It’s been 48 days since the program started, but it feels so much longer than that. We’re done with about an eighth of the program, but it feels like it just started. Conflicting perceptions of time aside, the MBA has been fantastic for us so far. We’ve wrapped up the MBA launch, our first three courses and multiple events in the business school and the wider university. Here are some of the highlights of the program for me personally:
The MBA Launch fortnight was quite the introduction to the program for us. We spent hours and hours chatting with each other about our experiences and aspirations, attending endless talks and sessions and ending the days with a dash to many excellent pubs around town.
The highlight of the fortnight for me was definitely the debate at the Oxford Union. The Oxford Union, founded in 1823, is one of the world's most prestigious student debating societies. As I sat there watching both sides of the debate go back and forth (with some surprisingly cheeky taunting to spice things up), I couldn’t help but think how unique this experience was and the limited number of MBA programs where students could experience.
Launch was the most enriching and hectic part of my Oxford experience so far. It felt much longer than the two weeks it was scheduled to be. But it perfectly acclimatised us for what was to follow.
Michaelmas Term block 1 and overcoming FOMO
The first three courses that an Oxford MBA student has to tackle are Accounting, Organisational Behaviour and Technology & Operations Management. Sounds interesting. But we found out pretty early that the course assessment would be a joint submission that tests your ability to integrate concepts you pick up in class into a coherent recommendation for a business problem. Ok. It definitely took us a while to wrap our heads around this.
The coursework concluded, and the class made its first academic submission to the University of Oxford last week. Our Instagram feeds were filled with stories of classmates burning the midnight oil together and making submissions on deadline day. I think we managed to do a decent job integrating what we learned in the end. The fact that it was a bit challenging for some of us probably means it is something valuable that will help us over our careers.
In the background of all of this, we had so much else happening:
- Employer presentations
- Guest speakers
- Doing readings for classes
- Social events (lots of parties)
- Formal dinners (I’ve managed Keble, Green Templeton, Hertford and Lincoln, but some of my classmates are way ahead)
- Preparing for recruitment
My calendar looked like a crime scene by the end of the week, and I struggled to figure out a sustainable way to manage this. Eventually, I decided to prioritise things that were important from an employment perspective and things that I could only do over the next year at Oxford (formal dinners, events, and guest speakers). Although my calendar still looks like a Tetris game I’m about to lose, I feel less FOMO than I did at the program's start. Let’s hope it stays that way for the next ten months.
Formals at Oxford
The 'formal dinner' at Oxford is a traditional three-course meal hosted in college dining halls across each of Oxford’s 38 colleges. The number of formals each week varies across colleges, but it can be moderately hard to get into the famous ones (like the Christ Church dining hall featured in Harry Potter.)
The relative exclusivity of these dinners has resulted in an informal barter system where students from different colleges 'exchange' formal dinners by inviting each other to their colleges. Unfortunately for me, my college - Green Templeton, has the largest group of MBA students across the cohort, which weakens your bargaining power a tad bit. Thankfully, my classmates have been gracious hosts, and I’ve been able to attend formals at some of the older colleges, including my favourite so far, Hertford, which was a traditional candlelit dinner with good wine and great company.
Diwali is the biggest festival of the year for Indians. We made it memorable for our classmates by organising a massive party at the business school to celebrate. The Oxford Saïd India club did a solid job organising the event on short notice and recreating the magic of Diwali back home in India. We had Bollywood music and dancing, great food and a little bit of magic at the end as we managed to light up some sparkling lights to end the night.
Future of Business podcast
And finally, a personal highlight for me has been the Future of Business podcast. A student-run initiative, it is a podcast that seeks to put the spotlight on our classmates from the cohort to learn more about their experiences and dive deep into emerging trends in their industries. The remote learning environment during the pandemic meant that the podcast was dormant during the Covid-19 years, but it was revived by last year’s team and then handed off to us to take forward. We’ve spent the first month or so finalising the team and getting set up.