Our master is a program run jointly between MIP Politecnico di Milano in Italy and the University of Strathclyde in Scotland, giving us the welcome opportunity to experience two different countries and educational cultures. The master is litterally full-time and we had a particularly intensive period of activities at the beginning of the year.

Since the schedule did not allow us to visit companies at their own premises, the team at MIP worked on bringing them to us so that we would not miss out on the different opportunities that these kinds of activities represented. The school arranged different meetings and talks at the university and always kept us informed of the various events that companies and associations were holding around the city. We were visited by Amazon and Whirlpool, had the chance to go events at Microsoft’s offices and saw many guest professors and speakers, each one bringing their own expertise and adding an extra something to what we had learned in class.

Unfortunately I was not able to attend as many events as I would have liked, but not for a lack of opportunities.

As with every program, there are some lessons which are more suited to a practical approach than others. Nonetheless, our professors always managed to integrate study cases into their lectures so we could see specific scenarios, analyze and discuss them. Also, for the classes which were better suited to a more practical approach, we had activities and assignments to put into practice or to develop and get our own understanding of what the class was meant to teach us.

Here I would like to mention two specific activities: the Business Game and the Innovation Gym. At this point you are probably thinking, what can a Business Game be and how do you have a gym to train innovation? My classmates and I were pretty much the same when we saw the program; however, they were both amazing activities, which I would very much like to see implemented in other subjects and areas.

The Business Game could be oversimplified by saying that it is a simulation, where your team needs to execute all the phases of a project. The trick is that the website aims to simulate real-world conditions, you have unforeseen events, change requests and many other things that give you the chance to put into practice what you have learned during the whole semester. In the end, it comes down to seeing if you are able to complete the project while respecting the initial proposal and how happy your client and your company are with the results.

On the other hand, when it comes to the Innovation Gym we stepped away from the more formal elements of the program and for many of us also away from our comfort zone. With the guidance and support of our professors, each team had to come up with an innovative business idea; this was not by creating something new or never seen before, but rather by giving a new meaning to the product, experience or service that was behind our idea. I know it sounds very abstract but think about Spotify, which did not invent music 2.0, but became a service that instead of allowing you to listen to the music you know, opened the door for you to find tracks that you didn’t know  ̶  a total change of meaning.

When it comes to Milan I can say without a doubt that it is an awesome city, not too big but not too small either, you can find almost anything you are looking for and the people tend to be nice and friendly. There is something to do for every taste  ̶  San Siro, the Scala, drinks and the aperitivo, museums, food from all over the world, and so on. Como and Bergamo are also within easy reach.

With our busy schedule often meaning we had many assignments on our plate, we had to be well organised to get to know the city but even with that in mind, I think we all had enough opportunities to experience the city, its people and surroundings; personally, I think that almost every single week I had time to go out for dinner with my friends, attend an event, visit a museum or go on a short trip.