Why MBA Students Go On Exchange
Going on an exchange could lead to interesting cultural experiences
One thing a lot of MBA students do is an exchange program. We here at BusinessBecause decided to find out what motivates people to do one and what the advantages are. We interviewed three MBA students about their exchange programs and what spurred them on to do one.
First we spoke to Raul Avellaneda, he's a student studying at ESADE, Barcelona who decided to do an exchange at the Ross School of Business in Michigan, USA. He told us that there were several motivating factors for his exchange. The first point he made was that, “doing an MBA abroad always adds something to your C.V.”, he elaborated by talking about how going on an exchange shows that you're willing to learn about foreign business markets and explore different cultures.
He went on to say that doing an exchange in the US was particularly good for him because he was from Spain, he elaborated by saying, “Doing an exchange in the US is a real boost for my C.V. The America market influences everything.” He told us that studying business at Ross gave him a new perspective about the world economy. Raul's second reason for studying in the US was to experience American culture.
We then decided to speak to a student who was having the opposite exchange experience to Raul. Veronica Garay is a part time MBA student who's studying at the Haas School of Business in California, who's on exchange at ESADE. She said the primary reason she decided to an exchange was to broaden her personal network and to step out of the US mentality.
She told us the reason she chose ESADE was due it's world renowned reputation. Another motivating factor for Veronica is the fact that she speaks Spanish and she wanted to utilise this skill in her exchange. Like Raul she was also seeking a cultural experience. Veronica went on to say, “I really like Barcelona, it's a wonderful city and there's so much history in this region.”
When we asked Veronica what the big differences were between her studies at Haas and her studies at ESADE she said, “ The first big difference is that at Berkeley I'm on a part time programme. The second one is that there's a significant age gap between the students at the two institutions.”
She then talked about how discussions at Haas are far more equal between professors and students. Veronica attributed this to the fact that at Haas she's on a part time course where a lot of the students are actively involved in industry which means they have useful experiences to talk about.
In contrast, at ESADE she's noticed that the students are younger which means there's less discussion and far more straightforward lecturing. At ESADE there is more emphasis on collaborating with your classmates, which is reflected in the grading. She said that, “a large percentage of our grading at ESADE seems to be based on how much you participate in your group.”
Finally we spoke to Rebecca Ching Wan Wong who's studying for an MBA at CEIBS, Shanghai. She's currently on an exchange at IESE where she hopes to deepen her knowledge about globalization. She explained this by saying, “so much of what you learn about on an MBA is about how globalised the world market is. So I decided I'd experience this for myself by doing an exchange.”
When we asked Rebecca why she chose IESE for her exchange she told us, “I'm very interested in management and IESE has a strong background in this area and entrepreneurship, which is another area I'm interested in.” She also talked about how IESE's reputation as a top business school was one the factors that solidified her decision to come to IESE.
We then asked Rebecca what the big differences were in the course content, she said, “in some ways you're covering the same subject matter but what's interesting is that the approach to the subject matter is very different.” Veronica then talked in more detail about how a lot the case studies that they looked at were Harvard business cases vs local examples, except that the cases were more relevant to Europe at IESE.
Rebecca also noted that she was impressed by how integrated learning at IESE was. She told us that, “there's a phenomenal culture here. For example when the school hosts events there's usually over 90% attendance.” The one big thing that both IESE and CEIBS have in common is their strong focus on peer learning,
After speaking to these students we realised that the main motivating factor for doing an exchange is to get a new learning perspective and to study different markets. However, as you can see the students that we've spoken to have shown there's more than one good reason to do an exchange.
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