The MBA experience, pre-MBA

So at a certain point you may conclude that there’s a gap between where you are and where you want to go in your further career. In my case from external relations at a sustainability not for profit, to developing sustainable strategies in a business. My bridge of choice went by a three letter acronym: MBA. Ironically I’ve been assured that my life and career aims are likely to change as a consequence of actually doing an MBA, so who knows where the bridge will end up leading!

Enrolling in an MBA program was certainly not a choice made without some introspection. You’re spending time and money and want to get something of value to yourself in return after all. My girlfriend gave me a copy of “the personal MBA” by Josh Kaufman, which promises and MBA in a book and offers some criticisms of typical MBA programs. If you still want to do an MBA after going through that, you’re probably where you belong. I can highly recommend it.

Having resolved to do an MBA, my scouting for programs was dictated by personal preferences and pragmatism. I wanted to do a one-year program, with a good-sized cohort, not to big, not to small. I have enjoyed working in international work environments and see myself working with people from around the world in the future, so I wanted to make sure the composition of the student body and the orientation of the program reflected that. Yet, practically, being self-financed, choosing a program close to where I live made sense.

With my professional background I wanted a program that recognizes the importance of sustainable development without focusing on it exclusively. I see my MBA as an opportunity to synthesize my existing experience with new learning.

Last but not least, my preference was a school that would stand out. I reviewed blogs, rankings and reviews as well as taking steps to form my own opinion such as attending the open days of various schools. A final sitting in on a class at RSM was what eventually sealed the deal for me.

RSM checked all the boxes, so I applied.

Many of my friends asked whether it was hard to get in. The honest answer I gave was: I don’t know. Yes, you obviously need a decent GMAT score (The GMAT is not rocket science, but you need to prepare) and yes you need to write three essays and do an interview (both of which I considered and prepared for extensively). It’s quite a bit of work, but you just do what it takes.

I was lucky enough to do my interview in person, having sent in my application just prior to an event RSM was organizing in Amsterdam. The turnaround time for my application ended up being a merciful three days.

Offer in hand, I started sorting out my finances. RSM Financial Aid office was very helpful there. The parameters of some of the individual loan and scholarship applications were, however, a bit odd (loan and scholarship status are in many cases unclear before you make your € 5000 registration payment). I know the school doesn’t have this all in hand, but a do hope sequencing can be improved for future students!

On the curriculum front I like the fact that RSM is intent on getting everyone to hit the ground running by requiring a mandatory refresher course. In my case as I imagine in the cases of some of my fellow students some of the course were simply “fresh”, without the “re”: Introduction to Accounting being my first taste of double entry bookkeeping.

I’m looking forward to meeting and getting to know the rest of the class next week and getting stuck into the material and assignments after that.

The MBA experience, pre-MBA

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