Now I’m just over halfway through the course, I have asked myself these questions several times: why am I taking this MBA? Should I continue taking it? Although the reasons change and there are always twists and turns, the answer is always: YES.
Before the MBA
I was working as a trader in a mutual fund asset management company in Beijing before I moved to Dublin in 2018 July. After settling down in Dublin, I found out that I couldn’t work due to the government’s spouse working restriction. So I decided to do some traveling and learned to cook. A year later, when the policy changed, I got a job working as a video editor in a company offering Irish information and immigration services to Chinese people. Although the work went very well and I enjoyed my time with my colleagues, I was hoping to be able to return to my area of expertise.
Then the problem came, and most of my resumes sank into the sea. A friend told me an MBA might be very helpful in finding a job. I successfully applied for Ireland’s best MBA.
The first two months
Many peers view this MBA as a step to jump out of the comfort zone. There’s a joke: when you jump out the comfort zone, you’ll find nothing but discomfort. The first week I was really suffering: fast pace, endless case studies, quite stressful.
When I chatted with a friend in Ireland, she told me she dropped out of Trinity’s MBA last year after the first month because she couldn’t bear the burden. I couldn’t believe my ears: She is the one who has already graduated with a biology Ph.D. in China. If she couldn’t make it, how can I? I was very anxious and struggling with how I’m supposed to make it every day.
I changed my mind after a conversation with Mark, a Smurfit MBA career consultant and also my interviewer. He suggested that I should adjust my mind and change the way I look at it. If I could survive, I would have an amazing story to tell when hunting a job. His words worked. I got to be less anxious and more open about these dilemmas.
The second two months
Although I’d adjusted my mind, the challenges remained. It was a relief when I found all my classmates felt the same. Fortunately, I was familiar with most subjects on the syllabus. I had already taken Accounting, Economics and Strategy courses at my undergraduate and graduate levels. But I still needed to adapt to a different teaching style and overcome my language barriers.
My teammates kept encouraging me and always offered me some constructive advice to improve myself. Aga, the Full Time MBA Programme Manager, shared a lot of practical advice from her own experience and put me in touch with a Chinese alumnus to help solve my problems. Lecturers encouraged us to form our own ideas around different cases: not just telling us right or wrong, instead, they led us to the final point by ourselves. I found that I acquired a new understanding of these familiar contents.
Then I got a different answer to my question: I do want to improve myself by this MBA, from both language and professional side. I really felt the charm of case studies, and I was able to analyse things from a more comprehensive perspective and had my own point of view. These ascensions were not in my plan, but I was more than happy to gain. I had more faith in myself.
The third two months
Due to covid-19, things were getting worse, so I went back to China. The plan doesn’t always keep up with the circumstances. The one-month vacation turned into a plan of probably never going back to Dublin. My family wanted me to look for a job in my hometown. Everyone started to ask me the same question: Are you going to continue your MBA?
Soon I got the answer: yes, I need it. It’s not enough. I want to get more steps away from my comfort zone. There are still many topics I’d like to hear from the lecturers, many things I want to learn from my excellent new teammates, many peers that I want to have more connections with. So I convinced myself, again.
I’ve thought about giving up many times. But to this day I want to say, fortunately, I didn’t. At first, all I wanted was a diploma. But I got more than that. Confidence, new vision, different modes of thinking and high-tolerance of stress. More importantly, I have friends that I would never know without taking the MBA. With half of the MBA journey left, I hope I can get more unexpected surprises. Perhaps many years from now, when I recall this journey, it will become a rare experience that I’ll pride myself on in my life.
—Ke Chen, FTMBA Class of 2021