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.

Throughout the two years of coursework, doctoral students are continually honing their research and writing skills in preparation for the final stage: writing the dissertation. But before doctoral candidates begin to write a dissertation, they must first submit a dissertation proposal. Fortunately, preparing for this phase of the doctoral process begins on day one of the courses. 

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ISM’s doctorate business programs provide diverse course offerings, enriched by an environment of students who may be entering the program as subject matter experts in various fields, such as medicine or law.  Further, as a discipline, business itself has a vast array of facets, with some subject matter experts such as accountants or HR professionals, desiring to deepen or broaden their area of expertise. These past professional experiences help to enrich classroom discussions, weaving together a diverse tapestry of perspectives in the discussion.

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As a DBA student based in the United States, I chose ISM due to the diverse student body comprised of working professionals from a variety of backgrounds.  For me, the face-to-face courses were a critical factor in my decision to attend ISM, as they would allow me to greatly expand my professional network and enable me to engage in more hands-on learning.  

In addition to face-to-face courses, online courses are also available, and I found them to be much more difficult and time consuming.  For a three-credit online course, there were typically three assignments completely driven by your own schedule.  For these classes, professors were always readily available via Skype or email, if a question arose, but the value of being able to learn from classmates in a more traditional setting was sometimes a tradeoff for the convenience of an independent schedule.

Due to the variety of variables, finding face-to-face courses that align with your work and personal schedule becomes a very reasonable option.  During my studies, I attended classes in New York and Paris.  Courses are typically held once a year in New York during the summer, one additional location such as São Paulo or Cape Town in the late fall, and throughout the year in Paris.  When you travel for face-to-face courses, attending at least two back to back (5-6 days) is a great option that makes the expense associated with travel, a great return on your investment.  As I get ready for my third and final trip to Paris, I thought I would share some insight to my preparation for face-to-face courses, including the intensity associated with the timing of this process.

Usually, 4-6 weeks before your face-to-face course(s) are scheduled to begin, the syllabus is posted and you may begin your preparation.  Typically, this involves ordering a few books, downloading articles, and reading through the syllabus.  Within the syllabus, a pre-course assignment is typically outlined which is due prior to the first day.  The assignment is typically a very basic introduction exercise, PowerPoint, or writing assignment that outlines your background in the subject, your interest, or first impressions.  Preparing for a course can become quite intense if you are working on assignments for any other classes at the same time and/or are also preparing to take time off from work.  I would suggest ensuring that your other class assignments are completed four weeks before the face-to-face course begins, to lighten your workload.

Once in Paris, or one of the other face-to-face locations, each course typically lasts three days from 9am-6pm.  Two breaks and a one-hour lunch help to give your brain a reprieve from the engaging dialogue and group discussions, presentations, or work underway.  After the class concludes, a major assignment, typically an original research topic in the course, is due within 4-6 weeks.  Since the professors encourage each student to approach the final assignment from the lens of their professional and academic interests, the course topic truly enhances your professional development and growth.  Personally, I often find myself sharing the knowledge I gained from the course work and studies with my work colleagues and staff to enhance our own understandings, processes, procedures, and tools.

As I begin to stare down the dissertation, as it is the next phase of my journey to achieve a DBA, the courses have helped to set me up for success.  Not just because of the content and academic rigor, but due to the vast network of fellow students I can reach out to across the globe; all of whom are on the same shared journey of professional and personal growth. 

I have completed my first year of doctoral studies! I cannot believe I made it this far. To be honest, this one-year accomplishment was only possible because of the support and efforts of my entire family.

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For nearly the last two decades, I have been a full-time student for the majority of my professional career. I have had a family for the length of that period as well.  I share this as a means of offering support and encouragement to others considering pursuing a doctorate of business administration (DBA) from ISM.  With a support network plus the right school and curriculum, anything is possible.

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Fall is here! It has been quite an eventful summer, and I’m looking forward to the end of the year. So far, I’ve completed all the research papers for my summer classes. I’ve spent the entire summer preparing them so that I can focus on the fall classes I teach and for Pitch in Paris. 

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It’s hard to believe that I came to France one year ago, in September 2017, to start my studies at ISM. So many incredible changes have happened since then, many because of my experience as an IMBA student at ISM. The most rewarding experience has been the friends I have made and the people I have met in my year here.

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When I tell people I studied in France, one of the first questions they ask is, “How was it living there?” And that is a valid question, as it’s extremely different living in Paris as a student than traveling there for vacation or visiting as a tourist. I would say the experience of living in Paris is far better than just coming to visit for a week or two.

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It’s hard to believe that almost an entire year at ISM has come to an end! All my courses in Paris are over, and soon my ISM classmates and I will be embarking on two weeks of classes in New York City. This year has been such an incredible experience, and I am sure New York will be as well. But now, with classes ending soon, it’s time to think about my thesis. As IMBA students, we get another year to find a topic, research for it, write our thesis and present a draft to ISM. And then (probably) multiple revisions from there. It can feel like an intimidating process for many students; it certainly does for me!

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Summer is now in its last few weeks, and I’m reflecting on my accomplishments thus far. I recently attended three face-to-face courses this past July at St. John’s University in New York City. I was very surprised at the level of expertise each professor had in their field, and the intensity of the content they each delivered. 

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