Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The One Thing I *Did* Learn in Business School

I'm currently taking a class in systems architecture. For some reason that is not at all apparent to me (or most of my classmates) the professor has decided to teach this class with group work and group presentations.

Group work can be torture-it doesn't have to be, but it often is more work to have three people collaborate on a problem set than it is to do it individually. I admit I learned a lot more from my group work buddies in business school than I learned from the professors, but that does not mean it was always fun. Discussions were had at 11:30 at night. Tempers were lost. But even the most feckless of my MBA study-buddies knew how to give a presentation.

Now I'm swimming in a different ocean than I was before. My MSIT program is a good deal more relaxed than UMB's MBA program was. Professors have been known to put people in groups, give them a question and expect them to have an answer-in PowerPoint form in 30 minutes. Tonight the whole class met with their groups for the first time in 2 weeks and we all had about 15 minutes to decide on which of the problems we'd worked on tompresent to the whole class. As a result, the presentations given were less than stellar. Guys stood with their backs to the class and read PowerPoint slides. In shorts. In bored tones.

We never did anything so unrehearsed in business school-it might have killed a few of us (myself included) to have to do so. Presentations were obsessed over-we developed extra slides in case one of our classmates felt like playing "gotcha"-we rehearsed, we dressed.

And afterwards we always said "nice job guys" (because our presentations were amazing-really.) I found myself wondering if I should e-mail my current group of study buddies and say "good job guys" and ultimately I decided not to. I really do believe in saying thank you, but this was effortless (relatively speaking) and I thought it would be over the top to give out praise. More to the point? I'm afraid that some of them might think it pretentious of me.

Which brings me to my point of concern. Part of the reason I switched grad school tracks was because I wanted to be among people who cared more about what can actually be accomplished than what looks nice. I wanted to work with people who believe what you know is more important than how you're dressed. And here I am complaining about presentation skills.

On the other hand, I have learned (very INTJ that I am) how to present material as if I care. I don't like standing up in front of people and speaking but I can do it. I try do do it well partly because it's less boring for the rest of the class, and partly because i feel it's as imporant as turning it gramatically correct writing. Sometimes I feel like I brought the wrong skill set to the party.

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