B-School Friendship

Caitlin Joffe and Bahar Zarrabi
Caitlin Joffe and Bahar Zarrabi

Caitlin Joffe is a Carey MBA graduate with a concentration in health care and management. Originally from Baltimore, she earned her BA from Smith College and spent over three years studying and working in Madrid, Spain. For the past 9 years, she has worked domestically and abroad in clinical research in the field of oncology. Her position engages her in the full scope of the field – including regulatory submissions, FDA regulations, and Pharma. Her current role is as a Clinical Research Education Specialist in oncology at JHU, where she uses her background in research to train new hires and support research teams throughout the Cancer Center. Bahar Zarrabi joined the Johns Hopkins Military & Veterans Health Institute (MVHI) in 2014 as a Senior Associate for Business Development. Ms. Zarrabi earned her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Maryland, College Park, majoring in Physiology and Neurobiology, and her MBA from Johns Hopkins Carey Business School. Prior to joining the MVHI, Ms. Zarrabi served as a Sr. Administrative Coordinator to the Chairman of the Johns Hopkins Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. During her time there, she helped lead an effort to introduce business education into the residency curriculum. This effort has led to the creation of "Business Thursdays" where business topics are presented to residents and faculty four times per year.

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Featured photo by © Lindsay Hite / www.readyluck.com

When we started at Carey, we were both expecting a worthwhile experience, but neither of us realized that one of the biggest rewards we would walk away with, other than our well-earned MBAs, would be a wonderful friendship. But that is exactly what happened. It wasn’t a friendship that grew overnight, but instead, one that developed over time.

Graduate school can be a daunting experience. For some, it involves moving to a new state, or even a new country, and then you add to the mix a higher level of independence and fast-paced curriculum. All of these must be juggled with the demands of jobs, volunteer organizations, and family and friends. So the last thing on many people’s minds is forming friendships. Indeed, many students focus on finding the balance between their new courseload and the obligations they already have that they overlook the opportunity to form friendships with their new classmates.

For some, the thought that graduate school could be a place to form friendships may seem unnatural. In your mind, you’re competing with your classmates for that coveted “A,” but class time is so much more than just grades. It’s about an experience and that experience can only be enriched if you open yourself up to the people around you. Rhianna sings, “we found love in a hopeless place” and strange as it sounds, her words ring true in the world of grad school.

For us, it was in statistics where we found our ‘love’ – friendship. We had both been out of school for nearly five years, we both held full time jobs and had family obligations. Life was full to say the least. And making friends wasn’t high on our to-do list when we started the program. Instead, we had a get-in/get-out mentality: we would take our classes, work hard, and hopefully learn and enjoy our work along the way. But to our surprise, the person sitting a few seats over in statistics class would turn out to be a great friend and support system.

With the many challenges of starting graduate school, at times it can feel like a hopeless place. But those around you, your classmates, might just be the people to help you get through the tough times. So start looking around the classroom because one of your colleagues just may be that friend you didn’t know you wanted. After all, who better to understand what you are going through than someone in similar shoes?

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