Management & Information Technology: Student Testimonials

Ernest Nyarko

Specialist: Management & Information Technology Co-op

What factors contributed to you choosing your program(s)?

University often presents us with a unique situation - an abundance of choice that, if not well navigated becomes a burden. In trying to decide which program to choose at the University of Toronto (UofT). I thought of 3 dimensions: my career aspirations, the growth potential to be gained and my passions. To overlay this onto my UofT experience, I came into UofT from the IB program, where I knew I was passionate about management and would someday love to hold a position in management. That became even clearer to me after a year of study in the management program. After speaking to many students, professors and professionals, I developed a list of what was important to the industry & employer (skills, trends or otherwise) and which stream of management best captured this. In short, my "research" pointed me in the direction of the specialist coop management & information technology. The management program is built to provide the experiences in the various management streams and the experience to lead. I needed to grow to maximize the benefit of my program and information technology seemed to be a layer to that education which allowed me to tie those experiences with the information age we are in. That was my simplified thought process, but I would argue that it is a necessary and a good starting point to determine your program and your future.

Can you describe your program(s)? What is it actually like?

I am in the management co-op program. This is a great program for you if you are interested in working with and galvanizing people and groups to reach mutual ends. It is captured by the management tagline "experience to lead". To be honest, the program operates on the principle “what you put in is what you get out”. It is unlikely that because you are in the management program, opportunities will present themselves to you in a black and white fashion - in many ways the program is much the opposite. It equips you with tools to see these opportunities, understand them, value them and leverage them in whatever setting you find yourself in. That is the true nature of the program. The average management student in the program at times, finds it hard to grasp why they may be studying Human Resource Management (HRM) when they are in a finance stream, however this is key to understanding the people you work with or manage, and dictates organizational strategy. For example, if you operate a company at low cost you would need to hire at low cost to keep those costs low as an example and that ties in with horizontal and vertical fit of HR strategy with your company. The management program I would say is challenging, in a good way. What differentiates it is the holistic education you receive, the opportunities it helps you to identify and unlock, and the way it shapes your thoughts!

What tips/advice can you provide to students just starting or considering this program(s)?

1. Get involved: I cannot overestimate the synergies that arise from this. I have been lucky to be involved many clubs: MESA, LIVE competition, UTSCASA and the African Impact initiative. These help you to grow by challenging yourself, to apply a practical dimension to your studies and to build your network!
2. Enjoy the journey: A statement I hear a lot is "Ugh, I can't wait to graduate". To be fair, it can express an eagerness to enter the workforce or to move on to the next stage of life, although that is not the context I have typically heard them in. My perspective? You are only an undergraduate student once in your life, be free in thought and be open to experiences. Be prepared to learn new things and apply those learnings! Ask your professors how their particular course ties in with your interests.
3. Leverage resources: There are a great many resources on campus to help you decide your program, plan your degree and maximize the benefit. Use the Academic Advising and Career Centre, your professors, etc. to ensure that you are constantly on track and staying informed on the variety of services offered to make you the best you.
What will you do with your degree after graduation? (Future plans?)
I plan to build on my degree with an MBA. I see life as a progression-each stage feeds into the next. I plan to leverage my UofT education and round it out further with an MBA.

What has your academic journey during your time been like as you progress toward graduation?
It has been a total adventure. I have been challenged, inspired and driven by the people and things I have learnt at UofT. In my first year, as an international student I was challenged by the new culture I was in. I decided to get involved on campus with LIVE competition and the family I formed here helped integrate me into the Canadian culture and way of study. Calculus was especially challenging during this time but the people I met helped me through it and it worked out. In my second year, I grew by joining the Management and Economics Students’ Association (MESA) and competing in a number of competitions to apply the things I had learnt. This opened doors for me and I was hired by RBC. In my 3rd year, I was stretched thin getting involved as part of the senior leadership of both MESA and the African Students' Association, yet I worked hard and valued the people and the connections I made. I took courses outside of management to shape my thinking, sociology, psychology, ethics, etc. I saw these as fundamental to understanding the people around me and the society in functioned in. I then managed to work at Johnson & Johnson at the end of my third year, where I got to leverage the learnings in my courses at UofT. In my fourth year, I am now working with a good friend on an initiative to impact Africa in a sustainable way. My academic journey has seen me try to adapt to new ways of learning and I use this to color my experiences here at UofT to make me the best me.