Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The MBA Project: A Crash Course

Get it? "Crash Course"? Because I crashed a course! Hahaha. Oh, I crack myself up.

So, I made the trek back down to Linda Vista last night to go observe the class at USD that I mentioned in my previous post. Man, even with light traffic that drive sucks. I have got to move further south this summer!

I don't know what the protocol is on sharing what I saw in a class where I'm not a matriculated student, so I'll try to keep this as high level as possible. There were a few dozen students and the majority were men. Near as I could tell, the other students were pretty much right there in my age range. There was no shortage of class participation when the professor asked for responses. He worked from slides, but they weren't terribly wordy and he wasn't just reading off of them. (I wish that happened more in the work world.) It looks to me like the onus is truly on the students to read from the text before class so that by the time they get there, they're familiar with the concepts. He definitely referenced specific material from the book, but like I said, he wasn't slapping it all up there on PowerPoint. I know that probably sounds like, "Well, yeah. Isn't that supposed to be how it works?" However, in my experience as an undergrad, I was able to get through many a course where reading beforehand was by no means a necessity because the professor just went through it in class.

The first half mostly went along in this fashion, and the real fun started after the 10 minute break. He set up a simulation in which the class was divided into 3 teams representing types of groups in a typical workplace, gave each group a set of instructions, separated them into different areas, and let them go at it. He said I was free to participate if I wished, but I opted to observe and float from group to group instead. It was actually much more fun that way because things got quite chaotic pretty quickly. The professor floated between groups as well and he would pull me aside and discuss both of our observations.

Overall impression? Fabulous. Just fab. It's pretty much what I imagined it to be and even a little better. Granted, the type of class I went to was heavily discussion and case/scenario based and that's my favorite style. The gal I met up with before class explained that in the first quarter, you take this class (Ethical Leadership & Org. Behavior) and an Accounting class, which are polar opposites. Soft skills vs. hard skills. Discussion versus lecture. Small class vs. stadium seating, etc. You get the picture. That's fine--gotta slog through the heavy quant stuff in order to get well-rounded and whatnot. What I always find amusing, however, is that so much of what I do in my job IS working with the quantitative stuff. The key, however, is that Excel does most of the calculation work for me, and the distinction between me and someone who is truly quant-based, like an engineer, is that I use numbers as a mere tool in my arsenal to make connections to process health and behavior.

I was quite happy with the whole experience and if what I saw last night is indicative of the academic culture of that MBA program, then I WANT IN.