Twenty-one business students participated in a virtual Spring Break experience that explored the coffee industry in Columbia and Costa Rica.
Students learned about the origins of the coffee industry and were exposed to an in-depth look at how production and sales have been impacted by the pandemic.
“I learned that a virtual experience can be very valuable,” said David Muniz, a MBA student. “Having the opportunity to connect and network with professionals from a different country was an invaluable experience. The speakers were very knowledgeable and receptive to all of our questions.”
Students heard from leaders at Juan Valdez coffee in Columbia and Doka Estate coffee in Costa Rica. Following their initial presentations, the representatives hosted a Q&A session for students to address topics of interest to them.
“I would encourage other students to participate in similar programming,” said Alejandro Lopez, an accounting graduate student. “These events allow students to tie multiple business concepts taught in classes to real-world industry practice. We were able to learn about online marketing strategy, the production process, labor, futures contracts, tourism and stakeholder theory.”
Following the presentations, students got a chance to apply the lessons as part of a coffee tasting. Each participant was shipped a packet containing a variety of samples from the companies.
“During a time of social distancing and asynchronous classes, this was a great experience to meet my fellow Roadrunners,” said Kaitlin Lima, a senior majoring in management science and statistics. “Sharing your thoughts, opinions and bouncing ideas off each other while speaking to industry professionals was truly a unique experience.”
Because of the success and popularity of this program, the College of Business plans to continue this experiential learning opportunity in the fall with at least two more experiences.
“This was experiential learning at its finest,” said Erica Clark, assistant director of experiential learning. “Because international travel is restricted during the pandemic, we wanted to find ways for our business students to have global experiences from the safety of their own homes. What began as a pilot program will now become one of our signature events.”