6 Realities of doing a full-time MBA (Term 1)
(at WBS, University of Warwick)
1. Forget working.
Before I started I had this grand idea that I would get a part-time job working 10 -15 hours a week. Thank goodness I didn't. I would not have been able to do my studies justice and I would not have slept!
At the end of Term 1 there was a ten-day stretch where I was in school 12 hours every day. Throughout the majority of the term, I was in school at least 8 hours a day, plus weekly pre-readings and case studies. Even if we did not have class, with group projects and evening guest speakers, the days were packed!
My advice, if you can avoid working, DO. Just focus the year on school, in the long-run it will be worth it (even if for now you need to post-pone those new shiny shoes).
2. Forget a social life outside of school.
I say "forget a social life outside of school" because in school there will be LOTS of opportunities to network and socialize with your cohort. Unfortunately, everyone else in your life will probably become non-existent; at least that is what happened to me throughout Term 1.
Even during the steadier weeks, there was so much pre-reading and bits and bobs to do (i.e: CV tweaks, networking events, research for reports), that by the end of the day, if I wanted to sleep and exercise too, the day was done.
Throughout Term 1, I stayed in contact with family and friends by calling or messaging during my commute. Responding to emails, unless they were urgent, usually got delayed until the weekend and even then they were kept short.
That is not to say I did not have fun. Because you are with your classmates all day, drinks, dinner or a "nights-out" tend to (for better of for worse) casually pop up and roll over into the wee hours after class. Take full advantage of this "in-house" socializing as these new friends are your new network.
3. Where you live matters.
I live in a lovely residential area a seven minute drive from campus. It seems close enough when my partner drives and if we lived in a city it would be no problem as buses run frequently and until late in cities. Unfortunately, in our borderline rural area of the West Midlands there is one direct bus to campus (already a 15 min walk from the house) that stops running after 5:15 pm. This means that when my partner is away and I have to take the bus, commuting becomes a challenge. If I miss the very infrequent bus then I end up walking (1 hour each way) or taking an Uber (thank goodness for Uber).
If you are studying at a campus university like Warwick, do carefully consider where you live in relation to campus and the buses that are available to you.
4. You will find a new found love for current events.
I must admit, before staring the FT-MBA I was already quite a "news nerd", but my current event reading skyrocketed upon commencing the course.
In every class the professor will discuss at least one, if not several multi-national companies. These companies are usually in the news and the more you stay up-to-date with what is happening in the world the more you will be able to contribute to classroom discussions.
Further, the knowledge you gain will help you when you have to do PESTLE analyses (macro environmental analysis)!
5. Forget Instagram, LinkedIn will be your new best social media app.
Throughout Term 1 there is a strong focus on cleaning up your CV and tweaking your LinkedIn Profile. At WBS you will also attend several Careers Plus lectures where you will be advised to connect with people on LinkedIn in the industry that you want to transition into.
Aside from class, pre-reading, studying and attending guest lectures, I spent many hours on LinkedIn writing, editing, and connecting. LinkedIn will be your new best app.
6. Making time for an extra curricular activity is beneficial.
I say this hesitantly, however if you can get involved in at least one other activity a few times a month, then it will deepen your university experience.
An ex-jazz singer, I joined the Warwick University's big band and also got involved with an "elevator pitch" competition run by the Business School's Marketing Insights team. I know others who have joined badminton, cricket or made a foot ball (soccer) team.
These activities add that extra bit of diversity to your CV and allow you to broaden your network. It also provides a change of scenery outside of your course; during stressful periods this can be helpful.
Warwick has over 200 societies, they can be found here.
One last point.
Remember that everyone in your cohort is in the same boat as you. Sometimes you will feel behind, sometimes you will feel alone, sometimes you will second guess your decision. The feeling will pass. Let the thoughts come and then let them go.
Others will also read the pre-readings and only absorb 1 page out of 40; others will not understand what the Operation's professor taught for 3 hrs in class; others will also score poorly on their mid-term exams; and others will also be missing their home country and their family.
You are all in it together.
Keep this in mind as it will help you stay motivated as well as help you be more sympathetic to others.
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