After Sweden

0 Posted by - March 9, 2017 - Going Global, Graduate, GWSB Blog Posts, MBA, MBA Posts

When I think back to my experience in the Short Term Study Abroad to Sweden program, I get a feeling that I’m recalling a distant, surreal dream. Did I really spend two months working on a project developing a marketing strategy for a healthcare-related solution developed by a Swedish multinational company? Did I really travel halfway around the globe to present said project at the company’s headquarters in Gothenburg? Did I really ride on the Gothenburg tram without paying for my ticket*? Yes, I did all those things!

Participating in the Sweden consulting abroad program has, without a doubt, been one of the highlights of my Global MBA experience at the George Washington University. Not only did I have a chance to learn marketing concepts and about an industry that I’ve never been exposed to before, but this educational experience was framed by an unforgettable trip to a beautiful country and interactions with an inspiring group of driven MBA candidates and welcoming hosts. This trip has opened my eyes to a new culture and different business approach from the ones I’ve seen before, which will definitely shape my future work experiences.

I highly recommend anyone thinking about participating in a Short Term Study Abroad program to consider Professor Maddox’s Consulting Practicum –

But I don’t have consulting or marketing experience…!

You don’t need to have prior knowledge of these concepts to be eligible for the course. You do, however, need to be willing to put the time and effort required to accelerate your learning curve in order to reach the levels expected of you for the completion of this course. In my case, I had no marketing experience aside from a couple of academic courses taken in both my undergraduate and graduate studies. Much more important than pre-existing knowledge are the drive to improve yourself and the ability to apply theory and course concepts to solve real-life challenges.

Beautiful snowy Stockholm, as seen from the train to Gothenburg

 

Great! I always wanted to visit Sweden! This will be a great chance for a vacation with my MBA friends.

No, no, no! This trip was most certainly not a vacation. While we did have some opportunities to explore the sites, kick back and have fun, that was not the main theme of the trip: the main theme was work. We worked late hours and met early in the morning to squeeze in as much team time to re-design our presentation based on the feedback we received (another prevalent theme of the trip was very little sleep). I don’t want to scare anyone by highlighting the amount of work required, because any business student is more than capable of rising up to this challenge, but I wouldn’t want anyone to enter this course with the unrealistic expectations. You will work. You won’t sleep. But most importantly, you’ll feel incredibly proud of your achievements.

Hands on Health Elevator Selfie – going to sleep after a looooong work session.

 

If it’s so much work, then why would I give up my winter break to learn things I can just learn during the semester?

The value of the course is that it gets you out of the classroom and into the real world. You interact with real clients, working in a real company, operating in the real world, dealing with real problems. You are held to the same standards as professional consultants would. If you still haven’t had that ‘ah-ha!’ moment in which you see how all you learn in the classroom can be applied in real life, this course will give it to you.

After months of working on this project for SCA, we finally made it to the HQ!

 

The experiences you gain from these kinds of approaches to learning allows you to not only learn new concepts, but apply them in a real life setting and see the impact all your hard work can have in the real world. You also develop strong bonds with the people you travel with, and with the professionals you interact with during the trip. I would highly and wholeheartedly recommend every business student to consider this or any Short Term Study Abroad program the university offers. Trust me, it’ll make a difference in your studies and your life.

*I thought I could buy my ticket on the tram. It turns out I couldn’t – I broke the law! Worry not, I bought a ticket at the 7Eleven by our hotel once we came back.

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