The Benefits of Groups

One of the biggest concerns I had about the MAcc program was the emphasis on group work. Like most people, I’ve dealt with more than my fair share of poor academic groups. I’m in five classes this seven-week period, and each class has a group. Even though it’s early in the year, my groups are already meeting often. It’s not avoidable; you’ll work in groups.

The difference from undergrad is that I enjoy these groups. Yes, really!

gerlach hall
The graduate student lounge on the second floor of Gerlach Hall is a place where you can meet with your group.

In graduate school, throw away your preconceived notions about teams. Working with others is a great experience.

Here are a few things that make group work great in the MAcc:

  • Motivated students: There are no slackers here. Everyone made the choice to attend graduate school (no one is here “just to be here”) and is intelligent. People want to excel. In my groups, everyone pulls his or her weight, and we produce better results because of that.
  • Real world prep: Unlike many of my classmates, I had a year of work experience before entering the MAcc. I can attest: the professional world involves group work everyday. Working with teams in graduate school is a great way to prepare for the rest of your career.
  • Different perspectives: My groups are a mixture of students from different universities, countries and undergraduate degrees. This means for every case or project we discuss, a variety of viewpoints are presented. How I look at a case won’t be the same as how someone with an economics degree analyzes it. A variety of backgrounds also allows us to maximize each member’s strengths. As a journalism undergrad, I take the lead when it comes to producing written work, while some of my teammates who are stronger with raw calculations help me with the numbers. Working with students from different backgrounds also exposes me to different personalities and cultures; it’s important to learn how to get along and respect as many people as possible to prepare for career success, where more than a grade depends on successful team projects.
  • Get to know classmates: If you can believe it, not every second spent in a team room is spent working on the case at hand. There’s idle chatter and off-topic conversation–and I get to know my classmates as people. I look forward to working with my groups because they aren’t a forced administrative burden; they’re groups filled with people I know and respect.

I’ve enjoyed my experiences working in groups thus far in the MAcc and look forward to more successful meetings, case studies and projects over the next eight months.

The Fisher MLHR Buddy System

I never really liked the buddy system as a little kid. Teachers would always tell us we had to be “responsible” for whoever we were assigned to for the day (usually on a field trip or some kind of outing away from school).  I always thought that everyone should be responsible for themselves and if the teacher couldn’t keep track of the students, well then someone would get left behind. However, my attitude has since changed after becoming a graduate student. As Professor Bendapudi says, “I won’t leave anyone behind.” It seems we all need someone to be somewhat “responsible” for us every once in awhile and vice versa …

At the beginning of school,  us first years had the option of getting assigned a “second-year buddy” in GHRA, who would help you get acclimated to life as a Fisher graduate student (this is all encompassing, I know.. it is a big job). I thought “Oh the heck. It may be nice to get to know a 2nd year, even if we just meet once.” Coincidentally, I met my buddy (before we knew we were buddies) through the 2nd year social chair. He seemed nice enough and we seemed to have a lot in common.

Academically, my buddy has been FANTASTIC. He’s helped me study for Stats, which is my major weakness, by explaining the general concepts whenever I don’t really get what is going on in that class. He’s also helped me navigate Professor Heneman’s class by telling me not to freak out about his exams and “just study the main ideas.”

Socially, my buddy has been incredibly helpful. (Yes, he has introduced me to the Park Street bar scene, all in good fun, of course). Aside from being a fun bar-hopping buddy, he’s been really helpful introducing me to other second years, which makes my network increase.

It’s bittersweet that he will be graduating after Winter Quarter (of this year) although he swears he’ll answer his phone when I call in a panic about  2nd year classes. (It has been documented that I warned him he’ll probably want to change his number starting in the fall). However, in just a few short months I feel like I’ve made a friendship that will last far after school is over for both of us.