When I was asked to write to you about my experience over the past 20 months, it took me a while to figure out what to say. It’s unbelievably hard to sum up this experience and what it has meant to me in brief, but here goes nothing.
You are about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime. Right now, you are probably scrambling to find roommates, brushing up on accounting, or maybe downloading Duolingo to “learn Spanish” (spoiler alert: it won’t help!). Right now, you have read the blogs, said goodbye to your friends, and are probably eagerly awaiting the passage of time until you arrive on campus. You probably think you know what to expect from these next two years. You don’t.
Most people come to an MBA, and, in particular, IESE, in search of something new. A new career, a new city, a new education. Personally, I arrived on campus having spent my entire life in New York City. I thought I knew diversity – after all, New York is the most diverse city in the world, right? I was previously a Consultant for Financial Services firms. I wanted to get out of my day to day life and try something different. I applied to do an MBA because I wanted a change. I didn’t know that what I would get is a transformational experience.
IESE immediately places you into an intensive environment. You are grouped with a team of students – none of whom you will share much in common with. They have different nationalities, different careers, but also different hopes and aspirations. In no time at all, you are asked to work together, to push each other in a rigorous environment. You will be looking for jobs and reading countless cases, while at the same time going to social events, planning trips, and meeting people you never thought you would meet.
At first, this can be an overwhelming experience. There is so much to do, and no time to do it. But if I could give you one piece of advice: embrace it. You won’t be able to do everything, but make sure to place yourself out of your comfort zone. Hate accounting? Lead a case for your team. Have trouble public speaking? Force yourself to talk once each class. Know nothing about other cultures? Try to learn something new every day. The opportunities you have right now are endless. Push yourself in that case competition, reach out to someone you’ve never talked to, go to that party! These two years will go by in a flash, enjoy every moment for what it’s worth.
For me, my IESE journey isn’t exactly over. I will be joining IESE to work in Business Development for Career Services, so some of you will likely be seeing a lot of me. But as I watch my classmates leave Barcelona one at a time, I can’t help but realize how different we all are from when we started. We started out with almost nothing in common, we ended up a family. This intensive environment bonds you very close, very quickly. But it’s up to you to allow that to happen. Take risks, say yes, work hard, have fun. You only get this once, and, at the end of the day, you have to make the most of it. The opportunity is there and plentiful, it’s up to you to reap the rewards.
Mike Mascarenhas, Class President, IESE Class of 2017
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