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MBA Students Relate Their Enriching Experiences on Career-Focused Treks to Chicago and NYC

Tags: Careers, Treks

During Professional Development Week at the Ross School of Business, the Michigan Ross Career Development Office collaborates with various industry-focused MBA clubs to organize treks where students can visit companies and learn about different jobs and cultures, as well as meet the Michigan Ross alumni who work there. 

This year, nearly 150 Michigan Ross Full-Time MBA students traveled to New York City for the investment banking and tech treks, and to Chicago for the healthcare and marketing treks. The treks served as a more casual, hands-on learning experience of the companies than students have during formal presentations held on campus at Ross or virtually. 

Below, hear from six Michigan Ross MBA students on their trek experiences this year:

Rachel Bartolo, MBA ’24
Investment Banking Trek

“I attended the trek to Wall Street in New York City with about 40 of my classmates during our Professional Development Week, and also spent the following week in Chicago with a smaller cohort. Over the course of the two weeks, we visited 24 banks and were able to have one-on-one or small group conversations with well over 100 bankers. Although we had met with some of the firms on campus during the weeks leading up to the treks, it was beneficial to visit the offices, meet additional bankers face-to-face, and reconnect with the Ross alumni who we had met earlier in Ann Arbor. 

"In addition to the connections I made with bankers and the Ross network, the trips also helped me to form deeper relationships with my current classmates. I was also pleasantly surprised by how helpful it was to meet with the banks in quick succession because it provided context for comparing the firms. I came away from the two weeks with a clear understanding of the type of bank I wanted to pursue and a better understanding of my fit with each firm and group.” 

Adam Brewster, MBA ’24
Marketing Trek
 
“I found tremendous value in the Michigan Marketing Trek to Chicago. Over the course of two days, we visited Kraft Heinz, Conagra Brands, Kimberly Clark, Molson Coors, and PepsiCo. The trip offered a unique opportunity to get an up-close view of the companies’ cultures and better understand how the organizations are structured. Each of the companies organized thoughtful presentations that allowed us to interact with employees from different teams and levels of the organization. 

"I left each of the companies with a clear understanding of what the job responsibilities are for brand managers and how the companies think about growing talent within their organization. The trip solidified my interest in marketing and brand management. I could see and hear the passion that employees had for their consumers. I also gained a deeper understanding of how brand managers spend their time and the strategic role that they play within each company. I also appreciated being able to ask questions about how companies think about innovation and growing brands. I came to Ross to have hands-on experiences like this. The Chicago trek offered a front-row seat to how these companies make decisions and how they think about marketing within the larger organization.”

Raam Charran, MBA ’24
Tech Trek

"I chose to take part in the Tech Trek to New York City in order to visit the offices of major technology companies and network with professionals and Ross alums working in the industry. Visiting iconic companies such as Amazon, Google, IBM, Meta, The New York Times, and Salesforce to learn more about their cultures and gather information about various roles and teams across the organizations was an extremely rewarding experience. The visits were spread out over three days, giving students the opportunity to explore the best that New York has to offer in terms of parks, restaurants, museums, and so on, as well as meet with family/friends in the city. 

“My favorite part of the trip was the visit to the Salesforce office, where we got to go to the top floor, which had magnificent views of New York and had a chance to network and have engaging discussions with professionals from different teams. Overall, I used the trek as an opportunity to validate my post-MBA goal of transitioning into the tech industry and came away with a clearer action plan on how to accomplish it." 

Fitore Kelmendi
Tech Trek

“The Tech Trek was a three-day visit in New York during the week of professional development. A typical day was broken down with company office visits during the day and free time during the night. Some of this time was spent exploring the city by attending comedy shows and experiencing the food culture. There were also social activities set up by the Tech Club planner, Thomas De Clercq, MBA ’23, like karaoke night and a happy hour with alumni that the Ross Career Development Office set up. While on the trek, I visited Salesforce, Amazon, IBM, Meta, and The New York Times. The visits were structured with the company presentation followed by an employee panel and office tour.

“I really enjoyed the office visits as I was able to envision what my life would look like if I worked in each of the specific company’s offices. I was able to tell a lot about company culture just by the way the office was laid out and how employees interacted with us. I was able to get a real sense of the company’s energy through the physical visit. It almost felt like multiple first dates, where I was trying to see if I could see myself with that company. Being able to visit and experience the ‘vibe’ of the company and its employees is something that a company webpage or Google search can't deliver. I also really enjoyed spending time in New York and building friendships with other students in the Tech Club through trying out cool restaurants or hearing them sing at the top of their lungs in a karaoke bar.

“I decided to pursue a full-time MBA degree as I wanted to pivot into tech. Coming from a process engineering background where my office was in a plant, I was very eager to see what tech companies’ offices are like and be able to connect with their employees. The Tech Trek allowed me to expand my network and also learn about these companies’ products, goals, and obstacles so that I can decide where is the best fit for me in terms of culture and innovations that I would love to be part of.”

Denny Lai 
Healthcare Trek

"After working as an economic consultant for four years, I came to Michigan Ross to seek a career pivot into healthcare and had picked Ross in part for the extensive career development resources available to support me in this transition. This past October, I had an amazing opportunity to participate in a two-day Healthcare Trek to Chicago with 16 of my healthcare career-intended, first-year MBA peers during Professional Development Week, which takes place each year during fall break. 

“This year's Healthcare Trek provided us with opportunities to visit and build relationships with five top healthcare companies (Horizon Therapeutics, AbbVie, Tempus, Chartis Group, and ZS Associates) that hail from the biopharmaceutical, clinical diagnostic, and healthcare consulting sectors. Outside of the full-day company visitations, the Healthcare Trek provided us with an amazing opportunity for first-year students with similar interests in healthcare to build stronger connections among each other as we traveled together, shared meals with one another, and spent evenings exploring downtown Chicago as a group.

“My favorite part of this year's Healthcare Trek was the extensive access and hospitable welcomes we received at our company visitations. From start to finish, the Healthcare Trek itself was hosted by Michigan Ross alumni for current Michigan Ross students, which truly embodied the Ross slogan of "Go Blue, Go Anywhere." In addition to learning more about what the lay of the land looked like within the broad-ranging healthcare industry, the trek itself was extremely helpful in allowing me to experience what it would be like to live/work in Chicago (as someone who's originally from California) and in solidifying the sub-industries within the healthcare space now going into summer internship recruitment. For those considering joining the Healthcare Trek, I'd say absolutely do it and put your whole self into the experience — both from a professional sense and from an experiential lens! Unique experiences like this one exemplify the strength of the Michigan Ross network and the lifelong, pay-it-forward values embodied by the Ross community long after graduation."

Colin McLaughlin, MBA ’24
Marketing Trek

“During the Marketing Trek in Chicago, we visited Kraft Heinz, Conagra, Kimberly-Clark, Molson Coors, and PepsiCo; and spent about two hours at each company over the course of two days. The structure of the visits varied, but at most companies, we had the chance to tour the office, hear from senior leaders, and try new product innovations. My favorite part of the trek was speaking with marketing leaders at each company and hearing about their career experiences and the advice they had for our group. Overall, the in-person visits offered a special opportunity to better understand the companies’ office environments and what it would be like to work in a marketing role after Ross.

“One main takeaway for me is that post-MBA marketing positions provide a lot of responsibility, as individuals in these roles operate as business owners. In addition, one of the reasons I decided to attend Ross was due to the strength of the alumni network. All the visits were organized by Ross alumni, and it was incredible to see the alumni support in action. The visits were all very engaging, enjoyable, and well-organized, which was the result of a lot of preparation to ensure that our group had an excellent experience. I ended the trek with a stronger interest in a career in CPG brand management and a greater appreciation for the strength of the Ross alumni network.”
 

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