Sarel Migael van Baalen




South Africa





By Sarel Migael van Baalen

Don’t blink

After what seemed to be just four weeks, four months of the Oxford MBA have flown by.

With this blog post, I offer advice to the incoming cohort on how to make the most of their time at Oxford: how to hit the ground running, and do so fearlessly.

The Oxford MBA is a fast-paced programme, overloaded with incredible opportunities to gain knowledge, develop new skills, get fresh perspectives, expand your professional network, land your dream job, and make life-long friends. These opportunities stretch from the business school to the larger university community, from your cohort to a worldwide alumni network, from 6:00am to midnight.

On any given day in Oxford, you will have to make trade-offs: Design-thinking workshop hosted by IBM at the Oxford Foundry vs. listening to Calvin Klein at the world-famous Oxford Union vs. supporting the Oxford Blues rugby team against Cambridge at Twickenham. Whatever the trade-off, you are bound to have an enriching experience. I suggest you hit the ground running, and make the most of these opportunities from day one.

So, don’t blink. You can’t afford to.

Here’s a shortlist of practical ways you can arrive prepared at Oxford:

  • familiarise yourself with the MBA curriculum,
  • research the topics of core and electives modules,
  • start reading the Financial Times,
  • connect with fellow admitted candidates,
  • reach out to current students,
  • clearly define your goals for the year,
  • proactively expand your professional network,
  • know your dream job and the pathway to get it, and
  • follow relevant Oxford social channels.

My second piece of advice is to follow the first piece of advice fearlessly because you have been weighed, measured and found worthy. You have been selected from a worldwide pool of impressive applicants to join the Oxford MBA class of 2021. Your academic, professional and personal achievements along with your values and vision for impact through business have proved that you are a good fit for, and belong at, Saïd Business School.

As long as you stay committed, you are guaranteed a couple of things. You will be challenged academically, but you will not fail a module. It may take some time, but you will make life-long friends. You may be rejected at first, but you will land your dream job. You may not realise it, but you will be a changed person after just one month. You may still be looking for the right opportunity, but you will be inspired to make a difference in the world.

So, don’t blink. There’s no need to.

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