We caught up with Rachna, a recent graduate of the WHU Master in Management Program, who chose Nashville as the location for her semester abroad. We asked her a few questions to find out what she gained from the experience and her thoughts as an international student at WHU.
I’m originally from Mumbai, India, where I completed my Bachelor degree in business administration. My degree was mostly focused on business development and social impact, so I worked on many international projects, which included working with the United Nations in Africa for two months.
Why did you choose to study at WHU for your Master degree?
I was already considering Europe to gain cultural exposure and to understand the way of life here. Although I applied to a few different schools in different countries and received offers from them all, WHU was the strongest option. There is a notable focus on career possibilities and opportunities beyond studies. It was also clear that WHU is home to a large number of talented, inspiring people and performs well in rankings, so these were other positive factors in my decision.
What motivated you to choose Nashville for your exchange semester?
I chose Vanderbilt University in Nashville, as I wanted to choose somewhere a little different to where everyone else goes, such as Chicago or Florida. Their courses were also fascinating with plenty of real-life consulting projects that are practical-based; something WHU is great at offering too.
There were also plenty of extracurricular options, such as The Turner Family Center for Social Ventures, a student-led organization I joined that offers various projects such as helping released prisoners develop business ideas. I really appreciated talking to them and teaching them – I helped them develop their ideas from a business perspective, whether setting up a cleaning service or a food truck. At the end of the program, they also meet investors, where other students help them with preparing for a pitch.
Do you think the exchange semester helped you grow professionally and personally?
I gained a lot of experience that I will bring with me to future internships and roles. I am an Indian national, studying in Germany and have experienced a semester in the USA: I now have a valuable perspective of all three countries. I have a better understanding of how business works, about the culture, and I think this is one of the biggest advantages of the exchange. I now have a more international mindset. I am currently involved in a new project based in Latin America and I now feel more confident with how to approach a new country. It has really helped me to be more flexible with a new culture and given me a new way of thinking.
I really think it is important that students don’t choose a conventional location for the exchange semester or a culture they are already familiar with. Capitalize on the opportunity to experience a completely new culture. Explore outside of the campus, talk to people, and integrate as much as you can to understand how life works there.
How would describe your WHU experience overall?
It was quite a shock for me to come from Mumbai with around 8000 people on the street at one time, to a much quieter and calmer Vallendar! But I have been lucky enough to meet a lot of different people from different countries and with diverse opinions. Although the location is quite small, it’s easy to make new friends quickly and form strong bonds with people as you are living so close to each other. It is much easier to have social events and go for dinner together; there’s a definite homelike, community feel to the town.
What advice would you give to students who are thinking about applying to WHU?
Anyone applying to WHU should come with an open mind and be prepared to learn a lot. Perhaps you are a top performer in your hometown, but at WHU the talent is very high and the competition is much greater.