Wow – it’s shocking to think that I have less than a month left of business school. It has been a roller coaster ride, full of ups and downs and a little bit of nausea (mainly because of some street dumplings I had in Shanghai). Among the best of my Sloan experiences were the treks and tours I went on; these were the moments I will remember and treasure.
1) A chance to learn:
Before this trip, I thought “the creativity business” meant the entertainment industry: a collection of artists, agents, coders, and business people who enable my bad habits (think Tetris-style apps and indie pop music). I am really glad that we used this course to also study “creativity IN business” – we acknowledged that even the most tedious of tasks benefit from innovation. Those managers who can lead an engaging brainstorm or those consultants who can help their clients see a new vision are using creativity on a daily basis. Happy news for me is that these skills can be learned and developed, and companies like BCG are studying the ways to teach us how.
2) A chance to explore:
In just over a year, I’ve visited about 9 cities in 5 Asian countries – a part of the world I had never been to before Sloan. In Singapore, I saw an island country with no natural resources become a global hub for water innovation. In China, I discovered a passion for decoding hanzi (characters), and was able to translate words I didn’t know how to pronounce in Mandarin. In Hong Kong, I studied the growing Asian luxury market – and contrasted it with the small markets in the city’s “ladder streets.” In Korea, I saw a changing business climate that is rethinking everything from mobile apps to credit cards. And finally, I loved Japan: heated toilet seats (I know a number of my classmates have blogged about these!), magical photo booths, unbelievably generous people, stunning temples, and crazy themed bars… what a whirlwind. These trips have been an incredible opportunity to begin exploring a continent I haven’t nearly gotten my fill of.
3) A chance to meet new people:
This may be an obvious part of business school life, but for a married gal living off campus, the opportunities to connect with other students (especially first years) are not as common as you might think. These trips gave me the chance to get to know some of the 2011s, 2012s, and 2013s I will be friends with long after graduation. (To illustrate this point, I’ll say that the best part of coming back to school after the trip was the constant hugging and high-fiving every time study tour folks met in the halls.)
Any incoming MBA student should be excited about what is to come – opportunities, friendship, possibly a new career path. But the best piece of advice I got during orientation was to take every chance to travel with classmates, even if it meant taking on an extra class or TAing to make some extra money (I did both!). I can’t thank the organizers enough for setting up such a fabulous experience!