In search of an international, practical study experience
On her decision to get a master’s degree, Taylar tells us she was mostly inspired by her father.
“He would always give me pep talks on how everyone can be a manager, but not everyone can be a leader [and] you really need to work hard and follow your dreams,” Taylar says. “So this was very inspiring to me, and so I knew that I wanted to pursue that education and do it in a way where I could be that manager-and-leader combination that [my father] said was really, really important in order to be successful in the future.” (01:44)
Taylar knew she wanted to trade her small-town life in Wilmington, North Carolina, for an adventurous experience abroad. When she came across ESMT Berlin, it offered everything she was looking for.
“[ESMT] not only offered the international experience, but it was particularly for international students,” she explains. “It also offered a lot of practical experience, then I could actually practice what I was learning…and try and get my foot in the door into the industry that I would want to pursue.” (03:23)
What is the Social Impact Project at ESMT Berlin?
The Social Impact Project is a five-week project in the second year of the Master in Management (MIM) program at ESMT Berlin, in which students serve as pro-bono consultants for a social impact organization of their choice.
“The Social Impact Project is incredibly unique because not only are you applying what you learned, but you’re doing it for an organization that truly needs it,” Taylar says. (20:42)
Taylar's Social Impact Project: Women empowering women
For her Social Impact Project, Taylar and her team were determined to work for a women-led organization. They eventually found Raise Your Voice, an organization based in Saint Lucia that aims to empower women and children victims of domestic violence by providing them with critical social and economic skills.
Taylar met with Catherine Sealys, the Co-Founder of Raise Your Voice, via Zoom. Within minutes, the team knew Catherine needed serious help. While she had a dedicated team of coordinators, project managers, and other volunteers, Catherine was struggling to find a way to make the organization’s growth more sustainable.
Needless to say, Taylar and her classmates had their work cut out for them. They immediately examined each of their skill sets and realized they could all bring unique contributions to the project. For example, one of the group members had an engineering background with plenty of experience in business process management, so she completely digitalized all of Catherine’s documentation onto a centralized platform. Another team member set up a LinkedIn account and created a pitch deck for the organization to raise awareness and build partnerships.
Taylar brought her expertise in marketing and rebranding to define a brand identity for Raise Your Voice. This included creating a new brand logo and redesigning their website.
The team also provided trainings for Raise Your Voice on topics like social media strategy and pitching to stakeholders, to make sure the organization could sustain itself in the future.
“We had calls every week. It was just really amazing. We learned a lot from each other,” Taylar tells us. “The end result was we were able to execute everything we wanted mostly because we were able to understand how we all worked kind of seamlessly together.” (14:38)
Gaining practical professional skills in a real-life case
“What is unique about this particular project is that you’re not just given a set of directions on how to do something. You are actually given a real-life situation with a group of people who you’ve never worked with before and you have to understand how to work with very few resources and deliver something in a very short period of time with a group of people that have very different working styles than you,” Taylar states. (16:34)
While working on her Social Impact Project, Taylar learned key professional skills, like communication and leadership, that would help her in her future career. She also commends the practical benefits of the project.
“Truly, with the [ESMT] MIM program, everything that we had learned, we actually used in the Social Impact Project because the MIM program really trains you to work in the real world,” Taylar says. “It offers a lot of practical experience. It offers a lot of group work, where you have to understand not only how to communicate with others, but also how to execute the tasks that are given to you.” (18:56)
Making an impact beyond (and because of) ESMT Berlin
“The MIM program offered a lot of leadership courses, but also a lot of strategy courses to help you understand how to best perform given little to no resources,” Taylar says. “And [it] also taught you how to encourage and implement innovation within your team, which are all things that we used within the Social Impact Project. So it really helped us tie everything together. Everything we learned was then pushed into the Social Impact Project that I think helped us understand why we came to ESMT.” (20:03)
Seeing Catherine’s reaction at the end of the project also made everything worth it. “She was in tears, she was so grateful for our help,” Taylar remembers. “To be able to put all of your skills to the test for someone that could really use it is a really heartwarming experience and something that definitely changes your life and also the organization’s life.” (20:57)
“It’s a very unique experience where your skills can really be put to good and that is what I think is most unique,” Taylar adds. (21:40)
When she joined the MIM program at ESMT Berlin, Taylar set out to build a career in the fashion industry. After a “headquarter visit” to Puma organized by ESMT, Taylar managed to build connections, network, and land an internship that eventually led to a junior position at the multinational sportswear corporation. Today, Taylar is the Junior Sportstyle Marketing Manager at Puma, where she develops and executes marketing plans for the sportstyle department. She cites her experience at ESMT as “the best decision [she] could have made in [her] life” – and it’s only just beginning. (04:35)