So This Is What A CSUF MBA Course Is Like…

I just completed four weeks of class at CSUF, and would like to share some observations I’ve made about my first MBA courses.  I am taking two courses (since I’m working full-time and studying part-time), Seminar in Managerial Accounting and Seminar in Organizational Behavior and Administration.  The course material and MBA classes themselves are quite different, but I am enjoying each for numerous reasons.

I will admit, my feelings towards school were probably similar to those of others throughout high school and college.  I never particularly looked forward to a new school year or semester starting, and mainly viewed school as the next required stepping stone to the next stage of my life.  Do not get me wrong, I enjoy learning and attending school.  However, I was less a fan of writing papers and working on projects, so I was never excited about the prospect of working on those again when the new school year started.

This year has been quite different (so far).  I was genuinely excited about starting the CSUF MBA program, learning business topics and addressing issues from a manager’s perspective, and gaining business and personal insights from my classmates.  I have been working full-time for the last two years, and was excited for the opportunities and change of pace the CSUF MBA program would provide for me as well.

Now, back to the courses.  As I had mentioned previously, the two courses are significantly different from one another.  Managerial Accounting, taught by Dr. Vijay Karan, is what I would consider a typical college class.  We are expected to read each day’s chapters ahead of time, and Dr. Karan then discusses the topics – which we were expected to read – in class.  He does not lecture using slides, but instead is continuously writing on the whiteboard.  He demonstrates accounting and costing techniques, and we spend the majority of the course working practice problems.  Dr. Karan wants to ensure we understand the accounting processes covered in the course, and therefore demonstrates numerous problems during class (and sometimes it seems as if we are doing the same problems over and over).  But his hope is that we will learn the material better by doing problems, and that all the problems will help the processes sink into our brains.  I hope he is right, because I have a case study due Monday and need these concepts and techniques to start to click in order to do well on the work!

Organizational Behavior and Administration is taught by Dr. John (Jay) Barbuto, Jr.  His teaching philosophy revolves around activities and group discussions.  I find myself really enjoying his class, especially because the activities tend to involve me applying the concepts we learn to my employer and my professional situation.  For example, last week each student had to describe their company’s organizational culture, and specifically cover the three elements that make up organizational culture.  These include observable artifacts (physical objects in the office that illustrate a company’s culture, like a dress code), values (both those stated in the company’s mission statement, and those it actually carries out), and basic assumptions (unwritten rules that all employees are aware exist in their office).  I enjoyed putting into words many of the elements of culture I had observed at work, but had never consciously acknowledged or realized contributed to my organization’s culture.  This week we took several tests to determine our emotional intelligence, and discussed why this was important in the workplace.  (In case you are wondering, managers typically have to have high emotional intelligence because a lot of the issues they face are people-related and relationship-related).  I found out through this test that I have a low level of internal motivation, and I need to find ways to improve that characteristic.

The two courses do have one major similarity.  Both professors expect the students to have read the course material before coming to class, because they discuss those topics in the classroom.  In my undergraduate studies, I could normally ignore the reading that was assigned because the professor would typically cover the same material in their class lectures.  Graduate school in significantly different because the professors’ lectures build upon what the students should have already read.  So I have found myself feeling a little lost on occasion when I have not come to class properly prepared.  A word of advice for prospective graduate students – stay on top of your reading because that is often the foundation of your class lectures and activities.

This week, I would also like to debut something I hope to make a continuous part of my weekly posts.  I am constantly reading business articles and often discover many I find particularly insightful or useful.  I will start adding a few the end of my blog posts because I would like to share those articles I think might be entertaining or interesting for others to read:

This week’s articles:

How to Break Out of a Career Rut (Dave Logan, – I liked how short and concise this article was, and it made a career change sound so easy!  I have yet to try Mr. Logan’s techniques, but his advice seemed particularly appropriate in these challenging economic times.;drawer-container

Are Business Schools Creating Higher-Ambition Leaders? (Michael Beer, Harvard Business Review Blog Network) – Mr. Beer calls for an update to MBA programs’ curriculum, and I tend to agree with him after reading the article.  I am particularly intrigued by his call to business schools to teach students how to develop and implement business strategies that are grounded in their personal values.

Are You Training Yourself to Fail? (Peter Bregman, Harvard Business Review Blog Network) – I often find myself feeling frustrated at the end of long, unproductive days.  I identified with Mr. Bregman’s productivity issue in his article (especially staying up late watching internet videos), and want to implement some of my own rituals to keep myself productive and on task.


7 Responses to “So This Is What A CSUF MBA Course Is Like…”

  1. 1 Johnny Boa September 17, 2011 at 7:42 pm

    Very insightful reading! I am living (and preparing) the MBA experience vicariously through you. Thanks for the wonderful articles!!!

  2. 2 CamIam September 21, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    Agreed, very interesting readings! Keep the blog posts coming! I look forward to reading more! 😉

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