Undercover Ross: Using MAP To Find Your Career Destination

Meeting of MAP team for UnderArmour

When I was deciding between business schools, one thing that stood out to me about Michigan Ross was its commitment to action-based learning. I was a career switcher, and I wanted a chance to get my hands dirty before I was sent off into the real world as a newly-minted MBA.

Ross is committed to action-based learning in many ways, but the crown jewel of this is MAP (Multidisciplinary Action Project).

Adam (Second from Right) with his MAP team

HANDS-ON LEARNING

MAP is a capstone on your first year at Ross. During the second half of winter semester, students are put on teams of 4-6 to tackle a real business problem. For seven weeks, you’re working with this team – learning how to navigate challenges and solve ambiguous problems.

Projects range from helping a startup company develop a licensing strategy for a proprietary technology to helping Microsoft assess artificial intelligence opportunities to helping a Korean company author a sustainability accounting plan. Some projects took people to Europe or India to help companies develop market entry plans. Others took people across the United States to advise companies on marketing strategies, film industry strategy plans, and healthcare device market assessment plans. 

Bottom line: There is a wide range of projects and sponsors that allow you to tailor your MAP to fit the experience that you’re seeking.

If you’re a career switcher you can tackle a project that might be similar to your internship. For those who aren’t sure if a particular industry is something they’re passionate about, this is an opportunity to get a high-level taste of something new. MAP can also be a chance to get some international experience or test the waters on an industry you’re interested in pivoting to further along in your career.

MAP team in India

EMBRACING THE UNEXPECTED

I picked my project because it was a marketing project in consumer packaged goods, which is the industry where I will be working after graduation. But, as often happens in the real world, the project played out a bit differently once we got started. While there was still a marketing aspect to the project (helping a startup identify market entry opportunities), it also required significant finance work (creating a financial model for the sponsor).

This pushed me outside of my comfort zone, but I embraced the opportunity. I knew that it would be a big lift to learn everything I needed to contribute to the financial aspect of the project. Our team came together to understand what it took to make a valuation model and had regular check-in meetings with our advisors to get their feedback on what we had built. 

Through this, I learned to embrace challenges and to be nimble as projects develop – because that’s often how it will play out throughout my career. That’s the beauty of MAP: it allows you to try something outside of your expertise in a safe environment where there are experts and teammates who can act as sounding boards to ensure you’re staying on the right path.

MAP left me better prepared to tackle my internship. I came from a world of broadcast news, where we operated in minutes and seconds, rather than the weeks and months of planning that dominate many business projects.

Students walk through the Diag, the main thoroughfare through U-M’s campus.

LESSONS LEARNED

I learned so much from my team (shoutout to Aaron, Josh, Sarah and Yuxuan!) about how to develop an extended project plan and execute it week-by-week. Our team, like every MAP team, faced our own challenges as we worked towards our final presentation, but we created well-defined workstreams and held regular meetings to ensure we stayed on track.

I learned that deadlines need to be flexible, because the best-laid plans don’t always come to fruition. I learned that it can take a lot of trial-and-error (especially when building out a financial model!) before a deliverable is polished. I learned that a group of people from five different backgrounds can develop some really unique and outside-the-box ideas.  

A MAP experience doesn’t always unfold like the project description. That’s okay! Most of the experiences outside of school don’t unfold that way either.

But whatever your experience, MAP will provide you with critical lessons – both expected and unexpected – that will last long after you’ve left the halls of Ross.

About Adam: I was born and raised just outside of Detroit and I’m thrilled to be back in Michigan. Prior to Ross, I was working as a political reporter at CBS News. I wanted to take my passion for understanding consumer behavior and apply it to a future career in marketing. I chose to come to Ross because it offers so many hands-on experiences and I’m surrounded by genuine, caring and intellectually curious classmates.

You can connect with Adam on LinkedIn and learn more about him in Poets & Quants’ Meet The Class 2024.

DON’T MISS: UNDERCOVER ROSS: THE NON-TRADITIONAL PATH TO AN MBA

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