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Why these international students chose the Rotman MMA

February 25, 2021

These days, Long Le (MMA ’21) is keeping busy. Now halfway through the rigorous Master of Management Analytics (MMA) program at Rotman, his waking hours are largely devoted to attending virtual classes, completing group projects and coding.

Long Le (MMA ’21)

“Before this, I never could have imagined working up to the last minute on assignments or working with such complicated models,” says Le, an international student who moved from Vietnam to Toronto earlier this year. “It’s been a steep learning curve, but this is what I signed up for.”

In addition to the demands of a rigorous program, students like Le have faced an especially tough road to get to Toronto because of the international travel restrictions brought on by the global pandemic. Still, there’s nowhere else he’d rather be. 

He’s one of dozens of international students that select the MMA program at Rotman each year. Young professionals from across the globe are drawn here for various reasons: the program offers students the opportunity to learn from world-renowned faculty, gain hands-on experience with an eight-month practicum project and study in a vibrant, diverse city.

In Le’s case, the transition was made easier through the support offered by the University, and the Rotman School’s attention to detail. Leading up to the start of the academic year, the MMA program services team communicated regularly with international students, helping them get to Toronto when the Canadian border reopened for international students.

When he was able to enter Canada in November, he stayed safe, thanks to the University’s quarantine program, which arranged for his hotel accommodation, meals and health monitoring for the mandatory 14-day quarantine period. And the MMA program services team made sure to ship his textbooks to him during this time so that he wouldn’t fall behind in his classes.

Now, he’s settled into on-campus housing at U of T, where he’s been able to meet fellow international students, including a few classmates from the MMA program. There’s been a few familiar faces, too — his sister, a student in the Full-Time MBA program at Rotman, lives a few floors above him.

While the international student experience might seem a bit different with the global pandemic, Le doesn’t feel like he’s missing out academically. The program has maintained its high standards when it comes to delivering a first-class learning experience, and Le has learned a lot through his practicum project with the Hudson Bay Company.

“It’s exciting to work on solutions for real problems companies are facing right now. I’m hoping we’ll find ways to add value and make an impact,” explains Le, who hopes to land a role in data and analytics after graduation. “It’s why I chose this program.”

“It’s exciting to work on solutions for real problems companies are facing right now.”

—Long Le, MMA ’21

Mastering the technical and people management aspects of working in analytics

For Buse Balci (MMA ’20), coming to Rotman was an easy choice. She was won over by the opportunities to study at a leading university, work on a hands-on practicum project with an industry partner and tap into the Rotman School’s strong network.

Buse Balci (MMA ’20)

“I took a look at the companies that Rotman MMA students would get the chance to work with for their practicum projects. There were major companies represented — Google, Pfizer, TD Bank. That’s what convinced me,” explains Balci, who moved to Toronto from Turkey, where she earned her undergraduate degree in engineering.

“I knew that no matter where I went after graduation, employers would recognize that I'd worked with high-profile companies and on interesting projects.” 

Her adjustment to Toronto was fairly easy.

By attending events and career workshops, she made friends and connections from across the Rotman School, who were all eager to help out.

“I found that there was always someone I could call about anything — whether it was about class, a career-related question or getting around the city. It made settling down here really easy,” she says.

After graduation, she stayed in Toronto to join Mastercard as an associate consultant. She’s using what she learned from the MMA daily. She draws on the analytics concepts and SQL coding skills she mastered through the program for the technical elements of the job. Additionally, she’s using the management and presentation skills she honed at the School to excel in the client management aspects of her work.

“There’s a strong business school mentality at Rotman, and I tap into that now in my work,” she says. “I can present my ideas with confidence.”

A program that specializes in career planning

Artur Cortez Bellotti de Oliveira (MMA ’20) also had his sights set on Toronto and the Rotman MMA program early on.

He was looking for a program that had a strong career development component and that supported international students in securing work permits and navigating the Canadian immigration process.

Artur Cortez Bellotti de Oliveira (MMA ’20)

“So many other programs focused on the technical aspects but overlooked career planning,” explains Cortez Bellotti De Oliveira, who had worked in engineering in Brazil before pursuing the MMA. He knew he needed a program that could assist him in designing a career trajectory that was new to him.

“Rotman evaluates its success on how many graduates find work after graduation. They have a clear interest in making sure students are ready for the workforce.”

The decision to pursue the MMA at Rotman paid off. Through networking events and after a hands-on practicum project working with Sun Life Canada, he narrowed in on an exciting career working with leading technologies and analytics. After graduating from the program — impressively, he was named valedictorian of his class — he went on to join Deloitte as an AI consultant.

“So much of analytics is looking at the data to uncover the story,” he says. “This program is about defining your story — understanding where your skills and interests are leading you and figuring out how to best pursue those opportunities.”

Written by Rebecca Cheung | More Student Stories »