The Parker Series: A Series of Iterations

The Parker Series: A Series of Iterations

BY EMILY TAYLOR (mba ’08) – ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, MBA CAREER EDUCATION

Emily Taylor

Emily Taylor

I can hardly believe there’s only one class left in this year’s Parker Series. However, I’m already “Thinking in the Next.”

Many of you may not know it, but the Series has come a long way. Anderson launched the series in 2010, initially as a case-based course, to create standardized career preparation. While students found the class beneficial, they craved content tailored to their own job searches. That’s when Deans Andrew Ainslie, Rob Weiler and Susan Judkins proposed creating a new role at Parker and approached me for the position due to my experience both as a practitioner, overseeing a recruiting and HR team for a fast growth company, and as an assistant professor.

During my first year in 2011, I treated the Parker Series like an internal consulting project: I observed, assessed and devised a new strategy.  My goal: to create a class that I myself would have enjoyed and benefited from as a student.

Previously, each section’s weekly session was taught by a different mix of Parker advisors. I took over the lecturing in 2012 to streamline teaching, reduce lecture time and introduce new topics – for example, personal branding and navigating the “Circle of Death” at networking events. I was happy with the progress, but there was still a lot of work to be done.

I got some unexpected help along the way. Last December, Breeana Garrett Bey (MBA ’14) asked to meet as part of preparing her “Take a Stand” presentation for the Introductory Communications Course. The topic: “Why the Parker Series should be moved to Orientation.”  The concept wasn’t logistically feasible, but her suggestions – paired with the school initiative to embrace hybrid learning – did trigger some major strategic changes.

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Note 22% of the lecture time was online video

We adopted a “flipped classroom” by introducing online lectures for resume, cover letters and personal branding. Students learned new content through videos at home so that class time could be devoted to activities. We cut lecture time in half (with 25% occurring online) and doubled paired exercises like peer informationals, mock interviews, resume reviews, and cover letter editing. This strengthened connections across the first-year class and provided each student with the hiring manager’s perspective.

Assistant Dean of Career Services Regina Regazzi (MBA ’97) recently told me she has seen “a remarkable improvement” in the quality of resumes. “The students may not realize this when they’re sitting in class, but when I think about the quality of the resumes now versus a few years ago at this point, I am amazed at the progress. That is transformative for on-campus recruiting,” she added.

In 2012, we introduced advisor-led roundtables to give students exposure to the entire Parker team. Students told me they appreciated the instant feedback and learning from their peers, so we tripled the number of roundtables this year. This was an arrangement made feasible due to the logistical finesse of our new Communications Manager Sandra Nguyen. In addition, we brought our case interview workshops in-house, and they are now being taught by Parker advisors (and former consultants) Jennifer Bevan and Chris Weber (MBA ’09).

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MBA Class of ‘15 class practices their 30-second pitches for the first time (Photo courtesy of Parker)

I also have some of your classmates to thank. Kyle Forrest ’14 and I had regular discussions on how to better align content and deliverables with the flow of the first-year recruiting process. To address previous concerns about the overlap between the Parker Series and Anderson Career Teams (ACT), I met weekly during the spring with Parker TA and ACT Coach Chris Hatfield ‘14.  We identified redundancies and best practices across ACT groups and created a weekly curriculum that could be used by all industries and functions.

Due to my years working in startups, I know firsthand the importance of iteration, and will continue to refine the class each year based on feedback and market need(and no, not because I’m looking for “Situation-Action-Result” statements to bolster my resume).I want to make this course best in class and do my part to help get Anderson ranked where it should be, back in the top 10.

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