Tuesday, March 5, 2013

End of Mini 3

It has been a very long while since I last posted, but that is because a lot has happened over the past couple of weeks that has caused me to neglect my blog.

Everything people had been telling me was that year 2 was supposed to be a lot easier than Year 1. Ideally, one got a job early on, one didn't need to undertake as many classes, and there's a lot fewer extra curricular activities going on to be involved in (like case competitions). My experience has been dramatically different.

Firstly, I am still job-hunting. Granted, my industry doesn't start heavy recruiting until now, so most of my job efforts was reaching out to various people every once in a while to keep my network going.

Secondly, and most importantly, a lot of my classwork is project-based. When a class is homework-based, it's a lot easier to keep ontop of things because there is a clear, defined set of guidelines that one needs to accomplish - answer the questions! Likewise with exams - most of the work happens a couple of days before the exam. If it's individual assignments, that's even better since the only person who is relying on you is yourself! Not this mini for me, however.

My capstone is entirely self-directed. As such, my partner and I spent the better half of the mini floundering around trying to figure out what to do. My partner was a former project manager, so he fell back to habits that had worked with him in the past - schedule lots of meetings. I abhor meetings for the sake of meetings, so that didn't work out well with me either. It didn't help that I wasn't attending the "classes" set aside for us, since I had another class on at the same time that I was allowed to go to instead. I've worked with my partner before, and we've worked well together - but I think a lot of that is that I come up with the direction and the goals, and he performs the motions to get it going - this time I stepped back on this, my attention directed elsewhere, which made him feel like he needed to brainstorm ideas on how to monetize this technology. Needless to say, it didn't work out to well.. However, we did hit a turning point and jumped back on track. We just needed to define clearly the goals for the semester project, and now that we have it, it makes things easier to push forward.

The reason i had dropped my attention was because I was placing it in the project for my Mobile & Pervasive Development Class. While I had originally signed up for the 6-unit course, which was homework- and exam-based, I ended up enrolling into the full 12-unit course, which included getting a mobile app up and running. It's an app based on an idea I had - I went looking for this type of app or service and couldn't find it, and ended up in a team working on the project. I had taken ownership of it, so I took over the design role. It was ridiculously intensive, and I poured a lot of time and energy into determining the user roles, the use cases, and the UI. I need to continue doing this over the Spring Break - ideally, I can see a viable opportunity for this app to be somewhat successful. My work was rewarded somewhat - this is the only class I've had in which there was a $1000 prize for the best app, as considered by a panel of judges. My app was one of 3 finalists (as an aside, I screwed up the final round and wasted my 5 minutes pitching instead of showing off the app itself), and we received feedback both from other students and the judges saying they'd love to see something like this app become a viable product - they would use it! But this was a big concentrate of my time.

Another semester-long class is Game Design, which it too is rather work-intensive. It relies heavily on "playtesting" game ideas with a group of other people in the class. My playtest group have been only other ETC students, and they are in a campus by the river instead of the main campus. This hasn't proven to be an issue, since my partner is also at that campus, but they have little concept or grasp of the value of time to non-ETC students (especially MBA students). Getting the group together at one time is like herding cats. They work on semester long projects in designated rooms, and they determine their own schedule - so it's not unusual for me to turn up to a 4:30 scheduled play only to wait 2 hours while the others find their way in from other "just popped up" issues. This gets very tiring; I nearly lost it one time when I was taking time out to show them how to play a roleplaying game - I was the "expert" in the group - when I had other things that demanded my attention; and they pulled the same lackadaisical manner on me. Luckily I bring my computer and tell them that when they're ready, I'll join them, until then, I'm working.

Developing Star Performers and Market Research rounded out the classes I took for the mini, and neither was particularly intensive when it came to work requirements. That Mobile project just took all my energy, as did Capstone. Unfortunately (or fortunately), I still have to continue them into next Mini so there's not much of a reprieve. Regardless, I'm getting my money's worth from this degree!

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