In the third of her posts about life as a London Business School student, Neha Ajmera looks back on her first year and offers advice for students heading to b-school this year
As I enjoy a glorious London afternoon, I find myself in a somewhat reflective mood. At the end of my first year at London Business School, and as I look forward to summer internships, exchange programmes and the second year, I cannot help but wonder: what did it all really mean to me?
If I had to pick one word that captures the essence of the first year, it would be resilience. Resilience to death by corporate presentation and to disappointments in the summer internship placement process; the resilience to navigate the vast quantities of information thrown at me and to build a life away from friends and family. And, yes, the resilience to survive dawn classes with a hangover. It has been a tremendous learning and character building experience, but yet somewhat like a roller coaster – you get on with trepidation, yell and scream and squeeze your eyes shut, but when it is over you want nothing more than to get back in line and do it all over again.
So, if you are an aspiring MBA, or an incoming student at a top ranked school, what can you expect, and how can you prepare for the ride? If you were to ask the 400 students in my class this question, you would get, undoubtedly, as many answers. Here is my version. Remind yourself often that the MBA is a life experience. It is so much more than that first, post-MBA job. Keep in mind that whether you get a summer job at Goldman Sachs or not, it will most likely not define how the rest of your career will be. Remember that there will be many highs and many deep friendships forged. But, there will also be a few lows and a ton of hard work. While an open mind is a must, remember also not to get lost in the crowd, especially when it comes to career choices.
I think this last thing is the hardest to do. For instance, as
I sat through endless company presentations, ate unmemorable snacks and tried to network my way to a job interview, I often wondered: what did I really want to do? And why was I sitting in a General Mills presentation? I don’t even like cereal! My point is that it is easy to get carried away and lose sight of what really motivates you. So, spend some time this summer trying to think about what that is for you.
The other thing to do this summer is to bid a temporary farewell to your current life. Tell your friends and family that while you love them, you will basically go missing – especially if you are moving to a new country. This isn’t a bad thing. Few other experiences will sate your wanderlust better. I used to think I was well travelled, well read and highly motivated. At London Business School, I find myself dwarfed, both by the tremendous achievements of my classmates and their humility. Remember to open your mind to their experiences. Also, if Sean Fitzpatrick, former captain of the All Blacks rugby team, happens to swing by your school to teach the haka, be there.