my capstone experience

Amanda Kruszkowski '10, a Business Administration major from Maynard, Mass., discusses her group Capstone project that focused on running a simulated airline. The Capstone project, which involves extensive research and presentation, is the culmination of each student's academic experience.

While at Colby-Sawyer, Kruszkowski was a member of Sigma Beta Delta and worked in Enrollment Operations. A year after completing her internship at MIT Lincoln Laboratory in Massachusetts, she will return as an employee in the Strategy and Planning Office to work under the Chief Information Officer.

Describe the subject of your Capstone project and why you chose to focus on this subject.

For the Business Administration Capstone, groups of students compete in an airline simulation. In our simulation there were seven teams, five of which were run by groups of students. My team was Apex Air and consisted of Jon Chaloux, Katelin McNutt, Steve Borchetta, Alex Gustafson and Terri Duffy. We had to make decisions for our airlines based on marketing, advertising, human resources, operations and finance. All the components of business that we have been studying were integrated into one simulation. We chose the airline industry because it is so competitive.

What research did you conduct for this project?

My team researched the airline industry, other companies' moves in the simulation, and the readings that we studied. Each time we read a new article, journal or chapter of a book we had to understand the author's background in order to make sure the writing was valid, and then the time of year and what was going on then to understand why the authors wrote what they did. For example, Michael Porter wrote Competitive Advantage when the Japanese were surpassing American business. By knowing these aspects you can synthesis the information and make sense of what was going on and how it can be relevant today. Also, we often researched through our own business texts. In order to succeed in the business Capstone you must retain what you have learned over the past four years.

What did you learn through your Capstone project, and in what ways is it a culmination of your learning experience at Colby-Sawyer?

Through my Capstone experience I learned mostly that organizations are living organisms, and that to survive you and your company must adapt. This can be related back to Colby-Sawyer because the liberal education makes students well rounded and able to adapt to change. Also, I learned that knowledge can be used as a competitive advantage. I want to continue my education in the future and value the knowledge I accumulated from Colby-Sawyer College.

What was most fun and rewarding in the process of creating your Capstone?

Throughout my Capstone experience there were a lot of fun and rewarding components. The first would be working closely with my team. Working with my team for hours every day brought us close together, and they kept me sane throughout the semester. We worked hard as a team and strived for each other's individual success. It was rewarding to see how a group of close friends could function so well throughout the semester. The other rewarding piece was presenting our final Annual Report. This allowed us not only to overview our performance in the simulation but reflect on our experience here at Colby-Sawyer College. I was proud of my company and it truly was a rewarding experience.

What did you find most challenging and difficult about the project?

The most difficult part was the heavy work load. It was hard to understand some of the concepts, terms and theories because a lot of the theories were new to us. It was hard to develop a schedule and it took a while to master time management.

What do you hope will be the lasting value of your Capstone project, both for you and others?

I hope students will realize the importance of the Capstone experience. This class ties our liberal education with our business administration courses and prepares us for our futures in the business world. It is very difficult, but you have to be pushed out of your element in order to learn and grow. The hard work really does pay off.

How would you summarize your Colby-Sawyer experience?

I am really glad I came to Colby-Sawyer College. Through this liberal education learning I was molded into an adaptive and open-minded student. Liberal education is truly a foundation for learning for the rest of our lives. At first, I wished that I had gone to a business school, but reflecting on my experience I am thankful I chose Colby-Sawyer College. The school is committed in seeing students succeed. I appreciate all of the professors who took the time to get to know me and pushed me to work hard throughout my four years here. When I arrived I did not know the benefits of a liberal education or that I would even have a job before I graduated college. The business administration program really produces intelligent and hard-working graduates.