Creative Ways to Study Businesses on the Internet for Your Graduate Degree

Posted June 11, 2015 by
Deborah Anderson photo

Deborah Anderson

One of the advantages that I have found, in my own pursuit of my doctorate degree, is the convenience of working while attending school and the synergistic way that the two compliment each other. Oh, it is true that that presents challenges in time management, with working full time and attending university full time, but isn’t life full of challenges? It is through those challenges that we grow. If we are analyzing our steps (even to a small degree) while we proceed through life, we can find more efficient ways of doing things and increase our chances of success.

I have had the advantage of already climbing to the top and functioning as a Chief Technology Officer in the financial industry. Believe me, that offers many opportunities to not only observe business but living in the center of it. Going back to the reference of the synergy between working and attending a university, the graduate work that I was doing also benefitted the business. And, the business work (career) benefitted the graduate work.

It is true that this is not always possible. If you have been given a full board scholarship, then by all means, spend that time at your university. But, just because you may not be working a full time job does not mean that you cannot learn from simple examples on the Internet.

An Example for This Study

I found an interesting article presented by a home remodeling company in Los Angeles. You can probably tell, by the context, that this is something that I am considering and I am from Los Angeles, so that makes sense that I would come across an article that interests me.

This particular article caught my eye, initially, because of the 10 steps and the list format of the article. Now, it is clear, from a marketing standpoint that if a company who specializes in remodeling makes a list of what you should look for in a company that specializes in remodeling, that they have it covered. As researchers and students, we need to ensure that we approach our article in an unbiased position. This is an opportunity to do that, recognizing the source of the article and setting aside any pre-conceptions, and, instead, starting our observation exercises.

Marketing Major: So, you are a marketing grad student and analyzing this simple article. What does it speak to you? First, the title grabs a person. Anything that starts with “10 Things..” or “10 Ways..” or similar headlines will grab a person and cause them to wonder about the list. Mark Hammer writes an article on using numbers in the headlines and why it is that we tend to like it and are drawn to read the article. This article is no exception. Now, that is just one observation for the marketing major. What else stands out to you?

Business Major: The business has not only presented a list of components for a successful remodeling company, but they have set that up as requirements for their business. If that is not the case, they would not be successful because people would identify that inconsistency. So, it is only logical that that is a part of their overall strategy.

What does that tell you, as a student of business? One thing that is clear is to define your business and ensure that you have a business strategy. Do not try to be all things to all people and do not try to re-invent the wheel. Instead, clarify what it is that your business does better than your competitors. What is it that makes your business stand out from the rest? Now, hand that off to your marketing department to spread that message to the world.

How does that relate to your graduate work? It is an example. One which will help you to identify further research to support that graduate paper on your selected business topic.

Psychology Major: This is my field. I have extensive business experience, but I am finishing up my degree in I/O Psychology. You could take two different approaches (actually, there are many more approaches). You could analyze this article in the context of the psychology of the article. This is likely to produce similar results to the marketing or business approach.

If you are in I/O Psychology like me, you could also assess it in the context of a related topic. For example, one of the areas that we study in I/O psychology is teamwork. I could actually analyze this article, assuming that it accurately represents this company in the context of the team approach. What does it say about the team? It says that there are different members of the team, including a project manager, designer, and the client. There is also an inference to the person providing the initial proposal.

For my graduate paper, I could write about the value of having a team, in business, when it comes to servicing clients. I could conduct further research on the successes of a well-orchestrated business team (and possibly research on cases where that does not exist).

This particular article is one that is more conducive to an analysis or example as far as a business-related major. It is also a very simple one, for the sake of this article. As you know, in graduate work, you will want to refer to your peer-reviewed journal libraries, to obtain your research for why it is that your observations are valid. However, just because you spend a lot of time in the journals doesn’t mean that you cannot take a break for some simple observations about real life and then analyze why it is that it works (or doesn’t work), for your next research project.

Taking it to the Next Step

Not only can you analyze a simple Internet article for references that may inspire you, but you may want to review the product or service. Possibly, it is an opportunity for an interview of the business owner or the founder and asking them about their business. This is another learning opportunity. It may even open a door to an internship where you can obtain hands-on experience.

Please do not contact the company referenced in this article. I wouldn’t want to be responsible for a deluge of emails or phone calls. Instead, do your own Internet search and find an article or a business or an organization that interests you and relates to your graduate work (or undergraduate work). The sky is the limit and this is your opportunity to learn in creative ways.

By Deborah Anderson

@techauditcom and @socialwebcafe

About the author:

Deborah Anderson is on her way to finishing her doctorate in I/O Psychology. Along the way, she has served as Chief Technology Officer in the financial industry (in Beverly Hills), Director of Marketing in the health industry, Host of an iHeart Radio marketing talk show, and even a #1 Jazz Singer (Deborah E). From this background, she shares insights to help others overcome their challenges and succeed in their personal and professional lives.

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