When the first lockdown was announced in March 2020, Full-time MBA student Shubhanghi Sinha ignored her knee-jerk reaction to fly back to the comfort of family and friends in India. After all, she had come to RSM MBA to step out of her comfort zone. This was her chance to embrace discomfort with all its ugliness and challenges, she decided. A journey of personal discovery followed. Here’s what her remarkable MBA year taught her about opening up, resilience and finding mentors among peers.
Like so many of her cohort, Sinha had left a steady job at a reputable company -YouTube, in her case- to do an MBA and start a career on a different continent. From talking to alumni, she roughly knew what to expect from the typical MBA classroom and social experience. Of course, very little turned out to be typical.
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Pushing the boundaries
“I was tempted to go home, but I forced myself to investigate the source of that temptation. Wasn’t I supposed to push my boundaries this year and challenge myself? Going home would mean just the opposite.”
“So, I went out to explore Rotterdam’s parks, sit down and read. That’s where I realised that I had the power to deal with this, if only I stayed physically and mentally healthy. After I could no longer attend group classes at the Erasmus Sports Center, I continued to do fitness at home, with one of my classmates even correcting my push-up form on Zoom!”
“It also dawned on me that I was gaslighting my own emotions. So, one of my big growth areas this year has been to develop tools to manage my emotions. In my sessions with Career Coach Justin Sheenan I learned that it’s normal and totally okay to break down sometimes. Simply acknowledge these emotions and then keep on working towards your goal in a structured manner.
“I wanted to stay positive and so maintain a forward-thinking attitude, so took up an internship with Rotterdam-based startup Knowies as a Content and Marketing Strategist. This helped me to focus and apply whatever I would learn in the classroom or virtual study-trip in a real business setting the day after.”
Classmates as mentors
“With 26 years, I am one of the youngest of the cohort. I haven’t been through many of the experiences some of my older classmates have. I have learned to say ‘Hey, I don’t know how this works, please help me’, and ask my older classmates for advice.”
“After mentioning to one of them, that some of my job applications went unanswered, he gave me advice that stuck with me: stop thinking that your challenges are limited to you. Companies everywhere as just as challenged at the moment. It’s true, everybody is struggling.”
“Right now, after a full year of MBA, things aren’t perfect yet, but some of the things that would have thrown me off in March, I am now so much better equipped to deal with.”
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