We are certainly in the thick of it now. Both MBA class of 2019 and EMBA class of 2020 have descended on Smurfit campus and it really feels as though we are here to stay. Give us a year, maybe two, and we will be ready to take on the world. Our introductory weeks to the world of business have been both intense and stimulating; and they have had to be. We have been invited to open our minds to unfamiliar territory, new subjects and theories, that many of us have not yet encountered in our working lives. Having completed just one year of Business Studies in secondary school, I am not only studying the modules on our syllabus, I am learning a new language. Duolingo, eat your heart out.
Since our introductory week at the close of summer, we have been acquainted with an abundance of brilliant, accomplished and engaging individuals. It is infinitely clear that these people want to be here – they want to teach us and show us the way. And they are just as eager to guide us on this journey as we are to follow them. Our lecturers thus far have been stupendous; they have been patient and supportive. In the typical sense, the lecture hall is reminiscent of my undergraduate years; there is oblivion of new before me, but I feel comfortable with it. My questions are welcomed with open arms. And, in contrast to my years as an undergraduate, I value my time in the lecture hall, I rarely check the clock. I am totally immersed in my new surroundings.
In many ways, it is a privilege to be here. Not only because I am in one of the top performing schools in the world but also because of the people surrounding me. My classmates as a whole have been open, honest, human and willing to help. We are a diverse bunch from a vast array of backgrounds – finance, law, medicine, sales, engineering and pharmacy, to name just a few. Each individual brings something new to the table and we continue to actively learn together. My study group cements our thoughts and ideas and facilitates further self-development. Every interaction is an education and, with Wonder Woman as our class representative, we can only imagine how fruitful the next two years will be. The bar has been set sky high.
Outside of the classroom and away from our study groups, we are invited to partake in all the extracurriculars Smurfit has to offer. The opportunities to network and expand our own worlds have been numerous. We have been strongly encouraged to join the tag rugby team and represent Smurfit on the world stage in Danville at the MBA Tag Rugby World Cup. We were invited to join those graduating from the MBA and EMBA classes of 2018 at their graduation ball. There has even been talk of the summer consulting trip next year. Getting involved is an essential part of the experience and I am excited about the prospect of expanding my horizon.
The transition to part-time student and fulltime juggler has been made almost seamless by the dedicated team the Smurfit school have chosen to oversee our progression through our MBA. Our programme managers and coordinator, the director, all have made themselves available to us since the introductory week and have continued to be active in our week-to-week schedules since. Apart from being professional at all times, approachable when a doubt arises, these people have been supportive and kind. But then, this does suit the overall climate here at Smurfit. Like our lecturers, they are helping us to navigate through the sometimes choppy waters that come with returning to education. We are lucky to have you onboard.
The challenge of balancing work and life now demands I up a gear to include MBA on my action plan. Graduates tell me that our time management skills will improve as we move through the year; this is somewhat of a relief. With classes dominating Monday and Thursday evenings, work and all its associated pressures are confined to most other days and weekends. Giving myself permission to zone out is imperative. I continue to need to run, swim and cycle my way through the week. UCD’s gym and swimming pool have been welcome distractions and yoga helps when the Irish weather restricts my movements to the house. My friends, also, are an endless source of good clean fun. They have been not only encouraging of my decision to take the unconventional route, but some are as excited as I am about the world that is now at my fingertips.
I feel fortunate in many ways. If it wasn’t for the scholarship provided by Image magazine to study in Smurfit, I would have struggled financially to keep myself afloat over the next two years. My sister was in Image once. Unfortunately, I will not be involved in the same capacity and I will never be able to fully repay the cost of the Smurfit experience. But I will endeavour to work hard, remain open minded and be the best self I can possibly be with the help of this great team. I am one in a group bright, driven and inspiring people and I am infinitely grateful for that.
Danielle Courtney, EMBA 2018/20