By Heream Yang
Choosing a business school is a major life decision for any student; for those with significant others, going to b-school also involves their partner’s personal and professional ambitions. At Vanderbilt Business, the Owen Partners Association (OPA) seeks to ensure a positive business school experience for both students and their families. OPA integrates partners into the Vanderbilt community and provides a supportive group of peers with whom to create lifelong memories during their time in Nashville.
For Becca Orbeck and her husband Zach Orbeck (MBA’20), OPA’s strong community played a significant role in their decision to move from Minneapolis to Nashville for Zach’s MBA. “We came down to Vanderbilt for one of the Discover Weekends,” Becca Orbeck explained. “I sat in on one of the OPA sessions and immediately felt like it was a great community to be a part of and felt like we would really fit in well here, that there were other couples going through the same thing. Vanderbilt was definitely my number one choice for him because of (OPA).”
From day one, Orbeck plugged into the OPA community, meeting strangers who quickly turned into close friends. Now, as her husband completes his second year of business school, Orbeck pays it forward as OPA co-president, organizing exciting outings and supporting a community of about 100 students and partners.
“It’s a diverse community. Some people have kids, some people are newly married, some people are dating,” she said. “We have pretty much every age group at Owen, and so I feel like you can find people that are similar to you and then also learn a lot about people who are different than you. I have friends now who are from every part of the U.S., friends in every different field job-wise. It’s neat because it’s this whole community you can be learning from.”
Work and Play
Partners often play an important role in financially supporting their partners and families during business school. For couples moving to Nashville from other cities, finding a job can seem like an intimidating task, but OPA leverages its expansive professional network to ease the job search process.
“We have touch points at Discover Weekend and Welcome Weekend where OPA presents, and we really try to help make connections,” Orbeck explained. “(If) you are a teacher, we have other teachers in our group here we can connect you with, and we get a variety of emails for the summer as people are moving here and asking for connections.”
Once partners have successfully secured a job, their next most pressing concern often entails finding a community of friends. OPA provides a robust schedule of social events, including monthly happy hours, sports games, holiday dinners, volunteering events, and bucket-list Nashville excursions. Additionally, partners often participate in school-sponsored events, like the annual Capitalist Ball and the weekly Closing Bell socials.
“I joke that I feel like I’m doing an honorary MBA or the social side of an MBA because I’ve been so included in the Vanderbilt experience,” Orbeck said.
A Community for Life
Orbeck advises other couples considering business school to look beyond solely academics and consider the experience they want to have for the next two years. “Any top business school is going to give you an amazing education,” Orbeck said. “What else are you looking for? For us, we really just wanted these amazing two years of being in a fun city, being a part of a great community, (and) building an amazing network here for my husband.”
As her time in Nashville comes to a close, Orbeck looks forward to continuing the friendships she has formed during her time at Vanderbilt. “I think (coming to Vanderbilt) was the best decision we could have made,” she said. “There’s a lot of sacrifices involved in grad school, but none of us regret it for a second… The hard thing about building such an amazing community is to think about leaving it, but I’m excited because my husband’s going to work for American Airlines, so we’ll have free flights to visit all (our new friends) all over the U.S.”