QUEST Electives- An Experienced Voice

Article by John Walsh (Q17)

Well, QUEST students, it’s that wonderful time of year again, much like opening presents on Christmas morning, when everyone is trying to figure out what fun and exciting classes to take in the spring. Many of you are burdened with extensive requirements from your major, especially those brave souls in engineering, and you need to make sure that you fulfill those QUEST elective requirements and make them count! After collecting some outside opinions and using my own experiences (since I am currently on my 6th QUEST elective), I am here to provide to you some honest and, hopefully, helpful resources so that you can find the best class for you.

The first class that I would like to talk about is the Non-Profit Consulting class that debuted last year. The objective of this class is to give the students a feel for the consulting and service industries while working within the challenging world of non-profits. Dr. Bailey, Nicole, Melanie, and Melissa Carrier from the Center for Social Value Creation ran this class and taught many of the same tools we all learned in 190 and how to apply them to the non-profit industry. Furthermore, each student worked on a team for an actual client in order to address a problem that client was facing. The staff also brought in many important individuals within the non-profit sector to enhance our learning. This overall experience was the most important class I have taken in terms of preparing me for the rigor of 490.

The next three classes that I have had experience with are Total Quality Management (BMGT 486), Six Sigma (BMGT487) and Project Management (BMGT485). These three classes are respectively taught by Dr. Suarez, Professor Alt, and Professor Ibrahim and teach you very important tools not only for 490, but also for whatever job you are looking to pursue after graduation.

In Total Quality Management, Dr. Suarez teaches students about the usefulness of quality management ideas and how they can be applicable to everyday tasks. Furthermore, since QUEST is all about quality, it is important you know how to manage quality. Project Management is a class that is taught through extensive real-world simulations and you learn the importance of an optimized schedule and how to use the somewhat confusing Microsoft Project. Not only can this additional skill in Microsoft Project look great on a resume, but it can make your 490 experience a lot better (as I found out this semester). Lastly, Six Sigma is a great experience and allows you to understand some very useful tools and procedures for process improvement. While I had experience with the business version of this class, I would personally recommend the engineering version if you have the opportunity because in addition to getting client interaction, you also earn a Six Sigma belt classification by the end of the semester. This can be a major selling point to any future employer.

The last class that I would like to mention is the study abroad opportunity that QUEST provides each winter. I was fortunate enough to go on the China trip and while I could probably write five more articles just on that amazing experience, I am here to tell you to go on a QUEST trip if you can! This year, they are going to Brazil and next year’s trip is still being determined. The amount of learning and personal development you experience over that short time period is more pronounced than in any other class or club I have been a part of at Maryland. You not only learn about a different culture, but you learn about yourself in the process and shed light on a whole new perspective to the way you think. I could not recommend this experience highly enough.

I hope this article has been helpful. While it was somewhat skewed toward business classes, I know that you will have just as great an experience as I have had with these electives. The important thing to remember is that these classes are meant to be helpful for your future and can be very rewarding and fun at the same time. Plus, it is always great to spend more time in class with the Quality Guild!

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