Tuesday 10th December: A chill breeze and overcast skies greet me in the usually sunny Barcelona as I step out of class. However, the gloomy weather couldn’t dampen our moods! First years had just successfully completed term 1 of the MBA program. As I joined the rest of my batchmates for celebratory drinks on the terrace, I couldn’t help but think to myself – “What an amazing roller-coaster ride the past 4 months has been.”
I moved to Barcelona early in August and after spending a couple of weeks getting acquainted to the city, attended my first class at IESE – the intensive Business Spanish Program (BSP). Expertly designed and scheduled in such a way to make the transition back to ‘student-life’ as easy as possible, BSP gave me the opportunity to learn 2 modules of Spanish in just 2 weeks. My professor, Senora Merche, was extremely welcoming and unbelievably patient. Over the course of 2 weeks she taught us tirelessly, enabling most of us to grasp at least a basic understanding of the language. BSP also gave me the opportunity to meet most of my batch-mates before term actually started.
With the end of BSP came Orientation Week at IESE. The entire batch was divided into five sections of 75 students each, which were further divided into teams of 9-10 people. My team consists of 3 engineers from Italy, Hong Kong and Romania, 2 bankers from Brazil and Peru, a consultant from Spain, a project manager from Portugal, an airline industry expert from Japan and myself – an Indian with a family business background. Little did I know, that by the time term ended, these guys would become my second family. From running marketing simulations and sharing excel workings to randomly breaking out into a chorus of ‘Backstreet Boys’ songs at team dinners, it’s been spectacular so far!
After a week of team-building exercises, treasure-hunts around Barcelona and several welcome panels, we officially started Term 1. We had 3 cases a day, 5 days a week. I must admit that I underestimated the intensity of the academic program. It’s tough. But tough for a reason. Soon, you realize that you cannot do everything on your own and you must rely on your teammates. You learn to prioritize. The classes themselves were exhilarating. Imagine debating real-world business problems with 75 of your classmates who are from 50+ different countries, with an expert professor guiding you in the right direction. The learnings were unbelievable. Most of the time, I would leave class with an outlook or line of thinking that was different to the one I had before class.
Although classes ended at 3:30 PM, it was most often the start of the second part of my day. With numerous career and student-run club activities occurring regularly, there was always something to try out or an exciting event to attend. Global organizations like AB InBev, Roland Berger and FC Barcelona organised case competitions that gave us the opportunity to solve real-world business problems. To help us prepare, the Career Development Centre along with the help of professional clubs organised a workshop – “Winning a Case Competition” – that gave us a solid understanding on how to navigate the case competitions. Additionally, 2nd years were always available to guide you in the right direction. You could count on them to give you genuine feedback and act as a bouncing board for your ideas. A few days before the finals of a case competition, one of my teammates was unfortunate to get into a terrible accident. I was stunned when she called me the day before the competition and said she was going to join us and present from the hospital – through Skype! The determination to finish what she had started was incredible. Personally, these competitions were a great way for me to learn more about the companies and put our learnings from the MBA into practical use. It also gave me the opportunity to work with other people who were not from my section and build relationships with different members of the diverse cohort at IESE.
Along with the academics, the Career Development team has been working with each student to identify optimal career paths right from day one. I came to the MBA with the goal of pursuing consulting or Leadership Development Programs. The support I’ve received, both from the CDC and the 2nd years, has been phenomenal. The Career Forum in October opened my eyes to the world of opportunities out there. Be it Facebook or Google in Tech, or MBB in consulting, or Morgan Stanley and Citibank in investment banking, a wide array of companies from across the globe were at IESE. In November, we had the opportunity to go on career treks to further explore our areas of interest. I chose to go to Dubai on the consulting trek, met with several industry leaders and attained a broad understanding of the exciting work that was occuring in the region. Our return from the treks marked the beginning of a very hectic period with consulting and banking applications, mid-terms and finals within weeks of each other. However, hardwork definitely pays off. I am happy to say I have secured multiple interviews already across different global locations, just 3 months into my MBA and I couldn’t have done it without the incredible support system at IESE.
Now this blog post wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t talk about the fun or social events at IESE. With more than 85% of the cohort comprising of international students, everyone is looking to meet new people and form meaningful relationships. From BoWs (Bar of the Week) to CoWs (Comment of the Week), team or section dinners to impromptu dinner plans with the last people leaving campus, hikes to boardgames, sports and yoga to salsa and music, there’s something for everyone at IESE. When I decided to join IESE, I knew I’d be joining an international, tight-knit and collaborative community (yes, I know that’s the cliché phrase that everyone talks about). What I didn’t know was the extent to which every single member of this community would go out of his/her way to help you. A personal experience of mine will help you understand this even better. Before I had my interview for one of the most coveted jobs on campus, another classmate of mine had already finished her interview. When I reached out to her to ask her about her interview, she not only spoke about her experience but also proactively shared the kind of questions that were asked and how best to prepare for them. She sent me a list of questions that were asked in previous years, a list that she had carefully compiled during her time at IESE. Needless to say, I did the same for those who were interviewing after me. There is only healthy competition over here. Even though we are all direct competitors in one way, each and every person wants you to give it your best shot and succeed! This is something I have not experienced elsewhere and I am proud to call myself a member of this amazing community.
I must say IESE has exceeded all my expectations and continues to surprise me every single day. To fellow students at IESE, I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen in Term 2 and to continue learning with you all! To prospective applicants, if you’re looking for a challenging but collaborative environment that will enable you to develop into the best version of yourself, look no further! Hope to see you next year!
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