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As studies near end, all eyes are on the prize

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Kyle Palantzas is a business professional pursuing an MBA at Dalhousie University in Halifax. He's a Carleton University journalism graduate, a former sports writer and competitive athlete (hockey and rugby), and a recipient of a community leadership award in his hometown of Pickering, Ont. He is an avid sports fan and fitness enthusiast, fascinated by media, advertising, consumer behaviour, branding, sales and first impressions. This is the third entry in his blog about his MBA experience.

Reading week has come and gone, and I'm that much closer to graduating.

Although I've enjoyed the comforts of academia over the years, I'm excited to start my career. But prior to closing this chapter of my life and taking that esteemed walk across the stage, I still have a few more opportunities to seize.

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Before I can officially add the letters MBA after my name, I have half a semester of classes to complete. Everything from authentic leadership to organizational change and advertising to strategy implementation – I have one last crack at the books and I plan to make the best of it.

The exciting thing about my semester is that I had a lot of flexibility with my course selections. When I first started my MBA I was handed a premade class schedule that had me taking all core courses with no room for electives or specialization. Honestly, I felt like one sheep following a massive herd.

But the tables have turned.

Now I basically have the chance to customize my degree based on my interests and career path – something I am taking full advantage of. I am digging deeper into the functions and practices of marketing and management, becoming more intimate and versatile with these disciplines.

And now with just a few months left I can appreciate being that sheep and gaining that all-important foundation because there's a significant amount of assumed knowledge in my final set of classes. The MBA is challenging me to use what I've already learned in the core courses such as finance, accounting, economics, operations and international business and apply it to real world situations. The majority of my current classes are using cases that force me to incorporate different matters and mindsets – showing the relationships and intricacies of the subjects, while essentially bringing my degree full circle.

Personally, I find case-based learning very effective. What better way to learn than by simulating and breaking down business problems before, during or after they happen? Whether it is microfinancing in India, a billion-dollar merger or acquisition gone wrong, the strategic redirection of a multinational conglomerate or the aftermath of a natural disaster, cases continue to add instant value to my education.

Recently, I was in Calgary to compete against schools from across the country in a 24-hour case competition. My team and I had conditioned ourselves for this around-the-clock "behemoth" for months and we took what we've learned in the classroom.

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The judges at these types of competitions are senior industry executives, recruiters and business leaders who are looking for top talent and that critical MBA way of thinking. I was excited to shake some hands and make an impression. We did not make it to the final round of the competition, but the experience and networking opportunities were outstanding.

The whole reason I changed games and decided to pursue an MBA is to open doors, raise my potential and jump-start my career. Now, nearing the finish line, I can see that the degree is already producing a return on my investment. It's putting me front and centre with people and companies I had only hoped to work for a few years ago. My MBA is continually presenting me with opportunities, and this case competition was a perfect example.

Kyle can be contacted at or reached at LinkedIn

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