Ross Reflections: Unexpected Lessons From An Integrative Semester

RIS Team Meeting

In last month’s column, I looked at the Ross Integrative Semester (RIS). There was a lot to manage between a jammed-packed course load, an array of group projects, and the research and interview demands in recruiting. For me, RIS was the most mentally and physically challenging semester to-date at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. And yes, I said physically.

Mentally: you need to be on top of your calendar with assignment deadlines, internship application deadlines, and recruiting events. Physically: you’re running from class to a coffee chat to a corporate presentation. It seems like you’re always on the go!

Through it all, I was able to gain a number of unexpected learnings that I’ll take with me throughout the rest of my time at Ross and beyond.

LOGISTICAL TIPS FOR SUCCESS 

During RIS, I lived and breathed at Ross. I was there Monday-Thursday, all day, because of the 10.5 credits of business classes I was enrolled in. Even in the evenings, I was at Ross to attend career fairs, corporate presentations, coffee chats, and group meetings.

I quickly discovered that Ross is a building with a lot of amenities that I definitely could take advantage of.

First Tip: Invest in a Ross locker. I used mine every day! Lockers are conveniently located throughout the building.

I liked to always keep some business professional clothes in my locker. I would change after class for a corporate presentation or before an interview. I would also always put my coffee mug or laptop charger in my locker so I didn’t have to carry those around with me.

Second Tip: Stay fueled. I always kept a granola bar and almonds with me because you never know when you need a quick me up!

Luckily, if you forget your own snacks, you can grab a coffee at the Starbucks in Ross or grab something quick to eat at Seigle Cafe in between classes. Trust me, you’re going to need the energy if you want to get through the day – let alone the semester!

YOU’RE NOT THE ONLY ONE 

I’m not going to lie: RIS felt overwhelming at times. I put so much pressure on myself in terms of performing well academically and recruiting for a summer 2020 internship. I tried to wrap my head around everything that was going on. Still, I forgot to step back and realize something important: every junior in Ross was feeling the same pressures that I was.

We are all enrolled in the same classes, not to mention the same number of group projects and same exact assignments to complete. The majority of us were also recruiting for summer internships. I needed to realize that I was not the only one feeling overwhelmed.

A fond RIS memory I have was when one of my peers made a GroupMe for a group of girls who all received PepsiCo marketing interviews. PepsiCo was hosting a networking event and we wanted to coordinate what time to show up and what we should wear to the event.

I know this little anecdote probably sounds a little childish, but truthfully none of us knew what to expect! What does “smart casual” mean? Just how casual was the vibe? Every company has a different vibe and culture, so we didn’t really know how to gauge what they meant by “casual”.

What makes this memory special to me is knowing that we all had the same questions and were undergoing this experience together. We were all feeling nervous and didn’t really know what to expect.

Honestly, we bonded over the excitement that comes with receiving an interview at a cool CPG company like PepsiCo and about being invited to their networking event, which was being hosted at a nice restaurant on Main Street!

I am happy that we had each other to lean on for support, even if we were all interviewing for the same position. I truly appreciated the gesture that my peer made in creating the GroupMe because it just goes to show the collaborative nature of Ross and how people actually do care about each other.

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