Business (MBA) Pre-Grad Intern Jessica Wang

Jessica WangI am an undergraduate in the College of Communications. I will be graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in the field of Corporate Communications in May of 2007. After much consideration, I chose Nicole Laster to be my graduate mentor. I decided to enroll in this course because I really didn't know if I wanted to attend graduate school, and more so, what field I would want to explore if I did decide to go.

The main focus of my internship was the preparation for graduate school - the application process, along with investigating the life of a graduate student. Since I'm in the College of Communications already, I felt as if I needed to expose myself to a different field in order to make a more informed decision based on better comparisons - therefore I chose the McCombs School of Business as another area of interest.

At the beginning of the semester, Nicole and I sat down to discuss my goals of this internship - what I wanted to get from it, how I wanted to pursue it, and mainly what my interests were. She tailored my tasks in a way that was beneficial for me. I think that's the most important part of finding a good mentor - they need to be a good guide. We decided on a basic contract. It was mainly divided into three sections: the application process, the graduate experience, and the promising graduate work.

Since I wanted to explore the business programs as well, my application process consisted of me researching four different MBA programs and two different communication programs. I had to turn in a summary sheet with the demographics of the university along with which programs and professors that I would be interested in working with. What was most surprising about this part was that I didn't know there were so many different kinds of programs within the MBA program - the possibilities are endless. The same goes for the communication programs. Afterwards, I presented to her my information and discussed my research with her. It reminded me of when I was applying for undergraduate admission all over again. Some of the questions I had to answer were how likely I would to pursue graduate school, why did I rank the schools the way I did, and some general thoughts about researching graduate schools. I think this part of the course was the most time consuming - especially since I wasn't too familiar with all the different types of programs. It required a lot of effort on my part to sit down and pinpoint six universities that I might be interested in attending.

The graduate experience part of the course required me to attend two graduate seminars, conduct interviews with two graduate students, attend one guest lecture, and assist in a full research project with a graduate student. This was the most beneficial part in the "big picture" sense. I attended a graduate seminar in the communications school and also one in the business school. The communications school seminar lasted three hours and was very intense. The business school seminar last for an hour and a half and was structured very much like an undergraduate course. The only thing different that I noticed were that graduate students like to voice their opinions and what they know. They seem to fight for time to speak during class - very different to what undergraduate students would be like. It was interesting to be able to sit in an actual lecture and feel as if I were a part of the class. Also, I interviewed three graduate students, one MA student and one PhD student (both in the college of communications) and an MBA student. I asked them questions about what their course load was like, how they managed to balance their time, how they financed their education, and many other questions that I developed based on what I felt like I need to know to make an informed decision.

They provided me with great answers that helped me learn what graduate school was really like. The guest lecture I attended was a little strange. For some reason, I felt really lost. Although I was not in the know about the topic, I was sitting in admiration of all the scholars who were in the room as well. They seem to be so educated and well-rounded; I really look up to them. There really is a different vibe between graduate and undergraduate students. Undergraduate students can't wait to get out of class; whereas graduate students can't wait to learn more. For the last stages of this course, I assisted Nicole for my full research project task. She has been gathering data for her dissertation about wide ranges of change within corporations. She taught be about the difference of qualitative and quantitative research. I learned how to transcribe interviews and am currently working on producing a survey online for her to send to her prospects.

I have found this course to be very beneficial to me in the long run. It has taught how to determine which programs I might be interested in and how to request for information regarding specific concentrations. I don't think I will be pursuing graduate school any time soon. Through this process, I learned that I am specifically interested in MBA programs. It has been something I've always been interested in; and after sitting through some classes and interviewing an actual graduate student in the business school, I have become even more interested. Since most MBA programs suggest that you get a couple years of experience in the corporate world, I think I will do just that and apply when I feel that the time is right. Also, this course has put me ahead of others who will be contemplating graduate school. I already have most of my research done and already have a gist of what programs I will be interested in and some of the names of the professors in each field. All that's left is the actual application and getting accepted.

I learned through the interviews that the communications graduate program required a lot of research and writing as opposed to team work and analysis for the MBA program. This is another reason why I plan on choosing to get my MBA. I have never been a strong writer and my life goal isn't really focused on teaching. I think I will do better in an environment where team work is the central focus. Also, writing dissertations require a lot of time for the actual research and data gathering. After transcribing all the interviews for Nicole, I realized that research is not my cup of tea. She traveled many weekends to conduct more than fifty interviews, and now has to write an analysis of her findings. Not only does she have to write one as part of her fulfillment for her PhD, but she has offered to present her findings to the corporation itself. It's exciting, yet dreadful at the same time.

Not only did I learn so much through everything, I also added some terms to my vocabulary. I now know the difference between an assistant professor and a full professor. Also, I learned that there were programs that are MA only, whereas UT communications program has a MA and PhD program. Through interviews I learned that there were some pros and cons to both those different types. I also learned little tips when applying for school - what admission people might look for in the actual applications such as volunteer work and extracurricular activities. Schools like to admit students who are well-rounded and can adapt well to different environments. Also, they like to hear about leadership positions and some examples on how you showed your leadership abilities. In the end, I have learned more than I could have asked for. This is, I think, the most relevant course to becoming an educated individual. It kind of just threw me out to do things on my own and at my own pace, to decide for myself what I wanted and needed to learn. Not only do I have a head full of information, I have gained a close relationship with my mentor whom I know I can count on at all times. She is brilliant and has helped me so much along the way.

I appreciate the work that Dr. Cherwitz and UT have done to get this program up and running. It has helped me tremendously, and I know will continue to grow and help others as well. I am privileged to attend a university where building the leaders of tomorrow is one of its top priorities.