College, I believed, was a time for discovery. It is a time where we open our minds to discovery as we are provided the opportunity to explore all that the world has to offer us, a time for us to fumble haphazardly as we try all paths of life until we find the one that is right for us. It is a time for experimentation and a time for failure. I may not know what it was that I wanted to do in life quite yet, but that was all right, for I still have time.
But then I looked at the people around me, at my peers who spoke about their future career paths with their heads held high, at my peers who spoke about their experiences in distinguished internships, at my peers who came in at the same time as me but were already graduating, and all I could feel was panic. By this point, the only thought on my mind was, I’m getting left behind.
It was amidst this frazzled anxiety that I first heard about BADM 395 IOP. It was an IS course of practical application, they said, and that was all I needed to hear. I applied to the course hoping for the opportunity to gain experience—to gain confidence, to also be able to hold my head high and say ‘I know what I am doing, and it is the right path for me.’
In this course, I was able to receive all of that and more.
BADM 395 IOP is an action learning program in which students receive the opportunity to work with real clients on real business issues, and in the process, we learn to work and think like real consultants.
The first thing I learned in this course was proper teamwork. I have completed many group projects throughout my academic years, so I went into this project thinking that it would be like any other—we would divide the work as assigned and then individually complete our parts according to the provided rubric. This couldn’t have been further from the truth. Instead, this project was one that could not have been done without the full support and cooperation of our team. I got to know each and every team member, and I came to greatly appreciate all of their strengths as we worked together to come up with as many ideas as we could.
Because the second thing that I learned in this course was both problem solving as well as problem defining. In order for us to help solve a problem, we must first begin by truly understanding the problem. This includes a full understanding of our client, their environment, their subject of interest, and their end goals—all of which we conducted thorough research on beforehand. Only when we understood the problem could we even begin to think about determining a solution. As business students, we hear a lot about the importance of critical thinking and problem solving, and it is hands-on experience such as this that really put those soft skills to the test. Faced with these real problems, we are encouraged to broaden our vision from the linear thinking we tend to fall into when faced with the structured system of academics. We motivate and inspire one another within our project group, incorporating all of our different perspectives and strengths to undertake efficient and optimized problem-solving.
Lastly, to bring this reflection to a full circle, I learned to have confidence. I learned to stand tall in front of my team members and our client and say to them, ‘here are the ideas I have, and here are things I can do.’ I learned to once again take enjoyment in exploratory topics, as this project taught me far more about supply chain management than I expected to learn as an accountancy major. Naturally, I also learned much more about both information systems and consulting as careers, but most importantly, I was able to relearn once again that life is not a competition—even for working business professionals, we are all simply moving forward one step at a time, one experience at a time, and we should take the time to make the most out of each and every one of them in the moment. Because just like my experience with BADM 395 IOP, you never know exactly what it is you’ll walk away with.