Thursday, June 28, 2007

Getting a room

The final confirmation letter, stating that I have met all the financial requirements has finally arrived yesterday. That means two things. First, I am officially and without any doubt enrolled in the MBA programme. But it also means I can start taking care of accommodation with my college.
As I said before, I was offered a place at Magdalene College. So yesterday I emailed the college to state my preferences regarding accommodation. And the main issue was having a private bathroom. Although it may sound picky, the truth is there are many MBA students with this request. The vast majority of us has our own home and is not used to sharing bathrooms anymore.

Unfortunately, this final confirmation letter took too long to arrive. And by now, en-suite rooms are no longer available. I read in some forums that sometimes students have to share facilities with more than 6 other students. I hope this isn’t the case.

I’ll try to know more about my future room but I’m starting to wonder if I should decline college accommodation and search for private accommodation.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

My To Do list

I’m a little bit more than two months away from heading to Cambridge and barely a month away from leaving my current job. It seems a lot of time but the truth is there are many things to take care of in the meanwhile. My To Do list is quite big and has all kinds of different stuff.

For starters, I need to buy warm clothes. The truth is I don’t have much warm clothe because winters in my home country are not that cold. And now is not really the time to buy it because we are off season. And I hate shopping…so….I really need time to do this.

I’ll have to leave everything in order at home and prepare many things to be shipped to Cambridge as soon as I arrive there.

Then, there is health. I’m scheduling appointments with all kinds of doctors. And one of the most important doctors is the dentist. One doesn’t want to have teeth issues in a foreign country J

But there are also lots of different small things to take care of, like cancelling gymnasium memberships or magazine signatures, making sure someone will be able to get my registered mail from the post office or having the important mail forwarded to me. And so on....

And, of course, there is work. I have to start passing all the work to other colleagues and I’ll have to clean my office soon enough.

Finally, I also intend to have some nice long holidays. So I have to take care of everything in time of having some relaxed vacation somewhere.

So, leaving everything in order takes time and I’m trying not to forget anything. Let’s hope I don’t miss anything important!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Why Cambridge?

Today I’ll go a little back in time and explain why I chose Cambridge and how I made my mind up.

After getting my Gmat score I realised I could apply to some of the best universities with a chance of being successful. That was a good thought but having so many alternatives made my choice a lot harder. So I shortlisted the ones I thought to be the best and also looked through the MBA rankings (like the Economist and the Financial Time rankings).
So I ended up with the following MBA list (with no specific order):

America - Stanford, Harvard, Yale, MIT, Chicago;

Europe - INSEAD, IMD, Cambridge, IESE, London Business School.

I know there are some top universities missing but this was my shortlist according to rankings and the prestige these schools have in my country.
It was very hard to decide between all these good schools. Names like Harvard and Stanford are part of my imaginary since I was in high school.

But in order to make a good choice, I had to look into the little details and ask specific questions. So my first questions, asked almost simultaneously, were: Do I want to go to America (I’m European) or do I want to stay in Europe? Do I want a two year programme or do I prefer to spend only one year doing an MBA?

And the answers were quite clear to me. Although the thought of attending Harvard or other top American school seems very appealing, the truth is I didn’t want to go to America. It is too far away for me and travelling back home during holidays would be hard and expensive. On the other hand I don’t feel like spending two years studying. After working for more than 6 years it is hard for me to stop working for so long. I prefer a shorter and more intensive programme. And, of course, a 1-year programme has a higher value-for-money and the return on investment is quicker. Usually, American universities offer 2-year programmes whereas European ones offer 1 or 1 and a half year programmes.

So I was down to my European options. I must confess my first thought was INSEAD. INSEAD has a very good reputation where I live in and it is obviously a good school. But there was something that didn’t please me very much. Each year, there are nearly 800 intakes. That’s a lot of students. I find hard to believe they have a personal approach. On the opposite side was Cambridge, being the MBA programme with fewer intakes each year (around 100).

Another thing I looked at was the programme itself. Both Cambridge and IMD had an interesting feature (although a little different from each other): consulting projects. I wanted a programme that had a very practical approach.

Although IESE has a case study approach, it is only discussed in the class room. It hasn’t real life work with real life companies. So again, Cambridge had the thumbs up.

The third question was: where would I like to live? After visiting Cambridge on the interview day I was completely overwhelmed and the answer become very clear to me. That place is amazing. And I would rather live a year in England than in France or Spain because: 1) speaking English all the time will make me improve my English; 2) it is near London, which is the European financial centre. Once again, Cambridge won it.

Cambridge is also a synonym of prestige and tradition. The environment surrounding Cambridge is fantastic and the city seems to have been built from the university. So, for all the above, I chose Cambridge.

Big disclaimer: This is my viewpoint and my opinion. Maybe my idea regarding other schools is not correct but that is my idea and I based my decision upon that.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Contacting my future colleagues

Now that the class is almost complete people are trying to know each other and even meet. Besides being able to share information in the Portal, we now have other discussion forums and, of course, all the instant messaging tools.

So in the last few days my Messenger list has grown a lot and I’ve been able to talk to some of my future colleagues. This is quite cool. We haven’t even arrived yet and we are already making plans on sports, interests groups and lots of other stuff. It seems like the class they put together is really dynamic and I’m getting even more excited because I’ll have the opportunity to be with so many interesting people.

The main concerns among future students at this time are accommodation and visas. Many students are still collegeless which mean they can not apply for a visa yet and some are becoming restless. Others are not sure whether their college is a good one or not. The main issue is distance. People want a college that is not very far away from Judge Business School. I guess I was lucky because I got my response very quickly and I got in a college that seems to have excellent location.

Meanwhile, they have given us access to some career databases where we can browse for information on careers, interviews, resumes and a bunch of other valuable stuff. The main idea is being able to gather as much information as possible in order to narrow our preferences regarding careers and professional goals. Seems like I’ll have a lot of reading to do this summer!