Tag: student travel

Chloe Baker in Madrid

Among chatter of finals, WILD, and summer plans, April is also the month juniors compare study abroad options. I am extremely lucky in that I’ve been a Spanish minor since day 1 of freshman year and always knew that the Madrid program was for me. However, for many, the decision does not come as easily. From watching my friends gallivant around the world and experiencing my own semester abroad, here is some advice for picking the best study abroad opportunity for you.

1) Keep an open mind

Many of the Olin programs are less traditional study abroad destinations when compared to some bigger schools your friends from home may attend. Even if it’s not a location you’ve always heard about, don’t count it out. Every place has its merits.

2) Think about what you want from your abroad experience—without your friends.

I’ve become extremely close with other WashU students while studying abroad.
It’s easy to succumb to groupthink and end up picking a location just because you have friends going there, even if it’s not the type of experience you’re looking for. I made the decision independent of my close friends, and it’s worked out incredibly. Plus, I’ve become extremely close with other WashU students in the process.

3) Keep travelling in mind—consider accessibility and location

For some, travelling is a huge part of their abroad experience; for others, not so much. It was a crucial aspect for me, and I have been lucky enough to visit more than 15 cities during my time abroad. I have friends who have spent most weekends in their abroad city and they’ve loved every minute of it. There’s no right answer to this—it’s just important that you keep in mind a city’s accessibility and location if travelling is important to you.

4) Don’t think of studying abroad as the default option

chloe friend
It’s easy to when everyone is discussing it, but it’s a deeply personal choice and it’s not for everyone. Don’t force yourself to go abroad just because you think it’s the right thing to do or most of your friends are going—that’s a recipe for being unhappy. Needless to say, studying abroad is an incredible experience that has truly opened my eyes to so many different cultures, as well as things about myself.

5) Ask questions!

Do not hesitate to reach out to older friends or even just people you know of who have studied in places you’re interested in. We (students abroad) love talking about our experience and can go on for days. The best way to learn about an abroad destination is to talk to someone who’s experienced it!

Photos courtesy of Chloe Baker

One of the many incredible opportunities that Olin Business School offers its students is the chance to undertake real-life consulting projects with businesses around the globe. This spring, I was lucky enough to be placed on a project working with the Wine Tasting Network, a Napa-based website that sells wine to consumers across the United States.

My team was composed of two full-time MBA students, myself and Claire Hunt ’16, and two students from Olin’s new Specialized Masters Program in Customer Analytics, Wanting Wu ’16 and Peiyu Zhu ’16. We also had the support of Dr. Rob Poirier, a WashU Med School professor, Olin EMBA ’14, and Clinical Chief of Emergency Medicine, Barnes-Jewish Hospital, as our team’s adviser.

Claire Hunt (MBA ’16) examines a rack of wine bottles at the Wine Tasting Network offices

Claire Hunt (MBA ’16) examines a rack of bottles at the Wine Tasting Network offices.

Although not all projects are given the opportunity to visit their clients in person, the staff at the Center for Experiential Learning (or the “CEL”, as we like to call it), are experts at recognizing when a visit to the client can add real value to a project, and so my teammates and I set off to Napa Valley, California over Spring Break to get an insider’s look at the wine industry.

Our first stop was the Wine Tasting Network (WTN) offices, where company President Steve Schepman and the friendly team at this small but vibrant office welcomed us with open arms. After a tour of the grounds, we hit the conference room to talk business, reviewing our project plan with the WTN team and diving into more details on inventory movements and marketing strategies.

After a taco break, we headed to the Wine Foundry, a “custom-crush” facility where grapes are processed and made into wine, both under the Wine Foundry’s own label and for clients like Wine Tasting Network. The full-service facility gave us an idea of what the wine-making process looked like at each stage, from vat to barrel to bottle to glass.

Barrels of wine in storage at the Wine Foundry.

Barrels of wine in storage at the Wine Foundry.

Our hosts at the Wine Tasting Network were also able to arrange a tour at the facilities of their shipping and fulfillment partner, WineDirect. Many wineries and websites work with WineDirect to navigate the complex shipping restrictions that govern the sale of wine directly to consumers, which can be difficult to adhere to since they vary state-to-state. The visit was essential to helping us understand the level of detail and planning that is required to successfully operate a facility of this size for a delicate product like wine.

A visit to Napa wouldn’t be complete without a stop at one of the most famous estates in all of Napa. Our hosts brought us to the iconic Joseph Phelps winery. Learning how to taste wine from one of the expert sommeliers at this exceptionally beautiful estate was a unique privilege that none of us would have had the chance to experience under any other circumstances. It also helped us put ourselves in the shoes of the avid wine consumer, so as to better understand what they consider important when they shop for wine.

Besides a new found taste for Pinot Noir, our visit to Napa brought me a much deeper understanding of the California wine industry, and a strong appreciation for the benefits of conducting meetings in person. Getting to know the WTN team on both a personal and professional level during our trip was an invaluable opportunity that will undoubtedly help us to bring even greater value to the Wine Tasting Network as our project nears completion.

Our friends at WineDirect show us how they pick and pack shipments.

Our friends at WineDirect show us how they pick and pack shipments.

The student team arrives at the Joseph Phelps winery in the heart of Napa Valley.

The student team arrives at the Joseph Phelps winery in the heart of Napa Valley.