My Last EVER Semester; Complete & in the Books

I’m sorry I’m super behind writing this post considering it’s now mid-September and my classes at Bocconi finished early June. Right after I was done with my studies I took off on my trip around Italy and then I was writing my thesis and then I moved home and so this is the first time I’ve had a moment to realize I never recapped my time abroad. Better late than never right?

Overall, I’m really happy with my experience at Bocconi. But more than just being happy to have chosen Bocconi, I am so happy that I decided to study abroad my last semester. I was pretty tired of Frankfurt School and the little things here and there that were annoying me and so it was good to get some distance from that until time to write my thesis. It was also a great excuse to travel more and I’m so happy I got to see more of Italy before coming back to the states.

In keeping with my previous end-of-semester wrap-up posts, I want to take a moment to let you all know my final thoughts on my courses from the semester now that they are complete and in the books.

Green Management & Corporate Sustainability

This class was excellent in most every way possible which is saying a lot considering a huge part of it was a group project. I don’t know about you but group projects seem to be notorious for ruining an otherwise decent course.

Bocconi doesn’t report grades in the most transparent way possible but I think I managed to get 100% on the final exam which hasn’t happened to me since those good ol’ bachelor days (or maybe community college if I’m being realistic). I thought the exam was super reasonable and did a good job of testing whether you read and retained important information from the articles that were assigned during the semester which also served as the base outline for the course lectures.

The group project was, in theory, really helpful, relevant and practical. In execution, my group got the short end of the proverbial stick which caused unnecessary stress and definitely negatively impacted my final grade. Essentially, the group project was to rework a company’s entire value chain to be more sustainable and in line with Circular Economic principle. For example, instead of having a customer throw your product away when they are done with it, you can have them bring it back to you so that you can reuse and recycle the parts. This saves waste and also cuts costs for the firm because they have less materials to source themselves.

For our project, we were able to chose our own groups, but since most of the class seemed to be exchange students who didn’t know anyone, my group ended up being randomly assigned. We were also allowed to pick which industry out of those given we wanted to do our project within, but my group basically got assigned ours because it was the only industry left the time our group was assigned. From there, each group was allowed to chose what company within our industry we wanted to work on.

The short “end of the stick” ended up being which industry we were assigned; electric vehicle charging infrastructure. All of the other groups had industries that were tangible meaning that they were working with a physical product and so they could directly apply the concepts we learned in class. My group, however, was working with an infrastructure which intrinsically has many more challenging elements which we did not cover in class.

Since there wasn’t any coursework centered around services or infrastructures, we basically had to come up with our entire project and the concepts underlying it from scratch. Usually this type of work (in the real world) is done on teams including engineers and lawyers, and since none of us were either of those things, we suffered a huge knowledge gap. We tried our hardest, but in the end, it seemed that the groups with the highest praise simply replicated the content of our lectures which was impossible for us to do.

The professors and consulting firm working us through the simulation agreed that our industry was not fair and that they would remove it from future classes and that the difficulty level would be considered in final grading. At least they understood our struggles and were fair. It’s just a bummer that we couldn’t really feel good about our final projects like the other groups could. Like I said before, grading at Bocconi isn’t the most transparent and so I’m not entirely sure what our final grade for the project was but I got an excellent grade overall for the course and so I’m not mad at how the project turned out.

The last thing I wanted to highlight from the course was all of the amazing guest lectures and company visits we had. Seeing how real companies are implementing the concepts we learned in class really helped to cement the ideas in our mind and will help us make our cases more persuasive when we try to enact this type of change in whatever company or industry we end up in in the future.

Oh! And finally, Dr. Pogutz and Dr. di Castelnuovo are amazing professor the really care about their students and are incredibly passionate about the topic. They each have their own specialty, experiences and contacts within the field which bring so much value to the course. If you are thinking about taking the class, I would definitely suggest you go for it, especially if you are passionate about the future of our planet.

Competition Policy, Regulation & Liberalization

Now that I have gotten all of my praise out of the way, I can get to the class I was less enthused about. If you remember way back to my mid-semester update then you might remember that I wasn’t feeling the greatest about this class pretty much since the beginning.

The course seemed to keep more in line with the traditional, “memorize everything and regurgitate as much of it as possible in the exam” format that (at least from my understanding) is standard for most European universities although some are starting to move away from that.

Part of the reason that I did so well in college was because American universities (again, in my own experience) tend to expect you to have all of the material memorized and then test you “beyond the material.” Since critical thinking is my strong suit, I was able to thrive in that system. It’s not like I’m bad at learning the material. I’m just not as good at being able to repeat the entire book back in an exam as other students who grew up in a system where that is the norm.

I ended up failing my first exam for the first time ever which just happened to be my last exam ever. I like to think that this irony means something profound and symbolic but either way, Bocconi had the retake for the exam just a few weeks later and I was able to pull through with a decent grade in the end.

In terms of the course content and material covered, it was the most useful and helpful class I’ve had in a long time. I find myself using the information nearly every day in my personal life and I know that it will continue to be useful in my professional life (as soon as that starts).

The professor didn’t improve since my last update and continued to be dreary and tired of lecturing all the way through our last lecture until he suddenly perked up and pitched for us to write our thesis with him. The difference in his demeanor was so sudden and drastic that almost everyone in class physically jumped in their seat a bit. He seems like a nice guy, but I think that his dreams of retirement are affecting the quality of lectures and learning.

To end on a positive note, the textbook for the class was one of the best I’ve ever had and is very easy to read if you want to cover the material yourself. It’s called Competition Policy: Theory and Practice by Motta (2004) and there are several preliminary pdf versions of the textbook online. I’m sure no one wants to torture themselves with economics in their free time but if you’re ever confused about the news or something, it might be helpful for you.

***

So, that was my last semester in review! All that’s left of my degree is a thesis. It’s so crazy to think that 20ish years of education have cumulate in this way. I could never have imagined that I would complete a Masters degree much less be doing so in some of the best universities in the world, MUCH LESS be doing so in a foreign country.

It still doesn’t feel real that I’ve done all of this and I don’t imagine it really will feel real until my degree arrives in the mail. Maybe when I start my career it will feel more real. When I am using (and getting paid to use) all of this knowledge I’ve worked so hard to accumulate, maybe then it will feel real. Until then, I’ll continue on with my job search and continue to move ever forward with my life.


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