As winter break draws near and the last semester of my Wisconsin MBA fast approaches, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on my Bolz experience. Especially now, as we head into the week of Thanksgiving, I would also like to express my gratitude for the multitude of opportunities this program offers. One of the primary reasons that I chose to undertake my graduate studies here in Madison over the several other schools that I was evaluating was the opportunity to continue working throughout my time here. I shared in my last two blog posts, stories about my first year applied learning placement at the Wisconsin Historical Society and my summer internship with Hennepin Theatre Trust in Minneapolis. Although each of those experiences was very different, each was an opportunity for growth and self-reflection. Each taught me something about what kinds of positions I am searching for after graduation, what skills I naturally bring to the table, and which of the skills I have gained since beginning my MBA that will be most useful to me in the future.
This year I am changing things up yet again, working with Tandem Press for my applied learning placement (ALP). Last year at the Historical Society I was communications coordinator for a special project and undertook board management duties. This past summer I was a research analyst working with economic data for the Hennepin Theatre District. Now, I am focusing my efforts on inventory and database management at Tandem and assisting with development and donor management projects. Clearly the path I have taken with my applied learning and work placements has been nonlinear, but in the end, I think that this is an advantage. The placements I have had over these last two years have given me a breadth of experience that would be difficult to accomplish anywhere else in such a short period of time.
Outside of my ALP roles, however, the Bolz experience has provided other opportunities that I could not have gotten elsewhere. As a part of our second year capstone project we have been working closely with Todd Johnson from UW-Extension on consulting projects with two small, Wisconsin communities. This has been an excellent chance to implement our studies in creative placemaking and community engagement, and the guidance from Todd and the members of the UW-Extension Community Vitality and Placemaking Team has been incredibly helpful in that regard. However beyond that, the chance to learn the ins and outs of nonprofit consulting and effectively act as real-world consultants has been perhaps the most worthwhile piece of this. Consulting is the goal for many of my fellow MBAs outside of the Bolz Center, but it is also difficult to break into unless one has worked in an industry for years and accumulated the necessary deep subject knowledge and connections. The Bolz capstone consulting project has been a chance to skip those steps and learn the ropes of consulting in a controlled setting. While I don’t necessarily think that consulting is my goal in the long term, I could not have known that without this experience and for that I am truly grateful.
So, again, I want to say thank you to the Bolz staff, alumni, and all the donors who keep this program alive. The Bolz Center experience has allowed me to try my hand at various roles within different types of cultural organizations, and ultimately has helped me understand my path forward in this field. Although I still do not know what exactly the future will hold after graduation (which is only a short six months away!) I do know that I now have the foundations, the knowledge, and the support to make that future a success. Happy Thanksgiving!