Experiential learning is one of the greatest parts about the Questrom experience! Throughout your two years there are a multitude of ways to get involved where you can apply your business knowledge and flex your management skills. Opportunities are available both formally, in classes and conferences, or more informally through global consulting projects over Spring Break. I’ve taken part in experiential learning through four different outlets: 1) class projects, 2) BU Global Ventures Consulting Club, 3) Health & Life Sciences Conference, and 4) case competitions.
1. Class Projects
There are many opportunities through class to work with companies! In Health Sector Marketing, we worked with a company to analyze their marketing plan and then delivered recommendations to improve it. My team worked with a local biotech company from the Harvard Innovation incubator that is addressing drug adherence issues. We met with the Business Development lead and his team, and came up with a marketing roadmap for their new product launch. As a team we presented to the board and were proud to hear that most of our recommendations were put into practice!
2. BU Global Ventures Consulting Club
BU Global Ventures is a student led club that runs a Spring Break trip to Guatemala (first year) or Peru (second year), where you consult with local entrepreneurs while also enjoying some fun travel with classmates. This year for spring break I went to Peru!--what an adventure!! After exploring Lima we each met with our local company. I presented (in Spanish-- big win for all those high school Spanish classes!) and we delivered a Powerpoint deck on branding best-practices for the whole entrepreneurial community, as well as specific recommendations for our local company. The audience was so engaging and both excited and grateful for our help!
The trip is very rewarding. It’s wonderful to know I’ve put into practice the Questrom creed of “creating value for the world”, and it was encouraging to witness the courage and zeal of these local entrepreneurs leading their enterprises in challenging economic situations.
3. Health & Life Sciences Conference
Conferences are another fantastic way to exercise your leadership and management skills while networking with local companies and business leaders. The Health & Life Sciences Conference is Questrom’s largest student-led conference and attracts not only Boston-based thought leaders but also some of the nation’s biggest names. As a first year, I applied and was selected, to be the Assistant for Digital Media & Content. As a second year, I was the Director of Digital Media & Content. It was an incredible experience to work cross-functionally behind the scenes with classmates, through all the logistics and organization, and get a sense of what it takes to put on such an event. In my opinion, the best part was getting to see it all come together on conference day! It was a huge success, with over 200+ attendees from across Boston!
4. Case Competitions
Case competitions are a unique business school opportunity to compete, work in teams and be analytical! You’re given a case by a company or organization and have a given amount of time (sometimes it’s 2 months, a week, or even just 24 hours!) to analyze a case, create recommendations and give a presentation. I attended the Ohio State University case competition with two classmates, where we were tasked with expanding their diabetes program and making it a center of national excellence. We flew to Columbus, Ohio where we got to network and compete with schools from all over the country! The chance to apply my course skills to a real-world problem was thrilling, and taught me not only to think strategically but also critically analyze the viability of a solution. It’s fun to shoot for the moon, but you must also consider if you can and should actually do it? The whole experience was a fantastic way to work with friends, apply business logic, and refine my presentation skills, all while proudly representing Questrom at a national forum!
All these amazing experiences have strengthened my business acumen. However, there are even more ways to partake in experiential learning opportunities at Questrom. Link Day (a day of consulting for local non-profits), professor initiated projects (some professors have launched ad hoc trips/projects through personal corporate contacts), case writing (BU professors collaborate with students to write new case materials), MassChallenge (a start-up incubator where students are paired with a company), and Global Immersion Trips (school led treks over breaks to various countries to meet and work with international firms) are a few that stand out. The possibilities really are endless!!
Natassya Bedos is a Second Year Health Sector MBA student at the Questrom School of Business
Are you considering a dual degree program at Questrom? Many of our students do! Learn more about the experience from three students in different dual degree programs.
Masters in Digital Innovation (MSDi)
Social Impact MBA + MSDi
Highlights: As someone coming from a nontechnical background, the MSDi degree has added credibility and expertise to my career story and helped me pivot into my target role doing technology consulting for nonprofits. Employers and people outside of Questrom are curious about the MSDi and it has sparked conversations and opened doors I might not otherwise have had. Graduating with the MSDi, I feel much more equipped to manage the technical aspects of a client engagement and know that I can lead a project to make sure both business and implementation needs are fully met.
Challenges: There is so much to learn in such a short period! I wish there had been more time to absorb some of the key information, and there are concepts, like user experience, that I wish we had been able to go deeper on. That said, I do appreciate that I will graduate in two years with two degrees.
Tips for future students: While it is not a requirement, I wish I had done some more prep work to learn the R and python languages. The program isn’t designed to make you fluent in any one language--you’re not going to graduate and become a software engineer--but I do think I would have been able to engage more fully with some of the exercises and projects if I had a basic working knowledge in advance.
Masters in Public Health (MPH)
Health Sector Management MBA + MPH
Highlights: For someone interested in the healthcare space, this is such an interesting and applicable combination of degrees. I have really enjoyed my courses for both programs- they often approach the topic of health and care in different perspectives from one another as we dive into questions concerning the cost, quality, and access of care delivery. The way the program is structured, you have a lot of flexibility with your concentration for the MPH. My class of dual MBA/MPH’ers has nine second year students and we span across five different concentrations depending on our individual interests. Aside from the course content, I also love being part of so many different communities. In addition to my dual community, I also have the HSM community, the broader MBA community and the MPH community as well. We have so many amazing people here at Questrom, it has been a fantastic experience getting to know them in so many different capacities.
Challenges: It’s a lot of content to condense into two years. The advisors to the two programs have worked very hard to try to cut overlap between the core classes to give us as much freedom with our classes as possible. That being said, you do have to be fairly selective and definitely plan ahead with your course schedule because there will be a lot that you will want to fit in, and unfortunately probably more than you will have time for.
Tips for future students/something you wish you knew: Communication between the two components of the degrees can be a bit of a struggle sometimes. The dual MBA/MPH class a year above mine was wonderful and took a lot of time to help us navigate the transition- from classes and instructors to good places to study on the Medical Campus. As the current second years, my class has tried to pass on the same legacy to the current first year duals. The second years when you start will be your greatest resource; get to know them and ask them as many questions as you can think of.
Masters in International Relations
Social Impact MBA + MA in International Relations
Highlights: I was extremely enthusiastic about taking up this opportunity offered by Questrom and the Pardee School of Global Affairs, since I wanted the ability to fuse my experience and aspirations to in business and moving into the private sector with my interest in international policy. Some of the highlights of my degree include being able to attend engaging panels/conferences between both schools including but not limited to the Biz Tech Conference at Questrom and Beyond the Headlines panel events at Pardee (on topics such as Brexit and unrest in Venezuela). Another highlight includes being able to apply what I have learned in Questrom to my classes at Pardee, and even vice-versa, including what I learned and experienced during my Questrom Social Impact spring break South Africa seminar, to my classes on intelligence and global development at Pardee. Lastly, I have really enjoyed getting to know and make friends with two different but equally intelligent and interesting communities.
Challenges: The biggest challenge is that registration for classes always seems so much more difficult because there are so many classes I am interested in taking, but there is simply not enough time in the day. Additionally, scheduling can be an issue. There tend to be several events that will conflict with one another between Questrom and Pardee. Even though I have enjoyed being part of both the Questrom and Pardee communities, in my entire class I am the only one pursuing the dual degree. Unlike other programs such as the MBA/MSDI or the MBA/MPH, my specific program only has 1-2 people a year. It can be difficult when studying and simply not knowing anyone in the same boat.
Tips for future students/something you wish you knew: First, be patient. Although there may be administrative hassles along the way (like scheduling and registering for classes), remember that you will be receiving a unique degree and it will definitely make you standout with recruiters. Second, stay focused. An integral part of the International Relations portion of the dual degree requires that you write a capstone paper (essentially a masters thesis). This takes time and quite a bit of detailed research, and you will be defending it against three professors. Again, don’t forget about the degree you’ll be receiving in the end. And third, don’t be afraid to talk with others. This can include professors, the Grad Center, etc. They are there to support your academic journey and guide you in the next steps of your career. It has been such a help to get to know many of them on both a personal and professional level.
I had been out of school for about seven years before I started my MBA, so I was nervous about work/life balance during the program. How would I handle group projects while also making sure I had time to see my husband? Would I end up living in the library? Would I have time to join any clubs? What was this Thirsty Thursday that all the second years kept talking about?
When my Mod 1 team met for the first time, we all had multiple pieces of our lives we were trying to juggle - school, moving, and wedding planning, to name a few. Seeing that everyone was dealing with the same major transition helped me feel more confident in setting my own priorities. Mod 2 arrived faster than I expected, and I started to find my routines. I had my favorite study spot in the library and carved out time to make dinner at home even if I had to get back to studying right after.
Before I knew it we were already in Mod 3. With new case-heavy classes, the internship search in high gear, and an additional client project for a Global Field Seminar I was taking over spring break, I started to feel a bit overwhelmed. There were so many deadlines, projects, events, and team meetings - seriously, so many team meetings.
At the same time, I marveled at everything I was getting to do. At the end of each day, I hadn’t just gone to class. I’d brainstormed strategies for our pharmaceutical client. I’d researched business models for our microgrid tech client in South Africa. I’d put together a panel of alumni for a club event. I’d interviewed for a summer internship. I’d had classmates coach me on how improve a presentation. I’d gone to a concert at the Brighton Music Hall or tried out a new restaurant on Beacon Ave. I could see how much I was experiencing and learning each day, so even when I was feeling tired at 11:00 PM on a Tuesday night or in hour 3 of a team project meeting, I was excited to get up the next day.
Even while juggling deadlines, I carved out time for non-Questrom activities. I live fifteen minutes from the Coolidge Corner library, and so always have a pile of novels to give me a break from thinking about strategic positioning. I know that I will feel better about Friday nights that I spend with friends instead of in front of my laptop - and I won’t be productive then, anyway. Every Saturday morning, I make myself a pot of coffee and catch up on favorite TV shows. Designating times where I don’t work helps me be more focused when I am working and lets me fully relax when I’m not.
Balance for me is less of a day-to-day goal and more of a holistic one. Instead of thinking in terms of a to-do list, I try to think in terms of overarching goals. Am I learning? Am I seeing myself grow? Am I spending quality time with people I care about? If I’m feeling out of sync, what’s causing it and how can I fix it? Taking the time to appreciate all that I’m doing - both at Questrom and outside - helps me keep perspective and reminds me to build in downtime where I can. The point of the MBA for me isn’t about the next graded assignment, it’s about the full experience of these two years at Questrom and in Boston. I’ll raise my glass to that at the next Thirsty Thursday.
Laura Chanoux is a First-Year Social Impact MBA Candidate at the Questrom School of Business
Students move to Boston for their MBA at Questrom from across many US cities, and countries worldwide. Concerns of finding housing, surviving Boston winters, and making friends are often top of mind! We’ve interviewed two students new to Boston to share their experiences with you.
1st year MBA
Hometown: Motevideo, Uruguay
1st year MBA + MSDi
Hometown: Indore, India
Where are you from and how is Boston different?
Facundo: I moved to Boston from Montevideo, Uruguay, a city that’s bigger than Boston. The weather there is similar to Boston in Spring, Fall and Summer, but it’s not that cold in Winter. But I don’t mind the Winter in Boston very much.
In terms of transportation, Montevideo doesn’t have trains. Even though the T doesn’t always work perfectly, it’s nice to have. Boston is also a really safe city-- it’s not common to be mugged or see crimes, and I feel comfortable walking around here. Amazon packages are even left on the doorstep. I can’t imagine that in Uruguay!
Minal: I'm from a small city in India (Indore, India) and I have also lived in Bombay for majority of my adult life. Boston is the perfect mix of a small town and a metro. It is a very walkable city and really pretty, especially during the snow!
Where do you live and how do you get to school? How did you find housing?
Facundo: I live in Cambridge close to Harvard, and I bike to school everyday. It’s really easy to bike because there is a bike lane all along the Charles River, and it takes me about 10 minutes. When I don’t bike, I take the bus to school instead which takes about 30 minutes.
Minal: I live in Brighton, which is about 30 minutes from school. I take the B line to school everyday. It’s convenient because the T is right across from my apartment, but it can be late or break down sometimes. Living close to school is great because you’ll be near classmates and the commute won’t be too bad. I actually live with classmates. A few other student who were from India connected in the Whatsapp group and we got an apartment together.
I started my apartment search with Zillow, Apartments.com and Craigslist when I was back home, around April. I finally found a broker through Craigslist and found my apartment in July. Apartments can go quickly, so it’s important to start early! Most leases start September 1 so everyone is searching at the same time. You can also check Facebook marketplace if you’d like to sublet a room for the summer before committing to a lease.
Did you have any concerns about moving to Boston?
Minal: My biggest moving here was about the weather because I heard it got really cold for six months and can be depressing. It is cold here most of the time, but if you have a good support system with your new friends, and the right clothes, it’s not too much to worry about. I spoke to second years about the weather and visited stores which helped me get an idea of what winter gear I needed.
Have you had a chance to travel outside the city? Where?
Facundo: In the Fall around Halloween, I went to Salem and Gloucester for a day trip when a friend was visiting to see New England in the Fall.
I also went to New York and Miami for weekend trips and over winter break, I went on a ski trip to New Hampshire. It’s been great to have the chance to travel around the US during some of my spare time.
Minal: I’ve also had a chance to travel a bit. For winter break, I went on a road trip to Florida with a friend from India. We went to the Southern most point of the US and I even went skydiving spontaneously! It’s important to get out of town in the Winter, I had initially decided to stick around Boston for Spring Break because of interviews but after the intense capstone project in Mod 3, I decided to take a much deserved break and went for a weekend trip to New Orleans.
What are your favorite thing to do for fun in the city?
Facundo: I love nature so I like to visit Middlesex Fells Reservation, a huge park with a zoo just outside the city. I also love the Fenway area because I like the Red Sox-- I didn’t know anything about baseball before coming here, but I’m a huge sports fan so I really got into the sports when I arrived.
What surprised you most about Boston?
Minal: People in Boston are crazy drivers, and j-walking is very common. Since it’s a college town, you see kids and millenials all around. There’s something happening at all times of day.
Another great thing is that being an education hub with universities nearby, there are lots of events and it’s easy to network. This is a big advantage of being in Boston!
Facundo: When I moved here, I didn’t know what it would be like making new friends. Launch was a great way to meet people. Even though it was long I had the opportunity to get to know the people in class. All the friends I’ve made have been through Questrom, and I haven’t needed to make friends from outside school.
It also took some time to adjust to American culture-- everything related to food surprised me. People have snacks throughout the day, but at home we have 4 meals every day (dinner at 10 or 11). Here, we have dinner when the sun is shining, which was hard to get used to!
Something I didn’t know about Boston before moving here is “Allston Christmas.” Allston is a neighborhood with lots of students, and most of them move in and out on September 1st. On this day, lots of people give away furniture on the street. Almost all the furniture in my apartment is from the street, so I didn’t spend too much money on furniture. I did buy a new bed to avoid bed bugs, but everything else is great!
Is there anything else you think someone from your hometown/country would like to know?
Minal: It’s easy to get around in Boston, by foot, train, or bus. You definitely don’t want a car-- parking is expensive here.
Facundo: Boston is a pretty expensive city-- I try to save money where I can, like by biking to school, and I think twice before spending money when I go out. Even though Boston can be expensive, part of this is just the adjustment to not having a salary while in school.
We hope Minal and Facundo have convinced you that you, too, can survive Boston Winters and the other challenges of making this big move! If you have any questions about your move to Boston, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your 1st year as a full-time Questrom MBA student is sure to bring lots of choices-- from clubs, to spring break trips, to electives, you’ll have many opportunities to carve your own path.
Coming back to grad school full-time is a major adjustment that provides both rewards and challenges.
Launch is Questrom’s 2-week orientation that gets your ready for a successful first year of your MBA! It is an incredibly exhausting but fun time that introduces you to all that Questrom has to offer. From a student BBQ to evenings at Cornwalls (Questrom’s local bar of choice), and from welcoming chats with professors and administrators to bonding with your new classmates, Launch really makes you feel a part of the community. You’ll have the opportunity to learn about clubs, campus safety, health insurance, and more. All these experiences mean that you’ll feel comfortable and ready to go once classes start.
A distinctive feature of first year life at Questrom is that all classes run on the quarter system (each quarter is called a “Mod”). The first three mods are comprised of core classes that you take alongside your cohort. Together, you will journey through quant-heavy Mod 1, work together on cases in Mod 2, and launch into your first live consulting project in Mod 3.
Each class meets twice a week for 2 hours and 45 minutes. Professors and TAs typically hold weekly office hours, as well as optional review sessions.
At the end of each mod, there is a cumulative project that combines all your learnings from the three classes you’ve just completed, which you will work with a team of 5-6 students. In Mod 1, you’ll act as a private equity firm looking to take over an underperforming company. In Mod 2, the whole class competes in a “Strategy Simulation”-- each team is a car company pitting themself against the rest of companies (teams) to gain market share and stock price. And finally in Mod 3, you’ll have the opportunity to conduct a consulting project with a real client! These projects challenge you to apply your skills. They really help solidify your learnings and teach you how to work successfully on teams.
Questrom is well known for our strong emphasis on teaming. Each Mod project is conducted by a team of students in your cohort. Our teaming class begins during Launch, and meets a handful of times throughout the first year to teach you about different challenges your team is likely facing at that point in time (communication, embracing diversity, decision making). We take a hands on approach: we visited Thompson Island in the Boston harbor for a day of adventure education, took a trip to the Museum of Fine Arts, and went on a scavenger hunt throughout Boston.
A big focus of these teams is learning how to reflect on your contributions to a team and how to support the professional development of your teammates. This requires compassion, self awareness, and flexibility, as we all learn to be strong teammates and leaders together.
We are encouraged to treat these teams as real professional teams. We take time for team bonding (board game nights, team lunch, dinner at someone’s apartment). Openly talking through disagreements is encouraged. One of the best parts of teaming is the opportunity to make friends, especially with students you may not have met otherwise.
One of the highlights of the Questrom experience is the community we build. Our classmates are incredibly genuine, hard working, supportive and fun. This is definitely somewhere you can come to make lifelong friends. Because the program is relatively small, it’s possible to get to know most of your peers at least a little. This creates an environment that goes beyond making a few close friends, but where everyone really supports everyone. A few examples of this community are:
- Cohort Cup- each cohort competes throughout the first year for the “Cohort Cup” title. Through sporting event, trivia nights, food drives, and bake-offs, each cohort has the chance to fight for the cup. While sometimes the competition gets hot, the Cohort Cup is ultimately a great example of the commitment students make to a fun and supportive community here at Questrom.
- Link Day- each spring, around 100 Questrom students participate in Link Day, a one-day non-profit consulting project. Students are put on teams of 5-6 and are paired with a local non-profit. This event is a great opportunity for students to work together to put their newly learned skills to work to help the Boston community.
- Internship Fund for Social Impact- the Internship Fund is a student led fundraiser in which students donate to support their peers choosing to take an unpaid or underpaid summer internship related to social impact. The event is a hallmark of the Questrom Community in which nearly 100% of students donate, many of whom pledge to “donate a day” of their internship salary.
We hope to see you on campus this Fall! If you have any questions about student life at Questrom, please email email@example.com to set up time to speak with a student ambassador one-on-one.