Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Applying schoolwork in the real world

Whenever I do informational interviews, I always am sure to ask if they have any recommendations about classes I should be taking, or any classes they found particularly useful. Specifically with GSM alums, I have found several recurring answers:

  • Decision-making and management science
  • Organizational behavior
  • Stats 2

Not to say that other classes weren’t mentioned, but these were definitely the top 3 I most commonly heard. I can’t speak about the Decision-making course since I haven’t taken it yet, but I have taken the latter two. And I agree – these were actually the two classes I have used the most in my internship.

I think that many of us go into the Organizational Behavior class thinking it will be focused on obvious aspects of the workplace, but we all – and I emphasize “all” because I haven’t heard any negative feedback about the class after we finished it – realized that it taught us far more than we expected. I am really glad that it’s a required course at the GSM. My only wish is that we had more required OB classes. Qualitative skills are often underappreciated, especially in business. But I digress!

Far and away, OB was the class that I have most utilized here. Understanding the organization’s culture, the roles people play, and how to best fit in and interact with the employees have all been invaluable. I use aspects of the course in my daily activities here.

And as for the Stats 2 recommendation – surprisingly, some aspects of statistics actually did come into play during my internship, even though I have more of a project management role. Blue Shield is very data-driven; decisions are usually based on data and analysis, so understanding how to read and interpret statistics is vital. Case in point, whenever a regression analysis is presented, I can follow right along. (Thank you, Professor Tsai!) So even if you know you won’t go into statistics or market research after graduation, take at least Stats 2 (and then take Stats 3 if you want to test your will and ability to stay up until 4am on Wednesday nights). You never know when it might come in handy.

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