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

Time Management

February 10, 2010
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This semester so far has been quite different from my first three at NC State and Copenhagen Business School. My class schedule features three purely evening classes from 6:00 pm to 8:45 pm, Monday through Wednesday night. I also have a fourth class, Practicum, which feels more like a part-time job requiring 10-15 hours of work each week.

As a result, my schedule is more haywire this semester than it ever has been, and as a result, my time management and organizational skills have been pushed to the forefront. With evening classes, it always feels like there is so much time during the day to get everything done, but then the homework and projects start creeping up and draining time away. Combine that with making time to search for jobs, working part-time for my Graduate Assistantship (namely this blog), and volunteering when available, and all of a sudden those hours aren’t so plentiful anymore.

But I suppose that’s one of the best habits business school has bred. Don’t procrastinate! There will be interruptions and delays on projects, assignments will get dropped on you at the last minute, and you have to be able to adjust and adapt without getting overwhelmed. In that sense, I think business school, both at NCSU and CBS has done a nice job preparing me for what I will face out in the real world. Speaking of which, I have some research I need to do for an assignment due later this week!


Mid-Week School Update

January 28, 2009
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While I’ve been focusing a lot of my posts on the economy recently, a lot has still been happening with school. Here’s a quick recap of some events that happened this week and what else I’m looking forward to:

  • Completed 1,500-word market positioning paper with Team
  • Prepared for beginning of Marketing Simulation
  • Held first meetings for Purchasing semester-long, corporate partner project
  • Turned in final documents for Study Abroad application and scholarship
  • Covidien Site Tour coming up on Friday morning
  • Speed Networking event coming up on Friday evening

I’ll also be creating a new video tomorrow featuring two of my classmates who want to start their own companies after graduating from the program. Should be an interesting topic.

The Case Study Approach

January 18, 2009
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Roughly two weeks into our spring semester, and we find ourselves up to our ears in reading and project assignments. Unlike last semester, which featured economics, statistics and accounting, we are taking classes that revolve around everyday business functionalities: marketing, operations and finance. As a result, the focus of our studies has shifted away from pure exams (with finance being the exception) to the case study method. For those of you unfamiliar with business school curricula, a case study is a real world example of a business facing a complex decision centered around a particular topic of choice (marketing, supply chain, etc). We are then asked to analyze the situation and develop a recommended course of action based on our findings.

Case studies are difficult. They present a lot of information, and they are intentionally ambiguous. Some of the information presented is relevant to the decision-making process, and some is not. It’s the job of the student to pick out the key pieces of information and then argue a point of view around those facts.

Fortunately, case studies are also a lot of fun – at least more fun than cramming for exams. Part of this stems from the fact that case studies are based upon actual business problems rather than academic concepts. Another part stems from the fact that cases are meant to be discussed in groups, with ideas shared and arguments made back and forth. As someone who appreciates working in teams, discussing ideas, and developing solutions to complex problems, case studies are an ideal format for learning. I’m glad that we’ve moved towards a case-based approach this semester.

Positive Direction

December 3, 2008
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Back from the break and already knocked out a presentation and a final for Management of Technology. Amazing how fast the time is going and can’t believe we’re a few days from the end of the first semester. A few quick points on some various topics:

Look for more video blogs following the winter break. We just purchased a new video camera for the College of Management which should boost our production quality quite a bit. We also have plenty of creative ideas to improve the content.

I’m making steady progress on the Study Abroad application. I have an individual advising appointment next week where I will hopefully learn more about Copenhagen in particular and what I need to do to round out the application.

We have 4 finals left. A public speaking final on Friday, then 3 exams for Econ, Statistics and Accounting. We’re halfway done with the teamwork, and I couldn’t be prouder of the effort put forth by Amy, David, Subbu, Suki and myself. We definitely made the most of the semester in terms of the simulation, the presentations and the research papers. Great work team!

Finally, keep an eye out for more posts from me over the break. Despite the fact that we’ll be on vacation, I’ll continue to blog and update on other topics such as the internship search and preparation for next semester’s class load.

The Team Approach

September 25, 2008

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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