Andrea Adams, MBA ’21, participated in the inaugural class of WashU Olin’s rebooted full-time MBA program, which began in late June with a nearly six-week ’round-the-world trip to immerse students in global business.
Students in the attached video recount the ways the experience exposed them to different world perspectives on three continents and across the experiences of their classmates.
Adams shares three ways the experience positioned her for later career preparation—including the comfort with uncertainty.
In retrospect, now several weeks past your return from China, can you describe how the global immersion has influenced your approach to class?
The global immersion was not only international in nature, it gave us insight on business practices from a global level. I mean this insofar as it allowed me to see the interlocking pieces of, for example, how strategy and managerial economics are relevant to accounting—and vice versa.
Hopefully each MBA program ultimately allows students to connect the dots on why one sector of business relates to another, but the global immersion gave us experiential insight to see the interplay between functions—in the real world.
So, when a new concept comes up in our core coursework, I already have an example from our experiential learning to reflect. The true benefit of experience is having a pre-existing framework to fill in the gaps with the lessons from our core classes to understand a concept’s relevance.
What did you gain from the experience that you’ve been able to apply already?
I’m a strong believer that not every experience or encounter needs to have direct utility. However, the global immersion fostered development of a sense of global awareness to encourage students to think about issues at a high level.
So the summer coursework pushed us not just to evaluate business decisions based on limited qualitative and quantitative information, but take it a step further: Why is this information important and relevant to the problem as a whole?
Have you been able to use this experience yet in any preparation for your career next step?
As a first semester MBA student, the focus quickly shifts from acclimating to coursework to finding a summer opportunity that is a good fit for both you and your future employer. This can be a daunting task.
Having an intense immersive experience so early in the MBA trajectory, I feel as though I’ve deeply benefitted in the career search and recruitment process in three ways.
The first: You start thinking about business concepts earlier. Because the summer semester gave me a global overview of sectors within business, I feel as though I am more able to understand the incentives of the companies in which I have interest.
The experience also gave me a framework for thinking about the problems the firm might face within their industry and having a working knowledge of the environment with which a firm operates can lead to beyond surface level interview conversations.
The second: I know my “value add,” but have already identified areas for improvement. To balance the working environment of the global immersion summer session while traveling away from home for a six-week duration is, aforementioned, surprisingly intense.
Throughout the experience, you are in constant communication with professors, communication advisers and peers, who are providing formal qualitative and quantitative feedback for your performance. Though your weaknesses are amplified, the experience highlights areas to improve upon in preparation for recruitment throughout the fall.
The third: You learn how to deal with ambiguity. Because of the traveling nature of the immersion, and the shift in coursework throughout the semester, there is no unchanging variable. You have to be OK with uncertainty—whether it be in not feeling familiar with a city, assignment, or class content.
I think the valuable skill here that is transferrable to any job search is learning to adapt in different contexts and rise to the challenges that are outside of your comfort zone—most of which you can’t anticipate.