Last August I was selected to share my experiences and blog for the Alberta School of Business. As a blogger, writing about my feelings was no longer limited to 160 characters in text messages. I’ve had the chance to divulge my own perspective as a student at the School of Business to my peers and prospective University of Alberta students. Recently, non-Business students have criticized my perspective as being “quite male oriented” and biased in favor of the School of Business. As an aside, I took the “quite male oriented” comment as a compliment because at the time I was wearing jeans tighter than most girls’ jeans and my outfit was completed with a salmon colored fashion scarf (#fashionscarf #trending).
These constructive criticisms of my blog motivated me to talk to three (of the 960) women in the School of Business. I thought in order to get the most diverse perspective of the good, bad, and ugly of the Alberta School of Business, it would be most effective to ask women from here (Edmonton), near (Calgary), and far (Ecuador). To many people’s dismay, this blog has established enough readership that it was possible to find women eager to answer a few questions.
From Here (Edmonton)
Jessica Kruhlak, BCom Student
Sam: Jessica, you were born and raised in Edmonton. You have been a student at the Alberta School of Business for the last two years. Before your stint in Business what did you dream of being?
Jessica: Growing up I really wanted to be a fashion designer. However, over the years, I quickly found an unusual love for wearing sweatpants. I let go of my fashion dreams and have never once looked back.
Sam: Sadly, you don’t see many models walking the runway in sweats. You could have decided to attend any University you wanted. Why did you choose the Alberta School of Business?
Jessica: Growing up in Edmonton, I was aware of the great reputation that the Alberta School of Business had across the country. As a current student, I am proud to say that the School continues to live up to its outstanding reputation! I was always taught to never settle and pursue the great. The School of Business has definitely helped me to figure out what I don’t want to do, while highlighting careers that I may be interested in. My classes in Business have been very effective at opening up my eyes to things that I never thought I would be interested in.
Sam: That is very interesting. What do you like about the School of Business? Is there anything you would change?
Jessica: I really like that the School of Business is a small community. I can walk into the Business lounge to complete a crossword (keeps my mind nimble for my classes) and I’ll run into a bunch of my peers. We can openly talk about classes, opportunities, and anything Business related. I really disliked taking MIS 301 (Management Information Systems). Although I can see the value in the course, it just wasn’t my thing. If I could change one thing about the School of Business it would probably have to be the basement washrooms. That place is a crime scene; they need to be fixed.
Sam: The knowledge to develop functional databases will be helpful in the future. Do you have any advice for high school students considering the Alberta School of Business?
Jessica: Avoid being in groups with Sam Dean (jokes, he writes one of the best BCom blogs I’ve ever read). We (Business students), are not as pompous as we look. You don’t need to wear a suit to school everyday or need to carry your books in a shoulder bag.
Sam: I actually own three shoulder bags…
From Near (Calgary)
Sam: You were born and raised in Calgary. You attended Sir Winston Churchill High School. I heard that Calgary actually has a University too. How did you end up at the University of Alberta?
Justine: I came to the University of Alberta because I wanted to be far enough away from home and to not have to live with my parents, but close enough that I could easily go home and visit anytime that I wanted to. Moving away from home and attending the U of A is one of the best decisions that I’ve ever made. It has provided me with unique experiences that have made me grow up and learn a lot about myself.
Sam: You are a mature independent young woman. When you were younger you dreamed of being a lawyer because you loved to argue. You started University as a Political Science major in the Arts faculty. How did you end up in Business?
Justine: Once in Political Sciences it felt like I knew significantly less about world events in comparison to my peers. It was definitely not for me! One of my friends told me about the School of Business and advised me to “follow my heart”. I did a little bit of research and discovered all of the doors a Bachelor of Commerce degree could open up for me. A lot of people still associate Business jobs with boring desk jobs, but the opportunities go way beyond that!
Sam: First year Business was quite the grind for me. My social life was put on hold when I struggled to complete the difficult first year courses. You seem to have a “work hard, play hard” mentality. To what do you attribute your ability to maintain a balanced lifestyle and stay actively involved in extracurricular activities?
Justine: I really believe balance is important. With that being said, I am really not sure how I have survived the “grind” with my social life. I am lucky because I live in a great house with great roommates. We all go out together and have a lot of fun in the evenings. The next day we head to the library and put in a solid 12-hour day together. Being around people who study provides constant motivation to do well.
Sam: It sounds like you have established quite a successful support system. What do you like about the School of Business? Would you change anything at the School?
Justine: The Alberta School of Business has a very strong sense of community. I really can appreciate this coming from a different program at the U of A. It might seem insignificant, but walking into the library and having numerous Business classmates wave as I find the nearest cubicle means a lot. The opportunities to get involved are endless in Business. Join one thing and it is a lot easier to become an active member in the School of Business. What do I dislike about the SoB? The washrooms in the basement of the Business building are terrible. Some of the keyboards around the School are filthy and should be replaced. I also really wish that I never had to take ECON 281 (equivalent BUEC 311), this course was very challenging.
Sam: Those washrooms in the basement are like the washrooms at summer camp. Do you have any advice for students considering the Alberta School of Business?
Justine: The School of Business opened up my eyes to so many different career opportunities. I find myself becoming interested in consulting and helping others identify ways to enhance their business’ overall operations. The Alberta School of Business presents you with so many opportunities and opens many doors for a future career!
From Far (Ecuador)
Marlene Vargas Torres, BCom Student
Sam: Marlene, I understand that you are an exchange student from Tecnológico de Monterrey, which is one of the most prestigious universities in Mexico. You completed your high school in Ecuador. How did you end up at the Alberta School of Business?
Marlene: I wanted a new experience. I wanted something new even though it meant I had to leave my family, home, and friends behind. After high school, I felt as though there were more opportunities for me outside of Ecuador and at the time Mexico seemed like a good option (it also helped that they offered me a 90% scholarship). A friend from Ecuador that I met in Mexico came to the U of A one summer because his brother was living in Edmonton. He told me all about the U of A, how its system was completely different from our University in Mexico. I decided to investigate and found out that it was a top University in Canada and in the world and for my exchange I was not just looking for some random University.
Sam: You must be experiencing quite the shock with the Edmonton climate. What were your first impressions of the School of Business?
Marlene: The School of Business is great! I really like it. I especially enjoy the Business Students lounge where you can hang between classes and meet other Business students. The Business professors’ style of teaching is a lot different from the way they teach in Mexico. You are told to read the textbook or cases on your own and then you spend lectures discussing what you read as a class. The professors don’t waste time explaining every detail of the textbook, which makes the in-class experience much more dynamic.
Sam: You are brand new to the Alberta School of Business. Is there anything that you would change in the School?
Marlene: The only thing I would change is the use of VHS to DVD. I have one class where the professor always has problems with the VHS and it never works. I find it funny that the School is still using VHS. Besides some of the technology, I think the rest is perfect; I’ve really enjoyed it so far!
Sam: Do you have any advice for students thinking about going on a Business exchange?
Marlene: Take the risk. Live a new adventure. I’m sure you won’t regret it. This is the perfect time in life to experience new things and if your parents support your decision to explore the world, then there’s nothing that can stop you!
After interviewing these three women, it is clear that my perspective of the Alberta School of Business is shared. It is reassuring to know that I am not the only student who loves coming to the Alberta School of Business everyday!