Duke Global Executive MBA Student Blog
Lessons I’ve Learned as an International Student
I’ve always wanted to push my limits and stretch my boundaries while staying true to my values. Fuqua turned out to be a perfect platform for me to do just that
First, A Bit About Me
Hello prospective Fuqua students! I’m Meena Selvarengaraju, and I’m in the midst of my third term as part of the Global Executive MBA (GEMBA) Class of 2019. I am a conservative Indian living in Singapore, and I’ve always wanted to push my limits and stretch my boundaries while staying true to my values. Fuqua turned out to be a perfect platform for me to do just that.
My Fuqua Experience
Each of the experiences that I’ve had with Fuqua—from the admissions process to ice breakers with my classmates to team building exercises to rigorous classroom sessions (after many years of not being in school)—have been unforgettable. Thus far, this experience has broken my misconception of “how am I going to get along and survive in an American school?”
Even in my third term, the program stays fresh, as each residency provides a unique experience. We’re immersed in a new country, meet highly inspiring professors, engage with our classmates in new ways, embark on cultural immersion programs, and so much more. And, as a big bonus, you’ll gain new friends who support and treasure each other!
Advice for International Students
As an international student entering into the program, here are a few things to keep in mind to make the most of your experience:
- Network with your classmates from different nations to learn more about their working culture. When you’re on a learning team, you’re not only figuring out how to answer questions on your latest homework assignment, you’re also figuring out how to work with one another. As an example, I found that my classmates from the U.S. would spend quality time planning, breaking down tasks, and prioritizing the work, which was very effective in completing the assignments and achieving a balance between work and school.
- Fuqua’s syllabi are well structured, based on the real-world, holistic, and fulfilling—but also challenging. For instance, the economics and decision models courses were totally new to me, and I was very keen to dive into those subjects as they would be helpful as my career progresses. The concepts of those subjects were introduced during our pre-residency distance period. Then we spent more time on real market and business scenarios of various companies during the residency, which helped strengthen my understanding of the concepts. My initial challenge was to understand the assignments, as most of them were related to U.S. markets and companies. However, I overcame that with help from my cohort.
- Take advantage of the travel. I’ve really enjoyed visiting parts of the globe I’ve never been to—but the benefit of traveling to the residencies is much more than that. Throughout the GEMBA program, you’re able to meet a variety of contacts through the speaker series and corporate visits. Because of this, I am able to collect information about contacts, differentiators, company cultures, business models, and challenges which will be valuable references when I set up my NGO in India.
Best of luck as you embark on your own GEMBA adventure!