- Victor Lal
- Jun 1, 2017
Victor Lal is a student at Western University who has recently finished his second year at Western and is pursuing an Ivey HBA dual degree with Political Science. Victor is a Western National Scholar, member of the Scholar’s Electives Program, and serves as the outgoing President of the Pre-Business Students’ Network, the largest general business club at Western. He is also the Co-Founder of ShareFund, a social enterprise that supports sustainable employment in refugee camps. In his spare time, Victor trains for and competes in marathons and triathlons.
Hi there! My name is Victor, and I’m currently finishing my second year in Political Science at Western. I wanted to write a quick post to address the top 5 questions that I get all the time from incoming high school students – all of which were questions that I also had before coming to Western two years ago.
Why choose Western and Ivey?
When choosing a university, I cared the most about three things: balance, people, and opportunities.
What do I mean by balance? Well, even though I’m very interested in business, I’m not one of those people who has wanted to be a banker since Junior Kindergarten. I’ve always loved politics and international relations, and that made the Political Science/HBA dual degree at Western perfect for me. That’s what makes Ivey so unique – you have people coming in from Engineering, Medical Science, English, and Computer Science (to name a few) and you then find yourself in the same classroom with these students. Western and Ivey allow you to develop your interests without boxing yourself into the business world right away, while also giving you the opportunity to go to one of the best business schools in North America.
People is by far the most important factor for me. The AEO selection process really does pick the best of the best, and you’ll find yourself surrounded by Student Council, DECA, Debate, Mental Health, and Athletic Council Presidents. You might think that this makes things overly competitive, but it doesn’t – being with people that share the same drive as you will allow you not only to become better, but also to develop better friendships. The talent that Western and Ivey attract is incredible, and I’m constantly amazed by my classmates.
Lastly, Western and Ivey offer immense opportunity. Ivey has a great reputation with some of the best firms in the world, and these companies consistently recruit from Ivey. Apart from being a leader in the traditional business fields of finance, consulting, and marketing, Ivey is also developing a strong reputation with entrepreneurship. For instance, two other students and I had the opportunity to develop a social enterprise with support from Ivey that addresses the global refugee crisis, and were able to travel to Boston, MA and Dallas, TX to pitch our business. There really is a “you get out what you put in” atmosphere at this school – if you want to put in the work, you can find an enormous amount of support at Western and Ivey.
What do your first two years really look like from an academic standpoint?
I don’t want to be too cheesy, but your first two years should be about figuring out who you are. I came into Western not being sure if business was really right for me, or whether I had what it takes to do well at the university level. My courses have been mostly focused around Political Science, which is incredibly interesting given current global politics, as well as business. A common misconception about Western and Ivey is that you don’t “really” start learning about business until third year. However, my favourite course in first year was Business 1220, and I encourage everyone who is thinking of Ivey to try it out! It’s an incredibly interactive course, where you get to give your opinion on Ivey cases as opposed to just sitting and taking notes. Beyond that, I’ve also had the opportunity to take courses in Computer Science, Math, and French – opportunities that I wouldn’t get if I started off focusing totally on business right away.
No matter what your program is for your first two years, I would recommend exploring – go crazy and take that Computer Science course that looks cool. You won’t get a similar opportunity at other universities, so take advantage of this flexibility and don’t limit yourself to just business.
How can I get involved on campus?
This is a big worry for a lot of people – Ivey does require that you have three extra-curriculars during your first two years, and you’ll get a great introduction to all clubs on campus during Clubs Week in September. In first year, I would recommend trying out as many clubs as possible, and then committing yourself to the ones that you love the most. Then in second year, you’ll want to further commit to three extra-curriculars by taking on leadership positions, which are the most rewarding part of university.
For instance, in my first year I was an Executive on the Pre-Business Students’ Network (PBSN), a general business club, as well as an Exec on the Western Marketing Association (WMA), Active Minds (a great mental health advocacy club), and the Western Triathlon Club. In my second year, I focused on PBSN and served as the President, and also explored entrepreneurship by starting a social enterprise and competing in a number of case competitions across Ontario.
Although I have a huge bias as the retiring President, I genuinely think that PBSN is a great opportunity to learn more about business in your first year. We’re the largest general business club on campus with over 540 members, and focus on introducing members to the fields of finance, consulting, marketing, entrepreneurship, and technology. We offer 40 events, programs, and other opportunities throughout the year, including:
- The Scotiabank Interview Competition, where Summer Analyst positions in the Downtown Toronto Scotiabank office are awarded to the two winners.
- The Internship Program, which gives you the opportunity to work for start-ups and firms part-time during your first year to build-up work experience.
- The Members’ Network, which connects you with upper year mentors that have worked at the best finance, consulting and marketing firms in Toronto, New York and San Francisco.
PBSN, along with every business club, will have Executive recruitment starting off in September! I’d encourage you to attend every club’s General Meeting to learn more about these opportunities. Additionally, PBSN hosts six different networking dinners during the summer to help introduce you to Western – information on these events will be coming up on our Facebook page (http://bit.ly/2nGbAVF) and website (pbsn.ca).
What are some things that I wish I did in first year?
- Sleep more: First year can be incredibly intimidating, and it took me a while to learn how to keep up with all of my classes while also adjusting to being independent. Remember to take care of yourself and sleep (maybe not too much), and make time for the incredible friends that you’ll make in your residence, on the clubs you join, and in your classes.
- Spend more time learning from upper years: Older students have gone through exactly what you will go through – don’t be afraid to reach out to them and ask questions! Trust me, you won’t bother them, as they genuinely do want to help you and love to pay it forward. Joining clubs is a great way of getting introduced to upper years, but don’t feel like it’s wrong to email someone or add them on Facebook. We’ve all been there before, and we all want to help.
- Worry less about academics: Don’t get me wrong – marks absolutely matter, especially when it comes to maintaining AEO and putting yourself in the best position possible for future years. However, don’t think that you’re not allowed to make mistakes. I remember exams in first year where I completely blanked for some questions, or didn’t get quite the mark I was expecting. Give yourself some time in first semester to get used to university, and don’t be too hard on yourself if your marks drop a little – it’s a long year, and you’ll have plenty of opportunities to make up for it.
I hope that some of this information was helpful! If you have any questions at all feel free to add me on Facebook.