Babson Abroad: The Value of International Travel
Traveling abroad was an important factor when I was choosing an MBA program. If the school didn’t offer some sort of international experience, it was taken off of my list. You hear it all the time: Companies want globally-minded candidates. We’re in an international economy; our businesses can no longer effectively operate in a local bubble. It’s important to understand how companies operate around the globe, and having a school that valued these experiences was important to me.
Which is why I was so excited when I read about Babson’s Elective Abroad trip to Hong Kong and Singapore. I knew I wanted to go on this trip before I even got accepted into Babson’s MBA program. And when I finally got word that they were, indeed, holding the course again this year, I was elated.
That’s when a classmate and friend of mine, Kelli Sigmon, started talking about her desire to fly out early and spend some time traveling before the course began. She invited me along and I jumped at the opportunity! After all, this will probably be the last time in my life that I’ll have 5 weeks available to do whatever I want with. So we started planning our Ultimate Adventure!
We spent about a month in Southeast Asia, celebrating Christmas and New Year’s in Thailand before visiting the Angkor Wat complex in Cambodia and catching up with a friend, Linh Dinh, and her sister, Trang, in Vietnam. We were able to enjoy three weeks of exploration before our course began in Hong Kong on January 7th.
We were hoping our time with the school would move at a little bit of a slower pace, since we had been catching planes every three days for the past few weeks. Boy, were we wrong! Babson packed our schedule to the max! We spent time visiting local companies and world-wide corporations with offices in Southeast Asia. We learned about the startup culture in Hong Kong and Singapore, the different benefits and hurdles these countries pose, and what it’s like to get funding in these areas. With alumni networking events and cultural excursions peppered in, we had 7 days of jam-packed learning and fun.
My favorite part of the whole trip was being able to spend it with my classmates. I met people from other programs that I wouldn’t have crossed paths with otherwise. I got to know my peers better than I would have under other circumstances. We all bonded over this trip, and certainly felt each other’s pain when we were recovering from the jet lag after the flight back!
I never would have taken a trip like this if I hadn’t come to Babson. I’m grateful for the lessons I learned while I was traveling, both cultural and professional. I now feel more equipped to take on a position with an international component as I veer into the job-hunting scene!