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A Novelist, Done With Business School: Kinda

A Novelist, Done With Business School: Kinda

“A Novelist In Business School” is, make that was, a series about putting my literary arts brain through formal management training.

And just like that, it’s over. Kinda. Always “kinda”.

A couple of weeks ago I took my last final. Instead of taking it from home, with the super-creepy remote proctoring service, I opted to go onto campus, like a real student, and take it in a classroom. This was probably a good choice.

Even though I’m getting business degree my last class was a programming class. I opted to take all tech-based electives to get a “Graduate Certificate in Information Systems;” effectively a degree add-on that says I’m good with computers and whatnot. So my last class was a Java programming class aimed at business students who have never written code before. Given that I’ve been a professional programmer for well over a decade it was somewhat below my level. In other words, I’ve been seriously bored.

But back to the final. I finished the midterm in about thirty-five minutes and I was determined to beat my own record on the final. Ten multiple choice questions, four coding questions, one coding extra credit question. I was shooting for a clean half-hour.

Except the coding questions were more complex; which, yeah, I should have expected that. Still, I was finishing them at a rate of roughly one every ten minutes. I had submitted my code for the four “regular” questions and had started into the extra credit question. It was more nuanced and required some sophistication; I was enjoying myself. I was going to finish the class with a higher-than-one-hundred-percent grade.

And then my laptop crashed.

My code editor stopped responding. The test software runs in a browser, and my browser crashed. The software was apparently designed to submit whatever you had in the window when it closed, because when I re-started my computer and signed back in it reported that I had successfully submitted the final exam. My extra credit code had disappeared in the crash. I stared at my laptop for a few moments. I could fix this. I could ask the professor if I could just send him the code in an email. I could still get those extra points.

Except…why? The difference, in the grand scheme of things, is exactly nothing. Instead of getting an A in the class, I would end up getting an A in the class. As far as my transcript is concerned there is no difference whatsoever between 99.8% and 101.8%. (Or whatever the numbers would be.) So I just gathered up my stuff, smiled politely at the professor as I walked out, and sat down in the foyer to put my backpack together. This had taken fifty-eight minutes. I was still the first one done.

But somehow it didn’t feel real, it still doesn’t. Finishing my last final was supposed to be a moment of ultimate triumph. Instead it was a weird stumble and moment of humbling realization.

But still, classwork is done, which means I’m done! I graduated! Except…not really. I’ve already “walked”, commencement ceremony was held before this last semester. And while I’m not particularly concerned that I won’t pass my final two classes, the teachers haven’t submitted the grades yet, which means that my graduation hasn’t been processed yet, which means I’m only kinda done.

I hear Zeno laughing at me still.

A Novelist in Business School: Zeno’s Paradox and Graduation

A Novelist in Business School: Zeno’s Paradox and Graduation

“A Novelist In Business School” is a series about putting my literary arts brain through formal management training.

Zeno’s Paradox (more specifically, Zeno’s Dichotomy Paradox)states that to cover any distance, you must first cover half that distance, then half of the remaining distance, then half of that distance… and so forth, the end result being that you can’t ever actually arrive anywhere.

Of course this is silly. We’ve all set to to get somewhere and arrived there. But right now it feels like Zeno might have been right. Even though objectively the time between me and graduation must be reduced every day by exactly one day, subjectively it doesn’t feel that way at all.

At halfway through my program I remember thinking “I’m halfway through! That was hard but it’s over now! I can do another half!”

Now I’m halfway through my last class. Objectively I have five weeks left. Subjectively I will never ever be done with school ever. The five weeks ahead of me feel just as long as an entire year felt eleven months ago.

A Novelist in Business School: How to Teach

A Novelist in Business School: How to Teach

“A Novelist In Business School” is a series about putting my literary arts brain through formal management training. This article was originally published on my write. as blog and is republished here with permission from the original author. Which is me. I gave myself permission. I’m very strict about things like this.

I’m in the final week of my last accounting class ever. I’m pleased with this. In two weeks I will have mostly forgotten everything I’ve ever known about managerial accounting. I’m less happy about that, but that’s the nature of the game. At least I have my notes.

But here’s what I’m not going to forget:

My professor in this class is an excellent teacher. I’ve been thinking about his teaching style all session, trying to identify the things that make his style so impressive, and here are some things I’ve identified.

Passion

He loves this topic, and that enthusiasm comes through in his teaching.
One of the most common phrases in his lectures is “now this is interesting…” and you know what? He’s right! When he points out something that interests him I get interested. I start thinking about how full absorption moves costs compared to variable costing. He is telling stories using numbers.

On the other side of the coin, he’s fully aware that there are people in his class who don’t love variance analysis on static budgets vs. actuals. So he works to “motivate” us (his word) to want to learn the topics with stories, concrete examples, and, when the situation demands, MegaBlocks to demonstrate how costs move through a system. It works. I don’t love cost accounting, but I understand it far better than anyone would have any right to expect.

Compassion

Our professor knows what it’s like to be a student in his class. He knows this because he listens to feedback. He monitors his emails and answers incredibly quickly. He has moved deadlines, changed assignments, and given extra tutoring sessions because people asked for help. He listened and worked to do what is best for the person asking, and the class in general. He treats us with respect, and it’s effortless to respond in kind.

Reflection

I’ve never had a professor in any of my classes who is so open about how much he’s learning. Our professor asks for feedback and asks to follow up questions about the input. He tells us what he’s trying to do and why he thinks it is the right choice, then asks for our opinions.

Which isn’t to say he’s a pushover. I spent three hours studying for Part I of a four-part take-home final last night. I expect to spend another three hours for part II tonight. The class is hard. But no matter how hard it is I know it’s fair. I know that my professor has thought through what he’s asking of us.

I’m never going to be a college professor. (Probably.) But there will always be opportunities to teach others, and when they come up, I hope I can be as dedicated and competent in my teaching as this professor is in his.