BY Lake Sydney04 November 2022, 12:03
Students have outdoor classes on the Dartmouth College campus in Hanover, New Hampshire, as seen in October 2021. (Photographer: Bing Guan—Bloomberg/Getty Images)
Particularly in a post-COVID era, business students crave real-world experience before graduating from an MBA program. Companies have raced to develop better business practices for a world now highly dependent on remoteness and MBA internships offer a glimpse of potential new career dynamics, but business schools are also doing more to give students a chance to learn outside of the traditional curriculum.
The best business schools have now begun to offer what are called experiential courses, which move away from typical case studies or lectures. MBA students are now challenged in a different way inside the classroom, tasked with developing strategies to solve real-world problems. This includes impact investing, data analysis, and uncovering the challenges faced by businesses around the world.
“Experiential learning, when done, is an incredible complement to a great type of traditional course,” Joel Shapiroclinical associate professor of managerial economics and decision sciences, tells Fortune. He leads the Analytical consulting laboratory at Northwestern University (Kellogg)who Fortune ranks third among full-time MBA programs in the United States
Courses like Analytical Consulting Lab have the power to give students a head start in job hunting after graduation, as MBA graduates have more tangible accomplishments and projects to brag about during the process. recruitment.
“Even if you’re not the person managing the scans in your job, someone is going to come to you with scan results and results and you need to know enough about what that means to make good decisions. “, Shapiro says. “It’s a wonderful experience of building leadership skills in the classroom.”
Fortune also spoke with other top business schools about their efforts to expand experiential learning options. Prospective and current MBA students can learn more about the options available to them at these and other business schools, although this list is not exhaustive.
Harvard Business School: HBS Impact Investing Fund
Impact investing – or investing in an environmental or social charge – has become increasingly important to students at Harvard Business School. This 1st business schoolclassified by Fortuneoffers a field course called HBS Impact Investment Fundwhich not only helps students become aware of the lack of capital in minority-owned small businesses, but also gives them the opportunity to invest real money to help these businesses grow.
“The only real way to learn how to be an impact investor is to make an investment decision — an actual investment decision — with real capital at stake,” said Brian Trelstad, senior lecturer at HBS. Fortune. “The case method and lectures simply don’t feel like weighing the pros and cons and debating like you would if you were to join an investment firm or an impact investing firm. The case study method is a common teaching style among the best business schools, which features case studies that MBA students discuss and debate.
The development of this course came after the police killing of George Floyd prompted large corporations to make donations to support Black and Latino businesses, Trelstad says. After a year of research to understand business needs and opportunities in the Boston area, HBS launched the course. Now, the HBS Impact Investment Fund course enables small groups of students to perform impact investing due diligence for local Black, Latina, and immigrant small business owners.
These students are “very mission-driven” and work to develop a due diligence plan to present to an investment committee at the end of the course. Approved plans can receive between $25,000 and $50,000 for funding the small business the students work with.
“At a formative time in their lives, an experience where they can empathize with an entrepreneur of color who is building a business and work to support them could plant the seed for some of our students,” Trelstad says. “There are a lot of bridges that we have to cross economically and politically in this country. If this experience at HBS can help them do that, that would be great.
Dartmouth College (Tuck): Global Insights Virtual Expedition
MBA students at Dartmouth College Tuck School of Businesswho Fortune ranks 11th among full-time MBA programs in the United States, have the chance to visit Tamil Nadu, South India to explore the concept of reverse innovation. It means “innovating new businesses in a poor country like India and later selling those products and services in a rich country like the United States,” writes Vijay Govindarajan, eminent Coxe Professor of Management at Tuck, in the program of his course, Reverse Innovation Virtual Global Insights Expedition (VGIX) In Tamil Nadu, South India.
As the name of the course suggests, students do not travel to India to explore this concept. Instead, Govindarajan, along with a design team, has developed a rich set of virtual reality content in which students can learn and interact with people living in South India while staying on campus in Dartmouth.
“They can interrogate them and try to understand what are the perverse social problems that these poor Indians are facing and which companies can provide a solution to,” says Govindarajan. “The biggest benefit is the social impact this course has created.”
The main vision of the course is to provide MBA students with the opportunity to develop their leadership mindset using a “social heart with an entrepreneurial spirit”. This means that through virtual reality experiences, students learn the value of female leadership, the struggle for access and affordability of certain necessities like health care, and the importance of humanity in business,” says Govindarajan.
“At the end of the day, we have to understand our place in the world,” says Govindarajan Fortune. “We have to connect with humanity in a very deep way. That’s another powerful lesson that you can’t get across with just case studies. You have to live this, you have to meet these people.
One of the biggest challenges for people in southern India was access to healthcare, recalls Joe Dalton, a 2022 MBA graduate from Tuck. As a result, he chose to focus his study in the course on access to telehealth or the development of mobile healthcare. But Dalton’s greatest benefit has been to develop a sense and understanding of the importance of the humanity of business.
“It wasn’t necessarily that it was hardcore business class, but it emphasized the humanity of business,” he said. Fortune. “At the end of the day, it’s about people. I will always be humbled by the depth of connection we are able to build through this.
Northwestern University (Kellogg): analytical consulting laboratory
During the 2019-2020 school year, Joel Shapiro relaunched Kellogg’s Analytical Consulting Lab, which is a 10-week experiential course in which teams of students “work with real companies on real projects in real time with real data”. The course gives students the opportunity to delve into an increasingly important set of skills for business, while also giving them the opportunity to help businesses solve problems.
“If you want to be a big business that really succeeds with analytics, you need to be able to identify and find that economic opportunity where data can benefit you,” Shapiro said. Fortune. “That’s really the goal of Analytical Consulting Lab.”
Kellogg students work as a team to determine how the data they have access to can generate economic value for their customer. Ultimately, the course shows employers that not only do you know how to “do” data analytics, but it successfully shows that you’ve “”done analytics” to help company X generate insights Y for improve Z business results,” says Shapiro. in the relaunch the announcement of his course.
This experiential learning approach was especially helpful to Jasmine Truong, who recently graduated from Kellogg’s full-time MBA program.
“Not only are you working on real problems, you’re doing them in real time,” she says. Fortune. “It’s great for seeing what today’s businesses are up against while we study the fundamentals in our courses.”
Overall, the Analytical Consulting Lab isn’t a complete replacement for core MBA courses, but rather an important complement to the curriculum, Shapiro says.
“I think experiential learning is undervalued at many top business schools,” he says. “Experiential learning, when done well, is also an incredible addition to a great set of traditional courses. When people aren’t doing experiential learning, they’re really taking the opportunity to learn more about whether they like it actually giving them a new skill set. »