Fridays from the Frontline: A Day in the Life of an MBA Student at Oxford
MBA applicants spend so much time preparing to get into business school, they don’t often stop to imagine what campus life will be like once they get there. Current Oxford MBA student Adiya Chopra took to the Saïd Business School blog to document a representative 24 hours of his MBA life—read on for the details.
A day in the life of an MBA student at Oxford
It’s 7.30am on Wednesday and I am a little hungover.
The rainy weather isn’t helping much. Getting ready, breakfast, calendar schedule check, email check, charging my phone, some Twitter, some Instagram, and a bike ride to Saïd Business School consume the next 1.5 hours.
I am going to spend the next 3 hours studying Accounting with around 80 brilliant classmates from across the globe. I sit with my name card in front of my desk in a modern plush lecture theatre with wooden walls, warm carpeting and a little too much technology. We are discussing whether a large staircase manufacturer should fire its supplier of 63 years.
The sales manager values the client’s loyalty, the client values the firm’s consistent performance but the senior management is concerned about margins on some of their products’ offerings to the client. It’s a lively discussion of diverse opinions and the Professor (Dr. Anette Mikes) squeezes in pictures of beautiful bespoke staircases and calculations of product contribution margin with equal élan.
Case studies are a brilliant way of learning, because they let you experience the concepts in action. Problems in management (and life) are unlikely to occur categorised as “strategy” or “operations”, and the case method enables learning of the principles behind such problems in all their complex glory.
The afternoon is consumed by an interesting Operations case with a Professor who is as brilliant and engaging as they come (check out Dr. Daniel Snow), from discussing the nuances of restaurant and car manufacturing operations to his love for Porsches to the meaning of life. It’s a joy to be in class.
From Operations, we move to Organisational Behaviour (not before a quick coffee break!) and the ex-consultant-now-professor (Dr. Mike Gill) engages everyone in a thought provoking lecture on mental health. I come out of that class with new perspective, a little unease and also a some pride that Oxford Saïd is the only global business school which has introduced mental health in graded course work.
I spend about an hour in the evening in the library power reading for lectures the next day. Little had I thought during my teens and early twenties that reading The Hindu newspaper would help me cruise through GMAT (scored V48) and also power through long readings at Oxford. A quick catchup with friends and I head to my locker next to the lecture theatre to put on a blazer. Google is presenting internship and full-time opportunities for my cohort for their London and Dublin offices in a few minutes and I am not sure whether to suit up or go casual, so I have decided to stay in the semi-formal safe zone.
A two-hour seminar and some freebies later, we head to the lobby where a networking event with Googlers and wine is organised. It’s a packed room and I see some of my classmates in formal suits but most others embracing Google’s comfy vibe with hoodies and bomber jackets. The wine glass is common. I recall my wine and cheese tasting session two weeks prior, recognise that the one being served isn’t too fancy but still indulge with all the pretentious tricks I remember.
We discuss everything from product management career paths, to social impact through business, to failings of multilateral institutions, to the art exhibition by Nicola Green, to the upcoming international conference at the Blavatnik School of Government, to the next debate at the Union and the diminishing sunny days at Oxford. After hours of animated conversations and lots of wine and chips, it’s finally time to call it a day.
It’s 7.30am on Thursday and I am a little hungover.