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What's it like intercalating in business management?

In this blog Q&A, Rita Otto (Year 5) shares her experience of intercalating externally to study business management!

What is business management and why did you choose to do it?

My management degree had a balance of healthcare and business modules. It focused on how to make effective changes within a healthcare system and the wider business sphere. My motivation for choosing management was two-fold. Firstly, I was considering using my medicine degree to either get into healthcare policy or run my own business. After 3 years of medicine, I really wanted something different and management was what suited me the most at the time.

How did you find adjusting from medicine to business management?

Initially, it was fine. It felt like being a fresher again; everything was new and exciting. I really enjoyed my modules and I had a lot of opportunities to be creative with the work I produced. However, the course was different to medicine and quickly became very challenging. The exams are completely different. I hadn’t written a proper essay since GCSEs and suddenly I was being asked to write 3 in as many hours - so that was a steep learning curve! Also, there was a lot of group work. I think in medicine, the work we do is a lot more individualistic. Unlike case based learning, your final mark depends on your group’s mark so that took some adjusting to. There's also a lot less contact hours so you really have to motivate yourself to be productive.

What opportunities did you have from the degree?

There were definitely lots of opportunities for networking and career advice. We had talks from industry leaders in business and there were also opportunities to improve public speaking. I personally didn’t use this but Imperial business school offered investment and funding for business ideas that students had. So if you did have a business idea, that is a definite advantage of Imperial.

What was your most enjoyable moment from the degree?

I’ll say the beginning and the end. The business school hired out the Natural History Museum for our welcome event. It was honestly an amazing night and without a doubt a highlight of my year there. My graduation was also such a cherished moment for me. The culmination of all my hard work, celebrating with my friends and family at the Royal Albert Hall. I think that was worth all the stress of the degree.

What was it like being in London compared to Cardiff?

London is home for me. Despite the long commutes and constant rush, it was great to be back at home in my city. You won’t feel like a student though, there isn’t really a campus feel. Most people outside of the university are just average Londoners. So if you aren’t from London, I would bear that in mind. And also it’s very expensive as everyone knows. Cardiff is so cheap by comparison. So if you’re on a budget it might be hard. But for me there’s no place like home!

What did you do in your free time outside of your degree?

I joined the gospel choir which was a lot of fun. I also took up language classes, which were offered at Imperial. There were also a lot of amazing ACS events, which I attended. I would definitely say Imperial has so much to get involved with. I also worked for the uni in their fundraising department.

What is your overall opinion of your experience?

I would say it was a roller coaster experience; there were many ups and downs. Imperial was stressful and I had constant deadlines and exams. The content was interesting but the workload is immense and as an external student its unfamiliar territory. I wish I was prepared for how intense the year would have been. It’s definitely not a year off. However for me the experience was worth it, I met wonderful people and I do feel I learnt a lot about myself and where I could take my medicine degree. My time at Imperial was rewarding and I would definitely do it again.

How did you find adjusting from intercalating back into medicine?

Honestly it was very tough. I had no clinical experience, nothing medical for over a year and then I was thrown back into the hardest year of medicine. This was all after an intensive year at Imperial. I was in a whole new year group with most of my friends either in their final year or deciding to now intercalate. Simply put it’s a big adjustment.

Looking back, I wish I had realised how important it was to keep up my medical knowledge. I was so focused on my management degree. I do think my return to medicine would have been easier, if I had stayed on top of my revision.

To end, do you have any top tips for applying to intercalate outside of Cardiff?
  1. Start preparing as soon as possible!

  2. If you are in first or second year try and rank as high as you can in order to have the best chance of being allowed to intercalate externally.

  3. Look at the courses offered externally and see what suits you the best, make sure it's something you want to do so that it's worth the effort.

  4. Ask in the years above if anyone has done it before and get any advice you can.

  5. Try and have things for your personal statement that show you have a strong interest in what it is you wish to study externally.


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