Experiential learning has become an integral part of MBA programs; from the US to Asia, business schools are integrating hands-on learning into their curriculums to meet demand from full-time MBA students who seek opportunities for hands-on projects and internships.
In fact, the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) reports that while in 2016, 41% of full-time MBA candidates preferred a work project in their program. In 2018, that figure rose to almost 50%.
Similarly, the number of students looking for internships during their full-time MBA program has increased from 68% in 2016 to almost 80% this year.
To meet this need, The Ohio State University Max M. Fisher College of Business has made experiential and action-based learning an integral part of its revamped full-time MBA curriculum.
In a redesigned MBA program launching in September 2019, students will have more chances to make connections with local and international companies, including a capstone experience, Fisher's Global Applied Project (GAP) experience, a Business Lab project, and a Social Impact Challenge.
“The experiential learning opportunities at Fisher have been integral to my growth and my goals.” - Katie Abdellatif, MBA '19
Katie Abdellatif is a current second-year student on the MBA at Fisher. After spending almost three years with medical technology company Cook Medical, she decided to pursue MBA in order to transition back into an industry she was really passionate about.
“I started to develop a passion for making an impact in the business and providing strategic recommendations, but I really wanted to pivot back into the nonprofit and social impact sector,” Katie explains. “The experiential learning opportunities have been integral to my growth and my goals and getting back into this sector.”
Since starting the program in September 2017, Katie has already completed two hands-on consultancy projects with the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and the Columbus Museum of Art.
Katie says these projects “provided me with the opportunity to connect with local nonprofits, and provide not only experience and advice for them but start applying some of the frameworks and strategies we’ve been learning in class.”
Katie also took part in the Global Applied Projects at Fisher College of Business, an experiential learning course during which students participate in a consulting project outside of the US. She worked as a strategy consultant for the Global One Health Initiative, a social enterprise, both in their regional office at Ohio State and in Ethiopia.
“This was a huge opportunity to not only understand the importance of managing client relationships but developing relationships with NGOs outside the organization,” Katie says.
“I think it’s very important that there’s an opportunity to tailor the experience to your the type of company you would want to work for,” she adds. “It’s an even better opportunity to start applying the knowledge and skills we’re using in class to a more realistic environment.”
Preparing for the future
Katie is certain that the experiences she’s had on her experiential learning projects at Fisher will prepare her for a future career—in the nonprofit sector or elsewhere.
“Overall, these experiences have built cross-cultural communication. They’ve helped me to better understand how to structure projects, and drive a team toward deadlines,” she explains.
“It’s also nice to play around with frameworks that we use in class to better understand which ones fit and which ones don’t in different situations, and what makes them a better fit for the organizations.”
But Katie also attributes her personalized experience to the community at Fisher—there are approximately 170-to-200 students enrolled on the MBA every year.
“I think having access to a huge alumni network and being part of a close-knit, collaborative culture here has also made my MBA an amazing experience,” she adds. “I landed on the MBA at Fisher College of Business because of the small size of the program and my career goals. These experiential learning projects have been integral to my growth, as well as my goal of getting back into the nonprofit sector.”