“Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.”

Nearly everyone laughs when I share this quip by the American humorist Will Rogers. It isn’t particularly American, of course, so that’s why it even works in China, where I have been teaching and working for the last 10 years. I am currently Associate Dean for Graduate Programs at the new Duke Kunshan University (DKU), and as such, I’m leading the new MMS: DKU program, which Fuqua is offering in partnership with DKU, which is Duke University’s joint venture in China. Students in the MMS: DKU program will spend their first 3 terms on the Fuqua campus in Durham and then move to China to complete their degree on the DKU campus. It’s a very exciting opportunity for students to have a front row seat to two of the world’s most dynamic economies — the U.S. and China.

Now, going back to the quote that I started off with, people laugh because they can see the truth in it, regardless of culture, and it really speaks to how most of us learn best — it helps greatly to experience something first-hand to really understand it. The good news is that we don’t have to rely on bad judgment and the aches and pains that come with it to gain experience. We can actively seek out experiences in life that will be challenging, demanding, and maybe even a little bit scary, and in so doing, we can get ourselves into better “shape” for living and working. I put the word “shape” in quotes because I think the physical exercise metaphor is quite apt for how we can look at our choices in life. Just as we need to work out, or stretch, our bodies to gain strength, we also need to pursue education, jobs, and work assignments that stretch us if we are going to be prepared for the serious leadership challenges that we will face in our increasingly complex world. The confidence, courage, intellectual agility, and emotional maturity we gain from these life experiences make us better able to handle new situations, better able to solve problems, and better able to understand and work with others.

I think that enrolling in one of Fuqua’s MMS programs, with their world-class rigor and great students and faculty, can be one of these stretching experiences. The programs are challenging — you’ll work with some really smart classmates and faculty. The programs are demanding — you have to cover a lot of material in only 10 short months, while you look for a job and figure out your next steps in life. And, in the case of MMS: DKU, with its U.S./China delivery format, it’s maybe a little bit scary, at least it would be for me — everyone has to live and work for at least part of the program in a place that is geographically and culturally far from home. Okay, maybe I’m biased about the MMS programs because I’m the associate dean at DKU, and I’ve seen the benefits of an international education first-hand by teaching in Fuqua’s Cross Continent MBA program. I think that Fuqua’s MMS programs (both MMS: Duke Kunshan University and MMS: Foundations of Business) offer two great options to step up a level in your game — these are both graduate programs that move through material at a graduate level pace, and broaden the experience that you will bring to the next step in your career — you’ll work in diverse teams and have assignments and projects that require you to look at a broad range of industries and companies.

The Fuqua MMS programs both offer great combinations of in- and out-of-the-classroom experiences, regardless of where you are starting from and where you hope to go. If you are already committed to an international career or working in a global business, getting some truly international experience in the first and second largest economies of the world is hugely helpful, so I suggest you look seriously at the MMS: DKU program. If you’re less certain about an international career or already have significant international experience, maybe the MMS: FOB program is a better choice. In either case, look at all your options — compare the MMS programs — talk to the advisors on Fuqua’s admissions team, and then take on the “work-out” that’s going to get you into shape for the race or game you want to win.