After a super relaxing finals week, I'm getting ready for Cozumel and Mexico. Yay!
Private Equity Finance with Zingales - this is a great class taught by a great professor. Definitely a class where I learned a lot of new material. It probably won't be useful in my next job just yet, but there are great takeaways from the class. One, for example, is that valuations don't matter that much. Relationships and all the qualitative stuff is what make or break a deal. Yup, very encouraging for the quant jock school GSB! But that's how I learned about entrepreneurs, angel funds, search funds, venture capital funds, stage funding, private equity funds, various buy-outs, etc etc. If it were all valuation, it would have been boring to me and I wouldn't have registered much. The approach Zingales takes is to breeze through the quant stuff and focus on relationships. Good idea, I say. He is very good at managing case discussions. Highly recommended for non-entrepreneurs (I hear entrepreneurs love Kaplan and Meadow for the more real world approach).
Business Policy with Davis - by far the most inspiring class I have ever taken at any level of school, although someone thinks the complete opposite. I knew it would be controversial. It's a very soft class with very little analytical thinking required (or so some thought). Anyway, the class teaches some business strategies, mostly from a leader's point of view. Davis then tries to push these strategies into your every day life. Sometimes he skips the business part and goes straight to how strategies would work for our personal lives. The final paper, 40% of our grade, is about our personal strategy looking into the future. It was one of the most difficult projects that I have undertaken. For business cases, you can reach an answer, right or wrong, and hand it in. When the case is about yourself, it'll never have the perfect answer. In fact, I finished the paper way ahead of time, read it the day before it was due, and decided that I would re-write the whole thing. This never happens with regular school work. I highly highly highly recommend this class for all those who have question marks about life. In fact, I think all MBAs should complete the final project regardless of whether they are taking this class.
Marketing Channels with Mitchell - this class bothers me quite a bit. The teacher is great and very enthusiastic about the subject. She manages case discussions very well. Yet there is something strangely unsatisfying about the class. Part of it is that the subject is the last P in the 4Ps, hence the least importance given by marketers. Another part of it is that channels is very foreign to most students (unlike advertising) and therefore is difficult to demonstrate the effects of it in real life. While case discussions were good, the actual tools taught in class (such as the elusive efficiency analysis) were rarely applied. Also, there were no international cases at all which would have been extremely interesting. The class has room for improvement as there is good material; more context must be given for students to appreciate it. Yes, we're very demanding. This class also features the gender bias exam. I'd recommend the class... the current format means that if you have to be really interested in marketing. With some changes, I think non marketers will enjoy the class as well.
New Venture Lab with Orion's Mind - it's not about the teacher, it's about the client. The only reason I would audit a lab class is because I liked the industry (education) and the client (Emily, she was great). The overall experience was very good and I learned A LOT about entrepreneurship, from their optimism and lack of scenario planning to understanding primitive financials. Just a phenomenal experience. If you are considering taking this class, I would say do it only if you find an industry that you are truly interested in. Highly recommended as well.
Photography I and II with Chicago Photography Center - level I in photography was eye-opening but not overly complicated. I knew some of the basic concepts and theories of photography, and the class helped me put everything in perspective and correct frameworks. Learning the actual effects of shutter speeds and apertures and experimenting on them was very helpful in my skills as a photographer. Did I get better from level I? Not really. What I did learn was that now I know how to experiment and anticipate what the pictures will look like even before taking the picture. We also learned about the relationship between the photographer and the subject: I bet this isn't taught in typical photo classes. Extremely helpful. Meanwhile, level II is a completely different animal. I'm learning dynamic ranges, gray cards, white balances... basic for pros but quite sophisticated techniques for me. Instead of photographic assignments, I get experimental assignments, which means I'm testing the camera instead of testing my skills. Great class. Highly recommended. No slight to the GSB, but I'm learning so much more from this class than my other classes! Best yet... it's only $440 per class!
Alas... the conclusion: take classes that you like... at least with those classes, you can take something away for yourself and feel that you have learned much more.