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Going on retreat: What’s that got to do with business?

Event Recaps Stories | Nov 26, 2012 |

Some business students might think about the concept of a retreat — time outside one’s usual environment to pause and think — as “not for them.” After all, the business world is the opposite: go, go, go.

But that’s precisely why a retreat can be so valuable to a business student, or a businessman or woman out in the industry. Professor Kate Combellick’s students recently discovered this on a day-long visit to Fordham’s upstate retreat house in Goshen, New York. Their experience showcases what Fordham’s Jesuits, and St. Ignatius himself, encourage: to take time to reflect, to engage with others, and to ask yourself challenging questions about why you do what you do.

Here are two excerpts from students’ reactions to the Goshen experience, written for Professor Combellick:

From Syeda Hussain (GSB ’15):
I feel the retreat was a necessary and beneficial experience to myself and the class. I think it helped the class feel more comfortable around one another. Seeing everyone outside the stresses of school and real life for even one short day was relaxing. We learned more about one another while we made dinner, played games, and took nature walks together than we had all semester. I think an opportunity like this is necessary for teams because people are more efficient when they enjoy their environment.

It helped me personally as well. As a student from New York City, it is hard to find time or even space to escape and dedicate time for myself. Through this retreat, I was able to bond with my teammates but also myself. The location of the retreat house gave plenty of space and wonderful views to simply think. Also, the timing couldn’t have been better; after a long month of finals and internship applications, it provided a break that was highly beneficial to me as a student.
From Liz Andelora (GSB ’13):
Our recent Fair Trade retreat definitely served its intended purpose of bringing our team closer together. In being able to simply escape our normal surroundings and everyday lives, I think we were all able to obtain a certain peace of mind that allowed us to reflect on our own actions and work in relation to Fair Trade, which I believe inspired us even more. Beyond that, the retreat allowed individuals the opportunity to bond with one another and become stronger as a team. When you spend a period of time in open discussion and reflection, people become more comfortable with one another, and the dynamic of any group changes entirely. For us, I think we left our retreat refreshed and not only closer than ever as a team, but more motivated than ever to really dedicate ourselves to our work in Fair Trade.

The opportunity to bond as a team in the way you are able to on retreat doesn’t always present itself when everyone is living his or her own hectic schedule and we are all caught in the concept of a New York minute. However, it is that very opportunity that can truly make the difference in not only the personal experience of every team member, but the outcomes of that team’s efforts as well.
Image of highway in Goshen, New York, courtesy of Doug Kerr on Flickr’s Creative Commons. Photograph of students courtesy of Professor Combellick.

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