The Can You? ‘s and the How would You?’s

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Trying to build a career from a series of progressive yet temporary job experiences is tricky. Ultimately, you must demonstrate a sincere narrative on how prior roles and your subsequent future ideal role fit together by: industry context, transferable skills, and overall progression of responsibilities. That reality coupled with the fact that only a small subset of firms are able to hire interns – means that your role selection must be both creative and focused.

So assuming that you are fortunate enough to have more than one opportunity available – how do you select the right internship? In short: by the interview. Understand that; job postings are documents that are crafted with the purpose of grabbing the attention of the best possible talent available. Furthermore, it is cumbersome for managers to accurately re-craft job posting responsibilities every 4-8 months as they cycle through interns.

So how do respectfully infer and compare the “progressiveness” of an internship? I’ve always found it useful to pay attention to the subtle structure of interview questions. Throughout conversations questions are often framed in different ways. But it is often easy to notice patterns in “How would you handle xyz?” (open-ended question types) vs. “Can you perform xyz?” (close-ended question types).

Really, the former is testing you reasoning and gauging your ability to deal with ambiguity. As an intern, those are the roles I would suggest partaking in (even over salary or brand-name), because they are often transferable and involve ownership. Remember as an intern, …

…it is not about where you are but where you are going.


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Information Systems in Business

Nutshell: A fundamental view on how information systems are organized within businesses and the impact they have on organizations.

Keywords: SAP, Database Structure, CRM systems, Competitive Intelligence Models, Information Privacy Act, ERP systems.

Favourite Takeaway: Larger organizations struggle to adopt the latest technologies primarily from perceived firm risks. Firms able to identify and address these perception risks garner greater attention. Therefore, success in the B2B space isn’t necessarily a battle of technical capabilities.

Course Outline: Information Systems in Business

Reflections, Updates

Are these those young grasshopper moments?

With the third and last internship finally secured – more on that later. It seemed fitting to reflect on the “intern-specific” lessons I’ve learned. Between my undergrad and graduate “academic career”; I’ve graciously held 6 internships (1 upcoming) at 5 great organizations. Although every position has been both challenging and rewarding – I’ve noticed a few insights your university career centre will never say.

So here are my five candid intern lessons for those entering undergrad or graduate studies:

  1. The Can You?’s and the How do You?’s
  2. The long-short is greater than the short-short.
  3. It’s Never the Hunger Games.
  4. The Great Switcheroo.
  5. Confidence is Key.

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Human Resources Management

Nutshell: A fundamental  view of the issues and implications of labor relation decisions/policies on broader organizational strategies

Keywords: Job Analysis and Planning, Orientation and Training, Recruitment and Selection, Performance Appraisals, Union-Management Relations, Diversity Management, Organizational Structure, Legal Requirements.

Favorite Takeaway: The company mission and vision ultimately determine the appropriateness of any strategy – finance, operations, or human resources management. Without considering the organizational structure and operational reality – a human resource management strategy will focus on uneventful improvements.

Course Outline: Human Resources Management


Pay to Play

A few weeks ago, Warren Buffett offered $1B for a perfect March Madness prediction.

As a result, there has been much conversation on “incentivizing innovation” and perhaps the idea that, “if the March Madness contest works it demonstrates that innovation for complex world issues can be readily purchased by providing enough incentive to get enough minds thinking about a problem.”

We should be cautious of this “quantity over quality” rhetoric. Many complex problems involve fields where success if determined by both aptitude and experience. In todays fast paced society/job market there can be a tendency to undervalue prolonged experiences. In reality, many industries/jobs require prolonged experiences for true mastery.

Which is why …

… it is ever so important to have a balanced economy where there are viable, stable, and frankly profitable career avenues in research, development, and innovation.

Without it, we are hindering the maturation of experiences truly necessary for solving tomorrow’s pressing problems.


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Business Marketing

Nutshell: The marketing and characteristics of business-to-business and industrial goods marketing.

Keywords: Organizational Buying, Just-in-Time, Economic Order Quantities, Buying Cycles, Supply Chain Mapping, RFP/RFQ Process, B2B Branding, Product Positioning, Customer Segmentation, Assessing the Role of Competitors, Product Lifecycle Planning, Demand Forecasting, Product Development/Co-Development, Pricing Models, Pricing Strategies, Value Pricing, Reverse Auctions, Distribution Channels, Channel Management, B2B Advertising, Personal Selling, PR, CRM, Lead Generation, Service Costs/Forecasting Profitability.

Favorite Takeaway: Appropriate distribution channel selection is as important to profitability and customer satisfaction as appropriate selection of product materials/components/features. The distribution channel augments the value proposition of the product/service. Furthermore, matching channel management to product lifecycle and organizational structure can strategically improve sales execution.

Course Outline: Business Marketing


Where have I been?

Its been a month, but alas I’m back after a few interesting weeks.

From ice storms that created a Christmas without power to moving into my new digs on New Years – things have been slammed and ironically in absence of technology.

Fortunately, it wasn’t uneventful. The time away allowed me to tackle some unstructured tasks, reflect on journey and consider the prospects of the final 12 months.

Perhaps this leads to a thematic transition from unfettered optimism to grounded confidence. Either way, things will be interesting.

Sit tight, and I will update you once things quiet down over here.