7 Reasons Why UVA Feels Close to Home as a W&L Alum

I was set on going to college at UVA since I was 8 years old. No one, including myself, understood the root of my passion for a completely unfamiliar school. Everyone in my family had gone to school in South Carolina, and my friends all planned to go to schools near my hometown, Greenville. But for some reason, UVA always felt right.

W&L's Campus
W&L Colonnade during first snow day of 2015

During my senior year, my parents and three younger siblings road-tripped “to the North” to tour colleges. An hour before we arrived in Charlottesville, my dad took the Lexington exit to Washington and Lee (W&L). I told him there is no point in visiting such a small school, assuring him that I would never apply. But the instant that I stepped onto campus, I realized that W&L felt even more right. Little did I know, I would be fortunate enough to attend UVA four years down the road.

Cadaver Bridge during a beautiful fall day in Lexington

My time at W&L was incredible, and if I could rewind back to the day I made my college decision, I wouldn’t do a thing differently. After four years, I had grown into the person I am today.

After graduating on the Colonnade, I felt nostalgic as I said goodbye to my home of four years. Yet during the first days of the program, I found myself walking through a new row of columns that seemed strangely familiar. I’m pleasantly surprised how close to home I feel at UVA as a W&L alum. Each day, I realize how well the two schools complement each other. The M.S. in Commerce Program has been the perfect stepping stone, and has allowed me to have another year in an incredible place, with many of the elements that I love most about W&L.

Here are seven reasons why the two schools mesh so well:

1   The History

I quickly learned that UVA students talk about Thomas Jefferson as much as W&L students talk about George Washington and Robert E. Lee. Both of the schools’ history began with two of our nation’s earliest presidents, and both hold tight to their extraordinary legacies. W&L and UVA were founded in 1749 and 1819, respectively. If age equals wisdom, why not learn from both?

Classic Rotunda
Thomas Jefferson’s Rotunda at UVA
Washington and Lee’s historic Lee Chapel

2 – Quirky Traditions

I’m not sure how I felt when I realized that like W&L students, UVA students have bucket lists of traditions that include “streaking.” Streaking the Colonnade or Lawn is one of many quirky traditions that W&L and UVA have in common. From secret societies to floating the river, both schools has a plethora of traditions that make student life exciting and memorable.

3 – Honor

In the first weeks at both W&L and UVA, we attended extensive meetings about the significance of the honor code. At W&L, I was able to take exams in my room, leave my book bag unattended in the library, and know that everyone took my word for the truth. The centrality of the honor code made W&L incredible, and it was great to learn that both inside and outside of the classroom, UVA students hold honor to the same standard.

Both UVA and Washington & Lee’s beautiful backyard

4 – Virginia is Beautiful

Yes, students at both W&L and UVA work a lot, but at least we’re working in beautiful places! You can’t deny the beauty of either campus, and in both Lexington and Charlottesville, there are countless activities to do both on and off campus. I was so excited to find that when you drive just minutes outside Charlottesville, you experience the same beautiful country roads as those surrounding Lexington.

5 – The Best Professors

To be honest, coming in, I was extremely intimidated of McIntire professors. I had grown accustomed to small W&L classes with the professors who invited us over for dinner, and I assumed that there was no way these relationships with professors could exist at a larger school. But by the first week of class, students had already formed a fantasy football league with Professor Harris, our systems and strategy professor and the head of the MSC Program. Like the professors at W&L, the professors in the MSC Program are outstanding. When you feel behind, they want more than anything to get you up to speed. When you’re sick, they understand and genuinely care. They love what they do, and students’ success is their #1 concern.

6 – Alumni Network

I once thought that no one loved and remembered their college as much as W&L alums. UVA has proved me wrong. When I reached out to W&L alumni during my summer job search, each person I spoke with was so excited to help. Being on the other side, I can understand why, and it motivates me to want to help current W&L students in any way that I can. UVA alumni share a similar passion for their school, and have the same excitement while recruiting UVA students. Having access to alumni networks at both schools is incredibly valuable.

7 – The Students

I assumed that the W&L speaking tradition didn’t apply to other campuses, especially at large schools. But I’ve learned that UVA students are just as friendly. The students I’ve gotten to know at both UVA and W&L are not only intelligent, but they are incredibly interesting and caring. At both schools students are mostly on the same page, and there’s a shared feeling of being “in it together.” Being surrounded by such hardworking, kind, and motivated people constantly pushes me to be my best self.

One of many W&L classes on the Colonnade
Students working on the lawn thanks to a beautiful day in CVille
Students working on the lawn thanks to a beautiful day in C-ville

I can’t imagine a better place, and a better program, to continue my academic and personal growth. I’m so fortunate to once again be in a tight-knit community, where I can build meaningful relationships with incredible students, teachers, and faculty who genuinely care.

And one final perk of the program—even though I love Lexington restaurant Bistro, after four years it’s great to have a few more restaurant options right around the corner (even Chipotle!) :)

-Written by Katie Nell Taylor

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

Group work…two words that make any overachiever quiver in fear.

In a fast-paced professional world that is becoming increasingly cross-functional, working in teams is essential to producing high quality and timely results. Fortunately, the folks at McIntire have made sure to give us all the tools we need to be effective team players and plenty of opportunities to practice from the very beginning.

Before the first day of school, we were all carefully assigned to teams to ensure diversity in our backgrounds, tracks and career interests. We will be completing several projects together, ranging from case analysis to presentations in which we offer recommendations to real-life executives.

We’ve had several Team Skills and Effectiveness (TS & E) sessions with Professor Amanda Cowen to prepare us for these projects. During these sessions, we evaluated our individual strengths and learned how they could compliment those of our fellow group members. We also learned about how to avoid common pitfalls in communication, the importance of setting goals, and how to effectively approach group decision-making.

Professor Cohen also gave us one of my favorite homework assignments to date: we had to establish our group norms and expectations…and it had to be in a non-academic setting. My team took this as an opportunity to go glow-bowling and talk about our goals for the semester over French fries. Don’t believe me? I have photographic evidence (I’m second in from the left):Ryan 1

Assignments like this are designed to help us gain confidence in our abilities to contribute to professional groups, even as junior-level employees. In the words of Professor Cohen:

The role of the TS & E sessions is to support students in being thoughtful about how to evaluate and facilitate team effectiveness. My hope is that the opportunity to experiment and receive feedback about different approaches will increase students’ confidence that they can contribute to and influence a team’s work even without formal authority. Feedback from recruiters confirms that these team skills are noticed and valued in McIntire students. More generally, I think these competencies allow junior people to better capitalize on the professional development opportunities of working in teams, while avoiding much of the anxiety!

Overachievers, you can breathe now.

-Written by Ryan Riccordella

Student Profile: Tien “Lucy” Nguyen

Concentration: Business Analytics

Undergraduate Institution: University of Virginia

Undergrad Major: Economics & East Asian Studies

Hometown: Hanoi, Vietnam

Fun Fact: I do a pretty good Pikachu (Pokémon) impression

Lucy 1Why did you pursue the M.S. in Commerce Program?

Policies have the potential to change millions of lives at once. Because of my childhood experiences, I wanted to help reduce poverty through economics policies. However, I became less idealistic as I continued with my studies. I realized that there are many barriers to policy implementation. For that reason, I decided to pursue the M.S. in Commerce Program instead of accepting my offer to the Economics PhD Program at American University.

Business is not all about profit. Business is about creating value. More specifically, business can alleviate poverty by creating jobs, providing goods and services at affordable prices, and stimulating the local economy. Rather than taking a bottom down approach, I hope to transform the world through business, one company at a time. I believe that the M.S. Commerce Program would provide me a chance to achieve this goal.

How did you decide on “Lucy” as your American name?

In my freshman year of high school, my mother’s work moved us from Vietnam to Columbia, Missouri. (My mom is a Fulbright Scholar who researches agricultural genetics, focusing on rice and soybean growth!) My limited knowledge of English at the time made me nervous, so I decided to enroll in a French class. I figured that our teacher’s lessons on French grammar would simultaneously teach me English grammar! Anyway, when the teacher asked us all to pick out French names to use during class, I decided on Lucy—it’s simple and beautiful.

Lucy, age five, at her Vietnamese elementary school entrance ceremony
Lucy, age five, at her Vietnamese elementary school entrance ceremony

What undergraduate institution did you attend, and what did you study?

I attended the University of Virginia as an undergrad—Wahoowa! Actually, one of the main reasons I chose UVA was that all three of my stepsisters graduated from the University. We’re very close, so I knew that they loved UVA. Its reputation for academics was appealing as well! I decided to double major in economics (with a concentration in international economics) and East Asian studies and minor in foreign affairs. I chose this unique combination of studies because my dream is to work to reduce poverty, especially that which I encountered during my time in East Asia.

What made you want to continue your education after completing your undergraduate degree?

My mother’s commitment to academia has inspired me my whole life. As one of nine children in recently post-war Vietnam, she grew up in a very poor household and—as is common there—she dedicated herself to her studies as her way “out.” Consequently, she wanted me to benefit from education as much as she did. She always provided me with tutors and sent me to good schools. I am definitely my mother’s daughter; she instilled her inextinguishable devotion to academics in me. I absolutely love to learn because it keeps my mind active. All of us in the M.S. in Commerce Program—we’re still young. I think it’s best to learn as much as we possibly can.

You touched on your goal to work hard to reduce poverty. Could you expand on what you imagine for your career path? Did you ever consider another way to reach your professional goals, other than the M.S. in Commerce Program?

Sure! Originally, I thought that studying economics would help me accomplish my goal of widespread reduction in international poverty. I dreamed of working somewhere like The World Bank or the IMF. In fact, American University accepted me to its Ph.D. in economics program. I almost went there, too, but I realized something while considering this option. It’s easy to say, “I want to reduce poverty!” But how do we get there? What’s the most efficient and effective path to actual results? Economic theory definitely plays a significant role, but there are more barriers to enacting legislation than you could imagine—interest groups, lobbyists, politicians—the list goes on.

I believe that it will be through business that I will enact the most positive change. When more businesses make better decisions—often as a result of expert consulting advice—the spillover effect has massive beneficial potential. That’s why I chose the Business Analytics Track in the M.S. in Commerce Program: I want to catalyze tangible change for the citizens of the world who struggle financially, and the best way for me to do that is to study business analytics, not economic theory. I would love to join an economic consulting firm and work on high-impact projects involving contracts with government agencies around the world.

What are you loving most about the program so far, and the Business Analytics Track in particular?

I love that every day presents a new challenge. As I mentioned before, there’s nothing I love more than learning, learning, learning. I made a point of taking at least five challenging courses every semester during undergrad, so I thought that I had mastered time management. But the intense MSC curriculum keeps me on my toes—in a good way! I can rest assured that the corporate world will not be a huge adjustment once I get out there.

I also love the small class sizes. I’m getting to know all my wonderful classmates much better than I knew the people in my classes during undergrad. That’s another reason I chose this program over the Ph.D. program at American: I love the human interaction in business, which you don’t get as much of in the world of economic academia. This curriculum gives me the chance to hone my collaboration and communication skills more than I ever have. One of my favorite classes has been Professor Brendan Boler’s consulting class; all of his job search advice is spot on. And I’m loving Professor Chris Yung’s finance class—it’s moving very fast, but I’m learning a lot, just like I love. It’s keeping my brain awake!

Regarding the Business Analytics Track, it’s starting off wonderfully. As soon as I learned about it, I knew business analytics would perfectly suit me. I still remember fiddling around with a dial-up internet connection to create my own online forum in middle school. I had no idea what I was doing, but I thought it was the coolest thing ever. I still do; I took an awesome computer programing class during my last semester of undergrad! In the program, we’re starting to delve into about statistical software like SQL, Excel, and Tableau. I can’t wait to learn more!

It’s your fifth year living in Charlottesville. What is it about this magical place that won’t let you leave quite yet?

Where do I begin? There are just so many things to love about Charlottesville. There is always some new activity to explore. I love that it’s a small city—not super busy but still thriving. You see people wherever you go, not just cars zooming this way and that. People are everywhere: walking downtown, listening to live music, eating great food, and discovering the unique architecture. Charlottesville has definitely become another home, which means a lot to me. I have family all over: My dad and much of my extended family live in Vietnam, my mom and my stepdad live in Nigeria, my stepsisters live in Vienna, and here I am in Charlottesville. Skype helps a lot, but my international lifestyle has taught me that “home” is wherever I’m with people whom I love and care about. And I have absolutely found that in Charlottesville.

For any readers who may be considering applying here from far away, I would advise you to not be afraid to try new things. If you really want to broaden your horizons, you need to experience something you’ve never done before. I’m kind of a veteran of the whole “international student” experience, and I can tell you that the risk is always worth taking, no matter how daunting it may seem. You’re young—you there is so much you can learn by putting yourself out there. And people are always willing to help you out—at least, that’s what I’ve experienced at UVA.

-Written by Logan Steele

Not Your Typical Career Fair

What Makes McIntire’s Commerce Career Day the Best (In the Eyes of M.S. in Commerce Students)
Career day 1


McIntire successfully kicked off its annual Commerce Career Day (CCD) in John Paul Jones Arena on Wednesday, September 16, an event that we, M.S. in Commerce students, have anxiously anticipated since our program began on August 10th.

Right when I heard the words “Career Fair” during Orientation, thoughts of chaotic booths, endless lines, and pushy students filled my mind. Later in our first week, McIntire’s Assistant Director of Career Development, Alicia Shrestha, continued to fill us in on the details of CCD. I became excited as I skimmed the impressive list of over 95 companies. But I wondered, after only attending a few weeks of business classes, how were we expected to stand out amongst the 1,000 UVA commerce students at the event?

As one of the top U.S. business schools, the strength of McIntire’s corporate partnerships and alumni network came as no surprise. However, the fact that we felt confident networking with employers from these companies by mid-September surprised us all.

Throughout just the first weeks of our program, my classmates and I had already undergone extensive preparation for the recruiting process. By the time CCD arrived, MSC students were extremely equipped to communicate with employers. The MSC program has not only provided us with an incredible alumni pool, but it has given us the skills to actually navigate this pool to land a job.

Career Day 3

MSC students, Pablo Teran, Kristen Parker, Laura Griffith, McPhail Kirven, and Fleet Jerigan at Commerce Career Day

By the end of the first month, we learned the meaning of outstanding career resources. The career service team held intensive workshops focused on personal branding, networking, and navigating career events. While we focused on all types of events, we took a particularly detailed look into CCD and mapped strategies to help us approach the event confidently.

Career services offered broad resources outside of these presentations as well. From holding resume workshops to mock interviews, career services quickly revealed they would do everything it takes for us to find a job.

Our recruitment preparation did not end with the career services programs, and strategies for an effective career search were integrated into our daily coursework. During our first full weeks of classes, we began an incredibly unique and valuable consulting course with Professor Boler.

As a former employee of both Accenture and Goldman Sachs who went on to work in career development at UVA’s Darden School of Business, Professor Boler is well versed in the recruitment process for business students. On the first day of class, he said, “I know that I’m competing with outside forces . . . and that’s why I’m integrating elements of the job search into this academic course.” The course focused on applying the consulting problem-solving framework to the job search, which helped us to develop entrepreneurial mindsets when exploring our future career paths.

In our first assignment, Professor Boler required that we each film ourselves answering the prompt, “walk me through your resume.” After submitting the assignment, we met in small groups to hear detailed feedback from both Professor Boler and our classmates. Being thrown into this assignment not only taught us the skills to tell our story, but it gave us the confidence to own it.

When CCD finally arrived, MSC students were surprised how prepared they felt to take on the day. As expected, the event was crowded and the lines were long. Yet, MSC students successfully navigated the fair based on their tracks and interests. Whether students talked to 3 or 25 recruiters, they all shared a feeling of excitement and satisfaction at the end of the day.

Current Business Analytics student, Riley O’Shea, commented on how evident it was that the last month’s work paid off. He said, “After having some great conversations today, I kept thinking how much our ‘2-minute pitch’ assignment had paid off.” On a similar note, Michael Miller, part of the finance track, commented, “After the preparation in our consulting class, I was able to ask meaningful questions.” Marketing and management student, Julia Pedrick, claimed, “Because I now understand the inner workings of organizations, I articulated exactly which positions I’m interested in and I could easily convey this to recruiters.”

career day 2

Professor Harris with Ryan Riccordella, Jack Fisher, Jinny Chen, Jordan Smith, Olivia Krise, and Julia Pedrick during the MSC trip to the Capital One campus in Richmond

MSC students’ success came as no surprise to employers, who all have deep understanding of the curriculum of our program. Many recruiters told students of all tracks that they were very interested in our diverse backgrounds, commenting that the MSC program gives students an incredibly competitive positioning.

MSC alums who now work in a variety of industries attended CCD, and they offered valuable insights from the other end of the table. A consultant at a multinational technology corporation shared that she applied for the M.S. in Commerce Program because she wanted a business skill-set to complement her liberal arts background, but at the time she knew very little about consulting. Yet, by the end of October, she had not only learned the ups and downs of the industry, but she had successfully landed an incredible job with the management consulting team. Now as an employer, she knows first-hand the value of the MSC experience, and she absolutely takes this into consideration during the recruiting process.

Even if we don’t all know exactly what we want to do, after seeing tangible results of only one month in the MSC program, we can rest assured that we will be fully equipped going forward with the job search. It’s safe to say, at the end of career day, we were glad that we followed Professor Harris’s advice to “Trust the Process.”

-Written by Katie Nell

Hello from your 2015-2016 M.S. in Commerce reps!

MSC Group Photo

We’re so excited for what’s sure to be a great year. All of us have non-business backgrounds and are going to give you a behind-the-scenes look at our journey to obtaining business degrees, as well as all the great things this program has to offer. Stay tuned throughout the year for updates on our courses, Comm School events, and the job search. We’ll also fill you in on our excursions around Charlottesville and let you know where the hotspots are (a.k.a. where you should eat).

You are welcome to reach out to any of us at GCOMGradlife@gmail.com with any questions, comments, requests, etc. – and follow us on Instagram and Twitter for more updates on our whereabouts!

Go ‘Hoos!

Your MSC Reps


Ryan Blog Photo

Name: Ryan Riccordella

Concentration: Marketing & Management

Undergrad Institution: Wake Forest University

Undergrad Major: Psychology

Hometown: Long Valley, N.J.

Motto: “You may have abs, but I have pizza.”

Hi everyone! My name is Ryan, and I am so excited to share my experiences with you all!

A bit about me: I’m a huge NASCAR fan, so being close to all of the tracks may or may not have been the reason I went to school down South (it wasn’t). It shouldn’t come as a surprise that I, as a psychology major in undergrad, am really interested in marketing, particularly consumer behavior and/or brand management. I worked as a Shopper Insights Analyst Intern this past summer and loved being able to come up with creative solutions grounded in quantitative insights.

After McIntire, I hope to find myself in a marketing or branding agency, helping clients develop ways to communicate with customers more effectively. I’d also love to be in the motorsports industry in some capacity (that isn’t driving). Who knows? Maybe one day I’ll work for NASCAR!


Katie Nell BlogName: Katie Nell Taylor

Concentration: Marketing & Management

Undergrad Institution: Washington & Lee University

Undergrad Major: European History

Hometown: Greenville, S.C.

Motto: “Life’s too exciting to clean my room.”

Hey, everyone! I’m so excited to be a part of the MSC social media team and can’t wait to see what this year has in store!

To help you get to know me a little better—I’m the oldest of four, I love running in new places, my spirit animal is Marcel the Shell, and my favorite city in the world is Charleston, S.C.

I took a marketing management course during my junior year that sparked my interest in the industry, and the following summer, I moved across the country to intern at an advertising agency in Portland, Ore. After this experience, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in marketing. As I’ve learned more about business, I’ve grown very interested in marketing on the client side, particularly brand management. I’m excited to share how the MSC Program helps me reach these goals!


Jordan Blog

Name: Jordan Smith

Concentration: Business Analytics

Undergraduate Institution: Lehigh University

Undergraduate Major: Spanish

Hometown: Washington Crossing, Pa.

Motto: “Keep your heels, head, and standards high.”

Hola! I’m so excited to be working with the rest of these amazing people to give y’all an idea of what this whole program is all about. So just a little bit about me—I am a huge foodie! I absolutely love trying new restaurants, and let me tell you, there’s a bunch of great ones down here. Moving to Charlottesville from up North, I’ve fallen in love with grits. One of my dreams is to have a French bulldog named Potato, and my favorite Disney Princess would have to be Belle.

After McIntire, I hope to work with customer and behavior analytics for a global company, even possibly working abroad at some point. Customer and behavior analytics is a concept I hadn’t heard about before entering MSC Program, but it perfectly meshes my interest in understanding how the role of culture and human nature influences business decisions. I’m really looking forward to being exposed to and learning a whole new set of technical skills that will help me reach this goal in the future!


Logan Blog

Name: Logan Steele

Concentration: Marketing & Management

Undergrad Institution: University of Virginia

Undergraduate Major: Economics & Psychology

Hometown: McLean, Va.

Motto: “Anything’s possible if you’ve got enough nerve.” – J.K. Rowling

Hey there! I’m SO excited to be one of the social media interns! Just to give y’all kind of a taste of who I am, here are a few random things about me:

  1. I’m a huge fan of the Harry Potter series, and my favorite character is Luna Lovegood. I’ve read all the books and seen all the movies countless times! Oddly enough, I never went to any of the midnight premieres of the books or movies, but that’s probably because I’m more of an early bird than a night owl. I think I made up for missed premieres with my amazing Luna costume I wore for Halloween last year!
  2. I’m a total dog person! Cats are okay (I’ve definitely met my fair share of cute kittens), but nothing’s better than a dog! I love how happy and loyal and SO ADORABLE THEY ARE. Sorry, I got excited.

Looking to the future, I hope that the MSC Program will help me achieve my dream of working in a marketing/advertising capacity for a nonprofit organization. Even if that’s years down the road, I know that this program will equip me with all the skills I need to launch some kind of career in marketing! I can’t wait to share some thoughts with y’all this year as I experience the M.S. in Commerce Program. Stay tuned!

M.S. in Commerce ’15 Job Destinations

The M.S. in Commerce Class of 2015 completed the Global Immersion Experience (GIE) in June and their final coursework for the Program. Some members of the class started full-time jobs literally days after the final dinner of GIE; others continued on trips exploring the islands of Bali, major cities of Europe, or temples around Asia.

The recent grads have accepted jobs all over the country and world. Next year, they will be working in New York City, Seattle, Baltimore, Atlanta, Austin, Hong Kong, Chicago, Shanghai, and Washington, D.C. (just to name a few). They have accepted jobs everywhere from large, well-known companies and organizations (EY, Boston Consulting Group, FBI, and IBM) to smaller start-ups, boutique firms, and nonprofits. As consultants, industry and market researchers, brand specialists, business analysts, project managers, and bankers, graduates will be tackling the most pressing of business challenges and questions relating to strategy, growing a business, entering a new market, positioning a brand, and optimizing search results. xx






Congratulations to the M.S. in Commerce Class of 2015, and best of luck in your future careers!

Group pictrure bloggers

Class of 2015 Bloggers Say Farewell!

It was a privilege to represent the M.S. in Commerce Class of 2015 on the blog. Ellie, Joseph, and I have really enjoyed our time interviewing alumni and professors, learning more about our classmates, and conveying how truly special the McIntire School of Commerce community is.

The three of us said our goodbyes before leaving for the Global Immersion Experience (GIE) in May. It was great to stay in touch across the world by discussing our take-aways from East Asia, the Middle East and India, and Latin America.  The other two tracks were to Europe and Southeast Asia.

Ellie 2
Ellie traveled on the East Asia Track. She is in front of a fishing village on Lantau Island in Hong Kong.
Joseph Labetti Istanbul
Joseph traveled to the Middle East & India. He is with a classmate in front of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey.
Kaylee Lucas Panama Canal
I traveled to Latin America. This is a picture in front of the Panama Canal expansion site.

On the Latin America track, I was impressed by how often we encountered the theme of potential. In each country we visited, we discussed each country’s potential to experience GDP growth, minimize the unemployment rate, lower its Gini coefficient, and increase global presence. It was inspiring to speak with businessmen and businesswomen who believed so much in their country’s ability to achieve these goals.

As I reflect on GIE and what it means for a country to have potential, I also considered what it means for each of my classmates to achieve their potential as we embark on our own career paths. We gained so many skills this past year at McIntire. We traveled the world and saw how businesses operate in all corners of the globe. We gained a huge network of friends who are moving to work as consultants, bankers, brand managers, data scientists, and more all over the globe. We have great potential.

I personally will remain in Charlottesville at Merkle | RKG as a Paid Search Analyst. I’m very excited to become part of the working world and use the skills and knowledge I learned at McIntire. I’m also thrilled to meet the new M.S. in Commerce Class of 2016.

Written By: Kaylee Lucas


GIE East Asia Excerpt: 10 Days in China

Laura Pattison (M.S. in Commerce ’15) and 23 of her classmates visited Beijing and Shanghai as part of the East Asia Global Immersion Experience. Below, she chronicles ten days of company visits and cultural excursions in China.

Beijing, Day 1   Today we flew from Seoul to Beijing (apparently just in time, with all this MERS talk). As soon as we landed, I realized Beijing is quite different from other cities we’ve visited so far, like Tokyo and Seoul. Upon arrival, we joined a swarm of people to get in a line for immigration. Because we were running behind, and traffic is insane, we went straight from the airport to an acrobatic show. It was fantastic, and had everything from a ballerina doing pointe on a guy’s extended arm to eight motorcycles in a sphere driving around at one time. We unfortunately were unable to take pictures or video during the show. Finally, we arrived at our hotel. I grabbed a bite to eat and then crashed. I can’t explain to you how many people are constantly out and about in Beijing, how many cars there are on the streets, or how surprised I am that there aren’t more collisions with pedestrians or bicycles. Bicycles literally have their own stoplight here, though neither cyclists or pedestrians seem to pay any attention to traffic rules. Yet, they somehow make it across eight (optional) designated lanes of traffic unharmed.

Beijing, Day 2  We spent a majority of the day at Guanghua School of Management at Peking University. We had two sessions on “Doing Business in China” taught by Guanghua faculty. The first session focused on what has led to China’s rapid growth over the last 30 years and how the Chinese must proceed in the future. The second session instructed us on how to do business on an individual level with Chinese professionals. School representatives took us on a tour of the school’s beautiful grounds, which were once royal gardens during the Ming and Xing dynasties. On the way home from Peking University, instead of waiting in traffic for a few hours, we stopped for dinner at a Peking duck restaurant. (Photo: Peking restaurant’s mascot. He looks pretty happy, considering.)


Beijing, Day 3  We’re halfway through GIE! We started the day early in order to have more time for amazing cultural events. We started by visiting Tiananmen Square and then walked to the Forbidden City. In Tiananmen Square, there are peddlers ready to spring on tourists. These guys and girls were very persistent but also willing to negotiate. The Forbidden City is so much bigger than I thought. Every time we passed through or by a palace, there was a gateway to another area of the city. It was quite impressive. We then headed out of the city for lunch and then on to the GREAT WALL, something I have been excitedly waiting on for a long time. Unfortunately, the moment we got up there, it started to rain, and by rain, I mean pour. We still walked along the wall a little bit, but I definitely didn’t get to soak in the wall (no pun intended) nearly as much as I would have liked. Still, it was an awesome and humbling experience, especially as the rain poured and lightning cracked all around me. The views were spectacular, and overall, the Great Wall is at the top of my list of favorites on the trip. After a long trek back to the hotel, I attended a small group dinner with the two UVA staff members leading the trip and five other students. We had an amazing dinner of dim sum, dumplings, small buns, and cucumbers in sesame and chili oil. Quite a day for the books! (Photos: Tiananmen Square and view from the Great Wall)
beijing-forbidden city beijing-great-wall

Beijing, Day 4 Since today was a free day for us, many of us decided to explore the Silk Market. We browsed through pearls, silk, sunglasses, electronics, clothing, and much more. After spending the morning shopping, we headed to a more traditional area of the city where we wandered through street shops and ate a delicious lunch. I had shrimp in chili sauce with cashews over rice; it was the best meal I’ve had since having sushi in Tokyo. After a late lunch, our group made it back to the hotel, where I took the rest of the evening to relax and prepare for our travels to Shanghai!

Shanghai, Day 1 Today we left Beijing and traveled to Shanghai by a high-speed train that reached 303 km/hour, or about 186 mph. After arriving in Shanghai, I settled into our hotel, which we’ll be in for almost a whole week (hooray!), and then went out to dinner with friends. The group wanted dim sum, so we found a place relatively nearby (but still took forever to get to by cab). We then returned to the hotel to enjoy a quiet evening in preparation for a full week of company visits.

Shanghai, Day 2  We had two company visits scheduled, so we started early. The first visit was to Baosteel, the largest steel producer in China and one of the more environmentally friendly steel producers in the country. It was very interesting (and warm) to see steel being made. Next, we stopped for lunch before heading to Allergan, the second company visit. Allergan is best known in China and the United States for Botox and breast implants, but the company also makes eye-care products, including Latisse. Its office is on the 56th floor, so the views of Shanghai were impressive, despite the fog and smog of that day. After returning to the hotel, I walked to the river to see the skyline and back to the hotel, only to return to the river to see the skyline views at night.

Shanghai, Day 3 Today we visited Shanghai Media United Group (SUMG), the largest media group in China, which produces two major newspapers, magazines, and many weekly newspapers. It was very interesting to hear about media (and where print media is headed) from a state-owned enterprise in China, and the president of the company generously took the time to speak with us. After an authentic Chinese lunch at the company cafeteria, we traveled to the printing facility, where we saw how the templates are sent over from the main office and the newspapers then printed. After the company visit, we went on a cultural tour and walked around Yu Garden. After returning to the hotel, a group of fellow students and I headed to the French concession to have Thai food (yes, we went to the French concession in China to have Thai food). Afterward, we walked around the French concession, and after dinner I returned to the hotel for some rest before another day of visits. (Photos: Newspapers ready to be delivered and Yu Garden)
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Shanghai, Day 4 We visited Yangshan Port, the largest port in the world. It felt like I was right back in Norfolk! After learning about the port, and the construction of all the facilities, we went to lunch as a group. After lunch, we went to the Yangshan Free Trade Zone. After heading back to the hotel—and it was a long trek—I went shopping with a couple of friends on the walking street by the hotel and grabbed some dinner at Pizza Hut. Pizza Hut in China is almost like Olive Garden, more of a sit-down restaurant. After dinner, a few of us went to the hotel pool deck to enjoy the evening.
shanghai Yangshan port

Shanghai, Day 5  Today we visited Nike. It was interesting to hear how Nike’s approaches in China are different from its approach in the United States because of the culture, which is far less focused on sports and exercise. We asked many questions as we toured the facilities, and then shopped at the employee store. After the Nike visit, we had a short break for lunch before heading to an alumni panel. It is always informative to hear what business is like in China and how it differs from business in the United States. After the alumni reception, I took a quick dip in the hot tub at the hotel to relax before heading to bed. I’m really getting spoiled by these nice hotels.

Shanghai, Day 6  Today we had a free day, and most everyone took advantage of it as a lazy day. I decided to walk around some side streets and found myself at the river. After walking back to the hotel, I met up with some friends, and we headed to Yuyuan Bazaar, where we did a little light shopping. We returned to the hotel area and grabbed a late lunch at a local cafe. I then took some time to pack for our next stop, Hong Kong. To round out the week in Shanghai, a large group of us went to dinner at an Italian restaurant by the river, and I spent one last evening enjoying the lights of the city.


A Snapshot across All GIE Tracks

The M.S. in Commerce Class of 2015 just crossed the halfway point of their Global Immersion Experiences in Latin America, Europe, East Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East and India. The 108 students are divided among the five GIE tracks, visiting on average five cities and more than 25 companies over four weeks, as well as enjoying multiple cultural excursions. By studying global business in person and in context, M.S. in Commerce students learn to appreciate how economic, social, political, and cultural dynamics drive both the opportunities and challenges facing today’s global organizations. All trips are led by McIntire faculty and conducted in English. Below is a snapshot of M.S. in Commerce students around the world.

Latin America

Salt Cathedral of ZipaquiraA visit to the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá, a church carved from salt deposits 650 feet underground. It was originally created in the 1930s to give salt miners a place to worship and ask for protection.

pueblo nuevos peru
Students take a tour of a neighborhood just outside of Peru, an eye-opening experience..

gaitana farms tour
A company tour of La Gaitana Farms, a leading grower of carnations and spray carnations, in Bogotá, Columbia.

Ciclovia Cra 7 bogotaThe best way to see Bogotá? A four-wheeled bicycle for two.


IMG_5121Students at the BMW showroom and plant for a factory tour of the company’s facility, which is 97% automated.

IMG_5116Christian at Deloitte’s Berlin office, discussing analytics. He’ll be working at Deloitte in advisory this fall in its New York office.

A visit to one of the few remaining sections of the Berlin Wall while on a cultural tour of the city.

East Asia

Tokyo DisneyStudents spend a day at Tokyo Disney.

image1A company visit to Samsung’s headquarters in Seoul, Korea.

Forbidden CityThe Forbidden City in Beijing, China.

Tokyo Buddhist monksAn impromptu photo with young Buddhist monks in Beijing.

Southeast Asia

10989242_10153870754317995_7997214980000207478_oGIE Southeast Asia starts in Singapore and includes courses and company visits organized by NUS Business School, a partner school of McIntire.

10382336_10153870760992995_3689420035881931419_oSingapore company visits included Google.
11336884_10153882115632995_9016946325046546519_oStudents, faculty, and staff participate in a 25-mile bike tour near the Twantay region in Myanmar.

A company visit to Intel’s Ho Chi Mihn office.

Students explore a traditional floating market outside Bangkok.

A very hands-on company and culinary visit to Blue Elephant Cooking School in Bangkok.

Middle East and India

turkey-receptionA UVA reception in Istanbul for alumni and friends

DSC_0049Discovering the Spice Bazaar in the historic area of Istanbul.

DellStudents visit Dell India, where they learn about being a leader in entrepreneurship.

tombStudents in the Middle East and India GIE visit Humayun’s Tomb in Delhi, where they meet with one of the lead architects in charge of designing a new museum to display precious art and history about India and the tomb.

Flipkart in BangaloreStudents visit Flipkart in Bangalore, the leading online marketplace in India.

reserve-bank-india-mumbaiA company visit to the Reserve Bank of India in Mumbai.


GIE Latin America: Panama Canal

IMG_8251One of the most interesting company visits featured on the Latin America GIE trip is a day at the Panama Canal. Students took a moment at the Gatun Locks Expansion Observatory to see the enormous ships waiting their turn to pass through to the Atlantic Ocean.

MIT logistics centerYingqi, Cheng, Danwen and Alice donned hard hats for the tour of J. Cain’s logistic center at the Manazillo International Terminal. Located in Colon on the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal, J. Cain focuses on the transportation of technology and pharmaceuticals via road, boat and air.

– Contributed by Leigh Dannhauser