Dahlia Ghosh discusses her fulfilling, yearlong MBA program at University of New Brunswick Saint John and how the international diversity of the program made it an exceptional place to study. She also advises prospective students on how to make their MBA decision.
I.T. Business Analyst, J.D. Irving Ltd.
What do you think is your program's greatest asset?
The varied student group in terms of background, culture, industry and experience. We had about 14 countries represented in a class of 50, which gave us our miniature "global playground." The program enabled us to get the best out of this diversity. After a personality test, we were placed into groups with widely varying personalities and cultural backgrounds. Interacting and learning to work with such a diverse set of people and opinions, overcoming conflict, producing results, supporting each other and becoming friends along the way -- this proved to be the most enriching experience.
What are some activities you were involved with outside of class? How did you balance your time?
The one year of MBA was so busy it just flew by. In between our group assignments, presentations and team meetings with fair doses of healthy conflict, we managed to pack in a host of other activities. We spent time learning about each other, celebrating different cultural festivals, exploring the city and the local surroundings. We had parties and social gatherings, went for hikes and nature walks, attended networking events with the local business community and took up challenges like case study competitions and public speaking. It was always an acute juggle with time, but yes, we did find moments in-between to relax!
Why did you choose your MBA program? Do you have advice to students on how to make a decision?
Choose according to your own specific needs. There is a volume of information available on each program, student reviews, public opinions and the like. It is a good idea to be aware of all those, but in the end the decision should be personal. In my case, I wanted a quality one-year business program at a decent location and affordable cost. Rather than the most hyped choices related to the largest city or the top B-School, I felt I would flourish in a balanced environment that was neither too big nor too small, offered a personal touch, would encourage and help me grow to my potential. The UNBSJ MBA gave me all this and more.
Have your interests and passions changed since beginning your MBA program?
I have retained my interests and expanded on them, thanks to the MBA program. It has changed my attitude for the better. In terms of effectively dealing with others, I now respect the fact that every person thinks differently. I have become more flexible and adaptive to this, even learnt to enjoy it. But perhaps more importantly, the MBA has strengthened my belief in myself. I feel more confident to try new things and take up challenges. This has helped me fill my days with fulfilling activities that I enjoy. Apart from work, I am involved in Toastmasters clubs, Project Management forums, dance and cultural performances and other volunteering efforts.
What are some of the first steps an international student should take after being accepted to ensure they are prepared for an MBA program?
Spend time to learn about the place and the program, to have a better idea of what to expect when you're there. Find out the available options for accommodation, and the cost of living, to be able to better plan your finances. Try to arrange your accommodation in advance if that is possible. Reach out to alumni for their first-hand experiences, and program faculty for their guidance. Some incoming students may inquire about the program and find they need preparatory training in certain courses, which can be arranged to help them dive in to the fast-paced program once it starts. Don't hesitate to ask questions!
What advice can you give to ease the transition into a new country?
Keep an open mind and be flexible. It will not be all easy - there will be difficult times, times you may doubt yourself or the program, miss home or family, or feel under pressure in unfamiliar surroundings. But please know that these are temporary, and there are people to help - you are never alone. You just need to reach out to them. With the right attitude and positive mindset, this new place with its new faces will start to seem more like home and will become your strength. Try to adapt and blend in with the local culture as far as possible, but never let go of your own. With this exposure you will respect and understand others, but also recognize and value your own identity. You will be, after all, the face of your country in an international forum.