My final semester in business school has come to a close.
I’ve spent a lot of time during my experience in undergrad wondering if I made the right choice, wondering why I chose to study business, wondering what kind of a difference I could have made if I had chosen to study something else, like law or public policy. Only recently have I begun to understand the power of understanding the root of all in modern society. Only recently have I begun to understand the tangential value of contributing in multiple ways to a community by means of having a steady job.
In some ways, I owe that to myself, in the research and reading I’ve done extracurricularly. But in many ways, I also owe it to the classes I took in my senior semester of business school.
I think groupthink is the enemy of progressive thought and the lifeblood which keeps modern business structures in place. In my experience in college, classes have been very similar — yes, there is some room for novel thought, but at the end of the day, you’re graded on the degree to which you were able to conform to a professor’s own line of thought. How does that encourage progressive, novel, disruptive thinking?
For a class with absolutely no course description in registration, Special Topics in Marketing (B2B Marketing & Sales) was one of the richest class experiences I have had at Northeastern University, despite the remote learning over Zoom. There were nine of us in the class, which made it as much an experience of learning from each other as it was learning from the professor and the slide decks. We frequently gave presentations on topics including disruptors in industries, our favorite company, and the best marketing campaigns we’ve seen—topics that promoted personality in presentations, that allowed us to each focus on our own area of interest while synthesizing it with what we’d been learning in class.
The real-world experience from guest lecturers solidified many of the concepts we talked about in class, reminding us that we’d always be able to work in our learnings somewhere or another, that there would always be chances to continue learning, growing, evolving.
Truthfully, when I look back on this semester, I struggle to identify the line separating learnings in this class from learnings from my part-time co-op. Over the past few months, I’ve gotten closer to the work on the website, diving into web and SEO strategies to market B2B software solutions (very closely related to the topics of this class). Throughout the semester, I found that I was able to take my learnings directly from class to my job (and vice versa!), referencing articles and case studies from class to make recommendations and drive projects. The distinctions between this class and co-op disappeared over time as I realized I was in the unique position of having each support the other.
I gained tangible skills, too. I practiced putting together effective, engaging, and concise slide decks with synthesized data the audience would care about — a skill I have been able to use at work — and through exposure was able to calm some of my anxiety around presenting. I learned an entirely new application — Sketch — to create web mockups for the Zemplee presentation at the end of the semester. I practiced asking questions at the end of classmates presentations, something I have always avoided and a skill I desperately need to strengthen.
In a nutshell, this class helped me to discover my strengths, even if they’re different than what people are expressly looking for. I’ve learned to lean heavily into them to deliver work that can consistently evolve into something I’m proud of.