The London Experience

by Laura Beth Snipes, senior marketing major and marketing intern, Mike Cottrell College of Business

Every year, business students join the Mike Cottrell College of Business on a 10-day spring break trip called The London Experience. I sat down with Michaela Climer, a recent Mike Cottrell graduate and Cottrell Scholar, who attended the London Experience this past spring 2016. She shared with me why she decided to go on the trip and the opportunities the trip has brought her.

Having the experience of a study abroad adventure was always on Michaela’s college bucket list, but she never thought she would have the money or time to turn that dream into reality. As a highly involved student at the University of North Georgia, she spent her summers and college years serving the numerous organizations she was apart of. The London Experience fit perfectly into Michaela’s busy schedule and she found that it was actually quite affordable.

When I asked Michaela what she learned on the trip she said that the name of the trip, the London Experience, is so fitting because it was just that—an experience. The advisors were intentional with the scheduling of the trip. Michaela found that her days were filled with the perfect balance of professional development and opportunities for personal discovery. I had the opportunity to hear about a few of her favorite parts of the trip itself.

She enjoyed learning from executives at Coca-Cola London about international marketing and how some strategies work in some countries but not in others. And adventuring around the city, getting lost trying to find Harry Potter landmarks will always be a story Michaela loves to tell. She enjoyed the Sherlock Holmes museum and said that she would definitely recommend visiting it if you are in London. Her goal for the trip and her main takeaways were all centered on a theme of learning and experiencing new things. She said that she would have to agree with the famous Aldous Huxley’s quote, “To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.” Michaela told me about the diversity of London, how there is so much to learn from in the city and that it is so much more than just a rainy place where everyone wears dark colors all of the time.

Before her trip, Michaela had plans to stay in the southeast and go to graduate school close to her home in Tennessee. After going on the London Experience, her horizons were broadened and she realized how small, albeit wonderful, our little corner of the world is. She is now living in Cambridge, Massachusetts, working on a one-year graduate program that allows her to travel the world. She will be in Boston until May and then she’ll rotate back to London and create new adventures in Dubai or Shanghai. At Hult International Business School, she has the opportunity to experience new cultures and learn more than she ever imagined while pursuing a Master’s of International Business.

When I asked Michaela how she thinks this experience has helped her and will help her in the real world, she gave me some insight that I think all business students should hear. She said that there is no other time in your life when it is socially acceptable or possible to travel for months at a time with little to no responsibilities and for a smaller price tag than you would think. As an alumna, she has seen firsthand how the experience she gained from travelling holds more weight to employers than any hard skill ever could. What is now referred to as an “essential skill” is what our parents have all referred to as “soft skills.” These are the skills that cannot be easily taught in the workplace. She stated that employers look for individuals that know who they are, can articulate their values and passions in an interview and who can cooperate effectively with a diverse set of people in a work setting. In order to develop those skills, she said that you must step out of your comfort zones and experience various cultures. This also allows you to network with people all around the world. Michaela confirmed that in the real world, it really is helpful to focus not only on what you know, but on whom you know as well.

While the Spring 2017 trip is full (unless a seat becomes available), you can always plan for the Spring 2018 experience. If you are on the fence about joining the Mike Cottrell College of Business for the London Experience or any study abroad, take Michaela’s advice and go for it. If money is the issue, she said to skip out on a few fast food runs each week, ask for help with your trip instead of Christmas presents, apply for scholarships and remember that this is an investment in your future. Do not be afraid to stray from your normal spring break plans if you’ve never been out of the country. The trip advisors are extremely helpful and are there whenever you will need them. Michaela is so thankful that the Mike Cottrell College of Business granted her this opportunity. She believes that we develop strong graduates to foster strong communities out of students that want to be a part of creating a bright future and a better world.

In a future article, we’ll discuss the Business and Culture in Italy summer study abroad program. The deadline for the Italy trip is January 15, 2017 and seats are still available.

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