Saturday, September 24, 2011

End of Week -2 at Oxford

Yes you read that right! We just ended week -2 (negative two). Oxford (being Oxford) has its very own calender! Next week is Week -1 and the upper week (when we are confirmed as students of the school via matriculation is Week 0 and then 1,2,3 (i'm sure you get the drift).

There have been so many activities already that it'll be tough to cover everything. The easiest way to do this would be to cover the week chronologically so here goes....

Monday & Tuesday
First day at SBS. Had breakfast with my roomies at the YHA (Matan and Martin) a few weird looks as we were all suited up (got some baked beans on my tie!). We were scheduled to have Boot Camps for careers in Management Consulting and Finance over the course of the week. These boot camps sort of provide a fantastic overview to careers in both sectors and enable students focus on their areas of interest during their job search. This is especially important as being in a 1 year program mean you'll need to start applying for jobs almost immediately.

We made the 2 minute trip to SBS....greeted by a sea of smiling faces in black and white. Handshakes everywhere.....necks bent.....ears people tried to make out each other's names in the chaos. 150+ nervous MBA students meeting each other for the first time. Thankfully we had a pretty active facebook group, making it easier to recognize some people. The sound of Derek's (Director of Careers) horn (yes horn....very effective I might add) interrupted our uneasy conversations....'please  proceed to the hall' he said.He introduced the sector consultants, who took over and took us through two days of  CV and Cover Letter prep, interview tips and nuances, and a good overview of the management consulting business space.

Both sessions ended about 6pm and most of us retired to what is likely to be the 'default pub' for our class....THE OXFORD RETREAT!


We had a free day and Matan and I decided to use it to sort out all our admin stuff. At this point we had moved into our Flat at the RAC. We had to get our University ID card from the college, open our bank accounts, register with the police, register with the NHS, and buy essential items for the house. In the evening, we all headed to another pub called 'The Jericho Tavern' for a party which went on till four apparently (I escaped at about 1am....Matan didn't).

Thursday and Friday
We had the finance bootcamps on Thursday and Friday. I had been contacted by the careers team the week before with a request to make a presentation to the bootcamp, along with about four other people about my life in Finance. I agreed to it and saw myself ushered on stage, immediately wondering why i agreed to it. With what seemed like thousands of eyes on me, I fiddled with the microphone and drank a lot of water....making sure i was well positioned in between the other speakers. Why? I didn't want to be the first to speak! I think the secret to presentations however is familiarity. The stronger your familiarity with the subject you are speaking about, the easier it is to improvise....a key attribute of a good presentation. Thankfully, I was talking about my personal experiences so I think I did quite well.

On Saturday we had the 'Oxford Pursuit'.....a seven year old Oxford MBA tradition (gasp! an Oxford tradition that's not centuries old?). It basically involves being randomly split into groups of six and provided with a map, and 15 questions about the city of Oxford. The questions required physical examination of a lot of buildings and a lot of detective work. It was a good, although tiring experience and though we didn't win, i learnt a lot about the city.

Feeding is my biggest problem here.Practically living on bread and butter.....I might need emergency cooking classes! One thing that's also clear from my week here is that focus and prioritization is absolutely critical. There's just too much going on....too much stuff to do. There's always a party, or a meeting, or something and school hasn't even started. So I think it is essential that I streamline my goals and identify specific activities that would help me achieve them.

OBNs (Oxford Business Networks) are student run organisations that focus on particular areas of interest. After my talk on private equity, i've been encouraged to run for the chairmanship of the private equity OBN by a few classmates. I had previously considered it but was torn between the PE OBN and the Strategic Focus on Africa group, which is an SIG (Strategic Interest Group). I have decided to run for the PE OBN although I know it would be a tonne of work! So help me God....

P.S This post is so long because I'm not sure when next I'll have the time to post.....mad times!

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