Student perspective: Summer EMI internship reflection

By: Janice Endresen
Screen shot of EMI staff and interns in a Zoom meeting

By Vritika Patni ’23

I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to intern with the Emerging Markets Institute (EMI) at the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business and work alongside the research and outreach teams last summer. I learned a tremendous amount in a short time-frame and wanted to share some of the highlights of my experience through this post.

On the research side, I assisted with the “vignettes” for EMI’s annual report: one-page write-ups about different international companies and global initiatives. More specifically, I worked on the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, the Belt and Road Initiative, and the Group of Twenty. Working with the vignettes was one of my favorite parts of the internship. I found it especially fulfilling to read through dense policy briefings on the different initiatives, extract the important information, and synthesize these pieces into a cohesive, one-page overview. One of my personal goals for the internship was to have as much exposure to new ideas and content as possible, and the vignettes definitely allowed me to expand my own knowledge base. On the outreach side, I helped write captions for social media posts and helped edit videos for the anniversary interview series. The video editing process was also very rewarding, because I enjoyed hearing people speak about where they think emerging markets are headed as well as about their personal experiences with the Emerging Markets Institute over this past decade. Moreover, the videos were a more interactive and engaging way to absorb information, and provided a good contrast to the written work involved with the vignettes.

The anniversary interview series was a project undertaken to reflect on the past ten years of EMI and create a new set of goals for the future. The series included interviews with members of EMI’s Advisory Group, previous EMI Fellows, and Johnson alumni, who detailed their thoughts on the future of emerging markets, reflected on which aspects of EMI they felt were most vital to their career trajectories, and spoke to how the institute can be molded to better fit the needs of MBA candidates today. Here are some of the prevailing themes across the questions and responses based on these interviews.

Core aspects of EMI

One of EMI’s core strengths is its ability to provide thought leadership that bridges the gap between the academic and business communities while also taking account of new ideas and the student perspective (Sandiip Bhammer, MBA ’04). The size of the EMI Fellows cohort has nearly tripled since 2014, and the sheer volume of research published and circulated by the institute has expanded rapidly, as well.

Amanda Wu, MBA ’14, says that she sees the next step as collaborating with the Cornell Tech community to hone in on the analytics and data-driven components of research and turning this research into tangible solutions. Max Kaye, MBA ’17, adds onto this by stressing the role of EMI in using its platform to deliver insights about small startups and successes, which have not garnered as much large-scale attention. Moreover, Johnson Cheng, MBA ’14, emphasizes the expanding role of EMI in discussing the dynamic of United States-China relations, and the ability for EMI to work with technology giants abroad to create internship opportunities for EMI Fellows.

Understanding cultural nuance

It is no longer sufficient to just study emerging market concepts within the classroom from an academic lens; a hands-on approach to learning is critical. Brian Liberatore, MBA ’16, and German Peralta, MBA ’17, cited their own experiences in Colombia, with the international trek program for EMI Fellows, as being particularly insightful, and encouraged the expansion of such opportunities in the future. Cheng and Advisory Group member Georges Ugeux both highlight the need for softer skills, such as empathy, cross-cultural negotiation, and respect—all of which will cultivate the ability to reason through an issue from a local perspective. They add that EMI Fellow cohorts’ diversity helps foster this type of cultural understanding. Maria Luisa Garduno, MBA ’19, agrees and also emphasizes the importance of community alongside the push for diversity and women in STEM programs.

Thinking regionally

Nell Cady-Kruse ’84, MBA ’85, a key supporter of the Emerging Markets Institute from its inception, notes that EMI provides the toolkit necessary to cover the fundamentals, but advocates for a great focus on how local and national governments operate, how different countries interact with one another, and how [financial] institutions within a country are structured. She adds that, more recently, there has been political resistance and a push for trade protectionism, and it is important to understand how to juggle a global mindset with how economies function at a regional level. Ugeux echoes this sentiment by stressing the study of clusters of regions and dedicating EMI’s time to understanding cultural commonalities and the dynamics within these clusters.

About Vritika Patni ’23

photo of Vritika Patni ’23

Vritika Patni is a second-year undergraduate student at Cornell. She joined EMI as a research intern over the summer and has continued at EMI as a program coordinator.