Capstone Course: Preparing for Your First Client Meeting
In the second semester of the MS in Business Analytics program, students are all enrolled in a Capstone course. A curriculum advisory board and faculty members oversee capstone, which gives students an opportunity to serve as consultants to clients and put our business and data science skills to test by solving real problems using real data.
During the first Capstone class, students are briefed on expectations, processes, teams and clients, and project deliverables. Scott Radcliffe, the MSBA managing director, did an incredible job establishing industry partnerships and matching us with clients based on our interests. This semester, my classmates Cassio Alves de Lima Salge, Alice Jiang, and I have the honor of working with Cox Communications, the third-largest U.S. cable company.
The client reveal is the easy part, since all the clients offer extensive expertise in their domains and have long-standing histories of success. Now, the hard part is getting ready for that initial client kickoff meeting. I, like many other students, have not had much industry experience. Although we feel some security knowing we have the advisory board and faculty to support us, we feel anxious for that first client meeting.
Eager to learn and leave good impressions, students immediately started going through all the motions of delegating team roles (deciding who will act as the primary client contact, the primary faculty and staff contact, the primary project management contact), as well as doing background research on our client contacts, the organization, and the industry to learn all we can prior to that initial meeting. In addition, we worked with Scott to finalize the slide decks we intend to present to the client to demonstrate our clear understanding of the business problem with our business and analytical acumen.
Once the day finally arrives to meet your client, you put on your best suit and hope that preparation does not fail you, all to find out that your client is just as eager to meet all of you. This was by far the best feeling to see how excited and friendly the whole team was. During that meeting, the majority of the time was spent getting to know the client and going through their slides. They explained the project in detail, touched on their brand, and even discussed potential career opportunities and what it is like working for them, all of which, of course, is exciting as a current job seeker. This experience has truly been invigorating, and I am excited to embark on this journey as a consultant for Cox Communications this semester.