Though you can swim with dolphins at Hawks Cay Resort in the Florida Keys, the newest members of the International MBA (IMBA) program in the College of Business Administration at Florida International University (FIU) recently got a completely different kind of immersion. Over an intense two-day period, almost all of the 91 students—a record enrollment—participated in the inaugural off-campus orientation.
Holding the event away from Miami helped build an esprit de corps, as the students had only each other to spend time with.
According to Dana Farrow, faculty director of the IMBA, the agenda had two major academic components.
“Chris Ellis, who teaches a seminar in business analysis for decision making as one of the IMBA’s preparatory courses, focused on how to analyze a business case—a skill that students will be able to use in many courses—and I conducted several activities about how to work in teams,” Farrow said.
Simulation proves fun and enlightening.
In addition, BaFa’ BaFa,’ a cross-cultural simulation, provided a dramatic introduction to the challenges of working in a multi-cultural environment—relevant for the students’ immediate graduate work and their long-term career plans.
“BaFa’ BaFa’ thrusts participants into an unfamiliar culture in which they have to uncover acceptable rules of behavior,” Farrow said.
Attendees praised everything related to their Hawks Cay stay, from logistics to the academic quality of the experience.
For example, one student noted, “Case studies were the activities that most got me to think, to help me derive conclusions, for a company. Much analytical thinking needed to be performed throughout the seminar.”
Each time the event takes place, the program staff integrates new content and activities.
“Various ideas for this orientation grew out of a focus group we ran for the first time in April 2009,” said Paola Moreno, (MBA ’03) associate director, International Graduate Programs, who facilitated the game and whose office organized the retreat.