I just finished my first class here at ESCEM in France and thought this would probably be a good time to give you an idea of what to expect. Let me start by confessing that when I came here I wasn’t quite sure what to expect to learn. I was used to learning on a more specific level: marketing to the United States. So when I decided to go to France, something in the back of my mind told me that I would be learning about how marketing works only in France. It wasn’t until I actually got to my class that I realized I was about to be taught on a much larger scale than I had assumed. While the class was Advertising in Europe, that isn’t all we focused on. The professor brought in examples from all over the world. It was so diverse that I really got a sense of how advertising to other countries would be like.
One of the objectives of the class was to teach us the different aspects we needed to keep in mind when entering a market in a new country or even simply, a new region of our current market. We went over many different analysis strategies to determine if the move would be sustainable and profitable. I really feel like this class has taught me a lot.
The Project – Team Work
Aside from the actual lecture in class, it was a real learning experience for me to work with my colleagues from all over the world. As part of the course, we were all assigned to a group of 5 people and told to come up with a presentation analyzing a specific company, and a marketing campaign to move that company to another country. We then had to present that project to the class in a 20 minute time frame. We were given time to work on the project almost every day we met in class (5 times, 6 hours a day) and then were expected to meet outside of class time to work on it as a team.
In my group, all 5 of us were from a different country and came together with different cultural backgrounds. My first recommendation when working with other colleagues from different backgrounds is to work with an open mind. (This is important for school, but it will also be very important in your business dealings later in life.) Immediately, we all had different concepts of timing. As a North American, I am a very time oriented person, meaning I am generally on time, especially to business related events. That is common for people from North America. This is not the case with some other cultures. For an example, it is common for the French to take their time when working on projects, meeting for an event or many other activities. Just like North Americans are culturally taught to be on time, the French are culturally more laid back. It didn’t mean that either of us was right or wrong, it just meant that we all had to adapt to working with different backgrounds.
This is just one example, but there will be other things that come with each group you work in that you will have to get used you. Something else to keep in mind is that you are at a business college and you will be working with other students who have all worked hard to get accepted and make it to this once in a life time opportunity, a dual degree program. While you worked just as hard as the rest of them, this means that there are going to be a lot of leaders around you and especially in your group. This can become a problem in group work, so my recommendation to you: learn when to stick to your guns, and learn when it’s time to give someone else a chance and finally, learn when it’s time to share. For this recent project I have described above, there were 3 of us who tried to take leadership. In the end, we all found it best to share and take on the work load together. Now, don’t look at this and see it as a sign of weakness to share in the competitive business world. There are many reasons that this could be a good idea; sometimes employers need someone who can share the load and sometimes they need someone who can take the lead. Just learn when a situation calls for which one. At the same time I was working on this project, I was also working on a project in another class that I had taken the lead on. Different situations call for different tactics.
Working as a Native English Speaker
This brings me to the next part, if you are coming as a native English speaker, it is very common to be a major part or leading role in many of your projects. While the professors know that students are coming from all over the world with varied degrees of English, they still expect grammatically correct presentations and project. This means that you are usually the one who takes charge, maybe spends the extra time to put the presentation together and write the paper if needed. I was told this before coming here and they were right. It’s something to expect and also look forward to.
Presenting the Project – Final Notes
The last thing I want you to know is to be prepared to give a professional project and expect to receive genuine feedback. This is common sense for all business classes and it was truly helpful. The professor treated our presentations very much like a business meeting. He asked questions that we would have expected to receive when actually presenting such an idea to move a business and they were all genuine concerns that needed to be addressed. The professor was critical of our PowerPoints and made sure we knew how we could improve them. It may have seemed a bit harsh, but I personally appreciated it and believe that the only way to improve is to know where you went wrong and fix it next time.
So overall, the whole class was a success for me. It was really hard to get used to being at one class for 6 hours a day, but it got better with time. Working with other cultures was a great experience for me and I look forward to the 6 other classes I will be going through over the next 3 months.
Please let me know in the comments section or send me a message if you have any questions about the classes, how they work or what to expect. I would be happy to help.