Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Words of The Godfather: A War Cry

This weekend proved to be a complete mess. In last Thursday's post, I listed all of my weekend plans and homework assignments. I am happy to report that all the homework was completed. Success. But I did hit a huge road block along the way.

Friday, I spent my day working on PR Cases homework, which consisted of a discussion board with 2 posts and a PR Case proposal. Let me preface the story with this: The professor provided no instructions or examples on what the proposal should look like. I e-mailed her last Monday to ask for guidance. She said it's a one-page summary, give the 5Ws and H, and tell me what sources you plan to use. Pretty general. Or so I thought.

I found the Tylenol case from 1982 where seven people died, and I thought it would be cool to compare that incident to more recent Tylenol recalls to see if the company maintained its crisis management skills. Sounds promising.

So I wrote a little one-page summary of what I was going to look at. I generalized the sources saying I would look at Tylenol press releases and other literature, the news media, academic literature on crisis management for theories, and what people said in reaction to it. Turned it in. Moved on to the next thing on my agenda, which was lunch at Panera Bread and reading old Arkansas Gazette articles for my research paper.

While I'm eating lunch and reading over articles, I check my e-mail and see a response to my proposal. At the time I did not anticipate the full-on rage and anger that would consume me in the few seconds after reading the e-mail. She wrote and I quote:


Since we have the Tylenol case in our text, I don't want you to spend a lot of time on the original case. I know I made it clear on the first day that you had to find a case not covered in our text. Plenty has been written about the Tylenol case for sure, so you need to concentrate on something more original. The last graph of your proposal offers that chance: has Tylenol followed it's own best practices in other recalls since the original crisis in 1982. Again, I don't want you to rehash what's already been written about extensively, including in the text we're now studying. It needs to be something beyond the text.

I also had hoped you would have your sources more defined by now -- the purpose of having you submit this proposal was to make sure you started that research early enough to determine if you had the resources you need to complete a case study. You don't want to be pursuing a case and find out a couple of days before it's due that there's not a whole lot out there to help you. You need to be specific about those resources.

The bottom line: let me know if you plan to pursue the Tylenol-since-the-crisis angle exclusively (without going over plowed ground except to reference in a sentence or two). Also let me know which resources specifically you plan to use.

Grade on this proposal: 38/50 points (Just so everyone knows, 38/50 is a 76%)
This sent me into hysterics. Luckily, I made it to my car before the tears started flowing. (Looking back on it now, the e-mail wasn't really that big a deal). Here is what I have a problem with:
  • The professor provided no instructions on the assignment, hence I would have turn it in complete and correct.
  • She makes it sound like it was my fault I got this grade, which I could care less about the grade.
  • She didn't say how specific she wanted our sources cited. For a one-page thing, generalizing should be good enough.
  • She forgets that I have two other more demanding classes that require my 110% of attention and participation. I don't live and breath PR Cases, sorry!
I'm pretty sure the crying was always going to happen. The stress level this semester has been over-the-top. It was easier to deal with last semester, and I never thought I would say that. Like I said, I have classes that demand time set aside for working purely on them. Sometimes I feel like I could work the rest of the semester on just one class and still not feel satisfied with my effort. And I have three classes that are like that.

In the midst of the waterworks, I managed to pull it together enough to e-mail her back. I asked to set up at time to meet IN PERSON to talk about the final project. She said yes.

Then I texted a professor from UCA, my alma mater, to have him talk some sense into me. Thankfully, he was able to reason with me like always. He told me I buried the lead, which I did. He told me how to talk to her during my meeting, which helped. Then he allowed me to talk about how stressed I am and let me be a baby about grad school without passing judgment.

Needlesstosay, he knows me all too well. He provided the advice I needed, the constructive criticism I needed to avoid another incident like that and the kind words to keep my motivated. Thank you. It was much needed. :)

So I was down, but not beaten. I let grad school win the battle, but I will win this war. That is a promise. It sounds crazy to suffer such psychological beatings. And even though I can't see the light at the end of the tunnel just yet, it's there. I will get there.

Grad school does not make you smarter in the sense of academics in your field of study (I'm sure they would kill me if they knew I said this).

It makes you a smarter person who is able to manage time, juggle activities, stand up for oneself, work toward an unseen goal, self-motivate, self-educate and shout praise for an accomplishment nobody close to you understands. It's life changing. And I'm in it to win it. I will be the last one standing in this war.

As they say in The Godfather: Let's go to the mattresses!

Until next time...

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