A Masters Degree is valuable for many reasons. Here at AIM, students gain and develop essential skills, expand their knowledge, and learn from exceptional faculty that enable them to grow rapidly in their chosen field after graduation.
Even with the intense curriculum, sleepless nights, and endless parties, there’s one thing that we continue to treasure most, forming life long connections here at AIM. Whether it’s forming life long friendships, “relationships” (hihi), or business partners, building and expanding your network here at AIM is truly something else.
December 2017 saw many students graduating from different programs. Let’s take a look at what our seniors CJ De los Santos (MBA 2017), Crystal Anievas (MDM 2017) Michael Tobias (a.k.a Toby) (MIB 2017) and Vladimir Cardenas (EMBA 2017) have to say about their AIM experience and the network they have formed here.
Gil: Give a short description about AIM’s community.
CJ: Studies Hard, Parties Harder
Crystal: It really feels like a small neighborhood (especially if you live in the dorm). There are go-to places if you need ‘home-cooked’ food, classmates’ host slumber parties to celebrate a tough week, Professors welcome your candid opinions and the school staffs are our guardians!
Toby: The AIM community brings together an ever-surprising mixture of people. I met people from different industries such as chemical engineering, food tech, architecture, cosmetics, and entertainment. Variety is truly the spice of life in the AIM community.
Vlad: AIM is truly a world class business school. It’s students are curious. It’s faculty enable both academic and practical learning. It’s staff are proactive and service oriented. Moreover, the institute maintains a true balance between work and play.
Gil: What do you have to say about the relationships you’ve formed here?
CJ: Special and long-lasting. Even if I only had 16 months here, the long nights of studying before the exam, difficult subjects and WACs, numerous presentations, and memorable events made the relationships that much more special.
Crystal: The relationships I’ve formed at AIM feel more intimate than those I’ve formed in college. Maybe it’s the size of the community. Perhaps it has to do with living in campus. Maybe it’s because I have more life experiences now that I can share with the community.
Toby: I don’t know if it’s because of the crazy workload, but the relationships I have formed are strong and open to each other. Probably because we were always bonding over stress, but we never forgot to socialize.
Vlad: Most of us start business education with different goals: ambition, learning, and just plain not having anything better to do. However, we ended up getting more than we hoped for. The friendships that I have developed in AIM transcends mere business relationships. I have made life long friends and I am very thankful for that.
Gil: Tell us a memorable moment that you’ve shared with someone or with a group of people in AIM.
CJ: I remember having an inhuman (drinking) session + heart to heart talk with my Learning Team to end the term 1. We shared personal reflections, constructive feedback & criticism, and expectations moving forward. It was a very strong bonding moment for our team.
Crystal: There are too many! It was my first time to go shooting (twice), had countless beers along the Mekong during our IFR (International Field Review). Ran a New York marathon along with the MIB and MBA boys for the UN BIC (United Nations Breakthrough Innovation Challenge). But the little day-to-day moments are the ones that touch the heart – like my LT keeping watch with mom and dad while I underwent a surgery, and the entire class volting in to pull off the first-ever MDM Hackathon
Toby: One of the most memorable experience was when my LT and I could finally hang out in Poblacion for the first time. What made it memorable was how we looked back at how much changed over the year.
Vlad: From late night review sessions over beers to beach escapades all around the country, there are countless “bonding” moments that I have shared with my classmates. That being said, the most memorable of these for me was when my learning team embarked on our walkabout project. We taught design thinking to public high school students and allowed them to come up with solutions to social problems that affect them and their communities. Due to the attention that the program received from the media, corporate sponsors, and NGO’s, the program’s impact is still being felt several months after the project completion.
Gil: Now that you guys have graduated, what plans do you have professionally and how do you plan to keep in touch with your cohort?
CJ: I plan to help manage the family business. Our cohort has a very active online chat group so I am sure there will be lots of mini reunions for us to keep in touch with each other. There’s also the AIM Community Facebook page to help us get updated with the school events that we may want to attend.
Crystal: I feel like I need to go on a retreat just to reflect on the past year and to carefully figure out what I’d like to pursue next. I need to gather the class so that we could decide on the best way to keep in touch. I have a sense that my class would like to go beyond just keeping in touch—we may want to embark on something together. We’ll keep AIM posted on that…
Toby: I hope to join an innovative tech company, either here or abroad. If I stay here, most of us could be a message or two away, and I would want to make an effort to regularly catch up with my cohort. We have been put in an interesting position – being the first cohort of a new program – and I am excited to learn about everybody’s journey.
Vlad: Back to work but with greater perspective on how to truly make an impact. Online messaging apps make it far easier right now to get in touch and plan those drinking sessions with the old class. What I am excited about even more is how we can help each other succeed at work by doing business with each other either directly or through our extended networks.
Gil: What knowledge or secrets to success can you pass down to the younger cohort and future AIM students?
CJ: Take time to find a break, pause, take a deep breath, and reflect on your self and what you’ve learned every now and then. Sometimes we tend to forget to slow things down every now and then given the fast pace of the program. Self-reflection boosts one’s growth. Also, maximize the opportunity to attend events, create memorable experiences, and make friends. The network we build in a business school will be beneficial in the long run – even if the advantages cannot be clearly seen as of the moment.
Crystal: I found myself being really intense at the start – sleeping very late, being hard-core academically. I had to calm down and allot sacred time or alone time to steady myself. So take naps (even 10 minute ones in between classes!), morning or evening walks, and pray or meditate (I frequented the noon and weekend masses). One professor also said rightly, “Empty your cup”. Allow your experiences to surprise you and challenge you. Even if you have a vision or plan about how your year/s in AIM will go, reconsider it when opportunities present themselves. That has made all the difference for me. It won’t be easy, but it will make your journey meaningful.
Toby: It never hurts to try and get to know everybody in AIM. It does not also help you feel more comfortable and happy among familiar neighbors, but these people will also be there to help you grow. Whether it is through challenging your ideas, or engaging in new discussions, it is never a problem to learn something new with every new person you meet.
Vlad: Learning from each other is far more valuable than academics. The academics will stop after a few months. Your relationships if nurtured well will last a lifetime. People working together grow businesses. The landscape is now far too complex for supermen and superwomen. These days are more of an Avengers era. I think that is the true value of the learning teams and the case discussions.
Regardless of whether you were friends in class, met in one of the student clubs had a memorable moment together in one of the school’s events, or studied all night, once you become an alumni, you join a network of individuals who all lived the same experiences at the same school. Studying at AIM shouldn’t just be seen as an institution where many learn and excel, but as a strong network you’ll benefit personally and professionally for the rest of your life.
Here at AIM, you join a hardworking and close community of graduate and professional students, faculty, staff and family.
Words and Photography by Gil Domingo of Master of Business Administration 2018