What It’s Like Being in B-school During the Covid-19 Pandemic | TopMBA.com

What It’s Like Being in B-school During the Covid-19 Pandemic

By Linda Mohamed

Updated Updated

The coronavirus pandemic has taken its toll on students and graduates across the globe.

After a sudden shift to online learning, some international students have been left with no choice but to go back home, while others have remained in their host countries to continue their studies.

Hector Escobar is one of the latter. Originally from Chile, he is an International MBA student at Emlyon Business School in France, where he decided to stay after the outbreak began.

He said: “It’s been difficult for all of Europe in general. However, being in a country with a strong health system and some of the best scientists gives you some peace of mind and allows you to continue your studies despite the difficulties.”

Hector says Emlyon tackled the coronavirus crisis promptly and effectively. In fact, as soon as the infection rate in France started to increase, the school set up emergency committees and closed its doors on March 12 2020 until further notice.

Since then, all of the International MBA activities have been delivered through video conferencing platforms such as Zoom, including classes and group assignments.

Hector says his daily life hasn’t changed drastically, something that he is very grateful for.

He said: “My daily routine now consists of getting up at the same time as before, going for a run, having breakfast and a good cup of coffee and starting classes. At the end of the day I take time to prepare some homework and look for job opportunities.

“I feel like the school has done a good job in ensuring that we’re supported despite the difficulties that this crisis brings to all of us.”

However, it’s a different story for students like Renato Vieira, who were bound to graduate when the virus reached Europe.

Based in Manchester, Brazilian-born Renato is a recent MBA graduate from Alliance Business School. When the outbreak began in the UK, he decided to stay in the country because it “felt safer” than flying back to Brazil.

His graduation was held on Zoom, something he certainly didn’t expect when he began his MBA journey.

He said: “Having a Zoom graduation was very different from what I had in mind for a final party with my MBA colleagues. Under normal circumstances, we would have had a Gala Ball and a class trip to Portugal to celebrate the end of these very demanding 18 months.

“Instead, we gathered in a Zoom meeting and watched an amazing video featuring some of the best moments from the MBA, such as our trips to China and Dubai. This was a great reminder of how fortunate we are to have lived the whole MBA experience before the lockdown, and it certainly contributed to change my perspective on an online graduation.”

At the moment, Renato is still living in Manchester with his wife, hoping to get back to Brazil by the end of May.

However, this wasn’t his original post-MBA plan.

He said: “The biggest impact of the Covid-19 pandemic for me has been on job hunting. I was expecting an offer from the company where I did my internship, but eventually they went on a hiring freeze and I had to reassess my strategy.

“My initial idea was to stay in the UK for a couple of years after graduation, but right now I’ll be better positioned if I return to my home country where I think it will be easier to achieve my goal of changing industries.”

Despite the hardships of being an international student abroad, neither Hector nor Renato are letting themselves get discouraged.

While Hector is keeping in contact with classmates, professors and potential employers to scout for opportunities in the UK, Renato is interviewing for jobs in Strategic Planning in two fast-growing industries in Brazil.

Renato said: “I can see now how an MBA has given me the necessary transferable skills to design my value proposition in the job market. Now it’s just a matter of time for me to find the right match.”

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