Student Association President Callan Carvey on how the LBS community has come together in times of crisis

As the coronavirus pandemic forces us to rethink the way we learn and socialise, Student Association President Callan Carvey MBA2020 explains how the crisis has brought the best out in the LBS community – and what the Student Association is doing to support the School’s 2,500 students.  

In these uncertain times when students are naturally anxious, the School’s clubs have been incredible in keeping the social side of LBS alive. Almost instantly, they began organising events and activities, helping keep the community alive and engaged. The Student Association worked to get all clubs set up on Zoom Pro so students didn’t have to lose those vital face-to-face experiences. The Italian Club recently hosted a virtual cooking class, the Wine Experience Club are organising wine tastings, and the Debate & Public Speaking Club are running regular pub quizzes. Even clubs that might seem like they’d only work in-person are doing amazing things – lots of sports and athletics clubs are running virtual training and exercise classes.

The shift from physical to digital has blurred the lines between programmes and clubs – something we were always trying to achieve at the Student Association. Ordinarily, students would only attend an event or activity with a friend. Now, we’re seeing lots of new people join in where they may not have done so before.

Adjusting to the current situation has meant embracing how global London Business School really is. With students scattered around the world, connecting with people can be challenging – but the play-back option for lectures is great and means you can learn regardless of location and time zone. The School and the SA have quickly adapted their offerings to this new reality.

The shift from face-to-face to virtual lectures has led to an increased appetite for learning. We’ve seen a surge in the number of students wanting to access extra classes, despite having already completed the requirements for their programme. In response, the School has opened up over 1,000 seats on the most popular electives. The resounding feedback we’re getting from students is that they want to take every opportunity to expand their knowledge – whether it counts towards their credit or not.

Alumni can help students with practical career advice – something that is arguably now more important than ever before. Whether it’s by providing help with résumés and cover letters or giving career advice on specific sectors, this will help students who are about to embark on careers in a very different world to the one we were living in before the pandemic. The unknown creates a lot of anxiety, so having alumni to use for sounding boards is key for students at this difficult time. For those interested in getting involved, alumni can update their volunteering preferences in LBS Hub. Simply knowing alumni are there for us means so much. 

If alumni have experienced similarly complex times, we would love to hear from you. The team are looking for case studies from the 2001 and 2008 crises – these insights will then be shared with students to help them navigate the challenges ahead. Email if you think you can help.

With many LBS students returning to their home countries, it’s brilliant that there are so many alumni clubs in cities across the world. Now is a great time for students to make new connections, and improve and expand their global networks. The SA continues to encourage students to join the regional alumni clubs via LBS Hub and it’s great to see the clubs offering virtual ‘welcome back’ events to new graduates.

As Student Association President, this situation has taught me to be transparent and forthcoming in times of crisis. When you’re sharing updates, you won’t always have all the answers – and that’s okay. As long as you’re working on solutions, people tend to be very understanding. I’ve also seen the tremendous upside to the situation, with people who raise concerns then being willing to be part of the solution.

LBS students have responded brilliantly to the pandemic, and the LBS COVID-19 Volunteer Group is a fantastic example of this. More than 150 students have come together to have a positive impact on the communities around us. Open to all members of our community, the initiative encourages people to come forward with creative ways of making a difference. There are already numerous volunteering opportunities, from offering services to NHS workers to ‘adopting’ a grandparent. The group is extremely active, with regular presentations, email blasts and WhatsApp updates where new ideas and projects are shared.

Students are spreading positivity in new and exciting ways all the time. There are several student-led email threads sharing everything from poetry and book recommendations to quarantine kitchen recipes. At the Student Association, we’re hosting a ’Monday motivation’ series on our Instagram channel to share positive stories from students in the LBS community. In our Wednesday bulletin, we also post tips for engaging on Zoom and how to make the most of this time alone. We’re committed to ensuring the Student Association continues to have a positive impact on students during this difficult time. 

Find out the latest from the Student Association here.

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