Out-of-the Box Coursework

Don’t judge a course by its short description online; it can be much better than what it seems. I’m taking more non-core Wharton courses this semester, including Management Information Systems, an interesting and well-rated course in the Wharton Operations and Information Management (OPIM) department.

What I expected to be a course on the technological aspects of information systems turned out to be much more complex and much more applicable to daily life. This course, taught by OPIM Professor Eric Clemons, brings to light patterns that occur in strategic decision-making and gives us the tools to recognize them in the future.

OPIM 210 is not a course for memorizing “Case in Point.” It equips us with the knowledge necessary to analyze the market environment, recognize patterns before they even happen and to think of the best ways—many of them tech-based—to serve a client without using one particular framework. In fact, during the first few weeks of the class, I felt somewhat out of my element, as creativity and thinking out-of-the-box seemed key.

I’ve since realized, however, that this is exactly what the professor wants us to do—to be creative and able to quickly and thoroughly analyze a situation to design the best recommendation. This concept can also be seen in our final project: designing a business plan.

I’ve attended lectures by entrepreneurs since arriving at Wharton in fall 2010 and read about many Wharton-bred startups as part of my work at Wharton Magazine, but as someone concentrating in OPIM, I did not expect to take any entrepreneurial classes during my time at the School.

Professor Eric Clemons

In Management Information Systems, we were able to choose our startup idea, but my group and I naturally found ourselves applying concepts learned in the classroom to the process of evaluating each idea. While it was a bit difficult at first to find the perfect idea, we came away with a concept that we are very excited about and is needed in the market.

Although this business plan is only being used for a class right now, there’s no telling if one or more of our group members will decide to look into it more seriously and possibly execute it after graduation—assuming no one else has launched the same idea by then.

Regardless, the business-planning process so far has been very useful and exciting and an opportunity for self-reflection. What I did not consider doing—being an entrepreneur—is now more appealing. I don’t know what path I’ll be on in 10 years, but I don’t doubt that, wherever I’ll be and whatever I’ll be doing, it’ll be due to taking courses like this one at Wharton, which push me out of my comfort zone and help me realize an interest I didn’t even know I had.

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