Adapting through Learning

Learning is the core component of our academic journey through college. Yet, the medium of education isn’t always so transparent. Primarily, we focus on our academic coursework, taking in new concepts and, as a result, expanding upon our knowledge base. The BADM395 Practicum course did just that–albeit in a more transformative way. The skill of adaptability is now more critical than ever, and I had the chance to hone it through this course.

As we entered our first in-person semester post-pandemic, I realized that it would be a challenging task to regain the confidence and skill needed to excel in a business environment. For me, this meant adapting to a new work environment: one that emphasizes collaboration through technology. Some companies have started embracing remote work in the market while others stand by their in-person atmosphere. Either way, the global business climate is changing, and I saw this as an opportunity to grow and adapt. By taking the Practicum, I embraced the change, and the experience was a necessary part of my academic learning.

The course’s approach to soft skills that are paramount in today’s market was essential in becoming more adaptable. The skills included collaboration, communication, and leadership. As we worked within our consulting group, we received ample time to engage with them. During the virtual semesters, I was isolated from working in a team setting. Although we had team projects and presentations, it was hard for me to adjust quickly to a sudden change. Being back in class and working within a team, the Practicum enabled me to practice confidence in that setting while adding to the diversity of ideas. In addition, I felt a lot more comfortable in communication. Working in person during class combined with some virtual team meetings and virtual client meetings gave me that time to become adaptable. Communication, as a result, became smoother as I learned the team dynamics and spent more time talking with the client. Versatility also played a vital role in the growth of my leadership. As a co-leader, I was at the center of managing deadlines, team meet-ups, and deliverables. The responsibilities transcended through different communication channels and prepared me to tackle the objectives.

Looking beyond my group, being in the classroom helped me gather knowledge. With such a diversity of projects present, groups took approaches, which was an indirect way for me to acquire insights. Everything from how the slides were designed to the way groups presented their findings was an excellent way for us to accumulate information. Of course, the time spent in the class was not just on learning but also applying what we previously learned in other courses. A variety of concepts, such as the SWOT analysis, were well integrated into everyone’s deliverables to add depth.

Through my time in the Practicum, I saw an opportunity to become more adaptive prior to entering the industry. Through the course, I saw the new work environment that emphasized a pressing need to deliver through technology while incorporating teamwork and leadership. Most importantly, learning through this medium was a fundamental step for me to adapt to a changing work climate and prepare myself to succeed in my professional career.

Always Move Forward

Looking back on the semester, this was the first time I worked on a client based project quite like this. While concurrent to the Information Systems and Operations Management Practicum I was also in Illinois Business Consulting, it was fascinating to be able to see two different types of client facing projects at once. This class also taught me some things I could only learned from a more unstructured project where I had more responsibility. While I was accustomed to a project plan and timeline being already made for me in previous client facing projects, in this class, we had the responsibility of creating our own. As such, I learned about the importance of creating that plan and team structure together.

The first main lesson I learned was about communication, both with my team and the client. As the project liaison, I was expected to maintain contact with the client. It was my first time taking on a role like this as usually in the past I left it to other teammates. It was a little hard on my end as my schedule was erratic and night based, while I wanted to try and remain professional by only contacting the client during work hours–aka before 6 PM or so, but this wasn’t always possible especially with our team’s tendency to work at night as well. We encountered problems where some information from the client was not clear to us, and it led to several roadblocks. Looking back at it, I would be more assertive and clear in what our team wanted from the client to avoid these delays in progress.

In addition, communicating with my team was important as not everyone could meet at every meeting. As such it was integral to catch everyone up to speed when someone was out of the loop. Sometimes I felt out of the loop, as I was not technically inclined to the main parts of the project, specially the EOQ formula and PowerBI parts. Therefore, when I was confused it was important for me to be able to express that in order to work effectively with my teammates. As a result, I was able to contribute to the team a lot more when it came to research and supply chain information, which was also new to me but a lot more realistic to be learned during the course of the semester. Learning a thing or two about supply chain was interesting as someone with little to no past exposure to the industry.

As a whole, BADM 395 IOP showed its true value to me and the team when the client was impressed by how much effort we put into our final presentation. Although we encountered some technical errors along the way, we were able to move forward. In addition, being able to connect with these industry professionals in a free-form way was an experience that was great for all of us regardless of the fact that the team was made up of several different majors. I’ve found myself recommending this class to underclassmen studying IS as a way to get some hands-on experience in the real world that most normal classes don’t really offer. I find that this type of experience is hard for undergraduates to attain outside of consulting organizations with application barriers. I hope that future classes continue to have great experiences and I appreciate the experience it has given me.

Main Lessons of BADM 395IOP

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!

Action Learning

This course has been a really unique experience for me. It has allowed me to learn meaningful lessons from a unique real-world experience. I believe that among all the courses I have taken, this one goes beyond grades. It is not a course where the focus will be to get good grades, but the focus will be to gain real-world experience by working with real clients to help them solve real-world problems. This course has not only helped me gain real-world experience, but it has also given me an excellent overview of how a career in Technology or IT Consulting looks like. Though I had experience working on a consulting project before entering this course, I never worked on technology or IT consulting projects. Therefore, this course has been a great learning curve about a project related to IT Consulting. 

One of the greatest lessons I have learned from this course is how to work with a team in a hybrid environment. Our client call and internal team meetings were online, though the course was in person. Therefore, it was a great blend of online and in-person learning. It has been a great experience of communicating with the client every week and interviewing a key stakeholder during our project. It has really helped me improve my communication skills and has bestowed me with a great experience of dealing with a client during any phase of the project. In addition, our team also had a great opportunity to interview the key stakeholders at some point during our project. It was a great experience because it allowed us to communicate and interview someone outside of our point of contact, learn their perspective, and apply it to our project. 

Therefore, with BADM 395 IOP, I was able to be part of the project where I learned strong technical and soft skills, which will be very helpful in my job. 

Furthermore, as I mentioned before, I have worked on consulting projects in the past; however, it will never match the amount of learning experience I have received from BADM 395 IOP. In BADM 395 IOP, I learned how a consulting project works from beginning to end. I learned how to prepare a team charter, prepare a project, create a Gantt Chart, and make an issue tree. These are some of the unique experiences I never had exposure to before taking this class. 

Finally, through this class and our project, I learned several different skills that will help me succeed in my career. I plan to go into the career of technology consulting, and the skills I have developed from our project will help me a lot ahead in my career. One of the essential skills that I have developed from our project is problem-solving skills. I have learned how to immediately take action for your problem and reflect upon the results. 

Thus, BADM 395 IOP has been one of the most rewarding classes I have taken in college. Over the last 14-16 weeks, I had a great action learning experience and have grown up as a person both professionally and personally. 

Importance of Communication

There are several real-life skills I have learned from this IS/OM Practicum Course. From project management skills to technical skills, I know that I will be able to apply these skills somewhere down my future career path. However, it was not an easy journey in my team’s project completion. When my team and I met with our client for the first time to discuss our task at hand, I had little to no idea what they were asking us to do. As a junior who has not taken a lot of major IS courses, I did not feel prepared to tackle their issue. There were several things I had to learn for myself and with my team and it all turned out to be very valuable in my learning throughout the semester.

One of the things was clear communication with our client and our mentor. I had previously never experienced working one-on-one with a client. It took plenty of time and effort as well as collaboration with my team to learn how we can best connect with our client. This included learning how to set up meetings, send emails with concise updates, and make the information ‘business friendly’. As a result, I have gained a lot of soft skills, including problem-solving, active listening, and the willingness to learn. Moreover, there would be times where we would struggle with our code and visualizations. We figured that we would need to seek help outside of the classroom. We connected with a great mentor, and we had to communicate what the project scope was and what kind of help we were hoping to seek from them. Ultimately, we were able to utilize more machine learning algorithms models and interpret our models for our client in a clearer manner with our mentor’s help.

Another thing we learned was related to team management and organization. We had to focus on setting aside time outside of class and completing work at the deadlines. It was quite the semester for me and my team members and with our busy schedules, we had to make sure we found time to meet. It was very useful that we found resources and tools early on to help us find those times in each of our schedules and set one day of the week free to Zoom with one another. Since this was a semester-long project, we had to ensure that we were completing portions of our project by the deadlines. This was important so that our client could see our progress, follow along, and make corrections for us as needed. We also found it beneficial to assign tasks for one another through a task manager. Additionally, we discussed our tasks in person and through Zoom to make sure that we knew what each member was working on and see if we could help one another in the process.

All in all, this course taught me how to communicate clearly with a client and/or professional and efficiently collaborate on a team. I am thankful for all the help we received from our professor, fellow classmates, and mentor in finishing this project. I have learned many leadership and organizational skills that I know I can bring to my future careers. I am truly grateful to have had this opportunity to potentially make an impact on a real business and I hope to have more experiences like this one moving forward.

Valuable experience that can be applied to real-life

As students at a well-known university, it is oftentimes difficult to get the opportunity to apply concepts and topics learned within the classroom. I signed up to take the IS/OM Practicum course, taking a previous course with Professor Vishal, in order to get experience working on a real project with a real client, allowing me to expand my business knowledge and professional skills. Double majoring in Information Systems and Operations Management made me believe that I could gain valuable skills and challenge myself by taking the IS/OM Practicum. However, I have gained consulting experience and skills, working with a Fortune 500 company, that I would never have expected if I didn’t take this course. Being able to challenge myself with new concepts and working with a team that I have never worked with before in the class, has become one of the highlights of my college experience that I will never forget. 

Our consulting project with the client involved automation in the corporate finance department and automation processes such as Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Robotic Desktop Automation (RDA). Although I did hear about these terms before, I was not aware of how these new technologies can be utilized and implemented in the business. My knowledge on these topics, after thorough research and valuable conversations with key stakeholders, has been expanded and has allowed me the confidence in myself to talk about automation. Getting to work closely with the automation and corporate finance teams have allowed me to step outside of my comfort zone and learn about new technologies and their use cases. Being a student, I wouldn’t have expected the opportunity to actually make a real impact and difference on a company, yet the IS/OM practicum has offered me the opportunity to work with the consulting project.  

I have also significantly improved on several soft skills, especially organization, multitasking, and having an analytical mindset. How the curriculum is taught, pushes the students to analyze the problem and carefully lay out a plan to approach and address it in a well-organized manner. This has proven to be quite useful to me in different areas other than this class, such as other group projects, leadership positions in my student organizations, and my job as an HR intern. The analytical mindset and how I approach problem-solving have significantly improved my ability to handle obstacles in my professional and personal life. Similarly, this project has taught me how to effectively communicate with your client in order to understand the breadth of the issue and problems statement you are tasked to complete. Not only will this be helpful for future consulting projects, but this skill can assist me in understanding how to  These soft skills that I have refined that can be credited to this class, will be useful in my future endeavors once I graduate from the university.

I’d like to finish my final reflection by giving a huge shout-out to my team members that have challenged me and helped me grow in ways that I wouldn’t have gotten in other classrooms. It’s been a huge pleasure to work with individuals who are passionate about the same things as I am, allowing us to bounce ideas off of each other to create a final product that satisfies us and the client. I would also like to thank Professor Vishal and our SM Amogh, for giving our team guidance and recommendations when we were lost, our team is very grateful! Overall, I would recommend taking this course for any students who are looking to apply their skill sets to a real project.

Having an Open-Mind

As I reflect on this semester, there are a lot of key takeaways from this course that will help me in my future professional development. However, one key takeaway I will have from this course is having an open mind. I personally feel this is such an important characteristic to have in your everyday lives because your team members have so many valuable contributions to the project. For example, with this project it was very important to work on the assigned work with teams. As one can infer, I have become an individual who approaches projects with an open mind. It has become very apparent from this project and also from the classes I have taken at UofI the importance of working cross-functionally. In everyone’s future careers you will be working with team members who represent various different departments of a company. Those team members specialize in different parts of the company’s overall mission statement as the company and have major contribution margins. As a team, we interacted with multiple professionals from Conagra who were able to provide us with a lot of valuable insight with the company’s supply chain. They had so much knowledge and experience with the company, so we all really enjoyed hearing about all the valuable points they were able to provide to the team. They brought up ideas that we did not even consider that really helped support the implementation of our project. By having this open mind when approaching our project this semester it is also really important to remember to never be afraid to ask questions. By asking questions to team members and key stakeholders of your project, you will be able to learn so much from them and it will help drive major improvements in your project’s overall deliverable. Moving onto another key takeaway I had from this project was how to be an effective team leader. I took the responsibility of being the team leader for our group. I was a little bit scared earlier on in the semester if I was being a good leader for our group, but after receiving feedback from our group during the mid-point reflection I was able to see I was having positive impacts on the members of the team. Being a good leader is something you can never be perfect at because there is always room for improvement, there is always room to grow. That is something I was definitely able to take away from this semester is that there is so much to learn when trying to become an effective leader for your team. Overall, there was so much I took away from this project this semester. It is so crazy to see how much I grew as a leader throughout this semester. I was able to gain so much confidence in myself throughout this semester, where I felt our final deliverable was very impactful for the company. Our team basically participated in an internship this semester where we were able to use skills developed in our various classes and apply them to the work we were doing with our client. Both our client and the team were able to have major takeaways from this project. As a team, we are looking forward to using the professional skills we developed from this project to our future career endeavors.

Communication is Key

This semester, I have learned a great deal about working in a team, and working in a more professional setting. Communication is a huge thing that I learned about and I was not the best communicator. An example would be asking questions. Personally, I was not one who would ask a lot of questions, with the fear that I would be judged or seen as lesser. However through this project, I went through a process to realize that there is truly nothing wrong with asking questions. For example, given that it is vitally important for the client to get what they want, asking questions is very crucial. In the beginning of the meetings with the clients, we had to gather requirements for the project. Not wanting to ask too many questions, it was not until a few weeks and a few meetings later that I realized that I was taking the wrong approach to the project. Around week six, which is already over a third of the way done with the project, I had to ask more clarifying questions for what was talked about weeks ago. It felt very bad doing this, but after clarifying the points, it became so much easier to work on the project and I regretted not asking earlier. 

Another example of needing to communicate was when communicating with the team. Oftentimes, the team members would assume everyone knew what was happening, when it would not always be the case. Sometimes I would see that a team member is just going along with something but is not actively involved enough because they do not understand. Sometimes this team member would be me. As a result, I learned to spot these things and to ask them questions making sure they understood what was happening, as well as asking questions so that I personally would know what was happening. 

Communication within the team was also very vital when assigning tasks as well as spreading work. In other normal classes, group projects can become very dull and lacking in interaction. The work can get spread among the group members without any discussion and without any insight into why. But in this project, we were able to talk to the team through many of the important steps that we did, and even through the issue tree, and assigning tasks on the board, everyone was on the same page. There was no random handing out of tasks without discussion. This became, in my eyes, the backbone of our team. 

Personally, this experience has led me to realize that no matter what is happening, no matter what positive or negative thing is going on, it is important to communicate it. This way, any problems that we have can be brought out into the open and analyzed, and can be solved together. I experienced a lot of growth this semester, and I hope to carry this kind of value in the rest of my career, and even in my other social interactions. This is hugely valuable experience to me and I fully appreciate the opportunity this class gave me to have it.


My name is Megan, and I am a senior majoring in Information Systems. Before taking this course, all I wanted to do is to just find a course that allows me to challenge myself. In the past three years of college, although I did find some courses challenging, most of them are me learning about new information; instead of me using what I learned. During the first class, after hearing the professor’s explanation of what this course will be like, I felt nervous but excited at the same time. I felt there is finally a course where I can use what I learned in a real-life scenario and see what do I still need to improve.

One of the main takeaways that I have is the ability to maintain a good relationship with my teammates and manage time with each other. Although most of the courses I took have group projects where we have to work together, this is the first time I have ever taken a course where the project a semester-long. This allows me to gain time management skills and skills when communicating with people in the real world. In this course, we need to contact the clients on our own, and we need to learn the fact that not everyone has the time to follow our schedule. We need to find a way to make things work.

We immediately encountered some problems at the beginning of the project. We were very confused about the scope of the project and to find the pain points. All we did is keep on researching and hoping that the things we researched could be used in some ways. We were probably the last group to decide the final topic that we will be doing. However, after talking with the professor, the mentor, and the client, we finally got to a point where we know what we will be doing for our project. I must admit I feel kind of miserable in the beginning because I did not know what we were doing. A lot of research that we did end up not going to our final project.

Another takeaway that I have is project management skills. This is the biggest project that I have ever done in my college life. We need to start from the beginning to the end and work with the client all by ourselves. I think I not only gained better time management skills but also the ability to communicate with teammates and also the client. I feel like in today’s world, people need to communicate with each other a lot for things to work, including sending emails. This course has helped me to manage my relationships with other people. We learned to listen to other people’s opinions and learn how to not stick to one’s opinion when others opposed it. For us to work this out efficiently, communication is key, but also the flexibility is very important.

I learned a lot in this course, mainly on things that I will encounter when I graduated and go into the working field. I felt lucky to be able to experience this even before I graduated. I knew things may be even more complicated in the future, but at least I have the preparation on facing those problems.

Confidence One Step at a Time

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.