I remember looking at the calendar for the first two terms of school and thinking how great it was going to be to have fall break between them. But one thing that we learn as we start the MBA journey is the meaning of the word “fulltime.”

Literally, there is very little time that is not invested in academic, career, or social activities. The same went for that 10-day break between Fall Terms 1 and 2, but the experience I had during it could not have been greater.

I was fortunate to be able to return home for three days to see family, yet still get to experience two of Fuqua’s health care Week-in-Cities trips to Los Angeles and San Francisco. We have heard about these trips—filled with on-site company visits and networking with alumni and recruiters—all during the first term, and we were finally ready for that experience.

Los Angeles

Our group of students in L.A. was heavily international, with students from China, Korea, a few Americans, and me (from Argentina). We started the trip by visiting Amgen. We not only had the opportunity to meet with the commercial and finance teams, but we also got to tour the campus, review a business case, and discuss opportunities for MBA internships. On the same the day, we headed to Essia Health (a medical scribe services company) where we met a Fuqua alumnus who was more than open to our questions, and who gave us great career and life advice. The following day, we visited Kaiser Permanente and Medtronic where we had the opportunity to see how medical devices are manufactured and how they work. Both days provided great insights about biotechnology, medical devices, not-for-profit health plans, and the medical scribe business.

San Francisco

In San Francisco, our 2-day trip started with Genentech where we had the opportunity to learn about the company’s collaborative culture, the emphasis on people, and the opportunities for MBAs. We also got to visit Intuitive Surgical where they surprised us with a unique experience. We got to test their robotic surgery equipment, the Da Vinci Surgical System, and played surgeons for half an hour! The following day had a packed agenda that required getting Ubers, walking, and having a quick lunch. That allowed us to visit Rock Health, Castlight Health, McKesson, and IMS Consulting Group, getting the opportunity to learn about venture funds dedicated to digital health, health care IT, medical-surgical supplies, pharmaceutical distribution, and health care consulting.

The Value of the Experience

It is true that the MBA gives us the opportunity to switch careers and/or functions, but this freedom requires introspection. It is easy to lose sight of what we had as our main objective, and follow the path of others. Since you get to choose where you want to go and how many sectors you would like to explore during Week-in-Cities, it gives us a chance to see if a certain industry or multiple industries are of interest. These trips allow us to get to know the companies we would like to work for, and for them to get to know us as well. This might sound familiar—it’s a similar process to  visiting universities when applying for an MBA! And I think in both cases, it is a matter of finding the right fit.

Week-in-Cities gave us a unique opportunity to learn from many players and aspects of the health care industry. This is helpful when it comes time to narrow our preferences and tailor our recruitment efforts to what interests us the most, and where we see ourselves in the near future. The experience is definitely something that I would recommend for every first-year MBA—it is a chance to discover more about your passions and to determine your future.