Barret School of Banking • (901) 321-4000 •


New Logo

Getting ready for Grad School: 2022 Edition

Well, it’s almost here…time to load up the wooden pallets, get the guitars tuned up, bring your A-game in the usual cornhole tournament that always seems to develop, and get your minds’ focused on growing your knowledge base in community banking. It’s GRAD SCHOOL TIME!!!!


We like to talk about training the holistic banker…teaching bankers to think with both sides of their brains…being that superhero community banker that we know you all are. Grad School is the time when that mission comes to life. It is an intense week of learning from the best in the industry across the entire spectrum of banking. Credit analysis, emotional intelligence, culture development, compliance…it’s all there and, through the course of the 3 year program, it all comes together into an outstanding class of the future leaders in our industry. This year is no different!


First, we’re glad to be back on campus with all three classes at one time! We have not had that since 2019 when dinosaurs roamed the still-cooling Earth. We’re looking forward to seeing everyone again and meeting new friends/family.


With that being the case, I wanted to jot down a few thoughts to help you get ready for your trip next week as well as for your time at Barret.


1) Be sure you check out the Spotify playlist for this year. We put this together each year for y’all to enjoy. It’s open so feel free to add your favorites. It usually makes good background music for those times of hanging out with your classmates. Yes, I included Taylor Swift and “Wonderwall” before you start asking. Looking at you Class of 2023!


2) Come ready to learn, push yourself, get out of your comfort zone. Each course is purposefully designed to stretch you. In that sense, it’s meant to be hard. Your bank/organization is spending good money for you to come grow and develop. However, Barret is not meant to grind you up and spit you out. Even though the classes may be difficult, we are here to help you succeed and I am willing to bet that you’re going to end up having fun in the process.


3) Don’t let anxiety overtake you. For many people, something like Barret is a brand new experience or just naturally brings about a ton of anxiety. We understand that. Let me challenge you, however, to relax and take it one step at a time. Yes, there are exams but if you study and pay attention, you will do great. Plus, nearly all of your classmates will likely be studying together in groups. Take advantage of that opportunity to meet some really great folks as well as calm your anxieties. Also, if approaching a group isn’t your style either…don’t worry. Come find me and we’ll get you set up.


4) Come with expectations to have fun. Yes, it’s hard and you’re in class a good bit of the day, but at the same time you’re going to be meeting a ton of really great people. For most of you, you know some (if not all) of your class but I’m willing to bet you that there are people you have not met yet. When I came to Barret, I knew nobody but wound up finding some really great people along the way. No lie…one of my buddies from grad school just emailed me as I was first typing out this blog post. Be open to meeting new people in banking that face the same professional struggles you do. It really makes a difference and it’s really cool each year to see a class come together or get closer.


5) Don’t be shy about telling any of the Barret staff any ideas for improvement to grad school. Believe it or not, we listen. We may not be able to implement every suggestion but there are quite a few changes we have made to grad school (and our other programming as well) that have come directly from student feedback. Roundtable, Ag Lending 101 and 201, electives, lending/non-lending tracks…these all came about from student feedback. Some of these we’d been toying with beforehand but getting feedback along the way gave us the green light to go ahead.


And speaking of Roundtable…


6) Find ways to get involved. In my opinion, one of the cool things about Barret is that it’s an ongoing experience. We’re not kidding when we say we think of our students/alums as friends and family and like any relationship, we like to get together! As a current student or alum, you and your entire bank qualify for a discount to join Roundtable. You’ll learn more about it (if you don’t already know) during grad week and this isn’t a post trying to get you to click through to something else (other than the Spotify playlist…because it’s really good!). I’m wanting you to know that your experience with us doesn’t have to end with graduation and Bank Sim dominance or utter ruin. (My Bank Sim team tried to negotiate a buyout…that’s how bad we were!) Even if it is just subbing to the podcast or following us on social media…stay in contact with us! Even superheroes need a crew of friends to support them!


7) Be sure you’ve read all your emails and checked the ALP. Everything you need to know about coming to grad school is there. It’s probably overkill truthfully, but, it will give you all the information you need to get ready and arrive ready to go!


So, that’s my quick-hit thoughts about next week. I’m pretty pumped about it. The faculty is amazing and from what I’ve seen of their lectures…it’s great! You’ll be pushed to the limits and you’ll be outside your comfort zone at some point along the way. That’s the point…and it will make you a better community banker ready to change the world!!




written by


Byron Earnheart is the Programming Director for the Barret School of Banking in Memphis, TN and the host of the “Main Street Banking” podcast…the only podcast solely devoted to community banks. He has over 15 years experience in the financial services industry; 11 of which have been in banking in various roles from teller work to branch management. He spends his time playing guitar and singing in Delta Heart (the “house band of the Mississippi Delta”), writing music, cooking, reading, and enduring the University of Tennessee Volunteers athletic seasons. He is married to his wife Kelly of 11 years and has two children, John Aubrey (11) and Mary Laura (7). If you'd like to hear Byron's music, check him out on Spotify:
Scroll to Top