Tuesday, July 22, 2014 - 14:45

Assumption College MBA Students Share Thoughts on Working, Studying in Poland

Eight Assumption College Master of Business Administration (MBA) students traveled to Poland for three weeks recently to work with  business owners, helping them to develop strategic business plans—and, in doing so, gaining valuable insight into the European Union business world. The collaboration was part of the College’s MBA international component, “Doing Business in a Foreign Country.” This is the third consecutive year that Assumption students applied business skills and theories learned in the classroom to help European-based companies.

Below are comments from three of the students who traveled to Poland. They are each part of the Assumption MBA Early Career Track (ECT) program. It is a one-year, full-time graduate degree program that is tailored to the needs of recent college graduates of liberal arts schools (with or without a business major) who wish to lauch high-impact careers.

 

STACY DANQUAH, 23
Worcester, Mass.

What were your perceptions of Poland prior to your arrival?

Prior to arrival, I thought Poland was a small country with not much going on. I didn’t think there were a lot of tourists. I also didn’t think there would be any African Americans living there or visiting. I thought that it would be a very gray country with all that they have endured.

How did your perception of Poland change once you were there?

Once I got there, things were very lively and not gray at all. People were very friendly and optimistic. There were so many tourists in Krakow.

What were your overall impressions of the country, in particular Krakow?

My impression of Krakow was that it was a huge tourist city. There was always something going on, whether it were musicians outside, people sitting outside eating and conversing, people selling hand-made items at the market square, etc. There was always something to do in Krakow.

What were the trip's highlights, culturally and academically?

The biggest highlight of the trip for me was our visit to Auschwitz. It was a very surreal and emotional experience. Standing in a place where I had only read about in history books where millions of peoples’ lives were taken because of who they were was so surreal. Academically, learning the history of Poland first hand from people that lived there before and after communism was a great experience. Hearing it from people that lived it instead of just reading about it made the experience much more real. Also standing in so many historical places and buildings made learning that much more realistic.

Why should the business world take a more pronounced notice of Poland and its economics?

Poland is an emerging country and it is growing very rapidly regardless of all that they have been through, the people of Poland are so positive, persistent, and determined. They just want to succeed and they go to great lengths to achieve that goal.

What did you do in Poland?

We did a lot of sightseeing, attended a couple symposiums at local universities, and worked at small businesses for two weeks. Sightseeing included the Wieliczka Salt mines, Auschwitz concentration camp, Zakopane’s Tatra Mountains, St. Mary’s Basilica, Museum of Contemporary Art, Oskar Schindler’s Factory, Pszczyna Castle. We also explored the nightlife in Krakow and Bielsko-Biala. For the last two weeks, we worked at small Polish businesses to help with whatever they needed, including marketing strategies, website improvement, advertising, emerging into the U.S. market, etc.

What was your project, and for which company did you work?

I worked at a family-owned piano restoration company in Bierna, Poland called Pianina Fortepiany Service Musial. My tasks included analyzing their website against those of competitors and making suggestions for improvement, comparing their marketing tactics to those of competitors in Poland, Germany and the United States, and making recommendations that would allow them to gain new clients in both Poland and the United States and sell more pianos.

What did you learn from this trip?

I learned that it is very difficult to communicate with people when they don’t understand you and you don’t understand them. I learned the importance of learning different languages in the business world. Being bilingual I know how useful knowing two languages is but this trip taught me that I need to learn a language that is more prominent in the business world like Mandarin Chinese. I learned that with the use of technology, you could overcome the communication barrier as I did using an iPad to communicate with my driver in Bielsko-Biala. I also learned that being open-minded is not a choice when it comes to interacting with diverse groups of people. It is of upmost importance. This trip taught me that I am able to adapt to change and role with the punches when need be.

How will your work in Poland help your career?

Working in a country where there was a little bit of a communication barrier was difficult at times but I was able to overcome it and this will help in my career when I am working with diverse group of people whose first language may not always be English. My work in Poland will also help because I was exposed to how businesses are run in a different part of the world and I am now versed with that culture.

What do you want prospective students to know about Assumption's international practicum program?

It is a great program. You get to experience firsthand how businesses are run in another country. You are also able to put to use all the skills learned in the classroom throughout the year. Experience is the best teacher and being in a foreign country, experiencing their culture, eating their food, communicating with their people is a once in a lifetime opportunity that you are able to experience while learning about the history of the country at the same time.

Why should they consider Assumption?

Assumption College is a great choice because the professors really care and take their time to teach and bring real life experiences into the classroom. The class sizes make each class very personal. The notion of ethics is really encompassed in each class and you really learn a lot from your classmates’ experiences. The students are so diverse and come from all walks of life. That makes it great for interacting with different kinds of people.

What is the value of an Assumption MBA?

It is of high value to me. I was able to network with people that are already established in their careers as well as students just starting off. I was able to learn from both perspectives. The international practicum portion of my MBA will hopefully give me that extra push when it comes to career prospects and will hopefully set me aside from other candidates. The vigorous and diverse courses gave me an array of knowledge to use in my future career.

 

 

BENJAMIN PARKER, 23
Lancaster, Mass.

What were your perceptions of Poland prior to your arrival?

I went into Poland with a very open mind, I did not know what to expect. I knew that they had a growing economy but did not know how well their infrastructure had been built up or what to expect of the country.

How did your perception of Poland change once you were there?

Once getting into Poland I saw the beautiful architecture and rich culture that it had to offer. The buildings that surrounded the city of Krakow had a lot of character and were many centuries old.

What were your overall impressions of the country, in particular Krakow?

Krakow was a beautiful city with a lot to explore, even after the 10 days we had spent there it still felt that there was a large portion left to be explored. The city was a vibrant tourist destination with Wawel Royal Castle, St. Mary’s Church, and the Rynek market square drawing in visitors.

What were the trip's highlights, culturally and academically?

The trip had many highlights including the Wieliczka salt mines, Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps, and Zakopane for tourist destinations; indulging in the different dinner options that they had, like pierogi and potato pancakes; and working closely with companies to understand how other cultures conduct business.

Why should the business world take a more pronounced notice of Poland and its economics?

From what I had observed, the Polish people are very hard-working group that shows promise in the coming years. With one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, they have the ability to grow into a large and dominant power within the European Union.

What did you do in Poland?

We had a great mixture of tourism, social immersion, and working. This made the trip go by extremely quick. We were able to see many historic monuments and famous places, Explore night life, and gain working knowledge of the business world in Poland.

What was your project, and for which company did you work?

A student and I worked for St. Luke’s Clinic, where we were tasked with developing advertisements, financial analysis, and sign development.

What did you learn from this trip?

This trip offered a great amount of insight into the European world, and how other countries conduct business. Also, I gained new knowledge of incidents that may have happened in history and historic landmarks.

How will your work in Poland help your career?

Poland will help my career in working with others who may not speak English as a primary language as well as having different views on how business should be conducted.

What do you want prospective students to know about Assumption's international practicum program?

The international practicum offered by Assumption College is a beneficial and worthwhile experience.

Why should prospective students consider Assumption?

Assumption College offers a liberal arts education with an international immersion opportunity.

What is the value of an Assumption MBA?

Assumption’s MBA Early Career Track program has set me on the right path for a successful and prosperous career.

 

ANDREW TROTTIER, 23
Webster, Mass.

What were your perceptions of Poland prior to your arrival?

Before going to Poland, I knew that the country was still in the developing stage and is still not on the Euro.  I was under the impression that Poland was still a little behind the rest of Europe from an economic standpoint.

How did your perception of Poland change once you were there?

Immediately it was clear that many parts of the country were just as developed economically as the rest of Europe and the Western world.  The country’s unique pride and hardworking culture also stood out once we were there.

What were your overall impressions of the country, in particular Krakow?

The country has a very distinguished culture, especially from a historical perspective.  There was so much traditional culture in Krakow from the food, sites and infrastructure to the past events and universities (Jagiellonian University – founded in the 1300s).

What were the trip's highlights, culturally and academically?

Academically, the lectures at the Krakow University of Economics and the Jagiellonian University provided substantial learning. We were able to learn about the history and foundations of Poland and the country’s economic status. We were also able to tour parts of the Jagiellonian University, which is one of the oldest universities in Europe. This also proved to be one of the cultural highlights as well. Getting to see the oldest university in the country which made it through the Nazi invasion provided great insight to what the country went through. It was amazing to see how the country was able to maintain its identity after being taken over by the four empires for 200 years and then again in World War II. This speaks to the country’s fortitude, persistence, ingenuity and faith.

Why should the business world take a more pronounced notice of Poland and its economics?

Many businesses are already doing so because the country’s labor force has an advancing technical skillset as well as educational level. There is also a very high level of English speakers, and the labor cost is still very low for foreign companies, which makes Poland a very attractive country for foreign-service centers.

What did you do in Poland?

We were able to attend academic lectures (at the Krakow University of Economics and the Jagiellonian University), visit historical landmarks (such as the salt mines and the Auschwitz concentration camps), visit local shops, stores and businesses, enjoy the Polish cuisine and help local businesses with specific business strategy plans.

What was your project, and for which company did you work?

I worked at Wojcik Fashion, which designs and manufactures high-quality children’s clothing.  Our team’s task was to develop a strategic plan for the company to enter the U.S. market.

What did you learn from this trip?

We learned that Poland is a strong economic country that has been consistently growing every year since its transition from communism to capitalism.  It was amazing to see the continual growth and development that the country is experiencing, despite its history of extreme oppression.

How will your work in Poland help your career?

My work in Poland allowed me to gain knowledge of European business habits and taught me firsthand the areas of similarity and differences between Polish and American companies.

What do you want prospective students to know about Assumption's international practicum program?

The international practicum is focused on teaching students the importance of how business is done in other countries.  It provides students with the cultural background and demonstrates how the historical and economic aspects of the country work together to influence business operations.

Why should prospective students consider Assumption?

This program is not just concentrated on the academic development of graduate students, but focuses on the overall well-rounded development of student-professionals through work experience, practicums, lectures and operational company visits.

What is the value of an Assumption MBA?

Having an MBA from Assumption College demonstrates to employers that you have been held to high academic and ethical standards and provides a competitive advantage as college with a high academic reputation.

MEDIA CONTACT
Lorraine U. Martinelle, Director of Media Relations, Assumption College
lu.martinelle@assumption.edu @lumartinelle @AssumptionNews