A not-so-virtual Access Weekend

One of the best parts of Tepper’s Part-Time MBA program is our (dare I say famous) Access Weekends. Having an “online” program that still brings everyone together every ~2 months for in-person instruction and socializing is really the competitive advantage of the Tepper program, and a common factor in choosing the program over other online options. As part-time students, we’re already “virtual learning” experts, but we still miss the Access Weekends and the opportunity to see our friends from the program.

This October, we had our fourth virtual Access Weekend. I have to give credit to our Part-Time administration for doing their absolute best to bring us a rewarding experience within the virtual format. However, after three virtual access weekends, I was really missing the Tepper community and my Tepper BFFs. I hatched a plan with a few friends to find a way to enjoy access weekend together (safely). In true Tepper form, the plan was formulated with a lot of research on air flow in planes, and analysis of COVID transmission rates in different counties.

No masks? Physical contact? Must be a pre-covid Access Weekend!

After getting a COVID test in San Diego (where I live), I boarded a plane and flew to Tampa, Florida to stay with a fellow classmate, Matt Moschel (Part-Time Online ’21). We were also joined by two other friends (Nathan Leard, Part-Time on Campus ‘21 and Reid Hyland, Part-Time Online ‘21). I think my favorite moment of the trip was when my negative COVID test came in and I turned to Matt and gave him a huge hug for the first time in over 6 months!

Friday

The Friday of Access Weekend is always reserved for professional development sessions. We had fun joining sessions together after so long being apart! Ironically, we ended up missing the session on Time Management due to a collective lack of time management (there’s a story here, but you’ll have to ask Matt for the details).

It’s like we’re in class together again! Except we’re in pajamas…

After a day of development, Friday evening is of course reserved for socializing! We celebrated being together by having a barbecue and accidentally missing the Friday evening networking event (we probably could have made it had we attended the time management skills session…)

You can’t barbecue virtually…

Saturday

Saturday of Access Weekend is when classes start. With all of us in different classes, we had to be pretty creative about where and how we took class in order to maximize the day. As efficient Tepper students, I drove to the beach while Nathan & Matt took class from the backseat (BRB just adding chauffeur to my resume). Although I definitely got jealous listening to their class in the backseat… I *almost* added Business Networks after listening in on their class during the drive because it sounded so interesing!

A true Tepper friend will drive you to the beach while you take class in the backseat!

Normally Saturday night of Access Weekend is reserved for visiting the economically-efficient bars of Oakland, which we replace with a virtual happy hour. Everyone joined in their Halloween costumes, and we made pumpkin inspired cocktails to really get in the spirit. Our cohort is really big on playing board games when we’re together. 9 times out of 10 we play Codenames, but this time we opted for “Among Us”. I was excited to play for the first time because I’d heard a lot about the game and like pretending I’m cool.

Not pictured: the ketchup I covered my face in to really sell my shark attack costume

Sunday

Sunday is the last day of Access Weekend and includes one final session of classes. Normally Sunday is a flurry of activity as you quickly take classes in the morning, dash to the airport, and fly home exhausted. But with virtual Access Weekends, Sunday is more spaced out. We had the morning open so we decided to go kayaking in the mangroves and try to work off all the Halloween cocktails. After kayaking we went home to finish our classes and enjoy the fact that we got to all hang out together for a little while longer.

Unfortunately, I learned that kayaking one time does not magically give you biceps

Although I would have loved to see the entire part-time cohort, it was still great to have just a little bit of the Tepper community feeling. I’m very much looking forward to when we can all get together in Pittsburgh again and when I can hug my Tepper friends without first getting a nasal swab (although it was totally worth it).

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