Georgetown McDonough MA-IBP Students Journey to Vietnam for their International Residency
Combining her passion for business, policy, and public affairs, Kelly McGrath (MA-IBP’24) chose to pursue an M.A. in International Business and Policy at Georgetown. Through the joint degree program, which is led by faculty from the Walsh School of Foreign Service and Georgetown McDonough, McGrath traveled with classmates to Vietnam as part of the IBP global residency.
During her time in Vietnam, McGrath embraced the vibrant Vietnamese culture while learning about the significance of cross-cultural communication, comparative politics, and real-life business challenges in the region, amongst other policy-related topics.
Here, McGrath discusses her time in Vietnam, the lessons she learned during her trip, and how the course played a pivotal role in her overall experience at Georgetown.
Tell us about yourself. Why did you choose to pursue your MA-IBP degree at Georgetown?
In addition to being an MA-IBP student, I also work as the associate director of global operations at Georgetown McDonough. My role, along with the program, perfectly blends my interests in business, policy, and global affairs. MA-IBP’s interdisciplinary curriculum piqued my curiosity. It’s a unique opportunity to learn from the best!
What was the main objective of your Vietnam residency, and what did you hope to learn while visiting the country?
Our Vietnam residency was one of the six in-person modules in the MA-IBP program. During our stay, we had the chance to dive into three exciting classes: Comparative Politics and Development Economics, Organizational Management, and Cross-Cultural Communication. These classes were a perfect blend of in-person learning and off-site visits, offering us real-world insights into the challenges facing businesses in Vietnam. It was a unique experience and I was eager to see how the country had changed since my last visit, armed with the knowledge I gained from the MA-IBP program.
Walk us through one of your days in Vietnam. What were your favorite experiences on the trip?
Our days were a mix of classes, site visits, and free time to explore Ho Chi Minh City. On one memorable day, we started with a delicious breakfast, followed by classes, and a lunch break. After class, we walked the city’s historical parts, taking in landmarks like City Hall and Notre Dame Cathedral. The local university students guided us and even whisked us away to our opening dinner on motor scooters, which was an absolute highlight. We also had classes at Fulbright University, giving us the chance to interact with local students and faculty. Beyond the classroom, chatting with a local fisherman about the impacts of globalization and climate change was a truly eye-opening experience.
Why do you think the global experience components of the MA-IBP program are so vital to your overall education?
The global residencies in Germany and Vietnam were a unique opportunity to learn from local business leaders and policymakers. It allowed us to apply our classroom knowledge to real-world situations and understand current events on a deeper level. For instance, our visit to the European Central Bank in Germany gave us first hand insight into critical policy decisions, while experts at the Peace Research Institute shared their work related to the war in Ukraine. These experiences were greatly enriched by the knowledge we’re gaining in our classroom discussions.
What are some of the primary reasons to pursue an MA-IBP degree at Georgetown?
If you want to expand your expertise in financial markets, international development, economic policy, and global politics, this program is your gateway to success. The interdisciplinary curriculum equips students to think critically, considering multiple perspectives when tackling complex problems and understanding the broader global context.
What sets the MA-IBP program apart is the diversity of backgrounds and experiences in the classroom, leading to enriching discussions that challenge your own perspectives. Whether you’re aiming to enhance your career or make a career change, the network and resources provided by the MA-IBP program and Georgetown will help you achieve your goals.