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First-Year MBA Reflects On Business School During COVID-19

·7 min read

First-Year MBA Reflects on Business School During COVID-19

Back in March, the COVID-19 pandemic forced business schools across the nation to quickly close campuses and transition students to an online, virtual learning environment.

As fall semester kicks off, most top 100 US b-schools are offering a hybrid mix of in-person and virtual learning instruction.

Luis Trejo, a first-year MBA at Georgia Tech’s Scheller College of Business, recently reflected on his first month of an MBA during COVID-19 in a piece for Scheller News.

“No matter how much time I spent imagining what the minor details of my MBA experience would be like, I discovered that some things were exactly what I had expected them to be, while others, I had greatly underestimated,” Trejo writes.


The first takeaway Trejo notes is the unexpected realization that a virtual environment actually requires more from him than he anticipated.

“We have never been more connected to our computers and phones,” Trejo writes. “Countless virtual meetings and never-ending emails and messages from Teams are what now constitute our day by day. And yet, communication with others has never felt more fragmented. No matter how many features platforms like BlueJeans, Teams, Zoom, Webex have – it will never be the same.”

Trejo adds that aspects of the in-person classroom such as participation and collaboration with others have been affected the most.

“Awkward silences, audio feedback, people unintentionally talking at the same time are things we deal with on a daily basis,” Trejo writes. “But the key is to remember – we are all together in this. We are left with no choice but to adapt. For years people have been talking about adaptability as one of the most desirable traits in a professional. Well, the time has come to not just embrace it, but to prove it.”


Trejo says one thing the virtual learning environment has taught him is just how big the world really is.

“The virtual environment has in fact enhanced the horizon, because we now have access to all the resources that surround us at our fingertips: our cohort, professors, alumni, the college central services and of course, the quasi-infinite content of our classes,” he writes.

The important thing to note, according to Trejo, is how to tap into this abundance of resources.

“I have discovered that I can have a great deal of impact by starting with my own class participation – connect on time, try to participate, read/listen to others’ questions and comments, and dutifully fulfill group assignments,” he writes. “One step at a time.”


Like many MBAs, Trejo says that for him, the MBA is about seeking to focus on a long-term goal, such as success in the job search.

But the pandemic has increasingly blurred the lines between present and future with many left wondering what the future really has in store. Trejo reinforces the importance of staying focused.

“Everything we do in the program should get us closer to achieving this goal,” he writes. “For now, the first step should be to try to learn as much as possible in the hopes of being able to apply our knowledge when the time comes.”

Sources: Scheller News, P&Q

Why Career Vision Is Important

Having a clear career vision is critical when it comes to the MBA application process.

Applicants who have a good understanding of their career vision can clearly articulate their goals and motives throughout the MBA application process: from the personal statement to the interview.

Heidi Hillis, of Fortuna Admissions, recently discussed the importance behind a career vision and what admissions officers look for in applicants when conveying their vision.


Many b-schools asks applicants to answer prompts that help admissions officers understand their goals and motives behind an MBA.

For instance, NYU Stern’s first essay prompt asks applicants to answer what their short and long-term career goals are and how an MBA will help them achieve those goals.

Hillis says nearly every MBA program will ask applicants to explicitly discuss their career goals in both the application and the interview stage.

“Finding a theme and story around the decisions you’ve made so far will help with the process for developing an eye-catching career vision,” Hillis writes.

Be Clear and Compelling

Hillis stresses the importance of having a clear and compelling career vision. She recommends applicants to do industry and company research related to your goals.

“Consider it your first MBA assignment,” Hillis writes. “Articulating a clear and captivating career vision is an indication of the quality of work — and clarity of thought — you’re able to produce.”

Get Ambitious

MBA grads often go off to become future business leaders. Thus, according to Hillis, it’s important to be ambitious and inspiring when discussing your vision.

“A career vision that’s ambitious expresses that you’re aiming for seniority in your chosen industry (no b-school is looking for applicants aspiring only to middle management),” Harris writes. “An ‘inspiring’ career necessitates that you have aspirations to impact an industry, community or society at large.”

Show Urgency

In addition to learning about your goals, MBA admissions officers also want to know why their particular school is a good fit for your vision.

Hillis says applicants should demonstrate the urgency and necessity behind earning a degree from a particular school and how it will help you achieve your goals.

“You’ll need to be persuasive that an MBA from this program is mission critical to your future ambitions,” Hillis writes. “Schools also want assurance that they’re equipped to help you reach your post-MBA targets.”

Read more tips from Hillis here.

Sources: Fortuna Admissions, NYU Stern

New Study Finds MBA Grads Are ‘Thriving’

MBA grads are doing quite well when it comes to career progression in spite of global uncertainty, a new study finds.

The study, by the Association of MBAs (AMBA) and the Business Graduates Association (BGA), polled 752 current MBA students and 2,110 MBA graduates and found that almost two-thirds of MBA grads have found themselves in their dream role within just six months of completing an MBA program from an AMBA-accredited b-school.


The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic has sent shockwaves through almost nearly every industry.

However, according to the AMBA & BGA study, MBA grads still see strong value in their degree specifically when it comes to skill development.

In the study, 88% of MBA graduates agree that they had gained substantially more skills to help them do business better as a result of completing the MBA. 81% agree that the skills they learned during their MBA have helped them be more mentally resilient. Additionally, 74% say they believe they have developed all the business-related skills they sought in completing the MBA degree.

That says a lot considering that the most popular reasons, according to study, for completing an MBA are, ‘to acquire more skills and knowledge about the business world,’ ‘to expand my area of expertise,’ and ‘to get a broader understanding of how business should be managed.’


The study found that 29% of MBA grads already had the role they sought before starting their MBA. 17% said they secured their dream role while studying for the degree. Additionally, when it comes to post-grad, 15% of grads said they were in a the job they wanted within six months of graduating.

However, 21% of grads noted that they are still not in the role they wanted after completing their MBA.

“This finding might attest to the level of ambition held by MBA graduates and suggest that Business Schools should look further into how they can manage graduates’ expectations vs. the realities of the job market into which their degree has propelled them,” according to the study. “Nevertheless, the finding’s complexion changes considerably when taking into account the length of time since a graduate completed their MBA.”

Check out the full study here.

Sources: International MBA Survey 2020, BBC News


The post First-Year MBA Reflects On Business School During COVID-19 appeared first on Poets&Quants.