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Can MBAs Afford To Take A Break This Christmas?

Parties and eggnog or Microsoft SQL and financial accounting?

By  Marco De Novellis

Thu Dec 24 2015

It’s Christmas! But with worrisome workloads and pressure to secure placements, do MBAs get a break?

At UWA Business School, where the first ever cohort of intensive full-time MBA students have just completed their finals, the answer is a resounding yes.

“We had a farewell BBQ,” says very recent MBA graduate Christopher Yates.

Students on this year’s UWA MBA program have gained not only a useful professional network but also a tight-knit group of friends.

“Many students are travelling but some will be catching up over Christmas,” Christopher continues. “Kevin Kurniawan [a UWA MBA stuent] is getting married in the New Year and many of the cohort are going to [the ceremony]!”

For some of UWA’s international MBA students, experiencing Christmas in Australia for the first time has been a bit of a shock to the system.

“I've traded cold, wet weather in the States for a sunny day at the beach with beer and hot dogs!” says UWA MBA graduate Rylan Nielsen.

He plans to celebrate with extended family in Texas before going to New Orleans to visit old college friends. He’ll celebrate the end of studies with football and a few drinks.

“Ironically, the only thing I wanted for Christmas this year was a plane ticket to get back to the states to see my family — even if it meant missing out on some great beach parties,” says Rylan.

Ayesha Shahed, who completed her MBA at the Australian Graduate School of Management and landed a top job at Nestle, has quickly gotten used to an Australian Christmas. 


“I love the sales, the summer, the time spent with the kids, the food and the parties,” she says.

“We don't have family here, so we make [the] most of the summer with our family of friends. Last year we did a road trip on the Great Ocean Road, from Sydney all the way to the Twelve Apostles in Victoria.”

After a demanding two-year period as an MBA student, Ayesha plans a more restful Christmas break this time around.

“This year is going to be about staying home, cherishing family and recuperating!”


Over in the US at the George Washington University School of Business (GWSB), John Sakakini is in a similarly jovial mood.

“Ah, Christmas — my favorite time of year,” he says. “Christmas parties, eggnog and finals: what’s not to love?”

He plans to leave parties early this year to rush home and memorize t-tables.

“After crying myself to sleep realizing I messed up t-tables, and forgot exactly where returns go on the balance sheet on my finals, I will be flying to visit my parents for Christmas in sunny and warm Detroit, Michigan, where I expect to over-eat on Middle Eastern food and debate politics over endless glasses of wine!”

John only wants one thing for Christmas this year: to pass financial accounting.

“Professor Linsley, if you are seeing this, I would love any extra bump in my final grade, please?” he jests. “Well, it was worth a try! But Santa, seriously, please?!”

Not all MBAs expect a relaxing Christmas. US Army veteran Daniel Maxwell, an online MBA student at GWSB, plans to enrol in a coding course to aid his ongoing job search.

“It seems to me that nearly every job calls for some kind of experience in a coding language,” he says. “I’ve been passed over for a $95,000 job just because I don’t have Microsoft SQL experience.”

Luis Galan Lozano, an MBA graduate from China Europe International Business School (CEIBS), faces the challenge of running his own Shanghai-based digital marketing agency over the holiday period. 


“I’ve had to cancel my plans and I’ll be working through Christmas for the first time in my life,” he says. “It’s sad, but it’s also positive because it means we have plenty of work.”

Luis’ Christmas wishes are simple: “I just want to be with my family, to rest my brain and, if possible, release some pressure.”

He adds: “Christmas and the New Year are always times of hope, projects and new beginnings. It’s a time to reflect.”