01 September 2022

A week in Silicon Valley: how international experiences can boost your MBA

Author: Simone Moscato - MBA Candidate at POLIMI GSoM

May 7th 2022 — it’s still morning and I am packing my stuff into my travel backpack: some shirts and jeans, essentials, a notebook, a few pens. I am moving very slowly, absorbed in my thoughts, trying to remember all the things that have happened during the last two years of my life. One of the reasons I chose the International MBA at POLIMI GSoM was its focus on the international experiences as part of the learning path, some of them mandatory, others optional. I was remembering the week I spent with all my class in Munich just a few weeks earlier, and how a simple trip had strengthened the relationship between the students, both during the lectures on Corporate Finance and Project Management and, later, while enjoying the German nightlife. There had been perfect organization and coordination of the trip, experienced professors, outdoor activities, and friends — all of this in a beautiful city.

Excited by these thoughts, I made it to the airport to fly to San Francisco where I would be joining a mixed group of students from different MBA courses to live the Silicon Valley experience together. This was an intense week between San Jose and San Francisco where the learnings were focused on the creation of new companies, start-ups, finding investors to boost original ideas, marketing and behavioural insights, but mainly fostering an entrepreneurial approach to working life in general. Considering this premise and the fact that this experience is not mandatory, it is easy to imagine the mindset of my fellows on the trip, with everybody being willing to get a better understanding of the opportunities that any good idea can have in the US market and in a European environment.

As is usual for a group of MBA students, people had started to get organized and contact each other weeks before. There were also those who took care of hotel reservations because they wanted to make our lives easier and be sure that people could also live under the same roof. We arrived and started to set the stage for the coming days, sharing our expectations, backgrounds, past experiences, and personal feedback on the MBA courses we were attending. On Monday morning, after an introductory meeting and a tour of the campus, we started the lectures at Santa Clara University. Very soon, the strong interest in the topics presented was clear since the lecture quickly became an open discussion between the professor and the students. Challenging questions led to challenging answers and the level and complexity increased hour by hour.

I thought that after two years I had got used to the enthusiasm of MBA students, but after the first day I had to change my mind. Any time that a new group was formed, I was surprised by the interactions I had with all my classmates. The discussions and the points brought up during and after the lectures were very enlightened and made me reflect on many of my choices while re-evaluating my career path. Many questions came up in my mind and I had the chance to discuss them with the new friends I had made, who happily tried to help me to rationalize my doubts by using their past experiences and personal thoughts.

The days passed, the group bonded, and after we had finished the educational module, we spent the last few days attending conferences on selected topics about new technologies and entrepreneurship. We also met and shared a talk with the Italian General Consul while guests at the Italian Cultural Institute of San Francisco!

Finally, at the end of the courses a wonderful day trip along the Californian coast gave us the final pleasure of driving along, enjoying the beautiful coastline surrounded by woods and sitting on the shore watching the sunset while sharing a beer. It had been only one week but when I flew back home, I started feeling nostalgic; there were several messages on my phone with greetings and promises to keep in touch in future, proposals to meet again in Milan or in any other city in the world, people giving thanks for the talks and others for the funny stories we had enjoyed. I thought that when I applied for the MBA, I could not have imagined that it would give me such experiences with such an impact on my mindset. I understand more and more that personal growth is something that I need to seek throughout my life and that this can be guaranteed by socializing with international people with totally different backgrounds. And this is exactly what POLIMI GSoM gave me.


01 September 2022

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