What work experience/internships (if any) did you have before beginning with Imperial College Business School?
I’d like to think that I came to Imperial with quite a bit of experience under my belt and with a clear vision of what I want to achieve with this degree. During the gap year between my undergraduate and postgraduate I worked for the marketing agency I started at my last year at Glasgow University. I was mainly working on entrepreneurial projects alongside the company’s executive team and later managed to develop strategic consulting as one of its revenue streams.
While this certainly was a transformative experience and a decisive moment for my career, I was employed in countless jobs before both throughout and before my time at university. Those jobs included professional roles (marketing intern at Glasgow City Council, researcher & then an accountant at Wallem Ship Management GmbH) and student society roles (established Marketing Society at UofG, worked in marketing teams for TEDx, Investment & Trading Club, European Society, etc.).
Last but not least, I’ve done a fair share of hospitality jobs from when I was 16 years old, which allowed me to support myself as well as appreciate the comfort and stability of office work (which will most likely lose its own charm in the years to come).
Why did you decide to study MSc Management at Imperial College Business School?
As you can probably notice from my work experience, I undertook many roles connected with marketing, and indeed, I considered it my “calling” for quite a while. That changed, however, when I joined Material Communications which assigned me to strategic tasks that I enjoyed and quickly excelled at. Thanks to my wonderful managers/mentors at the firm I realised that this is my true north and rather than focusing on communications, I’m more interested in analysing the bigger picture. As my work involved engaging with some entrepreneurial projects I started thinking of starting something on my own as well. From that, I decided to become a consultant and use it to develop my understanding of what makes businesses tick to later use this toolkit in developing my own venture.
While it all sounded like a decent roadmap, I needed to acquire some knowledge before that to ensure I have a chance of reaching to the companies that are considered best in the industry. With a degree that was half business, half history of art (don’t ask), I felt I have some gaps to fill, especially in areas including accounting, finance, and operations. With that in mind, I looked for a degree that would give me a good overview of those subjects together with some that I (actually) liked such as strategy & marketing. MSc Management seemed to tick those boxes. What I also liked about Imperial specifically was its location (who doesn’t love London?), tech angle and a more practical approach to teaching.
Did you receive a scholarship?
Indeed, I was a happy recipient of a scholarship and it was a complete game changer for me. See, applying for a Master’s was a bit of a Geronimo (!) move on my part, because I knew full well I could never afford to pay for all of it. With a mix of wishful thinking and confidence (80-20 rule applies here), I decided that I would give it a try, because having a postgraduate degree was what I really wanted. After a few months of anxiously counting the number of loans I’d need to take to fulfil this dream, a message from Imperial appeared in my mailbox. It came as a total surprise, because unlike the other school I applied for, Imperial did not require me to write a separate application for the scholarship. All I needed was to tick a box. When going to London changed status from unlikely to highly possible, I discussed this with work and my managers, supportive as they are, told me they want me to continue working from them even from a long distance and part-time. They substantially increased my salary to match London’s living costs.
And that’s how with some luck and hard work (again, 80-20) impossible became possible.
What aspects of the programme do you most enjoy, and find most rewarding?
What I really enjoy about MSc Management is how practical and creative it is – during the past year I had to think of loads of business ideas, write business plans, marketing campaigns, pitches, etc. Almost every module included group work, presentation and report writing, which are all valuable skills in the real life. Another nice aspect was the flexibility given to us with half of the spring term and the summer electives. I’ve done a Work Placement and a Consulting Project which were both very useful, though not at all academic.
Which has been your favourite module so far and why?
My favourite was definitely Corporate Strategy with Dr Yuri Mishina, the elective was based mostly on case studies and gave a lot of room for discussion, which, in a smaller group, was much more enjoyable than in a class of a hundred. We discussed strategic issues through a lens of many different industries and could choose the company we wanted to analyse (and present on) in the groups.
How would you describe your cohort at Imperial?
I remember the first week at Imperial and how surprised I was by the fact that even though everyone has a very different background (both in terms of nationality and undergrad degree), most of the people seemed very open and outgoing. Extraverted, cosmopolitan and loud – that’s at least half of the class.
Did you have a favourite professor/lecturer and why?
It’s quite hard to say because I think that the vast majority of the faculty was really professional and passionately engaged in their subjects. Personally, I probably liked the Dr Yuri Mishina (Corporate Strategy) the most for how he run his lectures (see above). But I also have to give credits to Jolande Bot-Vos & Angie Andrikogiannopoulou for making Accounting and Finance a bit more digestible than they sound.
What are your future career goals and how have they been realised since being at Imperial?
As mentioned earlier, the work I’d done in my gap year ignited my passion for strategy, which made me want to redirect my career and become a consultant. When I went to Imperial and joined MSc Management I knew right away I’m in a good place to pursue this goal. With countless career fairs and company workshops organised in the autumn term, Imperial really puts you in the job-hunting mindset. Also, it comes as no surprise that this generalist programme attracts a lot of people who envision consulting as their future career. I’d say that meeting like minded people that are in the same boat as you was one of the most helpful aspects of joining Imperial. After all, you need to have friends to do cases with and who will listen to your complaints about lengthy recruitment processes…
Have you received any job offers since commencing your programme?
During the time at Imperial I managed to secure the following offers:
- Associate Consultant at OC&C (London)
- Associate at BCG (Warsaw)
- Business Analyst at McKinsey (Warsaw)
As you see, all of the roles are in consulting – that was my goal from the start and I decided to stick at it. From the above, I chose McKinsey (surprise, surprise!) as it offers global staffing on projects, gives you opportunities to work in a variety of sectors and from what I’ve heard, has an amazing expert support (data scientists, engineers, researchers, creatives, etc.) – really looking forward to it! Though don’t quote me on that in November…
How did the services from Imperial College Business School Careers help in your professional development/securing employment?
Imperial engaged in a lot of career related initiatives, particularly in the autumn term. What was really good about it was having access to professionals to look over your CV and cover letter. Also, coming from Glasgow, it was great to have all the major firms organising events at your school, for a change. As mentioned before, I was quite set on what I want after, but a few of my friends said they found career strategy building quite helpful. Overall, the services offer students quite a wide range of meetings, workshops and presentations so there’s something for everyone.
Do you think studying in a central location such as London is beneficial for networking and career opportunities?
All the companies, big and small, organise their events in London. Living here gives you, therefore, a great access to whatever employers you imagine yourself working for. During the first semester I went to more career/company events than I can count, I feel that after all this, I won’t need to buy another pen or USB stick for at least a couple of years.
Where do you live in London and why did you choose to live there?
I was lucky to find a place in Westminster. Since I’m sharing a room, the rent costs are acceptable and living in such a central location made my London experience so much better. Even when I didn’t have time to sightsee, which was my condition for most of the year, it’s enough that I take a bike or a bus home and I already see all the prettiest sights.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time in London? Have you had opportunities to travel?
With all its airports, London is a great place to travel from, so I had a chance to do a few weekend trips around Europe. Though I’ve been saving for Central America, which is happening soon!!
What have been the benefits and challenges of moving to London? What advice would you give to someone in a similar position?
I feel like I’m slightly biased, because I’ve loved London ever since I visited it for the first time. It’s a beautiful, diverse city, where everything happens, and the weather is incredible (mind you I spent five years in Scotland prior to moving). As is always the case with big cities like London, costs of living and distances are the main disadvantages. But if there is one tip I can give you is to look for central locations if possible, living in London can be an absolute nightmare if you have to commute from far away. Also try to find smaller agencies, because dealing with the big ones is a pain, trust me. Be prepared to pay half a year upfront for your rent – I wasn’t aware of it before and it’s quite a substantial addition to your initial budget.
What advice would you give someone who is thinking about applying for MSc Management?
Define your career goals and prepare a vision of what you want to do after the Master’s, that will not only make your application easier, but also help you to find a good reason why you want to do the MSc in the first place.