In the past days, all first year students participated in a one-day Workshop within their Management course. The Workshop is deliberately written with a capital “W” which actually signifies its importance. The Workshop represents a substantial event for our students as this is the first of its kind that students attend during their study at Unicorn College.
Personally, I always look forward to the Workshop. I think about the assignment from the beginning of the semester and the tasks never repeat. I try to pick topics that the students will consider interesting and fun. I write the assignment myself and reflect the economic situation in our country and current trends. In recent years, the concept of a single umbrella holding with several daughter companies proved successful. The Workshop aims at elaborating a project according to given instructions and its presentation to the holding management (usually me and Marek Beránek) and other students. Of course, I cannot resist the opportunity to become a member of the holding management, preferably the director :).
First year students get prepared to the Workshop continuously from the first lecture. Not only do they get the necessary knowledge to deal with the assignment; they also get ready for the event as such. From the very beginning, students are being told about the time demands of the Workshop and what they can expect. In the initial lectures, I tell my students that they may be finishing their presentation in the small hours after a whole day of work. This usually triggers amused smiles which turn to horror during the Workshop when they realize that I meant it.
The Workshop project is dealt with in teams established by the students themselves. The ones who don’t get into a team of co-workers at the beginning don’t have to despair though. Martina Křížová (the Study Coordinator) handles the problem swiftly and assigns such students into some teams. In terms of the final team presentation, students need to know that each one of them must present their part and nobody is spared this challenge.
The D-day usually starts with the Managing Director, Marek Beránek, opening the Workshop. Subsequently, the students receive organizational information and information on the method of evaluation. After drawing their assignments, teams leave for individual rooms and work and work… In the course of the work, some people get coffee while some hungry individuals order a pizza. However, food is available during the workshop as well as fruit, biscuits and other permitted supplements.
After several hours of work, the time comes for the official assessment of the state of the project. Our observations always throw some students into panic mode. They start to totally rework an almost finished assignment and this represents exactly the moment which decides whether students go home early or submit the final version of their presentation via the school portal at about 4 am. Either way, when the time comes – 24 hours after the beginning – everyone must assemble ready to present what they have been working on the whole time. The fact that some of them have barely slept at all is of little importance.
What do I like about the Workshop? I like how the students suddenly transform during the 24 hours into employees of the fictitious corporations (this year grouped under the parent joint-stock company called Food Holding) and seriously consider the size and taste of the produced biscuits or bars, the logo and corporate colours, the impact of their packaging to the environment or whether one accountant is enough for the company.
However, the Workshop is a significant strain not only for the students. The presentations themselves represent a demanding and responsible job even for the teachers. We have to evaluate the whole project, each team and individual. We try to advice everyone what they could improve or how they should keep working on themselves. However, we enjoy it – all the students’ enthusiasm, the effort to be the best, to prepare a great project and excellent presentation. This year was no exception. Thanks! :)
Ing. Jarmila Zouharová, Ph.D.