Spring Courses

I really was looking forward to my spring quarter, especially when you consider the fact that the winter quarter was just brutal. As I was lucky enough to have completed my internship recruiting in the winter, I assumed that the spring quarter would be a breeze. I also felt that since I had taken only 3 courses in the winter, I needed to make up for that “shortfall” by really loading up on courses in the spring. Bad move on so many levels! First of all, my courses made me so busy that I no longer enough time for important stuff like spending time with friends. For my classmates, this was a pardonable sin, but not so for second year students; this was their last quarter at Kellogg!

Another consequence of my course overload was that I started approaching my coursework from a mindset of efficiency instead of one of learning and growth. What this meant was that instead of trying to figure out how to really understand what I was learning, I worked hard at trying to get things done with the minimum amount of effort. When I had assignments to complete, I tried to go really fast and once I felt I had done what could be described as decent work, I moved on to the next assignment, and the one after that, and so on, and so on. Although I wasn’t a model student in the spring quarter, these were the course I took:

1. Finance II: This is a follow up to Fin I as you would imagine. It was quite different though. Whereas Fin I was about stocks, bonds and interest rates, Fin II felt like the softer side of finance. We spent a lot of thinking about conflict of interest between stakeholders such as senior management, the board of directors, and investors. We also touched on risk management with hedging and options (puts and calls) which was quite difficult to comprehend at first but it kind of came together in the end. I’m not sure if that’s something I’ll ever use in my day job but we’ll see. The professor really cared about us learning this stuff, and he was more interested in the class conversations and what we took out of them than what we could regurgitate in an exam. Oh and did I mention that my class was at 8.30am? We were always so few in the class but it was kinda cool though. 🙂

2. Operations Management: I like to think of myself as being fairly immune from star professor fever, but this was one case where I clearly caught the bug! Gad Allon is a professor like no other. His energy level in EVERY class is off the charts, his passion for the material is contagious, and he’s ALWAYS available to help out after class. I’ve emailed this guy by 11pm and gotten a response in 5 mins. Some classmates tell me that they’ve emailed him after midnight and still gotten really quick responses. I really don’t know how he does it. But for the Allon Effect, my operations class would’ve been average. I wasn’t really excited by the topics covered in operations management, but this guy took it to a whole new level. I would like to take one more class with him before leaving Kellogg. Not sure if I’ll get the chance though; his classes take up a lot of bid points.

3. Power in Organizations – Sources, Strategies and Skills: This is one class that I’m glad I got to take. The concepts are really common sense, but the value for me was that I learned some frameworks for thinking about how power works within organizations. Who really owns the power within an organization? Who is dependent on whom? What type of culture exists in the company? Which behavior is rewarded and which is punished? These were some of the questions we tried to answer. There was a fair amount of writing (which I like to avoid if possible), but overall the course was pretty good.

4. Research Methods in Marketing: This one was a mixed bag. First of all I didn’t find the material to be very interesting (hey it was research!). To make matters worse, we had a consulting project with a real client, and my team had some issues with our assigned mentor. Despite these challenges, I was lucky enough to have a really cool team and we were able to power through to the end of the course. I know it sounds cheesy, but my friends made the course worth it in the end.

5. Personal Leadership Insights: I saved the best for last! PLI was amazing, and by amazing I mean really really good! The course is really about spending some time thinking about your favorite topic in the world: you! I think I’m supposed to keep the details of the course secret, but let’s just say that in the midst of the business school craziness, it’s so refreshing to have the opportunity to spend time with 9 like-minded students exploring questions about what really matters in business and life. I really liked loved Professor Brooke, she’s so authentic and you can tell from her stories that she really practices what she preaches. Oh and yes, these 9 people become your friends because they get to know you on a very personal level. Scary, but totally worth it.

With the benefit of hindsight, I think I should have taken a maximum of 4 courses. 3.5 actually as PLI is a 0.5 credit course. In my mind, that option would have given me enough time to balance learning, extracurricular activities and networking. Which course should I have dropped? No clue. I will be running the 3.5 course experiment in the fall quarter, and will be sure to report my findings 🙂

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