Discovering New Tools for the Real World: An A&S Senior’s Perspective

“Here’s your first list of assignments.  I need them done by 4PM so we can present the golf tournament proposal to Madrid for approval.”

As a nineteen-year-old interning at Banco Santander/Sovereign Bank after my sophomore year, the tasks set in front of me on my first day were more daunting than I had expected.  As I took a look at the list in detail, one thing stood out:  everything required the use of Microsoft Excel.  

The list read:

1.  Sort the shareholder list according to broker dealer, and send to Broadridge for proper proxy vote distribution (accounts beginning w/ 1003-2000 are JP Morgan, 2001-3030 are Morgan Stanley, 3031-8404 go to Broadridge).

2.  Create a spreadsheet for golf tournament RSVPs which will be distributed and updated on a daily basis

3.  Develop a budget plan for golf tournament, and specify approximate budget allocations accordingly.

I carefully analyzed the list, and immediately knew that I was going to dig deep into my memories of high school computer science class.  VLOOKUPs, IF statements, and clear and concise formatting were going to be crucial for this assignment.  

After doing a lot of Internet research and basically guessing and checking the utility of various Excel functions, I was able to complete the day’s workload successfully.  However, my first day at Santander taught me a very valuable lesson: developing proper technology skills, particularly Microsoft Office and social media usage, was going to be a crucial element in my success in the business world. 

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Internships have become an all-too-necessary step towards entering the real world in pursuit of a full-time position in whatever industry it is you wish to pursue after college.  As the value of a high-profile internship experience continues to rise, employers are expecting more and more professional skills from their interns.  I will go ahead and make a broad statement, at least with regards to the business world: no employer will hire you (and if they do, you won’t last long) if your Excel skills are inadequate.  

Employers expect you to be up-to-date with the latest technological advances, as well.  My main role at Santander for the past two summers has been to coordinate all aspects of our annual golf tournament for Bank shareholders and executives.  This implied developing new techniques to reach out to our shareholders, and social media has become an ever-growing medium to achieve this result.  

With graduation less than two weeks away, I often think back to my experience at BC, and while my courses in Economics have given me a deep understanding of economic theories and how our markets operate, I had been lacking a course that would provide me with the most contemporary and practical tools to succeed in a business environment.  My previous internships have been quite effective at allowing me to develop these skills on my own, but I think that A&S students would be in a much better position if a computer science class was required as part of the Economics major. 

MI021 offers that advantage.

Skills in this course have ranged from learning Excel formulas and applying them to business models, to learning about how companies such as Dell and Zara have applied the latest advances in information technology to their business plans to maximize profits and minimize costs.  

Discussions about the impact of technology on our businesses and our society as a whole help to get students in the class thinking about the impact that technology will have many years down the line.  (Books are going to be a thing of the past, but will e-books be unnecessary when all the information we need is stored on our Google Glass’ cloud account?)

Making the decision to take Computers in Management as an A&S senior has helped me fortify my knowledge, develop new skills to gain a competitive advantage in the business world, and has given me the opportunity to discuss technology’s impact on the future of our society.

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