Author: Judy Milanovits


About Judy Milanovits

Judy Milanovits joined Olin in 2008 as an associate director of marketing. After many years a writer/creative director at a number of advertising and sales promotion agencies, her transition to academia has been smooth and happy. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her husband, two children, and dogs.

There are all different kinds of people in the word, with all different kinds of interests—and that’s good. The world needs mathematicians, artists, scientists and engineers as much as it needs financial analysts, marketers and entrepreneurs. And when it comes to career prospects, it only helps mathematicians, artists, scientists and engineers to understand business fundamentals. Here’s why:

  • Most every career path intersects with business. Behind every great artist, sports team, restaurant or medical startup is someone (or, more likely, a team) looking after the business side of things. You may be the one on stage, on the field, in the kitchen or in the R&D lab, but understanding how the organization runs helps you add value and will provide growth opportunities.
  • Business teaches strategic thinking and problem-solving. Every career journey includes crossroads and bumps in the road. If you are practiced in strategic thinking and problem-solving, you’ll be more comfortable handling whatever comes your way.
  • To get a job, you need to know how to market yourself. A bit of a business background gives you insight into your strengths. You’ll better articulate how you can add value to an organization, and any way to distinguish yourself in a crowed job market is always a good thing.
  • Most people change careers at least once in their lives. Gone are the days when you get a gold watch for 25 years of service to a company. Today, people change jobs and regularly—as much as 10 to 15 times over the life of their career. And many also change their actual career path. Understanding business comes in handy and expands your options.
  • Workers with transferable skills appeal to potential employers. When deciding among job candidates, employers want look for people with more skills to get the most for their money. With all other things being equal, knowledge of business might just tip the scales in your favor.

If you’re ready to add foundational business knowledge to your studies, WashU Olin offers the Gateway to Business summer program for high school and college students.

High schoolers can earn college credit while developing a general understanding of business, leadership, teamwork skill building and career preparation. The curriculum covers creative problem solving, experiential learning, professional communications, career strategies and the creation of a professional development plan. Students choose from two tracks—entrepreneurship and sports management.

College students, on the other hand, can earn a Gateway to Business certificate as they develop a solid understanding of business to complement their nonbusiness undergrad studies. The six-hour certificate is a deeper dive into business fundamentals. Participants strengthen their leadership abilities, business communication skills, and personal and professional development, and walk away with a professional development plan. The second half of the certificate focuses on entrepreneurship, examining real-world examples of founding, operating and exiting a startup, how to think like an entrepreneur, and potential career paths.

If you want an overall understanding of business, the Gateway to Business course and certificates are a smart strategy. The certificate program starts May 24 and runs through July 15. The course for high school students starts June 28 and runs through August 5. Find out more on WashU Olin’s website.

Students listen as WCC Director Jen Whitten discusses the importance of competitive advantage in all stages of your career during the students’ immersion in Barcelona in July 2019.

In the midst of spreadsheets and cases and site visits and speakers, full-time MBA students are also spending time thinking about themselves and their career journey.

On Day 4 of the Barcelona leg of the MBA global immersion experience, MBA students attended a Weston Career Center-led session “Defining Your Competitive Advantage.” The students were divided into four groups for the session, which relied on a mix of presentation and small group exercises.

Jen Whitten, associate dean and director of the career center, began the session by discussing the importance of knowing who you are, what’s important to you and where you want to go. She stressed that you must be clear on these things to be able to effectively present yourself and your story.

When an opportunity arises—and that could be any time—you need to be ready to convey your best self, whether it’s while you’re networking or interviewing.

A team of MBA students get to know each other—and themselves—as part of a small group interview exercise in Barcelona in July 2019.
A team of MBA students get to know each other—and themselves—as part of a small group interview exercise in Barcelona in July 2019.

Students paired up for personal interviews, each spending five minutes talking about himself or herself. When the class came back together, they shared their thoughts on what they heard from their partners. That was followed up with the pairs conducting second-round interviews with thought-provoking questions as prompts, including:

  • What’s the one activity you most love? How have you made it part of your career?
  • What do you do better than anyone else?
  • Tell me about an experience you’ve had that most others don’t.
  • What do others tell you is your greatest strength? What do people come to you for?

While in Barcelona, Whitten will conduct another session with students to discuss ways to leverage LinkedIn and how to enhance their social media presence. In Shanghai, the career coaching continues on two fronts, starting with developing career search strategies and effectively targeting organizations.

The second area of focus is preparing for case-based interviews by integrating classroom learnings and strategic insights into your personal narrative.

Pictured at top: Students listen as WCC Director Jen Whitten discusses the importance of competitive advantage in all stages of your career during the students’ immersion in Barcelona in July 2019.

MBA students started their second day in Barcelona taking a deep dive into the Spanish and Catalan cultures.

ESADE professor Alex Fernández de Castro presented a rich and nuanced view of Spanish governing and politics, with special attention paid to the current debate on Catalunya independence (note: Catalunya is the Catalan spelling; Catalonia the Spanish spelling). This part of his presentation focused on five key themes in current Spanish politics: unemployment, corruption, populism, poverty and Catalan nationalism.

Students enjoy an 11-course tapas meal at Barcelona restaurant Piscolabis.

Spain, a constitutional monarchy, has experienced much change recently. One major shift is its move from a two-party system to a five-party system, with the recent rise of centrist left and far right groups.

The new prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, assumed the post in 2018 to replace previous Marino Rajoy after a no confidence vote. Spain also has a new chief of state and king, King Felipe V, who succeed his much-beloved father King Juan Carlos I.

Professor Fernández de Castro also discussed the call for Catalan independence, a major issue; pressure in that direction has been increasing since 2012. After a controversial referendum that included voting irregularities, Catalunya declared independence.

The central government of Spain imposed direct rule in Catalunya, causing a constitutional crisis. The former president of the government of Catalunya, Carles Puigdemont, along with other Catalan leaders, fled to Brussels for fear of imprisonment.

Professor Fernández de Castro later switched gears to provide a history lesson on the 2,000-year-old city once called “Barkeno” by the Iberians and later “Barcino” by the Romans. In medieval times, the city was walled in, keeping its growth minimal. The walls stood for 500 years, finally falling in the mid-19th century, allowing Barcelona to grow and flourish.

He then pointed out must-see destinations in the city, including Gaudi’s Sagrada Família, the Catedral de la Santa Cruz, Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, the Palau de la Música, the Plaza España and the Fundació Joan Miró.

After an afternoon on their own, the students came back together in the evening for a welcome dinner at a local tapas restaurant. The menu included many Catalan favorites—Iberian ham, fried calamari, paella, patatas bravas, pan con tomate and tortilla Española. Wine was consumed, toasts were made and friendships were deepened. In less than 12 hours, the students would be starting on their Introduction to General Management class.

Pictured at top: ESADE professor Alex Fernández del Castro introduces MBA students to the political landscape in Spain and Catalunya.

Barcelona scavenger hunt winning team: (from left) Nidhi Kandari, Sarah Sugarbaker (teaching assistant), Hannah Levin, Marguerite Whitelaw and Derek Leiter (not pictured Guanhua Yang).

An exciting new location. A historic old city. What better way to introduce full-time MBA students to Barcelona than a scavenger hunt with 20-something challenges?

On their first day of the Barcelona leg of Olin’s global immersion, nearly 100 students found themselves roaming Barcelona barrios, getting to know the city—and their classmates.

Team 4 looking for clues in Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter.

The excursion, planned by ESADE, Olin’s university partner in Spain, required teams of students to locate famous landmarks, historic monuments and popular attractions around the city.

Teams of five to 10 students received a preprogrammed iPad loaded with the challenges. As proof of each conquest, teams were required to take a group selfie at each location, worth 10 points, or shoot a brief video for 20 points.

For more complex challenges—say, pretending to make music in front on the Palau de la Música Catalana music hall or pantomiming selling food at the Mercado de La Boqueria food market—teams could earn up to 30 points.

After two hours of scouring Barcelona neighborhoods such as the Gothic Quarter and El Ravel to tackle as many challenges as possible, members of team 11 were declared the winners.

“The main agenda is to have fun while we learn,” said team member Nidhi Kandari, MBA ’21. “We learn as a team, and we definitely have each other’s backs.”

Pictured at top: Barcelona scavenger hunt winning team: (from left) Nidhi Kandari, Sarah Sugarbaker (teaching assistant), Hannah Levin, Marguerite Whitelaw and Derek Leiter (not pictured Guanhua Yang).