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March 2011 Archives

My I-Core Experience

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Hi everyone, it's Eric again! In case you don't remember I'm a sophomore here at the Carlson School.  Today I'm going to tell you about the Immersion Core (or I-Core, for short) that every Carlson student will take. I-Core is a block of 4 fundamental classes: Finance, Marketing, Operations Management, and Strategic Management. I-Core is generally taken spring semester of your sophomore year (I am currently right in the middle of it!). It's a really important semester since the four classes of I-Core are considered a foundation for the rest of your time here at Carlson.

I-Core is taken with a cohort of fellow Carlson students. In other words, you will have all four classes of I-Core with the same group of students. For me, it's been a great way to meet people and really get to know them. When you're in a class with the same group of students two or three hours a day, five days a week, you're bound to make some good friends!

A lot of people wonder why the four classes of I-Core are taken as a block, which is a good question. Believe it or not, there are several good reasons why! The first is that there is a fair bit of crossover between the classes, reinforcing some of the critical concepts that are important to all four classes. The second reason is, as I mentioned earlier, the friendships and relationships you build with other students. The next reason relates to group work (which you'll have plenty of in I-Core!). You'll have to trust me on this one: scheduling a time to meet is a LOT easier when all the students in your group are on a very similar schedule. One final bonus of I-Core is that the teachers coordinate schedules with one another, so they can assure that you never have two I-Core-related tests in one day, which is very nice.

I've found I-Core has been helpful to me in quite a few ways. First, it has challenged me to focus even more than I already have been and make sure I am managing my time extremely well. It's certainly a challenging semester, but I've found that the challenging semesters are the ones you look back on most fondly. Next, it has given me the chance to meet many new people that I wouldn't have gotten the chance to meet otherwise. Many of the students I met earlier this semester are now really good friends of mine. I-Core also helped me decide which major was right for me. Having four important business classes in one semester really helps you to compare some different areas and narrow your focus on what you genuinely like and what you're good at. For me, that area was Finance.

All in all, I-Core is a challenging and fun experience where you get to explore the foundational areas of business, meet new friends, and learn a bit more about yourself.
In just a few short months I will be saying "arrivederci" to Minneapolis and "ciao" to Milan and Florence for two weeks! I can hardly wait to fulfill my study abroad requirement this spring. I will be taking a Brand Marketing class (with an emphasis on luxury brands!) here at Carlson starting right after spring break. Seven weeks later, the 30 of us in the class will be on our way to enjoy Italy for two weeks to wrap up the class!

While the thought of preparing to study abroad may seem daunting, Carlson actually makes it really easy. I just had my class orientation a couple weeks ago. There, I got to meet the 29 other students and professor I will be traveling with. We got a comprehensive overview of the trip-- where we'll be staying, what tourist attractions we're seeing (Michael Angelo's "David" is on the list-- yay!), and the lectures and classes we'll be attending. It felt really nice leaving that afternoon knowing how my trip will look, and it just made me that much more excited to go!

Prior to my orientation, each student had to complete an online orientation. This was just three short videos about general study abroad safety-- great reminders about what and how to pack, how to be a tourist in other countries, and where go to for more information both before and during the trip. It took me just about an hour to complete the online portion of orientation. It was a lot of good information in a short period of time that answered many of my questions (like, do I need any special vaccines before going to Italy?).

The International Programs Office is also really good about keeping us students informed and up to date with a checklist of things to complete before the trip. I got my passport renewed over the summer, and students staying for longer trips applied for visas. The International Programs Office took care of booking the flights and hotels for us, so the only portion of the trip I'm responsible for is my passport and suitcase-- a pretty nice way to travel if you ask me!

When I get back from Italy I will start work as a full-time intern at General Mills. I am very excited about this internship, and am glad that my study abroad experience allows me to both travel and work in the same summer!

I can't wait to go abroad-- I'm looking forward to sharing my experience with you when I return!



Spring Break!

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One of the nicest parts about spring semester during college is that there is that little thing we fondly refer to as spring break.  A week to go somewhere, do service work, rest, or even catch up on homework (as lame as that's true).  For me, my spring break encapsulates all of these elements.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the chance to have an early spring break where I got to travel on a bus with 35 high school students to St. Louis, Missouri with a group called Students Today, Leaders Forever.  If you haven't heard about them before, I suggest you look them up (here on their website or their facebook page ) because it was one of the greatest and most life changing experiences in my college career thus far.

The organization was started right here at the University of Minnesota by four freshmen Carlson School students. Pretty amazing right? Who ever said that young people couldn't change the world? Well the great story doesn't end there - after college the four students created a national nonprofit that has provided 120,000 hours of service to states across the country through their 257 Pay it Forward Tours.  The Pay it Forward Tours consist of service through volunteering throughout the day and leadership activities at night.  The tour particpants sleep on the floor at various organizations that provide free housing, there are few showers to be had, but the relationships and lessons learned are abundant.  Check out this video for more info! 

For the tour I went on, I had the opportunity to be a college leader.  To see the transformation that these students made from the first day to the last was a truly enlightening and amazing experience.  They became more aware of who they wanted to be, how to treat others with respect, and how to be a true leader.  So promise me, if you ever have the opportunity to go on a tour, go because you will be forever changed!

During my actual spring break period next week, I will be going to Las Vegas for a couple of days with my family and then working on homework for the rest of the week.  I am starting work on my honors thesis project so I will have a lot to do! It will also be a good time to rest up and kick it into high gear for the rest of the semester.  

I hope your spring breaks are/have been fruitful and relaxing as well!

It's my last semester before graduation and the end of my college career is in sight.  That also means that I am enrolled in my capstone class.  Each major in Carlson has a capstone class, which you normally take the last semester of your senior year.  This is a class that is meant to take everything you have learned so far and tie it all together, but it is more than just a typical class.

Most capstone classes are writing intensive, which means that there can be a lot of writing to do.  The benefit of this, though, is that you are learning how to write documents that you will actually be using in the workplace.  For my supply chain and operations management major, the capstone also spends time looking at the "big picture" theory and how we can directly apply that to different situations that a company is in.  We will read from a text book or academic journal and learn about the theory or technique, and then read a case-study about a company.  Our papers and class discussions are then often about how to use the theory or technique within that company.  This is great practice for things that we will be doing at our jobs after graduation.

Another nice aspect of the capstone is that our professor brings in many business leaders to talk with the class.  These are great opportunities to ask questions about working in a specific field, ways to advance your career, and get any other career advice.  We are not even half-way through the semester and have had two of these panels with more to come.  While the capstone classes might be some work, its a great way to finalize your college education and connect it to your career.