ICS 2018: Student Reflection and Advice to New Applicants

Hear and see our students get candid about their ICS 2018 experience. Take tips and advice from them directly on what they learned and how this experience has impacted their growth and career.


“At first, I was hesitant to go on the trip. It was going to be my first time traveling to Europe, and I was nervous about not knowing anyone, flying 9+ hours, talking to people who spoke different languages, adapting to the time changes, and many other things. My mom was actually the one who persuaded me into agreeing to go, and I am so happy she was so persistent. For those who have never traveled, you are going to have the best time. Don’t let the unknown scare you because it is going to amaze you, and it is truly going to change the way you see life and people. The secret to having a good time is doing exactly what you want—don’t get sucked into doing things you don’t want to. Don’t be afraid to be independent and take alone time when you need it; the trip is long and it is definitely important to have time to yourself.”


“Get ready for a month full of eye-opening and exhilarating pursuits.

Feel okay stepping out of your comfort zone. Eat the strange food, dance with the locals, wear the style of the city and try speaking the language. Everyone has a story, so absorb their experiences as well as the values of the city.

Remember you are not from these countries, so it is best to take a step back and remember this. Blend in with your surroundings and you will notice more than you would have otherwise. Put headphones in, without music playing, and sit in a park. People watch. You will be amazed by how differently Europe works both in the individual and the community as a whole.

Don’t stress out too much, and remember that time alone is very important. It can be overwhelming to be with the same people for this amount of time, so take some time to shop, eat, and exercise by yourself.

I hope you have a magnificent adventure!”


“Ask questions in the meetings!!!

I don’t know if people are sometimes afraid or uninterested in meetings, but I would tell the next round of ICS students to be make a goal of asking a question in every single meeting. It doesn’t need to be a particularly in depth question, just ask what interests you and it will show actual engagement. This one is obvious, but apparently people on our trip really seemed to struggle with it.

Talk to as many local people as possible.

Try to be as outgoing as you can. Approach people. Think: You will likely never see this person ever again. The culture of a city is its people, so you don’t really get the full experience unless you talk to at least one local.”


“There are many tips and suggestions I could give to future students, but I would like to focus on two that I think are most important.

The first is to take notes and journal as you go. I am so happy to have a notebook full of my notes from all the different meetings we went to. I took at least a page of notes at every single meeting, even at the ones I wasn’t as interested in, and I am so glad I did. My advice would be to go into every meeting with an open mind because you really never know when the speaker will throw a nugget of insight at you that you will remember forever. Even if you are not particularly passionate about the company or the industry, the meetings are about so much more than the company itself, and you can always learn something from a person’s career trajectory.

            My second big piece of advice is to trust that you will become friends with most, if not all, of the people in the group. As someone who is introverted and shy around people I don’t know, I walked into the classroom on the first day of LA prep week feeling nervous and worried about making friends. The orientation meetings had only done so much in terms of breaking the ice. Little did I know back then that these 13 students would feel like family at the end of the four weeks. To all future ICS students, especially the less-outgoing ones: don’t be afraid of making friends, because it will happen so naturally. Know that you will all get to know one another. Group dynamics will change; connections will form and break and form again; and by the time you are halfway through the program (if not earlier), you will have found your people, and you will feel comfortable being exactly who you are. Not only are you spending so much time with each other, you are going through such a unique experience together—traveling around Europe, navigating foreign cities, learning so much, and making irreplaceable memories. This creates a special bond between you and everyone else in the program, even the people you click with least. So don’t be afraid, take it all in, let yourself be completely immersed in this beautiful, crazy, whirlwind of a trip. I guarantee it will be an experience of a lifetime.”

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“One practical thing I wish I knew before we left LA is that cash is better than a card. It is easier to pay cash in every city and if you pay with the card all the waiters looked annoyed because with American card you have to sign the receipt and it takes longer to process the payment.”

 “I think the best advice I can give to next year’s students is just to trust your instincts and follow your gut and be open to learning about yourself in the process. There will be times when people want to do something you don’t or when you want to do something and no one else does. It is important to learn when to say “okay let’s just do what the group wants to do” and when to instead decide to go out on your own. I think that for a lot of people, it is hard to find that balance; sometimes you won’t even know what your gut is telling you to do. However, if you try your best to listen to yourself, this can be a really good learning experience as well. Ideally, by the end of ICS, you can be more confident in who you are and trust your choices as a result. This is definitely something I struggled with at first, but it also taught me that I can have a really enjoyable time going off on my own. For instance, there were a few times when I went to a museum alone that I really wanted to do but others didn’t. I ended up loving that little bit of alone time, which surprised me immensely. In general, I think I would advise students to use this trip to surprise yourself and get to know yourself more than you did before.”