What it’s like to study an MBA during a pandemic

COVID-19 has not only affected the way that we study, but also the job market that students will enter after graduation. Let’s look at how Esade responded to these recent changes.

In short

Doing an MBA at Esade in the time of coronavirus

Changes in the classroom

In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, universities were forced to make a rapid shift to online classes. At some schools this initial change led to protests and even petitions to refund tuition fees, with students complaining about the reduced quality of online versus in-person teaching. However, over time it seems that schools have ironed out these issues – and in some cases even improved their offering.

Esade was one of the quickest to move its classes online, doing so within just two days of the country’s first lockdown measures. They have taken COVID-19 as an opportunity to adjust their MBA program, introducing a number of new initiatives such as immersive online classes, more course electives and more flexibility with the duration of the program.

Jan Hohberger is the MBA Programme Director at Esade. He believes that Esade has been able to adapt to the move online because of the school’s commitment to technology. “Technology is central to what we do at Esade” he explains. “These capabilities and the associated mindsets are paramount to be successful in this environment.”

“Even further, they have helped us to maximize the students’ experience and also the value our students obtain from the Esade MBA.” (00:11

New initiatives brought about by COVID-19

One specific way in which Esade is adding to their MBA offering is through a brand new career immersion program. It gives students the opportunity to meet potential recruiters prior to the start of their MBA. Nicole Van Der Merwe, who is part of the full time MBA Class of 2022, explains the benefits of the program.

“One of the key aspects of these career days is that you get the opportunity to listen to the host company talking about the opportunities that they have. It is a balance between what is actually on offer versus you getting close and comfortable, and getting the opportunity to meet those recruiters and ask questions that you may have.” (01:40)

Tilmann Schneider is also part of the MBA Class of 2022. He believes that the chance to speak directly with employers is particularly useful for students who are still unsure about their post-MBA career path.

“They are really useful to get an idea of the different companies and of the different industries” he says. “It gives me the room to ask questions and to get a better understanding of what it is out there and what I can do after my MBA.” (02:02)

Adding value to your MBA

Beyond the classroom, business schools are also having to adapt to new trends in the job market. Anna Wlodek, the MBA Lead at Esade’s career center, outlines the new landscape.

“We’ve seen sectorial, functional as well as regional shifts in recruitment” says Anna. “New opportunities arose in sectors such as health care, pharma or technology, while in other industries, companies had to review their recruitment processes.” (00:31)

And it’s not just the sector or location of post-MBA careers that is changing – it is the method of recruitment itself. As with teaching, it’s increasingly going online. “Recruitment timelines have been modified as well as the selection processes, which have now become digital” adds Anna. (00:45)

For students who have grown increasingly comfortable with remote learning, they are well prepared for this new digital approach to recruitment.

It could be said that an MBA is all about adding value – to your academic skills, to your career prospects, to your personal brand. And the same applies to the programs themselves. By recognising COVID-19 as an opportunity to add value to MBA programs, both business schools and students are starting to see the benefits.

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