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September 10, 2010 :: Admissionado Team

Even cooler than the trendy, wired “@” symbol that Haas uses to name the program, is the way it will allow you to integrate your (admittedly sometimes pointless-seeming) theoretical studies and apply them to real-world business challenges that you can really sink your teeth into.

Many mega-ultra-huge-name “Oh-how-I-wish-I-worked-for-you” companies (Visa, Panasonic, Wells Fargo, Cisco Systems, The Walt Disney Company, etc.) have already participated in Haas’s innovative Haas@Work program.

Students get excited about working @ the companies for the obvious reasons – experience, networking, that proverbial “foot in the door.” Companies get just as excited about the Haas program, because of the freshness, openness, and youth talent it promises. (Yes even they get tired of hearing the same old ideas from the mill.)

But if you think that you’re the only MBA student who wants to Work for Disney or Visa, think again. It’s a tough shark-eat-shark world and like everything else, you need to fight for your places. You will be selected for Haas@Work through a competitive process that has three students vying for each spot. And you will have to knock their socks off to participate, but from what we’ve heard, it is completely worth it.

There are basically two stages to the program:

1. Ideas – This is where you truly apply that “Innovation@Work” Haas ideal. You work in teams with your fellows to come up with ideas and then (this is the nerve-wracking part) go to company headquarters, where you and 39 others pitch your ideas directly to the company’s top executives. (Yes. That means you will be standing in front of a group of bigwigs who have seen it all, in shoes that cost more than your wardrobe.) Just as frightening, you’ll receive on-the-spot answers.

2. Realization – And then a select lucky few will spend 100 days on-the-ground, with your sleeves rolled up and your hands in the mud, putting those recommendations into action.

This win-win situation for everyone provides amazing ideas to the companies while providing a real-world experiential experience for the Haas students.

And the Companies seem just as excited as the students, if Visa’s Vice President for Global Innovation Strategy, Scott Sanchez is to be believed:

“The students forced us to completely rethink our social networking strategy,” says Sanchez. “We had been hoping for two or three good ideas from this, and we ended up getting nine.”

Don’t you wish Mr. Sanchez was saying that about you?