Branding Yourself with QUEST: Current Students Reflect on their QUEST Experience
By: Caitlin Thompson (Q28)
When asked about the QUEST program, current students are quick to describe the curriculum’s focus on process improvement, systems design, and quality management. While this description matches on paper, some may further describe QUEST as a program where multidisciplinary teams work on projects, while others focus on the application of technical skills.
As a program that provides students with a variety of real world experiences, each student can share personal stories of his/her time in QUEST. These unique aspects can be reflected on students’ resumes and used to differentiate themselves during job interviews.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with three current QUEST students at different points in the program about their own QUEST experiences. They discussed how they have benefitted from the QUEST program and shared how they branded themselves at each step of the three-course sequence.
190H: Introduction to Design and Quality
First, I discussed the 190H experience with Adam Sarsony (Finance, Q29). Adam recently completed 190H, the first course in the QUEST sequence. He discussed his experience analyzing problems, working on multidisciplinary teams, and using new skills including fishbone and process flow diagrams.
“In 190H, I learned how to work on a high-performing team using agile development or scrum, and we practiced using Gantt charts and other project management tools common to teams using agile or scrum. Having an experience with these processes as a sophomore is something that I can speak to that helps me stand out from other students my age.”
Furthermore, Adam’s biggest lesson learned in 190H was “how to manage a professional relationship with a client. It isn’t something that you can put on a resume, but it is something that you can speak about in an interview and something that comes through in the way that QUEST students talk with employers and other professionals. It’s a soft skill that you can’t build without these professional experiences.”
390H: Systems Thinking for Managerial Decision Making
Savannah Shaul (Chemical Engineering and Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences, Q28) also shared some insight about her QUEST experience moving from 190H through 390H. She mentioned how QUEST has given her the confidence to take risks and question the way systems work.
In regards to how she brands herself with QUEST, she first discussed the professionalism skills she learned during 190H including “PowerPoint design, technical design, and presentation and time management skills. I found that all of these skills have helped me excel in various aspects of my life, even outside of school and my career.”
While these skills continue to be useful today, she expanded her knowledge of systems design in 390H, the second course in the QUEST sequence, and learned to think outside of the box.
“390H was definitely the class where I was challenged to think in new ways and to ‘break the system.’ As a student, we are constantly being told what to do and how to do it, but with this class, we basically were able to define ourselves and question everything around us. As young professionals who will emerge into the work force within the next few years, this is such an amazing skill to have because it will allow us to make drastic, but efficient and important, changes to whatever we end up working on. This is such an incredible skill that I definitely try to brand myself, and QUEST, with and hope to utilize in 490H.”
490H: QUEST Consulting and Innovation Practicum
Kevin Dragonette (Chemical Engineering, Q26) added to this conversation by reflecting on what he has learned throughout 490H, the QUEST capstone course. By working with an outside client, he learned about the importance of the voice of the customer when designing a solution.
“In QUEST, and in particular 490H, I learned how to develop a solution to a problem that addresses the perspective of all stakeholders involved. Solutions that are well-designed to address a specific problem often do not consider obstacles of implementation such as resistance from stakeholders who the solution does not directly benefit, but requires for successful implementation. I brand myself with the ability to design a practical, adaptable solution with a high chance of implementation rather than the ability to design a solution that is only successful on paper.”
Overall, QUEST provides each of us with a variety of useful skills that are applicable to numerous career fields. As our skills evolve throughout the program, we can reflect on our own experiences to continue to grow personally and professionally. Although these may differ, we all benefit from being members of the QUEST community and will apply lessons from our experiences throughout our careers.