5 Tips for Cross Continent MBA Residencies

Fuqua’s Cross Continent MBA program offers a perfect blend of study, work, and travel. You get to study in 5 different cities of the world, giving you the best setting to build your global awareness and grow your networks. As the Fuqua website will tell you, the format of this program is unique with 6 short, in-person residency sessions followed by longer distance learning periods. Approximately 40% of the teaching is done face-to-face. At the beginning of each term, there’s a reading period at home, and then you travel to one of the residency locations to meet for classes. It’s important to prepare for each residency so that you can then fully enjoy it and get the most out of it. Traveling to and then studying in cities including Shanghai, New Delhi, and St. Petersburg can be stressful.

Here are 5 tips that I’ve learned along the way that make the residencies more enjoyable for me:

1. Do the Reading

mba class

Do all the pre-reading before the residencies because you’ll get even more assignments in class (like the one pictured here).

If there is one tip you should definitely adhere to, it’s this one. Do your pre-readings because the residences are fast-paced and there won’t be time to play catch-up!

The reading periods are about a week long, and occur at the beginning of each term, following the final exams from the previous term. Some consider these periods as a good time to relax post-exams, but it’s actually the only time available to read up on the work that you will be doing in the next term. You will receive a course pack with all the reading materials at least 2 weeks prior to the residency. This sounds like enough time to do the reading, but it’s not that simple when you just came out of a hectic term, and have other things to catch up on, or you just want to rest.

You have to remember that the majority of lectures require the readings to be completed prior to attending class, and in that class you’ll quickly get more homework, a quiz, case study, or other assignment. I have suffered from the “I’m lost” nightmare when attending a lecture focused on something I should have already read. Not to mention that some professors love to cold-call, and if you are one of those looking for the easy Class Participation marks, then you need to hit the ground running and come prepared to class!

After the residency, you head home and expand on the content that was just taught. Thus, it is crucial that you set the right foundation for the rest of the term’s lessons by doing all the pre-reading.

2. Pack Smart

Now that we got the mandatory stuff out of the way, let’s talk about technicalities of attending the global residencies. Cross Continent students journey through many multicultural societies, interesting geographies and various micro-climates and seasons. One of the biggest hurdles when travelling every two months is the idea of having to pack and unpack all the time, and feeling like you are living out of a suitcase. Well, you really are! So, pack smart!

To make things easier on myself, I created a packing checklist. Before each trip, I go through the checklist of things that I must carry with me. Passport – check! Laptop charger – check! Jacket – check!

To get a better idea of what to expect in each location, I often set up a widget on my laptop that displays the weather, time zone, and currency of the country I am going to visit. When you follow it for a few weeks, you pick up patterns in temperature that help you to choose the most suitable attire for the trip. Although, regardless of the season and climate, I always carry a jacket! Weather can be unpredictable, and it can get chilly in some of the hotels and classrooms.

  • Take a Tablet: When I started this program, one of my first investments was a tablet. All course materials are provided in print form, and a majority of it is also available in electronic versions. I download as much of it as possible onto my tablet. This saves a lot of room in my luggage and reduces the weight that I need to carry. It also keeps all my notes and files in one place that I can access during class (in silent mode of course!).
  • Stay Charged: Another neat gadget to invest in is a world travel adapter for charging your electronic devices safely. Most of the hotels we visit provide international power sockets, but there are some that do not, especially if you do additional travelling or stay in other hotels outside of the residency.
  • In Case of Emergencies: Also bring with you an International SOS card or details of what to do in an emergency.
  • Cash Flow: While most of the countries we visit have ATMs and kiosks to get cash, it is sometimes easier to get cash at home to take with you. I also own a MasterCard that lets me load multiple currencies on it, and it can be used as a multi-currency debit card. In addition, I always carry some local currency in cash for small purchases like cab rides, waiter tips, or McDonald’s.

3. Watch What You Eat

During residencies, you’ll go to places that offer unique cuisines, and my third tip is to watch what you eat!

food buffet

The buffet at the Thomas Center in Durham keeps us well-nourished.

If you are a vegetarian or have specific dietary needs, I recommend that you speak to the Cross Continent MBA program manager before-hand. This allows them to organize special meals for you during the residencies, since some meals are pre-planned and provided for us. There are also 3 or 4 per diem nights in each term, during which you can go out and try any restaurant and dining option that you want. It’s very tempting to try some new and exotic foods. I always carry with me some stomach medicines in case I eat a meal that doesn’t agree with me.

I might also add that you will never go hungry on these residencies! Lots of snacks and drinks are provided during class breaks, and the meals are very filling. Hotel gyms are a great way to keep you fit and active during the residency (if you can find time for exercise).

4. Plan Your Itinerary

All this talk about what to do when you are at the residency, but nothing about actually getting there! So, here’s tip number 4 — plan your itinerary!

Always book your flights in a way that suits your schedule and gives you some room to breathe (in case of delays/cancellations, etc.). Travel insurance is quite useful when transiting through busy airports, in case of lost baggage or flight delays. One of the first things that hit you when you land in a different time zone is jet lag. In some regions it will strike in the middle of the afternoon when you are trying to get your head around Financial Accounting. At other times, it will wake you up in the middle of the night and then make you fall asleep when it’s time to wake up. To help avoid this, I often arrive at residency locations a day or two early. This gives me time to get accustomed to the sleep cycle and to even explore the city.

I think it’s important to find some time to explore the cities. If your classmates are anything like mine, you will visit many other countries before and after the residencies. When we first started our Durham residency, we were a bunch of strangers with lots to do in very little time. As we got to know each other and got used to the schedule, we began to take advantage of every moment and wanted to spend more time together. We often travel together in small groups either before or after each residency to explore the region. Don’t rely on using spare time during the residency for this kind of exploration because there isn’t any spare time.

5. Sleep, Study, Socialize

While in residencies, you have to prioritize your limited time in a fantastic city with a great bunch of people who you love hanging out with. You have to find time to sleep, study, and socialize.

corporate visit to john deere

Visiting a John Deere office during the Durham residency.

On any given day in residency, you can choose to nerd it out, focus on your studies, and pass on the extra-curricular activities. You can also choose to go out every night and build your local networks, but you may not be able to focus in class the next morning. I think that finding a balance and pacing yourself is key to staying productive in the program while also taking advantage of some fun stuff.

I do recommend the cultural tours that are organized for us by the program managers. It’s a brilliant way to experience the culture of each city. Also, the faculty-organized corporate visits are a great opportunity to meet local business people and see how they function in a global setting. Per diem evenings give you time to meet the locals, do some sightseeing, and check out the night life with classmates.

There will be times when you’ll be too exhausted to party or too exhausted to focus in class. Just remember, the program is designed to let you manage your own time, and what you do with this time is your prerogative. What you get out of the global residencies will depend on what you put into it. So again, I say, strike a balance!

Zetin Moza

Blogger: Zetin Moza

Cross Continent MBA Class of 2013. Graduate of the University of Auckland, 2008. Has held several positions in sales, e-commerce, and portfolio management at the Bank of New Zealand since 2008.

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Opening the “Black Box” of the MBA Admissions Process

If I met you out on the road or at one of our campus events, you’re likely to have heard me talk about the “black box” of Admissions. Applications go into the box, and decisions come out. What happens in the middle is unclear to anyone outside of the Admissions Committee. It causes much trepidation on behalf of the applicant — you may wonder, what is Fuqua looking for, and why are they asking me that?

At Fuqua, we do everything we can to demystify the admissions process. We want to help our applicants to understand what we are seeking so that you can first determine whether or not our programs are the best fit for you, and then you can put your best foot forward for the application. So let’s break down the application to provide some insight into not just what, but why we ask for what we do.

Academic Readiness

We utilize your GMAT or GRE scores, academic record, and work experience relevant to our coursework to answer one fundamental question: Will you be successful in our classrooms? All of Fuqua’s MBA programs are incredibly fast paced. I know — I went through the Daytime MBA program, and we covered the material from my semester-long undergraduate accounting course in the first two classes at Fuqua! When you are balancing rigorous courses with your career and your personal commitments, you simply must have the intellectual horsepower and quantitative aptitude to be successful. We do not want you to study 24-7. We want you to network, explore the culture surrounding you on your residencies, and to flourish in your careers. If your academic background and tests indicate that you may need additional academic preparation, we will connect you with our Director of Quantitative Assessment, Paula Sloan. She will work with you and determine whether additional coursework prior to matriculation will ensure that you are prepared for our classrooms. Thus, the earlier you begin conversations with Jessica Steinberg, our admissions counselor for the Cross Continent MBA program, the more time you will have to prepare to be a strong candidate and student.

Work Experience

We assess your work experience to answer two questions: Will your classmates learn from you? Will your past experience + our program translate well into your future aspirations? The learning in the classroom is not gained simply from the professor sharing his or her knowledge, but rather the students share their personal experiences and insights. Every class involves discussion and team assignments during which classmates share best practices and ask thought-provoking questions. So, from an admissions perspective, we assess the quality of your previous professional experiences, including how you progressed compared to your peer group, whether you have team and leadership experiences to draw upon, if you’ve been exposed to diverse industries/functions/geographies, and whether you had the opportunity to dive deep into specific fields. Both depth and breadth are valued, and in choosing the cohort for the program, we ultimately aim to build a microcosm of the world in our classrooms through the experiences and perspectives of our students. Your resume will be our roadmap to your professional experience, so be certain that it is understandable to those outside of your industry, is impact-focused, and allocates space to the experiences that you value most.

Recommendations

How does an unbiased third party assess your performance as compared to your peers? Your two professional recommendations provide the Admissions Committee with the opportunity to understand your performance and contributions in a professional environment, through the voice of those who have worked with you closely and who have insight into your strengths and development areas. For your recommendations, it’s important to choose someone who knows you well, rather than someone with a big title, and who will take the time to provide a detailed, thoughtful recommendation with specific examples. One of the two recommendations must be from your current supervisor. Prepare your recommenders so that they understand why you are applying to Fuqua, and how their recommendation can highlight specific aspects that are not contained elsewhere in your application. DO NOT ghost write your recommendations. DO give your recommenders plenty of time and thank them for their support.

Leadership & Involvement

At Fuqua, a notable portion of your learning and development will happen outside of the formal classroom setting. We want to know: Will you be engaged in the community, share and pursue your passions, and make an impact at Fuqua and in the places where you live and work in the future? Your past activities and involvement — the things that you chose to do, rather than what was required for work or school — are the best indication of your potential future impact as a Leader of Consequence. Take the time to complete the leadership and involvement section of the online application, and in your essays share your passions and how you have committed yourself to them. Also be certain to mention your future aspirations about making an impact.

Essays

The essays are where you truly come alive, and where you have the opportunity to weave your application together into your personal story. Who are you as a 3-dimensional person? What are your passions and aspirations? If there are gaps in your resume or potential areas of confusion, have they been addressed? We LOVED the 25 random things essay that we incorporated into the Daytime MBA application last year, as it truly provides applicants with the opportunity to share a wide range of interests and insight into who they really are. We are excited to now include this essay in the Cross Continent MBA application. We really get to know you through your essays, and we were proud to be voted last year as the school who knew its applicants best (survey conducted by Huron Education). The 25 random things essay truly provides you with the opportunity to share a wide range of interests and insights. Please, be genuine and passionate in your response to this essay — take ownership for your accomplishments and blemishes, and aim to provide the admissions committee with a holistic understanding of you, what has made you who you are, and what you hope to be.

Interview

Will others want to be on your team? Will you impress our recruiters and faculty? Will you make us proud as an alumnus/a? Why is Cross Continent, a unique format for those who have successfully launched their careers and do not want to step off the career ladder, with its focus on developing global competence, the right program for you? These are the key questions that our interviewers aim to answer through speaking with you personally. The interview is a two-way street, though. It is also a wonderful opportunity for you to learn more about the program and whether it’s a good fit for you. So be prepared with your own questions.

Ultimately, the application evaluation process is a holistic process. Multiple people will review your application and engage personally with you. Our hope is that we will each have a mutual understanding of who you are as an applicant, and how Fuqua and our community will cultivate you into the Leader of Consequence that you aspire to be. It is not a black box. You are engaged in the entire process, and we look forward to getting to know you! If you have any questions and if you’re considering applying to the Cross Continent MBA program, please reach out to Admissions Counselor Jessica Steinberg at crosscontinent-mba-info@fuqua.duke.edu.

Admissions

Blogger: Admissions

Megan Overbay is Director of Admissions at The Fuqua School of Business and blogs about the admissions process for the MBA program.

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Professional Development is Key Reason for Pursuing MBA

Success is not just about forming a vision and attaining it, but also about adding value to what is already present, refining it, and making it meaningful. I am not here to create magic, but to make what we already have a little more magical. My short-term career aspiration is to pursue marketing roles in multi-national firms, with a focus on brand management. My wider purpose is to one day lead a non-profit organization, and through the use of marketing and technology, empower it to have a global presence. My career path is thus a balance of two elements: corporate marketing and social entrepreneurship.

Although I had fundamental knowledge of marketing and strategy from my undergraduate degree, I did not hold a specialized understanding of these fields. I needed to gain core skills and experiences, which is why I decided to pursue an MBA. I chose to go back to school because I felt ready to take that next step toward both my personal and professional development. Pursuing the MBA is helping me to blend my visions together, and I will define my career as a success if I can realize my short term objective, and then leverage that expertise to eventually fulfill my dream of driving social impact.

Fuqua’s Cross Continent program appealed to me because it is customizable in terms of concentrations, including ones in my key focus areas of marketing and strategy. I think a specialized concentration will shorten the path to my post-MBA goals by allowing me to effectively learn and apply concepts in a real-time business scenario, without restricting me to a geographical region. When I looked at the various opportunities and formats available to acquire an MBA, the Duke Cross Continent program was the most appealing, especially because of the residencies in key global economies. Fuqua has a strong focus on global learning, and overseas experience is a major part of this program. More importantly, networking with high-caliber classmates from all spheres of life would be a great learning experience for me. Duke also allowed me to strike a balance by acquiring a world-class education while I continued to work, and letting me pursue my career goals at my own pace, while fitting in my personal and volunteer life. For all these reasons, the Cross Continent program is a good fit for me and my goals.

Zetin Moza

Blogger: Zetin Moza

Cross Continent MBA Class of 2013. Graduate of the University of Auckland, 2008. Has held several positions in sales, e-commerce, and portfolio management at the Bank of New Zealand since 2008.

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6 TV Shows to Watch Before the Cross Continent Program

It’s that time of year again in the entertainment industry when the broadcast networks launch new television shows for the fall season. Over 100 scripts are whittled down to approximately 15 shows that will actually be produced and aired. All of this got me thinking about some of my favorite shows that have unwittingly prepared me for the Cross Continent MBA program in some way or another.

  • No Reservations – This show practically reinvented the contemporary travelogue. Anthony Bourdain’s unique perspective reminds you that the journey is truly about new experiences, new friendships, and interesting company over a great meal.
  • The Layover – A very close cousin of No Reservations, this show, also hosted by Anthony Bourdain, will give you excellent ideas on what to do during that very long layover in some new city that you are likely to experience at some point during the Cross Continent program.
  • House Hunters International – Ever wonder how much homes and apartments go for around the world and in some of the areas you are about to visit? Then look no further than House Hunters International. You can also impress your fellow classmates with your new knowledge of their local housing markets.
  • Breaking Bad – First off, this really was one of the best shows on television in the last 20 years. While I absolutely do not endorse the product being sold and produced by Walt and Jessie, the show actually does a fantastic job of chronicling the business decisions of a start-up. What is our market? How is our product different than the competition? How we are going to distribute our product and take our business international? Again, for the record, I do not approve of the product, but the show is excellent and will get you thinking about business.
  • The Walking Dead – Because with all of the jet lag, midterms, team projects, and finals there will be a lot of days when you feel like a zombie.
  • Friday Night Lights – Team Fuqua is very real and reminiscent of the tight knit community in Friday Night Lights. The show is much more than football; it is a character piece where everyone strives to do their best. Not everything always goes according to plan, and it is reassuring to know that a strong community with a distinct culture is always present to help you navigate whatever obstacles are in your path and to provide support in whatever direction life takes you. To quote the show’s motto, “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose.”
Jeff Foster

Blogger: Jeff Foster

Cross Continent MBA Class of 2013. Graduate of the University of California, San Diego, 2000. Has held several positions in television and film, and has served as a film and television consultant since 2010.

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My Journey from India to Fuqua

I was extremely happy with the job and career progression I had achieved in the first few years of my career in India. I was leading the top 5 accounts for my firm and was regularly working with the CEO, CFO and other business leaders on large strategic engagements. One day I received a call from my friend asking to join her for a class organized by a professor from a top-10 U.S. business school. I was interested in business talks and so I went. Having attended a bridge program from a premier Indian institute, I saw a clear difference in terms of how the American professor drove the class discussion and the overall quality of teaching. I quickly set my mind on going to a top business school in the U.S. for an MBA. My uncle and aunt had attended Ivy League schools in the U.S., and I was able to use them as a sounding board before moving forward with my plans.

Why Get an MBA?

I had worked predominantly in the Asia pacific region, and was looking for an MBA to gain more global exposure. I firmly believed that in a globalized world, hard skills would not take a person too far, and that cross-cultural skills and international business exposure would become increasingly important. While narrowing my search for the “ideal” business school, I started looking at the international exposure provided by each program. I realized that just having multiple nationalities represented in the classroom does not compare to actually traveling to different countries and studying in-region.

I was also looking at a career transition. Having worked with Fortune-500 companies in multiple functions such as marketing, product management, business development and sales, I wanted to transition into management consulting. Therefore, I wanted an MBA experience that would support my career change.

Fuqua was the Right Fit

To get a better idea of what Fuqua had to offer, I decided to spend a day with Fuqua’s Cross Continent MBA program in New Delhi. I was fortunate to attend Professor Katherine Schipper’s session on Global Markets and Institutions. She is a top notch accounting professor. I was amazed by her knowledge and it seemed that she knew more about my country than I did!! Of course, then, I had no idea about the things that I would be able to contribute to the classroom in the future!! After spending the day in a “regional” classroom, attending a speaker series and mingling with current students, I had my mind set on the Cross Continent program.

The culture that I saw and the top ranked faculty were factors that influenced my decision to choose Fuqua. I choose Fuqua because I thought it was the best fit for me. During my consideration process, I met alumni from almost all the top business schools and found that Fuqua alumni were smart, extremely responsive, collaborative, and enthusiastic. Fuqua prides itself in its diverse community and maintains the collaborative “Team Fuqua” culture. Fuqua is also at the forefront of innovation and technology implementation (the Cross Continent program itself is a good example).

When I visited Fuqua’s campus in Durham for the first time, I read the vision statement of the school, “The Fuqua School of Business appreciates and values differences inherent within our community. As an organization, we are committed to building and sustaining an environment conducive to capitalizing on the diversity within our community as a source of intellectual, personal and professional growth and innovation.” I felt delighted that I had made the right decision …

I had heard from people that an MBA is truly a life transforming experience and one will discover many things during the program. Now, I realize that I have developed multiple interests. Instead of looking at only management consulting, I also started considering private equity, investment banking and high tech as alternatives to consulting. I enjoyed learning more about various industries as I progressed through the program.

Vibhu Narwekar

Blogger: Vibhu Narwekar

Cross Continent MBA Class of 2013. Graduate of the University of Mumbai. Has held several positions in consulting, marketing, account management, and business development since 2006.

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