What do job swapping and an MIT Sloan elective have in common? — Roberta Pittore

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Roberta Pittore

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Roberta Pittore

From Forbes México

In today’s economy, the need for global experience and cultural awareness is greater than ever. As a result, global talent swaps are becoming more common. These short-term assignments — where two employees from the same international firm trade positions for less than a year – are predicted to increase by 49 percent in the next two years, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers report cited in The New York Times.

MIT Sloan has long supported students in gaining this type of global experience, offering a very popular elective course called Global Entrepreneurship Lab (G-Lab) for the last 15 years. It’s similar to a job swap in that it matches teams of MBA students for short-term assignments with startup companies in emerging markets. However, these are full-time second-year MBA students; they are not sent to MIT Sloan by the host company. Students’ incentive for choosing a specific host startup is often to gain hands-on experience in a new function or industry — and in a new country. The function/industry is often different from what they plan to focus on after graduation. The student groups work on an issue for the startup throughout the semester, meshing together as a team while living and working on-site for three weeks at the end of the term.

Mentoring adds another dimension to the job swap concept. Each G-Lab team is assigned a mentor from MIT. The mentors’ role is to help students see how to translate what they have learned from their previous employment and first-year coursework at MIT Sloan into something that will bring lasting value to the host company. The mentor tries to gauge the strengths and vulnerabilities of the team and guide them into becoming a cohesive unit. The mentor also steers the team toward resources and research to get them up to speed to make an impact at the company starting on day one. The companies play an additional mentoring role by matching C-level executives with the student team to provide guidance during their time onsite.

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