My first degree, Water Science, Policy and Management, had a cohort of 26 people. Our 'Launch' was a three-day trip to Dorset where we learned about the influence of chalk aquifers on water chemistry, climbed up the cliffs of the Jurassic Coast and slept in dorms in youth hostels. There was no way to come out of the trip without knowing every person individually. From that trip on, we were bonded as a cohort. Every person there was a water nerd – or water nerd in training – and was very keen to know more about the nitty gritty details of eel population management, groundwater pumping and the water quality of the Thames. No matter how different our backgrounds were, we were united by a very niche passion.
This year, the MBA cohort has 348 people. Launch is two weeks with a packed schedule of logistic information, team building and networking. This is as different as you can find from my first year. For the past week, I have met new people each day and I find myself eternally grateful for the name-tags that we all wear. I have been thrown into sessions about establishing careers in finance, preparing case studies like a consultant and building my personal brand. These have uniformly been new for me, as my background is definitely not in business. Each of the MBA candidates has a different background and, unlike last year, we don’t share a singular, niche passion. This entire experience has been new to me, from the topics we’re learning about to the scale of our class.
Over the course of last year, I made lifelong friends from many different countries. I had the chance to engage with new, innovative research my friends were undertaking, no matter how close or far away from my own research it was. I was inspired to learn about topics outside my own wheelhouse because I saw the passion of those around me.
This coming year, I have to expect that, despite the different start, my experience will be the same. I have already met incredible individuals that I know will become good friends. I’ve heard about passions and careers that, although new to me, I can’t wait to learn more about during the year. I’m pushing back at the feelings of imposter syndrome that are inevitable at Oxford and trying to remain confident that I will find my place in the MBA cohort and be able to shape the experience to be as rich, as interesting, and as meaningful as last year.