I arrived on campus on Monday 7th September, geared up with my notebooks, multi coloured highlighters and of course facemask, for the start of what I can only hope is a life changing year. Nothing can quite prepare you for what to expect, especially during a global pandemic!
Immediately I was put at ease. The warm welcome from all of the staff, personally escorting you to your classroom, put my first fear to bed – getting lost! On arrival to my designated socially distanced seat I was welcomed with an MBA goodie pack. While I really appreciated the branded jumper, laptop bag and mug, the 300+ page accounting book put the fear of god in me. As a marketing specialist, I was certainly intimidated at the thoughts of a financial accounting module (ps. – It’s actually not that scary).
For future students, let me give you some insider advice. Foundation week is like a bootcamp class in a gym but for 7-8 hours a day. Mentally you will be feeling a mix of emotions. To briefly summarise I would say, excitement, enthusiasm, and exhaustion! Be prepared for a trip to the deep end of the pool. The MBA’s programme managers and lecturers use Foundation Week to gear you up for the year ahead through lectures and team bonding activities. We had an array of really useful talks to help us be better prepared, from working in intercultural teams, programme logistics, persuasive writing, and how to better present yourself, to name a few. We also had the opportunity to sample some of the option module courses. To top this off we had our first 3-hour crash course in accounting.
The blended learning aspect of the course has been brilliant in my eyes. Generally, we are on campus and together with our classmates for most of the day. When we transfer to virtual learning the technology platforms used have been really efficient and it’s nice to be able to see your fellow students minus a facemask! It’s common to be broken up into smaller virtual teams to work on challenges and tasks, which has been a really great way to get to know one another.
The highlight of the week for me was the virtual day on “Accelerating Team Performance”. Think escape rooms but virtual! The facilitators of this day succeeded in tackling the importance of team work and how best to navigate the ups and downs which will come our way. However, there was also plenty of tomfoolery going on throughout the day – videos of MBA class of 2021 singing and dancing available for a small fee!!!
To conclude, foundation week is a rollercoaster of emotions. However, most importantly you meet your classmates and soon discover that along with your lecturers, family and friends, your classmates will be your number one support system. We have an incredibly diverse class, with students coming from Ireland, Egypt, China, Pakistan, America, Canada and India. One week in and the support everyone has shown each other in this small time has been overwhelming. There is a common understanding that we are all in this together and the willingness to help one another has significantly relaxed many of our needless worries and endless questions.
I come into this MBA programme not quite exactly sure where my final destination will be. I have no doubt that with the broad range of modules and mixing with my classmates with such diverse experiences – and the expertise of Mark in the careers department – that I will end up in the right place. With the Smurfit MBA you’re putting your trust in the right hands.
—Jessica Hughes, Full-time MBA Class of 2021