Senior Capstone Project: Experience through the eyes of a graduating student

How Antonio Jakobušić tackled the topic of "Analytics or Intuition in Decision Making?” in his senior capstone project


May 3, 2022

Senior capstone project is the crown of education at RIT Croatia for graduating students of the Hospitality and Tourism Management program. Senior year students choose topics based on their own interests, which gives them the opportunity to tackle anything they find interesting and worth exploring. Creating a successful senior capstone project is a complex process which requires a lot of maturing along the way, a lot of problem solving, researching and, above all, a good and firm connection with the faculty member mentoring the whole process.

Students get to present their findings to the jury made of faculty members, and presentations are open for other RIT Croatia students, as well as faculty, staff and family members of graduating students. Among many fascinating topics of this year’s senior capstone project presentations, one stood out as being especially inquisitive and quite abstract –  "Analytics or Intuition in Decision Making?” by Antonio Jakobušić, HTM graduating student. We’ve asked Antonio to share his experience with us.


Q: From a student’s perspective, what are all the phases of a senior capstone project?

Antonio Jakobušić: "The journey actually starts the moment when you start thinking about choosing the mentor and bringing to awareness that you are about to graduate. You realize that your senior capstone project is ahead of you, and you really want to choose a good mentor and a good topic which will represent something meaningful to you and to the others. Before all that comes, there are challenges which include a lot of reading, researching, discussing and most importantly, asking yourself : "what am I about to do that will help someone or something to improve and make a long lasting effect, even when the college is finished?”. Phases include a lot of failures, a few mismatched topics, a lot of meetings and coffees with the mentor and, off course, discussions that ultimately lead you to your final topic. If I were to sum it up in bullets, it looks like this:

  • Phase 1: decide with which mentor you would like to work. It is highly important that the mentor offers you inspiration. That he/she is a role model in a way, and that there is mutual respect.
  • Phase 2: You realizing that you need to push. Change the student mindset and start thinking as a researcher with the goal to go beyond your comfort limits.
  • Phase 3: Finding out and getting used to what you need to do, how you need to do it and, most importantly, why you are doing it intrinsically.
  • Phase 4: Coming to realization that you already learned so much and actually changed already. You start feeling differently, acting differently and, most importantly, thinking differently.
  • Phase 5: You are about to graduate and, together with your mentor, you start preparing the final bits of your project that will at the end leave a long lasting effect.” 


Q: What is your topic and what was the goal of your research?

Antonio Jakobušić: "The topic of the final presentation was "Analytics or Intuition in Decision Making?” This OR is not explicit mathematical OR, meaning that one does not exclude the other. It is to point out that we as humans need to use our informed human intuition in combination with analytics in order to reveal all the possibilities and outcomes in our daily lives or in our business environments. My topic for the senior project paper was "Strategy predictions with Systemic Constellations Work- A Pilot Study”, meaning combining intuition and analytics in order to gain the best possible outcome for the company. The core of the project were the Systemic Constellations and their application in business settings, which is increasingly used as an aid to decision-making process. Constellations have been used as a very useful tool in decision making. Constellations are purely intuitive method, which were devised by German psychotherapist Bert Hellinger. We are all part of one big-shared field. We can be aware of that, or we can ignore it, but one thing is sure - we all have it. That purely intuitive method in combination with analytics brings the best of both because the modern planning and consulting has limitations. That is why the constellations in a form of workshops are used in order to see beyond the limits of planning and to gain insights which will bring fresh and useful moments for the individual and for the firm.”


Q: How did you come up with such a complex topic for your senior capstone project?

Antonio Jakobušić: "With the help of my mentor, Domagoj Nikolić, and his experiences that were quite similar to mine, but still different enough to be challenged. We share similar views on certain things connected with intuition, human capacity, development, and that brought us to this topic which provided us with very beneficial results.”


Q: How does it relate to your plans for the future in terms of your career development?

Antonio Jakobušić: "It relates quite a lot because throughout this research I realized that I want to implement similar methods that are coming from the subconscious parts of our brain and highlighting the body sensations, which are for sure pointing our attention to the important things. It opened new opportunities for me and it offered me some new perspectives about how we should approach things and events, and that is with an open heart. Meaning, your body already knows everything- we just need to know where to look.”


Q: How important is it for a student to have a strong and trustful relationship with the mentor in order to have the best possible outcome with his/her senior capstone project?

Antonio Jakobušić: "Highly important I would say, if not the most important part of this experience. This relationship is something that keeps you going even when you don’t feel like working. Being tired, frustrated and all other feelings that people and students are facing in their careers can be managed throughout good and healthy relationship. Having the same passion and interests help for sure, but most importantly, the inspiration that a good mentor can provide for a student is unbelievable, at least for me. It showed me how support in projects and in life is of a high importance if you want to succeed.

As I mentioned before, I was mentored by Domagoj Nikolić, and my experience was unique. My mentor was so much more than a mentor to me, and it just helped me realize where I am, and how much more I need to work in order to reach my full potential. It showed me how things always unfold nicely if you believe in it, and by doing small steps, day by day, even if sometimes you are not feeling like it. My experience confirmed me that people, support and constant improvement are of high importance in life.”


Q: What were the biggest challenges in completing such a complex project?

Antonio Jakobušić: "Biggest challenge for me was managing the time and roles that I was assigned with throughout this period. This senior project was not the only project that I was involved in. There were things related with current job position that is connected with development of the bar, service, cocktail offer and establishing the new products for the guests. There were a lot of spillovers between the roles. Those spillovers were from private life, job, senior project and college in general, so the management of my time was crucial. Balancing the time and staying productively were the most challenging parts of this project which pretty much represents how the life of an entrepreneur or successful person looks like.”


Q: What is the biggest learning outcome for you from this experience?

Antonio Jakobušić: "Relationships. Importance of following your intuition. Importance of staying focused. Believing in the process and integrating all parts together: intuition and analytics, left and right side of the brain, things you like to do and the things you do not like to do.  Bringing to awareness that it is really important to integrate all your parts in order to be you. After six years at this college I realized that the teacher is coming when the student is ready in a metaphorical sense. It is not about what you want to learn, it is about what the teacher wants to teach you. That is the importance of good guidance.”


Q: What would be your advice for future senior year students when it comes to choosing the topic for their senior project and the overall process of developing it?

Antonio Jakobušić: "Don’t look at it as something that you need to do. Rather look at it as an opportunity to develop yourself more and to learn the importance of going deep into something that you are truly interested in. Take it as a project where the outcome of it will improve something and help someone. Take it to the level where you are 100% confident and knowledgeable about the things that you are talking about at the end. Embrace the change. The harder it gets, the better you will feel at the end. Senior capstone project is the time to push your limits, not to stick to something that you are comfortable with entirely.”

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