Laura White




United States





By Laura White

5 Habits to Create Saïd Serendipity

Twinkling Christmas lights and holiday cheer all around have prompted me to think about my most magical moments at Oxford so far. While these moments were easy to identify, it surprised me that the most serendipitous opportunities that I encountered were not a part of my classes, clubs, or regularly scheduled activities.

Our MBA schedules are so packed, so how can we count on surprising good things happening if they are not scheduled onto our calendars? I think the answer lies in adopting the following 5 habits that invite “Oxford Saïd Serendipity” into our lives:

1. Do (at least some of) your work in the common room. While the Oxford Saïd common room isn’t the best place to do work that involves high levels of concentration, I’ve had so many positive chance interactions while sitting at one of the high tables and answering email. The common room is truly the only place to see the whole class, and sitting there alone allows you to be open to encounters with people whom you normally don’t interact. For example, I recently had a deep conversation with a classmate whom I hardly see but actually has very similar social impact goals to me. He agreed to provide some crucial help on the social enterprise I am prototyping. 

2. Invite classmates you don’t really know for dinner. During my first week at the Oxford MBA, I invited three other classmates I just met back to my apartment for veggie sandwiches. Getting out of the big crowd and taking the time to talk with each other over a shared meal solidified some of the strongest relationships I’ve had here.  I’m so glad I didn’t let my shy nature get the better of me, and that I put myself out there and connected with these friends.

3. Be open to attending different events. Although this involved a little bit of scheduling, one of my best memories of Oxford so far was going to the Oxford Hackathon. I am by no means an experienced programmer, but I have an interest in it and went out on a limb to attend. I am so glad I overcame my fear of not knowing anyone and of feeling inexperienced, because I made some helpful professional contacts and spent some quality time with an MBA friend. 

4. Hang out at the Foundry. The Foundry is a great place to share ideas with people from all over the university. As the university-wide hub for entrepreneurship, it is an especially useful place to spend time if you want to start a business. One time I was there, I was talking with my friend about my social enterprise idea.  A university researcher overheard me, came over and introduced herself, and offered some very useful assistance!

5. Be open about your dreams. One of the best choices I made was to tell as many people as possible about my goals for after the MBA. The MBA class and wider Oxford Saïd community is incredibly generous, and I have had countless people make useful introductions, provide insightful feedback, and give incredible help for the social enterprise I’m starting.

Engaging in these five habits can be nerve-wracking at times, but it has made all the difference for my MBA experience.

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