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MBA International: a fusion of corporate learning and academic research

Completing her first thesis, Rupa Subramaniam rates her research into employability outcomes for international students as one of her most valued accomplishments.

When Rupa Subramaniam began a Master of Business Administration (International) last year, she was looking for a globally-focused business education that would hone her skills and strengthen her career goals.

Now in her second year, Rupa has the added bonus of incorporating research into her degree by completing the research specialisation in the MBA(I) where completed a thesis exploring the transition of international students into graduate employability outcomes.  The specialisation entails a four credit point research project under the supervision of Deakin Business School (DBS) academics.

She says the MBA(I) program has provided her with the unique opportunity of blending corporate learning with academic research.

‘Research is a very intensive process – this was the first time I was undertaking a research project and I was both excited and overwhelmed by the myriad of things that needed to be taken into account.’

Despite the project’s challenges – which included a topic change, tight deadlines and the constant pressure to deliver both a relevant and high-quality piece of work – Rupa now considers her thesis as one of her most treasured accomplishments.

‘It has helped me gain a deeper understanding of what students need and want throughout their student lifecycle, and the support that needs to be extended to enhance their university to work transition,’ she explains.

Through the lens of her own experience as an international student, Rupa hopes her research will make a difference for future students who choose to study abroad. 

‘I hope it makes a positive impact on their lives by bringing to light their challenges and the support that could and should be extended towards them to provide them with a smooth and enhanced experience, especially in a foreign land.’

Originally from India and the holder of a prestigious NDTV-India Vice Chancellor’s 100% Meritorious Scholarship, Rupa says she has always ‘felt right at home’ in Deakin’s supportive study environment.

‘I chose to study on campus as I viewed it as an opportunity to be able to interact with people from different backgrounds with different perspectives, including the professors, and broaden my horizons and appreciate new perspectives. It was also a way to personally connect with people and even extend conversations outside the classroom setting.’

This mindset has led Rupa to embrace a wide range of opportunities both on and off campus during her studies.

‘As well as being a mentor and leader for the VC scholar cohort for 2018-19, I’ve been able to gain experience across the university as a volunteer mentor, Drop-In Station mentor, student ambassador, DeakinTalent ambassador, research assistant and also had the opportunity to be the Student Representative on the Academic Board and Teaching and Learning Committee for two years,’ she says.

She has also worked closely with external organisations Beyondblue and Headspace as part of their respective Advisory Group and Youth Action Force. 

These roles, coupled with her research, have helped her build a strong platform of experience for a field she is passionate about – student experience and engagement.

‘At the completion of my degree, I would like to work in the university sector – either in Australia or overseas – in a role that creates initiatives and engages with both domestic and international students,’ she says.

‘I’m keen to have a positive impact on the lives of students to ensure they have a smooth transition and an enhanced university experience before stepping into the world of work.’

Her advice to those considering postgraduate education is to find a course that offers not only flexible study options for the work, home, study balance but also strong career pathways.

‘It’s also important to understand exactly what the course and university are offering and how it aligns with your career aspirations to ensure it is a perfect fit.’

From her thesis, Rupa and her supervisors are currently preparing a journal article for submission so the results of her research can be shared with the broader academic community.

Dr Jane Menzies, Course Director of the MBA(I) says that a valuable feature of the MBA(I)’s research specialisation is that it can be used a pathway into a PhD.  

‘For instance, if students score a high distinction in their thesis, and a distinction in set of four other units of their course (with two units having a research/data analysis focus), this may put them in good stead for a PhD application.’*

For students wanting more details about the research specialisation please contact Dr Jane  Menzies, Course Director of the MBA(I) and Unit Chair of MPP704 – Research Project 4** or Associate Professor Kerrie Bridson.

* Subject to PhD entry requirements at the time, and the competitiveness of other applications.
** To be eligible for the research
specialisation students must have a WAM of 70% in previous units of the course

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