The Information Systems and Operations Management Practicum taught me a lot of valuable lessons. This was my first time being exposed to real clientele and completing a semester-long project. There are two main lessons I learned from this semester, each of which will guide me as I begin my professional career.
The first big lesson I learned is that awkwardness results in lost time and is an efficient way to communicate with clients. This is a lesson that no regular Gies class would teach me, I had to figure it out on my own. At the beginning of the semester, we communicated with our client in a rather shy manner. This made it hard for our group to zero in on a solid project plan. It wasn’t until we started seeing our client as a resource rather than someone to shy away from, that our project really started coming together. One way to reduce any possible awkwardness that Professor Vishal taught our class is to extremely punctual and professional. One tangible thing we learned is the importance of sending emails to our clients before and after meetings. The emails sent before the meetings outlined certain talking points as well as asked any clarifying questions about the topics that will be covered in the meeting. This was a great way for our team to come together to prepare ourselves for meaningful meetings. We also learned the importance of sending follow-up emails after meetings highlighting key points and asking any clarifying questions from the meeting. This shows the client that we were listening intently during the meeting as well as set the direction for future meetings. These are two tricks that were never lectured to me by Gies professors because it is a skill that is learned only when doing work for someone else. These tricks will not only help me look professional when I enter the workforce, but it will also be a way to train myself to prepare for meetings beforehand as well as pay close attention during meetings. I will continue to refine these skills as I enter my career and am thankful to have learned this lesson in school.
The second lesson I learned is how to leverage certain relationships in a mutually beneficial way in a professional setting. It became clear early on in the semester that our team needed to get outside help from an expert in sustainability. Working with our mentor was a great experience because we were able to listen to Professor Feng talk about something that he is truly passionate about. Whether it be internal or external resources, talking to experts can only help. A lesson that goes hand in hand with this one is the fact that knowledge is power. The ability to talk to people and absorb some of their knowledge is key to being successful—especially in the consulting industry. Another relationship our group leveraged was our classmates. Throughout the semester, our classmates would give valuable insights into how our presentations could be more effective or valuable to the client. The community that came from the Information Systems and Operations Management Practicum is second to none because everybody wanted the best for one another.
I sincerely thank you Professor Vishal and Amogh for an invaluable class!