Jennifer Desai, MBA ’21, speaks to the ways WashU Olin’s 38-day global immersion bonded the class of 2021—first-year MBAs who opened their program with a ’round-the-world trip from St. Louis, to the Brookings Institution in Washington DC, to Barcelona and finally, to Beijing and Shanghai, before returning in early August.
Creating a tight bond among members of the nearly 100 students who began the program in late June 2019 was among the goals of the global immersion. “My classmates and I are never in competition with one another, rather we genuinely want the best for each other,” Desai said. See below as she reflects on the experience its affect on her work at WashU Olin.
Can you describe how the global immersion influenced your approach to class?
One of the most impactful takeaways from the global immersion program for me was that it expanded my capabilities in thinking of business in a global context versus only here in the United States. During the core classes (especially economics, strategy and marketing) this fall, I often thought about the differences in values, culture and governments in the world when discussing a case study or when thinking of a solution to a problem.
How did the opportunity to bond with your classmates affect your experience in class and moving forward in the program?
From study groups to interview preparation to discussing career goals, I have found support from virtually everyone in my cohort from the beginning. I never imagined traveling the world with these wonderful people for five weeks would have created a bond and support system that I will have throughout my life.
The thing that has surprised me the most is that my classmates and I are never in competition with one another, rather we genuinely want the best for each other. My classmates truly do feel more like my family rather than just my peers.
Also, I guess I should say, we are almost never in competition with one another. Every now and then, we may secretly hope that someone’s fingers can’t move fast enough, or they lose their Wi-Fi connection during class registration time. This was especially true when the opportunity to travel to Israel, for a Venture Advising class that was sponsored and paid for by the school, arose.
Most of us wanted one of those coveted 43 spots to serve as a consultant for a startup! I initially did not, but the classmates I talked to encouraged me to seek one because of my career interests and the opportunity in general. Having secured one of those spots and just completed travel, I am beyond grateful for their encouragement to pursue such opportunities.
Have you been able to use the global immersion yet in any preparation for your career next step? If not, do you envision ways in which you might?
As a first-year MBA student, balancing core classes with finding a summer internship is kind of the way of life. The WCC traveled with us during the global immersion and we had a variety of sessions on resume building, interview prep and networking. They also provided us with ideas on how to incorporate the global immersion experience into our conversations or interviews.
Returning to the states, during interviews, I was able to use the global immersion experiences to discuss projects that I have completed and are vastly different from anything I have ever worked on before. This has led to a variety of conversations with interviewers, as it sparked interest from them. Additionally, the global immersion program has helped solidify my desire to work with a global company.