The Mentorship Spot
What You Can Expect from Schulich
Updated: Jul 28, 2020
Vithya Sithi is a fourth-year student at Schulich School of Business. She did an internship and she is majoring in Operations Management in Information Systems (OMIS). One fun fact about Vithya is she can have a conversation in 5 different languages: English, French, Tamil, Korean, and American Sign Language!
1. Why did you choose Schulich?
The biggest reason I chose Schulich was because it was close to home. There were a lot of great business programs in the area but it was the closest one, and of my options I felt that Schulich was the most suited to me. For Schulich’s undergraduate program, you’re kind of required to take a variety of courses that span across all of the business fields and aspects in your first and second year. In third and fourth year you have the option to specialize if you want to. Most of the other programs out there are already specialized, so you’d already be going into an accounting program or a management program, but in Schulich it’s very generalized so you can choose where you want to go into later on. Most students entering the program don’t know what ‘specialization’ means. The basic breakdown is: if you take 12 credits from a particular area (e.g., marketing) then that’s technically what you’re specializing in. So once you’re in third or fourth year that’s when you can take those courses that apply to your specialization type. Technically speaking you can have 4 different specializations if you take 12 credits from each different area. However, it’s not written on your degree so the whole purpose of it is when you apply for jobs you can say that you’re specialized in a field and then Schulich can provide you documentation when requested.
2. What does your school/program offer?
Schulich is very popular for its small class sizes and that’s one of the reasons why a lot of the people I know chose Schulich. I believe it’s relatively the smallest amongst all the specialized business programs in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Other than that, it offers a very structured beginning for first and second year. As I mentioned, you take a variety of business courses in the beginning and then based on what you like you can choose to specialize in third or fourth year. Schulich has 12 different specializations and this allows you to span out very well and you can always take non-Schulich courses. In third and fourth year you’re only required to take a certain amount of Schulich courses, and then the rest you can take with York University, because technically speaking Schulich is a faculty within York. So say you’re really interested in doing science on the side, you can sign up for as many science courses and this is a nice flexibility that’s not offered in other programs. A lot of the professors you end up with are the ones who also teach graduate-level courses. Schulich is very famous for their big MBA and other master’s programs so that’s also a factor that attracts a lot of people, because they’re learning from professors who are teaching at the master’s level.
3. Can you give us an overview of OMIS and why you chose to major in it?
OMIS encompasses all of the operational and logistic aspects of running a business in addition to the internal systems and often times the organization and application of all of an organization’s data.
The reason I chose OMIS is because of the work it encompasses. Often times it’s very much hands-on, in the sense that you’re able to directly and visibly see the impact that what you work towards results in. It’s also very flexible in the sense that there’s a lot of options in the style of work, it’s very often you can find individuals that work from home, or are able to work out of both an office setting and on and off site depending on the organization and its needs.
4. Do you have any study tips or secrets for success to share for your program?
Especially in your first year if you find that you’re struggling or confused, definitely find a group of people you get along with that you can study together. This will be really helpful because some people will have already gone past that learning curve from high school to university and others may not have gotten there yet, but you will be able to learn from them. A lot of the courses at Schulich require critical thinking and having to explain your thinking. Talking to other students helps you to kind of bounce ideas and hear new perspectives, which then helps you to develop different ways to approach a question or topic and get accustomed to analyzing and thinking critically. Also, talk to your professors! A lot of them may seem intimidating, especially in first year, but if you ask questions and visit their office hours they will definitely take note of who you are. The professors will remember you and know that you’ve put in the effort so if anything comes up they’re usually helpful for assignments and things like that.
5. Since Schulich admits a relatively small number of students, class sizes would be small starting from first year. Would you say the transition from high school to university was less difficult?
The transition was definitely a lot easier because Schulich is just one building on campus and your class sizes have a maximum of 55 students per section (and usually that doesn’t even get met). Schulich takes around 425 students per year and that’s including the international and regular business administration program. So it felt like I was just moving into another different high school because all of your classes are in that one building, unless you’re taking electives (like a York course) and that’s in a different building on campus. A lot of the Schulich students feel like it’s a hazard when they’re asked to go to a different building because most would have no idea of where the building even is .
Overall, I found that the transition was easy for me and for a lot of people. In terms of workload it is different and that’s a common thing across all programs and universities. The workload is hard but still manageable and a lot of the professors, especially in your first year, know it can be hard and they know the difference between their undergraduate and graduate students so they are a little more flexible and helpful than what I’ve heard from other programs. I think in general it was very well planned out for students and there are a lot of options for help you can get. Schulich offers multiple mentorship programs, such as Leaf Mentorship, Schulich Protégé Program, and specialized mentorship programs for people coming from across Canada or internationally. SOS (Students Offering Support) was a very big help to both myself and a lot of my peers. Since the community at Schulich is so small you can familiarize with faces very well and a lot of the upper year students are very helpful.
6. What do you like about your school/program, now that you’ve been in it for 3 years?
One of the things I like, and that I think is the biggest difference between Schulich and other schools/programs, is the people you meet at Schulich. For the most part, people at Schulich are very helpful and willing to share anything they have with you such as past assignments, advices, or networking tips. Especially if you meet someone who’s a year or two above as they’ve been in the same position as you before. For example, in first year there’s this management course that everyone takes and there’s a ridiculous 10% assignment that the professor gets you to start working on in September. Some would start stressing out but the older students help you realize that the assignment is really worth only a small proportion of your entire grade. There are assignments later in the term that are worth much more and have quicker deadlines.
There is also a good variety of courses at Schulich so if you’re hoping to do something very specific or you don’t know what you want to do (like me), you have a very good selection of courses to choose from. Even when you start to specialize in an area it’s not like you can’t get out of it, you can switch boats really easily.
7. Schulich is often known for its networking and alumni connections. How would you say this is true?
It is very true as the Career Centre at Schulich goes out of its way to set up networking sessions with big companies and different recruiting programs. In first year it’s not really a big thing until you move on to second year and above. Once you start to make those connections it’s easy to get internships and job interviews or just some tips and tricks in terms of the career path you want. In terms of accounting specifically, it is exceptionally well because Schulich is very closely tied with all of the big four accounting companies and they know the process inside and out. In terms of getting your CPA they have different programs and places for you to get as many of the courses you can completed for those designations out of the way. So for accounting it’s exceptionally well but it’s also good for everything else. In terms of networking with alumni, Schulich is exceptionally well in terms of increasing the opportunity for 1-on-1 networking.
There is a secret triangle at Schulich that no one really knows about and it is: Experience, Grades, and Networking. What most Schulich people believe is that it’s exceptionally difficult to excel at all three just because you don’t have the time. A lot of people end up focusing on just two, for example, if they know they’re not necessarily meeting the best grades then they’ll go with experience and networking.
8. What are your goals after undergraduate studies and how is your program helping you achieve those goals?
At the current point in time in terms of my undergrad, I’m specializing in OMIS but I still have a year left. I’m not completely sure what I want to do after undergrad and that’s often the case with a lot of people. Many are afraid of saying it because when you go into Schulich there’s all these networking and people who usually end up getting an internship at some point in time, so people are very hesitant to say “I don’t know what I want to do with my life”. I’m thinking most likely I will either do a full-time job in operations management, or I’m also looking into some graduate programs that may interest me but it’s still undetermined.
Interviewed by Amanda Chang
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