Well that’s it! I’ve finally finished my exams and (just about) all of my assignments for Term 2. I must say that this term, while different in a few ways from Term 1, was just as challenging. In particular, I noticed three aspects of Term 2 that made it a different experience than Term 1, and I would like to discuss those with you today!
First, the modules themselves felt different in their focus and level of difficulty. This could just be me, but I honestly felt that these modules were more challenging than those in Term 1. It wasn’t that Term 1 courses were easy, it’s that those of Term 2 took a much deeper look at the subjects and theories. The “Topics in Advanced Strategy”(TAS) was particularly challenging. The module took a much more theoretical approach to understanding strategy development and implementation, which required going beyond the practical use of strategy to exploring where it comes from and what it is. It was a very interesting module, and I would highly suggest that if you are in the Strategy and International Business program, you keep up on the readings each week! While this can be said for every module you take, I speak from experience when I say that cramming for TAS is not fun or easy 😉
The coursework was different in two aspects: 1) the focus on group work and 2) the use of case studies.
For me, Term 2 did not have nearly the amount of group work as Term 1. In Term 1, I believe I had six different group assignments throughout the term. In Term 2, I had just three. It’s important to note, however, that this is not a blanket statement for everyone. I know some of my friends in the same course who had between four and six group assignments during Term 2, so it really just depends on which modules you take. I believe my number of group assignments was lower because 1) I made a conscious decision to seek out modules with less group work as I knew this term would be very busy for me and 2) the optional modules that most interested me just happened to not have as much group work.
The primary reason I knew I would be busier in Term 2 was because I had taken on two additional roles. First, I had received a placement through Graduate Advantage (you can learn more about them here) to work with a local garage on some marketing activities. Second, I had applied to become a student-volunteer as a Reading Buddy at a local primary school (more on that and how it works in a future blog post!). As I’ve mentioned before, when it comes to managing your time and schedule, it’s important to know your limits and not be afraid to adjust your schedule accordingly. I knew that with these additional roles, plus other projects I was working on, committing to modules with a lot of group work wouldn’t be beneficial for me or my team members, so I found modules that had different focuses.
Term 2, in general, took a much more case study-based approach to teaching. The International Business Strategy module, in particular, required analysis of four different cases throughout the term, plus a case-based exam. I personally enjoyed this as I find it easier and more enjoyable to learn from actual examples and situations rather than theoretical concepts. However, if case study analysis is something you’ve never done or have found difficult, I would highly suggest reading The Case Study Handbook: How to Read, Discuss, and Write Persuasively About Cases by William Ellet. Our instructor in Management Consulting recommended the book to us. I purchased it a few weeks before exams and I can say with certainty that, on the exams and assignments that were based around cases, it taught me how to analyse and discuss the case much more effectively than I did before reading it.
Finally, I must say it was difficult at times during Term 2 to keep the same levels of motivation I had during Term 1. As everything was new and exciting during Term 1, I found it very easy to stay focused. During Term 2, however, there were times when it was challenging to keep high levels of motivation. I know many of my colleagues shared this same sentiment, and I think it is something you might encounter during your time here. So, if I have any advice for you, it would be to use your breaks as a time to relax and recharge. I know I wrote before about using them wisely, but after seeing how I operated during Term 2, I would suggest making sure you take PLENTY of time for yourself.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask!