MBA programs, or B-schools, have negative connotations when it comes to maintaining personal relationships. However this is rarely the case, and most of the time it is quite the opposite. The potentials of personal and professional rewards as a Partner can be tremendous – and I am not the only one attesting to that. If you or your significant other is considering to venture into the B-school bubble, I would look at some prep steps to ensure you not only make it through the MBA experience smoothly, but happily too. Below are my 2 cents worth:
Get on the same page. To avoid a large part of the emotional roller coaster, it would be a good idea to align on the support you will be providing each other, as Partner and B-schooler. When trust between the two of you is present, there is more likelihood that you will get through this experience fruitfully. It is also recommended to reflect on the core reason(s) to pursue an MBA – and tailor the experience accordingly. In this way, your B-schooler will be able to prioritize components of the MBA program, and it won’t have to be as all-consuming as you hear.
Understand what it is that you are signing up for. By taking the time to connect with Alumni, or current students, you can learn a lot about the program, opportunities and atmosphere of the B-school. It would be a good idea to understand how past students and their partners balanced their relationship and managed their time. It could also be useful if you get a chance to visit the campus whilst the program is on to get a feel for the community. Feel free to ask all the questions you can whilst there, and try to understand current students’ experiences, as well as their transition into and out of B-school.
Engage in the partner networks the school has set up. There is a lot of work done on the back-end from the schools in terms of prep-decks for partners, such as housing guides, and awareness of the facilities partners can access. INSEAD has a website portal and Facebook groups according to your campus: Fontainebleau and Singapore, as well as a Family Group. There are also certain people in the administration dedicated to enriching the partner experience, and they will reach out to you in advance of the program. Once your B-schooler is enrolled in the MBA program, get yourself registered on the relevant school networks, so that you will be given access to resources that will make your move and set up easier.
Most times business schools are a big transition in a person’s life – especially for couples. The decision can be stressful, but it can also be an amazing opportunity that can open up many options in the years to come. In terms of the above list – please do recognize that everything here is said with the best of intentions and by no means is this an exhaustive list – it is based on my experience, experiences of the people around me, and of others in other B-schools.
For those whose significant others are considering the INSEAD MBA: hopefully you will take note of some of these suggestions, and they will help you have a prosperous year!
Mona Bijjani is a Singapore-based author, entrepreneur and 18D INSEAD MBA candidate. A true third culture kid, she was born in Saudi Arabia, grew up in Lebanon, and has since lived in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Her book, The Unofficial Guide to Business School Partner Life, is the first book to be created in this niche genre, a cross between Success Self-Help and Business Education. Tech-geek, forever student and former 16J INSEAD Partner, Mona is also a facilitator, developing several workshops and online courses, which you can find at designyourlife.thinkific.com.