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MBA Course Offers the Ultimate Field Trip

This main requirement for this elective is a passport.

LSU MBA students in China

LSU MBA students in China

Students enrolled in the LSU Master of Business Administration online program have the option of taking Understanding International Management Challenges (BADM 7170), which includes a trip abroad to study global business first hand.

The three options for the 2016-17 school year include Panama and Peru (Dec. 28-Jan. 7), London and Paris (April 7-16) and Beijing and Shenzhen (April 7-16). Students must get approval for the course from the MBA director. Course requirements include readings, a workshop and a paper about their experiences abroad.

“I have yet to hear from any student, any classmate or any peer who has gone on one of these trips and regretted it,” said LSU Online Flores MBA Program assistant director Rachel Pierson, who is also a graduate of the MBA program. She went to Brazil while enrolled in the program. “Everyone overwhelmingly says it’s an intriguing experience.”

With the exception of airfare, tuition covers the majority of expenses for the trip, including hotel, travel between cities, several meals and group tickets to designated cultural attractions. While other MBA programs offer international trips, LSU is one of the few that provides multiple options each school year.

“We’re fortunate that we’re able to offer our international trip course as an elective to our online students, too,” said Bridget Conrad, LSU Flores MBA program assistant director of communication and alumni affairs, and another alumna of the program. “It’s actually a really good elective because we’re able to meet the online students and they are able to travel with our campus-based students to the same destination.” This provides plenty opportunities for learners to expand their networks.

LSU MBA student at Disneyland Paris

LSU MBA student at Disneyland Paris

Invaluable Experiences

Students who go on one of the international trips get to combine unique opportunities in education and cultural exploration.

“Since the LSU network is so expansive throughout the United States and globally, we have alumni in different countries,” Conrad explained. “The trips consist of multiple company visits, where students do group presentations. In Brazil, our students actually met up with students from the University of Sao Palo and did a case competition. Outside of company visits and schoolwork, there is also ample time to take in all of the attractions these countries have to offer.”

Another interesting aspect of the course is learning about obstacles that international businesses face.

“In Argentina, we visited a firm that talked about the uncertainty surrounding the countries laws and how that complicated their ability to function,'” Pierson said. “That kind of puts work into a different perspective because I would have never thought about how to handle an undefined legal environment. We don’t really stop and think about that because we’re used to stability in our country and legal system.”

That insight is a big advantage for future business leaders.

“A lot of students that come into the MBA program are interested in international business,” Conrad said. “There is no better way to learn about international business than to travel abroad. Before our students become CEOs, before they own their own businesses, before they advance in their careers, they’re able to see the differences between how business is done here and how business is done overseas.”

Interestingly, Pierson said the trip was even an eye-opener for one of her classmates from Brazil.

“She said, ‘I have never seen the country this way before. I lived here my entire youth, and I had never seen it from this perspective,'” Pierson said. “I said, ‘Okay, that sounds like a great opportunity.’ I knew I wanted to go abroad, and Brazil was just more interesting to me than China was, although I still wish I had done both.”

Opportunity Knocks

Scott McCarty, an LSU online MBA student from Baton Rouge who lives in San Diego, is elated to be going on the China trip as one of his final four General MBA courses. He wanted to go on one of the earlier trips but couldn’t work out the logistics.

“I started the admissions process while I was in France working for my company,” said McCarty, who works for Retail Inkjet Solutions. “We’re an international company. We have business in Europe now, and we are looking at Asia. And I’m already interested in Asian culture. China is one of the great countries with a huge economy, so it’s a perfect fit for me.”

That same trip will also be the first one for Conrad. She plans to blog about the experience during the excursion, which includes trips to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City.

“We have a limited amount of staff members and faculty that are able to go on these trips, so we have to set a cap on how many students can go on each trip,” she said. “Last year, for the London and Paris trip, it was pretty close to 30 students that went, which was one of our larger groups. Our groups are normally between 15 and 20 people.”

Unlike McCarty, several students make their inaugural trip out of the United States when they take the course.

Pierson said, “For me, what I still find so interesting — especially with our full-time students — is they haven’t traveled outside of Louisiana, let alone outside of the country. It’s unfortunate that they haven’t had those opportunities yet. For students who haven’t done a lot of traveling, they don’t have that perspective of how different the world can be.”

She makes the point that sometimes we take for granted how good we have it in the U.S. It’s good to get out and see the world and get a new outlook. “You can kind of see their eyes open up, like ‘I just never thought of this,'” she jovially recollected.

There aren’t many educational experiences that can equal that kind of perspective.

“Paying for it is basically like paying for a class with a flight on top of it, but so much comes with it,” Conrad added. “It’s an experience you can’t pass up, if you are able to do it.”

Learn more about the LSU online MBA program.

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