February 23, 2010

Those Who Can, Do and Teach

[Post by Rachel Dellon, 2011 MBA Candidate in Public and Nonprofit Management]

Over the course of my first semester in the BU MBA program, my new second year friends had many words of encouragement to offer about the opportunities ahead of me: internship search tips, electives I’d want to take, upcoming Cohort Cup activities…and, of course, the prospect of having Fridays free.

So what was I doing sitting in an SMG classroom on an unseasonably balmy Friday afternoon last week, discussing a sizable packet of extra reading with a dozen other students? Believe it or not, it was our idea. In a series of internship search check-in chats set up by Kristen McCormack, the dean of the Public and Nonprofit Management Program, I and a number of other students had expressed an interest in learning more about grantwriting. Not only did she agree that we would benefit from being able to discuss and evaluate that aspect of nonprofit operations in our interviews, she also organized and ran a three hour workshop on how to find sources of funding and put together an effective proposal. Attendees ranged from students like me hoping to work in development to those looking to become well-informed board members, which kept the conversation lively and the questions insightful.

The ability and readiness to teach me skills I can bring back to the nonprofit sector was a large part of the reason I chose to come to BU, but I’ve long since discovered that desire to make sure we can use what we’re being taught on a practical level isn’t unique to the PNP program. All of my professors have made themselves available during office hours or by appointment to answer my most basic questions (which, given my liberal arts background, can sometimes get very basic), and I’ve been contacted by faculty representatives from every concentration to ensure that I’ve provided feedback on whether the career portfolio program is meeting my needs.

If I needed still more proof of this dedication, I got it the morning after the grantwriting workshop (yes, a Saturday) when I arrived back at SMG for Link Day. I’d been looking forward to the opportunity to put my new knowledge to work on behalf of a local organization, but was a little nervous we wouldn’t be able to give them what they really wanted. Fortunately, my half-international, half-corporate sector team of first and second years came through with a series of creative, workable steps toward a more sophisticated marketing plan for our nonprofit – and our faculty advisor was right there, balancing her expertise with a willingness to stand back and let us guide the discussion as much as possible.

One final piece of advice the second years gave me was that I’d learn as much outside of my classes as in them. While I’ve found that to be true, it hasn’t hurt being surrounded by instructors willing to continue teaching literally or by example even after class has let out for the week. Even if it does sometimes mean sacrificing a Friday.

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