In our “Doing Business in the U.S.” course this fall, we learned about the economic and social intricacies of doing business in different regions of the U.S. We also discussed current government issues such as the U.S. deficit and geopolitical affairs, and compared how the United States was shaped and differs from the rest of the world.
Perhaps the most unique part of the course was our three-day trip to Washington, D.C. to experience first-hand how ‘doing business’ can be successfully implemented in the American market. For many students it was a great opportunity to explore the city for the first time, and for others it was a chance to revisit some of their favorite spots in the nation’s capital.
We arrived at the hotel on Tuesday evening, which gave us a chance to get a nice dinner together in Georgetown – a popular, young neighborhood. After dinner, we had a night of rest and prepared for a fun-filled three days.
Learning about Diplomacy, Foreign Policy, and Sanctions at the State Department
After a hearty breakfast, we departed the hotel bright and early. Everyone was excited for our first official visit, The U.S. Department of State. At the diplomatic wing of the federal government, we were privileged to listen to some of the most knowledgeable experts on foreign affairs, and the geopolitical landscape in the current political and economic arena. We had the chance to ask some tough questions, and get incredibly insightful answers –which we obviously cannot disclose.
“It takes a Village to Raise A Start Up. Build Your Village.”
Our next visit could not have better represented 21st century’s business innovation and agility. Founded in 2013 as an inclusive incubator for startups, 1776 has grown into a global network of entrepreneurs, corporate partners, and investors. We learned that 1776’s incubator has been visited by many prominent Americans, including President Barack Obama. The incubator works via a membership fee, where any up-and-coming entrepreneur can join their global network to receive outstanding mentorship and the expertise needed to successfully disrupt the entrenched industries.
After our enthusiastic Q&A session, the cohort was free to discover the city on our own. Some of us went to visit the Old Post Office Pavilion to admire the view of the Capitol and Potomac River, others visited the Lincoln Memorial, and a lot of us tried the electrical scooters found around the city.
The Washington Post– “Democracy Dies in Darkness”
Our next opportunity provided insights into business and technology from one of the most renowned news sources in the U.S. – The Washington Post. Many of us had seen Steven Spielberg’s political thriller The Post, which recalled the tough decision to reveal the Watergate scandal as the firm was in the midst of its first public offering. The Washington Post’s Chief Financial Officer spoke to us about the history of the paper, its’ current situation, and how The Washington Post and other news sectors will engage their audiences in the future. We also learned about making editorial choices and how artificial intelligence helps refine valuable content in today’s 24-hour news cycle.
Monument Tour – Freedom is Not Free
After discussing the current media business, we divided into smaller groups to take a tour of the National Mall. Our group’s tour guide, Dan, was an encyclopedia of information on the architecture and history of the war memorials on the National Mall. The memorial I was most impressed by was the Vietnam War Memorial, as the story behind its design is about an underdog architecture student beating her own professor at Yale University in the contest. Apart from seeing the great masterpieces, the tour allowed us to reflect on the fallen veterans and on the cost countries have paid to gain their freedom.
For dinner, we were invited to a Lebanese restaurant, owned by the parents of an M.S. in Global Commerce alum, Alex Abi-Najm. It was an amazing opportunity to try delicious Lebanese cuisine, and to connect and network with M.S. Global Commerce alumni. Plus, they were able to give us great tips and suggestions on where to eat and what to do in Guangzhou, China and Barcelona, Spain when our cohort travels to these locations later in the program.
The Washington Nationals: Take Me Out to The Ball Game
Friday, our last day of the trip we spoke to Valerie Camillo at National’s Park, the home to Washington D.C.’s baseball team. We heard how analytics is implemented in sports marketing, and how baseball is regaining its’ stance among other big sports as a true American past time by making attending baseball games a family-oriented event. We took a guided tour of the stadium, where we saw the news coverage rooms, and the players’ locker rooms.
To conclude our trip, we made one last stop at the Hilton Hotel Headquarters just outside of the city. We gained interesting insights on where the company is trying to enter new markets and expand in the future. This visit also allowed us to understand how the hotel giant is staying competitive in the disruptive market of the hospitality industry. After three days, we returned to Charlottesville with a first-hand view of doing business in the U.S.
Learn more about the courses that M.S. in Global Commerce students take during the program at each location here.