School is a product

Welcome back avid readers, and by avid readers I mean Brad's parents (you guys are the real MVPs!). I am a marketing major, which believe me is a shock to literally almost EVERYONE, and just the other day my friends said "We always pegged you as an HR gal". Anyway someone said to me pretty recently "School is a product" which got me thinking...

As students we are often at the hands of our institution, certain professors teach certain classes (it's unavoidable), some classes are offered once a year, others once every two years, and some offered multiple times a semester. Now start thinking about individual classes, the content, the reading, the course load, tests etc. How much of this is out of our control? most people would say "all of it". But if we're really thinking about it, our entire educational experience should be in our hands.

Why? Because just like buying food at the grocery store, we are paying for it. However, unlike buying food at the grocery store, school is so much more expensive. And so it shocks me every time I hear about a professor who doesn't care enough to provide what their students are asking, or believes that as a professor they don't have to take into consideration what we think. 

Aside from our own individual experiences with a product or service, we make assumptions about a product or service based upon the brand and other people's experience. So picture this: pretend you're a consumer looking to try some new ketchup and your friend just bought a new bottle of the original Heinz ketchup and your other friend just tried Heinz organic ketchup (this isn't product placement, I didn't get paid to say this) they're both the exact same price and come in the same quantities and so you're asking them what they think. Your friend who has tried the original kind says "well it's just okay, the taste is eh, the texture is eh, and the sugar content is a little high" and your friend who has just tried Heinz organic ketchup begins to rave "the texture is smooth, the salt content is low (but you can't tell!) it tastes AMAZING! and it's good for you". Now knowing what you know, which ketchup do you purchase?  

Obviously, you chose Heinz organic. If you didn't, go reread that paragraph until you make the right decision. Now considering that word of mouth can often sway a consumer, what is it that makes institutions and more specifically professors at an institution believe that once they have students registered that they are immune to us deciding to transfer? What is it that makes them believe that if we are unhappy we won't tell our friends? What is it that makes them think that word of mouth won't happen? This is when I really begin to wonder if those who work in marketing have thought this through at all. 

Now as a marketing student I know for a FACT that once a product is bought or a service is completed that is not the end of our story. We have to follow through, we have to address customer complaints, we have to address the fact that our product or service is not always excellent and we NEED to adjust. You don't need to be a marketing major to know this, just need to have a little bit of common sense. So like I said up top it really makes me wonder why professors and post-secondary institutions are afraid of the commentary, and why they are so afraid to adjust? Wouldn't you rather students spoke their minds, you changed what you needed to, and get amazing word of mouth? Wouldn't you rather students were genuinely happy to be in your university or class?

So this isn't a rant, this isn't me hating on the University of Lethbridge (believe me I love my school) I just wanted to take a marketing perspective on school and why we always need to be keeping our customers i.e. the students happy :) 

Till next time, 

Eleanor
A slightly disorganized, and clearly very passionate marketing major
 

FAMILY FUN FAIR!

You are invited!

The Family Fun Fair is a fundraising event for Special Olympics Lethbridge that intends not only to provide a fun day for families but also raise awareness for the organization.  The event will happen on Saturday, April 1st, 2017 and will run from 1 to 7 pm; it will take place at the University's Ballrooms and The Zoo in the Student Union's Building, free parking will be available (here's a map!). Entrance tickets can be purchased at the door and are $2 per person -age 4 and under get in free. 

The Family Fun Fair is designed to reach out to families, not only children, in order to promote the value of quality time spent with the ones you love and care about. Everyone is invited, food will be available for purchase in order for families to spend the whole day having fun! The Fair will have different carnival activities for kids ages 4 to 12. From face-painting and crafts to mini-golf, flying paper planes, and a photo booth! 

Both the food and the activities will run under a ticket system, these will be available to purchase once inside the area of the event. Food prices range from 2 to 5 dollars, depending on your preferences, and game-ticket "prices" range from 1 to 4 tickets per game, a dollar is equivalent to a ticket, but we also have deals in case you want to buy more tickets at a time and have more fun! 

Following is a list of activities available at the Family Fun Fair: 

  • Face-painting
  • Craft-station
  • PhotoBooth
  • Paper Planes
  • Ring toss
  • Bowling
  • Fishing
  • and more! 

How to Deal with an Obvious Power Imbalance in Conversation

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you have to make polite conversation involving a power imbalance? I bring this up because part of the Integrated Management Experience is networking. You get 1 bonus per cent for each legitimate networking event you attend in the semester outside of your IME obligations. This semester I’m getting the 2% max through participation in 2 events, a CPA bowl-a-rama and the PC leadership convention which will take place later in March. The bowling was more intimidating and it was actually because I met a future professor I’ll have there. It didn’t help that I ended up in the gutter more than rain water on a well designed street.

I didn’t expect to end up bowling with the professor I’ll be taking 2 of the hardest classes in my degree with. I hope you can appreciate why I’m more jittery socialising with my future professor than I am a possible future Premier of Alberta. Is that silly? Nope. I don’t need the approval of the Premier of Alberta become a CPA. Political leaders have many indirect impacts on your life and goals but the person who will teach you your trade has a direct impact on your life. A good impression makes it easier to ask for help and that’s a pass/fail situation in my books. If this was a potential future employer it’d be a lot easier to get the job with a good first impression. So we start chatting and the professor legitimately seems to be a great guy. Relaxed, friendly, open and honest. We chat about family, sports, hobbies and the only thing I have to be embarrassed about is my score of 33 after 9 frames. Pretty good so far! Then the power imbalance drops like a hammer when we inevitably end up chatting about the classes I’ll be taking with him.

  • The courses are hard and the marks reflect that

  • Accounting isn’t easy, if you struggle with comprehension, you’ll fail

  • You choose your effort, that effort determines how successful you are

Objectively he’s absolutely right. There’s nothing rude or untrue in what he’s saying and as a student majoring in accounting I hear it at the start of every intermediate and advanced level class. But when I’m surrounded by 30 other people I can get away with staring blankly and nodding. That’s how low the bar is for nailing it. In a casual, informal setting though there’s more pressure and you’ll feel it (especially if you already suck at bowling!) So how would you respond? You have more to lose than they do. This is the time to make a personal judgement about the person you’re talking too. I felt this professor had high expectations and pride in their field. So I made a judgement call that what they’d respond well too is an acceptance of the challenge they raised.

  • Fair point but a good mark in a hard course feels pretty good when you put the work in

  • Challenge is how people grow, I want to be ready for when I graduate

  • The difference between success and failure is often knowing when to ask for help

How you respond is who you become. I felt awkward at the time but I felt pretty good the next time we bumped into each other. First name basis and friendly teasing, I must have made a good impression. When there is a genuine power-imbalance you can’t reverse it with a clever retort. There’s a reason why nobody wants to work with people like Dr. House. The point of networking events is to make an impression by demonstrating you can navigate them with good judgement. If you have less power you make an impression by showing ambition, independent thinking and respect. If you have more power you make an impression by being honest, compassionate and receptive. Learn how to navigate power imbalances, in IME you get graded on it.

Your Friend,

Warren Mitchell

Group Work

Welcome back avid readers, this week on Eleanor's blog we talk about group work and team members. Now I'm sure many of you are management students or you're friends with a management student, otherwise I'm not quite sure how you ended up on this blog... but welcome anyway, we're happy to have you! 

I have been doing this "university thing" for three years, two of these have been in management in a primarily group based setting. In my first year I was in arts and sciences classes and we generally completed course work by taking tests and writing papers, this is all work done by yourself. However, since joining the Faculty of Management I have worked in more groups than I ever thought I would. This semester alone I am working in 6 different groups and this is hard: the combination of different personalities, schedules, commitment, and levels of knowledge all contribute to a unique group dynamic in every single class, and believe me...not all of them are good.

Generally speaking when you hear group work or team work the first thoughts come to mind are a division of duties and responsibilities. However this is not always the case, sometimes we end up in groups where members are willing to ride on the success of others. I've also been assigned projects that are so huge that a professor decides it must be a group project, but they really should be individual projects. Individual projects are something that I personally wish we had more of an opportunity to do, so that more of my grades relied more on me, and less on others.

This semester I struggled A LOT with some of my group members, the lack of timeliness, the lack of commitment, the lack of completed work, the over-the-top opinions and general argumentative nature meant that I struggled to make it through group meetings with my sanity, and it was in great part related to my anxiety and stress levels (see "Take it Easy"). I'm a generally passive person and so I struggled a lot with confronting these issues, to the point where I just bottled it up and struggled on my own with my frustration.

But there is a silver lining, in these groups that I struggled in, there were group members who were supportive and caring, who came on time with their work done, and these group members were my saving grace. Just a quick shout out to these guys: YOU'RE MY ROCKS! 

I think a lot of the time we get into our own heads when it comes to group work, we shoulder the burdens of group members that we feel aren't pulling their weight or whose opinions continue to clash with yours. But we can do things: we can talk to our group members and I actually just attended a Professional Development Conference with the IME group that gave us the tools to do so (Shout out to the guys who taught us the B.E.E.F model). We can let our group members know how their actions effect us, we can set requirements, and deadlines and ask for change. Surprisingly enough, our group members are often unaware of the way they are making you feel, of the fact that in your opinion they aren't doing enough work and they want to fix it and help you out. 

Once we graduate regardless of our field or what we took in university, our jobs will involve group work in some sort of capacity, it will involve cooperation, it will involve difficult conversations and situations which none of us want to be in. Thankfully, I am an "old pro" at this and I've practiced dealing with these difficult situations, and managing this difficult conversations and it is a skill that I will take with me into my career.

Attitude is a choice: you can choose to be unhappy with the situation or you can take it with a grain of salt and make the best of a bad situation. Apply this to group work.

Till next time,

Eleanor
the super stressed, disorganized, passionate, marketing major   

 

 

FUN-draising

Welcome back avid readers! I promise this blog will not be somber, in fact it will be quite the opposite! We have officially decided on our charity event: "Family Fun Fair" from Team AIBA, if you didn't catch their pitch on the facebook page, go check it out! 

Firstly, congratulations! This team came in extremely prepared, with sponsorship's lined up, surveys from parents in the area, and a passion for fun! It is no wonder that they won! 

The concept is to have a collection of games and activities in the SU ballrooms, with food, drinks and a 50/50 raffle. I'm talking: virtual reality, mini golf, and an obstacle course... it's going to be sick. (You should come... and also bring your friends). If you want more information, clink the link in the menu! There's lots more information there. 

We have a month and a half before the event takes place, but believe me, we have already jumped in head first and begun preparations for it. (I'm on the marketing team so firstly I'm super pumped and also expect to hear lots more from me). Talk about a real life application for my degree (I'm a marketing major). This is also a plug for you to join IME! 

So to recap, we're planning a super fun, family oriented event, for a good cause (Special Olympics), and also we're practicing all of those super useful management skills that we pay thousands of dollars a year for, again another plug for you to join IME.  If you're interested in the event or in joining IME click the links in the menu! 

Anyway, ta-ta for now! 

Eleanor
A super cool, super fun, super organized marketing major

Take it Easy

Welcome back avid readers, unfortunately this semester started with a run...hence why you haven't heard from us in AGES! But FEAR NOT! Your favourite blog extraordinaire is back at it again, and I'm going to get very candid. 

If you haven't seen them already, please go and vote for your favourite charity fundraiser presentation (they're on our facebook page). The presentation with the most votes gets a vote added in our total tally in class. There are some really good ones! Now I could tell you about how fun planning a fundraiser is, or how excited I am to raise money for Special Olympics, but I think it would defeat the purpose of this blog. Sometimes I feel as though I am not honest and real and open with you, and so I would like to take this opportunity to talk a little bit about the struggles that I and many other students also have. 

When I was in grade 12 I developed an anxiety/stress thing. It started small but in high pressure situations I wouldn't be able to stop crying, or I couldn't stop squeezing my hand, jiggling my leg or control my breathing. It eventually got to the point where I was having chest pains that would stop me from doing anything for anywhere between 2-10 minutes. If I am being honest, it was scary. I felt as though I couldn't control myself which was terrifying.

Then I moved here to the U of L and I didn't have this problem anymore, the new people, the new school, the new home did me good and I didn't have chest pains, anxiety attacks or nervous ticks. I was over it, I was a brand new person, I was free from it all! 

Recently, something in my personal life triggered it again and I found myself back in the hands of anxiety and stress. Scared to go to school, scared to attempt homework, scared to do anything that wasn't familiar. I saw my nervous ticks happening in class, I saw my old habits taking root and I was terrified of having to deal with this all again. Terrified that I was going to get chest pains, terrified that I wouldn't be able to stop crying or get out of bed.

Students are high risk for this, the pressure to succeed, the pressure to do well, the pressure to be perfect all the time, even when we know we can't, all contributes. I know that I struggle so much each and every day to make sure that all of my commitments are completed, that I have everything ready, that I am not a failure, that it is so easy for me to succumb to myself and my self doubt.

Today I took a mental health day: I made multiple cups of tea, sat in my bed, turned on Netflix and reached out to my friends for support. I did not do schoolwork, I did not prepare for tomorrow, I took some time for myself. Professors often forget, but we as students have a responsibility to remember that we are not machines, that we are not perfect and sometimes we have to let things go in order to succeed. If you know someone that struggles like I do, please reach out and support them, because everyone needs someone. Show them this blog as a small reminder!

Take it easy, till next time 

Eleanor
A slightly disorganized, very passionate marketing major

 

How to Lose

Welcome back readers, this for me was a hard piece to write so please bear with me. As I'm sure you remember, we (as a class) competed in an internal case competition at the beginning of the semester. It was eye opening and a wonderful learning experience for all of us, and I know our entire class tried their best. My group (known as Oxford Comma Consulting) won the internal competition. It was an unexpected surprise, as we believed that we were the least experienced/qualified students to be handed a National Case Competition.

The ICBC case was completely different from the "Macphie" case. In the internal competition there was an obvious problem and the paper had unlimited length and a different format. However in the ICBC case it was the complete opposite and my group not only struggled to find a solution/opportunity to fix/take advantage of but also had an issue with the composition of the paper. The expectations were completely different and where previously we had written 28 pages explaining in great detail our proposition, we were allowed less than half of that for ICBC.

We worked so incredibly hard on this project putting in over 27 hours together, not including the work we researched and completed separately. Some days we would schedule meetings from right after we finished class until the library closed and would meet again the next day to do it all again. This was all in addition to our regular classes, homework, and extra-curriculars and I know for myself personally I let things slide, such as quizzes, assignments and readings for other classes and I know that my group members also struggled with balancing this case. To say that we did not give this case everything we had would be a complete and utter lie, and I justified the lack of time dedicated to other classes and loss of grades by telling myself that we had prepared a case good enough to take us to Queens.

However this is not a happy ending. We waited to hear back from ICBC and on November 18th a video was posted online announcing the finalists. The University of Lethbridge was not one of them. I was okay at first, but then the loss began to sink in. I cried, and I am not ashamed of it. I cried because I lost grades in other classes, because I was no longer going to get the opportunity of a lifetime to compete nationally, because I was underqualified and handed a case that I was ill-prepared for, and because I stressed and worried about something that eventually turned into an inconsequential blip that had consequences in other classes. 

Then I realized that this was the way that life is, that hard work is not always rewarded, time and effort do not always lead to the best proposal, and sacrifices in other areas of our lives do not always lead to a winning outcome. In our lives we will feel disappointment: that someone got the job over us, that a company didn't choose our proposal, or that the campaign we presented just wasn't up to snuff. This is the real world, this is the management world and this is something I am glad that IME has taught me. Yes it isn't an easy lesson, yes it isn't even a pleasant lesson, but it is a lesson that has to be learnt. 

Till next time, 

Eleanor
a slightly disorganized, very passionate marketing major      

The Special Olympics Case

Welcome back avid readers, I know we left you high and dry for a couple of weeks but we're back with some more enthralling tales of IME. 

As a part of IME we get to work with a local charity, and this year we have been given the privilege of working with the Special Olympics. Special Olympics, if you weren't aware, is a National Organization with delegates in different cities. This organization uses sporting events to promote a healthy and active lifestyle, and improve the well-being of those with intellectual disabilities. Part 1 of working with the Special Olympics allows us to be given an inside look into their organization and solve an internal issue, or take advantage of an opportunity that they may have available. Part 2 involves planning a charity event and raising money for them (more on that in January). 

On October 17th, three members of the Special Olympics Lethbridge executive board came and presented their situation to us. Our class fell wholeheartedly into providing the best solution possible for them. Our hearts went out to these dedicated and hardworking volunteers who are providing an amazing experience for special needs athletes in Lethbridge, as well as in neighboring cities and towns. 

This is privy information so I will keep the nitty gritty to myself, but what I will say is that these volunteers deserve more thanks and gratitude than what they receive. They deserve the very best that 21 "intelligent" students have to offer and we are more than happy to give at least that to them.

Giving back to the community is an integral part of my value set, and so the opportunity to help a local charity as a part of the curriculum in IME seemed like an opportunity too good to pass up. I am personally beyond thrilled to be able to make a difference in not only the volunteers lives, but the organization, and the athletes involved with Special Olympics.

This is an incredible opportunity for us and I would like to extend thanks to the Special Olympics Lethbridge on behalf of myself and my fellow students. We are eager to make a difference.

Until next time, 

Eleanor Knight
a slightly more organized, very passionate marketing major 

4 Tips for Studying Ease

Welcome back avid readers: 

We're at that time of year again...MIDTERM SEASON!!! and as we all know midterm season usually involves a minimum of two midterms in every single one of our classes, and runs from the end of September to the very last day of classes. Man do I love university. 

Now granted I knew what I was signing up for when I signed up for IME, but it is A LOT of work and it's pretty time consuming. Yet somehow I manage, and so this week instead of my usual spiel, I thought I'd give you a "buzzfeed-esque" article on my personal tips to balancing school, work, and non-for-profit volunteering.

1. Use a planner!
This one is KEY! I literally could not do all that I do if I did not use my planner. Recently as all my work loads have increased I have taken to scheduling myself constantly, even my naps! If you schedule everything including time for yourself, homework, sleeping, etc. you can hold yourself accountable. 

2.  Prioritize
When you have as much going on as I do, it is important to decide what comes first and what comes second, third, etc. etc. Decide which assignments,  tests, and classes are most important and structure your life around them. If you have a test worth 5% it's okay to study harder for the test that is worth 50%. I mean don't get me wrong, you should study for all your tests, but it's okay to divide your time unequally.

3. Let some things slide
If you screw up, don't feel guilty. As the old saying goes "there is no use crying over spilt milk" and it's completely true. Most professors do not issue make up tests, nor will they let you redo an assignment if you get a crap grade. If you spend your time trying to convince a professor, or worrying about your grade you can't focus on the present and you're more likely to let other things slide as well. 

4. Leave some time for yourself
As much as school can take over your life (believe me I know) you shouldn't let it. School is school. You HAVE to balance the stress with something that helps you relax, something that gives you piece of mind. If you don't... I mean I'm not going to say that you're going to implode but I'm not, not saying that either. 

I am not the be all and end all of studying advice, but this is what works for me. This is how I manage to make it through my insanely busy life. And believe me when I say.. if it wasn't worth it, I wouldn't do it OR preach it! Good luck with studying, and I'll see you on the other side... a.k.a in a couple weeks from now. 

Sincerely

Eleanor
a slightly more organized, and very passionate marketing major   

 

 

5 Videos which Poke Fun at the Subjects you're Studying

Have midterms ever drained the joy from your life? You head off to university and you connect with old friends, make new ones and then all of sudden midterms hit you like like a clown car at light-speed. Well, just like 50 clowns packed in a Volkswagen on their way to a gig, IME students know how to have fun and get results while under pressure. Here are some videos primed for a chuckle at the subject areas you've frantically crammed for! Just remember, the whole point of going to university is to make sure you don't end up like the creative accountants and anti-vaxxers on display below!

Introduction to Political Science "American News Coverage" CBC's This Hour has 22 Minutes

Marketing 101 "Wait: Is This Video BRANDED?!" - collegehumor.com

Business Management "Creative Accountants" - Certified Management Accountants of Canada (old organization)

Information Technology "Portable 2 Compared to This Fish" - Compaq (old organization)

Intermediate Biology "If Anti-Vaccine Parents Rode The Magic School Bus" - collegehumor.com

I hope you had a few laughs, but you seriously need to get back to work. If you take IME you'll quickly learn how to do both! 

Your friend,

Warren Mitchell

P.S. VOTE GORGON 2016 - "Choose the Greater Evil"