It’s nerve-racking enough to start at a new school (no matter your age), add to that uprooting your current life, leaving your home country, a job you love and it quickly becomes the perfect recipe for anxiety.
Luckily it was for a good cause and I was not in it alone.
Early Monday morning on the 7th of September 2015, I walked into Imperial College ready to meet 55 other Full-Time MBA candidates also starting at the Imperial College Business School. I was too preoccupied with the makeup of the class to get too nervous. Firstly, I found it hard to meet someone from the same country or industry twice in a row. As the chatter grew I heard mentions of “Azerbaijan”, “Columbia”, “Malaysia”, “Morocco”, “Norway” as well as “retailing”, “engineering” and “aerospace”. I had a conversation with an Australian classmate who said “This guy over here is not only a rocket scientist, he wants to own a company with rocket scientists in it.” Before I could feel completely out of my depth it occurred to me that I was yet to meet someone who was not welcoming or interested in my story. I breathed a sigh of relief and smiled at my modern family for the next 12 months.
The curriculum in the first few weeks was not what I expected. There was equal emphasis on soft skills such as self-awareness and team work as well as hard skills such as decision analytics and accounting. I had heard many a time that great leaders have high EQ (Emotional Intelligence) which is something that can be developed. In the MBA course I found a place for us students to put theory to practice and develop these crucial hard and soft skills in a safe environment.
As the weeks went by i grew accustomed to rubbing sholders with key influencers. Initially I did not expect to be in the same room as such high calibre people as the head recruiter for L’Oreal or senior managers from Unilever, PwC, Citymapper, Blippar and Google. I would never have had the chance to meet such inspring characters sitting back in my home country. I was impressed by the opportunities afforded to me and it gave me more confidence to take risks. As the Imperial brand opens doors, so have my options to new and exciting career paths. Suddenly the starry-eyed goal of chasing a dream job doesn’t seem impossible.
Alisa is studying our Full-Time MBA programme.