It’s a strange thing, a one-year program. A year feels like a long time; most students coming into the M.S. in Commerce (MSC) program have had only had 22 or 23 of them. And yet it’s not. Fall break comes, then winter, then spring, and all of a sudden GIE (the Global Immersion Experience) is over and you wonder where the time went.
Rain tapped against the large glass pane windows as I sat slowly sipping my piping hot black coffee. I reclined in the over-sized chair as I settled in with my friends to wait out the storm that had seemingly come out of nowhere. The mood was relaxed. Brian reached for a book and Xavier for his computer as we shared our insights into the first two days of Latin America GIE. Still largely naïve and unaware of what to expect from our travels over the following weeks we talked about what our expectations were and what we hoped to see. Little did I know at the time that we were all vastly incorrect and that no amount of reading or lecture could prepare us for the lessons that we learned.
Way back on May 13th, I got on a flight in Dulles. By midnight on the 14th, local time, I arrived in Taipei, Taiwan. GIE officially started the next morning.
We’re down to the final week of GIE. It’s been about two weeks since I took my first plane ride, but with everything that’s happened since then, it feels more like months. That first flight carried me from Baltimore all the way to Stockholm, and since then we’ve traveled to Berlin, Leipzig, Prague, Kamenický Šenov, and Bratislava. In just a few days, we’ll be off to Barcelona. I wasn’t sure what to expect from my first experience abroad, but the lineup that Professor Harris and the global studies team at McIntire have arranged for us has been absolutely stellar. We’re getting to know an entire network of European business leaders while learning the ins and outs of their companies, their careers, and the important issues facing their regions of the continent. There’s no way I can recount all that’s happened so far, but I’ll report as best I can on the surprises and the inspiration we’ve found here.
I walked into the well-lit McIntire auditorium room 120 while slowly sipping my coffee. I took a quick look around the room and noticed other slowly waking students chatting in low tones as Professor Harris and Professor Maillet waited for the chime of 8:30 am to begin. As I took in the atmosphere, I thought to myself “It’s almost impossible to believe that we started this program about 9 months ago.” I remember so well walking into the exact same room in much more formal attire sweating from the nerves of the unknown and the August heat for orientation. Now dressed in shorts and a t-shirt it was hard to believe that the same group of people sat in the same chairs in such a different situation than last August. Orientation week feels like eons ago as we are transformed from the nervous, wide-eyed, unsure students we were when we began to the assured, confident, emboldened Masters of Commerce students we are now. The year has been long, challenging, intense, but above all else, rewarding.
It’s hard to believe, but our Business Analytics coursework has wrapped up for the year! As we’re making our way onward to the Global Immersion Experience (GIE), out of McIntire, and into the working world, I wanted to get in touch with some BA alum from last year’s class to learn what they’ve been up to since graduating from the M.S. in Commerce (MSC) program.
During the fall of my senior year, I had a major decision to make. I had been accepted to several different graduate programs, ranging from economics, to math, to other master’s in management programs. I even considered staying at my alma mater, Georgia Tech, and getting a second undergraduate degree in engineering. While I knew that I wanted a more focused degree beyond my B.S. in Economics, I was not quite sure where I wanted to begin my career. During undergrad, I had played with the idea of getting a PhD, but after speaking with professors and doing several semesters of serious research, I decided I wanted to go into industry first before committing to a life of academia.
At the beginning of the program in the fall, all M.S. in Commerce students, regardless of what track they were in, had the same schedule. The program was split into section one and section two with one starting in the morning and two starting in the afternoon. With the exception of one track-specific class at the end of the semester, everyone took the same courses with the same professors, on the same days.