I joined the Dragon’s Glen competition, hosted by Children 1st Charity, because I wanted my masters experience abroad to go beyond the classroom walls. I wanted to meet students from other programmes, to develop my entrepreneurial and interpersonal skills, and to be able to have a real-life and practical application of what I was learning in my courses.
The Dragon’s Glen experience did not disappoint me.
To those who will be studying at the Business School in the next academic year, I encourage you to sign up for the competition if you’re willing to balance academics with extra-curricular activities just to have a more fulfilling experience abroad. In this post, I aim to help you make a decision on whether to join the competition or not by providing some pros and cons based on my personal experience.
- You will holistically improve your soft and technical skills. The most important skills I feel I was able to improve were my entrepreneurial, interpersonal, problem solving and leadership skills. This competition offers more real-life and practical experiences than the classroom.
- You will meet people from different cultural backgrounds and you will learn a lot from them. Although there were misunderstandings due to cultural differences, it was worth facing these challenges because I’ve personally learned a lot from my team mates. The experience of working in a diverse team is very valuable to employers as this shows that you can be open-minded, flexible, patient and understanding. It was a challenge to align everybody’s expectations and goals and this experience has taught me to communicate effectively and to make compromises when needed.
- This is a good opportunity to get out of your comfort zone, to challenge yourself, and to practice what you learn in class. What makes this opportunity different from programme projects is the fact that you’re on your own paving your direction. With coursework, it can sometimes feel like it is a job to do in order to comply with the university and graduate with a masters degree. But with opportunities like Dragon’s Glen, there’s no pressure to comply with rules or standards. You can do anything as long as you’re able to raise funds. It’s up to you and your team mates to pressure and motivate yourself and each other to achieve the team’s goals.
- You will meet people outside of your programme. I’m not just talking about my team mates. This includes organisations and people whom you decide to contact and form partnerships with. It was interesting to learn about other courses and organisations and what they are learning. I believe it opened my mind and eyes to the other realities of life. Moreover, special mention to Rona and Neil of the Student Development Team– the coolest and nicest people you need to meet — who have been a big part of our Dragon’s Glen experience (and my professional development). Because of the people I met, I can say that my experience abroad has been more fulfilling.
- You will have a practical experience that you can confidently talk about during job interviews.
- There will be something different to look forward to everyday or every week other than your studies. This one is obvious but you will learn to appreciate this in the early days of the academic year. Settling down in Edinburgh, adjusting to the UK academic system, and finding friends whom you can hang out with can be very overwhelming and exhausting at the beginning. However, I found comfort in knowing that I had something to look forward to and would be busy because of Dragon’s Glen. I had an instant group of potential friends, an excuse to be busy (when there was no one stable enough yet to drag along with me), and a limitless venue to practice my entrepreneurial and marketing skills. I was inspired to do my best not just in academics but also in the competition because of the many opportunities it offered.
- Most importantly, you contribute to a good cause! All the funds you raise will go to Children 1st Charity. Whether you’re truly passionate about advocacies or not, you can give yourself a pat on the back for making a good contribution to society. You can proudly tell yourself, “It turns out that this year has been a fulfilling and productive year. I’ve not only earned myself a masters degree but I’ve also devoted time and energy for a good cause!”
- Time constraints – You will need to learn to balance academics with the competition. Taking a master’s degree is very intensive and demanding (and they were not exaggerating that during Fresher’s week. When your professors say it’s gonna be tough, believe them.) Before signing up, make sure you are willing to commit and devote a good amount of time while doing a lot of reading and essay writing for your courses. The competition lasts from September until March, which is also the last month of lectures.
- There will be some challenging conversations because of differences in perspective. You’ll need to be patient and open-minded.
- Some weekends will be dedicated to events and activities for the competition and you need to be ready to miss some of your personal events with friends. Or at least be ready to plan your weekends (even weekdays) around the competition.
- You’ll be doing things that you may not have done before therefore you may feel outwith your comfort zone. To some people who love challenging themselves, this is not considered a con however be ready to take on new challenges.
If I could go back in time to Fresher’s Week and re-encounter Rona and Neil with the sign-up sheets, I would definitely do it again. I hope this post will inspire you to take part in the opportunity to improve your skills and contribute to society.
My year in Edinburgh has been intense and demanding but I do not regret anything. The experience has contributed a lot in making me the better person I am today. It was worth it!