Alexa Ing Stern, MBA ’17

May 20 2016

Trading MBA Suits for Marine Fatigues

Alexa Ing Stern, MBA ’17

Johnson’s annual leadership expedition to the United States Marine Corps (USMC) Officer Candidate School in Quantico, VA, took place in April. The intensive 24-hour leadership training provided a glimpse of life at boot camp. Students were partnered with MBAs from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and divided into platoons. Drill sergeants taught us how to “sound off” with appropriate calls and responses. It was a challenge remaining calm while being yelled at and rushed through various tasks and exercises. One concrete skill quickly honed was bed making; I now make a bed neater and faster than ever before after repeating the task a dozen times under pressure.

Our day began at 5AM and included navigating various challenge courses with Quantico officers that were physically and mentally challenging. It was incredibly rewarding to overcome my fear of the high ropes course and my doubt of completing it, encouraging others to do the same through Quigley’s submerged water obstacles, and persevering through bruises and discomfort. Marine officer training requires an extreme level of discipline, tenacity, and commitment; similar characteristics that will allow me to thrive in the business world.

This experience was a tremendous opportunity both to push myself out of my comfort zone and to learn more about the leadership development of the Marines and US military culture. I am proud that many classmates are veterans; coming back from Quantico I now have a greater appreciation and understanding of what their lives were like before Johnson. Although our time at Quantico was brief and less intense, it provided a glimpse of reality. Most importantly, this adventure serves as a reminder to keep things in perspective – while business school can be exhausting and demanding at times, there are much more difficult pursuits!

Learn more about Johnson’s leadership expeditions and commitment to veterans.

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