My Week in ESTEEM -- Fall Semester, Week 1

Author: Connor Ratycz

Connor RatcyzConnor Ratcyz

After the ESTEEM Program Orientation, we immediately began the rigorous and hectic six weeks known as the Summer Semester. Looking back, the semester was truly an exciting experience for my classmates and myself, filled with valuable experiences. Our summer time was spent with classmates working on Dr. Elwell’s 20-hour long projects each week -- being amazed every time at what we accomplished, to learning about the fundamentals of accounting and finance while Dr. Hutchison spoke of his irresistible love for Fifth Third Bank, to fighting the urge to pivot in Sunny and Dustin’s business model canvas course, to reading Paul Goebel’s “Pool anyone?” text messages, and learning Solidworks from Micheal Sedor’s 500 hours of experience.

That crazy semester came to end, granting us students a well-deserved two week break. Many students put Sunny’s phrase, “Get out of the building,” to practice by venturing away from South Bend to travel and explore, or visit friends and family in back home. I think I speak for everyone when I say that those two weeks came and passed quickly. Fortunately, the first week of the fall semester went off to a great start and, once again, Career Consultant Lisa Michaels came back into our lives, bombarding us with emails, informing all of the ESTEEM students of the consulting career events that will be available in the upcoming weeks.

Our “syllabus week” was a nice transition back to the academic setting as most of the week was introductory lectures for our current classes and touching base with our thesis advisors. Our fall semester will be very paced as our ESTEEM classes are modules that last half of the semester before a new module begins. Our current classes this portion of the semester are Professor Kitz”s Technical Market course, Professor O’Rourke’s Business Presentations class, and Professor Lewandowski’s Data Analytics class. We will be learning a lot of new information this semester, and I am certainly looking forward to Professor Lewandowski’s Data Analytics course as we will be analyzing data provided by the City of South Bend near the end of the module and presenting our findings to city officials.  The Venture Founders Program also had a “Founders Lab” workshop during the first week of the semester. This workshop was an opportunity for us founders to work through our problem statements using systems mapping and other design thinking tools. We got great feedback from Dustin and Maria on how to proceed and better understand our problem landscapes and how to move forward in the upcoming weeks.  

Founders Lab Workshop

But even during the care-free syllabus week, we were reminded of  the impending thesis project deadlines inevitably drawing nearer to us: a draft of our entire business model canvas related to our thesis, a draft of chapters one and two, scheduling our oral exam, and of course, the oral exam itself. Regardless of the looming deadlines, we pushed many of these thoughts to the back of our minds during the first week by planning a get-together for ESTEEM students for the weekend, and attending the South Bend Cubs baseball game courtesy of the ESTEEM program. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the baseball game, and Taylor Johnson’s endless amount of text messages only reinforced my feeling of regret for missing out.

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Although it's been a relatively calm start to the fall semester, like all semesters the fall workload and difficulty will increase in the coming weeks. We all survived the arduous summer semester together through Game of Thrones watch parties, ping pong games, excursions to the beach, golfing, Super Smash Brothers, Roy 2, basketball, and casual get-togethers. Eager to get further into the fall semester, I may be more excited to see what activities we will come up this semester to pass the time.

Go Irish!