My scope of career expectations was very limited and I was pretty content with what I was doing at the time until the day the notion of MBA struck my little head. And suddenly there was a burning flame in me to move out of that zone and look beyond my horizon. But then for some reason, I preferred working for a few years before I could dive into an MBA curriculum. And then after 6 years’ experience it was time to shift gears. With a decent GMAT score and a reasonably good career profile, UCD turned into a dream option for me and I hardly had any doubts in choosing it over the other offers. Its critical to note that I had, by now, commenced fostering ambitions of moving into C-suite in years to come.
And here is the beginning of the struggle!!!
Let me now pull myself straight to the classroom from the office desk. It was difficult to adapt, honestly, and to go back to the study table after six years. Moving to a different city, rest aside a different country, can bring along a lot of challenges and changes, all of them bombard on your head at the same time. But that’s how one evolves and that has never been a headache for me. Luckily, I got a nice apartment along with my fellow Indian folks from the class. The foundation week was a nice “get-to-know-act” to start with and it helped lots of us to get to know each other well, even though I ended up remembering only the names of a few, still very poor with names ☹. We had a great outdoor activity on the very first day. Oops!! That was the second day as the Irish embassy too, like me, was late in giving me my visa (pun intended).
I believe and really advocate the fact that my study group was outstanding. The group had fantastic people who were committed and sincere and I learned highly from them. We made sure that our group protocol was maintained and respected by each one of us. We always planned well before the due dates and on many occasions, we were way ahead of other study groups (source – internal informers). Also, it’s worth mentioning the couple of beer chit-chats we had at The Dark Horse. Aisling, Conor, Elena, Linh hope you guys are having an exciting time!!
Coming back to my own learnings and experiences, let me turn objective and retrospective. Was I happy to do the MBA? Absolutely yes!! Did I start off well? I guess yes!! Was there a sense of disappointment over time? Guess so!! Reasons unknown. Did I get complacent over time? Yes truly!! That was the first mistake I made as I couldn’t resist the temptation and feeling of taking things for granted. From a Team dynamics perspective, I realized I didn’t put my best foot forward at certain instances. On the academic front, I wish there were more practical sessions implementing the classroom theories, though I was particularly impressed by the case study based approach in some of the modules. Luckily, there were always bagful of assignments to apply the classroom concepts. As they say, “knowledge is a waste until it is applied”.
Over the last nine months or so, I have realized the importance of maintaining your own identity among the students. It also justifies the admission criteria of bringing your own uniqueness to the MBA cohort. So, this is one of the key take-aways for me, something that I had forgotten to be mindful of. Time and again, we kept hearing, in the career and networking sessions, the essence of selling yourself and that can be best achieved if you stick to your own scheme of things with a pinch of improvisations. And here comes the most heard phrase – Network, Network, Network!!!
Networking is still an alien concept back in India and understandably I used to be short of words, rest aside ideas, when it came to networking with strangers. According to a typical definition, “networking is the art of creating, growing, and nurturing your personal, social, or professional connections”. I had no idea if it was an art or science or some uncanny professional act. I would feel like I was bidding for myself in those must sell situations!! My takeaway – There is no way one can learn professional networking unless it is practiced. I guess I am still nurturing this skill but there is a huge difference between how I connect now and how it used to go, let say, six months back.
So, what’s next? I am into my last three months of MBA and can’t wait to wear my office shoes again but this time with a bit more shine and gloss. I would say I have made my share of mistakes over the course of time and learned from them. Now it’s time to stop contemplating and put things into action. I am hoping the next three months are going to be more exciting than the last nine months. Hopefully, the Irish weather too stays lively. Give me some sunshine, give me no rain!!!
Wishing myself and everyone in the MBA cohort very good luck for a prosperous career!!!
Vishal Sharma ~ Full-Time MBA