Intersecting Minds: Education, Business and Technology at the North Carolina State Jenkins Graduate School of Management

School Caught Up With Me

September 30, 2008
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Whew. School has caught up with me the last few days. We are coming into the final stretch before our Fall Break (Oct 9-Oct 12), and the coursework has really picked up. Here’s what it looks like:

Accounting Midterm, Oct. 2

Econ Midterm, Oct. 2

Organizational Behavior Group Project + Presentation, Oct. 6

Statistics Midterm, Oct. 7

To be honest, when I started the program, I did not think the workload would be as challenging or time-consuming as it has proven to be. This definitely isn’t undergrad, and we’re forced to stay on top of our readings and assignments on a daily and weekly basis.

Fortunately, I’ve found the amount of studying to be about right at this point. It sounds a little crazy as I type it, but I’d have been disappointed if there wasn’t a lot of reading and a lot of work. I want to learn as much as I can while I’m here. Not to mention, the frustration and the stress are what lead to a sense of accomplishment when the work is finished. Judging by the schedule above, I know I’ll be feeling pretty good come October 8th.


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The Team Approach

September 25, 2008
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Like most MBA programs, NC State divides the first year students into teams who work together on a variety of projects over the course of the year. These teams are static, meaning that you stick with your group members through the duration of the first two semesters. You’re also not allowed to choose your teammates. We are divided up based on our background, education and personality type, so our group contains as much diversity as possible.

Here is a very brief sketch of my team:

David, 25, doing a joint MBA/Vet School program, ENFJ (see the MBTI Wiki for more info on these acronyms)

Suki, 43, Ph.D bioscientist and researcher, INTJ

Subramani, 26, computer programming and engineering, ENFJ

Amy, 23, marketing, ENFJ

Ryan, 26, psychology, ESFJ

After five weeks in the program, I’ve realized that the differences between us are both our greatest strength and our greatest source of conflict. Put five people together who each have a unique communication, learning and work style together, and watch what happens., Then add a generous dose of stress from a variety of exams, presentations and papers. Needless to say, things get interesting in a hurry.

But we’re doing this for a reason. When we graduate, we won’t get to choose our co-workers, nor will we get to choose the people we manage or who manage us. It will be vitally important that we know how to work efficiently and productively with people who are similar to us AND with people who are completely different from us. Business school gives us a unique exposure to this process.


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My Class Schedule

September 22, 2008
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I’m about to enter some hectic days, but I thought it would be a good idea to rip off a quick post about my classes this semester for those who are curious about what an MBA schedule looks like:

MBA 500, Career and Managerial Effectiveness: A somewhat unique course to an MBA program that teaches us how to pursue the job of our dreams. Resumes, Cover Letters, Networking, Writing and Communication skills are all covered

MBA 503, Accounting for MBA’s: A basic introduction to Financial and Managerial Accounting practices

MBA 504, Statistics for MBA’s: Application-based class focused on probability and data leading up to single and multiple-variable regression analysis

MBA 505, Economics for MBA’s: Micro-heavy content with some macro themes included. One of the more interesting courses so far for the wide range of its material.

MBA 508, Global Strategy Simulation: A five-week crash-course where we manage a shoe company in a computer simulation and learn the importance of strategic management in guiding an organization.

MBA 530, Managing the High-Tech Workforce: Organizational Behavior and HR are the main topics here. This is an 8-week course and will be followed up by another Strategic Management of Technology course after the Fall break in early October.

Each of these courses are heavily integrated with the others, as mentioned in my earlier post. And all have a technology heavy focus.


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The Greatest Sport in the World… College Football

September 21, 2008
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NC State 30, ECU 24. Final in OT

Epic game. Absolutely epic. I’ve been to football games at Memorial Stadium in Berkeley, Autzen Stadium in Eugene, The Coliseum and The Rose Bowl in LA, and this was hands down the greatest overall atmosphere I’ve seen at a collegiate sporting event. The tailgating was incredible. The crowd was incredible. The game was incredible.

Oh, did I mention that UNC lost?

Great day.


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The MBA Program as Holistic Education

September 19, 2008
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Business Management is by nature interdisciplinary. Economics, Statistics, Calculus, Psychology, Sociology. Business draws on each of these academic subjects to varying degrees and then applies them to all aspects of running a for-profit organization: Accounting, Marketing, Finance, Operations, Sales and Strategy.

Of course, none of these silos function in a vacuum. Each depends on the others in such a way that the final product is greater than the sum of its parts. For example, an adjustment in production capabilities affects the company’s supply chain, which in turn can affect a budget put together by the Finance Department, which in turn can affect the amount of money allocated to an advertising campaign and so on and so on.

Integration. Integration. Integration. It’s been drilled into our heads from the first day of orientation. And I’ve found that this is an incredibly rapid departure from our paradigm of how education normally takes place.

In high school and college, you’re taught one subject at a time with very little cross-over. Math here. English here. History over here. And Biology over there. In b-school we’ve flipped that on its head. Now, we’re expected to bring what we’ve learned in the classroom to each of the other classes. What we learn in economics is discussed in strategy and what we learn in organizational behavior is discussed in economics. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve had Aha! moments in class when these puzzle pieces fall into place.

This approach is an exciting way to learn, because those moments happen on a continual basis. Five weeks in, I’m just beginning to understand how much there is to learn, and how many opportunities will exist for us after graduation. I’ll end up saying a great deal more about this holistic approach when I talk about specific courses or projects, but I want to leave this post by saying that it’s fun to wake up in the morning feeling good about what we’re going to learn that day.


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Hello world!… And welcome to the NC State Jenkins MBA blog

September 19, 2008
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My name is Ryan, and I’m a first year MBA candidate at North Carolina State University’s Jenkins Graduate School of Management. This is my blog. I’m here to share my business school experience with the community at large: fellow students, professors, administrators. But most importantly, I want to provide a unique perspective for those people who are trying to decide if they want to pursue an MBA.

When I made the decision to return to school, I researched universities online, read articles, scanned the Business Week rankings, attended information sessions, spoke with current students, etc etc etc. After all that work, I still wasn’t sure what to expect when I walked in the door for my first day of class. I’m hoping this blog can shine some more light on what business school is all about from an insiders point of view.

I’m going to do my best to cover all sorts of topics, from the good to the bad to the ugly: workload, projects, student life, social life, NC State, internships and career development. I also promise to be responsive to you, the reader. If I get questions in the comments, I’ll try to address them. If that question deserves a post on its own, I’ll write one. In other words, I’m here to help you.

On that note, I have some reading to catch up on for my Global Simulation class. Talk to y’all soon.


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