When am I ever going to use this?

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I’m sure at one point or another this thought has crossed your mind: You’re sitting in a lecture, losing concentration and zoning out. Probably also resisting the urge to check your phone for the 15th time in five minutes, as you look over at the PowerPoint slide on the board and wonder what relevance it will have in the “real world.”

Throughout my undergraduate years there were several classes which, at the time didn’t really see much value in. But now, having graduated and working full time, my opinion has changed. I am starting to appreciate the lessons that I may have previously written off, actually offer great insight.

My current role as a retention analyst, involves analyzing the company’s customer base and helping to execute our retention strategy. Closely relating to marketing concepts like the 4P’s (Product, Price, Place, Promotion), STP (Segmenting, Targeting, Positioning), Michael Porter’s Five Forces Model and the Big Picture Framework have been beneficial.

In many cases, the work I’m doing now is almost a direct continuation of what I was learning in 4th year—albeit with real-world consequences.

market research graphic

In contrast, it’s unlikely that I’ll ever have to calculate the Weighted Cost of Capital (WACC), complete a pro forma income statement or find a Nash Equilibrium anytime soon. But does that mean that the many hours I spent learning Accounting, Finance, or Economics were wasted?

Of course not!

Having a background on a wide range of business topics has provided a solid foundation to be comfortable enough with various subject matter should a situation present itself. It’s also comforting to know that when I do need a bit of a refresher on a topic that I previously learned I can quickly re-read a lecture slide and gain the context I need.

relationships

If you’re wondering about the graphic above then there’s a good chance you haven’t taken Organization Design. If you’re curious, it is essentially a simplification of Thomas Kilman’s conflict management scale that  uses animals to depict varying levels of assertiveness and cooperativeness:

You have the Competing Shark, Collaborating Owl, Accommodating Bear, and Compromising Fox and Avoiding Turtle (me). Working on a team of 30+ people (10 of which are remote) and recognizing how others (myself included) handle conflict has made having difficult conversations easier, which I believe has made me a better team member.

This month’s call to action, I challenge our alumni to look back at their previous lecture notes, regardless of the subject, and notice just how useful the content can be even after graduating. I’m sure you’ll be just as pleasantly surprised as I was.

Matthew Smith
B.B.A., Class of 2018

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