From new projects, to exciting events, to piling deadlines, business school students can expect every day to be dynamic and packed with something new.
While managing it all can be challenging, the diverse nature of business school life provides you with opportunities to grow—both personally and professionally—and prepares you for life after graduation.
We spoke with MBA students from the International Institute for Management Development (IMD) to gain an insight into the demanding lives of MBA students, and find out what a day at business school is really like.
Kicking off the day with an early start
Most days start early for the majority of MBA students. At IMD, classes usually begin at eight in the morning and run until the afternoon.
For current IMD MBA students, Elvin Chua and Consuelo Chauny, time in class is spent delving into the range of topics that are covered during various modules throughout each semester.
Both MBA students enrolled in the IMD MBA to expand their skills and open doors to new opportunities. Prior to business school, Elvin worked in the defense technology industry and Consuelo holds extensive experience working across innovation departments.
The one-year IMD MBA focuses on developing students' reflective and responsible leadership capabilities. Classes span from finance, entrepreneurship, accounting, marketing strategy to sustainable business.
“The classes are dynamic and filled with people from nearly 40 different nationalities, time in class is the perfect opportunity to share, discuss and learn from one another, and work on our projects,” says Consuelo.
A recent project required students to work in teams to develop a presentation cracking a complex business problem under tight time constraints. This assignment, known as the integrative exercise, provides an opportunity for students to pool all of their program learnings so far, learn from one another and work together to deliver results quickly.
“This, like the majority of our assignments are group facing. This is a chance for us to learn to work with a diverse group of people from different cultures, different geographies, and backgrounds,” says Elvin.
Making time to network through extracurricular activities
Outside of business school’s academic demands, many students make time to participate in extracurricular activities or clubs.
Not only are student clubs a great way to socialize, they are also a chance to develop leadership skills outside of the classroom, providing an opportunity each week to spend time with other students to network and discuss ideas.
Participating in student clubs and other societies offers the opportunity to develop your career by networking with other like-minded professionals.
With a background in innovation and with support from IMD, Consuelo has been able to create an innovation club.
"I am the coordinator of the innovation club and participate on others like the sustainability club. Here we can share ideas and look for guest speakers. The clubs are a chance to leverage our knowledge and broaden our network with alumni or professors," says Consuelo. Outside of the social aspects of the clubs, they are a great way to develop your career, Consuelo explains.
Learning from surprise talks or events
After a long day of learning, IMD MBA students can benefit from exciting classes and talks from industry experts.
There are usually a variety of guest speakers or workshops available for students to take part in each week. Previous speakers include the CEO of Swisscom and founding partner of Cherry Ventures.
“Recently we had the opportunity to take part in a workshop in public speaking. There was also a masterclass which taught us how to effectively negotiate in different aspects of our lives,” Consuelo explains.
Later in the year, students will have an opportunity to get involved in discovery expeditions, where they can travel to Silicon Valley, Singapore, Dubai or Buenos Aires for a week to gain experience with international business operations.
“There are typically different events, like the discovery expedition, throughout the year which we all look forward to,” adds Elvin.
Finding time to unwind
After getting through a busy day at business school it is critical for MBA students to find time to rest and recharge.
For students at IMD that could mean taking a walk near Lake Geneva, making use of the campus sports facilities, or even taking a break in on-campus power nap rooms. Elvin makes the most of the campus’ location by spending time in the nature around Lausanne.
“The MBA is definitely an intense program, so making time at the end of the day to relieve stress is useful for getting some space from the busy MBA schedule,” he says.
Allocating time for personal development
Business school students at IMD are encouraged to commit time each week towards personal development. This means enhancing both as a leader and an individual.
While personal development can be difficult for busy MBA students to navigate, IMD supports students by providing the opportunity to schedule time with psychoanalysts and development coaches.
Students can select one of the IMD personal development coaches to work with throughout the year to help them understand their personal leadership style, along with one-to-one sessions with a career development coach who can provide career advice.
After spending much of their time learning new knowledge and skills, participating in clubs and events, and dealing with the intensity of an MBA program, dedicating time each week towards becoming a better leader is an effective way that students can make the most out of each day at business school.
“The opportunities on offer help us to understand ourselves better, who we are as leaders, and our strengths and weaknesses as individuals,” says Elvin.