Kaitlin Thompson




United States





By Kaitlin Thompson

Final reflections and advice to the Class of 2020

As I am submitting my last MBA assignment and the British summer is in full swing, here are a few reflections on the year.

A few of the key things I’ve learned this year:

  • It is all about choices – you cannot do everything during the MBA and for sure cannot do everything well, so knowing, reevaluating, and staying true to your priorities is key! I like to tell myself this is a good proxy for life. One day I hope to balance a family, career, and personal hobbies / passions and when I get frustrated to not be able to do everything at Oxford, I tell myself this is good preparation for future challenges in managing work, family, and personal sanity. I have a personality to want to do everything and committing to more than I can handle, so one thing that has kept me on track this year is each term picking three top priorities / areas of focus and when I have trouble deciding between two commitments, I go back to this list. For example, last term my three were: 1) relationships with classmates – it is our last term all together after all! 2) establishing a morning routine – a personal goal that I believe will serve me well after the MBA and 3) being outside – more walks, runs, and coffees / pints outside! I stole this idea from a wise classmate (shout out to Laura Koran!)
  • Career wise- a pivot is possible, but not easy! – I came into the MBA hoping to change industries and launch into a niche area of food & beverage (F&B). At times, I didn’t know if this was possible because it was only one year, Oxford Saïd does not have specific dedicated resources to F&B, and it was a change from my previous years in government consulting. It wasn’t easy, but through classmate connections, some luck, and pure hard work of reading a lot, researching, and reaching out to those in the industry, I am excited to have secured an internship after graduation with a top-notch F&B company. I feel grateful to have landed this great role, and know not everyone can be as fortunate. I would suggest to others making a pivot, know from the outset it will not be easy and have a plan B and C (maybe D and E) in case your first option does not work out in your optimal timeline. This may mean waiting longer to accept a job offer, going back to your previous industry and continuing to explore opportunities in your pivot area, or having to move to an a less than ideal location.
  • Its more than learning inside the classroom – yes, I have learned things from my classes, but it would be a disservice to this year to only define learning narrowly as what is learned in the classroom. I may even have learned more from my classmates, outside class activities / projects (e.g., I did a project on Oxford colleges’ food waste in Hilary term), and the time I’ve spent on personal development. It is also important to see learning as a journey. At times, I didn’t know if I was learning anything, but in the last weeks, many dots have connected and when I made myself sit down and write down what I learned, I have learned a lot! I also think I’ll have realized how much I’ve learned from this year next year when I jump back into my career / in years to come.

Occasionally throughout the year, I’ve kept a note on my phone with advice for next year’s MBA class. To the class of 2020, get ready, enjoy the ride, and I hope these thoughts are helpful!

  1. Know Oxford is a weird, but also very magical place. Brace yourself for the Oxford frustrations, but roll with it and bathe in its beauty, especially when it’s sunny—> get outside!
  2. Get to know your classmates. These are the people and memories you will remember, not long nights in the library
  3. Take time to reflect on what you are learning and where you are going
  4. It will be an insane and busy year, but remind yourself often how privileged you are to be here!
  5. Be kind to one another, so kind! The year is intense and you never know what others may be going through. Check up on others and lend a hand / ear / brain. E.g., I will never forget the classmates who helped me prepare for exams or sent love in the good and bad times
  6. Remember you are a community and need each other in the short and long term. Be generous with your time. You remember those who were not so generous with their time (e.g., unwilling to help other study), don’t be that person
  7. Enjoy the quirks and beauty of Oxford – a walk in Port Meadow, coffee in Jericho (Opera cafe is my fav), and exploration of the other colleges are a must.
  8. Don’t be an idiot or jerk on Telegram, also you’ll be ok if you take a weekend or week off of telegram. It can be a lot!
  9. Take care of yourself! Exercise, sleep, good eating, preserving friendships and relationships, and self-care are possible this year- I promise!
  10. Be patient with yourself and the MBA process. You’ll grow and be changed after this year in ways you never imagined.
  11. Win MBATs! Enjoy the experience, but help your teammates out, cheer loud, and represent Oxford well
  12. Represent the Oxford MBA well- our reputation as a school, future classes, and past classes depends on how you carry yourself. Do us proud!

And as this is my last blog post, I am signing off! Thank you for reading this year!

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