Ross Reflections: Navigating the Ross Integrative Semester

Winning Ross team at the Entrepreneurial Challenge


During RIS, I learned that I had to be really intentional about where I chose to spend my time. There are only 24 hours in a day! It’s important to not overexert yourself and be realistic about what you can actually accomplish.

I’m not going to sugarcoat it: during RIS there were a lot of readings and assignments to keep track of. For my Business Law and Ethics (BL) class, there were at least 20 pages of readings and a mini case with questions that we had to prepare for each class! There were some days where I didn’t do some readings because I was working on an assignment for another class, doing interview prep, or I simply did not have the time.

The group assignments were staggered for each class so there wasn’t always something due every week for every class. Nevertheless, being enrolled in four different classes allowed for at least one group assignment to be due every week.

I probably met with the same two different groups every week and then would meet with the other three groups during the next week. It was really dependent on what assignments were due that week.

During RIS, I had to step back and re-evaluate what my priorities were for the semester. My priorities happened to be recruiting for a summer 2020 marketing internship and academics. At the time, I was committing myself to volunteering, being an active member of multiple student organizations, and serving as a microeconomics tutor.

Two weeks into RIS, I ended up quitting one student organization as a board member and then becoming inactive in another. This was a difficult decision to make, but I knew that I wouldn’t have been able to give 100% of myself to either organization. I had to focus on my priorities.

Dean Scott DeRue (second from the left) meeting with staff


The first semester of junior year is primetime for recruiting for a summer internship. It’s honestly amazing to see the breadth of companies that come to Ross to recruit: Bain & Company, Deloitte, PepsiCo, SC Johnson, American Express, Eli Lilly and Company, just to name a few.

RIS was a stressful semester for me because, in addition to juggling a heavy course load, I had to worry about recruiting for a summer 2020 marketing internship. A lot of my friends had already secured their summer 2020 internships because they were doing investment banking.

Something I had to learn during recruiting was that the timeline is different for everyone. It’s all dependent on the function and industry. My focus was on marketing, which has a later timeline than other industries. As a result, I shouldn’t have been comparing myself to my friends who already accepted their internship offers.

With recruiting, a piece of advice that I have is that it’s never too early to start! The first week of school last fall, I already had three coffee chats and four networking calls that I scheduled for myself.

I recommend scheduling networking calls and coffee chats because it gives you the opportunity to ask a lot of questions and get one-on-one time with an analyst at a company where you’re interested in working. During these calls and coffee chats, I was able to get a feel for the company culture and the kind of work that I would be doing.


When it came to recruiting for a summer internship, I had to be realistic about the companies and roles I was applying for. There is a fine line between “shooting your shot” and wanting to drop your resume everywhere because…why not? At the end of the day, it’s important to stay true to yourself and make choices that truly align with your values.

There are so many factors to take into consideration when recruiting, such as location, industry, function, and the actual work you’d actually be doing. For example. I knew that I wanted a marketing internship, yet I found myself applying for strategy-focused roles and even some finance positions. I applied for those internships because I felt that I was capable of doing the work and they were based in appealing locations like Chicago and New York City.

However, I knew that I needed to stay true to myself and recognize that, in the long run, I wouldn’t be happy doing a finance internship. Being in a big city wouldn’t compensate for the work that I would be doing from 9-5 every day.

I am happy to say that I had an amazing summer 2020 internship experience! The company I was interning at was Eli Lilly and Company, a Fortune 500 pharmaceutical company headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana. Here, I was a marketing intern on the new product planning team in the diabetes business unit.

RIS was a crazy semester that I’ll forever be grateful for because it gave me the opportunity to learn more about myself. I learned the importance of balance and to say no to things that didn’t serve me. I also learned to be more flexible and considerate when it came to meeting for group projects. Everything is about give-and-take.

Stay tuned for my next column, where I’ll be sharing some of my unexpected learnings from RIS!

My name is Alexa Tran and I am a senior at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business studying Business Administration with a minor in Religion. I was born and raised in Ann Arbor, so I knew that I always wanted to be a Wolverine! I am passionate about traveling, mentorship, iced coffee, and Trader Joe’s. I enjoy spending time with friends and family and managing my travel Instagram and blog: @adventuringwithalexa.

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