Undergraduate Blog

Make the Most of Your McIntire Integrated Core Experience

Learning at McIntire requires commitment and accountability to yourself and your classmates.

Consider the following scenarios:

Scenario 1: Today in the Integrated Core Experience, your entire class is dressed up for a mock town hall: Some students are farmers holding signs of protest, executives in business professional, and reporters holding recording devices and notebooks.

Scenario 2: It’s case day in Finance, but Block participation is a bit sterile. As valuable minutes go by, your professor decides that for the remainder of class, everyone will be doing a human knot exercise instead of the prepped case.

Scenario 3: In Organizational Behavior, you are solving a murder mystery. How could this possibly be related to business?

Believe it or not, these scenarios are real-life stories from my experience in the Commerce School’s hallmark third-year curriculum. They exemplify some of the learning opportunities you should expect at McIntire.

Learning at McIntire is all about fully immersing yourself in the projects, cases, and simulations you do throughout the semester. To get the most out of your experience, there are three critical mindsets you should commit to:

Go all out
In the Integrated Core Experience, there are many opportunities to go the extra mile in an effort to raise the bar for yourself and the class. Preparing thoughtfully is what will set apart a  noteworthy class from a mediocre class. For example, after discussing a case in our Strategy class about the merits and concerns of selling a stake of Hershey to a foreign company, we put on a Hershey mock town hall in our Communication class. Through action and engagement, this was a chance to push our understanding of the case even further. Clearly, the success of the class relied on everyone being fully prepared for their respective role. If the executives weren’t being challenged by chanting farmers, upset townspeople, and the interrogating media, it wouldn’t have given them the opportunity to think on their feet as representatives for Hershey. Furthermore, the exercise forced each person in the class to think empathetically about different stakeholders within the context of the case. Going all out is not something you have to do, but you will notice that at McIntire, it’s something students really like to do, and something from which everyone benefits.

Go all in
Sometimes, participation can be intimidating for fear of saying something wrong, but most of the time, the “right answer” isn’t clear-cut, so most contributions to the class help the discussion move forward. One particular Integrated Core Experience class that stands out to me regarding participation is Finance, when our Block was struggling to keep the discussion going. There were awkward silences as our professor waited for students to raise their hands, and we stared at each other hoping someone would bite the bullet. A half hour into class, our professor had had enough and directed us to circle in the center of the room and hold hands with the person in front of them. Effectively, our class was in a human knot, and as you would expect, our professor asked us to untangle ourselves.

Once we finished the challenge, our professor had us return to our seats and asked us what the purpose of the exercise was and what we noticed. Slowly but surely, our Block had understood our professor’s point: Our class only goes as far as we allow ourselves to go. Like in the knot exercise, everyone must contribute for the class to solve the case. As our professor liked to say, case days are like potluck dinners. Needless to say, after the human knot exercise, our Block went all in, risking our fears of saying something “wrong” for the sake of facilitating progress in class discussion.

Go with the flow
Sometimes, you will be asked to do activities you don’t quite see the purpose in doing until it is completed. Keeping an open mind and going with the flow will help you get the most out of in-class activities. For example, in Organizational Behavior, we did an in-class case activity where we had to solve a murder mystery. At first, it was unclear as to how this contributed to our business education; however, after debriefing, we soon realized that the case was truly about team processes and information asymmetry. In many ways, McIntire will require you to learn as you go, picking up on nuances during activities that ultimately guide you to a lesson learned.

Although there is structure in the Integrated Core Experience through your many deliverables, the learning process is non-linear. Your classes will be interdependent and rely heavily on the efforts and perspectives of you and your fellow students. In my experience, the environment of learning by doing was effective and enjoyable. If my examples resonated with you and you are ready to go all out, all in, and with the flow, I think you would be a great fit for McIntire.

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