Behind every MBA student is a person equal parts stressed, amused and hungover. Ok, I’m exaggerating: behind maybe half of the MBA students. The colloquial term for such a person is “Partner” and you can always spot them wearing roughly-made paper name tags at school events, performing grocery shopping alone, and worrying endlessly about their student’s interview preparation. Being a partner is like baby-sitting a child for two years (or more). You are responsible for paying the bills, putting meals on the table, and perhaps the most demanding thing of all, maintaining your student’s sanity. There are moments at 1 o’clock in the morning when instead of whispering sweet nothings in their student’s ears, the partner is patiently reminding them that they have made substantial progress in behavioral interview questions. Or at 9 o’clock in the morning when the partner is intermittently swallowing cold oatmeal and yelling at their student to polish their oxfords before going into their team presentation.
Partners are, in short, a secret force behind the students. The Alfred Pennyworth to the Batman. A nurturing entity that serves as the voice of reason in the darkest of times. And while the Batman (or Batwoman) in this situation may be wearing Calvin Klein suits, the cape is worn by the partners. We read case books to help our student prepare for their impending interviews, sometimes having to act like harsh interviewers during the role play: terrible means to a great end type of situation. We saddle up in cocktail dresses to accompany our nervous students to networking events. Or we tell our families across the ocean that we will be unable to visit during the Christmas holidays because we need to help our student fine tune eight versions of the same resume. It’s not an easy job but we wear the mantle proudly. Every success of our student is a success of our own. Every A grade in school, every final interview call brings with it immense joy to us. But the joy is always preceded by months of anxiety. And while that anxiety maybe less than what the student goes through, it is no piece of cheesecake.
So here’s a toast to the generations of partners that have come and gone, and to the ones that are yet to realize what their significant other is going to be putting them through. Whether you are a girlfriend, a husband, or you are still figuring out what you are, you WILL survive through this time. The silver lining of the MBA program is perhaps that whether you are a student or a partner, you learn of each other’s incredible strength and it fortifies your relationship. Or maybe the silver lining is all the partying you get to do on weekends to celebrate week after week of classes, assignments, club events, firm info sessions, networking calls and case competitions.