TRIES TO APPLY THE LESSONS TO REAL LIFE
For him, deciding between MOOCs proved to be one of the biggest dilemmas. The courses typically follow the U.S. academic calendar, so a slew of offerings will come out all at once. But Khandelwal could only juggle three or four courses simultaneously, meaning he had to skip some he’d otherwise like to take. He worked around it by signing up for all the attractive courses and downloading the lectures to watch at a later date. But even that has drawbacks: he lost the in-class interactions and feedback on assignments, he says. Still, the proliferation of offerings is a problem he welcomes.
Khandelwal’s emphasis on skill gathering gave him a less stringent view on MOOCs. “My motivation was not about completing MOOCs but about getting skills,” he says. “So there are several I didn’t finish, or I started some in the middle if I already had knowledge of the topic.” He declined to purchase any certificates of completion, something he sees as little more than a rubber stamp with little significance.
While Khandelwal may be taking the courses for a higher-level understanding of the business world, he’s a pragmatist at heart. He makes a point to apply the skills he picks up in classes through self-assigned projects and volunteer stints. In the case of the project management course, Khandelwal visited a bridge construction site every day for two months. He used the site as a dummy case and performed risk-management assessments and project projections. He also conducted a two-week business analysis for a street-food vendor at a intersection near his house. Khandelwal had the vendor rotate his stand around the four streets of a roundabout and analyzed the revenue at each location. He found that the vendor could maximize sales by setting up shop on the street nearest a park on weekends and moving to one that abutted a bus stop on weekdays. He also applies the lessons in his everyday life, using data analytics to determine the fastest and cheapest public transportation routes in his city.
Now at the end of his two-year personal experiment in globalized general management, Khandelwal isn’t entirely certain what’s next. For one, he plans to document his projects on a personal website, which is currently under construction, and to play around with a few patent ideas – something inspired by Stanford’s Design Thinking Action Lab course. Aside from that, he’s weighing a formal job where he can apply the skills he’s acquired. “I’m a doer person, so I’m really eager to re-enter real life… the real world is more challenging and more complex, and that’s where the fun is,” he says.