Indeed, we are all experiencing the impact of COVID-19 on our personal and professional lives. To navigate through the uncertainty and chaos, business schools have made significant adjustments in their policies for current students, prospective students, and incoming students.
Curious to get first-hand information about current students' response to this abrupt change in the medium of instruction, we at MER (myEssayReview) reached out to our former students who are currently pursuing their MBA education. We requested them to share their thoughts about the shift from in-person to online instruction, their MBA experience in the coming months, and their post MBA career. We are grateful to them for acceding to our request and sharing with us their responses to each of our questions.
Let's take a closer look at their answers as communicated to MER:
Question #1: How are you finding the virtual learning experience?
Mansi (Second-year MBA student at HBS): Zoom (online) classes are much better than what I had expected. It's our first week of classes, and honestly, I am enjoying it. I feel everyone is equally engaged and participative in an online classroom. Of course, the online experience can never match the offline experience, but the way HBS has executed is brilliant and helps us not miss the offline classes as much. Also, the zoom is a great platform.
Dennis (First-year MBA student at UCLA): We currently have all classes on Zoom. It's not ideal, but it's the best option given the situation. The professors are trying very hard to keep the class discussions engaging, which is a plus.
Shreesh (First Year MBA Student at DeGroote): I've done one academic term and one work term. I will be returning in May for the second academic term, so I will be starting VL in May. I talked to some students who are having online classes, and they stated that sometimes there are technical issues, but they understand there would be some learning curve with the sudden change in structure.
Surbhi (First-year MBA student at McCombs): McCombs ramped up pretty quickly with online classes. I really miss in-person classes, but professors are trying to keep classes as engaging as possible as it would be for in-person courses. We have a virtual study team check-ins, happy hours, group tasks, and career chats. The work goes on!
Michelle (First-year PMBA student at Rice): Rice has done a phenomenal job with the virtual learning experience and communications around the new class format. The virtual experience is quite challenging, but the faculty has been quick to adapt. As a Professional Weekend Student, we have incredibly long days of 12 hours of classes, but we are managing it well. Professors use virtual breakout rooms to keep us engaged with classmates during lessons. The classmates are closer than ever!
Rishi (Oxford Said student): As a class, we are trying to salvage whatever MBA experience we can from this one year program. Though the school is working hard to make the virtual learning experience as close to the classroom as possible, there are many lost opportunities in the virtual one. However, given the nature of the circumstances, I guess there is nothing much we can do about it. Nevertheless, since we have got to know the class early on, we are trying to make the most of the experience.
Bill (First-year MBA student at CBS): The online format is not as bad as I feared - but I am missing out on the regular interaction with my classmates. I am missing essential networking opportunities (both from the economy and the restrictions related to COVID-19) and feel as though this is not the MBA experience that I wanted. There are many great professors and courses here that I am sure will help me improve my investing skills- which is what I hoped for when I applied. Ultimately, my plan remains to transition to the buy-side in investment management.
Eric (First-year MBA student at USC): USC has done a great job transitioning to the virtual learning environment in such a short period of time during the middle of March. The professors have also done a great job in keeping the class engaged with small breakout room discussions and discussing current events with respect to what we're learning. They've also set up numerous advising sessions with both the career center and our academic counselors to help us navigate through this time. Given the circumstances, I think USC is doing a phenomenal job with providing us with the best learning environment. Still, since this IS an MBA program, I'm disappointed in the lack of physical engagements with peers and professors. Part of the MBA experience is about having open dialogues in a live classroom setting, and unfortunately, we're unable to experience that at the moment. However, it'll just make getting back into the classroom that much more rewarding!
XXXX (First year MBA Student at Tepper): My experience with the virtual classes at Tepper has been excellent. The school has one of the best online MBA programs in the country, so all of our core courses have already had online curricula. Some of the courses even have videos that the professor previously prepared for the online section that we, the full-time students, could leverage in our virtual classes. Other resources such as the Career Center and the leadership coaches are also available to us virtually.
Question #2: What changes do you anticipate in your second year of MBA?
Surbhi (First-year MBA student at McCombs): I am anticipating more use of technology by professors for teaching and better adaptability to education technology.
Michelle (First-year PMBA student at Rice): That's a difficult question to answer. We simply don't know details right now, and it's difficult to predict the future. Rice is prepared to teach all classes remotely if needed.
Shreesh (First -year MBA Student at DeGroote): The changes I'm expecting will be impacting the Co-Op program. Jobs are getting canceled, and interviews will be limited because of the uncertainty of the economy. Classes will be an intriguing part, but I cannot answer that until I start my second term. For now, I'm working from home and have enjoyed my MBA experience thus far.
Eric (First-year MBA student at USC): I'm hoping the changes will be minimal, and we can get out of this recession and shut down by the tail end of summer. Realistically though, I think fall recruiting will take a hit, given the number of layoffs we're already seeing. Statistics coming out of the career center is still very promising, but I fear that some of the highly sought-after internships will have fewer spaces or they're not hiring at all next year. Only time will tell how things shape up as we get into the summer.
XXXX (First year MBA Student at Tepper): The school hasn't announced any changes in our second year yet. Right now, other students and I are planning our second-year activities on the assumption that we can meet in-person. That being said, the school is keeping us updated and will communicate with us if there're changes in the future.
Question #3: How will this situation impact your post-MBA career?
Shreesh (First Year MBA Student at DeGroote): I think there will be an impact on Job search for sure. And the quality of education may also be affected. I've been taking it day by day and am optimistic about the future.
Saheli (McDonough Admit): I have heard from my friends, the internships are bad this time, and international students did not get many opportunities. Now, with the COVID situation, people are expecting a lag in all. But GT is turning MBA to STEM, so that's good news.
Surbhi (First-year MBA student at McCombs): It has become all the more essential to be flexible and get the work done! Since the summer internship is virtual, it will be crucial for me to learn virtual networking and interviewing.
Michelle (First-year PMBA student at Rice): I am anticipating that it will be more challenging to recruit during and post-MBA. Most of my classmates are in the Energy industry, and given the current economic situation, most of us might be out of a job soon.
Rishi (Oxford Said student): There is indeed a worrying time for current MBA students with regard to job prospects and the state of the world economy. Few of the companies have frozen hiring, and some have even rescinded the offers made during the year. So, for someone who is planning to do an MBA now, it's worthwhile to research the particular industry he or she would want to work post-MBA, as some industries, such as Aviation or Automobiles, might take a few years to get back on track.
XXXX (First Year MBA Student at Tepper): Personally, I don't think my (and other international students') post-MBA career will change much. Most firms that hire international students are big companies, mostly in tech and consulting, which I don't think will get struck by the pandemic as hard as small companies and those in the heavily affected industries such as hospitality. Also, Tepper's current year employment statistics in both full-time and internship so far are similar to last year's figures.
Our takeaway from the above responses is that though a majority of current students are happy with the virtual classrooms, they are still missing the in-person classes and networking opportunities. All of them are appreciative of the excellent job their universities and professors are doing with the virtual instruction; they understand that this is the best that can be done under present circumstances. Some first-year students are anticipating remote online education in their second year as well. As for their thoughts about post-MBA careers, all of them are aware that they will face a challenging job market post-MBA as 'some companies have frozen hiring, while some have rescinded offers they made during the year.' Michelle, a PMBA student, fears that most of us might be out of a job soon.
The uncertainty prevails for the incoming students and prospective students as well. The and international students are not sure how long it will take them to secure a visa. As of now, the universities are optimistic about starting classes in August/September, but it is difficult to predict how long it will take for them to resume their normal operations. Though anxiety is natural at this time of global uncertainty, we all agree that patience, resilience, and determination is what will help us sail through this crisis.
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