The Ross Difference: Advice To Future Business Students

Four years later and it has gone by too fast. As I begin to say goodbye to the place I’ve called home for the past four years, I often find myself reflecting on my experiences here at the University of Michigan’s Ross School – wishing I had more time.

As a first-year student, I was terrified. I experienced imposter syndrome and lacked confidence, nervous to put myself in new and uncomfortable situations. As the years went on, my confidence continued to build. I began to step outside of my comfort zone, take risks, and immerse myself in school opportunities. From engaging with the Sanger Leadership Center and Impact Studio, to studying abroad in a country I had never been to, I’ve taken part in many incredible experiences that have prepared me immensely for my career post-graduation. Yet, there are more things that I wish I had taken advantage of during my time here. For those who are just starting their Michigan Ross journey, here are three pieces of advice I wish I had received to make the most of my college experience.

University of Michigan Ross School of Business. Courtesy photo


Ross offers a plethora of centers and programs for students outside of classes and clubs. Whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, investment enthusiast, or a passionate environmentalist, there is something for everyone. No matter what you hope to accomplish here on campus, there are opportunities for you.

One of the most incredible programs I took part in was the Crisis Challenge through the Sanger Leadership Center. I would highly recommend this event to anyone. When I decided to sign up my sophomore year, I was admittedly terrified. However, an upperclassman I knew had raved about the program so I decided to take the leap and try it.

And, I am so thankful I did.

The Crisis Challenge began on a Thursday evening, where students were placed onto random teams of five people. We got a short time to meet our teammates and engage in some icebreakers, so we could begin to understand our strengths and weaknesses. Suddenly, a crisis broke out and we were faced with managing a renewable energy business that had just launched its zero emission dorm building. However, the launch had been a failure and students were stuck in the dorm building – without electricity. Faculty and alumni played roles of employees, stakeholders, and the public, leaving our team to handle chaotic emails, calls, and social media posts. It was up to us to determine how to respond and what the next steps would be. After a long, eventful night, we presented our strategy to a board of directors, which included shutting down the system, properly responding to the public, and bringing in a specialized team to resolve the problems. After the presentation, the board gave us feedback on how to improve our communication skills and additional aspects we should consider in a crisis situation.

What started off as a nerve-wracking experience that pulled me out of my comfort zone turned into a moment I am incredibly grateful for. Through the Crisis Challenge, I developed more confidence in my professional skills and an increased willingness to take on similar challenges. With only four years at Ross, there are always exciting events and programs taking place to try and learn new things. Often, it takes just that one experience to jump start that involvement. And looking back, I wish I had taken advantage of so much more.

Madelyn with her Rebel Nell team after giving their final presentation


A big regret I have, looking back, is not taking enough advantage of the cool courses here at Michigan. Often times, I was anxious about maintaining a good GPA and simply took a class just because I knew it could pad my grade point. However, taking a course that excites you will make the time more enjoyable, even if that means putting in more hard work for it.

One of the best courses I took at Michigan Ross was Amy Angell’s Advertising Management course. In this class, teams got to work with local Detroit businesses in an effort to provide marketing support to help build their brands. My team partnered with Rebel Nell, a jewelry business that takes old scraps from the city and turns them into beautiful, wearable art. Throughout the semester, we got to visit the Rebel Nell store/studio downtown and learn about their brand story and creation process. Our final deliverables were a professional presentation and promotional video, which Rebel Nell can now use to present their brand to potential stakeholders and partners. Getting to work so closely alongside a business, while having the ability to be creative and design exciting deliverables, made this class so incredibly rewarding.

The unique class opportunities don’t end with just business. As part of the course requirements for the Ross School of Business, students must obtain credits across multiple disciplinary areas. Students can select nine credits in three of the following subjects: Humanities, Language, Natural Science, and Social Science. Across all of these subjects, the University of Michigan has a variety of exciting classes to try. Some highlights from students I have spoken to include courses on the Italian Mafia, the Basics of Buddhism, and even Medieval Castle Design! The list of incredible classes truly goes on.

A standout course my good friend took is Health and Socioeconomic Development. Here, she has been able to dive deeper into the relationship between the US economy and its international aid, viewing economy from a very different lens than what we learn in our business school economy courses. Having the chance to expand your perspective and be inspired by a different way of thinking is what many of these unique courses are able to do for students here.

As someone who chose to turn to just “easy A” classes for my distribution requirements, I certainly regret that now. Hearing about the variety of engaging courses, I realize that it is worth it to take a class that is connected to something you’re passionate about, even if that means having to work a little harder.


Madelyn’s first day as a Kraft Heinz intern!

Upperclassmen and alumni possess a plethora of knowledge and connections that can take you far in developing your professional growth and finding career opportunities. While reaching out to these individuals can feel nerve-wracking and intimidating, it is amazing what the Michigan connection brings: people who are always willing to help and support you.

Starting right when you get on campus as a first-year student, you’ll be connected to an upperclassman. During your first Michigan Ross course, BA 100, you are paired with a student mentor. Having monthly meetings with your mentor, you’ll have the opportunity to check-in, get advice, and learn all about Ross. My mentor was an incredible asset. I came to her when I was overwhelmed with joining clubs and asked her for class recommendations. My mentor was even the one who recommended I apply for a job she held, a Ross tour guide, which is now one of my favorite roles I hold here on campus!

Connecting with upperclassmen and alumni becomes extremely valuable when it comes time to think about your future career. When I applied for an internship myself,  I tapped into the wisdom of seniors in my club and student officers from the Career Development Office (CDO). I scheduled meetings with the CDO, who were a big help for improving my resume and holding mock interviews, giving me advice on how to share my experiences. I eventually applied to a marketing internship at Kraft Heinz, after speaking with an alumni member who worked there. By speaking with her, she gave me insight into what a role looked like at the firm and advice on how to go through the interview process. The help of all these upperclassmen and alumni enabled me to land that internship, and now I’m even going back there full time!

As students begin their Michigan Ross journey, it is incredibly valuable to utilize the incredible network in front of them. Even if you already have a job lined up or trying to discover the best career path, take the time to have a coffee chat with alumni and upperclassmen. Just learning about their journey can open many doors and lead you to discover a lot about yourself. Meeting with these individuals can feel scary, but it’s important to remember that they want to help a fellow Wolverine, no matter how little knowledge you feel you might have.

The Ross School of Business gives you more than just a degree. It provides you with incredible opportunities to develop your professional skills and leadership, build confidence, and create long-lasting connections. By being a part of this amazing school, students get the chance to partake in experiences never thought possible. While getting involved and trying out new things feels intimidating, it is so worth it in the end. Liked how you summed this up.

Madelyn is a senior at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, where she is pursuing her Bachelor of Business Administration degree with a concentration in marketing. When she’s not in class, you can find her spending time with her consulting club and sorority, going on runs, or enjoying all the delicious restaurants in Ann Arbor!


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