I’m well and truly back on the horse. I’m officially applying for the Cambridge MBA.
Upside applying this time round is soooo much easier. No GMAT to take, no trying to figure out what my offer is. I done all the hard work last year. Which means I should be able to put together a decent application in a month which also allows me to apply for scholarships. Wow!
I’ve got off to a good start by lining up my references and, and my amazing team of essay checkers. I’ve even written first drafts of both my essays. Admittedly the personal statement needs a radical rewrite but at least it’s words on the paper.
There just one bit I’m struggling with and that getting an insiders views of Cambridge MBA. Thankfully, LinkedIn come in handy and someone from my wider network was willing to chat. Even six weeks into the course and he was still chirpy and happy about the experience. His one piece of advice for the application make every word count in the essays.
It would be great to get another view or two about reality of studying at Cambridge for the MBA. Anyone know of someone who studied at Cambridge for their MBA who would be willing to talk about their experience?
One really scary aspect about applying to Judge business school, is that I’m applying for Cambridge. I’ve loved Cambridge ever since I visited it when I was eight. Every so often I suffer from a massive inferiority complex and self doubt. But I have to remind myself, I got an interview from Duke. I’m OK, I’m not going to get laughed at. But I suspect I will have a couple of swings before the application is over.
One of the fun things about applying for Cambridge is choosing a college. This is my short list:
- Hughes; Is a postgrad only college with a large concentration of MBA students.
- St John; pretty, rich, sporty and has its own punt.
- St Catherine; An old college in the centre of town with easy access to the business school, it has a college hockey team and the college sports grounds have an astro.
- Corpus Christi college; small, old, good community engagement and the opportunity to experience traditional Cambridge college.
- St Edmunds; Is a postgrad college, and there a good opportunities to mix with a large number of international students and those studying the sciences. The grounds also looks really good. But it might be a bit out the way.
- Kings; Not only does it have a great chapel, it also seems to friendly, welcoming and has a photographic dark room.
In case your interested the Student room provides a quick summary of the Cambridge colleges.
Which one college should I choose?
The Cambridge open day wasn’t quite what I was used to; no sample lecture, no hard and heavy sales approach. And it even started with a sandwich lunch.
Overall I liked the approach, it was laid back, friendly and allowed us MBA’ers getting to know each other. This was just as important as the school visit.
So I found out that we had a glamorous lady from Ferrari, a lot of people working in healthcare including a GP, and the normal sprinkling of lawyers and bankers. The group was bright, friendly and international- though most of us work in London. My kind of people.
The school emphases its collaborative nature, its connection to the wider uni, and the benefit of interacting with students from other disciplines; all that I’m looking for. It also heavily emphasised its entreneurenship and access to Cambridge tech circle/ siclion Fen.
One of the odd bits of the Cambridge experience is the emphasis on socialising with your college. I tried and failed to find MBA societies. Socailising is done through the college; a bit different but I think I like it, no goldfish bowl living. So next challenge is picking a Cambridge college, suggestions?
Even better the business school is smack bang in the middle of Cambridge which is awesome. I’m sold!
Overall, I think the MBA undersells it self. It might be a deliberate choice, or maybe it’s waiting for more famous alumni before it starts. But it’s worth look if your looking for a slightly different experience from the normal MBA fishbowl approach.
Know how I said, i’il do a part-time MBA? Well, I’m thinking of climbing back on the full-time MBA wagon. This time with an European focus.
I’ve climbed on to the wagon far enough sign up for the forte event in London this evening.
Only one downside, I might need to take either the GRE or the GMAT again. I thought the GRE might be easier as they are more dyslexic friendly. Justing reading what the GRE entails got me very anxious, specially when I saw the maths. So might need to reconsider that plan.
I might need to consider living with my GMAT score and focusing on schools which run their own tests or have an open mind regarding GMAT scores.
Anyone got any thoughts on the GRE v GMAT question?
Update: went along to the forte event had a good discussion with a couple of schools. Conclusion; no need to resit a standardised test. Some are aware that GMAT does people no favours; while others recommend their own test.
I’ve wanted to write a post on my blog about how I’m managing my dyslexia and stress 12 months on. But I needed to wait until I had a couple of incidents to report.
I would say my dyslexia has changed. For instance I now mix up my b and d’s. I haven’t done that since I was I’m primary three. Let me tell you it’s a pain in the neck. Unfortunately it means I also need to figure out how it works.
I’m now also really sensitive how I take in information, it’s very easy for for me to get information overload.
This means I now need to take smaller chunks of information at a time. This means at the height of the work project I need to take brain rest more seriously; so that’s regular breaks in work and in the evening that means lots of trashy tv and books. No studying!
And this has also impacted my pace. I’m now slower at work when I’m undertaking reading heavy documents. That not always to my benefit nor my projects.
I also need more than one teaching style to take in the information. So good teaching is an vitial. Unfortunately this has had an impact on me attending church. The straight forward verbal heavy talk, hurts my Brian. So I’m needing to explore other teaching styles.
I also find it more difficult to shut out multiple voices. My brain overloaded on a training course when I was getting help from one trainer and then other started to speak at the front. Before I could have tuned out the other trainer.
When leading a project I need to dip in and out of tasks. I’m not as good at that any more. So I now assign whole days or whole chunks of time dedicated to admin. Admin days are helpful as it allows me to get through a number of small tasks and then allows me to concentrate on larger chunks of work during the rest of the week.
Challenge like always is balancing my strengths which is making leaps and quickly analysing written information. While being able to clearly show how I reached the conclusion and from what pieces of evidence. Always more of a challenge when I need to show evidence rather than the logic leap.
But I’m surviving. Next step thriving.
I’m leading my first project since I fell ill last year. Personally I thought it would easy managing my stress as after all it had been a year since I got ill and I’ve learnt. Plus, I managed to apply to business school and pass an exam. I mean how hard can it be?
My manager asked what objectives I had for the study; I have one. Stay sane (or not go nuts) during fieldwork. I’ve been finding out this is not so simple in practice.
Techniques to stay sane
So here are the hints and tips I’ve picked up from a friend to help me achieve my objective;
- It’s normal to be wobbly; so no need to worry about the odd panic attack.
- Takes a lot of positive reinforcement to break bad thinking habits and develop new ones. There some useful CBT techniques admittedly I’ve learnt most of them, but I need to write them down; not just do them in my head.
- Regular breaks are important. So going for a coffee or tea break is a good way to break up the day.
- Ideally daily cardio exercise; it burns off the stress hormones. So when it gets busy, exercise becomes more important! So I go swimming most weeks on a Wednesday lunchtime. I’ve signed up for summer hockey and started a 5k training plan. Oh, I’m due to start tennis lessons. So, yep this should keep me occupied. (Tennis ended quickly after I had a bit of a meltdown. Now going to stick to the running.)
Here’s some other stuff I’ve put in place
- making the effort to go to lunch everyday and have a break away from my desk.
- my calendar now tells me when I should leave the office. I hope it will help work life balance. (This is working really well, I now have to consciously chose to work late.)
- Built in socialising during the week to give myself a break.
- Updated my ereader with lots of trashy books.
- Trying to well behaved about bed time; doesn’t always work when I have a good book on the go.
- I’ve also signed up to the cycle for work scheme. I have this bright idea of cycling to work during the summer. Will let you know whether that happens. (just picked up the bike today…next step finding the route to work.)
- Booked holidays in advance; so I have no excuse not to take them! Next trip commonwealth games.
Good news everyone. I’ve chosen where I want to study for my part time MBA!
I’m going for part time MBA at Manchester.
Here are my reasons:
Price; it’s good value for money. And I feel happy to pay it.
Flexible; it’s highly flexible. I can still do my international work and undertake an MBA. As long as I have an internet connection I can take the class room with me. Plus I get to choose three electives. Bonus.
Time off work is about right. I go to campus three times a year. I think that is a level that work would allow and give me the time off.
International component; I can take courses at different overseas locations including Miami! Guess where I’m going for my next holiday!
Time: the taught element is 18 months long. The second component is a project for 6 months. So not too long, they’ve cut down the duration of the course and increased the number of trips to manchester.
But even with this amazing list, I going to have to think carefully on how to manage the downsides;
Less contact with fellow students.
Less careers support
Less face- face time with lecturers.
Make effort to socialise with students who live in London and the surrounding area. Maybe a quarterly meet up. Does anyone know of any?
Make most of other networking opportunities I have through work. And if there any external networks I can join. Who says you should only network with classmates and alumni of the school you attend?
For careers it might be worthwhile to make more of an effort to build relationships with the careers advisors and see what extra informal support I can receive. Though I suspect I may need to use some of the money saved from attending Manchester on careers coaching. But we will see.
Well, I had a brief thought of applying now and starting in July when I got an email saying fees will be increasing for January. But I checked my diary, I have plans. Namely stay sane leading the latest work project and go on holiday and watch loads of sport at the commonwealth games. So a January start it is.
I begrudgingly went along to Cass’s open day on Saturday. I had a really good feeling when I left the open day…but it rapidly changed as I started to write the blog post. Here’s how my thoughts changed.
Initial thoughts before I wrote this blog post
I really liked it. It would be Easy to get to Cass from both home and work. It has an excellent vibe and great facilities. I would get to play with both Bloomberg and Reuters and get trained up on both. Excellent! It is really easy to access campus when I would need/ want to and I think I’ve underestimated the benefit that is.
What really sold it was the people who attended the open day. They were bright, friendly and people similar to me. Much preferred this cohort to Cranfield.
Admittedly it wasn’t the most slick operation I’ve ever seen. They will definitely need to work on that aspect before they jump to the big leagues. Here the stuff that bugged me:
- No contact number for the day. Couldn’t let anyone know I was running late.
- No tea or coffee mugs at break time. Not even plastic cups for the water fountain;
- The mess from 2 hours early hadn’t been tided up. Bad!
- And the sandwich selection at lunch was miserly, though I will give them points for providing wine and beer!
Lack of slickness even went to the lectures. The marketing lecture used an example from t-mobile marketing campaign but was unable to answer the question of what impact it had. Said it was commercially sensitive information. Well that what case studies are for…..you gain access to the information and write it up and then present it. Why present half the story? (Ok, as I’m writing this I’m liking Cass less. Seems a bit half assed. Like I said, it needs to be slicker for the big leagues.)
But now having moaned about the lectures. What about the good stuff. The lectures were engaging, had good class debate and a good class atmosphere. I learnt!
They also focus on careers and for the part-time MBA that is mostly done at the weekend. Which means you can get good access, but potentially the MBA will consume your life.
But oddly enough I struggled with the finance class; why, because it wasn’t technical enough. The lecturer explained complex issues in a very easily understood way. However as soon as he added the technical aspects he didn’t fully explain it. That annoyed me! I know this technical stuff. For instance he talked about the central limit theorem…the idea that a population tends to the mean…but this key principle only works if the sample size is big enough! He used that fact in the example by having a hundred observations the minimum needed to make the theory work.) but didn’t explain this fact to the class. Yes, I know it was an introductory class, but if you use the theory, you should also be able to explain when it can be used. (Now, my masters in economics has paid off with this rant alone.)
Thoughts after I wrote blog post
Good MBA course, but not ready for the big leagues….bit half assed! Could do with making better case studies and engaging more with industry. This would mean not only hiring academics, but also academics that work with firms. Didn’t get the feel they engaged much with industry.
Think Cass is a would be a good comprise MBA but I think it shows in the finer details. Cass has great students, excellent location, it really needs to work on the small stuff to really shine. However I’m not certain they really recognise that aspect. They are spending money on getting bigger hitters in terms of lecturers. But I wonder how much effort they are putting into the softer aspects that make a big difference. I’m not convinced its worth the £42,000 fees.
I’m feeling a bit dizzy! Every time I think I know what I’m going to do, I find something and go what about this?
The latest one is EDHEC, after speaking to this nice French business school, yes it helped the admissions person was Scottish. Not only am I tempted to apply for a full time programme but also resist the GMAT. And then if I resit the GMAT, HEC ( the other French business school I was considering is now back on the table!)
See, I’m getting dizzy from all these options.
But I think calm has been restored, mainly through my experience of studying for the CISI certifcate in corporate finance.
After my head aching from a 1.5 day training course on the financial regulation I think I’ve realised that Cranfield course might not be for me. If it’s really 2.5 days of non stop lectures, by brain is going to burst. I just don’t think I can handle it. I would rather control the pace of my studying more, and I think that means Manchester. Plus, I think work will be a bit more supportive.
I was never that interest in Cranfield MBA until I went to a121 event. At the event I heard about the schools focus on leadership and personal development, not just theory. After that I was keen to hear more.
I went along to their open day in Sunny Bedfordshire to check out the reality. Overall I was really impressed.
The full times course director lead the day, which was amazing. We got taught how to read a case study and get the most of it. We were also treated to a lecture in change management. For me it ticks the boxes
They teach via case method, using papers from a variety of schools
They enable equal access to careers development for both full time and part time MBA.
They help you be a better leader, and know how to apply what you learnt.
I have a couple of unanswered questions, but they may be application killers:
Who would I study with? I think the Manchester part-time MBA cohort is more similar to me, in terms of age and experience.
How often is the part-time option? I thought I had to attend campus one weekend was a month, but I heard at the open day I needed to attend campus twice a month and there are six one week blocks. Just not sure how doable that is for me.
So before I put in any applications I’ve signed up to Cass Business school open day and I need to take another look at Manchester.
Yes I’m having a goldlocks moment with MBA schools.