mba update end of the spring semester april 2019 featured image

MBA Update – End of the (Last) Spring Semester

Hello everyone! Today I’m doing my last semester recap post for my MBA journey.


mba update end of the spring semester april 2019 featured image

I honestly can’t believe how fast time has flown by. I remember thinking how long two years would take and now here we are at the end. I’ll be doing one more update for my MBA, graduation! That’s not until May though so for now, let’s get into the last spring semester.

Classes

We all remember how dreadful last semester was, right? So going into this one I was bitterly annoyed but also had heard good things about both classes I was taking. Not the best start but not the worst either. The end left something to be desired as well. More on that later!

In case you’re new or don’t remember what my schedule was this semester, I took two 8-week classes. One met on Mondays and the other on Thursdays. Both were 6pm-10pm which is a really challenging schedule after working full time during the day!

Sales Class

So my Monday class was Sales. Right off the bat I could tell I was going to love the class, even though I hadn’t expected to at all. I had a perception of sales as something I would hate but it turned out to be the complete opposite. I loved the class! I sent a friend from undergrad a quick thank you as she’d been through the program the year before me and so she’d been the one to recommend the sales class.

Over the course of the 8 weeks we learned different aspects of the selling process, had a few amazing guest speakers, and the assignments were challenging to think through but very rewarding. We were graded on a scale, so the best person got the highest grade, next best got the second highest grade, and so on. That made it a little stressful but it just made me work hard and I saw improvements in my graded papers over the entire 8 weeks.

During the classes we got to chime in with our opinions on how we would approach sales situations, what we noticed was done poorly in fun video examples, and even prepared a presentation to “sell” our MBA program to prospective students in under half an hour. Those presentations were dreadful but we had fun and it was eye-opening on how much prep work needs to be done, even for something you know very well.

For the final, we had presentations to the professor to sell a product to him as a buyer. For my presentation I had to sell Amazon Echo devices and he was portraying Chicago Public Schools. I did not get the sale but he said I did very well! I ended up getting an almost perfect score on my paper (I only missed two points) which was great because I spent days on it and it was 15 pages long (there was no page requirements). Most of my classmates didn’t seem to make their sales either, and the one guy that I know did was actually in sales before so I say this was rigged from the start LOL. Either way, it was a great learning experience.

At the end my professor did also say that even though I’m not in sales that he thought I would do well in it. At first I thought he was a very nice liar but now I’m kind of intrigued. Several work friends, as well as a current account manager and the human resources manager, think I’d be a good account manager so now I’m thinking about it! Actually the HR manager was probably the most excited about it haha!

Anyway, I got an A- in the class and usually I’d be upset about it but this time I’m really not. It’s too close to the end now! Plus I learned so, so much and that’s the main goal anyway!

elmhurst college

Project Management Class

I was most excited for Project Management as that is my current career goal (unless I end up going the account manager route). I did really enjoy it! It was a lot more information each class though as it’s a sort of a mini prep class for the PMP exam. Overall, it was good though. After each class we had an online quiz to do so which was pretty straightforward but some questions were a little tricky as that’s how the exam is. We also had the option to do an extra credit assignment, which I did. We had to submit a book summary so I chose Great Leadership by Antony Bell that I read last semester for Leadership.

We had a project that was essentially planning a project in order for us to see what goes into it. I was placed in a group with a guy I knew from previous classes and a gal from the east coast in New Jersey. For the most part, the gal and I were doing pretty much all of the work but the guy would try to at least give ideas. He never provided anything unique, mostly just iterations of the same ideas we had or stuff that wasn’t relevant so he was already annoying but we didn’t really care. He also provided all sorts of excuses as to why he wasn’t really available to help and then didn’t show up for a group meeting with the professor to talk over the project when we needed guidance on some parts. Pretty much his communications was “that sounds great” and “glad we’re on the right track” with no substantial input. Then for the last batch of deliverables he didn’t provide anything at all! I guess he just assumed we’d let him continue to get away with not contributing. We had the assignments for two weeks and he never provided any ideas or did anything. The other gal and I tried to give him one specific task to do and he instead chose to pretend he didn’t have the link to the shared Google Drive we’ve had set up since the start of the project and it was in the same email chain we had been using the entire time. So we took his name off the project and turned it in. I explained to the professor who said he understood and that was that.

This next part was so frustrating! I explained to my professor what happened, and that he hadn’t participated. The professor nodded, said he understood, and then thanked me for telling him. You would think that would be the end of it, right? NOPE. Turns out, the lazy classmate downloaded all the items that he contributed NOTHING to, added a couple things, changed some things, and then submitted it again. That was all without the knowledge of myself or the other gal. How did we find out? We got our grades from the professor who included everyone in the email and told us he wanted us to try to work together again for the final piece of the project. But the gal and I were confused when we got points taken off for poor formatting. We thought that was so odd because we always pay attention to that when we review everything prior to submission, and we were told PDFs were the best file type, but we only use PDF to submit the work. We realized that the professor graded the WRONG file that the lazy classmate sent in after the deadline! We’re so lucky he didn’t take points off for the late submission because we can resubmit everything and get the formatting points back but if he had taken them off for being late we wouldn’t be able to get those back at all. We sent the lazy classmate a super long email telling him we were willing to give him another chance but explaining our reasoning (which should have been obvious) and telling him why what he did was wrong (stealing is wrong, shocker I know). All he did was reply with the work assigned to him (finally) and said “if you need anything else let me know”. That’s it. No apology, no admitting he stole our work. It was so annoying but the gal and I had a good laugh about it. The point of the class is to learn how to be a project manager but he’s asking us to let him know if he has to do anything. That’s the complete opposite! He’s in for a world of failure if he keeps this up. I believe in karma so I’m sure it’ll come back to get him for stealing our work and causing us to get a worse grade.

I was so disappointed by the professor’s reaction as well. Not only did he grade the incorrect submission, but he emailed me separately to tell me that the goal is to make sure the project gets done. What??? It was done! Correctly! On time! He’s the one that took the wrong file to grade after I explained that the lazy classmate didn’t do anything and didn’t earn the right to have his name on that portion of the project! I sent an email back that was nearly a page long explaining, AGAIN, all that was wrong with the situation. I also included the fact that the project was completed correctly the first time, but that his decision to accept a piece of work that was never seen or approved by myself or the other gal led to us being negatively affected by losing those points. I also pointed out that he had said we could remove team members who were not contributing on the very first class, so we felt that after numerous reach outs that we were okay to do so because we were not getting any responses besides excuses including “I don’t have a pc”. Finally, I pointed out that the lazy classmate did steal our work as he did not contribute yet put his name on it anyway. I would like to add here that this is clearly against the school’s academic honesty policy (which I looked up last night) so I could bring this to the director of the program’s attention but, again, I believe in karma for sure so I think that this decision will affect the professor and the lazy classmate that stole the work in the end. Also, the professor is fairly new to teaching in a school setting so I’m sure he doesn’t realize how serious it is to steal work yet so that’s something he’ll have to learn at some point. Before the final class I talked to the professor again about it and he tried to give the same (misguided) reasons until I explained (again) that no one deserves credit for work they steal.

In the end, we resubmitted the final work and got full points on everything, recovering what that idiot classmate caused us to lose thankfully. Again, he didn’t really contribute much but he did do the work we assigned him so at least there’s that. I also finished the final over the course of two days. I probably could have done it in one sitting but I wanted to make sure I wasn’t rushing it and it was set up to allow for us to save our answers so far and then revisit it later. Good thing too because when I went back and had more time I realized I had a few questions wrong that I’d just read too fast and didn’t think through properly. Also, I had a few that I hadn’t even attempted knowing I wasn’t in the right mindset. (The reason I was rushing was because I had a train to catch after work into Chicago to see Anastasia.) The next day when I had more time and wasn’t rushed I was able to concentrate, reviewed everything at least 3 times, and ended up with a perfect score!

Either way, my group wasn’t the only one with issues. There were two groups that had a classmate drop the class and they had no idea. One group really made my jaw drop because although the professor said multiple times that communication was 90% of what a project manager does and that he hated late work, they couldn’t reach one team member and so they didn’t complete the work. Apparently they assigned that person a portion of the deliverables due that week and since he dropped the class he didn’t do it. (He ended up being deployed I think so he dropped before the class started but someone didn’t actually enter it into the records for the class.) I was so surprised that they thought the excuse of “so and so was assigned that work and he didn’t do it so we don’t have it” was acceptable! What! So strange.

One of the people in that group annoyed me all semester long though. She didn’t get the concepts quickly, which I understand, but then I realized she didn’t get it because she was being super extra and trying to tie it to concepts that the specific material we were talking about didn’t have a direct correlation to. Even more strange. She also would steal ideas like crazy. For one class we were split into random teams and I was in hers. I mentioned how protesters or locals unhappy with the project might interrupt the project and she was super judgmental when she said I had to explain because she didn’t see that possibility. I gave the example of Amazon having to take withdraw their plans to build their newly announced New York City headquarters due to people protesting their plans. She finally said that I was right and later when the professor presented it she loudly interrupted him to give him MY explanation! At least she said “we were saying” and not “I was saying” but still. She definitely kept trying to make herself seem smarter than she actually was which if that’s important to her then whatever, I’m just going to get over it and move on!

Overall the class was great, and I was glad we had so much freedom on the project. It was stressful at times as we didn’t have templates to fill out with our ideas but at the same time it was good because then we got to learn and come up with our own formats. I really enjoyed the class and found it very easy to understand because of how the material was presented. Except for that huge issue my group had at the end. I did get an A in the class, which was my goal, so I’m happy with that at least!

Books

Update on the books! The sales book was terrible so I would give it 2 of 5 stars. The professor picked out certain pages and that is what we read. Well, I read them, I don’t think anyone else did. I mean, it was fine to look at for definitions I guess but overall it wasn’t that useful. Both of the project management books weren’t used in class but the professor strongly suggested we use them for reference in the future or were just a good read. I’ll probably try to read them over the next few weeks.

selfie at elmhurst college

Retrospectives

I recently came across this word again and I love it so I’m using it! Here’s some random thoughts I guess on how the semester went.

At the start of the semester I was so fully rested from over a month off and vacation that it was so easy to churn out assignments. I thought that meant my focus was improving but I was getting mediocre grades at first. (Okay, high B or low A but for me that’s mediocre for sure!) While I think that was part of it when I slowed down and took longer, I realized that I did better work. So I mistook rushing through the work as focusing on it but they’re not the same at all! That’s a lesson I’ve really appreciated.

Sometimes, I get the hardest concepts with ease and the “easier” concepts are more difficult for me. For Project Management the professor told us there would be two difficult concepts and the rest would be easy. The two concepts came to me very easily but there were others that were a little tougher. How silly but that’s just how it is. We all learn stuff differently and so I have to work on not getting frustrated!

Having time to bond with my classmates was really nice this semester. We had frequent breaks in both classes due to the four hours of class at a time thing. We would chat and catch up during that time and so it was nice to get to know them a little more.

People really are so uncomfortable when someone stands up for themselves. Wow, that is so concerning! I’ve seen it both at work and at school where if I defend myself then others get so uncomfortable and try to double down on their ideas. For example, the professor sent the email that our focus should be on getting the work done on time, so when I pointed out that the correct submission was done on time he just didn’t respond. Yikes! Honestly if someone is going to come at me without a platform to stand on, I’m going to correct them. I know how to back up what I say and make sure I have the correct information on the situation, as well as defending my position well. Hopefully more people will start standing up for themselves as time goes on so it’s not so out of place.

Student loans are no joke. I have far, far less student loans than the average student with an MBA but it’s still sad to me because at the end of the day, that would be a good portion of a downpayment for a home. I’ve started to make the joke that I need to find a boyfriend just to combine incomes someday! In all seriousness though, right now it does feel like I have given up on home ownership anytime in the near future for this degree. I’m sure it’ll happen eventually, but it’s so weird to think about.

As for what’s next, well, I’m not sure! Career wise I’m going to speak to an account manager and learn more about the role. I have an idea of course but just want to ask more specific questions and really dive into it. Unfortunately, my workplace is not the biggest fan of people leadership, despite claiming they do. It’s disheartening but it seems to be a different culture than what I’m looking for anyway right now. But it’s weird to imagine life without school now! I was talking with some classmates recently and we were talking about hobbies from our “past lives” before the program. We all slowly came to the same realization of “how are we going to fill our time after this?” because it did take such a huge chunk of our time. One classmate said “I’m going to work out!” so that’s the kind of energy I need. I think I will be able to carry this energy into something new and exciting, just need to figure out what!

As for my blog, well I will have more time but I’m going to keep my schedule the same for now. I used to have a post every week day, but moved it down to two per week when I started school. I could increase it again but I don’t think I really want to right now. I think if I stick to two posts a week I can do better quality posts. Plus that will give me time to work on posts early for BirthMay!


And that is my last update for my final MBA semester! Wow, I can’t believe it’s over. I’m so incredibly proud of myself and so happy I went on this journey. Now I’m just waiting for graduation! The cap and gown is on backorder though… yikes! Are you guys going to want an update on that? 🙂 Let me know!

Thanks for reading!

Pamela

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6 comments

  1. MBA in India is going trendy. I mean most of the people around me pursues MBA after graduation irrespective of their field of graduation. Hahaa…well my cousin is too pursuing MBA. Haha

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m fascinated to hear about all these projects you had to do! So different from the nursing assignments I have, but I see how they are so valuable! Thanks for sharing, Pamela. So so excited for you.

    Liked by 1 person

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