An Experience that Helped My Career Path

This special course has not only provided me with a unique and unforgettable experience, but also enhanced my skills dealing with clients and solving problems. The most important thing I learned from the course is scoping. Scoping is a huge part, especially when doing consulting work. During our first client meeting we had an overall glance at what problem we need to solve, and decided to narrow it down by completing an issue tree since we have limited capacity. After meeting with our mentors, we had a better view of the industry standards and optimization criteria, which facilitates our analysis later. Our mentor also suggested finding out the limitation before we jumping right into solution. This is a valuable tip as we were interviewing with different stakeholders, we found out that they have different expectations and perspectives in terms of the problem we tend to solve. Under such condition, we need to re-scope our project focus. This experience taught how crucial scoping is when doing a project, because it is the first step that leads to the final destination. Scoping can not only help you find the right direction, but also point out some areas you may not notice. This skill can be applied in every project I will have in my career, and I also have a better interest in optimization, which may change my career path after I finish my master degree.

Another important lesson I learned from this experience is the soft skills. When working in a team, I realized the effectiveness and efficiency of communicating and face-to-face meetings. I used to talk with my group members more on GroupMe and assign work based on different parts of the project. This time, however, our team worked closer and had a regular meeting ever week to share updates and thoughts. We also had several social events to know each other better. This is different from what I used to for team projects, and we did not assign work verbally, but discussed the deliverables during our meeting and integrated all the ideas to come up with the best deliverable. Each team member got the part he or she is good at, as I was responsible for editing the slides and researching about the new system our client is interested in. This experience enhanced my skills when working with others in a team and managing a client. Throughout the semester I feel that my communication and networking skills were improved, which are helpful when dealing with clients and recruiters later after my graduation.

In addition to the skills I gained from the project that I can apply during my career path, I also got to know many nice people during the course, which may help my future career as I will be learning Operations Research as my master degree. It was my first time dealing with a real client, and our client is the nicest and best as I look forward to working with them again if I have the chance.