Monday, January 23, 2006

Ye Gods, Grad School is hard

This has to be a short entry because it's already 11 and I have a 630 date at the gym in the AM.

I have officially survived my first week of grad school. I am exhausted. It was a 730 AM departure for school every day, arriving home after 11 every night with a big stack of reading still to do. I learned that Cranfield takes this "more work than you can possibly handle" thing seriously...as I believe I've mentioned, they assign us teams of six and then you work together to get all the reading and work done. They fully expect that you will not do everything yourself, and that you'll be learning to rely upon others to keep you updated with summaries. It is really hard to trust people you don't know to do work for you on something this major, and it is going to get worse...they anticipate that you will actually work on about half of what you get assessed on during the course of the programme. In fact, not only do we share all work amongst the people on our individual teams, we also have a major breakdown for course prep that spans all ten teams, so heavy is the workload of the programme.

How this works: for example, last Thursday we had six classes, each with about 30 - 80 pages of reading, plus problems or case studies to work out, etc., and we got out of class at 630 pm. Each team took one class and divided the work. We got Marketing. One person read the text book and typed up a summary of terms and concepts. Three of us deciphered the key points from the case study and broke it into talking points for discussion. We emailed these documents to the other 56 students in the programme, and they emailed us summaries of the other 5 subjects, which the remaining two members reviewed to be sure they understood, and then they explained it to the rest of us the next morning before we went to class. That was our prepwork.

I guess this is good prep for being senior management. They keep reminding us that they are training us to be MDs and to run huge divisions of major corporations...and these people are managers, not doers. They know how to get others to do their best, but they don't necessarily do all the data collection and writing themselves. So I guess we're learning the power of delegating, too.

The classes themselves are really interesting. I am enjoying the challenge, and I can't believe it but I'm enjoying studying, too. (Who would ever have imagined I had it in me?) This term I've got to learn statistics, microeconomics, managerial accounting (deciphering, not double-entry stuff), strategic marketing, and operations management, as well as study organizational behaviour. OB is actually not just about managing people, but it is a bunch of high-falutin' psychometry, as well. This week alone we've been discussing learning styles (I'm an activist, which means I learn by doing,) and we've taken Miers Briggs tests and analysed our results against those in our learning team for potential benefits/problems. (I'm an ENFP to the extreme, which means I babble, I prefer dealing with the big picture, I care about people, I change my mind a lot and can't stick with a plan to save my life, and I make my decisions on instinct, usually spontaneously. No surprises there.) I'm working with a bunch of ESTJs. Potentially problematic, since we approach all data and problem-solving differently...but we all need to talk about it ad nauseum to understand it.

My laptop battery is going, so I really should cut this off. (I'm in bed typing, and I left my plug-wire in the dining room/office downstairs.) I'll be back tomorrow with more.

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