The first term at Imperial has been both an exceptionally giving and rigorous experience. There is no way to anticipate the stress that comes along with the challenges one faces. But I have viewed this term as an intense training towards developing some very relevant soft skills in the workplace: time management and stress management. In light of this, I have six main reflections to share on my first term on MSc Finance & Accounting.
1. Set your priorities straight
Term one is all about juggling lectures, classes, and career workshops alongside job applications, tests, interviews and assessment centres. So, it is important to determine and remind yourself of the reason you undertook the programme. For some, this may be getting a job and for others, this may be to score a first in their degree.
The alumni day at Canary Wharf was an important insight into this idea. Every alumnus resonated that you cannot have it all and hence should prioritise. This means that if completing the degree with a first-class honour is your objective, then you must place 80% of your focus on studying for classes weekly and 20% on job applications and other activities. If getting a job is your priority, then you must place 80% of your focus on completing good quality job applications and 20% on studies and other activities.
Additionally, I would love to tell you that I was able to manage it all, that I was able to cook my own healthy food daily, go to the gym every day, ace my studies and land a job. But this would be far from the truth. Time will not permit you to achieve all of this. To manage this situation, it’s important to set priorities, but also to cut ourselves some slack when we could not be the all-rounder millennial we are always striving to be. In the words of Professor James Sefton, the Academic Director of MSc Finance & Accounting “Good enough is good enough”.
2. Modules are practical and relevant
The Financial Accounting core module was not about book-keeping but the professional judgement associated with financial reporting standards. The most interesting part about the subject was the case studies - completed in class and through group discussions – which challenge the financial reporting related interpretations and decisions made by professional accounting firms today.
This is a skill that stood at the core of my experience as an auditor and stands at the core of ethical decision making in all finance career paths. The module was conceptually challenging, engaging and has helped me build a holistic perspective about financial reporting decisions.
It is important to note the relevance and practicality spread across all the subjects we studied in term one. Whatever your academic curiosity, the Business School has something for everyone to look forward to.
3. Do not compare yourself to others
It is very easy to follow what the rest of the class wants to do. Everyone else’s experience will seem better than yours. everyone else’s goals will seem more glamorous than yours. But it is important to take the time to understand your strengths and weaknesses, your likes and dislikes.
Doing this before coming to Imperial will help you keep yourself in check in moments of doubt. Make sure you take into account the person you are, the kind of schedule you like to follow and the kind of goals you want to achieve. This will help tailor your experience to your needs. It is important to remember that you use your opportunity here to write your own story and not just live someone else’s.
4. Group work is a boon and not a bane
Group studying and group coursework in the midst of job applications, student club activities and personal commitments can be time consuming. However, it is important to leverage teamwork efficiently. Once you are assigned to your teams it will be extremely helpful to agree on how your team would like to work throughout the term in regard to timely completion of work and the contribution of every team member. Having discussed this early on helps keep all members in check and allows for better resolution of conflicts if they arise.
5. Use Imperial College Business School Careers effectively
While it is vital to diversify your understanding of the current job market by talking to alumni across all sectors, it is equally as important to choose which recruitment events, workshops and Career Consultant sessions are relevant to you.
To do this, research about the job market beforehand, outline your career strategy before coming to school and discuss this with a Career Consultant before term starts. This will give you the jump-start you need to effectively manage job applications and studies.
6. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
The first term has undoubtedly been hectic, but fun is not far away when you study in the heart of London. Some highlights of term one include:
- Skating at the Natural History Museum
- Diwali at Trafalgar Square
- Christmas lights
- Albert Memorial at Kensington Gardens
- Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park
- Primrose Hill