Take the Plunge!

peter-walsh-headshotEarly last spring, I came to the decision to apply for the UCD Smurfit MBA. I had reached a crossroads in my career where I wanted to expand my skillset and potentially look at moving into a different industry. I did plenty of deliberating on whether an MBA was the stepping stone I needed: I found myself spending hours reading online forums, reviewing the application process and GMAT requirements. Eventually, I took the plunge and applied.

As I approach the end of the programme, eighteen months after deciding to apply, I can safely say that I made the right choice. The Smurfit MBA affords you opportunities you wouldn’t get over the course of an entire career. In addition to expanding your expertise and knowledge through interactive lectures and the experiences of your classmates, the programme creates many opportunities for students. A dedicated careers service helps you explore career paths you may have not considered in the past and leverages the Smurfit alumni network to help you follow up on potential career paths: each student is assigned an MBA alumnus mentor who will give you practical advice regarding your career aspirations and goals. 

If you’re not comfortable networking, fear not: the careers team also organise a course at the start of the year to equip you with all the tools you’ll require to become an effective networker. The programme then gives you countless opportunities to test out your new skills, with guest speakers, company visits, and networking events scheduled throughout the year.

The Smurfit MBA also emphasises experiential learning to prepare you for a global career, incorporating three international trips over the year. In October I was lucky enough to take a course in the behavioural science of management at Yale School Of Management as part of an exchange week organised by the Global Network for Advanced Management. At the beginning of March, we travelled to Argentina for our class study trip, where we visited a number of local businesses. While travel restrictions meant we were unable to travel to Portugal for the International Consulting Trip module planned for late May, we were able to work remotely to complete projects for small and medium enterprises based in and around Lisbon.

If you find yourself overwhelmed with options and hesitating with the MBA application process, take my advice and just take the plunge. Below are a few points on the application process which would have helped me along the way: 

  • While preparing your essays, make the content as personal as possible. The admissions team want to get to know you, your career aspirations and what you will be able to contribute to the overall class experience. 
  • While compiling your application, don’t go down a rabbit hole in pursuit of perfection. Write and write, then trim. Let the ideas flow, rephrase where needed and then edit to highlight your strengths. Reflect on your past experiences and tie them in with the MBA to create a story for the future.

Peter Walsh, Full-time MBA Class of 2020