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Wow. That’s it. After two years of hard work, lots of fun and laughter, the occasional frustrational moment (I seem to recall the Financial Accounting final exam wasn’t my brightest moment), making a ton of new friends, meeting the most amazing people, finding a direction in my professional life that makes me happy and fulfilled, living in New York for 4 months, and finally graduating, I’m now officially an alumna of LBS. It still feels a bit odd saying that, I still have to get used to it.

Many people have asked me what the best thing about the whole MBA experience was, and I find that an incredibly hard question to answer. I can’t point to one thing, there have been so many highlights. On the academic side I have been fortunate to learn all I wanted to learn and a lot more that I didn’t even know existed! On the people side I’ve met the most amazing people, both on the student as well as on the staff side, and I’m lucky to have made some very very good friends. On the extracurricular side, I’ve been able to be involved with a number of clubs and activities such as the Student Ambassadorship, the Marketing Club and the Yearbook, which were very fulfilling (but did not make life to juggle sometimes ;-)). In terms of finding out what I wanted to do post-MBA, I think I’ve cracked it. I’ve started working for a small branding and design consultancy in London and I’m loving my job. So for now: all’s well that ends well. I’ll try and check in occasionally and give updates on life post-MBA but in the meantime it’s back to the MBA2008s, and of course I’m looking forward to the MBA2009 bloggers!

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I’m going on a date!

Posted by: Natasja
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Lbs_mclogo_rgb60x60I’m going on a date tonight. Or to be more precise, I’m going on 3 separate dates! In case you’re wondering, no, I’m not using the MBAblog to splash my love life all over the web, I’m attending (and helping out with) the Marketing Club‘s headline event for this term: Meet The Marketer speed-date event (see for more information this page).

The Meet the Marketer follows the example of the Media Club, who organised a similar event last year which was very succesful. Tonight 70 students and marketers from 20 companies will gather in the Dining Room where the students will have the opportunity to talk to a marketer for 15 minutes before moving on to another marketer. In total every student will be able to talk to 3 different marketers.

Student clubs are thriving on campus and they vary from professional (e.g. Consulting, Finance, Marketing, Energy) to sports (e.g. Rugby, Football, Basketball) to geographical (e.g. Japan, India, France, Spain) to social (e.g. Acting, Wine and Cheese, Film). I think almost every fulltime MBA student is involved with at least one club and with events ranging from film screenings to conferences, to guest speakers and parties, there’s always something for everyone. My favourites are the Japan night, the Diwali party, the Meet the Media event and the guest speakers that the Entrepreneurship club invited last year.

If you’ll excuse me now, I need to go get ready for my dates tonight!

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I’m back!

Posted by: Natasja

After a wonderful and very interesting 4 months in New York, I’ve returned to the warm embrace of London Business School and it’s wonderful being back! I reckon going on exchange is sort of like going on a cool holiday: you look forward to it a lot, enjoy it tremendously when you’re on it but also are happy when you’re back and look back with fond memories.

The best things about going on exchange were the city itself and living there not as a tourist, but as a normal student; some of the courses I took; traveling in the US and also the opportunity to see how another school does things and meeting exchange and Stern students and applicants from all over the world. Although the exchange meant that I also had to miss certain things (most notably the Santa Claus Pub Crawl and Tattoo) I wouldn’t have missed my exchange for the world.

‘Normal’ life has resumed again which for many second year students means block week courses (instead of a course over 10 weeks, it’s packed into 1 week of full days of class) last week and regular term has started this week. The clubs are busy organising events and trips (the inside scoop is that African Club‘s South Africa trip is very popular this year), the first speakers have started coming to campus again and this week the first Sundowners of the year is held. It’s good to be back!

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Taking a bite

Posted by: Natasja

248629988_77cf2a7258Well, here I am, in New York!! It’s been a childhood dream to live here, and so I was incredibly excited when I found out I was going to Stern/NYU.

I arrived a month ago, with another classmate from London Business School, and classes started September 5th (that was kinda odd for us, because second year classes in London start the first Monday of October, so when we were already doing homework, my classmates were still on holiday!). I’m taking a total of 5 classes here, all of which either I can’t take in London or that I can take at either (e.g. Negotiation) but choose to take here so I can take some interesting courses in London. We have already chosen our electives for the whole of the second year, so I know exactly what I’ll be doing.

New York so far has been pretty amazing. I love the energy of the place, the wonderful shops and museums and the fabulous food. People ask me if I miss London, and I do, but for now, I’m pretty happy to stay here for another few months.

There are differences between Stern and London Business School (another question I get asked a lot). Stern is a lot bigger, they have an intake of about 800 a year, which means that no one knows ALL their classmates, which for us I suppose is different, I know at least 90% of my classmates (and hope to meet most of the MBA2008s too). Many of the students here tend to come from New York, so the social life is a bit different, I get the sense that because so many students are new to London when they come in, they bond a bit more. The classes are very similar and the professors here are very good. One thing I hadn’t realised about London Business School, but am appreciating now, is that in London we get our casematerial for free, whereas here you have to buy them, and they are expensive!

I had the pleasure of helping out at several MBA fairs in both New York and Washington, and met some amazing people. I love doing these fairs, because it reminds of how excited I was when I was researching my business schools, and how glad I am not to have to through that again!

PS If you look closely, you’ll see the ‘Psychic Advisor’ store in front of the Empire State Building. I haven’t gone in there, but it was tempting to try and find out more about my future!

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New York, New York

Posted by: Natasja

Tada da da da da da, rom rom… New York, New York…

One of the reasons that I choose to come to London Business School, strangely enough, was the ample opportunity offered to take off again. I love London and I adore living here, but the opportunity to experience life in a different country is luring me away. The exchange program, with over 30 different universities, is awesome and very popular, and I’ve heard that roughly a third of the students go (where you go is determined by essays in which you say why you want to go to this particular university). I knew that I wanted to go as well, and luckily I got a spot at one of my shortlisted universities.

New_york_2I‘m leaving to do an exchange at Stern/NYU in 10 days time. I choose to go there because I wanted to live in NYC and Stern has some interesting courses on marketing and entrepreneurship on offer that I wanted to take. I’m wrapping up my internship now (2 more days to go), trying to sort out and pack all my stuff (how did all this junk get into my house over the past year?), sorted out my visa (4 hour wait and 2 minutes of interview) and saying goodbye to my classmates who I won’t see for 4 months and some even longer since some of them are going on their exchange in the second term. I’m scared and excited, and can’t wait! Whilst in the US, I’ll be attending a few MBA fairs in New York, Washington and Durham, so please come along and have a chat if you want to find out more about the MBA. New York, here I come!

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Well, living is not quite that easy. With the current heatwave (as reported earlier), everyone in London seems to be struggling a little bit ;-)

Like a lot of my classmates, I’ve taken the opportunity of the 3 month summer break between first and second year to do an internship. In a long-forgotten previous life I was a management and IT consultant working in the utilities sector. I started off working for one of the big consultancies, but left when I was made an offer I couldn’t (and didn’t want to) refuse from a small boutique firm. Although I liked certain aspects of consultancy and of the utilities sector, it wasn’t what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

BUT I had no idea what it was that I did want to do, if not for life, then at least for the summer. So I set about finding out. After taking tests, talking to career coaches, talking to classmates, paying attention to which things I loved without being prompted, I decided that marketing was the name people gave the stuff that I loved doing and was passionate about. So marketing it was.

Next thing was to find out a) what exactly in marketing it was that I wanted to do and b) finding an internship that matched that. Again, talking to career services (very helpful), career coaches (who were a big support, especially for those days that I thought I was going to be unemployed forever), classmates and alumns. And it was through one of those alumns that I found out about a company that fitted my bill exactly and through which I ended up being interviewed at that company and offered a position. This summer I’m working at a branding and marketing strategy agency, and I am learning so much. They normally don’t take interns, so instead of ‘boring’ intern work, they let me work on all kinds of cool projects and make sure that I see as much of the business as I want.

As I was writing this, I was thinking about what I would’ve wanted to read a year ago, before coming out to start my MBA. I think it was the reassurance that it is possible to have no clue what you want to do and find out and get an internship in that area. And I think the reassurance that if you stick to your guns, work hard, and take a few disappointments (and I’ve had my share), you can find something incredible to do over the summer. And no, I am not just making this up because it looks nice on the blog, my internship fairytale does have a happy ending :-)

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Almost all first year MBA students are now (almost) off to their summer internships. I have friends who are here in London, but also Abu Dabi, Switzerland, Japan, Thailand and the US. There are 6 students though, that aren’t going anywhere, physically at least. They form the London Business School Summer Consulting Team, and they will be doing consulting work over the summer. I’m a little bit envious because they get to run their own business, are responsible for getting clients, doing the work and getting the money. And they get to keep the money they make! I hope they do well, and wish them a lot of luck and clients over the summer.

One of the School bloggers is part of the Summer Consulting Team and I suspect he might be talking a lot about it on his blog.

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Top 3 questions

Posted by: Natasja
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When I started my MBA last year, I decided that for me one of the things that would be most valuable in my MBA were the extracurricular activities. One of my favourite activities is being a student ambassador, which means being part of a small team of students that help out the Admissions Office at events. I love meeting new people and talking till my mouth hurts, so I guess that’s why I love this so much!

So what do people ask me? Here are the top 3 questions people ask me most and my answers:

* What is your background and what do you want to do post-graduation?
Answer: (see also the About page) I used to work as a consultant, liked it, but hated the travel and the fact that there’s very little say in the end-decision a client makes, I want to have some responsibility! I want to move into marketing post-graduation, selling people stuff they never knew they needed.

* How do you finance this whole thing?
Answer: beg and borrow. I sold my apartment and most of the things in it and I took out an HSBC loan. My internship and Second Year project should hopefully make me some money. And yes, I do worry about it because it’s a large amount. But no, I didn’t let it stop me, money is just money and I’m loving my time here so it was definitely the right decision.

* How is the workload in the first year/term?
Answer: For our year, the first term was pretty rough, especially for those (like me) who had little business education background (but Programme Office has made some changes to the curriculum, making it easier for the 2008 batch). But you survive. Everyone does! The second term is lighter, to facilitate internship search, and in your third term you can choose electives, so it’s up to you how tough you make it (take my advice: don’t take Understanding Entrepreneurial Management with Advanced Marketing Strategy unless you’re prepared to work hard!). I think at minimum it’s a fulltime job, at maximum… well there is no maximum: it’s up to you how much you time you decide to put into it!

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MBAT at Sundowners

Posted by: Natasja
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Afb0211 It’s not that the School community NEEDS an excuse to have Sundowners*. We have one every Thursday. But the one last night was very special, for two reasons. First, the weather was good enough for us to be outside. Second, we won MBAT! Afb023 As Payton mentioned, London Business School brought back not only 13 trophies from the tournament, but the big one as well, and that had to be celebrated in style, out on the front lawn. (On the photo on the right: the MBAT team captain, giving his thank you speech, supported by our two mascots.)

* Sundowners: every Thursday between 6 and 8 pm (occasionally Friday between 6 – 8 pm), the whole School community gets together and unwinds in the Mbar, or if the weather is good, out on the front lawn. It’s a great way of catching up with people, finding out the latest gossip, and practice your petanque or ultimate frisbee skills.

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