When I decided to attend USC, the Marshall School of Business was one of the most influential factors in my decision. I knew I wanted to major in business and that this school provided me an exceptional atmosphere and opportunity to do so. As a freshman, however, I did not except to have so many wonderful opportunities as soon as I began my university experience. One of the highlights of my freshman year—and of all time thus far—was traveling to Tokyo, Japan through the Learning About International Commerce, or LINC, program. LINC is a global experience program open to freshman Marshall students. Freshmen majoring in business are encouraged to apply during their first semester at USC to the program and can select their top travel destination options. There are so many incredible places to choose from such as Hong Kong, Santiago, Taipei, Buenos Aires, Budapest, Sydney—the list goes on and on. I selected Tokyo, Japan as my top choice when applying to the program, and I was so excited when I received the news that I would be in the LINC Tokyo cohort.
During my second semester freshman year at USC, in the spring, I took a 2-unit course as part of this program. My class would meet every Friday for half of the semester, and we would learn about the different business norms, practices, environment, and culture in Japan. My professor has extensive professional experience in the country, and his insight and perspective was especially worthwhile to learn from. We also spent time during the course researching and presenting on the companies we were planning on visiting during our trip. This was a great way to become better acquainted with my classmates, learn more about the company I was researching, improve my presentation skills, and expand my knowledge on different companies and industries by listening to other groups’ presentations.
Before we knew it, spring break had suddenly approached, and this meant it was time for our highly-anticipated trip! My class of about 40 students, our professor, and our two chaperones all boarded our flight and traveled to Tokyo, Japan. I had never traveled to East Asia before, and so I was especially excited for this experience. Some LINC trips take place over spring break while others occur the week after second semester final exams are completed, but all are roughly eight to ten days.
Professionally, I was able to tour so many different companies and meet with their respective executives. We visited one or two places every day during our trip. Some of my favorite companies we visited included: Coca Cola, Sony, Pasona, Toyota, and Dentsu. We were able to learn about companies in different industries that have an international presence. The members and executives of each company we visited warmly welcomed us, shared their professional growth stories, and gave us fantastic advice.
While we did tour many companies during our trip, we also explored the city of Tokyo and experienced the Japanese culture, atmosphere, and environment. As a class, we visited different sites and areas such as the Meji Shrine, Harajuku District, famous department stores in Ginza, and much more. However, we were also fortunate enough to have free time in the afternoons and evenings to explore the city.
Socially, I was able to make so many lasting friendships and experience Tokyo through my LINC trip. By traveling and spending quality time with so many of my classmates, I was able to become great friends with so many diverse, unique, and talented individuals. We traveled to so many different places, ate a variety of foods and treats, and made so many amazing memories together. Some have become my best friends at USC! Even now, two years later, we still keep in contact and remain good friends. In fact, after the trip, I took about fifteen of my LINC classmates and friends to my favorite Iranian restaurant back in Los Angeles!
My experience through Marshall’s LINC program was absolutely amazing. I was able to learn so much about international commerce, business, and culture through the course, my professor, and by touring different companies in Tokyo. I got to know my incredibly talented classmates, made lifelong memories, and befriended fantastic individuals through this experience. I am extremely thankful and appreciative of this incredible global opportunity, as well as the other wonderful programs Marshall offers its students. To any prospective and incoming Marshall freshman, I highly recommend you apply and take advantage of Marshall’s LINC program!