Research is usually something students don’t encounter until they get into junior- or senior-level courses, but Freshman Business Initiative (FBI) instructor Henry Musoma didn’t think Mays Business School students should have to wait.
Musoma designed a semester-long research project with colleague Richard Johnson for their almost 500 students. Students submitted up to five potential research topics each, then received an assignment for a topic to work on in groups. Musoma and Johnson wanted to give students the opportunity to come up with something on their own, as opposed to confining them to what Musoma calls “a mundane topic.”
Freshman Business Initiative (FBI) students presented the research they conducted during the fall semester to peers and faculty during a poster presentation session.
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“When you ask questions, you get answers,” says Musoma of what he wanted students to get out of this project. He also wanted to give students the experience of working in teams early on.
Some of the topics the students came up with were:
- Whether getting a master’s degree was worth it, depending on the major;
- The shelf life of various majors in the job market;
- What makes an entrepreneur successful; and
- Whether involvement in extracurricular activities matters when it comes to getting a job.
FBI students gathered in the Wehner lobby Monday to share their projects. Some students got the results they were looking for, while others learned that research doesn’t always go as planned.
“I think we would have done something that could have been represented quantitatively,” says freshman Jacob Clanton ’16, whose team tried to figure out what makes an entrepreneur successful. He says once they started researching their topic, they realized their question was somewhat vague and difficult to answer. They did find, however, that overall a good attitude and commitment are important parts of what makes an entrepreneur successful.
Another group who looked at the impact of extracurricular involvement on job prospects was able to find that heavy involvement in one or two organizations is what employers are really looking for.
“They wanted you to be involved in something you could get lifelong skills from,” freshman Greta Peterson ’16 says of the employers her team members interviewed.
When asked about the project experience, Peterson says it was interesting to be on the other side of an interview for the first time, writing and asking the questions. As for working in a group, Peterson says everyone had to learn when to step up to the plate, because not everyone is able to make the same contributions or be available all of the time.
Taking a look at all of the different projects and the range of questions students are asking, it is clear to see that Musoma was able to get the desired outcome he wanted for his students.
“Curiosity didn’t kill the cat,” he explains. “It won the Nobel Prize.”
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