n both personal and professional life, these occasions are frequent and at such moments we should be fully aware of how to act. Whether we are deciding on the course we want to take, the school we want our children to attend, the house we want to live in, or even our next career move, the decision is usually fraught with great uncertainty and advantages/disadvantages, regardless of the choice made.
And that's exactly what happened to me 12 years ago! I had completed my bachelor's and master's degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences and, the satisfaction couldn't be greater! Not for the result itself (personally I have always seen training as a means and not as an end, something that gives us the tools that put us in a better position to win), but above all for the experience lived!
Nowadays we talk a lot about the importance of "immersive" experiences in the formation process, but the phenomenon is not new. Perhaps we are now attaching greater significance to it because the pandemic has deprived us of these experiences and, as we well know, we tend to value events or happenings more highly when they are already off our radar screen.
It had been 5 fantastic years at the University of Coimbra! A truly immersive experience, where I had the opportunity to attend a unique institution, full of history and traditions, and I had the chance to live for the first time outside my parents' "umbrella". But above all, I had discovered skills that I didn't know I had until then.
Autonomy, self-confidence, creativity and improvisation, sense of community, associativism, companionship and camaraderie, these are all skills that are far from "soft" and which I had realised I was developing. I would even say that they are essential skills to become good professionals and above all, good citizens!
This university experience had ended with the cherry on top of the cake, an international student exchange programme, where I had the privilege of being for a short period in Croatia, thus developing the very important part of global citizenship, which more and more, we should all have instilled.
But something was missing, I couldn't accept that the first experience of knowledge was coming to an end. I wanted it to be just the first stage, but at the same time I was eager to embrace the world of work body and soul.
It was then that the idea of attending an MBA came up. The reaction of those around me was almost unanimous, "an MBA is for those who are established in the world of work", "the MBA is for those who are looking for something that will give them the highlight and the skills to take the next step", "an MBA is a great investment of time and also financially". Or on the other hand, "those who attend an MBA are because they are dissatisfied with the situation in which they live and, want with the MBA, to make a radical change in their life."
Well, in my case, none of these situations occurred. I had just finished my course, I was naive and full of dreams (the dreams I still have) and I even had a few professional projects in my sights.
I listened very carefully, did a lot of research on the subject, reflected, and still decided to go ahead!
Looking back, it was an incredible two years and I would make the same decision again. I managed to combine my first job with the MBA and, I believe, it gave me a "pedigree", which I admit I still profit from today. It was intense, but it was very rewarding.
Does that mean, then, that the people who surrounded me and advised me were wrong? Not at all! On the contrary! They were right in almost everything they told me: that an MBA, for example, is much more useful when you are learning and applying at the same time. That the MBA helps us to be more precise in what we do, that it helps us to have a strategic vision that probably needs experiences to be fully applied. And, that the MBA is without a doubt, a unique opportunity to grow professionally, or on the other hand, to make a drastic change of life!
But what they forgot to tell me was that the MBA would also provide me with a different vision than the one I already had (very science-oriented, not marketing and management-oriented), that it would enable me to have a network in many different areas, that it would give me a much more complete strategic vision of the pharmaceutical world and that it would give me an even greater sense of responsibility and autonomy! They also forgot to tell me that the fact that I was used to the student rhythm would make the training process much simpler. After all, I was still used to the student environment, the classes, the exams, the projects, and so, unlike my more experienced colleagues, it was not something I would find difficult to do again (because in fact I had not even interrupted this cycle).
Making a final balance, I believe that the versatility I acquired, the ability to deal with more experienced people, the increased baggage of new skills and the skill and expertise I had to have in order not to be left behind, were very useful in everything that followed from then on. It was undoubtedly a differentiating factor.
This way, I don't think there is a right time to take an MBA. There is only a proper time that each one should understand, depending on the moment they are going through (personal and professional). So, whether it is at the beginning of a career, when we change jobs, when we have a child, or even when we want to retire, what really matters is to enjoy and appreciate this path and extract everything that can help us to succeed.