The Integrated Core Experience, or “ICE,” refers to the curriculum that all McIntire students complete during their third year. Infamous both within and outside the walls of McIntire, ICE is known to be an intensive and transformative experience. ICE offers a holistic, discussion-based, hands-on approach to learning business fundamentals. Third-year students are split into eight blocks of roughly 50 students, and then divided again into teams of five to foster collaboration, teamwork, and a sense of community.
The program consists of case analyses through the perspectives of several disciplines, including strategy, information systems, marketing, communications, organizational behavior, finance, and quantitative analysis. During their first semester, students learn the interdependence of these disciplines and get the chance to apply what they’ve learned via a semesterlong team-based project. This project gives students a real-world opportunity to solve a business problem and present their strategic proposal to a corporate sponsor.
Ultimately, ICE is a cornerstone of McIntire that quickly becomes a shared experience looked back upon by students with equal parts relief and pride. Having completed our two semesters of ICE at McIntire, I asked my former Block 7 peers—now fourth-years—to reflect upon their experience.
How did your time in ICE differ from what you had expected?
- “ICE is a lot more collaborative than I expected—but in a great way because I feel like I got to know my peers better!” –Serena Xia
- “Going into it, I would say that ICE was much more challenging than I anticipated. There were more relaxed weeks, followed by more hectic weeks, with a lot of the big deliverables being due all at the same time. It was very rewarding at the end though—I can genuinely say I learned so much.” –Snigdha Paruchuri
- “I honestly learned a lot more soft skills and intangibles, which I think are really valuable, than I thought I would. Being in the Comm School helps you learn how to act in a business setting.” –Matt Remigino
- “I was nervous for the in-class participation aspect, but my block quickly became a very comfortable environment, and the professors are very encouraging.” –Carolin Fabian
What was your favorite part of ICE?
- “My favorite part was the team bonding that occurred working long hours on IIP2 [Interdisciplinary ICE Project Part 2]. Although it was stressful at the time, in hindsight it was a really great experience and led to making some great friends.” –Matt Remigino
- “My favorite part was getting so close with members of my group and my block. Comm really feels like a community.” –Carolin Fabian
- “My favorite part was working with the same ICE group for an entire semester. We really developed a bond and worked well together. I appreciated that consistency.” –Snigdha Paruchuri
What is one piece of advice that you would give to incoming McIntire students?
- “[Don’t] treat yourself too harshly. Everyone has their own weaknesses, but ICE helps you learn how to lean into your strengths. Don’t be afraid to ask a teammate for help, and always be ready to offer support for others too!” –Sophia Liao
- “Make sure to get close to your groupmates right from the start of the semester. You will spend a lot of time working with them, and it makes it so much easier if you are all friends.” –Matt Remigino
- “Prioritize learning. Once in the Comm School, we have the opportunity to prioritize skills and knowledge…so that we can prepare to excel in internships and future careers. Take advantage of that, and learn not only from your professors, but also from your group, your block, and other members of the COMMunity.” –Carolin Fabian