Monday, 3 September 2012

Getting the most out of induction week ?

Induction week can seem a bit of a breeze, with limited contact time and many sessions involving registration and fee payment and the inevitable queuing to achieve all this.  Interactions with other new students can appear too brief, and as experienced masters students it somehow does not feel the same as it did when you were a young, spritely (and probably quite inexperienced) 18 or 19 year old leaving home for the first time.  It is not the crazy excitement of undergraduate freshers week (although the campus is buzzing with this vibe), post graduates tend to be more focused on the concentrated period of time they  have to study for their masters degree. 

The Royal Holloway MBA programme expects students to hit the ground running, having made use of the long grass of the summer holidays to crack on with some of the extenisve pre-reading (see earlier entry in this blog).  The focus is very much on networking within the group or cohort as we like to term groups of students following the same study programme, thus activities are a blend of introductory sessions and team building exercises.

Royal Holloway Entrepreneurs is a popular with MBA candidates
The approach taken by Royal Holloway sees post graduate students expected to take full advantage of the guidance on rules and regulations and expectations that are flagged during intensive sessions.  Students are expected to fully familiarise themselves with the various guides and rules materials that are hosted on the Post Graduate Information Vault (google 'rhul pg info vault' to find this).  Teaching staff do not take kindly to questions pertaining to this basic level of information.

Sporting activities crucial
The induction week provides MBA candidates with the opportunity to assess their peers.  With around 30 in each class, the full time MBA programme is an ideal size, small enough to allow everyone to know each other, big enough to provide depth and bredth of experience and a wide range of personalities and skill sets.

MBA candidates often join one or two of the wide range of on campus student societies, noting that getting an appropriate study, relax, and sporting mix is crucial.   Physical activities to get out and about off campus are often great ways to help fast track team development. 

On the distance learning version of this programme much of the familiarisation takes place at an individual level, students get the chance at the end June/early July during the Introductory Plenary 1 session to personally meet with fellow students and faculty members.  

Six tips to prepare for an effective induction week

(1) Wear your name badge all week, and ideally into week 2 and 3.

(2) Smile and introduce yourself to as many people as you can.  Everyone around you is in the same situation and probably keen to make new friends.  Target 10 or more people each day.  One or two of these contacts may become life long friends....

(3) Practice a one sentence and one minute introduction.  Look to include a combination of useful and memorable facts about yourself.  "Hello, I'm Justin.  I'm into marketing, in fact it was my passion for visiting McDonald's to understand it's global product offering during my travels with British Airways and my MBA that encouraged my career change into university lecturing."

(4) Try to identify people who share interests with you, sports, socialising, cultural pursuits and look to set up a couple of activities before the end of the first week.

(5) Use a nickname if others find your name is hard to pronounce or tricky to remember. 

(6) Try to avoid drifting into default friendships with same sex, same culture backgrounds.  The international experience offered at Royal Holloway, University of London is a fantastic opportunity to develop deep understandings of the many different cultures represented.