Free coffee and unpredictable weather: The full-time MBA at RSM

Working in linguistics, Ukrainian Ivanna Zbrutska’s profession had taken her to various countries, companies, and industries. She decided that it was time to upgrade her skill set and an MBA seemed like a natural choice. Ivanna shared with MBAGRADSCHOOLS how she decided on the MBA at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) and how, in juggling work, study, and various case competitions, time management is key. She also shared the pleasant (free coffee!) and not-so-pleasant (Dutch weather) surprises of the MBA.

In short

Juggling work and the full-time MBA at RSM

The full-time MBA is, as the title obviously suggests, full-time, with most students quitting their jobs to pursue the program. However, Ivanna decided to continue her employment, relocate to Rotterdam, and pursue the MBA, all at once. “I’ve been holding both of my positions and still working part-time at the same time as doing the MBA,” she explains. (01:51

Ivanna admits that it has been difficult, especially “jumping from work meetings to team meetings.” However, by using digital tools she has been able to cope with the demands of work and study.  

Her decision to pursue the MBA when she did was an easy one. “There is no perfect time for pursuing an MBA but just looking at the world and the global pandemic, I believe that now is one of the best times to pursue an additional education,” she states. (02:49

And she is not alone. According to the Financial Times, a vast number of MBA providers have seen a rise in pandemic intakes. Ivanna believes that her further education will serve as a badge of honor of sorts. It shows that she immersed herself into educating herself and expanding her professional skills set during this time. 

Choosing between the US and Europe

Ivanna started to look into MBA programs after she got inspired by some American friends who had pursued the degree. She believes that “as a professional, you do need to expand your skills set every five years or so otherwise you would be outdating yourself in the job market and worldwide.” (04:16) The MBA seemed perfect to enhance her skills.

Her search started with US schools, but she soon learned that it required a longer time commitment (most US schools offer two-year full-time MBA programs). She had also already lived in the US before and wanted to explore new areas, so her decision to focus on Europe was quickly made. The question now was: which school in Europe? 

At an education fair in Kyiv, she met a representative from Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM), and they just “clicked.”

“I asked her personal opinion about my resume, what were the requirements for the school and that’s how it went,” Ivanna recalls. (05:34) For Ivanna, RSM was the best choice because of the location, the work-life balance it offered for the future, and her liking of the general society in the Netherlands. The curriculum of the RSM MBA was also in line with her vision for her career, so her bags to go to Rotterdam were soon packed.

The perks of studying the RSM MBA

Ivanna cannot stop praising the people working at RSM. “One thing that’s very important from my point of view is the staff that we daily interact with to educate us – the teachers, the professors, the full-time MBA office – all the staff that’s engaged with us.” (16:16) She adds that the professors are all top-notch and highly skilled. She feels honored to be taught by them. 

The modern facilities at RSM are a definite perk. The building is a true place of learning and the “unlimited free coffee and tea supplies…was a pleasant surprise,” Ivanna muses. (08:32) A not-so-pleasant surprise was the Dutch weather. “It changes so frequently that I’m having a hard time adjusting to wind and cold and sun. The changes that could happen even within one day here,” she laments. (07:51)

Cases, cases, cases & the importance of time management

As if Ivanna did not have enough on her plate, she decided to pursue as many case competitions as she could. She participated in three case competitions during her MBA. These cases included international companies in the Netherlands, Brazilian companies wishing to innovate, and cases from the local consulting club. 

Ivanna sees cases as a “window” into the job market. “The participation was great for the experience, for the exposure to network with…participants from other schools and to get to know the consulting side…of a company,” she explains. (10:31) It also provides potential job placement opportunities and gives you access to a diverse set of companies. Most of all it provides a perfect platform “to exercise the business knowledge and the skills set that you’ve acquired so far [on the MBA],” she concludes. (11:39)

Ivanna believes that time management is crucial in whatever you do. It’s a trait she and her fellow MBA classmates have learned to perfect during the program. Without it, “there is no way to get through this intensive one year full-time scheduled program,” she insists. (13:19) She admits that you have to make sacrifices along the way. But for Ivanna, it’s all about prioritizing to make the most of her time on the MBA. 

“No one says it’s easy but at the same time, it’s not impossible,” Ivanna concludes. (14:16) Judging by everything she has achieved while on the MBA, this certainly rings true for Ivanna.

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