King's College Graduate talks to Nirali Advisory about her Study Abroad journey!
Updated: Jul 3, 2021
Undergrad- H.R College - Management Studies (BMS)
Postgrad- King’s College London - Marketing with a specialization in Brand Management of Artists.
"The reason I chose this university was because I wanted to do a very specialised course. I wanted to do business but also wanted to specialise in art management. King’s actually offered a Master’s in Marketing with a specialisation in Brand Management of Artists, which was the niche course I wanted. "
1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Your Educational and Professional Background? Which college, company and role did you work in to get you where you are today? Also, tell us a little bit about your current job profile and work.
After finishing up my masters, I worked at Sotheby’s, an auction house in London. There, I worked in the Valuations Department. After working with them in London, they wanted to open an office in India, so I relocated back to India and joined the India office, where I helped in Business Development. We organized the first auction Sotheby’s had in India in 2018. After that, I helped them with the second auction in 2019 as well.
My job profile, in the Art Division for Indian art basically looked at Business Development, which included marketing, press (working with the journalists, newspapers), media, finding new clients and business intelligence.
2. When and why did you decide to study abroad?
I decided to study abroad in 2013, I was really interested in art and the auction world and there was no scope in studying this in India so I decided to go to London. I did not want to specialize only in art history, I also wanted a business side to the course and King’s had a very niche course which was Marketing with a specialization in Brand Management of Artists. That’s why I chose King’s College London.
3. Did you receive a scholarship? Do you recommend any good organizations/institutions that provide scholarships or financial aid?
No, I did not receive a scholarship, this was actually self-funded. But there are really good organizations and institutions that provide aid. You can look at Inlaks Foundation. They have a lot of scholarships, it’s run by Shivdasani Foundation.
There are Tata organizations that have scholarships. There are a lot of universities and banks that give you student loans, so you can look at that as well. So, there are different ways that you can get aid.
4. Why did you choose that particular course in this particular university/college for your studies abroad? What was the process you went through while choosing the university/college?
The reason I chose this university was because I wanted to do a very specialized course. I wanted to do business but also wanted to specialize in art management. King’s actually offered a Master’s in Marketing with a specialization in Brand Management of Artists, which was the niche course I wanted.
I actually applied to 5 colleges. I wanted to be in London, so I decided that since I am going to be doing my master’s for one year I would apply there. I applied to UCL too, as well as Warwick and St. Andrews. But since the course I wanted was so niche, only King’s was offering it. So even though I got into the other universities, I chose King’s.
6. Were you satisfied with your choice of university? What is your most and least favourite thing about the university experience?
Yes, I was really happy with my university experience. I think it helped me evolve and grow as a person. Apart from the college experience, you learn to do little things which we take for granted in India. Things like setting up your bank account, paying your bills, learning how to do your own work responsibly, which honestly living with our family in India, we don’t do any of this. So it really helps you be a little more independent.
And my favourite thing about King’s is the Business Club, which is a society where they invite CEO’s every month, from London, to come and talk to us. I got to meet the CEO of ASOS and Cobra Beer and had one on one conversations with them. The events would be a lecture in a room of 30 or so people and after which you could talk to them, understanding things from them about their company.
Back in 2013, they did not have ASOS in India and I had spoken with the CEO about the opportunity to do something in India. He actually gave me his business card and connected me to his secretary and they invited me to ASOS to come and talk about India and the expansion. So it opens up a world of opportunity for you and that was one of my most favourite experiences.
Something that I did not like, was the fact that we were far away from home. I am someone who is very attached to family and you only get to see them 2 or 3 times a year. But being away from home also allows me to be stronger and live life independently, which was great.
5. Any particular advice you would like to give for the application process from SOP Writing to Academic GPA to other things which you thought were important that helped you get into that course at that university?
I would recommend that you look at templates online. A lot of colleges and GMAT websites guide you on how you should write your resume, what are the pointers you should include in your SOP and what are the credentials each college is looking for. Make sure your application stands out. Don’t tell them things they would already know from your resume.
For instance, you are a good cricketer and mention how you will join the cricket club. Anyone can say that, right? So you need to show them how good you are. So mention how you are a cricketer who plays national level, or state level cricket. It adds some degree of authenticity to what you are saying. Make sure to add qualities that are credible and that would make you stand out from the other candidates.
Do a little research on the college. If there are clubs or societies you want to join, tell them that in the application. This way they will know that you want to go to their college and that you will actually do those things.
7. How was the overall campus diversity?
My overall campus diversity was excellent. In the course that I chose in King’s, they only allow 7 people per nationality in the class. We had 37 nationalities in class. I had classmates from Rome, Turkey, Prague, Africa, US, etc. Which is really nice. So now, wherever I travel now for a holiday, I can call up someone from my class and I’ll have a friend there to catch up with.
It helps you meet people from different backgrounds. You understand how different people function and work, the cultural differences. It’s a great experience.
8. Tell us something about the on-campus faculty and resources
The faculty was excellent. We had different professors, the campus resources were great. We have 5 campuses in London. Each of them have beautiful libraries and study rooms where you can stay and finish your assignments. Compared to Indian libraries, the libraries are really well organised. You can scan books when you take them out and scan books to look for them. There are great resources in terms of, papers, such as Harvard Business Review or JSTOR.
You can set up appointments with the faculty and meet them to discuss schoolwork or a project or an idea. It depends on how you create the bond with the faculty, but they are very open. We have large classes of 80 students as well as small study groups. It’s in the study groups where you have the opportunity to bond with the faculty.
You can also write to them before your course starts, if you have any questions, they will help answer them before you get there.
9. Tell us about your journey from the first semester to the last both academically and non-academically? What was campus life like? What were the extracurricular activities on campus?
I grew a lot through the year. Within the first month that you are there, you take notice of the many clubs, events and societies they have there are. You want to go for everything and be in so many clubs. But soon realise what you also have classwork and need to prioritise your time. You meet people in all these clubs who are from different courses, which is really great.
Academically it wasn’t a very intense course. We had class 3 times a week and on the other two days, we had assignments which we had to do in groups. So it was a 5 day week and on the weekends we go to do whatever we wanted. Since I was in London, I travelled a lot, went to different cities.
We also did a lot of Harvard business case studies, Kellogg case studies, and that was my favourite academic part.
Non academically, I went on trips to France, Antwerp, Budapest, Prague, Turkey. There are travel clubs in the university, so a lot of these trips are organised by the college. I think that’s the best part of studying abroad internationally, getting all this exposure and the opportunity to travel, so I would really recommend that.
In London, Indians tend to hang out with each other, but I made sure to make friends from different countries. I did stay in an intercollegiate hall that mostly had Indians and I became friends with a lot of them who were from all over the country because you do relate to them more, but in my class, I had a lot of non-Indian friends. So make sure you do that.
10. What did you learn and what were your most dear experiences?
I learnt how different people are, how different cultures are. My most dear experience was, as I mentioned earlier when I got to visit the ASOS office and discussing if India was a potential market for them. Meeting all the CEO’s through the business club really taught me a lot. They spoke to us about their lives, their college experiences, what advice they give young college students. We can learn so much from them, which I did over the year I was there.
11. How is the quality of education compared to Indian institutes? What were the gaps in both systems? How did you manage to cope?
The quality of education is really different. In India, we don’t really do case studies and analysis. London is similar to India in the sense that they have exams after the holidays, so a lot of people take the term lightly and then study during the holiday.
One difference that you might have heard is the software called Turnitin, which checks for plagiarism, so you can’t just copy-paste your assignments from the internet. This way you learn academic writing from the get-go.
I honestly didn’t find this that difficult because it takes you about a month or so to understand how to write your own papers but once you do, it’s a lot of fun doing it on your own. And you can take material from places but you just need to reference it properly.
If you want to prepare for this, King’s does offer essay preparation course online. Where you can sign up one or two weeks before your course starts. I personally did not do this, I learnt just by being there.
12. What were the career opportunities available? How does one manage to grab them?
They are plenty of career opportunities. There are career fests, where all the campuses come together and invite companies to come and talk to us about their company and tell you about the available opportunities next year.
There are graduate trainee programs offered by some companies, which are really interesting. These programs let you work in every department of the company, so you choose 6-8 departments for one year and work in it for 2-3 each. It’s very competitive so you need to apply as soon as you can. The process is very detailed and tiring so I would recommend doing it for 5-6 companies only. I know people who applied to 50 or 100 companies but that affects the quality of your application so I wouldn’t recommend that.
This is how I came across Sotheby’s as well. I found out about the company directly. The organisation did not come to campus and then I applied on my own for their graduate trainee program. 239 people applied for the position I applied for and they selected 2 of us. So do look into the deadlines and prepare accordingly.
Colleges also have a careers office and they help you edit your resume and what you should include and what you shouldn’t.
There are a lot of resources present so it’s all up to you.
13. Any other suggestions or advice you would like to give fresher’s starting out?
I would say, plan your time there. For example, if you want to travel, there are a lot of groups for that, so join them. See what you would like to pursue later in life so prepare for that.
Network! I cannot emphasise how important that is. Network with your seniors because they are the people who will be in all these companies later and can also help you when you’re applying.
Have fun, it’s the best years of your life so enjoy it.
14. How did a study abroad help you?
It definitely helped me because before I went, I was working at Ernst & Young. I was doing risk advisory. I was consulting. Great company, great work, great job, but I wanted to work in the auction world, in the art world, which was something very different and niche and there was no course for that in India and there weren’t any companies specialising in that in India.
So I decided that I would do to London. I went there, studied, networked, attended events, applied. There is a lot of destiny here as well, so I prayed hard, managed to get the internship at Sotheby’s, which is what I wanted. Worked there and that’s the reason I am where I am today. So going abroad opened up so many doors for me.
We hope that you have found this interview insightful. Do let us know how in the comments section below!