December 8, 2017. I landed in Dublin for the first time with my husband and my then 5-months old son, Yahya. One year later I reached a point where I was sleepless, jobless and hopeless!
I worked as an architect for more than seven years back in Egypt. I enjoyed my career to the fullest, and was excited to start elsewhere and broaden my experience. I knew that finding a job in Dublin wouldn’t be easy, but it turned out to be nearly impossible: I had no connections; my experience was unrecognized and I kept enduring one rejection after the other. I had so many reasons to leave and I kept saying, ‘Dublin, I like you, I want to stay, but something’s gotta give. You have to give me a reason to stay!’
January 2019, I came across the MBA experience day at UCD on LinkedIn. And that was it! The moment I entered the campus, I had this gut feeling that this is where I want to be, and this is where I will be. A couple of months later, I had my first acceptance letter from UCD and although I couldn’t secure a scholarship at the time, I knew it was worth coming back for. In July of 2020 I finally made it. With a spot in the MBA program and a generous scholarship, I couldn’t be happier to say I’m a UCD Michael Smurfit Business School FTMBA candidate for class 2021.
Since Yahya has been starring in most of the lectures, breakout rooms and meetings, I might as well reveal the surreal life of pursuing an MBA with a 3-year-old on the loose. After a pretty messy start in the first couple of weeks, I realized that I need to get myself together if I wanted this to work. There has been a learning curve to everything on the MBA, and managing family obligations was no exception. I had to adapt my mindset that I would do my best, bearing in mind that there will be few compromises here and there. I had to plan ahead, and when planning wasn’t enough, I had to micro-plan. I thought I had it all under control, but things got more complicated. By the beginning of the second trimester and with the new measures of lockdown, schools were closed for more than 6 weeks. Being flexible to unpleasant surprises was yet another skill I had to embrace. Nothing about parenting is easy, just as nothing about a full-time MBA is easy, but it’s doable and it’s definitely worth it. Going back in time, I’d do it all over again.
After all the planning, hard work and pressure; finding that one thing that gets you up in the morning is key. I’m thankful for UCD Business Alumni for setting a 30-day walking challenge. Getting-through a long day of lectures, deliverables, cook, laundry, dishes and finally putting the little one in bed, those 10kms in the evening were the highlight of the day.
Joining the MBA has been the most strategic, rational and emotional decision I have ever made.
To me, UCD is a little bit more than just an MBA. It gave me all the knowledge, confidence and relationships I was looking for. But most importantly, it kept me coming back.
—Noreen Mahmoud, FTMBA Class of 2021