Externship, Preparing for the Telecom Age

Submitted by: Aadel Al-Jadda (US), University of Rochester

Summary: The concept is a cross university exercise between second year MBA students hiring, managing, and firing first year MBA students at another university all through telecommunication. As globalization has lead to furious communication and collaboration amongst companies and cohorts, manager must understand and experience the limitations and differences telecommuting creates.

Full Description: Externship, let me explain. The concept is a cross university exercise between second year MBA students hiring, managing, and firing first year MBA students at another university all through telecommunication. Nearly 3 million people in the U.S. consider home their primary workplace and nearly 25 million people telecommute at least one day a week [1]. That doesn’t include the 15 million road warriors and 20 million home based part-times [1]. Nor does it include the rise of outsourcing, subcontracting, and consulting that companies have utilized to minimize overhead. Telecommuting has growing at an annual rate of 15% since 1996 [2] and the trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down. While this trend cuts down on traffic congestion and business travel, it does add a twist to the manager’s responsibility to plan, coordinate, and execute with resources from afar.

As businesses expand and contract across the globe, the branched and subsidiaried corporate world seems to become more and more common. Globalization has lead to furious communication and collaboration amongst companies and cohorts far faster than any jet can fly. More and more today’s business commuters are armed with a webcam and speaker phone rather than a toiletry bag and miles card. While much is gained in the remote revolution in the interest of efficacy, there is also the potential void between managers and their employees that can be as little as the phone pressed to the ear or as great as miles between.

The core concept of the Externship is to allow students to become comfortable with communicating, managing and being managed entirely through digital means. Multiple small groups of second year students will interview a number of the first year students and select a few based on the information they are able to gather. They will then give their chosen “employees” a deliverable, review that deliverable, provide feedback, review the final deliverable and select their best performer. The depth and length of the exercise is up to the universities; it could be a week, a month, or a semester. The key to this exercise is the feedback given at the end for both sides of the monitor.  Understanding the limits and differences telecommuting creates will go a long way for future managers and business executives.