One month into my Full-Time MBA at Imperial College Business school, there are five important things I learned over the course of this first month.
This is my attempt to contribute, and maybe help potential MBA candidates to make up their mind about the programme. This is an insider’s story from an Imperial College Business School student.
Firstly, a little bit about me to give some flavour to my words.
I’m French and Swiss and have spent most of my working years at Philip Morris International in Switzerland. I’ve held a wide range of positions in operations from Manufacturing Engineer, Production Supervisor to my last role as Project Leader on strategic commercialisation projects.
I decided that I wanted to gain a bit of perspective and business acumen, as well as move to London. I therefore left Philip Morris and embarked on an MBA programme, aiming to transition to Strategic Consulting.
I’m now one month into the Full-Time MBA at Imperial and these are the nuggets of info that I wish I had known before starting.
1. The experience is far better than you can imagine
To start with, this experience is excellent. I was expecting diversity, great people and different experiences. This surpasses all that I imagined. Since joining I have spent time with previous consultants, start up entrepreneurs and founders, oil and gas engineers and even a performer. Everyone is extremely welcoming and willing to share their own insights and stories. I like to joke about it but I’m a tall white man and I’m part of a minority in my class.
2. The intensity and commitment is real
Everybody you will encounter before coming to the MBA will talk about the intensity and the workload. I did not believe it could be that bad and I was WRONG. To rephrase, schoolwork is manageable and interesting but with all the other things embedded in your MBA it will create conflicts. What is challenging is the juggling between: class, personal life, old friends, wanting new friends, networking outside, FOMO created by all the emails that the school will shoot at you, personal career exploration, career workshops and time needed after to process and make it your own. All of this, along with systems that are not optimal made my first month a bit hectic. We all went through this and you will probably as well but don’t underestimate it, it is an adaptation compared to previous experiences.
3. Your GMAT score matters if you want to transition to MBB (McKinsey, Bain, BCG)
To get into the Full-Time MBA at Imperial, your GMAT needs to be above 600. But to really shine in future applications for strategic consulting, make sure you hit that 700 bar. If you’re seriously considering applying for top-tier consulting firms, re-do your GMAT even if it’s enough to get you into b-school.
4. Make sure you are free from previous job obligations before coming
I was lucky to be out of work for a while before coming but some in my cohort could not get out before and they have been struggling with work related activities on top of the MBA life. So think about your notice period, the last project that you will be working on and make sure you get some free time. This additional weight could only emphasise my second point and you might miss out on some of the fun and bonds that you could create right off the bat.
5. LinkedIn is your friend and people in it could also be
I had never used Linkedin correctly and, after a few workshops, I really understood the strength that this platform can bring. Being uncertain about which companies I wish to target, Linkedin has proven to be an impressive tool to reach out and get insights from people in the industry. Again, this is something I was told, but it still blows my mind when I reach out to somebody that I have no connection with, and they offer to have a chat with me. People are genuinely great and willing to share their experience.