Has your world changed this year? How do you feel going into the MBA in a Covid-19 world?

4 minute read

'My world hasn’t changed at all this year'… said no one ever, about 2020.

As we hurtle towards the end of Michaelmas term (already?!) and we are less than six weeks away from closing the door on 2020, it seems like a great opportunity to address the question: 'Has your world changed this year?'

I think we can all unanimously agree that everyone's worlds have changed to some extent. The pandemic of 2020 has required us all to redesign our lives in ways we couldn’t have imagined just a mere 12 months ago, when Black Friday and Christmas fever were just settling in, ready for the build-up to the annual family celebrations.

Who could have predicted what was to come: 'Covid', a word that most people had never even heard before, being crowned as the most popular word of 2020; phrases such as 'Janet, you’re on mute' and 'damn, I’ve forgotten my mask' becoming commonplace in our everyday lexicon and a documentary about the rivalry between an eccentric zoo owner and a big cat fanatic (whatever did happen to her husband…?) gripping the world.

Who also could have predicted the devastation that this virus would bring with it: more than one million deaths worldwide; the closure of businesses, both big and small, and hundreds of thousands of job losses?

I don’t think anyone will disagree with me when I say that I think everyone’s worlds have been changed this year.

Deciding to pursue an MBA in the midst of a global pandemic could, understandably, be seen as a risky strategy – a major financial investment coupled with, not only, an uncertain job market on graduation but an unknown world. I’ve read many articles on forbes.com and in the Financial Times agreeing that pursuing an MBA now is risky and 'absolutely not worth it' but I disagree.

When I received my offer from Saïd Business School, I had visions of long days in the School; formal college dinners and rowing on the Thames at the weekends. Instead, we are in the midst of our second lockdown with two hours a day in the School, ‘bring your own cutlery’ to college dinners and solo runs around University parks.

Is it the MBA experience I was hoping for? Absolutely not. Is it an MBA experience worth doing? Absolutely.


Our class sizes are much smaller than previously, meaning the time we get to spend in the School with our professors is interactive, engaging and interesting. D4, my section, is a really close group; we bring so much energy and enthusiasm to the class that three hours of Statistics on a Thursday afternoon could even be described as enjoyable!  

The faculty have done a great job of updating the syllabus to reflect the ‘new world’ we find ourselves in; our first project was a 3,000-word report on how British Airways could ‘build back better’ from the Covid-19 crisis. You don’t get much more relevant than that.


Yes, we are all mourning the lack of social interaction, parties, formal college dinners and informal trips to the pub but then so is the rest of the world. I think, like everyone, we can only hope and pray that, by the spring, we are able to experience these quintessential Oxford traditions. For now, we can only make the most of the Zoom ‘happy hours’, chocolate tasting and pub quizzes that are being organised for us.

And, as for the lack of team sport, well that’s really killing me – those few weeks of training with the Cross-Country team and college rowing were so much fun. They have been replaced with solo runs and Zoom workouts – these are less social but I am thankful for them. I think it’s safe to say that my world has definitely changed an awful lot this year. As I reflect on this whirlwind first term, I’m so grateful to be in Oxford and I’m taking every opportunity to make the most of this experience.  

I’ve met so many incredible people and made some truly wonderful friends. When the world does open up again, I know no matter which country I find myself in, I will be able to call on any of them. That is one of the best things about my Oxford MBA.

To follow my MBA journey, please subscribe to my blog at www.yorkshireto.com and you’ll receive a weekly update.