Transiting into life as a Part-time MBA

Luke Goh explains his decision to take up a part-time MBA and shares tips on transitioning into life as an MBA candidate.

This year’s part-time MBA programme recorded one of the largest student intakes, both in student population and proportion in relation with full time intake, and I am proud be part of this history making cohort. With the economy making incremental recovery since the last recession in 2008, it is no surprise that many people – like myself, have decided to hold onto our jobs while pursuing our MBA dream. In fact I am glad that at NUS MBA programme, we have the liberty to choose between doing a Part-time and a Full-time programme. It offers potential candidates the opportunity to tailor make the programme to the amount of time they can commitment.

However, the decision between a Part-time and a Full-time programme is not one without careful considerations. After all, most of us would probably be only doing our MBA once in our lifetime, thus want to maximise our investment. Prior to my decision to take up the Part-time MBA offer at NUS, I have thought of several implications on doing the MBA as a Part-time student. I would often question myself on things I would miss out on if I were to pursue the Part-time track. Am I able to juggle my work commitment, social life and student life all at the same time? Would I lose out on the chance to network with other students?

Apparently, these issues can be solved if priorities are set right and the help of the art of good time management.

From my personal experience as a Part-time MBA student, I think that it is especially important to communicate with your supervising managers about your plan on pursuing a MBA programme early. This is especially important as you might not want to fall into the situation where the lack of communication would result in the misinterpretation on your commitment to your company. Furthermore, by communicating early, it also allow yourself to have sufficient time to negotiate your work arrangements – should you need to leave work early to attend class or if you have to travel often for work.

Besides work, juggling your social life well is equally vital. After all, it is already challenging enough to achieve a work-life balance in a competitive country like Singapore, and now to add school into the equation would simply complicate matters. Surely, to say juggling so many items on your plate is not tough would be a lie, especially for young people at a dating lifestage. To sacrifice time in the evenings or weekends that were previously reserved for dates would be a big change for yourself and your partner. While I believe that good communication would hold a vital role in a strong relationship, good time management and setting priorities can also help ease any unnecessary stress. Well, at least that has worked for me. I have been sitting in the MBA lounge – yes we do have a nice MBA lounge in the business school where everyone can socialise, for the entire Saturday morning completing my tutorials, group discussion and this blog, but I will still go with my date for a movie after I have blogging here.

Prior to joining the MBA programme, I would have believed I was told, Part-time MBA students would miss out on the chance to make new network and friends. However, I would like to clarify from my personal experience that the statement holds little truth. Being a part time student does not handicap one’s chance to network and socialise with fellow MBA students, be it Part-time or Full-time students. In my short duration in the NUS MBA, one thing I am sure is that NUS MBA office has certainly organised several events and activities that provides the opportunities for students, and even Alumni to come together to network and socialise. On top of that, students ourselves do hold informal sporting activities, events and parties that provide good chance to make new friends, and connecting with old ones. As I write, I have just came across a wall post on Facebook for the recruitment of football enthusiast to join an informal NUS MBA football team, and an email sent by the MBA office for an invite to an Oktoberfest event, the possibility for Part-time MBA students to network is simply endless. The MBA programme is not only about hitting the books, so leave your books behind and just join in the fun. I certainly have done so, and have made many friends from both the Part-time and Full-time programme.

Being a Part-time MBA student can be tough, but I am constantly reminding myself to enjoy every moment while doing the MBA programme. That is because success will only be sweet if there is something worth looking back at end the end of the journey.

Luke Goh (Singaporean) 
Part-Time MBA Student, Class of 2015