Hassana Jafiya, MSc Economics & Strategy for Business 2020-21, student at Imperial College Business School
Programme:
MSc Economics & Strategy for Business 2020-21
Nationality:
Nigerian
University and subject studied for undergraduate degree:

BSc Accounting and Finance, University of Leicester,

MSc Economics & Strategy for Business 2020-21

About You

What work experience/internships did you have before beginning with Imperial College Business School?

Prior to joining Imperial College Business School, I worked as a graduate consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in Nigeria. I worked alongside the finance and account team which gave me the opportunity to work with a wide range of clients such as government firms, non-profit organisations, and small and large businesses. During my undergraduate degree, I also had a summer internship at Grant Thornton in Nigeria working alongside the Audit team. This required examining the financial records of clients and ensuring that no material misstatements occurred. These experiences really helped improve my analytical and problem-solving skills, as well as my ability to work with many different teams in the professional environment.

Why did you decide to study MSc Economics & Strategy for Business at Imperial College Business School?

My previous work experience at PwC made me aware there was room for growth and improvement for me both personally and professionally. This realisation led me to MSc Economics & Strategy for Business at Imperial as it is a very unique and diverse programme. It covers a large spread of subjects which will enable me to fit into almost any professional environment.

I chose to study at Imperial College Business School not only because of its status as a world leading university, but also because of the Imperial community which consists of a driven alumni and stakeholder network.

Did you receive a scholarship?

I received the Imperial College Business Scholarship Award. The benefits of this are many, first the internal joy and feeling of honour is amazing. It is also a motivating factor for me, as any time I remember that I was selected among a pool of many applicants, I am driven to give my very best on the programme and in the Imperial community more generally.

2020 was a really tough year for many – economically, mentally and physically, and the scholarship award helped relive a good amount from the fees I would have originally paid for the programme. My advice to future scholarship applicants is to not underestimate yourself, apply for as many scholarships as you feel suited for, both from Imperial and outside. Also, take the application process as seriously as you would take your admissions application. Lastly, be yourself and believe that everything will work out fine in the end.

Programme

What aspects of the programme do you most enjoy the most?

Getting to meet my cohort and the wider Imperial community was definitely a highlight for me. The people here have been really lovely, which is something I heard a lot prior to joining Imperial, and can now testify to personally. I am surrounded by kind, smart and humble individuals, with different cultures and academic backgrounds. The diversity keeps things interesting and really engaging.

Which has been your favourite module so far and why?

So far, my favourite module has been Corporate Strategy taught by Dr Dmitry Sharapov. The case studies and lectures in this module have been engaging and practical. Although there are a lot of readings, I found myself immersed in many of them. As I read and discussed the business case studies in class, I found myself thinking outside the box, thinking strategically (as the name implies), thinking more deeply about business ideas and finding more efficient ways of doing things in the corporate world. Attending this module made me certain that this is an area I would like to take on in my career.

What has been the most rewarding part of the programme?

The personal and professional growth I have experienced is amazing. The knowledge I have gained over this period and the exposure that the programme, as well as the Imperial brand, have given me is great. Also, getting to connect with so many exceptional students and experts in the professional world has been really rewarding.

What has been the most challenging part of the programme? 

Trying to keep up with the workload, alongside going through job applications, maintaining a healthy social life, and being actively involved in extra-curricular activities at the Business School. Another major challenge for me was the exam season. Sometimes the questions were really tricky, and if the concepts are not understood in-depth, it is easy to miss them. There was also a lot of time pressure during the exams which added to the challenge.  All of these, however, have greatly contributed to the growth I mentioned earlier.

People

How would you describe your cohort at Imperial?

Diverse is the key word to describe my cohort. We have people from all over the world here with many varied experiences. Another word is supportive, as many of my classmates are willing to share information and their knowledge with you if you are unclear about anything. A few times, if a question is asked via the chat box on Zoom, some students will help answer it even before the lecturers do. On occasions when I have asked a question, I have personally experienced students reaching out to me directly to share materials that helped them understand the concepts, which I found really heart-warming. The fact that most people are not trying to hoard information and get ahead themselves but help those around them as well is great.

Did you have a favourite professor/lecturer and why?

The lecturers are all really knowledgeable when it come to the modules they teach and explain things in the best way possible, but Dr Dmitry Sharapov (Corporate Strategy) and Pedro Rosa Dias (Business Economics) were my favourites. Both kept their classes really engaging, practical and had interesting case studies. One thing I really appreciated about Pedro was that he tried to remember everyone’s names in class as they answered or asked questions, I also noticed he did an excellent job of never dismissing anyone’s answers nor making them feel silly for being incorrect.

Opportunities

What has been the greatest opportunity you have had at Imperial?

One of my greatest opportunities has been being a Student Content Creator. This enabled me to write a blog called ‘My journey to Imperial College Business School: from waiting list to scholarship student’ which was featured on the School’s blog page. I received a few messages about how inspiring and motivating my story was, and it made me glad that I could have that effect on people. Also, serving as the Marketing Director for the Africa Business Club has enabled me to meet some really great people and improve my marketing skills.

Which workshops, events or guest lectures at the school have been useful in developing your skills and knowledge?

There have been many options available for self-development, and that is one thing I really appreciate about being at Imperial. The professional development courses organised by the graduate school have been really good, especially the ‘Time Management: Boosting your Productivity’ session, which was one I really needed, and it helped me a long way over the Autumn term of my degree. The career workshops organised by the Careers team have been extremely helpful too, my networking skills, interview skills and many others have improved immensely as a result of their guidance and support.

What clubs, societies or other activities have you been involved in at Imperial? Do you hold a student leadership position?

As mentioned earlier, I am part of the Student Content Creators where I get to write blog posts and record videos about my experience at Imperial College Business School. I am also the Marketing Director of the Africa Business Club at Imperial, where I am in control of the social media contents of the club and also responsible for devising creative marketing ideas for the club.

Have you had opportunities to work/socialise with students across programmes within the Business School?

Being involved in the clubs and groups on offer at the Business School has enabled me to meet many students across different programmes. I also managed this through some of the remote events Imperial organised such as the Turn the Tables, where we were put in breakout rooms on Zoom with people across the business school. This helped start good conversations with students across different programs and we stayed connected via LinkedIn and other social media platforms after the event.

How have you benefited from the Business School’s connection to the Imperial College London community?

It has been great being part of the wider Imperial community. The brand image of Imperial College is outstanding and being able to identify with it has been highly beneficial, as people are eager to connect with you and listen to what you have to offer, and the university also attracts a huge employer base. Being able to gain access to the vast Alumni network at Imperial has also been really rewarding, I have been able to build good connections and learn from different Alumni around the world that work at leading firms such as Google, Goldman Sachs, Accenture etc.

How have you found the multi-mode teaching delivery?

I’ve found the multi-mode experience to be bitter-sweet overall. I get to learn from the comfort of my home and go at my own pace. The lecturers try their absolute best to actively involve those attending on Zoom as well as those at the in-person lectures. It is clear the programme team are also doing everything they can to make it as smooth and efficient as possible for everyone. There are occasional stumbling blocks, such as the Wi-Fi connection in the area I am remotely learning in being unreliable, which can get frustrating. It is also a bit shame that I do not get to meet most of my cohort in person as much as I would like and thus build stronger relationships with them.

Career

What are your future career goals and how have they been realised since being at Imperial?

For my career overall, I just know I want to solve problems, create opportunities, and improve lives. Make life easier for people really. My next step hopefully is to get into Private Equity and my time at Imperial has been really good for helping me understand the concepts needed to excel there. Being at Imperial has also helped me develop good connections to further my knowledge and ability to get into that sector.

How did the services from Careers help you secure employment and help in your professional development?

The core workshops and one-to-one career sessions have been really helpful in improving my CV, cover letter, interview skills, networking skills and much more. The support available is almost limitless and if you really search for something specific relating to career assistance or development, it is most times available already.

London Location

Do you think studying in a central location such as London is beneficial for networking and career opportunities?

I‘ve definitely found the London location of Imperial to be beneficial. Again sadly, there are not many physical events or in-person opportunities due to the pandemic, but just living in London builds a good conversation starter when networking with professionals also based here. You never know where you will meet someone who can help you in your career journey, it could be at the grocery shop, a restaurant, or somewhere else entirely. In addition, most of the London accommodations tend to have students from other highly ranked universities like LSE, London Business School, UCL, King’s College etc., and this helps build relationships and connections not just with Imperial students but students from other highly ranked schools in London as well.

Where do you live in London and why did you choose to live there?

 I live in the South Kensington area, which I chose because it is a walkable distance to the Imperial College Campus. It is also connected to many central parts of London, there are often direct trains and buses to most places I need to go which is good. Also, I love exploring new restaurants, and there are quite a number of them around the area.

When you’re not studying, what do you enjoy doing?

I am a food blogger, so I certainly enjoy trying different meals, either by going to restaurants or cooking. I enjoy meeting up with old friends and making new friends to share stories and funny experiences with, however most of them now have to be done via video calls due to the restrictions in place with the pandemic. I also enjoy good movies or series, my favourite types are thrillers, comedies and cheeky romance movies.

If you had to move to London for the programme, what have been the benefits and challenges of moving to London? What advice would you give to someone in a similar position?

I was in Leicester for my undergraduate and in Nigeria for a year afterwards. The benefit of moving to London is the independence I get to experience. London is so vibrant and full of energy and I greatly appreciate that. In spite of the restrictions put in place by the government in the past few months, London somehow manages to stay vibrant. However, the rising COVID-19 cases in London and limited movements have been really challenging to deal with.

It has at times been a bit of a culture shock as London is fast-paced and things around town feel a bit rushed sometimes. Many people tend to rush to get to their destinations or get things done, which can easily rub off on you. I sometimes feel myself rushing to do something even if there is no need to rush it. London is really big, which can be dauting sometimes. On occasion it can take over an hour train ride to visit someone who lives on the same side London. As most people know, it can be really expensive too. There are so many things I may want to spend my money on, which are sometimes higher in price than normal, and it takes a lot of budgeting and self-discipline to ensure I am financially stable here.

Tips

Looking back to when you were applying for the programme, did you attend any online webinars or on-campus information sessions?

I attended the visa information session and watched the MSc Economics & Strategy for Business webinar held in February 2020. The latter made me more aware of what to expect on the programme and learn from the previous students’ experiences which helped me adjust better. I would recommend the visa information session for international students with pressing visa questions or those unsure about the visa process. The programme-specific webinar was useful to help get you more mentally prepared and learn from the mistakes and success secrets of both current and previous students.

What advice would you give someone who is thinking about applying for the programme?

Firstly, know why you want to do the programme. Having this knowledge will help you stay motivated throughout, especially during the hard days. Secondly, try to get a bit of work experience prior to joining while you can, no matter how short it is, as it can make a huge difference when starting the programme. Thirdly, ensure you are prepared for the challenge the programme may bring, the Imperial brand and MSc Economics & Strategy for Business qualification put you in a great position professionally, but it is really intense, and you may need to juggle many things in a tight period. Finally, every part of the application matters, make sure you give your best to every detail. Good luck!

Interested in applying for a scholarship to this programme?

Programme:
MSc Economics & Strategy for Business 2020-21
Nationality:
Nigerian
University and subject studied for undergraduate degree:

BSc Accounting and Finance, University of Leicester,