‘Your university experience is what you make it’: UTSC grad pivoted during the pandemic to complete her dream program

Ellora Bhalla
Ellora Bhalla graduates today (Nov. 18) with a Bachelor of Business Administration, having completed the Management and International Business (MIB) program (photo by Don Campbell)

Tina Adamopoulos

Since Grade 9, Ellora Bhalla had her sights on enrolling into U of T Scarborough’s Management and International Business (MIB) program.

Bhalla instantly knew that the program was right for her when she mapped out her goals in the compulsory civics and careers courses. She even went to annual university fairs and took multiple campus tours.

Out of more than 1,000 applicants, only 40 students are accepted annually into the MIB program, and in 2017, Bhalla was one of them.

“I knew instantly that this would be the program for me,” Bhalla says. “I had it in mind throughout high school and into university applications. This was my number one program. It was super exciting when I was accepted.”

This week, Bhalla graduates from U of T Scarborough with a Bachelor of Business Administration from her dream program. With the program's international study and work-abroad requirements to graduate, Bhalla jetted to Paris, where she pursued her interest in French and studied marketing and strategy at the Université Paris Dauphine.

“It was easily one of the highlights of my undergraduate experience. Getting to live in a new country, put into practice a language that I studied for so long and meet like-minded people helped deepen my understanding of how international business really is,” Bhalla says.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Bhalla’s time in Paris was cut midway into her study abroad semester, before she could start her final work term abroad. Despite this, she was determined to graduate on time.

I knew instantly that this would be the program for me.

Thanks to the help of her program advisors, Bhalla landed a role at Samsung Electronics Canada. As a marketing and sales co-op student, she worked on the Bell Canada sales team – one of Canada’s biggest telecommunications companies – on multi-platform materials.

Now, her work can be seen anywhere, from television, to online and in Bell stores.

“It’s incredible to walk into a store and see my writing or editing on a creative piece or watch television and see a commercial I worked on. It’s nice to see the result of my work and how it’s impacting the business,” she says.

Bhalla credits her program advisors in helping her pivot to secure her final work term. With the team's encouragement, Bhalla shared her experience as a postsecondary student impacted by the pandemic on Citytv’s Breakfast Television.

During her time on campus, Bhalla was involved in multiple extracurriculars, notably as the vice president of business development at the STRIVE Conference, which works to help undergraduate and graduate accounting students across the province advance their careers. She also pursued opportunities to flex her creative skills, primarily as an actor and director with the UTSC Drama Society. 

Bhalla is currently exploring other passions and works in film and commercial production. She hopes to build a career in marketing and strategy.

Her advice for future students – don't be afraid to ask for help.

“There’s a sense of community amongst students, so reach out and learn things from others. Your university experience is what you make it.”