Vasco Clara, Business Strategy & Consulting, Summer School student at Imperial College Business School
Business Strategy & Consulting Summer School

Bachelor’s Business and Economics, Vienna University of Economics and Business

Tell us what your greatest academic, professional or personal awards/achievements have been.

I was born and grew up in Portugal, where I completed all my education until the end of high school. During this time, I always played sports, being federated in football as well as in tennis for many years and also having represented my school in table tennis tournaments. I have always tried to connect this passion for sports with an area that I also showed interest in early on – management. From a young age, I organised sporting fundraising events to help non-profit associations and disadvantaged people in my hometown. Later on, my interest in management translated into studying it at a university in Lisbon. When I was 19 years old, I decided that it was time to have an experience abroad and in an international environment. Thus, I dropped out of the Bachelor’s I was doing in Portugal and decided to pursue the one I am currently studying in Austria.

Why did you decide to study your Summer School course and why specifically did you choose to study with Imperial College Business School?

I wanted to have a valuable experience for my future career during the summer, so I endeavoured to find the best possible option. After doing some research, I considered that the chances of landing an internship in one of my target companies were not the best being a first-year student. Thus, instead of doing an internship that would be less meaningful for me, I thought that a Summer School course in a leading university would be the best option. Then, the choice for Imperial College Business School was natural. The worldwide prestige, remarkable teaching quality, state-of-the-art campus, being located in a major financial centre, plus the range of interesting topics it provides for the Summer School courses. All these features played an important role in my decision. After finishing the course, I would say that a Summer School, and specifically the one at Imperial, is perhaps the best option a highly ambitious first-year undergraduate business student can choose.


What made your Summer School experience unique?

I think the whole environment at the Summer School is fascinating and makes the experience unique. The city, the university, the people, it would be difficult to ask for more. I feel privileged to have had the opportunity of studying with so many bright people at a leading university and in a city like London. It is an experience of a lifetime that I would definitely recommend to anyone.

What aspects of the course did you most enjoy?

One of the aspects I enjoyed the most in the Summer School course was that all lecturers and even guest speakers always tried to involve the students in the discussions. This engagement made the course easier to follow and more insightful as the different views always added something. Also, the fact that we had different lecturers for each topic covered in the course was excellent. This way, the person in front of us was always teaching their topic of expertise.

What was the most challenging part of the course? 

It is always hard to move to a new city and country to start a new experience. Naturally, this stands out even more in the case of a short-term course. Arriving in London and immediately starting an intensive course at a university with the weight of Imperial is definitely challenging and might even seem frightening. Fortunately, the programme team is aware of this and is always on hand if anything is needed. To allow for settling in, the lecturers do not start teaching everything swiftly. This approach helps ease students into studying and helps us to overcome this challenge.  


Imperial places a large emphasis on group work, what inspires you the most about working in this type of environment?

In my opinion, you can learn a lot from group work since you can share your ideas and see the problems from different perspectives. Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses, and by working in a team you can combine a variety of skills and expertise to tackle problems that could hardly be solved by an individual. Moreover, the classrooms at Imperial are always very international. It is challenging and rewarding to work with people from so many different cultures, making the learning process much more insightful.

How would you describe your Summer School class?

The word that best describes my Summer School class, and I believe every class at Imperial, is diverse. The students come from all around the world and there is so much to learn from each other’s cultural differences. Everyone has an open mind, and everyone is in the Summer School with the same goal of learning and having a good time. With the whole class being in this same spirit, it is much easier to achieve our own goals and to overcome any difficulty that might occur.

What parts of the social programme did you most enjoy?

The social programme events were definitely one of the most enjoyable aspects of the Summer School. It is an incredible opportunity to meet, network, and socialise with fellow students. For example, a pub quiz that took place on the first day of the Summer School was the perfect activity to ensure that everyone had the opportunity to connect with other people and make friends they could spend their time with in London.


What has been the greatest opportunity during your summer at Imperial that you don’t think you would get anywhere else?

The year 2021 was still very marked by the pandemic. The health situation led many business schools around the world to cancel their Summer Schools, and some others to move it fully online. This way, it is impossible not to highlight how brilliantly everyone at Imperial handled the situation. Through a strict protocol that ensured the safety of everyone on campus and incredible innovative teaching facilities, the faculty allowed us to still study and contact with people from all around the world in such an unusual year. How Imperial welcomed students who were unable to travel to London due to the pandemic and allowed them to participate equally in classes remotely and interact with the students at the campus is remarkable, and I do not think I could have gotten it anywhere else. After having experienced the multi-mode delivering format, there is absolutely no wonder why the education technology team at Imperial has been winning multiple awards.

What are your future career goals and how do you think your time at Imperial will help/has helped?

One of the career paths I see for myself in the future is in the area of strategic consulting. I strongly believe that the Summer School course of Business Strategy & Consulting at Imperial is the very best that someone who also has this professional ambition can choose. The insights provided in different types of strategy, from entrepreneurial to corporate, are crucial theoretical concepts for someone who wants to succeed in the field. Furthermore, the consulting sessions provide you with invaluable skills for a strategic consultant and were taught by someone with decades of hands-on experience. This course teaches you to think like a consultant, and that will certainly be an important asset for my future career, even if I decide to go on a path other than consulting. Last but not least, the networking opportunities are tremendous. Both with the guest speakers who work in leading consulting companies and fellow students who are generally striving to join these companies. You will have the opportunity to make good contacts that might help you later on in your career.


Whereabouts did you stay in London and why did you choose to stay there?

During my time in London, I stayed in a dormitory in Notting Hill. I opted for a dormitory since they are already used to welcoming international students and that usually leads to less bureaucracy and paperwork. The decision for the location was its proximity to the university, so that the time spent commuting while in London was minimal. Also, when living in Notting Hill, the city's great attractions are within easy reach via public transport. This is very important and makes it also easier to participate in meet-ups with other students outside of university hours. Finally, the neighbourhood is known for being cosmopolitan and multicultural, this had an influential role since I wanted to have a taste of what London is – one of the most multicultural cities in the world.

What can a weekend in London look like for a Summer School student?

The Summer School courses are intensive programmes. If you want to make the most of your learning experience, you may have some content to review or some case study to read during the weekend. However, the course lecturers are fully conscious that being able to enjoy what London has to offer is also a very important part of this experience. Thus, you should expect to still have considerable free time during the weekends to explore the city. Every weekend the students planned meet-ups and everyone in the programme was free to join. From going to a pub, club, or museum to watching football games at Premier League stadiums or visiting cities near London, there were always different plans to please everyone’s interests.

In your opinion, tell us about the most exciting thing you’ve done in London.

While the main purpose of my time in London was to study and learn more about my Summer School course topic, being an extroverted person who likes to always be meeting new people makes it inevitable to highlight the social component. A Summer School festival that gathered students from the Summer Schools of all leading business schools in London was an experience to remember. Besides my colleagues from Imperial, the concept of this allows you to meet many more highly ambitious people that share the same interest in business as you. 


What advice would you give someone who was thinking about applying for the Summer School?

The best advice I can give to any ambitious, open-minded, and proactive person is to just go for it. A Summer School course at a leading university like Imperial is a unique opportunity that you will have for life. The course provides you with crucial assets for your career and you will make life-long friendships during your time in London. If you are interested in business and the specific topic of a Summer School course arouses your curiosity, then there is not much to discuss – you will love the experience!

Share with us a handy hint or trick that made settling into Summer School that much easier! 

From the very beginning, I tried to make sure I made the most of every opportunity to connect with everyone at the Summer School and even created opportunities where there were not. For example, I took the initiative to create a group chat so that all students in my course could talk and clarify doubts in the months before our arrival in London. All the students who were joining the group did so through my invitation link, and this way they got to know me and started being one more contact that I could reach out to in case I had any questions regarding the Summer School. This made going alone to this adventure in London seem a lot less terrifying and helped a lot in the rapid adaptation. After arriving in London, I kept this same spirit and always tried to actively participate in the classes and social programmes. Socialising and networking do not happen by your mere presence, you have to be proactive. In my opinion, only this way you can make the most of your experience at Imperial.

Business Strategy & Consulting Summer School

Bachelor’s Business and Economics, Vienna University of Economics and Business

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