PACE (Practical Application for Careers and Enterprises)

Willamette MBA

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Paint Day

For the last PACE class, we were assigned teams of two to three people of first and second-year students. Each team was given a photo of the painting to recreate. The exception was my team, who created the frame for the canvases. The goal was to create a cohesive painting that will hang in one of the graduate buildings. This year, our class was given The Great Wave off Kanagawa to paint. Teams had to work together to ensure the colors and lines would match. The painting exercise was not only fun, but also required using many of the skills we learned in the last year such as team-building, conflict management, and decision making. After a few hours, we were successful!


PACE has many facets, but most valuable for me was the opportunity to grow both professionally and personally. The class gives a rare opportunity in life to think about one’s own strengths, weaknesses, and motivations and make choices going forward based on a better understanding of oneself. Through combining topics like internship searching, conflict resolution, and client relationship-building, I could see that these areas are not as disconnected as I once thought. Paint day is just one of the more creative ways we employ the topics we learn into real projects.

Early last semester, Assistant Dean and Director of Career Management Beth Ursin asked us to write a LinkedIn bio for ourselves as practice on telling our own professional story. I remember my brain going blank—I had no idea what to write about myself. I had all of my life experiences in front of me, but no clue on how I should begin to explain them. It took me two hours to create a bio that I was only somewhat satisfied with.

I re-tried the exercise last week and it only took me fifteen minutes. This is the value of completing an integrated class like PACE. How can we expect to become good managers if we don’t understand ourselves? I think you can get a lot of knowledge these days from reading books, watching Youtube videos, and even online courses, but it’s nearly impossible to replicate the type of personal growth you can achieve from working on small teams with others to accomplish goals like we did in PACE.

 Next semester, I will be taking over the Angel Fund blog from Nathan Foos. Angel Fund is a year-long experiential course to invest in early-stage companies using real dollars. If you would like to read what the class was up to this year, click here

I’m looking forward to this Fall and excited for next year’s cohort to experience the challenge, growth, and fun that comes from PACE. 


Emily Anderson is a first-year MBA candidate at Willamette University. She is a 2017 graduate of Gonzaga University, where she received her B.A. in International Studies. Emily enjoys PACE because of the opportunity to learn valuable career information, improve her analytical and speaking skills, and build partnerships with not-for-profits in Oregon.



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