Overwhelmed, Overstimulated and Over the Moon: Reflections and Learnings from Year One of my MBA

By Shivani Rajagopal, MBA2025

A few days ago, I attended the end-of-year celebration for the MBA2025 cohort, and it’s hard to believe that I am nearing the end of the first year of my MBA. In this one year, I have been overwhelmed, overstimulated, and over the moon. It’s a sentiment I’m certain most of my peers share.

Be prepared to be surprised!

I knew early on in my career that I wanted to do an MBA, and I have several friends in my circle who had done their MBA at various schools around the world. Having seen, and to some extent, lived through some of their experiences, I was certain that I knew what to expect from LBS. I was very, very wrong. I now know that no amount of second-hand knowledge and information could have prepared me for this amazing journey.

Get to know your stream and your study group!

Someone once told me that MBAs are a bunch of extroverts on steroids, and boy, were they spot on! The first two months were packed with socializing and networking, all while juggling classroom assignments and homework. Fortunately, I ended up with some of the kindest, most humble, and smart people in Stream B. Quick hellos and goodbyes turned into coffees, dinners, and trips to Winter Wonderland. When you bring together six people from different corners of the world to work on assignments and projects, you might expect some friction. However, I lucked out with my study group – we experienced barely any of that. I met the smiley-est people in my group, always willing to make even the stressful times enjoyable. I thoroughly enjoyed my Autumn and Spring terms with my stream, not realizing how quickly the time would fly. It was only when Professor Daniel Effron took our picture in our last Science of People Organisation class (the best class and professor, in my humble opinion) – our final ever class as Stream B – I realized how much I would miss the comfort of seeing these beautiful faces in every day. Walking into class everyday felt like a warm hug. Stream B, you truly were the best.

New learnings!

As an active ally, I knew I wanted to get involved with the Out In Business Club (OiB). Amidst all the buzz in the first few weeks, I joined the club to lead the careers wing, and I was welcomed with wide, open arms. Through this club, I’ve met some of the most fun and happiest people from around the world and learned so much from the queer student cohort at LBS. I recall an instance from the Speak Out week where my classmate, Abe Fangman MBA2025, shared his coming-out story. For many, it was the first time hearing a first-person account of coming out, and I assure you there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. Abe’s story left a significant impact on me. Learning about such experiences and working with the club to make our environment more inclusive and kinder has been beautiful and heartwarming. Attending the EUROUT conference, I could only imagine the blood, sweat and tears that might have gone into putting up such an amazing conference which brought together so many amazing individuals and allies from across Europe perfectly culminating in the EUROUT Ball at The Great Hall at Lincoln’s Inn. The steep learnings from OiB over a short period motivated me to work towards launching OiB Accelerate, LBS’ first ever mentorship programme for LGBTQ students. With unwavering support from the OiB presidents, we made it happen. OiB continues to be one of the most fun clubs on campus, with insane levels of engagement, and I can’t wait to keep contributing.

Leverage your peers!

It comes as no surprise that consulting roles in the MBA are a hot commodity and like many in my cohort, I aimed to pivot into strategy consulting. I knew it was going to be highly competitive, with so many of us vying for those very few spots. However, it was comforting knowing that we were all going through this journey together. I recall several discussions with my classmates about the usefulness (or uselessness) of various events and networking gatherings. Soon, we were all chasing after each other, peer leaders from MBA2024, and the Career Center for CV and cover letter reviews. A few weeks later began the chatter of interview shortlists followed by many, many hours of case prep. I chose to stay back in London during the winter break for my interview preparation, initially regretting the cold, gray December.  However, I quickly realized I had a mountain of prep work ahead of me. As someone who procrastinated starting my preparation at this time was key and I cannot be more grateful for all the help that I received from my peers (shout out to my case partners) and the peer leaders of MBA2024. The advice and guidance that I received through the peer leader programme was instrumental, and I quickly realized its value within 1-2 sessions. Interview season was as stressful as it gets, but once again, it was comforting knowing that we were all going through this journey together. It was bittersweet at the end – some made it, but many didn’t. But through all of this I learnt that while mentality and resilience was key, nothing matched up to the support of my peers.

Relax and rewind!

Through all of this, it was imperative to find ways to ground myself. I was pleasantly surprised with the activities organised by the Student Wellbeing Services and made sure to take advantage of the numerous sessions. I’ve never been one to meditate, but the sound bath sessions were the most calming hours of my life. Switching gears, I sweated it out and sang along to some banger tunes in 40-minute spin sessions at SydCycle (courtesy of the ever-enthusiastic Sydney Crombie, MBA2025). This has become a must-do for me. Sundowners have been another amazing way to unwind. Seeing my LBS cohort and the broader community come together every fortnight to connect and reconnect is something I appreciate more and more as time goes by.

The best party at LBS!

Chatter about Tattoo began towards the end of spring term. I heard alums and seniors says it’s the best party on campus, the best memories from LBS etc. I still did not know what to expect from Tattoo when over 1000+ tickets sold out in under 5 minutes, but I knew I wanted to be a part of this moment. I joined the team to help organize Tattoo 2024 and was in awe of the effort that went into planning this amazing event. Hundreds of hours of effort by an incredible team culminated in one of my best days at LBS. The silent disco, talent show, band performances, arcade games – it was a time for us to let our hair down and reconnect with the core of LBS: Tattoo beautifully signified the melting pot of LBS’s diversity and cultures, with students proudly serving food and drinks from their home countries and dancing to their songs. The light show on our beautiful Sussex building was a fitting end to an amazing night (well, it was the after-party, but who remembers that?).

Bringing home the cup!

For quite some time, our amazing incoming SA president, Zhen Ren Teo MBA2025, had been mobilizing 260 of us and amping us to compete in the MBA Tournament (MBAT) in HEC Paris. LBS hadn’t won the MBAT cup in 12 years so the stakes were high. What did I learn? We’re competitive and we’re amazing! Watching my peers compete in a myriad of sports (including cultural competitions, e-sports and board games) ranging from football to rugby to cricket to dance to poker, was a treat to the eyes and a real testament of the talented individuals that LBS attracts. For many, it was a chance to showcase their childhood passion and talent. And for some (like me), it was a chance to partake in activities and sports they’d never experienced. Participating was exciting but cheering for my peers was whole other exhilarating experience.  We all had one goal: become MBAT champions again, and guess what? We did! The thrilling 72 hours concluded in sweet victory for our school, something that I hope we continue for years to come!

It’s a great time to be a globetrotter!

LBS is as international as it gets, and nothing beats the location. I deprioritized travel for the first half of my first year even though I saw almost all my peers use every weekend to explore a new destination. First, I found it hard to justify the expenses, then I used recruitment and class schedules as an excuse to tell myself I don’t have time to travel. But recently, I’ve made a more active effort to travel. Now, I realize London’s central location is unbeatable. If your priorities and constraints allow, travel is something you shouldn’t neglect at LBS. When else will you have the opportunity to visit places with classmates from those countries as your local tour guides? Make the most of this location, network, and opportunities!

I’ll be honest – I didn’t think I was having the best time in the first few weeks of my journey. But I soon realized that you get what you put in. The more I consciously invested myself in my experiences and relationships, the more I enjoyed myself. An MBA experience is unique to every individual and can be vastly different from peers from your own cohort, your own culture, your own city. Try not to fall into the trap of comparing your journey to others. With LBS, I have been bestowed with an environment that has taught me to take conscious steps out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself. You’d be surprised of what you are capable of!

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