Into the Unknown

This semester I had the opportunity of enrolling into the IS/OM selective BADM395. The course allowed me to work with a leading insurance and financial service company on their current IT process improvement. I have learned a lot of soft skills as well as many recordable accomplishments. Looking at the beginning of the semester from now, I entered the course knowing only one thing: this experience will add a lot of value to me. I did not know about what type of class it is; who are running it; how are we getting graded; none of that. It is amazing to see how much this class, my teammates, client and mentor taught me.

I knew the project was not going to be easy from the very beginning, even the prompt is hard to understand. Fortunately, our client representative was very engaging and provided all the information we needed. It was important for us to figure out what pieces of information we need. By splitting the work into subcategories: process improvement, automation research and interviews, my team and I were able to split the problem into more manageable parts. Since each member was working on different things, communication was vital to make sure we could put different pieces of puzzle together at the end. Thankfully, my teammates were always up to speed in delivering the components. It is only in a long-term project like this I understand the importance of seamless teamwork in tackling a mission that no one know anything about in the beginning.

As the semester went on, not all things were going smoothly. For example, we were suggested to look into Nature Language Processing to handle the project. However, further research on the subject and interviews with client’s employees revealed that Nature Language Processing is not a suitable solution. This realization came after half of the semester is spent. It was very discouraging as we were almost struck back to ground zero. On the bright side, stepping back from the focus on Nature Language Processing, a topic that no team member knew anything back, we had the opportunities to re-choose the ways we wanted to approach the problem statement. After careful consultation with our assigned mentor, we decided to tackle the automation with decision tree, and I felt much more confident after stepping onto the alternative track.

I always believed if we did not dive right into Nature Language Processing but take a step back, put ourselves in the uncomfortable situation of not knowing anything, we would not have the time issue we had toward the end of the project. Nonetheless, at the time Nature Language Processing seemed to be the only solution. Thus, another takeaway I have from this experience is too never be afraid of relying on other people. Our mentor was able to help the team start rolling again by pointing out several directions that the team did not know about. Through trials and error, we finally arrived at the right direction.

Looking back at the journey, it not only added a highlighted line in the resume and allowed me to meeting wonderful peers, instructors and clients, but it also gave me confidence into working in a real world case as now I have many tools in tackling a problem that I know nothing about.