Saturday, December 27, 2008

More than an MBA

I decided to end the year with a completely different topic: relationships in the MBA. I guess we all expect to make friends for life in the MBA. A career change and a life experience also come with the territory. But every year, for some people the MBA gives them something else. It seems like every year something like 5% to 10% of the class engages in some kind of romantic relationship. This year was no exception and there were some couples formed, which have resulted in two scheduled weddings for 2009 amongst MBA classmates!

To be honest, it doesn’t surprise me that some couples are former during an MBA. It is a very intense experience where we get to know each other very well. MBAs spend many long hours with each other in group work and doing many different sporting and social activities (already described in this blog) and travelling for holidays or projects.

MBAs usually have many things in common. Most of them are ambitious, hard working, well educated and the MBA admission acts as a filter to create a group that despite being very heterogeneous, it has many values in common. Therefore, relationships during an MBA don’t surprise me at all. In fact, I had heard stories before about MBA sweethearts and seeing couples being formed during the MBA was normal and not surprising.

However, there was something that did surprise me about the couples that were formed: I am part of one of them!

Looking back, I went for the for the MBA completely open minded regarding my career, job location and all those things but quite frankly, the idea of finding a partner never crossed my mind. I was seeking for many things by signing up for an MBA. This wasn’t one of them.
Sometimes we can only find something when we’re not actively seeking.
I’m very happy I found what I wasn’t looking for. I must say this was a great year that changed my life. This whole year was definitely much more than an MBA!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Goals and expectations: reality check

On the 8th of September 2007 I was one week away from starting my MBA. I was still in my home country and had many expectations and some goals I wanted to achieve with and after the MBA. In this blog, I listed most of them so I could go back some day and compare what happened with what I expected.

A bit more than a year has passed now and in this post I want to do that exercise. I will list again my expectations as of 2007 and will comment on them as of December 2008.
This is a very interesting (and nostalgic) personal exercise that I hope can help some of the readers too. So here it goes:

Looking back at my expectations, it seems like I achieved almost all of them with distinction. It's actually very rewarding to look back and see how things turned out to be in all items. If you are thinking of doing an MBA, as I was in 2007 maybe this will help you make up your mind!

The job hunt

This topic is one of the most important ones for someone doing an MBA, and shame on me for not posting about it before!

I guess getting a good job is one of the main reasons to do an MBA. We all have the expectation of landing a great job in the end and most of us have the expectation of changing careers and industries and usually an MBA is a great means for doing so.
Unfortunately, the world has changed really fast. When we first started the MBA, we all were living in a different world. The economy was doing well and the expectation was we all would have jobs at the end of the MBA. As time went by, we started to realise the world was changing. We all were in the middle of a crisis with an uncertain duration and unforeseen consequences. Finding a job under these circumstances is harder. But it is even harder when you are changing industries, which is exactly most people enroll in an MBA for.

I started my job hunt around February 2008, which is rather late. I should have started before and I advise everyone to start as soon as possible. Obviously, it is hard to know what we want a month into the MBA. And I had many areas that I wanted to explore and investigate a bit more. I applied for many different things and was called for some interviews and I guess I used some interviews to practice and to know a bit more about some companies.

Job hunting can be frustrating. Sometimes we get interviews sometimes we get rejections and we don’t even know why. It is very important that you check your CV and Cover Letter with friends and colleagues so you don’t get myopic. Many times I was under the impression I had the perfect profile for a vacancy, but the ones who got called were the ones with totally unrelated backgrounds. So, sometimes it is a gamble. And we need to keep our hopes high and not give up, as it is very stressful too.

In the end, I had job offers from banks and consulting firms. Having been a consultant previously, I decided I wanted to try the banking industry. Joining a bank in a middle of a crisis is a risky move, but I thought it would be interesting to see a crisis from the inside.

So right now, I’m working in Canary Wharf, London, for one of the biggest banks in the World. I joined one of those MBA tailor made programmes which will allow me to have rotations in different functions and different countries across Europe. It sounds interesting and it has been a learning experience so far. Let’s see what the future holds!