The alarm clock goes off at 7am. Your first thought is that you’re a student and that you can have a lie on. Then you realise that you’re not a student, but an MBA candidate so the normal student rules don’t apply!!! Time to get up.
Over breakfast you look at your calendar for the day. How many classes do you have? How many group meetings? Have you done all the necessary pre-reading and prep work? The answer to these questions will let you know what type of day to expect.
Arrive at campus at 8.00. Classes start at 8.30 so you have 30 minutes to get everything in order. If you have finished the pre-readings, you sit back, relax and chat with your classmates. If you haven’t completed the pre-readings, you quickly flick through them, hoping to get an overview so the class won’t be a complete waste of time. (Not that I need to do that!)
Class typically starts with a 15 minute presentation from a group. Several hours of preparation have gone into this 15 minutes, but as there are valuable marks on offer, it’s worth it. This is followed by a class discussion on the topic. It could last another 15 minutes to an hour depending on the views of the class. The remainder of the 2 hour class, is more theoretical, although there is always a healthy level of contribution from the class, which keeps it engaging.
At 10.30, there’s a quick coffee break, before we do it all again from 11am to 1pm.
At 1pm our “official” college day is finished. Although, that’s when the hard work begins. Throughout the MBA you are assigned a group for continuous assessment. This assessment comes in the form of paper submissions, presentations and simulations. For some subjects, the group projects account for 40% of the marks. As a group, you will have on average one project a week. A project could take 6 to 20 hours per person, depending on its complexity and value.
The afternoon is spent with your group working through these projects. Every group experiences a bad week, in which they might have three projects due. Knowing the pressure the groups face, foundation week is largely focused on how to work as a team.
On a typical day, you aim to leave before 7pm. If your group have a presentation the next morning, that could be 10pm. If you have a quiet week, you might get to leave at 5pm.
Unfortunately your day doesn’t finish there. Once home you have to finish the pre-reading for the next day’s classes. The alternative is that you dedicate your weekend to the week’s pre-reading, in which case you get a few hours off in the evening.
The above cycle repeats itself for three days a week. One day a week dedicated to the long-term initiatives, careers and leadership development. Usually it’s a full day workshop on a specific topic. So far these have included Communication Skills, Team Building, Presentation Skills (extremely valuable), Career Brainstorming, Networking skills to name a few.
The fifth day acts as a buffer for rescheduled classes, networking events and club meetings. However, more often than not it is used for additional team meetings, and we’re grateful for the time to fit another one in.
As you can see, the hours are long. However if you keep your end goal in mind and stay focused, they will fly by. And as soon as you realise you’re doing this work for yourself and not the lecturers, you will enjoy it!
Donal Byrne ~ Full-Time MBA