ISM insight: Life as an ISM student

The ISM Student Blog provides insight into life at ISM. Bloggers are current students and recent alumni who are excited about sharing their diverse learning experiences in ISM’s programs. Explore this blog to learn more about life at ISM, and how the program benefits students in the long run. You may also want to follow ISM on Facebook or join the conversation on Twitter.

One of the most common things I was told when I mentioned that I would be starting an MBA program to friends and family was, "You are going to do a lot of group projects." That sentence was interesting for me because I couldn't tell if they meant it positively or negatively!

Ever since Christmas break ended, it seems like school has cranked up in intensity. It seems if you aren’t writing a pre-assignment, then you must be starting research for a 10-15-page paper. This is, of course, in addition to being in class, having a part-time job (as many students do), figuring out times to apply for jobs, and finding some time for friends and a social life! It can start to feel a little overwhelming.

Slaw (hello) from Kurdistan! My last post mentioned how my application to move to Iraq had been successful. So here I am in Erbil, in the Iraqi Kurdistan region, where I've been since January 26.

When I decided the make the transition from Mental Health to business school, I knew many of the classes would be challenging. I had looked over the required classes for the IMBA and saw that some of them were subjects I had never learned in my entire life. But there was one subject that scared me above all other ones, and that was Finance. While it may seem like a simple subject for those with a finance background, I knew that my skills were extremely limited when it came to math.

In April of 2016, I quit my job, broke up with my girlfriend, hugged my mother, and set out for the open road. I was off to live my dream and had no idea what to expect. My life was a blank page with nothing but the word “adventure” scribbled in the corner. I had spent the last several years plotting, planning, and devising a scheme in which I could see the world and improve my resume while I was at it. I had always wanted to spend a year traveling, and I had always wanted to get my MBA. Why not do both at the same time? Thus, I decided to do just that. I would travel for six months and then do my MBA abroad. I spent a good year researching schools, and eventually I found a small school in Paris that had a program focused around entrepreneurship. I hadn’t heard of the school, but, after discussions with the admissions team, meetings with previous students, and lots of other research, I was convinced that ISM was the school for me. Within the year, I was accepted, and I had my start date: October 2016.

Making the decision to go to graduate school is not an easy one. It is especially challenging if going to graduate school involves a completely new career change. This has been my personal experience, switching from mental health to business school.

At ISM each MBA seminar provides many different topics, taught by very competitive professors from all around the world. Each seminar varies from one to another, complementing each one with relevant and applicable information. All students have their favorite seminar, which normally expresses their preferences. For example, in my case, I really liked the finance seminars since my minor was Finance and Accounting, so I already had knowledge in that area. However, I also realized I had other preferences, like when I took the Advertising and Communications seminar I understood how much I liked marketing and that I was actually good at it. This is why I started to apply to jobs that had marketing areas where I could learn and improve my skills.

ISM life is a whole unique experience. It definitely stands as an international program where all the alumni are able to meet and get to know people from all around the world, from students to professors, and to open their minds to their classmates’ traditions and ways of thinking. In addition, there are many advantages that the program gives you such as travel or work (if possible) due to the flexible schedule of the seminars. While you’re studying at ISM, you should take some advice from students that have already lived the experience. Here is a list of things I would advise:

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