Woven into the Patterson School program is a series of opportunities that take students outside the classroom environment to observe international commerce and trade in action. Students are able to discuss corporate strategies with CEOs and top executives, observe state of the art manufacturing operations, explore with managers leadership and teamwork building practices, and gain insights from regular workers on the production line. In today's globalized world, the business environment is incredibly dynamic and complex. Acquiring a firsthand understanding of developments in the private sector and the challenges executives face today can be a vital addition to the tool-kit of any international affairs professional.
During their studies, Patterson School students visit as a group corporate headquarters, production centers, or manufacturing operations in nearby cities or states. Each Spring Break, students also travel to a more distant city for an intense three-day program of meetings with corporations, government agencies, and non-governmental organizations. The 2011 destination was Atlanta with key stops in Tennessee (Atlanta Program PDF) and in 2012, Patterson School students visited Chicago and Indiana (Chicago Program PDF). Our latest trip included stops in Ohio, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario (Detroit Program PDF).
Visits generally do not conflict with core classes and almost all costs associated with them are borne by the university. Our aim is to expose students to all major industrial sectors – manufacturing, financials, energy, transportation, communications/media, food and beverages, pharmaceuticals, consumer products – as evidenced in the above photo montage.
Patterson School corporate visits are open to all students, not just those with concentrations in international commerce. Indeed, we believe that the experience and exposure they provide benefit students from every concentration. Unexpected career links are often revealed – such as P&G and Lilly's efforts to advance development and global public health, or the importance to Boeing of diplomatic support to promote aircraft sales. Potential employment and internship opportunities are also frequently uncovered. Experience has shown that melding the political and economic theories mastered in the classroom with the practical knowledge and global perspective acquired during such field visits can be priceless.
Opportunities like these are not typical for schools of international affairs, but they can be found in some of the world's top MBA and executive MBA programs (often, however, at considerable expense, to fewer enterprises, and available to only a select subgroup of students). Understandably, visits like these can be exceedingly difficult for large programs due to both cost and logistics. 200 students cannot just drop in on Invesco or US Steel. Here, once more, the Patterson School's intimate size offers a distinct advantage. 35 students can be accommodated in a corporate boardroom or on the factory floor.
*In many professional programs "Corporate Engagement" means only that opportunities are made available for the private sector to have executives visit campus and speak, or to fund university activities. We warmly embrace such engagement at the Patterson School, and you will also find CEOs and executives giving lectures or holding roundtable discussions here, and corporations funding fellowships and lectureships. Nevertheless, we insist on more for our students – if you have the chance, there is truly no substitute for being there.