An international student begins his MBA journey at Rutgers
By Siddharth Bal
After working for four years in a multinational corporation as a software engineer in India, I was pretty comfortable with my job. I had a great work life balance, good salary and promising career to look forward to. But deep inside, I still had a dream to pursue my higher education in the United States in order to achieve my long-term goal of achieving a partner-level position in a leading IT consulting firm.
Many Indian students aspire to study in the U.S. and count their blessings if they are admitted to a prestigious university. Especially during COVID, the number of applicants increased when a big chunk of undergraduates started applying for masters programs in the U.S. Fortunately, after a year of hardship and struggle, my long-term goal of pursuing an MBA was fulfilled when I received the offer letter from the esteemed Rutgers Business School.
Excited to start a new chapter in our lives, I and a few more students from India arrived at Newark a week before our orientation program. The orientation was planned for 15 days and we had the entire schedule shared with us in advance. We had booked our travel dates together after we received the contact details of the incoming MBA students from Mr. Ronald Kwan, the assistant dean for MBA admissions. House hunting was the first priority once we landed here and luckily, my friends from India and I found a house in Harrison which is very close to the business school.
The day finally arrived to which we were all looking forward to, Orientation Day 1. We had an intro session on the first day which comprised of a fun activity called the Ice Breaker. This activity helped us in getting to learn more about our fellow classmates. As a brand, Rutgers is known for its emphasis on diversity and inclusion which became evident as 30% of the Full-Time MBA cohort comprises international students coming from India, Taiwan, Peru, China, Bangladesh and other parts of the world.
Working collaboratively with people from diverse cultural backgrounds and nationalities helps to perfect effectiveness, facilitate innovation and creativity, and forming rich end-goals. We also got a chance to meet the experienced faculty members specializing in different concentrations through the various bootcamps conducted. These bootcamps gave more clarity to the students who had not finalized their concentrations yet. But at the same time, it was fun to watch the professors trying to pull as many students to their respective concentrations. The orientation was not just about bootcamps and workshops. It was balanced with informal networking events between the professors and the students which took place outside campus. The first event took place at Pilsner Haus & Biergarten, a fine brewery at Hoboken. The actual ice breaker between the students and the professors took place over a couple of beers and pizzas. This helped us bond not only on a professional level but also on a personal level.
We learned more about the university and the places around it through the campus tour which took place during the first week of our orientation. It was a delight to walk through the Paul Robeson Campus Center, the Dana Library, Ruth Bader Ginsburg Hall and the Global Piazza. The campus tour was followed by a dinner at McGovern’s Bar.
The most awaited event was the cruise trip which was planned on the last day of our orientation. We got the opportunity to meet the second year Full-Time MBA students and the Part-Time MBA students for the first time. It was a three-hour long cruise trip which started from Lincoln Harbor Marina in Weehawken. We enjoyed lunch while getting an amazing view of the New York City skyline. I was finally at the financial capital of the world – New York City. At that very moment, I felt that all of my efforts that I had put in prior to my travel to the U.S. were being rewarded. We even got to see the famous Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty. This was the perfect way to end the orientation by spending a relaxing afternoon on the water.
The bootcamps, case studies, networking events and team bonding activities will only be a small part of the entire two-year MBA program at Rutgers. But these two weeks definitely paved the way for us and made us more comfortable before the start of classes. Having such an experience at the beginning of the program, helped us to have open discussions about various topics between the students and the professors.
Thus began my graduate school life in the U.S., where I hope to better myself constantly, reach my long-term goals and at the same time learn from others’ experiences.
Siddharth Bal will be writing a regular blog describing the Rutgers MBA experience from an international student's perspective.
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