Ask any international student attending a U.S.-based MBA program in 2020 and they will tell you it has not been an easy year. In fact, I don’t think it’s been an easy year for anyone, anywhere (I hope you are keeping safe and well!).
I am an MBA student in the Yale SOM Class of 2022 who moved back to my hometown of Bali, Indonesia before the pandemic struck and have been stuck here ever since. As I sip on a fresh coconut while watching the sun get swallowed by the Indian ocean, I am going to try to address what it has been like to attend Yale’s MBA program remotely from the other side of the world, all while figuring out how to cross the U.S. border in the middle of a pandemic and an election year. Please feel free to reach out to me if you are interested in applying to Yale SOM, travelling to Bali, or have thoughts on what I’ve written.
The stronger your community, the stronger you are
Did I mention a 13-hour time difference? The support and energy that came from my learning team (shout out members of 3B), the Blue cohort, and world-class professors has been essential in helping me stay engaged even during the odd all-nighter. All through Zoom, I have met some amazing members of the Classes of 22 and 21—including, but not limited to, an ex-trivia host, an opera singer, a paintball world champion, and a former political operative from India. As I’m sure many of you know this from your professional experiences in the past year, it ultimately all hinges on the effort you put into connecting virtually. Yes, it is more difficult to build relationships and connections in a virtual environment but don’t let that stop you. I have gained immensely from knowing that on the other side of my beat-up laptop screen is a community rooting for me and will be there when I cross the border.
Ride the wave
Over the course of the spring, I had my student visa appointment with the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta rescheduled four times due to the rise of COVID cases in Indonesia. There were also numerous conversations on how to navigate the changing immigration policies proposed by the Trump administration. The team at Yale and the Office of International Students & Scholars were helpful guides in these uncertain times and for that I am extremely grateful.
Nevertheless, I had to face the reality that I would not be able to meet my classmates till spring 2021—if not later. Still, I was in good company. I watched Kelly Slater, the 11-time world championship surfer and all-time great, hide out in Bali and carve up seven-foot waves at my local beach. Watching him surf taught me that when life pulls you up in a big gruesome wave, instead of hoping and praying you don’t get washed out, do your best to stand up and ride it—it could just end up being the experience of a lifetime. In between virtual classes and recruitment events, I got to surf, meet some amazingly creative people, and do some pro bono consulting for a local business. My time here has substantially shifted my perspective on my career path and now I’m heading to New Haven with a better sense of what I hope to gain from the MBA.
Look for purpose
I don’t think there has been a better time to do an MBA, especially one at Yale. Coming out of this pandemic, communities across the world are recognizing the importance of good leadership. Moreover, we have seen new leaders emerge to serve every level of business and society to find a solution to a collective problem. Moving forward, we are going to need a lot more of them.
You might argue that a great leader doesn’t require an MBA and I would agree. However, I would like to add that from personal experience, I strongly believe the life lessons, relationships, and opportunities that comes from an MBA at Yale can go a long way in helping you achieve the change you want to see in the world. If you feel that Yale is part of your journey to becoming a leader for business and society, please feel free to reach out to me, our amazing student ambassadors, or the admissions team. We’re rooting for you to join us in New Haven, and now more than ever, would love to help you succeed in making a positive change in the world.