Next week, a group of Smith School faculty, staff and students will travel to Hong Kong and Beijing for the AdVENTURE Challenge: China. This global experience will take students to Chinese startups, multinational corporations, venture capital firms and cultural sights. Along the way, students will be able to earn points by completing various challenges designed to push them outside of their comfort zones. Smith School MBAs will be joined by members of their cross-cultural teams from Peking University in Beijing and Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. The trip will culminate with a business plan competition at Peking University.
Throughout the trip, students from the Smith School delegation will be sharing their experiences here on the blog. This first post is from first-year MBA student, Katie Tedrow. Stay tuned for more updates from the AdVENTURE Challenge: China.
The countdown is officially here. In less than two weeks, 16 of my fellow Smith MBA classmates and I embark on a seven-day trek through Hong Kong and Beijing as part of UMD’s China AdVENTURE Smith Experience course.
In true entrepreneurial fashion, the premise of the trip is a business pitch competition. Here’s the twist: the participating teams of MBA students are based in 3 regions of the globe: North America (College Park, Maryland, USA), Asia (Beijing, China), and the Middle East (Israel).
Before we step foot in Hong Kong, there’s much to be done. We’ve been meeting (many of us virtually) for weeks to develop our ideas, draft our business model canvases, conduct customer discovery, and practice, practice, practice!
We also have a lot of travel-related “to-do’s” while stateside. Here are some things to do before getting on the plane (thanks to our travel partner, WorldStrides, for some of these tips!):
- Get your visa a few weeks in advance. For those who have not had the pleasure of visiting the Chinese Consulate, it is an experience unto itself. The office was abuzz with travelers, business people, families, and children — what I imagine may be a microcosm of what’s in store for us when we arrive in Hong Kong. The office is open from 9:00am-2:30pm. And they mean 2:30. On the dot. I learned this the hard way and had to use some of those b-school negotiation skills to make it in under the buzzer. Come prepared with all your documents. They run a well-oiled machine and this will make your experience all the better!
- Contact your bank to let them know you’re traveling abroad. You don’t want to get stuck without cash in the Silk Market!
- If you don’t want to go completely off the grid (or pay exorbitant roaming fees), ask your wireless provider for an international plan. There are also some great apps for FREE international texting that are worth checking out: WhatsApp, Viber, and KaKao, to name a few.
- Make copies of all your important identification cards (license, passport, credit cards, insurance, etc.) and keep in separate place from your passport while traveling. Also make note of the international contact information for your bank and credit card company.
- Get a good camera.
- Pack extra tp, tissues and hand sanitizer. I’m told that tissue paper is a rarity in some parts of China, better safe than sorry!
- If you’re not a fluent Chinese speaker, download a translation app. I’m trying out Pleco for our upcoming trip.
- Invest in a couple good books, celebrity gossip business magazines, and download those movies you’ve been wanting to see for the 18-hour plane ride.
Now, I think we are ready to embark on this epic journey; see you in Hong Kong!
Katie Tedrow is a first year MBA student focused on Marketing Strategy at the Smith School of Business. She has over seven years experience in B2B marketing, client development and corporate communications, and has a passion for entrepreneurship, social value creation and leadership. Katie is VP of External Affairs for Smith’s E-Club and will be interning with a financial services firm in New York this summer.