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How To Build Your Professional Profile At Business School With Experiential Learning

An MBA equips you with a solid foundation in business, but what sets top graduates apart is their ability to apply that knowledge. Here's how experiential learning can bridge that gap


Fri Jun 7 2024

MBA graduates are highly sought after for their business expertise. But in a competitive job market, maximizing the opportunities outside the classroom can help you prove your ability to drive commercial success.

This is where experiential learning comes in. From live business cases to consultancy projects, participating in hands-on learning opportunities showcases your ability to turn in-class knowledge into actionable skills and business acumen.

An example of a program that emphasizes experiential learning is the MBA in Strategic Management and Leadership through Change at Grenoble Ecole de Management (GEM). 

Here’s how an experiential learning-focused MBA program can boost your professional profile:

1. Take an active role in consultancy projects

While the classroom is where you learn theoretical business concepts, experiential learning activities are where knowledge is forged into practical skills.

MBA students at GEM, located in France’s equivalent of Silicon Valley, are encouraged to learn by doing. With live business cases and an Exploratory Consultancy Project, MBAs are placed at the heart of real-world business challenges.

For GEM MBA student Marcin Michniewicz, this hands-on approach allowed him to work on a digital transformation initiative for Becton Dickinson (BD), a leading medical technology company.

Drawing from the business frameworks they learned in class, Marcin and his team worked on the company’s market analysis and value proposition, as well as identifying potential challenges.

“This project has not only allowed me to apply theoretical knowledge to practical scenarios but also honed my analytical and strategic thinking skills,” says Marcin.

Business frameworks are the cornerstones of strategic thinking, providing you with tools and structures to analyze business issues and derive solutions.

“Experiential projects have provided me with a strong grasp of multiple frameworks, from strategic analysis tools to leadership and change management models. Coming from a tech background, it has been eye-opening to learn about,” says Marcin.

With a broader view of how various frameworks are applied to different business functions, graduates are equipped to step into leadership roles, equipped to analyze situations from multiple perspectives and make strategic decisions.

2. Gain global business acumen with immersive international trips

Living and learning in a global tech hub like Grenoble provides a solid foundation for understanding international business—but there’s no substitute for firsthand experience.

This is where programs offering immersive international trips provide a distinct advantage.

Grenoble MBA candidates embark on a study trip to Berlin, home to a thriving startup ecosystem. The trip is focused on digital transformation, and students gain firsthand insights from industry leaders such as Accenture and software giant SAP.

“Prior to the Berlin trip, I had a more theoretical understanding of how digital transformation tools are used. This trip showed us real-world uses, such as how SAP leverages data for better decision-making,” says Marcin.

Through firsthand experiences, students gain a deeper understanding of the diverse business practices, challenges and opportunities that different markets present.

The combination of local expertise and international exposure is an asset for Grenoble MBAs, setting up young professionals to navigate the complexities of today’s global business landscape.

3. Develop core soft skills through experiential learning

Exposure to different industries and networks equips MBAs with core soft skills to apply in every aspect of business communication.

Through collaboration and networking with industry leaders, students develop a deeper understanding of how businesses communicate effectively across all levels, from identifying and responding to user needs, to honing change management and negotiation skills.

“Beyond the technical side, understanding the people who require a service and having that broader view of what they need is important,” says Marcin.

Developing an array of soft skills is key to understanding how to be an adaptable business leader who can navigate diverse perspectives, manage competing priorities, and effectively communicate to different audiences.

4. Build a diverse business network beyond the classroom

Networking opportunities as an MBA student start right from campus. Grenoble MBAs have multiple opportunities to connect with industry professionals who visit campus to share their insights.

“We’ve had many campus visits from successful business leaders in private and public sectors who have shared their real experiences with us—the problems they’ve faced, how they’ve tackled them, and what they learned in the process,” explains Marcin.

With leading companies such as STMicroelectronics and Rossignol at their doorstep, the campus location of Grenoble provides students with close access to a dynamic network of potential employers and collaborators.

“We are in a great location as MBA students—a significant portion of France’s startup funding is here,” says Marcin.

By prioritizing experiential learning during your MBA, you cultivate a well-rounded business perspective, preparing you to tackle real-world business challenges with confidence.