First-year MBA student Gil Eckstein says traveling with his 96 classmates on WashU Olin’s inaugural ’round-the-world global immersion was “a whole different way of learning, more dynamic than anything else I ever got to experience.” Read more from Gil below and hear from his classmates in the video above.
The 38-day immersion is the crown jewel in the Olin’s massive reboot of the full-time MBA program, taking students from St. Louis to Washington, DC, to Barcelona, to Beijing and Shanghai. The trip was the launching point of the program for the new MBA prospects, designed to offer an immediate introduction into foundational business principles in a global context.
In video interviews and casual conversations, students on the trip and afterward expressed enthusiasm for the work they were doing, the context they were learning and the bonds they were building.
As students’ second semester in the MBA program begins to draw to a close, Eckstein offered his reflections for the Olin Blog.
In retrospect, now several weeks past your return from China, can you describe how the global immersion has influenced your approach to class?
Traveling with my 90 other classmates around the world in DC, Barcelona, and Shanghai, going on field excursions every other day, giving presentations every week, and doing it all for almost six weeks in a row.
This is a whole different way of learning, more dynamic than anything else I ever got to experience. Just like in professional life, we were outside of our comfort zone very often, going to classes in different spaces in different cities, while adapting to different cultures.
I feel like this experience opened my mind and challenged my creativity in a way that a regular class doesn’t. Classes become much more interactive. Right before class, I had breakfast with my professor, and right after class, I went to the winery consulting visit with the same professor.
Class becomes something that I am actually looking to implement and not just place in some bin in my head, in the hope of using it sometime in the future.
What did you gain from the experience that you’ve been able to apply already?
This whole experience is a great story that I love telling people. Recruiters, students, friends or family. This is a very colorful experience that we all had and that itself is a valuable asset. I also gained presentation and preparation skills that I used in job interviews or just coffee talks.
I also feel like I gained better communication skills with my teammates, especially ones who come from different cultures than mine.
I think that more than anything though, I developed strong relationships with my classmates in a way that I could have never been able to form in a regular static class format. We all went through a similar challenging experience that built a close bond among our classmates.
Have you been able to use this experience yet in any preparation for your career next step?
I am very comfortable now in professional events out of town such as the recent Chicago veterans conference a few weeks ago, and I am sure that it’ll make every future three-day business trip feel like a walk in a park.
As I am looking to distinguish myself from other candidates during the job search, I feel like this is an additional experience that helps me to stick out.
I also learned a lot about myself during this experience and I noticed that I am using it as I present myself in job interviews these days.
In addition, I’m sure that many more uses for this experience in my future career life will unfold and will be proven useful.