It takes a huge sense of self-awareness to pursue an MBA program. One that typically makes you confront your innermost insecurities, fears and inadequacies whilst acknowledging that there has to be more despite notable accomplishments and milestones. This is because an average MBA has some prior work experience–– you must have been thriving in your chosen career path before you can be deemed fit for a cohort. Also, an idea, if not clear direction of career and future aspirations is usually a prerequisite for admission.
Often, an MBA will help you accelerate your lofty career goals, pivot or position you for better prospects in the job market. If you are thinking of a future in entrepreneurship, most MBA programs are now keenly focused on that and other key learnings in innovation. A glowing example is the robust modules offered at the University of Surrey MBA program with full time and executive options. Best part, you will also be armed with crucial leadership and management skills to thrive anywhere in the world.
I knew all these and that was perhaps what I was gunning for when I decided to embark on this journey in September 2020. I made sure my personal statement and application reflected my entrepreneurial ventures and stint with corporate organisations. However, I was not sure of what side I’d tilt towards during and after the programme. I have tried to keep an open mind and immerse myself in the teachings and hoped to get more clarity with every passing module and coursework. Halfway through the journey, my goals, though not vivid, are less foggy. I know for sure that I am better positioned for managerial and intrapreneurial opportunities Post-MBA, I am also discovering new areas of interest and strength. This wouldn’t have been possible without an MBA.
STILL AN OPTIMIST?
When this journey started in September, I was optimistic that “lady rona” would be gone soon and the days of face-to-face lectures would be back. Unfortunately, the reverse has been the case and I would not mince words about how the pandemic has robbed me of several human interactions and networking opportunities that an MBA offers. The online sessions have become my new normal. Zoom and Teams are the coolest, must-have apps for learning. I am daily conquering self and on some days, fighting distractions during seminars and overviews of captured content.
VIRTUAL vs. REALITY
Who would have thought of how much of a breeze presentations would be? Thanks to the virtual perks of Zoom, the cold feet and nerve-wrecking ordeal of standing before a “crowd” is less. I beg to ask if this isn’t a disadvantage for me as my true presentation skills would be put to test in the real world when the pandemic is over.
I love how considerate our module leaders here have been thus far. Many of them have learnt to be intuitive by feeling the pulse of the class from time to time. They are kind enough to provide intermittent 10-15 minutes breaks and infuse some ingenuity in their teaching approach to sustain student’s attention. I am grateful for their zeal to make lemonades of the situation but still miss the spontaneity and chance to meet with them for a brief chat over a subject of interest after a session. Absolutely nothing trumps face-to-face interaction. Covid-19 be gone already!
MORE OR LESS PROSPECTS?
Call me biased but I think anyone bagging a postgraduate degree during a pandemic deserves some accolades. It is more of a solo journey if you are not intentional to be the chief driver of the boat by proactively seeking guidance, support, clarity and speaking up where need be. Competition is stiff, agile is the new approach and attention span is shorter. As an international student, an extra dose of resilience and work is required in order to be considered for opportunities. I honestly hope that with the new roadmap announced by the Prime Minister, organisations are more open to recruit top talents and engage the consultancy services offered for free by MBAs for their theses.
IF I COULD CHANGE A THING
I would probably have prepared my mind to warm up to the idea of critically analysing case studies early enough. I wish someone had told me that reading research and academic papers, reports, HBRs; writing 2000 words plus essays and adapting to the dynamics of group assignments would be so intense and thrilling all at once. I long for the days of leisure reading without the pressure of trying to impress to earn a mark. I guess that is what erudite MBAs are made of.
Few weeks into the second half already, I am feeling like a pro at this. I am relatively no longer a greenhorn and look forward to new challenges of the semester with gusto. I am excited about the knowledge I will be uncovering; jittery about embarking on my 10,000 words thesis–– don’t blame me I have never deliberately written that much before. I am also full of hopes for the future and the better days ahead.