On an MBA Course
Inna Semenyuk is currently enrolled on the full-time MBA programme at Imperial College Business School. She's spent the last 9 years in marketing communications and feels that the MBA at Imperial will help her to consolidate her career aspirations.
What have you been doing since graduating from your Bachelors degree?
- Having graduated from Moscow State University, I enjoyed 9 year-long marketing communications career. I was happy not only to be responsible for the company’s client relationships and new business, but also for the overall performance in Russia as I took on the Chief Operating Officer role at Grayling in Moscow.
- Having worked and lived in Russia for most of my life, I moved to London with the communications agency I have been working with to run creative marketing communications strategy for British Airways as well as run the agency’s key client programme and new business.
Why did you decide to study for an MBA?
- Throughout my marketing communications work experience I have always been interested in deeper insights of the business – whether it is developing a campaign that connects with a company’s business objectives and really getting under the skin of the client’s business, to understanding how PR agency business operates in order for my work to be more effective and bring more value. That way it was also much more exciting and rewarding for me as I could see the real value I could bring to the businesses. I thought that the natural enthusiasm and ability to learn was great, however it would be at its best when supported by an MBA education which provides unprecedented learning experience and expanding one’s knowledge about the businesses.
- Having studied the MBA market for some time, I was confident that having chosen Imperial I am going for one of the world's best MBA programmes that will help me achieve my personal and career goals – and so far my experience at Imperial Business School has definitely proven me right.
Why did you apply to Imperial?
- I studied the business school market for some time before making the decision to apply for Imperial College MBA. I considered international ratings, MBA programme's content, post-MBA employment ratings and most importantly, the reputation and feedback from the alumni.
- I already heard a lot about Imperial College Business School and had a few people providing very positive feedback about their experience there.
- I have been impressed with the professors' personalities and experience - the School attracts leading talent from all over the world.
- It also has a variety of electives reflecting the needs of the modern business world, and boasts a strong career service, enabling students with tools to progress in their career.
- The school also runs an International Exposure Week, providing an amazing opportunity for students to visit two emerging markets - China or Brazil.
How did you research where to study?
- I have been looking at Financial Times ratings and major international ratings for the business schools, as well as speaking with people within my network who did an MBA at top business schools in London.
- I have also paid attention to the schools’ social media channels and researched feedback the alumni were providing about their experiences.
- The programme and the teaching/professor team has also been one of the most important criteria for selecting the school – and in my opinion Imperial Business School is the best fit for me in terms of my existing experience and career aspirations.
How did you prepare for the GMAT?
- There is a GMAT waiver at Imperial Business School for the candidates that demonstrate high academic achievements, as well have over 6 years of experience and score high during the interview process. That was exactly my situation and therefore I did not have to provide a GMAT score within my application for Imperial Business School.
What did you write about in your admissions essay?
- My admissions essay was a reflection on my experience and aspirations and how this means I would fit into the Imperial ethos. In my opinion, Imperial College has a unique position of being one of the leaders in innovation and it makes a significant impact on the Business School’s programme – it is very interactive, brings enormous practical value and brings the best academic and business minds together. My essay therefore was an observation of these advantages and synergies and why I would love to study at Imperial Business School and what is special about me and my experience and why the school should accept me for the programme.
Do you have any advice for people struggling to write their essay?
- In my experience, writer’s block is absolutely natural in the situation when one is making a big change like leaving their job behind and embarking on an MBA programme. Dramatically changing one’s life is not easy and indeed it is very challenging to summarise one’s aspirations in a couple of pages of text.
- I would recommend starting with talking to a family member or a friend and telling them why you would like to do an MBA. Do it a few times – and you will see how the less important items are not making it to the next round and how you are focusing on what’s really important.
- Once you are familiar with what you want to say – write it down. Then leave it, sleep on it, open in the morning, read, edit – essay done.
What are your family’s and friend’s opinions on you embarking on such a challenging programme?
- My family and friends have been and still are very supportive of me embarking on the programme as they see the value it will bring. It’s not easy for them to face the fact that I see my cohort, professors and books much more often than my family and friends, but I think they understand.
Are you enjoying the programme?
- The MBA is an extremely challenging, yet rewarding and enriching experience. It is indeed hard to digest big amounts of information – however you learn so much and expand your knowledge and horizons significantly – it’s absolutely worth the effort. I personally enjoy the challenge and in fact would find it discouraging if it was too easy to study – it would simply mean I am not learning much. To go further you have to commit and make a significant effort – it’s never easy but very rewarding.
Do you feel the programme will equip you with the skills to apply your business knowledge in the global environment?
- Imperial MBA has an amazing international environment – it attracts best talent (both professors and students) from all over the world ensuring cultural exchange and providing insights into the aspects of managing businesses in the global environment. Combined with the Global Exposure Week (a trip to China which will demonstrate the emerging market trends in the global world), it creates a perfect atmosphere for internationally-minded people who think big.
How many hours outside of class are you putting in?
- Imperial MBA requires some serious dedication and time investment – all for one’s own good. Like most of my fellow students, I spend most of the hours outside of school reading the materials in preparation for the lectures, completing quizzes and trying to get the most of the educational opportunities the programme provides.
How is your work/life balance and do you have much time to socialise outside of class, whether with fellow students, friends or family?
- Work-life balance, in my opinion, is extremely important. In most cases studies take the priority over seeing family and friends (mostly because the programme is very intense and runs across 12 months and time pressure is very high), however the MBA programme creates great opportunities to socialise with the cohort and alumni that should not be neglected at all – as the fellow students whom we are both studying and socialising with are forming a strong network of personal and professional contacts that one will strongly benefit from going forward.
Are the school and staff well connected in the business world?
- One of the advantages of the Imperial MBA is that it has strong connection to the business world and is very valuable practically. Not only the professors are the leading names in the business world, the school often organises events securing the attendance of top business men and women.
Do you think the fees will prove worth it? Are you getting any financial help?
- An MBA is a significant investment into one’s career (one should be mindful not only of the fees but also of the living costs that are very high in London) and hence it is very important to take the most of it. It will be as worth as much as one puts into their studies.
- Financing an MBA indeed is a very sensitive area – while there is much information available in terms of consumer loans, for international students like me options are limited (for example, if I wished to have a consumer loan for my studies, I would have to do it in my own country – which means higher interest rates and commissions). Therefore the best would be to apply for scholarship and explore further scholarship opportunities available in the country where the person applying for an MBA is coming form.
What’s your plan for the future?
- MBA provides an incredible experience that starts with reflecting on one’s aspirations and career goals and getting business knowledge essential for progressing in one’s career. I feel that the Imperial MBA is helping me to understand my aspirations better, shape up my future career plans and gives me clear tools and skills that will make the new career plan work.
- It is very important to highlight that an MBA programme is not some kind of factory producing overly confident careerists. It connects you with amazing people from all over the world who form a significant part of your professional and personal network, whom you go through many challenges and exercises with together and learn a lot about yourself. It’s a tremendous life-changing experience.
Do you feel that the programme will meet your career requirements?
- In my opinion Personal Leadership Journey is one of the most valuable programmes that Imperial MBA offers as not only it taps into one’s existing knowledge and career experience, but it equips people with tools to learn more about themselves, explore and reflect on the priorities and goals in order to define further career goals and construct the career going forward.
- It is extremely valuable that the programme is a combination of one-to-one sessions with a dedicated career consultant, career intensives that provide access to other career consultants and a series or recruitment events and networking opportunities that make a full spectrum of career strategy. With such massive support MBA students only have the right to succeed in their future career choices.
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