several eventful days – part II

Amacam penat tak baca entry part I ? Entah2 korang tak abih baca lagi pun. Lantak laa, I’m posting part II already. Tak sabar2 nak meluahkan perasaan ni. Terhenti sekejap coz terkejut dengar Beyonce’s concert dah cancel, but I’m back on track. So here we go, dah selesai cerita2 gembira, suka ria, makan tak ingat dunia.. meh dengar cerita naik angin kus-kus pulak.

I had 3 assignments due last Monday, all for one subject. One mini research, one calculation assignment and one case study. There are 3 people in my group – me, a third year student who’s married with a son (let’s call her A) and a girl who’s also in her first semester like I am (let’s call her B). Those 3 assignments – one is a mini research, one is a calculation assignment, one is a case study.

Mini research – we have to do from intro up till literature review (no need to do data collections, hence the term “mini”). Minimum 10 articles per person for the literature review, so in total 30 articles. We have to come out with 50-60 pages of write-up, so roughly each person has to do 20 pages.

Calculation assignment – there are 12 questions, so each of us to do 4 questions.

Case study – the case itself about 10 pages long, then we have to answer 4 questions.

Though the questions were given to us nothing less than two months before submission date, all of us were too busy doing assignments for other subjects to even think about this one. Since the assignment for this subject has the latest due date (on final class before study break), we decided to put it on the shelf until we are done with the rest. So two weeks before the due date, kitorang buat mesyuarat tergempar siapa nak buat apa. For the mini research, we decided that each of us were to find 10 journal articles in a week’s time, then we would meet again to discuss what we found and come out with a storyline. For the calculation assignment, each of us was to do 4 questions each and send it to A to compile and print. Once we were done with the calculation assignment, then only we would discuss the case study. We went home with our tasks in mind and promised to meet again in 1 week’s time, right after the next class.

T-19 days:
I was the only one who completed my share of the calculation assignment. Sent it to A for compilation. A & B just kept quiet. Never mind, we still had more than 2 weeks. I trusted that they were working on it.

T-14 days:
I had found the journal articles to be discussed with the group (by the way I got not just 10 but 21 articles in total). Unfortunately A didn’t come to class. So there were only B and I left to proceed with the important discussion on the mini research outline. We were already handicapped coz most groups have 4 members while we have only 3, now with only 2 active players just imagine the kind of workload we had. I had to make a management decision to read all the articles that I found and come out with the outline all by myself. Then I would share it with the rest and they would proceed thereon.

T-11 days:
I finished developing the mini research outline. I even matched the outline to the articles that I found, so A and B could immediately start with the literature review. Since we needed 30 journal articles in total and I had found 21, between the two of them they only needed to find another 9 journal articles. I had also assigned each of us to do different parts. Told them to send their completed parts to me by T-5 so I would have sufficient time to compile, format, ensure consistency of the flow, print, bind, burn the softcopy on CD and stick the CD to the hardcopy. Proceed to do my part and prayed that the others would adhere to deadline (though I already seriously doubted it even at that moment).

T-7 days:
Saw A in class, but then B was absent, and we still had not discussed how to go about with the case study. A was still in charge with compiling of the calculation assignment. I called B to check on her progress, apparently she only finished 2 of 4 calculation questions. A said since B hadn’t finished her part of the calculation assignments, she (A) would do both her and B’s parts and compile the entire thing. Furthermore A’s hubby is a lecturer so he would be able to help her. Since B had been freed up and I had finished my part of the calculation assignment, B and I would now do the case study.

T-5 days:
Had been working my ass off every night for the past few days to finish up my part of the mini research. This was the day A and B should be sending me their parts. Waited till midnight, nothing came in.

T-4 days:
Woke up expecting to see something in my inbox. Still nothing. Texted A and B to ask them if they could submit by the end of the day. No reply. Sent my part of the mini research to them instead, maybe they needed some assurance that I had done my part and not merely breathing down their neck. By 10pm I already knew that they were going to miss the deadline again. Told them the send their part to me latest before noon of T-3 coz T-3 is a Friday. I didn’t want to spend my weekend scouting for a place to print.

T-3 days:
Up till noon, no news from either of them. I had a bad feeling that B might still be struggling with her mini research and she might not even have the time to look at the case study (just some crazy sixth sense, I hadn’t even spoken to her at that time). So I decided to start doing her part of the case study for two reasons: First, at least if she didn’t do her part well I had some backup plan. Second, I don’t mean to brag, but I think I’m pretty good at doing case studies (thanks to spending 3 years working in consulting firm fixing corporate issues day-in-day-out). True enough, B texted me sometime after lunch saying that she couldn’t finish her mini research and hadn’t even started with the case study. Since I had finished my part of the mini research, she volunteered to do the compilation and print it over the weekend. I told her to focus on that then, and leave the case study entirely to me.

Shortly after that, A texted me. Same story, couldn’t finish hers. So A would send her part to B when she’s done. Am I the only one who knows the meaning of the word deadline?

By the way, I finished up the entire case study and sent it to A for printing. Checkpoint: Case study – Done, A to print. Calculation assignment – My part done, A was doing the rest and she would compile and print. Mini research – My part done, A and B’s parts still not done, passed over to B to compile and print. I was almost glad that I didn’t have to do the compiling and printing anymore. At least the burden to do QC before submission was no longer on me. I could now focus on the many open houses that I had to attend over the weekend.

T-2 days
Deepavali day. You knew what happened. Talked about it in part I.

T-1 day
I called A early in the morning coz I had a bad feeling (again, my sixth sense kicked in, or is it because I’m such a control freak?) that she wasn’t doing too well with the mini research. Again, I was right. The woman wasn’t even aware that she had to do 20 pages! She only did five, I tell you, five! That was like the super basic thing the lecturer told us, we needed to do 60 pages in total, so that translated into about 20 pages for each person. And she did only five? I gave her the research outline with the 21 articles that I found and even matched the articles to the outline, and all she could come out with was five freaking pages? And she told me this one day before the submission date? Don’t you think I have the right to be super duper insanely mad?!

Whatever it is, I’m thankful that one of Allah’s gifts to me is that I am great at handling conflicts, finding quick resolution in critical situations and working under tremendous pressure and crazy deadlines. Thank you Allah for all that. Also thanks to my crazy former bosses in EY for their tough love that made me develop those invaluable skills. So yes, I took the bull by the horn and did another management decision. I would cover half of what A should be doing while she went on and finished the other half. I would send the half to A, she would compile it together with the rest. I got it done I matter of hours, from the moment I hung up the phone till it was time for Zuhur prayers. Again, thanks to Allah for giving me the brains.

Went to Kak Shuz’s open house (told her on Friday I would only come if I could finish my assignment. When I reach her house, her first question to me was “So boleh datang ni maknanya dah siap assignment lah?”. I said yes, whatever that meant. If only she knew the kind of typhoon that hit me that morning.

T-0 day = "D-Day":
This was the day. The day we had to submit all three assignments that we worked so hard on for the past how many days. I had a pleasant morning, thinking that A and B would settle the rest. Oh how wrong was I.

After lunch I got a call from A. Guess what, she said she couldn’t burn the mini research on CD coz she didn’t have a CD burner. And she told me this 6 hours before we were supposed to submit everything during class! If you think that’s annoying wait till you hear this, she just found out she didn’t have one of the questions for the calculation assignment coz she didn’t have the last page of the question set! That only showed that she never even looked at the question set until this very day, the day we were supposed to submit the assignment! And she was the one who volunteered to do all calculation assignments (of course minus those that I already did weeks before). And guess what, I doubt she even looked at the questions as she told me she just sent the questions to her friends to do, and it was one of her friends who discovered that the question set was not complete. And we were talking about 6 freaking hours before submission time here!

So once again, management decision time. I had to go home after work to burn the mini research and the calculation assignment on CD, then only I could go to class. As for the missing question, there was nothing we could do, so we decided to do a different question in the set to cover up for it.

Just as I thought the nightmare was over, A called again at about 4pm (class starts at 6.30pm so it was T-2.5 hours!) saying that she couldn’t find a place to do binding near her office, or anywhere on her way from there to school. What?! So I said fine, I would do the binding, but send the stuff to me now so I could print them out. So she sent me the mini research which she said she had compiled so all that was left for me to do was to print. But guess what, the moment I open the file, it was a disaster. She missed out an entire page from my part while copying and pasting. Her part (which she obviously did in 24 hours) was so bad – so many grammar mistakes and the flow was all over. The formatting of the entire document was horrible. Obviously it was a bad compiling work and there wasn’t any QC being done. I had to read the entire 50-odd pages line by line to fix all that.

And the calculation assignment, by the time she sent me the compiled version it was already 6pm. I couldn’t be bothered with QC-ing that one, I had no time left. By the time I finished printing both the calculation assignment and the mini research and did my Asar prayers it was almost 7pm. Headed home to burn the files on CD (fortunately I kept a stack of blank CDs at home) and bind the hardcopies. A & B went straight to school. Fortunately B kept to her words in taking charge of printing the case study, so that took a bit of the burden off me. While I was at home waiting for the CDs to finish burning, A called saying that the lecturer had nothing more to teach so she might be leaving soon. Told A to hold the lecturer back, I would be there in 30 minutes. Picked up the bound mini research and case study from the binding shop and headed to school.

When I reached there everybody already left except for A & B. The lecturer went somewhere but they said she would be back. So we waited for her to return, sent in our precious 3 masterpieces and signed-off the submission sheet. Apparently the lecturer was in a pretty foul mood coz one of our classmates had emailed her the night before to ask for one week extension. Omigod, if I was the lecturer I would be pissed off too. And another student from a different session (she teaches 3 sessions for this subject) joined our class without even informing her and she suspects the student was there just to get exam tips. So all in all, we weren’t doing too bad by submitting our work towards the end of the class, at least we still adhered to the deadline. Since we were the last ones there we helped the lecturer to carry the pile of assignments to hercar. Hope that would get us some brownie points :-)

So that’s the part II of my several eventful days. Told you they were eventful.

What have I learned from all this?

First, not to trust. I made a mistake of trusting my groupmates, thinking that MBA students are professional people and they should be behaving as such.
Note to self: Don’t trust anyone ever again, especially when your own future (in this case my MBA grades) is at stake, no matter how “professional” they look to you.

Second, MBA students behave just as badly as undergrad students. Having a degree, even a career, doesn’t change them one bit. I might be generalizing here, but you know what I mean.
Note to self: Stay mature when your groupmates behave like babies.

Third, some people just don’t pay much attention to assignments. They just do enough to fulfill the requirements, they don’t pay much (if any at all) attention to the content. It sucks when I know I can do the work much better yet I have to trust them to do their part because it’s suppose to be a “group” thing. And because they don’t adhere to the group’s internal compilation deadline, I can’t QC their work and fix it in time.
Note to self: When you know you can do it better, just go ahead and do it, even if it was not assigned to you. Don’t tell you team members though, let them do their part so they won’t be free riders, but at the same time you also do the same part. Chances are they will do it so badly you will have to step in anyway.

Thank you Allah for this learning experience. Like what Thomas Alva Edison said when he finally figured out how to make a light bulb works after trying it so many times,

“I have not failed, I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.”

Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931)


niSamiR said... was a huge disaster man..if i were u, for sure i would be as "crazie" as u...ahhhh..luckly it already passed..nway..i'll learn YOUR lesson..*sigh*

Erin said...

ish, i'm exhausted + angry + frustrated just reading about it...kudos for handling things well, mate!

dieya said...

niesa & erin,

memang banyak dugaan jadi student mba ni. you know how i was on the verge of giving up a while back, with all this happening memang rasa nak throw in the towel. susah laa when we have to rely on other people (yang tak reliable pulak tu) to get good grades. the structure of the course gives only a small percentage to the final exams. yang lain2 majority of the marks are from assignments. so bila dapat groupmates yang ntahapapa it's so frustrating!

anyways lega rasanya dapat luahkan perasaan. next time when u guys wanna do ur masters, ingat2 lah apa yg sudah ku lalui ini, so u guys are more ready.

naf said...

kalau aku macam dah mengamuk sakan. haha

Anonymous said...

masters mmg lagi byk dugaan than undergrad. it's terrible when the course itself demands teamwork, because some people out there even though they claim to know what teamwork is, they don't practise it, or worse, the truth is that they've just misinterpreted the meaning and claim that they know what it means. fortunately, my course is entirely dependent on the final exam results. but it hurts to know that i am solely on my own, even though the group consists of 4 students and we are stuck together for the whole year! some people are selfish and they just think of themselves, so the best way is to make sure you always have a back-up plan. never depend on another person. i hate to say this, but the married people will always come up with family/children as an excuse. they say that their priorities have changed. they say they don't care that they don't get their masters, etc... some people are just friends with you if they get a benefit from it. you view life and the world as such, but they see you as different and not like them. these people either don't see the truth or pretend not to know, or even worse, think that they are in the right!
just be aware that you can never trust anyone easily.
so, yes, masters is not like undergraduate. but it is still much better than my previous workplace. that was even worse! so in a perverse way, i am thankful for having been disillusioned much earlier, that i am now seeing life through better eyes.
take care. all the best.

dieya said...

kalau diikutkan hati yg memang nak mengamuk jerit2 guling2 semua. tapi bila fikir rational, mengamuk pun takde maknanya kalau benda still tak siap. so had to think rationally, get them done somehow.

anonymous (whoever u r),
yeah u r right, memang banyak dugaan buat masters ni. even more so when i need to manage the people i deal with, rather than managing the tasks. i've learned my lesson!