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First Year - what an amazing journey!

Posted by Vipul on 25 July 2009



I can't help feeling a little nostalgic about one of the most eventful years of my life. The first year at London Business School has taught me a lot. I can now appreciate, a little more than before, the vast diversity of the world around us. I have learned to look beyond my first love, computer programming, and have discovered other very interesting disciplines. I have discovered Europe through extensive travel. I have made great contacts and awesome friends for life. I have basked in the glow of celebrities. I have experienced the crushing pressure of constant rejection and disappointment followed by the supreme elation of getting what I really wanted!

My study group has been the best thing about first year. We got along well from the start: right from the time we were clinging on to each other for dear life on top of a 20 foot pole. That was at "Away Day" in the first week of school, in a team building exercise. In March, we attended the wedding of one group member on an island off the Istrean coast in Croatia. Then we went to run the Geneva half marathon together. The icing on the cake, or should I say sugar on the pasteis, was the study group (+partners) trip to Portugal. We stayed at a group member's farm-house and thoroughly enjoyed his family's warm hospitality. Besides momentarily being the "westernmost study group in Europe" (at Cabo da Roca), we ate a lot of fish, swam the freezing waters of the Atlantic, lazed about in vineyards and partied till 6AM in Lisbon. Oh, and during the year, we did assignments together as well.

The hunt for an internship consumed my life for most of this year. It all started with crack-a-case sessions back in November. From just 3 hours a week in November to 12 hours a week in January, I and many other consulting hopefuls slogged through the Consulting Club's excellent case book. Milk Round in January was a festival of day-long back-to-back presentations, lots of fried food at networking sessions, and flowing business cards. I have to admit I slept through at least 1 presentation :). Then came the applications: the most I completed in a single day were about 5. After a few weeks of waiting, came the rejections! And more rejections. And more rejections. All but 2 consulting companies had rejected me without an interview. The 2 that hadn't, promptly did so after an interview. I had to fight hard to convince myself that it was just the recession and not me. But it was still crushing. So I decided to pin my hopes on Industry. My interview call rate was much higher, but still no luck! After more than 60 rejections (yes, 60 rejections) came the end of the first year. Summer holiday was due to start with no internship, but many interviews lined up. To my greatest surprise, in the first week after final exams, I got 5 internship offers. At least 3 of them were roles I really wanted. I was in a position to reject offers - the tables finally turned! It felt great!

I was lucky enough to get an excellent role in an early stage company. I couldn't have asked for a better role. I am doing a strategy project in the IT&T industry for a start-up!! The job profile just couldn't be better! I can now truly get my hands dirty! This will be a great summer! What this experience taught me is that I don't want to stray too far from the IT industry, and consulting is not the only role that is fun! Not to say I won't try to get a consulting job for full time, but I will do my best to stay close to my IT industry.

When I was about to quit my job as a tech consultant and join London Business School, I was skeptical about the value of the MBA. I felt that quitting a stable programming job (which I loved), a good salary and a fantastic life in Australia for 2 years of studying un-understandable business mumbo-jumbo and living like a pauper didn't make any sense. I felt like I was "selling out" and giving up on a profession I loved. But I'm telling you, subjects like Discovering Enterpreneurial Opportunities, Marketing and Operations & Technology Management completely changed my point-of-view. I can now see that the MBA will truly allow me to leverage my tech skills and take my career to the next level. I can see myself enjoying a full time role involving formulating marketing strategies or managing technical operations. In fact, I am thoroughly enjoying my current internship project which requires me to formulate a business development strategy! Besides, I'm getting a chance to improve my Mandarin and Spanish and learn some Portuguese on the side! The academics at London Business School are adding a lot of value to my personal development. I am very glad I decided to do this MBA.

The other cool thing about the first year experience has been all the famous, important and interesting people that I've met. The Innovation Club organised a talk by Nick D'Onofrio (Exdcutive VP of Innovation and Technology at IBM). The Aditya Birla India Centre at London Business School brought in Nandan Nilekani of Infosys. The India Business Forum brought in many famous and intelligent people for the annual summit, including Dr. Rakesh Mohan (Deputy Governor Reserve Bank of India). There have been talks by many other famous names, and I don't have enough space to list them all hear. The entrepreneurship faculty organised a dinner with members of the Young Presidents' Organisation where I met the past president of the Richmond Tigers (Australian Football club) and we made Boris Becker wait in line for a table at the restaurant. And I queued up at the stage door to Oliver, stopped Rowan Atkinson before he could board his taxi, and got his autograph (life is downhill from that point).

After the eventful and exciting year, I now truly look forward to second year. There will be all the fun electives, some spare time to work part-time, second year project, exchange to Hyderabad in India, and much more travel around Europe :)

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