Category Archives: Coursework

Group Work

By Jake Culian

As our spring term comes to a close I want to take a little while to discuss another topic which anyone who enters the MIM program will have to deal with on a regular basis, the dreaded group project.  During my time in the MIM program group projects have been the norm and for all the complications that arise because of them I have really appreciated that.  Working well as part of a team isn’t really something that comes naturally to a lot of people and to get better at it you must practice.

This quarter we had one class in particular which tested our abilities to perform good group work.  Our marketing class this term was composed of 25 people split into two groups each working on half of a 8 week long research project for the Office of International Student Services and Office of Admissions at PSU.  Our goal was to identify what they were doing well and what was going poorly and then offer advice on how to both highlight their achievements and what they needed help with.

In order to execute this project we started with in person interviews with international students, then secondary research at the school library on international enrollment trends at PSU and in the US, and finally sent out a survey to all the international students currently enrolled in PSU.  We ended up having over 300 respondents with approximately 196 usable responses.  All this research eventually culminated in an hour long presentation given to the two Offices as well as a 70 plus page study which will be distributed to various officials within PSU.

My point here is that it would have taken a year or so for a single person to gather all this information, but as a group we were able to accomplish everything in 8 weeks.  But it required communication, organization and a strong sense of direction on where the project was going and what was required next.  In order for groups to be truly successful everyone needs to know what they’re supposed to be doing.  Now some cultures will be given the overall goal and told to take off running and that works for them.  Others need extremely fine detail at every step along the way.  It is the group leader’s responsibility then to know what each member of their group needs in terms of guidance as well as making sure that everyone has the information they need to accomplish their tasks.

Group work can be immensely rewarding and create great big things, but don’t underestimate how much effort it will take just to get things rolling.  The bigger the group the bigger the inertia until things moving.  I really appreciate working with groups, but thinking about 70 page research papers and 12 person teams makes me a little nervous.  They shouldn’t be something to be feared, but at the same time taking the time to do them right is essential to quality work coming out at the end.

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Capstone Project: Student Start-up Tanley Textiles

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Founders Tianli Zhang and Joey Yin in Yokohama for the MIM Asia Trip.

In the fall of 2012 MIM student Tianli Zhang had an idea to start his own business. Actually, he had several ideas as he is continually inspired by the potential around him. He began sharing some of these ideas with MIM classmate Joey Yin who agreed that most of the ideas had yet to be seen in the marketplace and could create demand among college students. Thus, Tianli and Joey joined forces to establish Tanley Textiles, a home textiles company selling innovative solutions to college students. Continue reading

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Managing Info Tech Globally Class Reflection

ryan-reichertContent manager for Nike, managing editor of Palate Press, MIM graduate, and now as a MIM adjust professor, Ryan Reichert is currently teaching the MIM Managing Information Technology Globally course!  Continue reading

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MIM Survival Guide: A Guide to Teamwork

This is part of a new series to showcase all the details you need to know about the MIM program. The post below gives an example of how to approach teamwork as well as a few helpful resources.

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The MIM program provides numerous opportunities for the cohort to work in teams, both assigned and by choice. Often students will be working with multiple teams during one term, and these groups may even change dependent upon different class structures. Organization is necessary, but there are also other considerations for developing a successful team.

Generating Your Team

Before choosing your teammates it is helpful to ask yourself a few questions. What skills are needed for the project at hand? Where are my strengths and weaknesses in that skill set? What tasks can others accomplish more efficiently than myself? One thing I can recommend for MIM students is to recruit a native English speaker for your team. Correct spelling and grammar will keep professors focused on the content of your work during feedback, and international students will have a chance to learn more nuances in English writing. 

How to Start

Before the team begins working it’s helpful to discuss how you will work together, how to communicate with one another, and meeting logistics. I find it helpful to select a team leader to facilitate meetings and keep everyone updated and in contact with the group, however, I have also had successful groups without a designated team leader wherein everyone is responsible for these items. Some teams decide to do the actual work as a whole, while others may allocate sections of the project to various team members.  Whether it is best to do one or a combination of both strategies will depend upon the type of project and the team dynamics.

Where to Meet

There are multiple venues for student groups to meet on campus, but the MIM students have a few favorite places. In the school of business building the third floor lounge and computer labs are often frequented, as well as the couches on the second floor. The library is also a popular choice, either in reserved study rooms or on non-quiet floors, and even campus coffee shops and restaurants can be great choices (though a little loud). When a physical meeting is too difficult to schedule, students will use video conferencing or instant messaging as a substitute.

Google Drive

unnamedThis is the ultimate tool for students in the MIM program. Since all PSU students are allotted a school gmail account, everyone in the MIM program has access to Google Drive. Essentially this function of gmail provides storage and editing capabilities to various documents (text, presentations, spreadsheets, etc) which can either be created or uploaded. However, what makes the tool so useful is its sharing function wherein multiple users can access a document to view or edit at the same time. Google Drive also has a chat window and comments feature that makes it easy to discuss projects at anytime with other team members. The ability to work on a project simultaneously, even when team members are apart, has become the most valuable asset to many MIM teams.

Cultural Differences

One of the best aspects of the MIM program is its incredible diversity. Over half of any cohort consists of international students from China to Chile to Kazakhstan, and many other countries in between. Of course working with people from so many cultures can be difficult and much MIM classwork revolves around how to most effectively work in certain countries. For new students in the MIM program I would advise keeping an open mind, speaking clearly (try not to use idioms native English speakers!), ensuring all parties understand discussions and decisions, and helping everyone to participate.

If you have any additional questions, feel free to add them below or email us at askmim@pdx.edu. You can also message or tweet us your questions on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Juli Tejadilla

juli

  Juli Tejadilla is a full-time student in the Masters of International Management program. She previously graduated with two Bachelor of Arts in Marketing and Studio Art from Linfield College. While her interest in international business began as an undergraduate student, she has been traveling around the world since she was nine months old. She hopes through the MIM program to learn key insights to conduct business internationally and to establish herself as a global citizen.

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International Business Negotiations Class Reflection

Melanie Billings-Yun

Melanie Billings-Yun, International Business Negotiations Teacher in the MIM Program

By the time summer roles around on the MIM calendar, students are already divided up in their specialization classes (Global Supply Chain, Global Marketing, Global Finance). One class that all MIM students take in the summer, however, is International Business Negotiations, taught by Melanie Billings-Yun. Melanie has more than 20 years of experience as a negotiations consultant for international firms, and brings this wealth of experience to the course that she teaches in the MIM program. Closely following the GRASP method that she outlines in her book Beyond Dealmaking, Melanie’s class emphasizes a style of negotiating that emphasizes long-term relationships between parties, not simply looking at getting a deal in the short-term. This technique requires negotiators to prepare well ahead of time, to try and understand your counterparts’ positions, and to be flexible enough that you can work together with the other party to come to an agreement that both parties feel is fair and advantageous.  Throughout the course we were able to role play a variety of negotiations based on actual case studies, and practice negotiation techniques that can be applied to professional, as well as personal situations. Other topics covered in the course include negotiating a salary and compensation when starting a new job, techniques for negotiations between more than two parties, and a final project where students must write about a real-life negotiation of their own and try to apply the techniques that they learned through the course. The class is routinely cited as one of the most popular in the MIM program, from current and past students alike! Many thanks to Melanie for the fantastic class!

Joshua Thorpe

mail.google.comJosh is a full-time student in the Master of International Management program.  After graduating from the University of Oregon with a degree in Japanese, he taught English in Tokyo for 3 years, before moving to China and teaching at a university in the city of Zhengzhou.  Inspired by his experiences in Japan and China, he was drawn to the MIM program because of its regional focus on Asia, as well as for Portland State University’s reputation as a leader in the field of sustainable business. He is studying Chinese in the MIM program, but tries to keep up his Japanese whenever he can.

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Global Selling Class Reflection

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Global Selling class at Shigezo. Top row, left to right, Scott Sutton, Bill Tung, Taylor Morgana, Mengyao Luan, Ben Exstrom, Pillow Hugh, (bottom left to right) Masoomeh Jahangiri, Sageemas Nigarnkul, Scott Kane, Athena Whetham and Tianli Zhang.

Global Selling has to be one of my favorite classes in the entirety of the MIM program. Bill Tung, the Vice President of International at Columbia Sportswear, kindly takes time out of his busy schedule every summer to teach this course between business meetings and traveling for work. Unlike academic courses structured around theory, Bill’s class focuses on real world problems and solutions. Nearly everyday he advises us to “Read the Economist!!” and our discussions often revolve around current events in the international business world. He also brings in a plethora of experiences from cultural mishaps he has managed to how to navigate brand development in new countries.

Although most of our class is filled with lively discussion, we also had a number of intriguing assignments such as 5 minute presentations on how to conduct business in a foreign country. Our last assignment for Bill was an open ended marketing plan for selling ourselves to future employers. As many of the MIM students taking the course will be graduating in December, this was a great motivator to develop a strategy to attain employment after graduation. The loose guidelines enabled vastly different interpretations among the class and we learned as much from each other’s presentations as from Bill’s feedback. 

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Scott Sutton celebrates his last class in the MIM program while Bill Tung joins in with green tea.

For our last class after the final presentations, Bill treated us to a Japanese Izakaya dinner at Shigezo to celebrate the class finale and our coming graduation. Once again, thank you for such a great class!

Juli Tejadilla

juli

  Juli Tejadilla is a full-time student in the Masters of International Management program. She previously graduated with two Bachelor of Arts in Marketing and Studio Art from Linfield College. While her interest in international business began as an undergraduate student, she has been traveling around the world since she was nine months old. She hopes through the MIM program to learn key insights to conduct business internationally and to establish herself as a global citizen.

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All Good Things End: The Last Two Days of Chinese Class

This past Sunday and Monday was a whirlwind of testing, speeches, and celebration among the Beginning Chinese Class as their 10 months of language study finally drew to a close. While thankful that our class load is slightly lighter, I know we’ll all miss the jokes, confusion, and general good humor that we have grown used to during this morning class. Below is a recap of our last few days together.

MIM Full time 2013 graduation

Our entire Beginning Chinese class with all the laoshi (teachers) at the Chinese Gardens in downtown Portland.

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