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Posted by Rebecca on 27 May 2009

This is a very busy time of year.  I know, all the bloggers are starting to sound like a broken record on this subject, but it’s true.  The amount of work and activity seems to increase with each passing semester.  At the moment I’m juggling three upcoming exams, a report for our Managing Organisational Behaviour Audit client, plus all the activity that comes with being an Academic rep and involved with the Media Club.  And then there is the small matter of my 1st Year Project. 

Each year professors post research topics of interest to them as 1YPs.  Students can apply, and if selected, earn an elective credit after successfully completing the paper / case study / analysis.  One of them caught my eye: the Evolution of Organizational Forms and Employment Patterns in the Film Industry (1900-2008).  I applied and was awarded the project. 

This happened back in February.  Since then I have learned several “fun facts”:

  • In 1990 over 36,000 scripts were registered with the Writers Guild of America; less than 1% was made into movies.
  • While everyone enjoys playing “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” he is not, in fact, the most connected person in Hollywood.  That honour belongs to a porn star.
  • I am the only student who signed up for a 1st year project.

All of these findings are interesting to recite, but somewhat intuitive including the last fact.  I say this because all of my fellow classmates are bright enough to know the basic math for return on investment.  I apparently skipped that Finance lecture and neglected to calculate that an 8,000 word research report on what I will call a niche topic may not be the best use of hours and hours and hours of time. 

So why did I sign up for a 1YP on this particular topic?  That seems to be a popular question.  A number of conversations have followed a similar pattern.

Friend: “want to grab a drink?”
Me: “can’t. I have to write another 5,000 words of my research paper for my 1YP.”
Friend:  “what’s a 1YP? And why would you sign up for more work?”

Or this one –

Me: “can you help me find a book on power networks?”
Librarian: “sure. Is this for a second year project?”
Me: “no, a first year project.”
Librarian: “They’re making you do first year projects now, too?”
Me: “no, I signed up for one.”
Librarian: “wow.  Why?”

One of the things that drew me to the 1YP was the flexibility to work on an elective credit on my own, at my own pace.  Of course, in reality that means waiting until the 11th hour to start researching and writing (if you are one of those people who stick to a disciplined schedule and finish things on time, I’m sorry but we can’t be friends). 

But as I approach the homestretch (1500 more words to go!), I realise that the answer to the question “why?” is because this obscure topic interests me: I want a job in media, and this is what the paper is about after all.  And there is something oddly satisfying about writing a report with a word count in the thousands with a bibliography that goes on for pages.  Sort of like running a marathon (not that I’ve done it) – mildly masochistic but somehow rewarding. 

This fall the faculty will no doubt post another slate of 1YPs, and for any MBA 2011 thinking about applying, feel free to come talk to me.  In the meantime, information sessions are being held for the 2nd Year Project, which are mandatory for graduation.  I think I'll finish this one before thinking about the next one.   


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