As part of the Foster curriculum, every full-time MBA student participates in a consulting project during winter quarter. This academic course, called Applied Strategy, pairs teams of students with companies to solve complex business problems. Applied Strategy projects provide students an opportunity to apply classroom concepts in a real business scenario and get a feel for what to expect in their future internships and careers. Many students use the MBA to pivot their careers, and Applied Strategy projects allow students to explore different roles and functions in a controlled academic environment. Projects span a variety of industries and include but are not limited to projects in strategy, marketing, finance, and operations management.
My team worked with Google on a project relating to the marketing landscape in the technology space. Since all the students on my team signed NDAs prior to working on this topic, I can’t share too many project specifics. Over the course of 10 weeks my team researched the technology advertising landscape, identified industry best practices and examples, and ultimately provided Google with a set of strategic recommendations.
What surprised me the most, in a good way, was how the experience was so much more than a marketing project. Through the project I got to wear many hats; from consulting, when we were researching, digging for data and providing recommendations; to operations when we went about planning the project timeline and deliverables. One of the more challenging aspects of this experience was scoping the project and deliverables. It would have been very easy for us to fall down a rabbit hole and lose sight of the bigger picture. The experience proved to be a tremendous learning opportunity and I learned to prioritize and execute on the fly, a skill that I have used both at school and in my summer internship at Amazon.
From gentle nudges that instigated thought-provoking discussions amongst the team, to the timely feedback that ensured our team was on track, the Google project sponsors were very involved and made it an extremely enriching and educational experience. I truly gained insight into how a company like Google approaches problems.
Applied Strategy can prove hugely impactful to a student’s MBA journey; from finding great mentors to using it as a platform to network and grow as a student and a leader. My classmate, Tim Luk, says ”My Applied Strategy project was the most valuable experience I’ve had at Foster thus far. As someone trying to transition into the tech industry with no prior tech experience, it was a great way to gain relevant experience. My team hit the ground running and was able to impress our sponsor with the depth of our recommendations.”
Another classmate, Jamie Young, had this to say about her experience “During my summer internship, I’ve drawn on many learnings from my Applied Strategy project. It’s been immensely helpful to draw on the experience of taking an open-ended problem, researching, applying frameworks and developing a recommendation. The project was a great application for balancing the revenue goals of the client, the price sensitivity of the customer, and the value perceived by the end customer. “