Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Perfect...on Paper

There's something to be said for following dreams. I've followed mine into business school, though 5 years ago, that's not likely what I dreamt. Maria on the other hand has been following her dreams for 3 years.

Tonight, I ventured into the city for one last night of festivities before tomorrow's trek to Colorado. It was a good friend's birthday (a heaven sent angel as I recall my b-school essay reviews). We met at a local bar and I ran into Maria, a fellow soccer stud. She mentioned that she may speak at UVA in the future for her book and next thing I knew, I was listening to the story of how she wrote the book. She always said she wanted to write a book, but never started. A short trip to Argentina resulted in a year stay and the first draft of her book. She shopped it to a number of agents and one found it aw inspiring. However, the publishers said "chicklet", which is the category of book she wrote, was on its way out. The aftermath of Bridget Jone's Diary had sucked out all the readers. After millions of disappointments, she decided to go it alone and publish the book herself. The release was well met by friends and family, but to her surprise, the book received even greater acceptance from the general public. Maria has marketed via word-of-mouth and other innovative channels. She's a case study of her own. However, without a publisher, the book will never be sold in stores such as Borders or Barnes & Noble. Given that she has won a number of awards for the book this year, she's hoping that she can take the book and its awards to a publisher soon and this time hear positive news instead of negative.

In my opinion Maria Murnane is inspiration at its best!

With the crazy interview schedule around the corner, odds are it'll take me a month to read this book, but I'm looking forward to it! And will post a full review when complete.

Check out her page: www.mariamurnane.com

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas and the Job Search

I returned home on Saturday afternoon after a weather delay in New York. The girls and I rocked out at a charity party that night and I slept past noon on Sunday (don't remember the last time I did that). Since then, mom and I played Santa to the cousins and thus hit 3 malls in two days. I've slept, lounged, and been as lazy as can be. However, there's one problem, I FEEL lazy. No exercise, lots of TV and a couple nights out may heal the overworked mind, but does nothing for the body.

I sat down today and started browsing jobs on the CDC (career development center) webpage. A number of cover letters for CorpFin are due at the beginning of January and ideally I'd like to have them complete before I leave for Colorado. Additionally, it's time to start the job search off campus. In some ways, I feel I've managed my search well and in others, I know I missed the boat. It always seemed like it was on the horizon and now, I feel it's right here, staring me in the face! Where did the year go? How did we get to 2009? It's been a blur and there's little clarity ahead.

Friday, December 19, 2008


Sometimes I wish I could change what I hear. I'm sitting in NYC, my last night, after an intense week of networking and hear that one of the banks released their invite list. It's a bank with whom I have felt an enormous amount of traction and I'm a bit confused right now. At this moment, I presume that I am not on that invite list given I have yet to receive an email. On one hand, it's ok. On another, it worries me about my prospects of actually getting an internship in banking this year. I'm as composed as I can be given the circumstances, though I am a bit rattled.

It will be good to be home tomorrow, assuming the weather holds and I have no delays. I'm looking forward to a little R&R after 3 very taxing weeks. Nothing like writing cover letters, which leads into exams, and then a week of crazy networking!! Part of me wants to celebrate the end tonight in NYC and the other part would be perfectly happy falling asleep on the couch until I need to head to the airport at 4 or 5 in the morning. I had so much more energy thirty minutes ago. Maybe I can rally after dinner.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Currently I'm without computer and thus blogging via BlackBerry. The week on
Wall Street gang is relaxing for a moment in the lounge of the W Hotel, waiting to meet with Morgan Stanley. This week has been a good way to get a feeling of the institutions. Some banks scream they're hiring and they want and love Darden. Others emulate a different perception than their words. Given the small keypad and public nature of these thouhts I will remain partial and not divulge thoughts on individual banks. It is sufficient to say many of my notions have been confirmed.

The days her have been long and busy. Though they're likely no longer than Darden. The constant networking and degree to which you need to be alert accumulates to end in exhaustion. On another note, we held a Darden reception last night. There were likely 80+ current students, at least that many alumni and a number of prospective students in attendance. With a group that diverse, the dynamics are a bit strange. Hopefully everyone got what they wanted out of the conversations. Personally, it felt good to put someone else in the hot-seat. All in all, NY has been a great trip including a little snow and some caroling. Time to network...

Thursday, December 11, 2008


I am one 5 hour exam away from FREEDOM! I can hardly contain myself! Do you remember when I said in Q1 that I wish all the exams were in one week? I retract that statement. This has been HELL! It isn't that the exams are overly hard, although I have had a few WTF moments, but spending 5 hours a day, every day, on a different test is taxing. Of course, it doesn't help that on the horizon is a couple well deserved weeks off. Granted, I complain now, but the scary part is, I am 5 hours away from finishing 25% of my business school tenure. WOW!

Truth is, all I want is to be able to sleep in tomorrow. It's been raining cats and dogs all day and over the last few days, it's been cloudy. That just screams lay on the couch and drink cocoa! Maybe Saturday before I head to DC. On that note, I'm going to crawl in bed and watch a flick on the computer before we go celebrate ECC's birthday with dinner!

Monday, December 08, 2008

4 More Finals and then a "Break"

About halfway through today I realized it's Monday. I suppose on some level I probably knew it subconsciously, but I was more focused on my GEM final than the day this morning. Five contiguous hours later and my final was done! WOO HOO, one down. I have another 4 finals to complete and feel less of a sense of urgency than I should. At this point, I just want it to be Friday at 3pm, the last possible moment finals are due. Next week is Week on Wall Street, which will be both fun and work, but the week after, I'm headed home for the first time since Labor Day. Needless to say, I'm excited.

One of my best friends had her birthday on December 1st and I was not around to celebrate, nor was I around to plan some giant night out, for which I'm known. Come Friday afternoon, there were still no plans for her birthday and she adamantly told me that she was not celebrating this year. Being the lover of birthdays that I am, I couldn't possibly let her get away with that, so with a few key strokes, I put a rally call out to my friends at home to drag her out of her house on one night over the weekend for a celebration. Since Friday is practically a blur after a 5 hour exam, I forgot to ask, but instead go a nice thank you for putting together the festivities. It seems even across the country, I can still put together one hell of a night. It makes me happy that I have the pull, however, I'm also saddened that I wasn't there to celebrate. Maybe in 2011.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Darden "Prom"

What's better than boys dressed up in fancy suits/tuxes? Girls, decked out in formal gowns and cocktail dresses!! Last night was Darden "Prom" aka the BGIA Winter Formal. It was held in true prom style in the ballroom of a local hotel with heavy hors d'oeuvres and an open bar.

Before I moved from San Francisco, I attended many formal and cocktail events, however, since the move, I haven't had reason to breakout the gowns. This was perfect! The first person to see me (besides the roomie) gave me the exact reaction I had hoped for, "wow, you look really good."

I loved seeing all the girls dressed up and the night definitely had a prom-like feel as I ran around and said hi/took pictures with a number of my classmates. For those who chose not to go, you missed out, but the good news is, there's always next year!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Last Class in Section D

It's a sad and exciting day for me. The good news is, today is the last day of Q2 classes. The bad news is Section D will be disassembled and redistributed into new numbered sections come January. Twenty-five percent of my section will remain with me during the section transition, but besides Darden Cup Athletic events, there will be no formal gatherings of the section (though the social chairs are promising Q4 festivities). The last two days have been incredible and remind me why I love the banter within my section. I've been doubled over in laughter with little sign of relief.

Yesterday, we held the BGIA (Building Goodness in April) live auction. The direct competition between bidders made the spirit of the auction that much lighter. Of course, the borderline inappropriate comments flowing from the MC also enhanced the fun.

This morning didn't start as I expected. After three hours of sleep, I was rushing to get to school by 7:45a, the promised arrival time to our professor for our last day of class. Our marketing professor has Parkinson's disease. He hasn't exactly been shy, however, at the same time, he hasn't offered much. Today, he demonstrated a high level of humility and with that came vulnerability. He read a presentation he had written about acceptance and mindfulness. I was in aw, as this man, who has lived an incredibly full and "successful" life talked about his shock that brought him back to reality. His successes, in many minds, would be in the right places, yet, when was diagnosed, he realized that success don't simply encompass work. Some great lessons were stated in this masterful presentation, the first being, love thy self. As EB said, "the underlying point was that we are all human and sometimes people get caught up in their own successes and don't realize where they are failing until it is too late." There is a balance in life that we all hope to achieve and each of us needs to be mindful enough to figure out the aspects of that balance. As I sat in class, trying to hold myself together, I saw the emotion on the other side of the room. Everyone listened intently and after class let out, I personally, thanked him for sharing. It's hard to be vulnerable around peers and even harder around those you mentor.

Not to discount the importance of my last paragraph, but to brighten the mood, I will continue with the day. We had section superlatives during first coffee which consisted of categories such as most likely to be on the late show, cause the next financial crisis, get fired from their next job, stick their foot in their mouth, run for president, become CEO, etc... They were all in good fun and encompassed some good speeches and great laughs.

I'm going to miss the section and though I know we will see each other around grounds next quarter, it's hard not to feel a little solemn today. It's been an incredible first two quarters and I will never forget Section D (partly because I will still harass each individual to attend Darden Cup events next quarter).

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Conspiracy Theory

I anticipate being up very late tonight! I have a number of cover letters to complete by Friday, but more importantly, I have just as many online applications to complete. It has been said that the online applications take approximately 30-40 minutes each and I'm estimating, there are 10 applications. OUCH!

Back to my theory though... it is my assumption that the drop date for resumes does not vary much year over year. However, Thanksgiving is not on the same day every year. This year in particular, Thanksgiving fell very late, November 27th to be exact. Subsequently, when we returned from Thanksgiving break, we returned to a hell week. In each class, we are reviewing exam cases from previous years, consulting and banking companies are on campus and hosting dinners, resumes are due on Friday, preparation for interviews has begun and there simply aren't enough hours in a day. Given how late Thanksgiving fell this year, we essentially lost a week and the pressure is on to take those precious hours we missed and fit them into this week.

I'm sure I should feel more stressed than I do. It could be the mentality that I KNOW I will complete everything. It's just the way I work. Luckily, I've run on a reduced amount of sleep before. Actually, about this time last year, I slept 8 hours in 4 days to complete my Georgetown essays. Turns out, they came out quite well. Hopefully, the same happens this week!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

On the Verge of Apathy

In my head, I know I must finish this quarter strong, but with 2 days of class left, it’s hard to focus. Six more cases, 5 finals and I’m off to NYC! I can’t say the week in NYC will be easy, but it will be without cases and that’s enough for me at this moment.

My cover letters are still in slow motion unfortunately. Hyper speed needs to kick in soon so that I can not only get the letters done by Friday, but also the online applications. We have a few banks on campus this week, however, our schedule is slow compared to the consultants – I don’t envy them right now!

Additionally, I welcome distractions at every turn and I know I will regret that come Thursday night when I need to focus on my cover letters. Unfortunately, I received one more distraction today, the new blackberry Storm! I finally gave into the Blackberry regime, at least mentally. We'll see what I think once I get the new "toy" up and running. For safety, I may leave the phone in the box until Friday when I have a break in my schedule. Things to complete/do this week: cases, classes, accounting review slides, final reviews, cover letters and to finish out the week, Darden "Prom". Oh yes, getting all dolled up on Friday night!!!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Cover Letter Mania

December 5th is the official drop date for on-campus recruiting companies. This means, that all my cover letters must be complete in 7 days. I'm still working on my first draft, which is unfortunate as this coming week is quite busy. In addition, for a handful of banks, I need to select the specific product or industry group I want to apply. This isn't an easy task due to my limited background in industries outside of finance. Further, to show true interest, you must reach out to those specific groups so that you can get a feeling of who the members are and the rapport among them.

The difficulty I'm facing with my cover letter is the "about me" section. What do I write about my previous employment that isn't directly written on my resume? What makes me special compared to the numerous other qualified candidates? How do I turn my spoken "pitch" into a quick 5 sentences? And though I am contemplating these questions, I'm also avoiding what I need to be doing, WRITING my cover letter.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanksgiving: Part Un, Deux, Trois

The much needed break is finally here!! At 1:10 this afternoon we finished classes for an entire 5 days! After a number of reading days in Q1 and close to none in Q2, I'm excited for a break from cases, Darden and C'ville.

I've already had two Thanksgiving feasts this week and I'm happy to report, I don't feel fat yet. A holiday that celebrates gluttony... who invented that? Only Americans. Anyhow, enough about the origins. On Saturday night 12 FYs gathered at a flat just off the downtown mall to give thanks. The turkey was amazing, however, I missed dessert due to a last minute networking event. In all honesty, I was happy. I didn't need anymore food. The fun part about Saturday night was simply being around people. Some days I feel so young, but that was one of those that put life in perspective. We're here, we're getting our MBAs and we WILL be the future leaders of America. Crazy to think.

Last night, I skipped learning team and attended Thanksgiving at a SY's house. I was one of five FYs invited and one of three who showed. I'll admit, I was happy to see that I knew a number of the SYs there. At the same time, I met and talked with a few new people. Everyone was very warm and probably didn't know if I was a girlfriend or a FY, until the host kindly pointed out each of the FYs. Again, the food was amazing and this time I did have dessert. I feel very lucky to be in such a good place in my life right now. Further, I was told numerous times that it was the job of this select group of FYs to continue the tradition. I know who is cutting the turkey, I can organize, but I'm not sure what KM's purpose is. ;)

Finally, I will attend the real Thanksgiving this Thursday. My parents fly in this evening, my brother comes tomorrow and on Thursday, we will drive to the Greenbrier in West VA. This is a family tradition that has continued for the past 10 plus years. Though there will be 25 of us this year, I'm hoping I can steal some time to focus on my cover letters and accounting review slides.

Happy Thanksgiving to All!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Darden Finance Conference

The DFC held the eighth annual Darden Finance Conference on Thursday and Friday of this week. There were a number of companies on grounds giving presentations and networking with first and second years alike. The list included: Marsh and McLennan, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, Citi, Morgan Stanley, UBS, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, Microsoft, JP Morgan and a couple of people who participated in a panel regarding Investment Management, PE and Hedge Funds. The tone on the economy is not pretty, not that I thought it would be. After spending two days listening to projections and watching more investment banks spark flames, I'm feeling the pressure. I haven't done any off-campus recruiting and my backup plan is still in the development phase. Granted, it's not even 2009 and I still have time, but I'm feeling the pinch.

We are in the bulk of recruiting right now and cover letters are due almost immediately after Thanksgiving. I don't have a working cover letter yet, however, that's my goal for the weekend. Ideally, I'd like a couple sets of eyes on my cover letter before I head to West Va for festivities, but I may be cutting it close given everyone's busy schedules at the beginning of next week. In addition, I've realized that I have not used the SYs as a resource nearly enough. Every SY offers their help, though you don't realize how valuable they are until it's mid-November and the wheels are turning 100 MPH.

After dinner and networking last night, I was starting to feel the crunch. I don't believe "Black November" is as bad for banking this year as it has been for consulting. That's a factor of the environment though. Consultants have started case prep and bankers don't need case prep. Further, the banks are not down here as much as I think they have been in the past, which is understandable given the market. On the other hand, our October was much worse than the consultants'. All the same, I returned home last night, having not completed my second case, with the knowledge that many of my colleagues were headed to the corner to "network" with the banks. Needless to say, after a big hug from my roommate and couple deep breaths, I composed myself and went out for night. I'm hoping that this weekend will be as productive as I need it to be. Tonight shall be early as JP Morgan is hosting the Darden tailgate at 9 am tomorrow. OUCH! All in the name of recruiting. This is what makes business school tough.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Where am I versus Where are They

Everyone has different answers to why they are at Darden. My reason was that I wanted to change positions and though I loved my company and my co-workers, the flexibility just didn't exist. Given that I had such a great rapport with my co-workers, I touch base every once in a while, which ends with mixed emotions because although the company specializes in investment management, which is an interesting portion of the economy to be in at the moment, they are, in the grand scheme, doing quite well. Through my four years at Ensemble, I helped launch the platform for philanthropic investment management. An interesting and challenging task at first has become a pillar of Ensemble's business model. In addition, my boss has become a pinnacle of discussion in the world of philanthropy.

So here I am, the opposite side of the country, and I'm sure you wonder, what made me think of this. Our marketing case for tomorrow is Google. When reading cases that were essentially developed in the lifetime of current students, the discussions tend to be very interesting and I anticipate this one being no different. However, with this one, I can add more personal insight than I've had in the past. The case specifically references Google AdWords and AdSense. When Ensemble first marketed philanthropic investment management, we used Google AdWords. A price per click was set, a brief description written and then constant revisions made as to not overspend, but still retain the right level of saturation.

To see where these ads sit now, I spent a few moments googling words that remember having AdWord associations. A few keywords have changed and I found it interesting that other words are now associated with my boss' blog, Tactical Philanthropy, instead of the company Ensemble. I thought I'd check the blog and it seems a forum will be held tonight. It sounds like the company is doing quite well and moving forward in the right direction. Though I am happy where I am today, part of me does miss being the backbone of the organization. Three years of design and execution have definitely paid off for them. I know two years at Darden will pay off for me as well, but in the meantime, back to Google.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Logistical Nightmare

Where's the teleportation device that Star Trek has had for years? Unfortunately, I don't think mass production will be available by Friday, when I honestly wish I could be in 2 places at once. Yesterday, I received an invite for a Women's MBA Reception in New York on Friday, however, Darden is hosting multiple finance companies for the Darden Finance Conference. So it seems New York will have to wait until December 13th when Darden goes to Week on Wall Street. Speaking of traveling, break plans, which once seemed easy, have become a logistical nightmare.

In theory, winter break would consist of a mixture of interview prep and fun, but as break nears, I realize there may be more interview prep than anticipated. For starters, I am attending Week on Wall Street from December 13th-19th for networking with various banks. Then I fly from JFK to SFO (home), where I will stay through the 30th, at which point I fly to DEN to meet friends for NYE in Vail. This is where the logistics are fuzzy. I am supposed to return to SFO on January 4th for an additional 5 days. I did not anticipate needing to be in C'ville until interviews start, however, Training the Street (a 2 day course that I've been told is perfect prep for banking) is being held January 5th. Given my flights have been booked, the United rep with whom I speak is not going to like the fact that I need to check if it is more feasible to fly back to IAD from DEN versus heading to SFO for maybe a couple hours - all to return to C'ville by 8am on January 5th. Feasible both logistically and financially. It seems I must make some trade-offs, which I should be used to by now given Darden's constant double booking.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


I am one of the members of the minority who refuse to be super connected to the world, which means, I don't own a blackberry, iPhone, Trio or any other device that would keep me connected to my email 24 hours a day. I know that the life of constant connection is on the horizon as my job prospects wouldn't have it any other way, but in the meantime, I enjoy the fact that I walk away from the computer and I don't know what is going on. However, that said, when the computer goes on a fritz due to the Darden mail server being overloaded, all hell breaks loose! I've been without constant email access for 2 full days and even now, I've only managed a temporary fix. Granted, Darden as a whole is in the same boat, so I suppose I haven't missed much in the form of school communication, but my emails regarding recruiting sat in my outbox for a couple days. Indeed, it may not matter much to those receiving the letters, but I pride myself with being prompt and these definitely were the opposite. Hopefully regular communication will resume shortly.

Friday, November 14, 2008

From One Simulation to the Next,,,

After spending a total of 15 hours cooped up in small learning team room with LT7, I can safely say, no one was killed! Better yet, I don't even think anyone plotted a murder. During StratSim, we were the Auto Execs of Firm B, Industry 2 - Buzzy (sports car), Beaut (Luxury car) and Boffo (Family car) were our initial weapons as we competed for market share against 4 other firms in our industry. We used conjoint analysis, test markets, focus groups, economic data and good intuition to forecast where the market and our competition was headed. After a few minor upgrades, our first concept, Borvette, a high-end large sports car failed miserably. We launched the car with an advertising budget of $40 million and promoted with $120 million because of a miss-stroke of a key. OOOOOPS!

We thought all was lost. Our stock price was hammered and though our core cars were carrying Borvette, we sat with 45,000 in inventory, indicating, we sold 5,000 during the initial launch. BLX, the new style of modern luxury was next in concept phase, but was delayed at the last minute and replaced with Bruis, the first car to be introduced into the rapidly growing Hybrid market. Due to logistics, BLX and Brius hit the market at the same time and Firm B stocked out of 5 of 6 cars that period - rolling the stock price up to $52. The simulation ran for two additional periods with no new decisions and though we made some good late in the game decisions, we never anticipated, 1st overall in the industry, 1st in Firm B across industries and a very pretty stock price of $131! LT7 rocked the house!!

After StratSim, we started a new simulation for Ops where we are making cell phones. We have to analyze various attributes of a cell phone, decide which ones to add to our phones, forecast demand, set up a procurement strategy and choose the companies from whom we order. Changes to orders may be made in between months for a small fine of $2 million. After each year, we receive a board review of our progress and a positive or negative vote of confidence from each of the 5 board members. My team has only completed year 1, but so far so good.

In addition, here is a video from last year's LT11 on their interpretation of StratSim.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

One of Those Moods

I'd consider myself a very optimistic person. I'm often cheery, and I constantly try to remind people about the lighter side of life. So what happens when I need that reminding? I wouldn't say that anything has gone "wrong" to transition my mood, however, I'm sure the 12 hour flu on Friday night and the fact that I was cooped up in the house all weekend didn't help. I've been trying to recover from the weaknesses I felt beginning Saturday morning, though, only recently have I started to feel human again. Soccer, the release that typically gives me life, seemed to do nothing but take from my limited energy supply over the weekend. The smart idea would have been to sleep and avoid games, yet, I am not about to advertise that I am that smart. ;)

In the past week, I've caught up with a number of friends in the outside world with whom I feel I've lost touch. And by catch up, I mean I've been able to speak with them, on the phone, and receive the 5 minute update of what they have been doing for the last month. Even then, I'm far behind on my callbacks and I've started to receive second and third messages asking if I've forgotten. The bubble traps me at times thereby leading me to "ignore" the world that is not Darden. Sometimes I love the bubble and other times, I can't wait to escape for a weekend.

At this moment, I have 150 pages of reading to complete by tomorrow for StratSim - more on that later simply because I can't explain it given I haven't done the reading. I just know it will consume most of Wednesday and 12 hours of my Thursday. My intention was to complete the reading over the weekend, however, that agenda was kindly messed up by a bug. I don't quite feel stressed, although I'm on the verge. It'll all get done and I'll survive another week of Black November, but this is one of those weeks when I want a big hug from someone close and a little positive encouragement to remind me there are brighter days on the horizon.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Why Darden Should Be Number 1

A few weeks ago, a number of students who attend Darden put together a video of why Darden should be number 1. If any applicants are wondering why we love this place, perhaps this will explain why. Enjoy.


Thursday, November 06, 2008

Operation: MicroAire

B-school and buzzwords are two peas in a pod. We throw buzzwords around in our classes, often, poking fun at the way we speak. The sad thing, they're used in the real world! We're not just a bunch of highly educated students with a knack for buzzwords anymore, we're the next generation of managers who will implement lean thinking.

Yesterday, the entire first year class was broken up into subsections that visited a number of companies to analyze their processes. A few of the companies attended were Target, Hersey's, Philip Morris, and Hollister (not the clothing company). My group went to MicroAire, a privately held company that manufactures hand held medical devices specifically for orthopedic surgery. In addition, they manufacture a device for liposuction and one for carpel tunnel as well as various disposable blades and tubes. As many of my classmates noted, this company was definitely drinking the Kool-Aid. Everywhere we went, they discussed lean and reductions in waste, movement and inventory. They also managed to reduce their setup time as well as their throughput time by converting to cell manufacturing after holding a Kaizen event. The cell is in beta form for now, however, the company hopes to expand cells plant wide as they continue to cross-train all their employees. Further, they are looking for ways to reduce product development. Needless to say, the company visit was a great experience to see all of our hypothetical talk put into practice. We're not just learning buzzwords here, but the practical application of business practices.

Plus, who doesn't love a field trip?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Positive Encouragement

There's nothing more rewarding that positive encouragement from your peers. I often receive encouragement on the soccer field after I've made a good play, or even a play that inherently was good and went wrong. However, the best encouragement comes from classmates after a cold call, a good discussion or anywhere in between. It boosts the confidence and reminds you that you may know more than you think you do. We've been forecasting in Finance lately and I've never done the type of forecasting with which we are experimenting. My budget forecasting at EC Management came from personal knowledge of the business and the anticipated revenues and costs over the future period. Today, we're given limited information via cases and are asked to interpret, similar to what I will need to do for banking though I should have better access to the decision makers. After a cold call today that went smoothly, I feel more prepared that I expected. Apparently, I do have some idea what I am doing and it took a section D mate to remind me. Thanks OR!

Back to cases...

Monday, October 27, 2008

Q1 MKT and a very busy Sunday

Grades from Q1 are slowly trickling in to our student mailboxes. On Friday, half of us chose to pick up our exam and the other half left the news until this morning. I was happy with my performance, but as usual, need to work on my class participation. The only difficulty with the class participation is that it's subjective on the professors' part and though the professors swear they can recreate 85 minutes of individual comments when they return to their office, I still have my doubts. I suppose the good news is that Darden is non-disclosure in regards to grades, however, it is known that consulting companies and investment banks DO ask about grades. Though some grades carry more weight than others. I think consulting wants you're overall GPA, but banking is more interested in Decision Analysis and Accounting. Either way, as much as we all understand that the majority of the class will get a B, we still fret about grades.

As for the weekend, I spent Sunday morning volunteering for the Boys and Girls Club Bicycle Race. It was extremely cold at 7 am, but I enjoyed seeing a few classmates before the ride, dressed in spandex nonetheless. At 10 am sharp, I picked up the rest of my volunteers and headed back to Ivy, swapping one roommate for another before a number of us went to soccer. Unfortunately, we suffered another loss. I should be used to the losses by now, but every weekend, I return to the field with the thought that THIS week will be different. It's frustrating coming from a highly competitive team to one that isn't as competitive, but the irony is, I'm not as mad at the end of the day as I would be on a losing team in SF. I'm not sure if that's because I'm simply happy that I can still play or my fabulous teammates make it all bearable. Either way, I'm hoping for at least a tie this coming Sunday. It will be difficult to field a team due to career tracks this weekend and the fact that those not taking a career tracks will likely take the two free days (Thursday and Friday) and get out of dodge for a little bit. (I know I'm working on plans though I will be back for the 9am game). The rest of my Sunday wrapped up with cases and LT. Thankfully, I made it to bed by 10:30p, putting me at the gym at 6am.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Occasionally I feel myself falling into the trap. I'm not sure if it's the lack of sleep or the confines of Darden that put me there. Different perceptions warrant different interpretations. With briefings and networking events galore, we're all at wits end and these are the last of the "open" events, so everyone is trying to make their best last impression before the banks decide with whom they'd like to speak. Each conversation delves in a separate direction depending on the parties involved. Sometimes I walk into conversations a little "over my head" due to the fact that I likely missed the journal for 2 days as well as a hint of complacency on my part. Lately, I find myself complaining about these discrepancies as to what I think is important in a networking conversation. On some level, the pettiness is human, but I've been careful to consciously avoid it especially while at Darden. Luckily, tomorrow is Friday and thus sleep and a little R&R is around the corner. God knows, I definitely need it and hopefully I'm break this funk.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

100 Case Party

Culminating the end of Q1 is the legendary 100 Case Party. This year we dressed in our finest 80s attire and headed to an undisclosed location via chartered bus to break it down like it was 1982! If only I knew what it was like to party in 1982... Half the FY class spent their Friday at Goodwill, the other third at Halloween stores and the final part in the depths of our closets. The costumes were phenomenal and there were very few people who didn't dress the part. The finest beer money can buy, Natural Light, was supplied for our enjoyment. In addition, there was a cash bar if Naty Light was not high on your consumption list. I surfed the crowd most the night accumulating 225 pictures. Oh yes, back in action kids... however, it was a friend's camera, so I am still waiting for the upload. Everyone drank, danced and bonded. The end of the night was capped when one of the party planners destroyed a guitar that read "100 Cases". It's back to the grind tomorrow and I'll admit that I was a bit disappointed to have cases and LT today. Not because I dislike my LT, but because this means it's back to reality - 5 days of class, cases, briefings and networking events. My goal this quarter is to keep the gym in my life - starting at 5:45am tomorrow. WOO HOO!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Feels like Friday!

Perhaps the best part of today is that fact that it isn't Friday and the FYs of Darden have little planned between now and Monday, unless of course, you're attending the consulting conference this weekend. I have one more exam under my belt since my last post and damn it feels good. Truth is, I know far more about financial accounting than managerial, but the test didn't SEEM as bad as it could have. I'm stoked to be done and it amuses me how our test was due at 3p and Q2 cases were in our mailboxes by noon. I suppose they want to make sure we're aware that Q2 starts Monday, but as my roommate said, the cases can't be too hard. It's the beginning all over again! Festivities are planned for the rest of the afternoon and I'm still trying to decide what I'm going to attend. Drinks at Biltmore started 13 minutes ago, as did the BBQ at JJ's house. 8p kicks off the Section D party downtown as well as Section A pub golf. By 10p, we'll reconvene at Zydeco for the mustache competition though I'll be much happier when the boys shave 'em off. ;) The ringleader of this competition looks like Super Mario.

SEXY HUH? Needless to say, it's time for a little more R&R.

Monday, October 13, 2008


I despise waking up Monday morning with a headache after a nice relaxing weekend. However, I think this Monday morning took the cake - it was another exam Monday and as I anticipated my 5 hour Operations exam, I knew, the headache wasn't going to fade. Indeed, the exam could have been better, at this point though, there is nothing left to worry about, it's in the past.

Today's exam was MUCH better. I spent yesterday afternoon resting with the hopes that the headache would disappear long enough for me to review DA, which was a silly thought given that I spent 3 hours on review slides for the section. Suppose this means I SHOULD know what I'm doing. I stopped by a neighbor's review with the intention of learning through osmosis, instead, I spent the majority of my time tutoring. I dreamt of DA and dummy variables and was quite happy to wake without a headache this morning. I feel I rocked DA, but have learned it's better not to talk about a test once it's finished. There is no benefit of talking about it as it'll simply frustrate you or someone else because one of you thought of something the other didn't.

I now sit here staring blankly at my accounting books. Financial accounting comes easily to me as it should because I was an accounting major in undergrad. Managerial on the other hand, I NEED to study. This is the last test until freedom and it definitely feels good, yet I have gotten used to this "lax" lifestyle called finals. Six of the last seven days have entailed something active - that's got to be a FY Darden record. Soon enough, insanity will ensue, physical activity will falter and life will return to Darden rigor, but not without massive celebrating for 4 days straight starting tomorrow afternoon. Q1 is almost over!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Break Called Finals

Imagine that, finals has transitioned from a stressful time to a "break". With only one test per day that equates to approximately 5 hours of work, I'm thoroughly enjoying finals. I have found time to insert the gym back into my life, sleep, relax and simply enjoy C'ville. It seems there are multiple reasons finals feel relaxing. First, there isn't a lot to study. Yes, we have covered a lot of material, but if you have been maintaining pace with cases, most cases build on each other. And if you don't know it now, hopefully you know where it is in your notes because tt is open note after all. Furthermore, we don't have additional cases to complete. Translated, after the test is over at 3p, the entire afternoon is open to fill at will, which also means, there are no briefings. All those button-down shirts that have been dirtied in past few weeks can now by washed, ironed and hung in the closet for another 3 days. FANTASTIC!

Yesterday, I taught the Decision Analysis(DA) review session. After 3+ hours working on PowerPoint slides, I think I accumulated enough information to give a good presentation. Though I felt a little lackluster in my explanations, I received many thank yous! It's a great feeling to help my classmates and I'll admit, it's a bit strange sitting at the front of the class. I wonder if that is how the professor feels, you can scan the room and tell when people are perplexed or when the light bulb brightens.

The day is moving and I am leaving for a soccer game in 45 min, however, I need to find athletic tape and leather food. I thought the former may be found at CVS, but to no avail. K-mart maybe?

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Great Professors of Darden

National rankings of MBA programs are indeed valuable, but to a point. In the end, each individual has to define what they PERSONALLY want from an MBA program. For some people, it's a brand name, for others it's simply not working for two years (a very expensive two years). Indeed, there are various realms in between. One aspect of academia that is often overlooked is the professor and I am not referring to the professor who is quoted in newspapers or writes cases and books. It's the professor who genuinely has an interest in your well being and success. That is the type of professor who teaches at Darden. Our faculty has an "open door" policy. As in, if they are in their office, their door is always open, to discuss anything that may be on your mind. Given my Q1 interaction with a handful of professors, it doesn't surprise me that Darden profs are ranked number 1 for the the second year in a row by Princeton Review. However, here is where it hit home; my roommate shared some slides from Jim Clawson, her Leading Organization professor on takeaways from her class. These takeaways resonate with me and remind me why the faculty are Darden is so incredible. Check them out:

What I’ve Come to Believe
Jim Clawson, Darden 2008

1. People tend to be creatures of habit.
2. The rare minority are willing and able to change.
3. Change begins with self.
4. People can change, it’s just that most won’t.
5. Effective leadership requires enormous self confidence, conviction, and courage.
6. Most people tend to live more outside-in than they think.
7. Combinations of openness, candor, and compassion are as rare as diamonds.
8. People cannot act (L1) beyond their conceptions (L2) and values (L3). To change, re-examine those.
9. Most people act on short term, self serving values and this is often dysfunctional for the community.
10. Work for what you want: the hard part is figuring out what you want.
11. Find, invest in, and enjoy your resonance – what makes you smile in the morning?
12. Help Others find their resonance.
13. Continue to read—or have nothing to say.
14. Three well done are better than six half baked—make every project your best.
15. Tell the truth: share your heart, be transparent. We are all brothers and sisters. Live inside out.
16. Live today. Respect the past, plan for future, but LIVE today.
17. Find the “and/also’s.” Respect the rights and views of others. Lose your “buts.”
18. Clean as you go—personally, professionally, leave your campsite, including the earth, cleaner than you found it.
19. Expect the opposite—life will surprise you.
20. Give something back—share your prosperity.
21. Yield to love—it’s the only thing that keeps you warm at night.

"It's not the critic who counts. It's not the man who points out where the grown man stumbles, or how the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who actually is in the arena, who strives violently, who errs and comes up short again and again, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause, who if he wins knows the triumph of high achievement, but who if he fails, fails while daring greatly, so his place will never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."

Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Overdue Report

One of my faithful readers brought to my attention that I never reported back after my marketing exam. I promise, it didn't slip my mind. Here's the recap, we were given 5 hours to complete the exam. Most of us were told that it shouldn't take us the entire time, so with a level of time mismanagement due to our skewed perception, there are a number of people who either, didn't finish the exam or were cranking until the last possible minute. I was the latter, however, I do feel I completed the entire exam, which is more than I can say for a few classmates who accidentally missed questions.

Most students reconvened near the Darden Library, which was the drop off, around 3p. A number of us attended a leadership speaker series at which the founder and CEO of Under Armor, Kevin Plank, spoke. He was phenomenal. Although marketing is the last function I want to do, his enthusiasm made a couple of us think twice. I especially liked his quote, "I was smart enough to be naive enough to not know what I couldn't accomplish." The "Cold Call" (beer, food and socializing) was held immediately after the presentation and was sponsored by Under Armor. Friday night, many of us over celebrated our completion of the first exam. Saturday, I missed the football game, but was told it was a great game given that Virginia pulled off its 2nd win of the season, 31-0.

Saturday night, more of us continued celebrating, this time, no alcohol in hand for me. Three on the Corner plays 80s every Saturday night, so we entertained ourselves with dancing. Given that I blew off cases for most the weekend, Sunday was quite busy with 3 cases, soccer and a double header for softball. This week kicked off with briefings, cases, classes and networking events. I love that I'm already working banker's hours, but I'm paying to be here.

The next exam is Friday in Leading Organizations. We've been prepped to write 8-10 pages using the various management concepts we've learned over the last quarter. But of course, using only the RELEVANT concepts. After the weekend, we have 3 exams at the beginning of next week. I can't wait for a break! 'Til then, BRING IT ON!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Marketing Exam on the Horizon

My marketing exam will be available for download or pick up in a little more than 12 hours. To most, that probably sounds funny, but for Darden, it's a treat to have take home exams. Darden and the greater UVa community have a student enforced Honor Code. Without getting into the specifics, basically, we are all bound by the honor code and there is no grace area within the code. One strike, you're out. This means that at 8 am tomorrow, my marketing exam will be available for pick up (or download). Students are given 7 hours to complete the exam, of which only 5 hours may be used to actually work on the exam. Each student will write down the time they start and from that moment on, every minute that passes, even those minutes for breaks is counted as an exam minute. At the end of 5 consecutive hours, the student needs to stop writing, period. If it is discovered that student used more than 5 hours, the student would go to the honor board and likely face expulsion. Exams are open book/note, however, we are not allowed to surf the internet for answers/content related to exam questions. Additionally, we are not allowed to collaborate with anyone on the exam. I think you are allowed to ask clarifying questions, but a response should not have the ability of being interpreted as helping the person answer the problem. Again, not abiding by these rules could all be construed as violations to the honor code.

As for the actual exam content, I've been told that it is about 50% or so quantitative, which bodes well for me as I have difficulties deciding where a company should strategically focus their marketing efforts, but I'm often comfortable with numbers. It seems the test will also require case comparisons, which is something I will have to take as it comes. I'll admit, I'm not extremely nervous. There is material that I would like to review, however, there's not much to "study". It's different than undergrad as we've been building on concepts for the last 5 weeks. We know what they are, we just have to prove to our professors that we have an understanding of the concepts. Wish me luck!!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Section Bonds

One of my favorite aspects of section is the rapport you build with classmates. It's immature, funny, and likely less than you'd expect from "serious" business school students. Truth is, we are no better than anyone else, we just got lucky.

Section emails slowly descend from vital information to playful banter. Frequently, folks voice their despise for the reply all button. Personally, I love it. It lightens my day and everyone needs a little humor in their life. Granted, it can crowd an already busy mailbox, but Microsoft was brilliant and added another button to our toolbar, delete. The latest section wide email was a request to make a phone list and the reason was to ensure proper dispersion of drunk dials. Sounds quite important to me.

Then there was today, a handful of people were listed on the distribution of buzzword bingo. These are phrases that without context aren't legitimate in many conversations, but somehow were carefully placed in today's class conversations. The key is for the phrase to go unnoticed and for the speaker to talk with a straight face. "Fly it up the flagpole" failed on both accounts, but "gut the pig" won free drinks for the next TNDC. Though this is not a trend I would like to follow for the majority of classes, it did entertain me during a very boring Accounting class and an interesting L.O. class. Thankfully, we shut it down for D.A. as I was having difficulty keeping composure through the morning.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


I am not sure I ever anticipated the day that I would pull out the last of a quarter's cases. Yes, of course it was bound to happen and yes, I know that my marketing final is Friday, but tonight is when it finally hit me. I have 2 cases left in Marketing and then on Friday, the class will be complete. Everyone says to enjoy business school because the time flies. That's an understatement! I feel like it's been lightning speed since I arrived and I can't help but acknowledge how quickly it'll all come to an end. I realize I still have a while to go, but if this quarter is any indication, I'm going to blink and this will all be over. As for finals starting, I suppose I've tried my best to avoid those thoughts. Although, I do need to start "studying", which basically entails concept review. On that note, I have a career management packet to complete, an L.O. reading assignment and my LT wants to do 6 cases tomorrow... basically, they're out of their minds and I'm off to work. Night. :)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Darden Cup: Football

It is rare that I can justify getting out of bed before 10am on a rainy Saturday morning, but for Darden Cup football, I would have made sure I was out of bed at 7am. The SYs told me that football tends to draw a huge crowd; however, today that crowd seemed slim due to the forecast of rain. Nonetheless, there was good representation from all the sections, most sporting newly designed section t-shirts. Section E rocked participation by convincing 57 members of their section to attend; add in partners and they had 73 people signing under the FY column. Sections D, C and A were all within 10 attendees of each other with a lone B pulling up the tail.

Brett Nichol, our fabulous Athletics coordinator went to great lengths to shorten the duration of Saturday’s Darden Cup event. It worked out well in my opinion. Each section fielded 2 teams and each team played 2 games. The condensed format allowed the event to complete by 1:30 pm. Both Section B teams dominated play, though with less than desirable participation, they slipped in the rankings to tie with Section D for 3rd overall. A number of section A’s players got worked by E, leaving the injured on the sideline and E with the W. Section C’s president caught an incredible diving touchdown pass to win the game over Section E with 1 minute remaining. Kelly Woodham of Section B solidified their win over D with a late in the game interception. Additionally, Paul Hepper intercepted a pass from D in the endzone though it wasn’t enough to stop section D. The best play of the day came from Tack Richardson of Section D, who ran half the length of the field with his shorts around his thighs to solidify D’s win over E. Apparently the shorts were the only true casualty of the day.

Great job to all the day’s athletes!

Final Standings for Football:
Section A – 55 Points
Section B – 60 Points
Section C – 73 Points
Section D – 60 Points
Section E – 73 Points

Overall Standings:
Section A – 130 Points
Section B – 150 Points
Section C – 143 Points
Section D – 90 Points
Section E – 125 Points

My personal accomplishments:
Sacked QB Kevin (3rd string at Penn State pre Darden)
Lateral pass to Matt for a touchdown
Many off kilter QBs due to my rushing abilities
Couple good catch for some yardage.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Damn am I lucky to have LT7

Learning Team is one of those experiences that some people hate and others love. I LOVE LOVE LOVE my LT. Not only are they fantastic people in and out of room 138, but they know when it's time to get to business. I feel that we are more efficient than most teams and know when you must agree to disagree. The case method can be hard as there is only a "more right" answer and sometimes even after class, it's hard to see what that answer is. Moreover, there are many LTs that forget there is a class to teach you what you can't figure out together. The experiences of my mates provide very diverse perspectives and though we sidetrack at times, everyone is open to bringing the conversation back to where it is supposed to be.

In passing, I often hear horror stories. People talk about LT members that are not willing to share notes without asking. Others say they will be "kicked out" if they haven't finished reading a case because they are perceived as not having anything to contribute. On one hand, I understand these strict guidelines, but they are not ones with which I agree. I like the fact that sometimes you just can't get to everything in life and there are 5 other people to bring me up, not down.

Monday, September 22, 2008

FY Standardization

As I walked up my stairs after another morning of classes, I started contemplating the standardized format of Darden's FY curriculum. As odd as this sounds, I like it a lot! Yes, my classes are chosen for me, but the fact that I can talk with my roommate who is in a different section about the same cases and same homework feels great. Not only that, but I could walk up to any first year and we'd all be on the same page, likely in the same camp (completely lost at times). I don't have to rely on the 60 people in my section, instead, it's the 333 in my class.

It seems that every Monday I'm tired. I'm sure it doesn't help that I'm up until 3-4am on the weekends and then end up going to bed at 12a on Sunday night. Yesterday was a busy sports day, which I often miss being in VA. I used to have soccer 3 days a week and now I'm lucky if I play once. Unfortunately, using my new cleats and braces have rendered my heel absolutely destroyed. I'm not sure if I've ever had such a large blister. This leads me into, what shoes am I going to wear for my briefing that starts in the next 30 minutes? I tried a couple pairs on and it seems that no matter what, the shoes will be tight. I must grin and bare the pain. It's only my future career, right? These days, if it's not one injury, it's definitely another.

Additionally, my DA homework is a bit more complex than I anticipated and though I've started, I'm not sure what the next step is. This proves to be a problem as I can't make it to learning team tonight and though I know my team may help me after the Merrill Lynch cocktail event, it's a bit difficult when you miss the entire discussion. Suppose this all stems from priorities and the purpose of business school in the end is to get a job.

Edit 9/23/07: I feel I should qualify my last statement, as I don’t actually believe the only purpose of business school is to get a job because if that is what I believed, I wouldn’t be here. The value business school adds to your toolkit and network far surpasses that of simply finding your next position in your career.

Friday, September 19, 2008

In the Heart of Turmoil

Sometimes you need to poke a little fun:

Dealbreaker has a great synopsis of what the headlines actually mean. Posted from the site:

In times of turmoil, you cannot always trust words to mean what they mean. Often they mean something they don't mean at all. Our guide to financial turmoil meaning should clear some of this up. Or not.

"If You Hear This" = "Read This" (Source)

"Low Quality Rally" = "Our Dartboard Malfunctioned" (UBS)
"We Might Encounter A Slight Correction" = "Expect A 40% Drop" (AIG)
"We Believe We Are Sufficiently Capitalized" = "Our Leverage Is Still 24:1" (Lehman Brothers)
"We Expect To Benefit From A Flight To Quality" = "Shorts Have Created So Much Buy To Lend Action Our Stock Is Buoyed" (Goldman Sachs)
"Another Front Is Opening" = "No One Wants Our Stock Anymore" (Barclays)
"It's Unclear Who Is Going To Be A Credit Provider Going Forward" = "No One Will Lend To Us" (Concordia Advisors)
"No Evident Catalyst For Ending The Pain" = "We Are Flooded With Redemption Requests And Our Attorney Quit" (Feda Capital)
"We Have Changed The Format Of Our Earnings Call A Little Bit" = "No Questions From Pesky Analysts After That Smartass From UBS Mouthed Off" (Baldwin)
"Markets Set To Bounce" = "Our Editor Has Almost Lost Everything" (Wall Street Journal)
"EU Has Tradition Of Bailouts" = "Don't Look At Me Like That, Germany" (Financial Times)
"Short Sellers Are Attacking Our Stock" = "My Mistress And I Are Fleeing Tonight To A Country With No Extradition" (Pick One)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


I didn't know I had time to be busier this week!! SYs warned me about how briefings impact life, sleep, cases and time management, but of course, I nodded, smiled and thought, it's not going to be a big deal. Sure enough, I'm running on empty with little end in sight and unfortunately, I forewent going to the grocery store on Sunday night, which has proven to be a VERY bad idea as I have absolutely no food at home.

My target is banking, so I've signed up for 7 banking briefings this week and one consulting simply because of Deloitte's blogger target. Suppose the marketing worked. ;) It's quite an exciting/interesting week given the state of the market and the consolidations happening at this point. The first briefing I attended on Monday was BofA. What a day to have BofA on grounds! Their entire presentation that was built last Friday was essentially void.

I've quickly learned that I prefer short presentations with the opportunity to talk with the bank's colleagues to the longer presentations. Most information can be found on a website or via a conversation, which all in all is simply more personal.

Today, I have another 2 briefings plus a Section D reception with Dean Brunner. Three other sections have already held their receptions and I've been informed that the time spent was worthwhile. Sounds great, but I'm still trying to figure out when I will have time to prepare my marketing case before learning team and my resume for tomorrow's career management class. The time I thought I had is now scheduled for a meeting with my Operations simulation group.

Luckily, with all the insanity around Darden these days, Friday is a Reading Day and thus, NO CLASS! :D It sounds like Merrill Lynch is still coming on grounds next week. I am interested to see what Merrill has to say about their merger with BofA and what it means for the banking market and job prospects in the future.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Darden Cup: Softball

The standings went a little like this:

First: Section B & C
Third: Section A
Fourth: Section E
Fifth: Section D

As the athletics rep for Section D, it's a bit disappointing to come in last for the first Darden Cup event of the season. Though I would change a few things in the future, I thought the overall organization went well today. I'm caught somewhere in between well organized and slightly neurotic. I crafted a spreadsheet and tentative teams to make sure we had 2 full rosters for every game (total of 4). As SYs showed up, I simply inserted them into our holes. There were two teams and I tried to balance capabilities as best as I could with no prior knowledge as to most people's level of experience. I'm not exactly sure it worked.

D-1s record was 2-1-1 and D-2 suffered an unfortunate 0-4. We played different teams so I can't say if there was a difference in the level of competition. Given what little knowledge I have of team D-2, I feel I was more organized than whoever the interim appointed captain was. It definitely proved beneficial to simply have the batting line up on paper. Plus, I tend to be loud and let people know who's on deck and who's in the hole.

Personally, I made a couple great plays. With some help from my teammates, I started swinging and hitting better. It was a very fun day!! I just hope we get a little more participation support from the section. I know people are busy and have obligations, but there are those that want to win.

Awards for today's effort:

KP - 3 run homerun over the fence - BEAUTIFUL!
DR - Playing outfield, dropped his glove, jumped for a fly ball, caught bare handed then rolled in the air to land on the ground
ECC - Last at bat - hit a single and after a couple batters, made it around the bases. YOU GO GIRL!
EB - Hurt his toe during the first game - managed to find a pinch runner and bring a couple in. :)
KK - Great pop up foul ball catch for someone who said she "sucked"
Team C commentator - I swung and missed the ball, he said, "I expected a lot more from you". Suppose it LOOKED like I knew what I was doing
My two lady Js - Thanks for playing, I know neither of you had the intention, but you saved us

And to all of Section D that participated, THANKS for coming out, I couldn't do it without you!! :D

Friday, September 12, 2008

Diversity: The Real Deal

If you haven't figured it out by now, Darden is known for interactive thought provoking learning and that is what today was about. We worked together to recognize and attempt to breakdown our biases, stereotypes and prejudices of those around us. CSW Global works with companies (and top business schools) around the world through theatrical presentation to challenge the way we think about diversity. When you're in an MBA program of vast diversity, you almost fail to recognize these difficulties. Gender, race, sexual orientation and socioeconomic class are just a few topics that were touched today. Being at Darden, we all have a common experience and thus, I think it's easier to empathize, but when you're at work, what then?

When the boys are going to play golf and a female associate is excluded, what are the implications? Is this simply inclusion/exclusion? What's the best way to make the situation "fair"? Is the premise as to whether or not work will be "conducted" a reason to invite everyone?

A top performing candidate of color does not receive a promotion because of fit. Is it racial bias? Are we projecting our own self abrasions on the circumstance? Is it too much to ask the managing committee as to what fit means? Why do we tiptoe around these issues instead of addressing them. It's a fact that most lawsuits on discrimination are filed because someone DIDN'T say anything.

A teammate's sexual orientation is homosexual. Should the other members on the team be briefed to avoid potential conflict? Or do you let the teammate decide when and to whom it is appropriate to disclose this information?

A person from a different culture who speaks English as a second language has problems communicating with you. Do you say huh three times and turn away? Or do you engage and settle on the understanding that you both have your own difficulties interacting, but will try to continue building a relationship anyhow? What if this person is a co-worker? More importantly, what if this person is a client? In the back of your mind do you think these people should simply return to their native countries where they understand the native tongue? Or is that NOT being part of this global world?

Finally, a student is perceived to be wealthy when in fact, their schedule is packed with a balance of school and work to simply survive. What sort of socioeconomic implications are there? To continue, what if this person is in fact wealthy, should we treat them differently because they can afford things?

The thoughts and implications of these statements and questions are endless. There are no "right" answers. As we discussed these scenarios in class, everyone had their own opinions based on the perceived abrasiveness, controlling and passive acts of the characters. I think the only conclusion that most of us agreed upon was trying to put effort into people. Understand where they're coming from, what they're about and don't be afraid to ask the hard questions.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Gazogle Game

The best aspect of the case method is the level of interest the discussion commands in class. The best part about Darden, they never want you to lose interest and thus today, we played with Legos.

The Gazogle game took the place of Operations today. In this game, you are tasked with completing a certain number of Gazogles, which is a finished product likely consisting of approximately 10 Lego pieces, stacked in a specific array, four high. Each "manufacturing plant" had 2 customers, 2 procurement, 4 handlers, 4 assemblers, 2 shipping and 2 observers to begin. The tables started in the shape of a diamond and for the first 4 rounds, lasting 1 minute each, workers had to assemble product in a designated order, an ineffective order at that. As the other observer put it, it looked like a spaghetti chart.

The goal of the exercise was to make the exact demand from the customers, which changed each minute. After the first round (approx. 4 min), changes to the production line/order could be made with minimal boundaries (including firing people) to increase productivity and cut down on "muda" - non-value-added work. At the end of each round, the customer tallied the completed products, the amount it cost to make the product (ie. 1 worker cost $100) and the cost of the supplies scattered around the production floor (work in progress). This combined created a bottom line profit (loss).

I had the task of observer which was quite entertaining. Of course, on the outside, it looked ridiculous and chaotic, I wonder if it felt that way on the inside. The group I watched missed a few key steps in my opinion. They were far too nice and never fired anyone - sometimes an unfortunate must in a lean system. During Kaizen events, this team was so worried about separate groups that they never combined to find the problems root. They may have even failed to recognize the problem. It seemed to be procurement and shipping, which essentially influences how the parts are distributed. They continued to ignore the fact that someone needed to know how many products were being produced. Finally, the communication never improved and as product designs changed (specific colors required), many people continued to work on the old product instead of the new. Leaving mass confusion to reign.

To some, these buzz words may not make a ton of sense, but just writing this means I'm done with Ops homework for tonight, so I hope you can bare with me and perhaps understand a little of what this was trying to teach. Identifying the muda is not always easy from the inside especially when a set person is not in charge. However, in order for production to be effective, it's a necessary evil and for this reason, consultants have jobs. (Perhaps the last point is simply my interpretation.)

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Athletics Rep

It's another, what did I just get myself into? Last week each section (of which there are 5) spent 2 days nominating section reps and then 2 days voting for them. I was nominated for both Social Chair and Athletics Rep, though I had to choose one. I knew I wanted to do something for the section, but the initial choice was weighing of pros and cons. I finally decided athletics rep, it SEEMED like less of a time commitment, though I know I have skills for both.

This Saturday kicks off the quest for the Darden Cup with Softball. Each section will have 2 teams. Each team must have 10 players on the field - 3 of which must be female. Needless to say, I've started the recruitment process. Each section receives points for an overall win of the combined teams, participation points (playing and supporting) for each of these groups - most number of people from a section, most SY participants and most faculty participants. Needless to say, I'm working on my networking and persuasion skills to get EVERYONE out there. Although outlook is great for scheduling, I fear the slew of emails I will receive in the morning.

The SYs have lent a lot of support - helping me with ideas to better facilitate connection and communication. Some have also agreed to come help us on Saturday. I want them to remember, that if they partake in these events, the cup will be as much theirs as ours. Now that I've officially "wasted" 2 hours on non case prep, perhaps it's time to begin my casework.

Work hard, play harder! Let the games begin.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Prospective Students on Grounds

I look at the second years in awe of their knowledge and accomplishments. In that same way, I feel the prospective students look at the current Darden FYs. In truth, we’re not very different. Last year, I was the prospective student with the same awe for all the current MBAs. And here I am, supposed to be a little wiser to the process and yet, I'm just as lost as the rest of you, simply trying to put my all in what is before me.

During First Coffee, I spent most the time speaking with a prospective student and current FY. I felt bad for monopolizing part of the conversation, but I simply can't say enough about Darden. Indeed, I know I haven't hit the best of times or the worst, yet I wait patiently for both. My dilemma in talking to prospectives is how much to disclose. On one hand, I want them to get the true feeling of the school - the rigor and the grueling schedule. On the other, I want them to understand the sense of community and bonding that has happened with a smaller class. And overall, I want them to understand that at Darden we work hard, play hard. I suppose I fear that I will deter someone with my honesty. However, if this isn't what they want from the business school experience, I suppose they're not Darden material.

It's scary to think that the admissions office is now asking us for ideas to improve their process. Now that we are students, we are credible. I thought about applying to be on the admissions committee, however, I decided that I prefer to give advice to prospectives than evaluate them. Plus, I won Athletics rep for my section (can't run for both). D will bring home the Darden Cup!! Though that's a tale for another post.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Stunned DA Cold Call

The case study method is all about defining assumptions and then defending those assumptions. Most of the time, there is no "right" answer, however, a more right answer than its alternatives (depending on the class, of course). Additionally, the case study method has the dreaded cold call. Most of the time, this is assumed to be the ONE person who presents the case, though I've learned, it may be any person during the class period. This is part of the reason there is so much preparation for the case method - individual, learning team and class. They say, you'll will reach a certain point on your own, your learning team should force you to go further and full understanding often doesn't come until class (and even then, you may not "get it").

To start, I prepare - in both facets before class and by following the conversation in class. Last week, I was cold called in Accounting and the professor stuck with me while I struggled through principals and calculations. It was nerve wrecking, but I had the comfort of my own seat and I stuck with it. Today, was a little different. I didn't do part of the assigned homework for my DA case. The assignment was to come up with a work problem in which one must make decision based on a specific variable. The decision variable was assigned a value and a probability that it could occur. Easy enough for most people who work with products, but not for someone in operations. Needless to say, given other courses and time constraints, I let it slide last night. Sure enough, cold called today. Not only did I need to state my case, but I had to plot my points and draw the graph on the board. I somehow thought on my feet quick enough to come up with an example. Through some coaching from my classmates (ie questions) I sculpted the decision variable, made up some values and came out alive on the other side. Phew...

Today's lesson: Never lose eye contact with a professor as he's scaling the room for a cold call.

Sunday, August 31, 2008


We're all adults and thus, Darden says that we may select our own priorities. They also note that prioritization is one of the number one skills you will learn in business school. However, there are limits on how many of those priorities can be outside class - you are allowed 2 absences - unexcused, per quarter, per class. Basically, don't use them all in the same place. The list of excused absences is short, but it is because if students aren't in class and the case method is essentially taught by students, you risk an incomplete education. Not something you want for that chunk of tuition forked over at the beginning of the term.

My latest dilemma wasn't exactly a big one initially. This weekend, I am IN a wedding in San Francisco. The woman is basically a sister to me and as much as I'd love to say that I wouldn't miss her day for the world, truth is, if I wasn't a bridesmaid, I may not be here.

The accumulating days at Darden definitely got the best of me on Friday. I was a bit woozy and it was hard for me to pay appropriate attention in class. Then ask me to link Friday's cases with any of the others we've had and you're simply asking for a miracle. After a 2 hour drive from C'ville to Dulles, I boarded my flight and slept the entire trip home. Landing in SF, my ride was already at the airport and I went straight home to shower before joining the rehearsal dinner party in SF. It was extremely late on the East coast when I finally crawled into bed.

Saturday kicked off with manicures and pedicures for the bridal party, followed by lunch. I wish I had come home and worked on cases, but a nap won my attention. Last night I packed 2 more bags of winter clothes so if it does get cold, I will be covered. Finally, it's Sunday morning - the morning of the wedding and I STILL haven't touched my cases. (Understanding the theme?) My parents leave in 30 minutes as their flying through JFK tonight and head to Africa tomorrow. My flight leaves at 10:10p tonight and I must be in SF for the wedding at 11 am. Not only is that a long day, but also the only time I get to sleep before Sunday night and Monday class is a 5 hour plane flight. OUCH! Oh yeah, still need to finish my cases.

I've already figured that I WILL miss DA on Monday. I'm not happy about it, but it was the only way to make everything work. The wedding is my priority (though I'm definitely stretching myself thin).

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Section D Norms

Each section has its own identity. Norms are set by the sections preceding and each class has the opportunity to add its own norms. This is probably not the place to divulge the details, so I will refrain, however, I will give a little insight. First, every section has some sort of "song and dance". Ours includes a form of the wave mixed with pounding on the walls/tables as a hello to anyone who is introduced in our class. Each section creates a t-shirt, which I presume is used for Darden Cup events. Unfortunately, my section has a very beautiful trophy from last year, for being the worst performing section in the Cup. Ironically enough, academically, they were one of the best performing. I'm hoping to level both those at the top of the scale this year.

In addition, today, we created section norms for the classroom. Each section has a classroom for the quarter and during each class period, the faculty move, not the students. With the case method, there are a few caveats that are not like a regular classroom. The first, 30-50% of final grades are typically based on participation. Not only is there a feeling of need to participate, but there is also a bit of fear. We can only hope that each person among us is as respectful as they'd want you to be to them. When there's no right answer, that can seem difficult. Thus far, our conversations haven't gotten heated. We've put our hands down when someone else has the floor and there's a rare occurrence when one speaks out of turn. All the same, today, we put rules in the open so each person knows what is expected of them and their classmates.

As for me, my contribution today was "positive reinforcement". My demeanor is often that of a happy camper, yet my feelings after an agonizing cold call can be quite similar to that of a tough interview - questioning, draining and worried. Last week after a long cold call in Managerial Accounting, one of my classmates told me he was impressed with my ability to withstand the professors wrath and that he didn't think he would have fared the same. Though I can say with confidence that he would have done just as well, that little comment gave me more confidence than I could have asked.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Schedule

Cases are mounting and I can't even wait until the infamous "100 case party" (Party thrown for FY after 100 cases are completed). I'm not sure how close we are, though I know I will wake up one morning and go, really, we made it?

I still wake up and wonder what I've gotten myself into. No one ever apologizes for the schedule and the SYs simply smile as if they know something we don't. "Trust the process!" - the mantra that is supposed to calm our nerves and make everything better. I have no reason to question the process, yet it's hard not to when you feel like you're running into the ground.

Classes are in full swing and I think the only one left to attend is Operations. Classes at Darden are cascaded and if I could make any sense of the actual schedule, I would. We have 3 classes a day, approximately 1.5 hours each. For the quarter, I am taking 5 full classes, 2 mini and the schedule encompasses various "programs". Programs can range from Voyage of Discovery, the team building activity from last Friday to section norm discussions and presentations. Reading days also exist, but we haven't reached one yet.

Speaking of tomorrow, I'm not sure how I'm going to work this. I have 2 cases to complete for learning team in addition to 3 club kick-off meetings, 2 classes and preparation for career management. Luckily, no Marketing class tomorrow because we were given time to complete an online test, which I finished on Saturday. I'm really not an overachiever, just simply trying to find a means to my survival.

Friday, August 22, 2008


The great thing about b-school is activity. The unfortunate thing about activity is that you must be physically healthy in order to partake. I've had my falls and a laundry list of injuries, but none as reoccurring as my ankle(s). After 7 days, my right ankle is still swollen from a wrong move in a pick-up soccer game. I had hoped that it'd be a couple weeks, but as days pass, I must be more realistic. Six weeks is my target at this point.

I appreciate the concern from all of my classmates, but at the same time, I'd rather forget about the injury. I've spent 2 days on crutches which is enough for a lifetime, but I'd be happy if that's my quota for the next year. Physical therapy starts tomorrow, although I'm not sure when I'll have time in the next few weeks to continue treatment. The schedule is insane! It's no wonder Darden will never deny that it is rigorous. I can only hope that we get better and faster at cases.

Tomorrow we don't have class (and I'm thankful). I needed to catch up on some sleep. We do however, have Voyage of Discovery, which is some sort of team building activity. We not only bond, but we are expected to run around and I'm guessing complete a scavenger hunt (speculation of course). Water and comfy clothes are our requirements and I suppose this is why I'm so down about my injury right now. Not to mention I missed soccer, baseball or football today - all of which were set up by SY for bonding. It's a difficult paradox, wanting to partake in activity and taking the right steps to heal.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I survived!

I survived my first set of cases on my own.
I survived my first learning team and found it quite beneficial.
I survived 3 classes with 3 cases and perhaps even added valuable input.
I survived my first official day at Darden!

Wow! I know already that timing is tight and when they say the schedule is insane, I think that's an understatement. It's 2:10p and at 7p, I will be back on grounds to meet the other 5 members of my learning team. I'm tired, my mind is spent and I basically have a rug burn on my sides from crutches. Yes, crutches. After a long delay, I finally went to the doctor yesterday due to the swelling in my ankle not decreasing. Needless to say, the doc wants me off ankle for 2 days and onto PT on Friday. Sounds great and of course, I'm going to fit this in with all my extra free time. Free time, what's that? Oh yeah, I'm a Darden student. (Thankfully the first session is on Friday - no cases due on Saturday.)

It feels good to have survived, but in the essence of wanting to get some sleep tonight and perhaps a solid dinner, I'm off for the second crack at the case method. More on this later.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Learning Team

The unofficial stat is about 2% of learning teams don't work, so when you imagine who is going to be on this team, you hope and cross your fingers that your team doesn't end up in that 2%. There was much anticipation about learning teams and a few people even contemplated jumping Marsh (Director of Student Affairs)in advance. Today, after another class of logistics and one on career development, we received a slightly delayed intro to learning teams. After which we were instructed to look at the easels in the hall and go the the room number that corresponded with your name to meet your team. And you wonder why everyone views this as suspenseful? ;)

No one was in my room when I arrived, but I glanced at the envelope and immediately recognized 2 other names. We are a diverse group with vast experience for our young ages. And thankfully, we have a CPA! My man K tried to tell me he wasn't, but eventually divulged that important fact. I was afraid I was supposed to be the one with accounting knowledge. Let's just say, that wouldn't be a good thing even though it is one of my undergrad emphases.

My fellow female soccer star has all sorts of experience in international trade law. The Brazilian helped run multiple companies. Mr. Z helped build a company from scratch and finally, our Nigerian friend has lived all over the world - most recently in Singapore working on economic development. Definitely excited to get to know the gang!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Section D

Unofficial class starts tomorrow with the first two days being orientation and Wednesday being the first day we do cases. Tonight, there was a welcome ceremony and though the thoughts were great to hear, it was a struggle to stay focused. Also, after 2 weeks of meeting tons of people, we now know which section we are in. I am a member of SECTION D. It's a bit strange given that I know a number of people in my section already. Of course, I suppose I know a number of people here, so perhaps they're one in the same. On Tuesday, we should meet our learning teams as well, which will be another fun surprise.

In addition, I picked up my Q1 cases, WOW, the packet is thick. Looks like I may need to purchase a few binders. I haven't quite decided whether I share a binder between 2 classes or if each class needs its own. Something TBD.

Fun stats about the Darden Class of 2010:

Covers 5 continents
334 total class size
97 women
33% international

692 Average GMAT
3.35 Avg GPA
28 Age
22-34 Age Span

World record holder
Number of college athletes
Peace Corps Volunteers

25% Undergrad business majors
13% Economics
8% Have military experience

Each class seat had 9 people competing for it.

Most represented Universities:
25 Attended UVa
6 Attended Notre Dame


I'm moving a little slower than I had anticipated this morning. I thought camping sounded like a good relaxing start to the craziness that will ensue starting at 4p today, unfortunately, it was another level of insanity. Our fearless leader planned the trip perfectly. Part of the group met at 3p on Friday to head to our campsite, the other half met us there. The site had a large mess hall and a couple of bathrooms thankfully. But besides that, it was 2 days with bugs, dirty clothes and beer. Friday night after a fantastic dinner we made smores and bonded. By 2am those left were attempting to remember all the words to Jimmy Buffet's Martgueritaville.

Saturday kicked off with a light breakfast and some sandwich making. The group filled 6 or so coolers with beer, sandwiches, chips and ice. At that point, we were prepared for tubing down the river. People strategically latched on to various coolers and each other. A couple of us were wanders, but for the most part there were two large flotillas. It took a solid 5 hours or so to cover 3 mi of river, which is likely why my back has a little too much color.

Most people took naps after tubing before another amazing dinner. Things got out of hand Saturday night when we turned the mess hall into a rowdy room of drinking games. Beirut on one table and two tables for flip cup. All good times, but definitely contributed to my delay today.

I think the hike that was tentatively scheduled for this morning was essentially canceled, however, I didn't stay around to find out. We broke camp around 9a, cleaned and left by 10a. I've just returned. Enough time to shower, eat, relax for a few minutes before the first year barbecue on grounds. (Darden is located on the north GROUNDS, not campus.)And it begins...

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Already searching for minutes

Class begins Monday and I'm already looking for time to myself. The gatherings have been pleasant, but a bit exhausting. And yesterday, a group of us met for some pick up soccer, which ended in detriment as I officially sprained the OTHER ankle after healing the original from 1.5 weeks ago. It absolutely sucks, but there's nothing I can do about it.

PCAP was definitely worthwhile as we investigated ourselves to find out what matters to us, what de-energizes us, what items we excel at, what things we have to improve (etc...) and how we can combine the lot to develop life themes. We then rate the importance of each life theme and add supporting or contradictory evidence from the insights deduced from the various introspective tests. Eventually, we should be able to compare our desired functions and careers to the life themes. Thus seeing how good of a fit that function/career actually is. This is all made possible through Career Next Step and a few outside assessments. (Hopefully that made a little sense.)

I didn't exactly go to bed early last night and when I finally fell asleep, I found that the aircast on my right ankle made it quite difficult to get comfortable. I awoke a little after 3am, again at 4a, slightly before the 7a alarm and actually thrust myself out of bad at 10 after 7a. There were plenty of other times I refused to look at the clock as well. This made my attention struggle during today's Career Discovery Forums arduous. Various alumni returned to Darden to speak of their experiences in a variety of functions - from general management to investment banking to private equity. Some speakers were better than others, but overall, informative. There are a few jobs that I can clearly say, I'm not interested. Suppose that's a good start. Tomorrow morning kicks off with consulting at which 5 firms will be represented. In addition, there will be marketing and non-traditional job presentations. It's not likely that I'll make it to the latter as we leave at 3:30p to go camping for the weekend, but I will be bright eyed and ready at 8a for consulting, as that is one of two functions with which I'm currently toying. (It was also the function I noted in my essays...)

For this weekend, camping is going to be fun, though, the ankle may prohibit me from having as much as I wanted. I'm hoping tubing is still a feasible idea, may need some help from the roommate and a few classmates. We'll see. Only problem is, I need to complete some laundry before the trip. It'll have to wait until after my nap though. I am skipping tonight's festivities and when I return on Sunday, there are Darden festivities and our class picture. Time is flying and I'm searching for a few minutes to myself, but it's hard and I know it is about to get busier.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


It was another rowdy weekend, but it's time to buckle down. Classes start in a week and this week is all about career discovery, which I suppose is part of the purpose of business school. My roommate was told by a second year that of the people who know what they want to do now, 50% of them will get a summer internship in that function and then half of those will change their mind about the function after the internship. So if you don't have a set goal on what you want to do, it's ok, likely it would change anyway. However, each of us still wants to find the best fit, which is why we're partaking in PCAP - Personal Career Assessment Program. Before tomorrow, there are two online assessment tests that must be completed as well as 2 cases. Overall, doesn't sound too complex, but I'll admit, I'm having some difficulty with the introspection - odd given that I write about myself in an open forum all the time. I suppose I also get a bit nervous when I think about it because this program should help me narrow my focus for the job search. As much as I'm ready to start the job search, I am still overly open with the functions in which I'm interested. Perhaps too open.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Welcome Back to College

It's currently difficult for me to see the difference between undergrad and grad school. Granted, I'm sure that will change once the real work starts, but I sit here, gatorade in hand, wondering if my body can handle the rest of Camp Darden's planned activities. Yes, I wrote, CAMP DARDEN and no it isn't exactly a school group. A handful of 2010 classmates have been in Charlottesville for almost a month. They have taken a tour of sorts - bowling, karaoke, bull riding, house parties etc and they began calling it Camp Darden. It started as an email list and has grown to a google group with a logo. Most of my classmates will know what you mean when you ask what camp festivities are planned and the list of people/festivities keeps getting longer. Beer pong was last night and though I never played much in college, I held my own for Team Awesome - we even won a game. The plethora of Natural Light beer reminded me that we're here. At Colorado, we drank Keystone, but same difference esp. after a couple pong games. Tonight is the Triple Threat Birthday Party... starting at 7:30p. Ouch! Additionally, Friday - Sunday all have parties planned.

On the school front, we're in the middle of PreMats. I took the Excel course as a basis of learning how Darden wants me to tackle Excel. It was beneficial. Econ started today and though it probably would have been smart to take it, I opted not. Hopefully I can find someone who is good at Econ if I need the help. I'm already zeroing in on other functions as well. One of my friends is an accountant and though I do have an accounting background, I'm not good with the intricate details. Another is an excel wizard when it comes to making spreadsheets look pretty. These are all little tidbits that I'm sure will help me in the future.

Sunday, August 03, 2008


As we all know, we attend business school first and foremost for the education. However, there's another aspect that is often only spoken about in terms like community, networking, learning teams and sections. Though simply, we are referring to the social aspects of business school. In the grand scheme of things, life is about relationships - both personal and professional. Through both you may meet people who enrich your life on a level of friendship or who help you land your next job. The past few days, I have been socializing with my current first year Darden classmates.

I'll admit, when you walk into a room and get introduced to 8 of the 50 people standing there, it's a bit overwhelming. You claw to remember even one person's name and a tidbit about them. For me, I've worked slow. I aim to remember a handful of people, by name, each day. although it's even more difficult when you throw partners in the mix.

Thursday afternoon, I received a phone call and invite to a gathering in the building next to mine. Someone who had befriended me on Facebook remembered that I had arrived in town. Not only did I feel special, but I appreciated the chance to meet some people. Little did I know, this was just the beginning of the activites. The next night is when all hell broke loose.

The party at CD's house had been planned for weeks. It was the kick off to pre-matriculation classes, which begin tomorrow as well as another chance to meet 50 of your next BFFs. Luckily, I knew a number of people before I arrived, though, that didn't stop me from expanding my range. It was definitely a party for the books, a keg and a half kicked by midnight. Additionally, the flip cup and beer pong were quite entertaining to watch. (Anyone having flashbacks from college?) And the icing, making a beer run for Natural Light after the kegs were cashed. (Yes, definitely a "college" student again.) My favorite quote of the night... "I don't drink beer" ...looks down at beer in hand..."I DIDN'T drink beer."

Saturday was another day of moving in and after a trip to almost every desk store imaginable, I returned empty handed. Still looking. My roommate (who is ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS I MIGHT ADD) and I stayed home and baked cookies, both sharing in the duties. It was a real delight and a good break though it didn't last long. This morning we met up with a group of about 15 people and headed to the national park for a 6.5 mi hike. Indeed, after a bout of stupidity, I rolled my ankle, again. The end of the night was another gathering and potluck! Lots of good meals and quite an array of dishes. I'm not sure I'm ready for tomorrow, but I already know at least 5 people in my 8 am class. That can only be a good thing.

I'm not sure if this is indicative of all schools or even all classes because each one is comprised of very different people, but it seems, this class will definitely be a social one.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Welcome "home"!

My first days in Charlottesville were quite insane. I landed at 11 am July 23rd after flying all night from the West Coast, picked up my rental car, drove to a mattress store, made a trip to Costco (1 hour drive each way), returned home to receive the mattress, went to Wal-Mart and finally stopped by Kroger's, the local grocery store. I spent 2 days arranging my room, unpacking the two 49 pound bags I hauled across the country and re-packing a small carry on for my trip Vegas (Bachelorette party). I love my place, though besides my room, it's still quite empty - missing a table, couch, desk, roommate etc. However, I have found my 1.5 foot windowsill quite convenient as a stand for my computer, which I'm currently using as a TV.

Vegas was insane as most my Vegas trips are. Though this one may have been more so than those of the past. The girls were definitely there to have a great time, but on Sunday I was ready to head home. I returned to SF, half dead and with one goal for the day, SLEEP! Delirium set in and I wandered the house aimlessly for a few hours. By 3 pm, my head was on the pillow and I was sound asleep again. I slept the afternoon away and met up with a friend for a chat that night. Not many people knew I was returning as I had had enough festivities the week before my first trip to C'ville. The select few I saw were quite lucky.

Two days to pack and I was gone again, just as quickly as I had returned. I knew I couldn't take everything, which likely made things easier, but the question still reigned, what do I take? At this point, it was clothes, mainly summer things as I will be back in late August for a wedding. Additionally, I needed a few suits to hold me over. I parted with some shoes, however, I'd hate to admit how many pairs I brought. My last bag zipped substantially earlier than I anticipated. This allowed me time to make travel arrangements as my original 7:10am flight was cancelled by the airline less than 12 hours before its scheduled departure. I ended up on a 10:45am flight with 2 additional hours of travel time compared to my original flight. The only good news I received today is that my car, which I shipped before I left the first time, may arrive here on Saturday!!!

Travel these days isn't fun, but I don't have any flights booked until the end of August. And now, I'm home in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Moving is Expensive

I suppose I am in a different situation than many of my classmates. I've lived at home with my family for the last four years and conversely, I seem to have more and less to move. Some people hire movers, others pack up their car and drive across the country and a third group simply brings a few suitcases and sets up shop when they arrive. I suppose I land in the third category by default. My furniture pre and post college has been the same and won't be dragged across the country with me. My car on the other hand will make the long trek via auto transport. Though it means less time in the car, it also means less stuff in the car. I found a company for a decent price who will let me pack 75-100 lbs in my car, but that's a STRICT limit. Of course with gas prices, hotel costs, food, time and wear/tear, it doesn't make sense for me to drive anyhow.

Next, I keep trying to figure out WHAT to pack. I know I can leave stuff here on a semi permanent basis as I think my mother still hopes I will return after school. (Unfortunately, I have no intention of doing so.) But of course comes the thought, I want ... and it's still in California. I don't recall having those thoughts in Colorado, but I basically took my life with me. There are simplicities that I want/need in Virginia. My iHome and I have become good friends, but is it worth it to hull it with me or should I simply buy a new one, which leads me to the entire topic, MOVING IS EXPENSIVE.

It's not just a matter of what to move, but also what is simply worth purchasing on the other side of the country. I have a list of bare necessities that I need to purchase. For starters, it'd be nice to have a bed, some pillows and a down comforter (I've already picked out my duvet cover). A desk will be essential as I plan to study a bit harder than I did in college and I'm sure a dresser will be another personal requirement. Next comes the little luxuries, though essentials in my life. I love electronics, which can get expensive on it's own. After a year of research I purchased myself a nice plasma TV as a belated graduation present. It doesn't exactly make sense to bring it or leave it and it surely isn't shippable without the original packaging, IMO. Indeed, the distance where you are today should not dictate the schools you consider, but I can't help but wonder if some are slightly better off financially by not having to move.