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.

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.

I had a wonderful time last year at ISM. I finished my coursework in the first quarter of 2017 and started working on my dissertation proposal. Overall, working on my proposal has been an exciting academic venture.

Courtney Rottman

As 2017 comes to a close and 2018 rolls in with new expectations and opportunities, many people mark the start of the new year by setting personal and professional goals. Some people set health-related or physical challenges, like losing weight or running a marathon. Others set out to spend more time with friends and family, reduce time on social media, or dedicate additional time to giving back to their communities.  Unfortunately, a recent survey indicated that only 9% of people actually achieve their New Year’s resolutions.  In many cases, this is because they did not set realistic goals and expectations.  Even though it is routine to set milestones for business goals, quarterly checkpoints and often measure for success along the way, we do not adopt the same practice for our own personal goals.

Courtney Rottman

The global impact of nonprofit organizations is immense and immeasurable. Without the work of nonprofit organizations providing health and social services, advocating for the rights of the voiceless and championing environmental causes, to name a few, our world would be a far worse place than it is today. In addition to the important social roles they play, nonprofit organizations are also powerful contributors to the economy. Within the United States, the nonprofit sector raised $390 billion in 20161, and the number of people employed by the sector comprised more than 10% of the total U.S. workforce2.

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 the beginning of October 2017, I attended my third face-to-face course in Paris. My focus in my PhD program is on entrepreneurship and innovation, but this course was focused on the future of work, which includes pivotal upcoming changes in organizations. As a mechanical engineer, I was very interested to see how my profession and work environment will change in the future. What I discovered during the course and the later final assignment changed my mindset and influenced how I will interact with upcoming megatrends (e.g. digitization) in an organization.

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.

The aspect of the classroom in DBA/PhD seminars influences the intellectual personality, productivity, and strength of all the participants. Given the digitization and globalization age, diversity of age, experience, race, gender, religion, ethnicity, and many other functional as well as physical attributes contribute to the beauty and richness of the environment for both learning and research. In fact, the ISM Paris doctoral seminars are aimed at sharpening the knowledge of the participants in terms of their research and area of specialty. Therefore, a diverse classroom has immense contribution to the needed problem solving, innovation, and creativity in research.

Being a PhD student at ISM is a unique experience for me. I attended the Strategic Human Resource Management seminar in Paris last month. It was a great opportunity to learn new human resource skills during face-to-face interaction. I exploited this chance to explore new horizons while meeting colleagues who came from all around the globe.

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