Former Peace Corps volunteers pursuing International MBA to gain hard skills like business analytics and global strategy
The Peace Corps prepares volunteers for service and how to empathize with others while also introducing them to a new culture and way of life. Regardless of the city and project they undertake, Peace Corps volunteers learn a host of soft skills that can greatly impact their future careers — skills like resiliency, being able to converse with individuals from another culture and learning to live modestly in a place with a developing economy.
Some Peace Corps volunteers decide they want to build on their skills by enrolling in an MBA program upon their return to the United States. For three Moore School full-time International MBA students, they bring a world of experience from their Peace Corps service and a new perspective to share with their fellow classmates.
International MBA candidate Emily Green (’22 expected MBA) chose the Moore School because wanted to fine tune her business analytics, global strategy and operations and supply chain skills.
Green spent two years with the Peace Corps in Paraguay, where she taught financial literacy.
She chose the International MBA program because of the focus on functional business skills in a global context, Green said.
“I wanted to shift my focus away from public entities and more toward work in the private sector around social responsibility initiatives,” she said.
For her semester global immersion in spring 2022, Green will hone her Spanish-speaking skills in Mexico.
Being able to gain proficiency in another language also appealed to International MBA candidate Michael DeLadesmo (’22 expected IMBA), who is also pursuing the Business Analytics Graduate Certificate and the Global Strategy Graduate Certificate.
DeLadesmo decided to combine his Peace Corps skills with those of the Moore School’s International MBA because of the Moore School’s reputation in international business and the fact that he could learn a new language as part of the two-year global immersion program; he will travel to Mexico to practice his Spanish-speaking skills.
For his previous travels abroad with the Peace Corps in Guiyang, China, DeLadesmo spent two years between 2012-2014 teaching English to Guiyang School of Finance and Economics college students, overseeing their English clubs and managing a student intern program.
“The ability to be flexible was always pushed within my work with the Peace Corps, and this same sort of mentality has been added to and utilized as I’ve made my way through a master’s program during COVID-19,” DeLadesmo said. “This ability to adapt and thrive within a new, challenging situation will allow me to do well regardless of the organization.”
Like Green and DeLadesmo, International MBA candidate Spencer Gardner (’16 management and marketing, ’23 expected IMBA) spent two years between 2017-2019 in Namibia with the Peace Corps as an economic development coordinator.
Gardner went on to work as a placement and assessment specialist with the Peace Corps for a year and a half out of their Washington, D.C., office. He was part of the process that reviewed and interviewed candidates for Peace Corps service.
“I got to interview over 100 candidates from different backgrounds who were each able to contribute something to the Peace Corps mission in a unique way,” he said. “Many people shared stories of living in and volunteering for communities different from their own where they were able to serve and learn. It made me consider how people could contribute to a goal or project outside their general education or previous work experience.”
While working with the Peace Corps, Gardner decided to pursue an internationally focused MBA with a focus on global finance. The Moore School’s reputation for international business piqued his interest; he also wanted to learn more about business analytics so chose to pursue the Business Analytics Graduate Certificate. He is also working toward the Global Strategy Graduate Certificate.
“Overall, I want to be able to use data-driven insights along with a broader cultural understanding to help businesses gain access to capital and implement technology to reach new markets,” Gardner said.
Gardner, who enrolled in the International MBA program in summer 2021, plans to complete the two-year global track. He is currently considering Germany or South Africa for his global immersion in his second year.
Green, DeLadesmo and Gardner all selected the Moore School for the International MBA program to enhance their hard skills after spending their years in the Peace Corps practicing their soft skills.
Green said she knew she had gained professional experience in problem solving, critical thinking, resiliency and creativity during her time in the Peace Corps but knew she also wanted to fine tune her harder skills.
“So far, I’ve already learned a lot about how to manage, interpret and visualize data using programs like Excel and Power BI,” Green said. “I’ve also [learned models] that help with strategic thinking. I know these skills will be critical in combination with my Peace Corps experience working for larger companies on their social responsibility initiatives.”
Also going into his second year in the IMBA program, DeLadesmo said he, too, has already been able to sharpen his hard skills.
“Many of the harder skills, specifically those around quantitative analysis and financial modeling will be directly in line with the work I wish to do with a” nongovernmental organization as a program manager or working my way up in a consulting firm, DeLadesmo said.
Gardner is following a similar path as DeLadesmo; he wants to learn how to use data-driven insights with a broader cultural understanding to help businesses gain access to capital and use technology to reach new markets.