Many people asked why I traveled nearly 10,000 miles from Singapore to Williamsburg, Virginia to join the full-time MBA program here at William & Mary. It all started when I first found out about William & Mary several years ago at an MBA expo in Singapore. I had a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science and professional experience in the financial technology sector, supporting global banks in Singapore. However, I always wanted to be in a more impactful position and realized that I needed comprehensive business knowledge for that, and thus decided to get an MBA. I was hooked right away after hearing about the William & Mary Executive Partner program. As someone with a decent amount of professional experience, I was very interested in the practical learning experience I could get by interacting with the Executive Partners, people who had walked the path I aim to take.
Discovering New Passions
I have been amazed by all the knowledge I gained from the MBA program so far. With a career in technology product development, I did not have the opportunity to deeply discover the business side of the industry. After taking the MBA core classes at the Raymond A. Mason School of Business, I discovered new passions in marketing and entrepreneurship. I realized early on that customer satisfaction is the most important aspect of any businesses. Without customers, there will be no revenue! After taking the Marketing Strategy class, I was able to connect the dots of developing the right products, fulfilling customer needs, and reinforcing business growth. By getting involved with MBA Association Entrepreneurship & Innovation Club, I significantly improved my business acumen, such as developing customer personas, identifying risks and opportunities in the market, and delivering a convincing pitch to sell the products! I was also pleasantly surprised of how I found topics such as supply chain, retailing, and business logistics - which I did not have any previous interest in - to be actually interesting. Overall, I could definitely say that I have achieved my goal in equipping myself with the extensive business knowledge to help me transition to a more impactful position.
The Internship Journey
With my new-found knowledge, I eagerly looked for an opportunity to apply it with my technology background to contribute to a meaningful summer project. However, it was public knowledge that finding an internship as an international student is challenging. I sent out many (and I mean MANY) internship applications without any reply. I also got numerous rejections, and each of them left a stab wound in my heart. But ultimately, my perseverance resulted in getting an internship experience I will never forget: spending a summer at PayPal in the infamous Silicon Valley. If I could humbly summarize the learning points I had throughout the process, they would be the following:
- Showcase yourself. Coming from the other side of the world, I was raised to be meek. It was extremely hard to change the word “we” to “I” when describing my accomplishments in an interview (both job and informational). However, once I realized that I am now aiming to be a business leader, it made total sense that I should show high-confidence in my abilities and accomplishments. Remember that as nice as Amanda and the admission team are, students are admitted because they have something unique to contribute to the program.
- Put in the hard work. MBAs are busy. It was tough to keep looking for opportunities in the midst of those projects and assignments. I wish there were other ways I could think of, but hard work was the only way to get where I wanted to be. Luckily for me, I was no stranger to working hard.
- A supportive community is important. One of the reasons why I love William & Mary’s full-time MBA program is the supportive cohort! We regularly checked in on others and offered assistance in many ways. I think it is very important to have the right mindset so we can be successful together. After all, we are likely to cross-paths sometime in the future. It is so much nicer to cross-paths with a friend than an enemy.
Ready to Rejoin the Global Workforce
I am at my final semester in the full-time MBA program. As I was writing this blog, I reflected on what had happened since I entered the program, and realized that it has been truly remarkable. As much as I will miss my afternoon jogs in Colonial Williamsburg and my Sunday walks through the beautiful William & Mary campus, I am ready and really excited to go back to the professional world and make a positive impact to our global society.