School and Exams

In this post, I’d like to focus on the academic sphere of my life in London. My course is officially called “Information Management for Business”, however, me and my course-mates all agreed that the name itself is rather confusing and when someone asks about it, we automatically go on explaining that it’s essentially a combination of IT and Management. If we’d like to go into detail, we may add that both IT and management are usually closely interconnected in the real world and since the IT professionals often don’t want to deal with the business side and vice versa, me and my course-mates will have enough competence to understand both worlds (and perhaps focus on one of them in later years of our studies) and also know the basics of marketing and business intelligence.

I thoroughly enjoy the practical focus of my course – we learn all the theory to be able to use it practically as soon as possible. The main focus is on groupwork, group projects and presentations which naturally brings many issues typically connected to teamwork and collaboration. Here are some of my experiences from my first year at UCL:

1) Group meetings and their coordination – It is possible that you have to work on 8 different group assignments simultaneously, each of them with different group of people. It’s therefore good to agree on regular meetings to avoid high absenteeism of group members. Working on all group assignments sometimes made me feel like a secondary school teacher receiving all kinds of excuses – some of my teammates couldn’t make the meetings because of the following reasons: lunch at her mother’s friend’s, a fever and a headache (both got instantly better after suggesting doing the meeting online through Skype, the person came to the library within another half an hour), a sick girlfriend, a sick dog, noting an incorrect time of the meeting into their calendar, they forgot, a delayed train and then a conclusion that it’s not worth coming anymore. 

2) Team roles – it’s relatively important to define the division of work and expectations with all team members. Not everyone has the same ambitions and vision for quality of the final product. This is often a common problem especially in randomly assigned groups. It’s possible to you see a team member for the first time on the last meeting before submission and the whole team is surprised that the person is even on the same course, not mentioning that they were officially in the group for the entire semester.  

3) Communication – When there is a problem to discuss, it’s usually better for the whole team to be involved in the discussion. It’s important to be open to feedback and don’t give up the work even when all team members agree that they have no idea what they are supposed to be doing and the only thing they would enjoy doing at the moment is to go for a coffee. 

Despite all the group assignments – and maybe also because of them – the whole class is very close, and I can say that I’ve talked at least once with almost everyone from the 125 coursemates. We were especially close during the exam season when we helped each other and shared a lot of study materials as a group. Becasue UCL has had some troubles with exam venues in the past, they rented an exhibition centre in East London where each of the halls had a capacity of 3500 students from various courses. Therefore, even every two-hour-long journey on the public transport was in the end a nice teambuilding field trip. 

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