Looking back at M.S. in Commerce

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.

Four years of college is easy; you really get to know places, people, classes, and professors, and by your third year you get pretty comfortable with your environment. Not so much with a one year program. You don’t have the time to relax, to settle in, and to get your bearings. You have two weeks of orientation and then classes begin. You don’t know your classmates very well, and yet you have to work with them to complete projects worth a third of your grade. You become more familiar with the enormous “Strategy and Systems” case book than you do with the Grounds around you.

First day of orientation with my group mates Marielle, Lukas, and Cecilia.

But then the switch happens

But then, sometime around October, something happens. You’ve been with your classmates enough that you know not just their names, but who they are and their personalities. You feel more confident in class, and people are reacting to and engaging with your ideas. And, most importantly, you’re breezing through problems that just a few months earlier would have taken you a week!

You stop feeling like a liberal arts or science or econ kid in business classes, you start to feel like someone who gets business. The way you think about problems starts to change. You look around at businesses you know and ask yourself: “why do they do what they do?” “Is it successful?” “Would I do something differently?” It’s the strangest feeling in the world, but you feel like you actually “get” business.

After one of the first big projects with my team during ICE.

Gaining confidence as a business student

It’s easy to get wrapped up at being at McIntire. It’s an incredibly prestigious program at an incredibly prestigious school. UVA’s Grounds (what they call campus) are considered one of the most beautiful places in the world, and there’s always fun to be had on the Corner and downtown.

But I went to UVA for my undergrad, and I already knew all that coming into the MSC program. I wanted to get a business education, get a job, and prepare myself for the next stage in my life (and, to be honest, be at UVA another year).

What I didn’t expect is the confidence this program would give me. I felt I was a strong student during undergrad, but this program was really challenging for me. You spend the whole first semester in ICE (the Integrated Core Experience) learning accounting, finance, marketing, and all other disciplines all at once. It’s almost impossible to keep up, and yet somehow you do.

Then when you come out of the fall semester, you look back and you’re amazed with yourself. How did I pull that off? Late nights in Rouss and Robertson, Saturday morning group meetings, and all the coffee the grad lounge has to offer.

And you feel invincible. You finished that semester of “drinking through a fire hose,” and it’s like wow, I can do anything. And you may start listening to business podcasts or TV and you totally get what they are talking about, lingo and all.

You can sit down in a job interview and confidently answer any question the interviewer asks. Time you worked in a group? Check. A time when you were successful despite being busy? Don’t remind me. And then you get a job! The last step in completing your undergrad/graduate career (perhaps only for the time being).

Last group meeting ever.

The numbers speak for themselves

If you want to know average salary, placement percentage, track information, check out the Post-Grad StatisticsCareer Destinations Report and website. The program was also recently ranked #2 in the world (#1 in the U.S.) by The Economist, and that’s pretty cool too.

However, your success will not come from the numbers McIntire touts. No, your success will come from the fact that after you finish the program and receive a Master’s in Commerce, you feel like you can do anything.

You might not know everything there is to know in the world. You will feel, however, that you have the resources to overcome whatever challenges come your way, either through the people at McIntire, the many casebooks you acquire, or even just on Google.

That’s a really cool feeling – and that’s why MSC is worth a year of your time.

-Written by Spencer Kulow, M.S. in Commerce 2017

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