London Round Two: Completing a Masters from Hult Business School in Exactly a Calendar Year
Getting to Hult
On August 24th, 2017, I moved to London for the second time in my life, to embark on my masters degree in international marketing, from Hult International Business School. Exactly a year later, On August 24th, 2018, I was able to walk up on stage in front of my peers, family and friends and accept my diploma for a masters in marketing and a growth mindset award. Here’s what it’s like to complete a masters degree in less than a calendar year.
The first time I lived in London I was 18, and after 8 months I returned back to Switzerland. This time around I was 25, a bachelor degree in Arts Administration in my pocket, which took six years and four colleges to get. And this time, I was leaving Copenhagen where I’d been based for two years. Despite getting into Copenhagen Business School, and my music career being based in Copenhagen, I made the decision to go to Hult. I grew up in an international school, and since my high school graduation, I hadn’t really found any environment reminiscent of it. I craved a diverse group of people, and so off to Hult I went.
To say I hit the ground running would be an understatement. The day I landed, I was out with my dear friend Myles and people from Hult – two of whom I would end up being in Student Association with, and one who is a close friend today.
The start date for my program was changed from September 8th to September 18th, so I had a while to get acquainted with London again. During that timeframe I was out more than I’ve probably been in the last year combined, and I travelled to Copenhagen to work on music, and home to Switzerland to inhale as much fresh mountain air as possible before commting fulltime to smoggy London.
During my bachelor degree, I was often lonely. I’ve always been introverted but I’m not epically lousy at socialising; I do know how to do it, but somehow I just never really made many friends during my bachelors. Being in London for the second time, and having it start so well, made my heart sing. I was afraid I’d have the same experience as last time, but it was a far cry from it. When module A (Hult divides its curriculum into 5 modules: A, B, C, D & E) began, it was another bout of socialising. I finally got to meet my fellow Masters in International Marketing (MIM) classmates. We were the smallest program, barely hitting 50, compared to the other programs that had to be divided into cohorts because they were so big, or filled every 75 seats in a classroom. I thoroughly enjoyed my MIM class; it was full of creative, smart, cool and kind people, and I’m positive that I’ll be staying in touch with many of them for life. With module A, everything was new, so it was a crazy module.
On a personal note, I was balancing my music career with an EP coming out during the module, then there was the booming social scene, four classes, four individual assignment and four group projects.
How it Works
Hult is heavy on group work. And no, you do not get to decide who your teammates are. For each class, you’re assigned a team and for each class there’s a group presentation, and you’ll often break off into your groups and do mini presentations. My sister went to Hult and also did the marketing program, so I knew from her that group work was emphasised. It was one of the very few cons that went onto my list when deciding between CBS and Hult. Someone once told my mum that I have two small antennas on my head, and they react to everything around me. Over the years I’ve become less sensitive, and the antennas don’t go as haywire as often, but I do need my own space to digest. Sitting in a classroom for three hours (sometimes six) with people, I am acutely aware of my surroundings, what people are doing (or what they’re not doing.) I pick up on a lot of stimuli, so when those classes were followed by intimate group meetings, I was drained.
Hult also organises a lot of guest speaker events throughout the year and during Module A I jumped on most opportunities to go listen to them. I usually really enjoyed these as you were given first hand insight into the speaker’s industry. It also provided good networking opportunities. However, I would have loved if there could have been a little more focus on the creative industries such as cosmetics, fashion and entertainment. As well as speaker events, Hult also offers a Career Development Program, which I found really useful in narrowing down my interests and giving my LinkedIN a facelift.
Module A, with all its hectic tasks and social excitement, passed by in the blink of an eye. Those 3.5 months also carved out new routines; suddenly we were all aware of how our lives would look for the rest of the year: lots of sandwiches from PRET, coffees from Nero and consolation wine & beer at The Queens Head or The Yorkshire Grey…not to mention a packed academic program, extracurricular, speaker events and career development.
Module A: Winterball, celebrating the EP release and study breaks
When module B came around it was time for the Hult Business Challenge. You can choose to do the corporate track where a company comes in and you find solutions for their real-life problem, or you can choose the entrepreneurial route. It’s one of Hult’s highlights and a valuable point in their curriculum. For lack of innovative ideas, I chose the corporate track. I landed myself in an amazing team – this was the only time during Hult we were allowed to form our own teams.
Nissan and NEVS came into talk to us about electrical cars. Our brief was to find out how to market EVs to increase sales. Although electric cars is hardly a sexy subject in my book, I have a new-found respect for the technology and the political and environmental issues surrounding it. We pitched our solutions to a panel made up of Nissan and NEVS employees who then decided along with our advisor, who would win. I’m proud to say our team won the corporate challenge. It felt good after spending hours upon hours in group meetings, conducting real time research and collaborating so intensely. However, there was no time to celebrate after pitching, as the very next day was the last day of Module B, and
I had to get up early to prepare 48 mini jackfruit tortillas for next days’ pitch. This particular class was about introducing a new food or beverage into a new market – my group chose to introduce Jackfruit snacks into German cinemas…as you can see, you’ll explore a diverse range of topics while at Hult, which is what makes the curriculum exciting.
Outside of the Hult Business Challenge and classes, there were other tasks. I had been elected as one of the student representative for the Hult Student Association (HSA) from MIM. Although selection had taken place in module A, HSA only really went into full gear in module B. I fully cherished being in HSA. Though it was unorganised at times and some people’s participation was questionable, I loved integrating into the Hult community. Not only did I get to know people from other cohorts, but I got to grow close to several staff members. HSA was one of my favourite parts of being at Hult and I genuinely miss my fellow HSA’ers. Outside of school there was then also my music.
Admittedly, my antennas started going haywire and my anxiety was triggered. I ended up having to go home for a few days to blow off steam. Here, student services, the academic team and my fellow classmates were incredibly supportive, giving me the time I needed to find my balance. When I chose Hult, I also chose it because it seemed like a very supportive school that takes care of the individual. For me, that’s incredibly important. I don’t just want to be a number, and swiped aside if I can’t keep up. The Hult community helped me get to graduation. I wasn’t abandoned or deemed a weak link for my struggles.
By module C I was well and truly tired of Pret sandwiches. During module C, I totally burnt out. If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll remember the post “I didn’t make it on the boat” which chronicled what happened. Once more I was showed an abundance of support from faculty and classmates. Despite the burnout, a lot of exciting things happened during module C. I was invited with to participate in Pitch @ Palace, an initiative set up by His Royal Highness Prince Andrew. Entrepreneurs from around the Common Wealth come to pitch their ideas. First some students and I were invited to the Bootcamp which took place at Facebook Headquarters in London. It was actually during their security breach scandal with Cambridge Analytica, so it was a slightly awkward atmosphere. The actual event took place at St. James’ Palace. The projects spanned from environmental initiatives, education, equality and medical initiatives. To end off Module C, there was a TedX event, organised by students at Hult. The venue was spectacular, taking place on the 45th floor of the “cheese grater” building. The theme was a “shift in mindset”. Eleven speakers cracked their brains open for us and let us into their thoughts as they presented their ideas in line with the theme.
Pitch @ Palace
Module D and E were much more relaxed. These were the electives modules, and many students decided to rotate. For the first time, the London campus wasn’t buzzing with the chatter of students; suddenly time seemed to slow down a little. I missed my friends who rotated and the adrenalin of a fast-paced environment, but my antennas were thankful. It was as if I was able to get to know other students better, now that our counterparts had jetted off to other campuses. It was a strangely intimate experience. I decided not to rotate as I’ve spent the past five years moving around a lot and it would have made it difficult with my music, being too far away. During module D my single "August" was released. Thanks to so many classes on branding and marketing, I was able to make a real dent with the single; applying everything I had learnt along the way in class. Hult had also provided me with the opportunity to meet people to collaborate with. The boyfriend of one of my good Hult friends, shot the music video for "August" and one of my other Hult friends shot the photos for me. "August" has to date been my most popular song, and I can't help but feel that without my Hult experience and everyone I met during it, it wouldn't have done as well.
Mod D friends and working on my single "August"
By module E, I was well and truly going through the motions on low gear. My tank of energy had been used up and I was tired. I feel bad that the professors I had, met me in this module, because I really wasn’t a star student. During module E, I had my first and only weekend class: 09:00-17:00 (not including group work and individual assignments) Friday – Monday. I can’t say I recommend this type of learning, it just felt too intense. That said, the class I took was on distribution channels, and I found it useful for the entrepreneurial ideas I want to crack on with.
To Sum It Up
After a year, my mind, waistline and social circle grew. At times it felt a lot like treading deep water. Sometimes the water would cover your mouth and nose, and as you saw it happen, you’d take a deep breath and battle your way to the surface. Once there, you would take a deep breath and repeat the step. Attending a university, is not only about classes, notes and grades. There are so many elements that make up the journey. I often marvelled at my luck of ending up doing my masters at Hult in 2017/18 because the faculty and students who were there that year, were nothing short of amazing. Of course you have your ups and down with people, especially when you’re working so closely in group projects. Life is not just a string of daisies neatly hanging for you to pick. There were both students and teachers that I did not get along with but it’s part of the learning process. You learn to choose your battles, when to speak up and when to just let the issues slide off like water on a duck’s feathers…and there was no dilemma that couldn’t be sorted with a pint or glass of wine at The Queen’s Head or Yorkshire Grey.
My biggest academic takeaways came from my professors and peers. A professor in module A, told us the only thing certain in life is “death and taxes”. Another professor stressed often “just do it”. Basically, get off your ass, stop talking about what you’re going to do, and just go do it. My classmates often blew me away with their knowledge and experience. They have an eye for detail and performance that I can only hope to match. Last but not least, humans are rarely rational – we are governed by our emotion, hence, market to someone’s emotional needs and wants.
While I learnt tons about marketing, I also learnt a lot about myself. I’m never going to want to work a desk job – I need to be up and moving and using my creative skills. I’ll probably never work for a big corporation because I like the smaller more intimate settings. I am better at cracking on with work on my own, than I am sitting with a lot of people, and I don’t make any apologies for that. Above all, I learnt that there is room for everyone, for every personality, and that the ability to collaborate with individuals different from you, is an important lesson to learn. Yes, I’d done that all throughout international school, but not in such an adult setting. You’ll have people who love the program, people who hate it, people who love one professor, others who are very critical. At times you’ll want to tear your hair out, but for the most part you’ll feel an abundance of love towards your classmates, who are snowballing down the same path as you. And last but not least, you make your own opportunities – dare to venture into the unknown, even if the path steers far away from what others are doing. Trust yourself.
To my family and friends outside of Hult: thank you for enduring me. To my Hult friends and peers: I am incredibly proud to have met you and to have graduated alongside you.