • See "751" and "Green" above for most advantages and disadvantages.
  • The advantage is a savings of roughly $40

Time Management

If you don't already, I highly recommend using some type of day planner. There are just too many events and email messages coming at you like an avalanche and it will be helpful to be in the habit of writing down any events (company informational meetings (SIPS), important assignments, etc.) and relying on your planner. Doing this reduces my stress because I'm confident that I'm not forgetting anything.

Class Preparation

Of course, you can take math camp and some will do the distance learning classes (see Tips&Links page and the recommended distance learning list from Fuqua Admissions). If you are not familiar with word processors or spreadsheets, then I'd consider doing some familiarizing with Microsoft Word and Excel. Don't worry about really mastering it because the computer skills class (Term 1) is fairly detailed in it's instructions. But if you can at least be familiar with the basic concepts, it will help.

What I would do if I were to do this over again: For anyone who is not familiar with these subjects (and especially for career changers like me) before Fuqua, I would take as many of the following classes as I could (in priority order):

Classes to consider taking BEFORE Fuqua
Class Topic Notes
Finance this is a tough class during a tough term. Any prior learning will help you MUCH
Accounting This will give you the language of business. Knowing terms like capex (refers to capital expenditures) will help you in casual conversations and in classrooms discussions.
Statistics These are useful concepts and if you're fortunate, you might be able to exempt Statistics and fit in another course.


Exempt any class you can. I exempted one course which allowed me to fit in another elective and take advantage of the fantastic electives that will be available to you. I wish I had taken courses before Fuqua and exempted more so I could fit in more of the great electives. Consider classes like Entrepreneurial Finance, Valuation, Medical Devices, or Real Estate Entrepreneurship... classes that Fuqua may offer far better training than you could get elsewhere. If you could take the class elsewhere after Fuqua, consider other courses that may be far more educational at Fuqua.


You will benefit by progressing on these fronts before school starts. Trust me. You'll be glad you did. I didn't do much of any of these, so all had to be done under the tight time constraints of the school year. In this case, do as I say, not as I did.

Resume: Prepare your resume in advance! You will be very glad you did. You will have very little time during term 1 but there will be a deadline for reviews by CMC folks and SY career fellows. The less time you have to devote to this during school, the better. Trust me, just do it before school.

Companies and Tools: Invest a few hours in learning Career Compass (the web based program that you will use for career management, including dropping cover letters and bidding for interviews) and learn a bit about the companies that come to campus. That will help you in the next steps below.

Functional Area: It's important to narrow your career interests to just one or two areas. That way you won't waste as much time going to all meetings and club events that don't align with your goals. I know that is difficult for many who are less decided. I really do understand. But it's important. The more you narrow your focus, the better you will be prepared to cut out unnecessary activities. Trust me, you will NEED to cut out unnecessary activities.

Industry: After you've chosen the two areas (e.g. "I want either Marketing or Operations") that you will target for your career, you need to consider which two industries are the most important. For example, if you want the automotive industry, then take time out EACH WEEK to study automotive trade journals (e.g. Automotive News). Go to the library during your designated time and just sit back and absorb industry knowledge (new models, targeted markets, etc.).

Straight Talk About Choosing a Field: You may not know what you want to do. It's time to decide. If you have to think about it for 2 hours each night before school starts, interview those in the job, or talk to current students, then DO IT. Deciding your functional area and industry will save you MUCH time, and, if you study the industry well, you will stand out above people from other schools (and those at Fuqua who don't do this). When you get here and are involved in way too many things, it will feel like this is lower priority. But those of you who follow this advice will be VERY glad during the interview process. I didn't do these steps early enough, and I paid the price. CHOOSE NOW! (You can, at the bare minimum, narrow your focus.)

Activities Before School


This is a great chance to lead high school minority students in an effort to show them what business and business school is like. They are an energetic, fun and creative bunch of young people. I did this in 2004 and am very glad I did. See LEAD Yearbooks on You will have the opportunity to get to know Fuqua, the Duke campus, and a few professors. It was a help to me and I had a great time.

You can see the National LEAD web site at

Math Camp

Many take a math course before school and the camaraderie created is great. This also prepares one for the math that is done in the first couple terms.

Hotel Reservations for Graduation

This sounds strange I'm sure. But reserve your hotel rooms NOW. These fill up incredibly fast, and I'm paying the price now for not doing this early. Just do it, and send me money for warning you. :-)

Health Sector Management

There is a class for our classmates in HSM and again, the early camaraderie is great.


Get plenty of sleep before orientation. You would think that this is an easy part of school, but fun should not be confused with easy. It's VERY busy and you will miss some sleep. So rest now! See more on the official Orientation web site.

General Notes about ALL Classes

No concepts in any class in the first year are too difficult to grasp given time. But lack of time is your problem. If you are not good at managing your time (in my first year I was very bad) you will suffer. Become good at time management QUICKLY. (Easier said that done, I know, but do it anyway.) Practice now. Push for the most important and time critical tasks first. Cut out as many activities as you can without ignoring your career. It's difficult, but you can and will do it... the sooner the better.

For all classes, the most important activities are intently listening in class and studying the cases. Next is doing any available problem sets. Book reading is more optional, and so-called optional reading is even more optional. Many don't even buy the books (I bought all of them and kept them for reference). Some have material in the course packs that is greatly beneficial. But many of you will need to cut the optional reading. Do teamwork related activities and the cases first. Treat other things as optional.

Concerning cases: The temptation is to think that there is a single solution to the cases. While that may happen, I can't recall any cases that had a single solution. The keys to cases include: doing good analysis, making assumptions where the information is insufficient, stating those assumptions, and backing up your conclusions with good concepts (usually from the course materials).

Term 1


There will be many SIPs (I'm not sure for what SIP stands but it's an informational meeting that companies will hold for those interested). Attendance is taken and companies often care whether you showed enough interested to attend. When you attend, be sure to gather business cards, write thank-you notes after, and gather enough information to use in your cover letters (and in interviews and conversations) so you can show that you know some things about the companies and the representatives that came.


Some of you (likely many of you) will be very overwhelmed. The work-load is very heavy at times, and sometimes it's downright unbelievable. Do not despair. First, there are many who feel this way. Second, this is a great opportunity to practice time management. When under this super stress, I did not do a great job managing my time. But I learned much by the end of the term. It's also a good opportunity to practice a very valuable skill: stress management. This is no joke at all. When under stress, if you fret too much, you can make poor choices and let it ruin your time here at Fuqua. I had to lower my stress by refusing to worry, and just doing my best. This may sound a bit ridiculous right now, but you'll understand in Term 1 (even if you handle it better than I did.. you'll still understand). Practice stress management.

Term 1 will FLY BY! You won't believe it when mid-terms hit. (The entire first year goes quickly.)

Try VERY hard to continue your exercise plan and get good sleep. I know it won't always be possible. But try hard to sacrifice all unnecessary activities that you can in order to get these. NOTE, I failed in this, both my sleep and exercise were very bad. But I encourage you to try to do better than I.

Network! What does that mean? It's not a fake "how do you do.. I think you're tops." Not at all! It's activities like these:

  • "Hey, let's have lunch at the Fox center tomorrow"
  • "Let's have a beer" (keep me in mind for this one - hahahahaha)
  • "Avi, let's talk about the brand challenge idea you had.. what can we do with it."
  • "Yo, Matt, what do you think about this FuquaVision skit idea!"
  • "Hey, how do you like your PDA? Show it to me"
  • "Heck YEAH, I'll go to that party."

This is REAL networking. Networking is both making friends and gaining valuable contacts. Make these contacts by going to events (limiting your time), taking part in activities and clubs, giving your ideas, discussions, etc. You should network with most anyone, even those whose personality isn't a great match with yours (so you can even network with me :-)). You can still have fun and gain much from different perspectives. These activities often don't take much time and they make Fuqua what it is today. Let's make it even better.

Join LinkedIn (and invite me to network with you).

Networking tip: I try to go to most events, but not necessarily stay a long time. For example, when I have a lot of studies (meaning, when I am attending Fuqua :-)) I still want to go to parties. So I go for a bit, and if I have an unusually good time, or happen to get into a great discussion, etc., I stay for as long as that lasts (within reason). If, for whatever reason, I don't get into a good discussion, I leave fairly early. That gives me most of the best networking opportunities and cuts out most of the less fun and less productive times.

Statistics (Probability and Statistics)

The problem sets are critical. You will understand more in class (saving time) if you keep up. This class takes a lot of time and has many team assignments. The book reading was optional, but doing the problem sets should be considered MANDATORY. Listening in class and case studies are the most important.

Managerial Effectiveness

Many articles in the course pack are almost as important as the cases. Sometimes you can avoid the reading and still get the grade, but I gained a lot of knowledge from the course pack reading articles even when we weren't tested on them. I advise reading the course pack articles.

Micro Economics (Managerial Economics)

In addition to listening in class, do the problem sets! It's not so difficult if you keep up.

Computer Skills

Once you buy the course packs, you can start on the assignments and complete them before their due date. The instructions are detailed and therefore are not tremendously difficult. If you want a higher grade then you will need to do the Level 2 parts also and their instructions are not always as clear. If you attend class, they will not be hard. (Note: The first class is mandatory.) If you do not attend class, many of you will still be able to do it, especially with help from others. This is an opportunity to get ahead whenever you have time, and then not attend classes for which you've already done the assignments.

Fall Break


It's a good idea to do a bit of company research using the library resources (company databases are available from anywhere if you use VPN) and company web sites. Just get to know the companies in which you are most interested. This may be a good time to start doing informational interviews so you get used to them. They are a great tool that you should not ignore. I didn't use them until later in the game, and that was a mistake.

Class Schedule

This is a great time to examine your entire two year schedule, so you can fit in your most desired courses in. For example, if you want finance, be sure to consider those courses for term 4 that are only offered in term for. Be sure to get Corporate Finance in so you have time to get Advanced Corporate Finance, etc.

If you are in entrepreneurship, I recommend trying to fit in FSA in term 4 so you can learn financial statements well (important for understanding the vocabulary that many analysts and investors will use). I also recommend considering Term 4's Intellectual Capital.

Entrepreneurs should also consider (unless Duke offers it by then) a sequence of classes at NC State that I call Entrepreneurial Commercialization (their numbers are BUS576 and BUS 577). It helps you work through a process for choosing, then commercializing a technology. So far (in the middle of the first one) it's fantastic. The drawbacks are 1. it's about 25 minutes away, and 2. (could be a plus) it's a year-long commitment. But it's very valuable, and after a petition I submitted, the credits are worth 4.5 hours each semester. Seriously consider these classes. Roger Debo is a rock star in my opinion.


It would be good, although not completely necessary, to study a few cases suitable for your field. If you are interested in marketing, review a few cases on that. (You can find several classes of cases in shared folders for the consulting club, and likely in the marketing club, etc.). These will help you think on your feet in interviews.


I did a bit of work on the pre-assignments, and found an advanced copy of the first case. No, I'm not the most prepared guy, but this gave me a head start on a very tough term. It was worth a bit of geeky studying.

Term 2

Scholastically, term 2 is harder that term 1, but my improvement in time management made term 2 very similar in difficulty. By this time, I was handling the stress in a much more effective way (but it was still stressful and difficult).


There will be some SIPs and you'll begin writing cover letters. If you can get a head start and get some SY's and career fellows to review your cover letters in advance, that will help.

ALSO, learn to look up alumni in the Fuqua alumni database and to look up companies in the library databases. You should continue to refresh your contacts and make new ones at the companies in which you are the most interested. This is very important and will show the passion you have for those companies.

I would select a few companies to be your primary targets so you can invest much time in them. Try for others too, but really focus on a few. Include a couple that are not long-shots too. You want some more sure ones with which you would be happy. Then, you can try for many others at a lighter level.

General Notes About Classes

You will decide if you are going to a GATE during your second term. GATE trips are to other countries and are very educational. There are several regions that are offered. Examples include Cuba, South East Asia, India, South America and Eastern Europe (can't recall the exact name).

In Term 2, you will register for Term 3 and 4 classes. Term 3 is pretty much settled except for adding GATE classes (which occur after terms 3 and 4) or communication classes. So it would be a good idea to map out what you want to take for your entire time here, so you know what to take in the 4th term.

Note about GATE classes: I took a GATE to India and had a great time (and I recommend it). But remember, you will have class during that associated term. You will meet for three hours on one night per week. This is a HUGE chunk out of your study time. Just be aware that a GATE DOES take time from that term.


Again, problem sets are extremely important. If you don't keep up with these, it will be very hard to understand in middle and second half of the class. Just do it in a timely manner and you will be glad.

This is a very tough final. You must keep up with the problem sets.


Cases are king here. For your learning, really invest a lot in these. The course pack articles are good too, but the cases are mandatory and will directly contribute to both learning and to your final. Understand the cases well.. above the reading and other things.

I found the final to be hard.


If you are good with accounting, I'd recommend taking 342 Corporate Financial Reporting. You do not have to get an exemption for this.. just decide if it's right for you and tell the registrar. If you are not good at accounting (as I was not) and you take 342 anyway (as I did) it's VERY hard to catch up in understanding. But it's doable. I won't go as far as recommending it unless you're familiar with accounting though. In most cases, I think it would be better to take Financial Accounting (340).

I hope to get comments from students who took the standard 340 class to put here. I've heard that it was busy, but not too hard. Ask most any SY and they can tell you more than I can.

Managerial Communications

Not too hard if you just prepare for your speeches. It's less time consuming that other classes.


Winter Break


I did a lot of cover letter writing, refreshing contacts and a few informational interviews. I also updated this web site a lot, which is one form of networking you all of you. :-)

If you didn't lay out your schedule in the fall break, do so now. (See notes in the fall break section)

Study a few cases suitable for your field. (See notes for Fall Break). These will help you think on your feet in interviews.

I would buy a copy of The Goal (in preparation for Operations in term 3) and read it during break. That will help save time. I didn't know about it, but wished I had known. To me, it was a fun read. (One friend found it irritating because of how blind characters in the story were at times, but maybe they must exaggerate to assure that all readers understand. None the less, I enjoyed it.) This is a chance to get ahead before the busy term.

Just Before Term 3

I took Managerial Improv - a fun class that teaches improvisational comedy. The goal is to increase your ability to improvise, which could apply to many areas of business. It also helps you reduce your stage fright. Both are important to many MBA careers. The rewards of the class are less tangible, therefore I cannot give you reliable feedback, but it was very fun and I'm convinced it was beneficial. It was also before the term, so didn't take away from my other term 3 classes.

Career: Some go on Week in Cities trips to visit companies. So consider these trips, especially if the company doesn't visit Fuqua. You can do several informational interviews during this term and they can be very helpful in knowing the companies and having some representatives in the companies know you.

Term 3

Be sure to review the classes that you want to take for the REST OF YOUR TIME HERE. Some courses are hard to get (e.g. Market Intelligence) so you'll want to submit your registration within MINUTES of the allowed time. Also consider that you'll want to be sure to fit in the classes that are prerequisites for other classes. Term 4 will give you an opportunity to fit in electives, so map it all out and be sure you get what you want.

GATE trips: See my note in the section for Term 2. The point I want to make here is that, because of my GATE trip and because of the time for the job search, term 3 was just as busy as terms 1 and 2. My time management skills improved so I was less stressed. But it was hard anyway.

Decision Models

This was a very practical class. It also took a fair amount of time and had several team assignments. The individual assignments are still important although they at times seem small. They help you understand the class discussion much better.

Operations Management

Operations was quite time consuming, and like Statistics, you must keep up with doing the problems outside of class. It's too easy to fall behind when things are not collected. But don't make that mistake. Do the problem sets. DO THEM!!

Also, read the book The Goal during the term. It's actually interesting so do it during some relaxing time to keep yourself reading. Maybe do it on Saturday mornings. Whatever.. but don't put it off. The 6 week term FLYS by.

Managerial Accounting (Cost Accounting)

For me, these cases were at times easy and at times very difficult. I valued what I learned and the different perspective it put on some company problems. There is a lot of team activity and the cases, while often very small (only a few pages) had subtleties that required much time. Treat them like big cases and just hope that you overestimate the required time. They're often hard.

Spring Break

I went on the India GATE and had a great time. I recommend a GATE, but be aware of the time requirements during the associated term (term 3 for me). Three hours for one night of the week was a bigger time hit than I expected. It contributed to term 3 being just as tough as term 2 for me.

If you're not on a GATE and do not have an internship yet, this is a good time to focus several days on that search.

Term 4

For me, this term was easier than the other three. I was careful to only take three classes. This made my load lighter than before, even though there certainly were some tough spots.

Notes on Electives: During this term, most take Strategy. Some take the core class Macro Economics. I chose to not take Macro so I could fit in Market Intelligence and Intellectual Capital. The drawback is that you may have to take it in term 1 or 4 in your second year. I exempted it and was able to fit in another elective.

Foundations of Strategy

Again, cases are all important and putting some thought into the daily assignments is important. The reading is generally optional, so do it last if you have time. If you kept up in class (really listened and prepared reasonably well) the final is not too difficult.

Market Intelligence

Great for marketers and good for many others. Others told me that this was a "can't miss" class. But I should have reviewed it with my goals in mind specifically. I wanted to learn how to study markets for entrepreneurship and it's tough to say how applicable it was for me; I would have benefited from Financial Statement Analysis, which, if I want, I now have to take with Corporate Finance in Term 1. None-the-less, this is a great class and teaches much about Market Intelligence. Our teachers were awesome! This is a popular course, so if you want it, submit your term 4 registration early.

It's a lot of work and doing the studying ahead of class time does help. Do practice problems when they are available. Definitely try to understand the team projects well. This will be of direct help in the final exam. You will need to prepare well for the final.

Intellectual Capital

I enjoyed this course much and it is very applicable to entrepreneurship. The first part most think of is patents, but there is much more to this course, including strategies for intellectual capital. The teacher Wes is an intellectual capital rock star (while I know you didn't take that literally, it does conjure a very interesting image :-)). This has three papers and a final paper (case or research paper). There's no final exam.. That was an unexpected benefit.

Note to Entrepreneurs: While I valued Market Intelligence (term 4) I likely should have taken Financial Statement Analysis (FSA) because it's directly inline with what I want. Now I'm taking it in Term 1 (second year) which is fine, but I must push off Macro again because term 1 is filled with. FSA, Corporate Finance and New Venture Planning. Had I taken FSA in term 4 of my first year, I'd be able to consider another class in it's place (Macro Econ or Marketing of High Technology).

Note to Entrepreneurs: Consider Innovation to Application (ITA), Duke New Ventures Clinic, or NC State's HiTEC program. (The drawback of ITA and HiTEC is that they are a full year long.) These will give you a great overview of the entire process of examining technologies, choosing, then commercializing the resulting products. It's a great experience. I took NC State's HiTEC program. Feel free to ask me about it.

AUDITING: I'm hoping to audit some classes that I cannot fit in my schedule. Be careful. Once you audit, you cannot take it for credit, but in most cases, I won't have a chance to take it anyway.

Incoming class: If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to email.

Current Students: If you have comments to add, please send them my way. For what it's worth, I'll give you credit on this site.

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