Forget the suit and tie. Questrom graduate students arrived sleepover-ready in their pajamas to the Cohort Cup, a student-led club that provides social and competitive events for all full-time and part-time MBA students (PEMBAs).
At its core, the Cohort Cup is designed to provide students with an environment to de-stress and have fun. Cohort Cup President L. George Sulak said business schools can often naturally breed a high-stakes, stressful environment.
The Cohort Cup offers fun alternatives to the competitive nature of the school, said Rishabh Verma, the vice president of the club.
“Because it’s a very rigorous program, both MBA and PEMBA, there are very few opportunities for people to come down together and have fun,” Verma said. “So we create interactions and events that bring people together, [to] be themselves [and] engage with themselves.”
For full-time MBA students, there are three cohorts — named Arlington, Beacon and Congress — which all have approximately 50 people per group.
Cohorts compete at events that the club hosts including scavenger hunts, dodgeball and trivia. This week, the club hosted a classic spirit week — complete with Twins Day, Pajama Day and more.
Jorge Garcia, a first-year MBA student and the Arlington Cohort Cup representative, said spirit week can be particularly meaningful to Questrom’s large international student population.
“A lot of the students here are not from the US, and they haven’t experienced many things that are related to the U.S. culture,” Garcia said. “So introducing them to this American culture of not just a business school, but as an American school … It’s more like helping students to blend in also with the culture here.”
For twin day, Garcia’s cohort, Arlington, all came together and dressed up in the same outfit.
“I love that people are getting engaged,” he said. “It was not my idea to come dressed up like that. They started talking, and I was like ‘Okay, let’s do it.’ I like that. Like, creating the ambience of family, like the idea of a family, not a cohort. It’s nice.”
In the same vein as spirit week, other events like exploring the city of Boston and an annual Halloween party encourage class bonding.
Pejae Chai, a first-year MBA student and the Congress Cohort Cup representative, said he appreciates these types of events.
“It really helps introduce people into different, new events, like we did ice skating thing a couple of weeks ago and I know some people are from countries where ice skating isn’t that popular so it’s really nice to host those kinds of activities and just really let them explore Boston,” Chai said.
At the end of the year, each winning team receives a trophy with their team and year engraved on it. Although the purpose of the Cohort Cup is friendly competition, teams become competitive with each other from the very beginning.
“[Last year] Beacon came in third,” Verma said. “And this year, they are literally going all out to be on the top spot. They’re literally rigging games, they’re literally doing everything just to make as much as possible to cover the ground and maintain that. So it’s fun to watch.”
All in all, however, the purpose of the Cup is not winning, but rather bonding within the program.
“We just try to help the students just to blend in and develop connections with each other,” Chai said. “While we are separated into three cohorts, ultimately it is just the one class of first years — and definitely being in the Cohort Cup has allowed me to meet new people in other cohorts I wouldn’t have met.”