OK, so I realise that the title of the blog sounds scary, but keep reading to learn how I survived the first two months of my MBA.
Let me set the context for you by introducing myself. I am a Full-Time MBA student at Imperial College Business School. It’s been more than two months since I started the programme and prior to that, I worked as a business consultant in the finance sector. Before that, I did my engineering degree in Computer Science from one of the top schools in India. Basically, I come from an over-represented pool of candidates (Indian, engineer, consultant, male) and started at one of the most competitive business schools in one of the most competitive cities to get a job! Sounds easy, don’t you think?
Anyway, I was aware that since it’s a one-year programme, it’s going to be hectic. Also, I’m used to working 50-60 hours per week, but I had no idea that things were going to get so hectic so soon! We started with a 10-day induction which was a 9-5 schedule every day. Since I had taken a one-month break before joining the course, I found it difficult to get back into the routine.
Next came our first 3 core modules: Accounting, Economics and Organisational Behavior. Being strong quantitatively and having worked in finance, I thought I would knock Accounting and Economics out of the park. But I got clean bowled instead! (cricket reference). Well, l didn’t get clean bowled exactly, but I had to work a lot to complete all the coursework such as individual assignments, group assignments, presentations, write-ups etc. And the final exam is still pending so the work is not over yet! Organisational Behavior was an interesting module and I really enjoyed it. But, again, completing all the coursework was daunting. This month, we have started 3 new modules and I expect much more academic work to complete.
This is just one aspect of the MBA! The second, and the most important one for me, is job applications. Let me give you a reality check, no matter which sector you’re interested in, companies will start coming to campus for recruitment from the first month! Yes, you have read it correctly. We have already had some big names on campus including Amazon and Microsoft. Three people from my cohort have even secured a job! You must be ready with your CV and cover letter from the first month, and be prepared to tailor make it for every company. I received a lot of help from my personal Careers Consultant to help with recruitment applications to help me manage this process.
The third aspect of the MBA is extra-curricular activities. This completely depends on you, how actively you want to be involved and which activities you want to be involved with, besides academics. For me, being the President of Consulting Club, which is one of the most active clubs on campus, takes a considerable amount of time and effort. But I enjoy it and I think it’s helping me build a network of people working in consulting, as well as alumni and students from other cohorts across the Business School (e.g. MSc and other MBA programmes), and gain insights into the industries they are working in.
So, by now, you must be thinking that there is no escape from an MBA schedule. Well, that’s partially true (haha) but there are ways to make your life easier. Below are 3 things I am finding helpful to surviving/succeeding in the MBA course:
- Prioritise everything: Be clear on which sectors you are interested in, which companies to target, and extra-curricular activities to join (and which parties to go to!)…
- Manage your time: Time is the scarcest commodity on an MBA (besides sleep haha) so chose what to do when wisely…
- Work in teams: I have worked in teams all my life but, somehow, I have learnt the real importance of teamwork during the MBA. We were assigned syndicate teams at the start of the course and I’m glad that my team members are all awesome! Go team 6!
So, that’s my magical three-part formula to surviving the first two months of the Full-Time MBA. And if I can be so wise (or foolish…) to extrapolate, this is the formula to survive for the entire MBA programme. I hope that you reading this blog until the end means that this insight into the beginning of the MBA journey has helped you in some way
Vineet Harsh is a student in our Full-Time MBA 2017-18 class.