Monday, December 28, 2009

The Adventure Continues: Taxis

When exploring a new city, you're often at the mercy of the locals. One local in particular tends to have more weight than others. This local is the taxi driver. During our group trip in the north, we had a car and driver which means we never used cabs. Since returning to Mumbai, we take taxis everywhere. It has been a learning experience with each ride and with just a couple days left I think we're getting the hang of it.

During my first couple of days, I was taught how to read a rickshaw meter. Taxis here have meters too, but there's a fare sheet that has some sort of government sponsored conversion to higher prices.

1. Fixed fares are always more expensive (and if they're set by the taxi, you're likely getting screwed)
2. 99% of the taxis when using a meter will convert to a higher price than you should be charged
3. Always ask to see the fare sheet if a fare sounds high
4. Most taxis whether or not they actually have it will claim they don't have change

It has been one adventure after another. Tonight we grabbed a taxi on our return from dinner. He wanted 250 rupees to which we replied no, metered or we'll grab another cab. He agreed. Surprisingly he took a rather direct route to our hotel. We asked how much when we arrived, he told us 180 rupees which was more than the 135 rupees we spent to get to dinner. Not to mention we walked a little towards the hotel afterwards. We asked for the fare sheet and he deceased the price to 134 rupees. I asked to see the sheet, the fare should be 107 rupees. Had it been after midnight, 134 rupees would have been correct. I hate to feel like I'm getting ripped off in my country or any other simply because I don't know the city. I've decided hotels should give a little tutorial on local transportation via taxi if they know you're a foreign traveler and will be using them often.

I realize in US terms this may seem petty. However, traveling abroad, I've also learned that you should think of currency in terms of the country you're in, not your home country. Otherwise everything you do is only $5 or only $20 and regardless, only, adds up quickly.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Itinerary

We arrived in Mumbai on the morning (12a) of the 13th. Three nights including the first were spent in Mumbai with locals and natives. We shopped for sarees for the wedding and visited a classmate's aunt, who is a true entrepreneur. We practiced a dance for the wedding that will get more laughs from our other friends attending than applause. All in all, a great start to a legendary trip.

The morning of the 15th we headed to Delhi and our journey looks as follows:

We stayed in each city one night unless otherwise noted.

Jaipur (two nights)
Sand Dunes (outside Jaisalmer)

It has been my boyfriend and two classmates since leaving Mumbai. We've managed to stay safe, do a lot and see a lot, though I can honestly say, we're all looking forward to staying in one place for a bit. And no offense to my vegetarian readers, but we long for some solid protein as we find most of Rajasthan is veg.

We're back to Mumbai on Christmas day, just in time to be decorated with henna. The rest of our trip will be spent attending the wedding and exploring Mumbai. It will be fun to get into the city after spending most our time in the suburbs at the beginning of the trip.

In other news, I'm taking an interview call tonight, 4p EST, which is 2:30a India time. Should be interesting.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Friday, December 18, 2009

And you thought New York was bad

I've entered the land of the horns. Driving in India is a daily experience. I'm not quite sure there are rules, but people stop at red lights, most the time. Lines on the road? What are those? Drivers often pass on the right (likely due to the British style cars - driver on the right) and honk as they do so. If you need to pass through an intersection, you inch in until something decides to stop. Eventually they all stop and it is before they risk hitting you.

If it moves, it goes on the road. Cars, rickshaws - electric and bicycle, motorcycles, bicycles, cows, goats, donkeys, bulls and people. In fact, I even saw two camels today.

Cars often lay in a zigzagged formation and though I think the speed limit is 50 km per hour, I don't think you could go faster if you tried. People try to sell you stuff when you're sitting at lights and I find they harass Americans more. It surprises me that they never get hit. I suppose I'm even more surprised by the fact that I haven't seen an accident yet. I'm not used to being able to reach out and touch the car next to me. I'd hate to be a bus driver in this country.

We had a case on Tata motors during first year. The Indians tried to explain the essence of traffic and driving in India. Clearly, I didn't understand until today.

The lack of road signs also amazes me, not that our driver had a clue where to go anyhow. We have yet to use a map. And I'm not sure if GPS exists. It is typically my savior at home. However, we have asked everybody for directions and have found more informed than not.

The daily adventure that is driving provides much entertainment. Given that we will continue this adventure in the car for the next 8 days, I anticipate more stories.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Friday, December 11, 2009


In three hours my alarm will be blaring! I'm not sure what took me so long to pack and I dread the day that I pack for Sweden. At least the weather in India is comfortable, no super large sweaters and only one heavy jacket for NYE in NYC! I'm excited and nervous. I'm not sure what to expect, but regardless, it's going to be an adventure.
Wishing everyone out there happy holidays and happy new year!! CHEERS.

Thursday, December 03, 2009


And that's a wrap! Today was the last day of Q2 class for Second Years. I'm five finals away from having one more semester left at Darden, half of which will be spent somewhere very foreign to me. I sat down with an SSE exchange student today to ask what may seem like silly questions. I wanted to know how students dressed for class. If they use computers as much as we do at Darden (as this determines whether I purchase a new battery). I asked how people dress to go out on the weekends and what time nightlife shuts down. I learned that she has a significant other at home, so I inquired as to if she used Skype or another service to keep in contact. Her advice was to purchase a webcam as it changes the dynamics of just talking to each other (and it's MUCH cheaper in the US). I also wanted to know if she purchased a cell phone while here. Overall, the conversation was informative and has me very excited for the experience to come.

Of course, between that experience and me is a trip to India, New Years in New York, five finals and a trip to Louisville, KY for a second, second round interview. Yesterday, I had a phone interview, that went quite well. By the end, I was being asked my availability to fly out for another round of in person interviews. Unfortunately, my travel schedule does not allow much flexibility, so I fly out on Monday night and return Tuesday afternoon. Though we have finals, I'm thankful and lucky they are all take home. The company was nice enough to show concern, except I told them that I would worry about finals and all they needed to worry about was travel arrangements. I thought that was fair.

"Darden Prom" is this Friday. Though you don't need a date, many people are under the misconception that "Darden Prom" mirrors high school prom. While I'm sure all the girls will spend just as much on dresses and hair, I think Darden prom is one of the best events of the year. It's a time to relax and enjoy some holiday cheer with friends before everyone parts for winter break. Further, the event raises money for BGiA through a live auction. Just like any other charity event, the more they drink, the loser they are with their pocket books.

So much is going on these days, that I should be focused on finals. Instead, I'm writing this blog post and contemplating one of my few TNDC attendances this year.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Need a Reason to Party?

My mom loves to throw parties. I think it's more an excuse to bring people together and have a good laugh, but who am I to judge? Like most people, I love to attend parties. Recently, mom had a fantastic idea. My god-sister, who has accomplished more in her 17 years than many people do in a lifetime, is turning 18 on Friday. Her parents live outside of Portland and are headed to San Francisco to visit my parents. So, in good spirit, my mom thought she'd throw a party. Not just any party though. This is an 18th birthday party for her god-daughter, who by the way is not attending. She has requested that every attending guest (which means all of her friends, who themselves are likely over 50) bring a small gift that will be sent home with my god-sister's parents. Talk about crazy!! And as mom says, if nothing else, "it gives you something to talk about", and I couldn't agree more. I think this world needs a little more entertainment with slightly crazy ideas!

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Greenbrier

It amuses me when friends from home ask me what I'm doing for Thanksgiving. I suppose this is because for the better part of two decades, my family has ventured to West Virginia for the holiday. The Greenbrier is a luxury resort in White Sulphur Springs, WV. Once upon a time, it housed an underground bunker for the US Congress during the Cold War. Most recently, the hotel was purchased from CSX by local billionaire Jim Justice, who plans to revert the hotel to its glory days of five stars and American tradition. As such, the former entrance is being dug up for an underground casino and the old furniture store has been converted to hotel lobby. For the most part, not much has changed over the years. The second cousins get bigger, the bowling pins become more worn out and the service is fairly consistent, with a few exceptions.

This year was more enjoyable than last. Instead of spending night after night with my nose in the computer, I stepped away from Darden. We bowled nightly and then wandered through the casino. I don't gamble much, but it's fun to watch. I was productive in reference to booking airfare for Sweden (no backing out now!!) and a trip to Paris while I'm abroad. For good sport, I also purchased a new iPod Nano on Black Friday. It always amuses me how much pressure is put on Black Friday as for the last 18 years I've been hulled up at the Greenbrier the day after Thanksgiving.

I have a lot to be thankful for this year and can't believe I'm 1.5 weeks away from being 3/4 finished with my MBA. It'll be interesting to return to the Greenbrier next year, fully employed, with a brand new casino and likely updated hotel rooms. Who knows what else will change in the next 300 plus days.

Monday, November 23, 2009

LT7 Reunion

There are few things that make me more nostalgic than memories of LT7 from my first year at Darden. I'm still in disbelief on how or why learning teams disband prior to fourth quarter. While LT7 was convinced we'd continue to meet through the fourth quarter of first year, it became apparent quickly that the differing schedules made learning team a thing of the past. That said, LT7 lived on as a bowling team during fourth quarter and this year, we attempted to revive the LT7 bowling team. Yet again to no avail, differing schedules simply didn't allow it. Instead, we had LT7 bowling, with random additions of friends, roommates and significant others.

When I first walked into LT7, we noticed that many of us were "young" in comparison to Darden's average age. None of us were married, which also seemed like an anomaly in comparison to other teams. But today, two are engaged, four have signed their full-time offers and as we sat at dinner tonight, we talked of being like the LT of '67 which has three people who have donated large sums of money back to Darden. One has his name on Saunders Hall and another provided funds for the Abbott Center, though named it after the dean at the time instead of himself.

It's exciting to reunite with LT7 and I must say, I'm sad we don't do it more often. While second year schedules allow more flexibility, they also include what seems to be more activity, at least in a less structured manner than first year. Here's to great memories and more when we visit Sergio in Brazil for an LT7 reunion, which may just coincide with the next World Cup. Inadvertently, of course.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

India Planning

There are a number of us venturing to India this December and for some reason, we can't nail down anything from travel dates within the country to cities. Obviously, there are a number of great places to visit and even imagining that we could fit them all into three weeks is preposterous. Our gracious host, one of the reasons many of us considered India, invited all the travelers to her house tonight for dinner and discussion. Unfortunately, dinner happened, discussion did not. In some ways though, I'm happier because of it.

I sat around with a number of my classmates discussing study abroad programs. One classmate is going to India, two are headed for Mexico and of course, my plan includes Sweden. It was fun to talk about experiences and expectations. As I sat at the dinner table, I admired the diversity. A few of us are US citizens, two are Indian and another, French. I wonder if I will get to interact with a group like this again as I do at Darden. Incredible experiences from all over the world melted into one pot for two years. It's absolutely amazing!! And apparently has led us to require another group meeting regarding our trip to India.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Are we censored?

Who censors the Darden Student Bloggers? Today, in one of the SY classes, it was discussed that Darden marketing censors the Darden Student Bloggers. As I heard this, I thought funny, I never knew that. I would love to ask how many of those people who believe we are censored by someone other than ourselves have actually read our blogs. This blog was about me long before it was ever about Darden. In fact, Darden will likely be a blip by the time this blog retires.

I suppose I bring this up more as an understanding than to refute anyone's preconceived notions. My posts are my own and the university has no weighting on my opinion or the slant at which I write my posts. If they seem overly positive, that's because I'm an overly positive person. If I choose not to write about all my hardships, that's a personal choice. It's weird enough having people mention posts I've written out of context, I share a lot of myself with as much transparency as I can bare.

Another aspect that readers need to understand is that due to the wide reach of the internet, this blog doesn't simply represent the Darden brand. It's more than that, it's my personal brand. How do I want to viewed by the outside? It's become easier to find information on people, just ask Google and this portal is a very easy one to find. I would hate my personal brand to be a detriment of something I wrote tastelessly. Today, I'm a representative of myself, Darden and my undergraduate institution. Tomorrow, I'm also a representative of company.

While life is not always rosey, my glass is often half-full. If that slant does not suit the interest of my classmates, they are entitled to their own opinions. Know that everything I write is with honesty and thought. I'm not here under false pretences and by no means do my views reflect the views, opinions, or positions of the University of Virginia, Darden, or any faculty, staff, or other students. The only censor between this blog and myself is at best, one imposed by me.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Bar Review: Trinity

Trinity is a new Irish pub and is located "on the corner" in Charlottesville. I couldn't tell you what it replaced, however, I must say, I've been impressed thus far. I'm a dancer - always have been and likely always will be. There are multiple places to dance in Charlottesville, though the two frequented most are Three and The Box. Three is nortorious for 100% 80s music on Saturday nights. You're also guaranteed to smell like smoke when you leave Three (oh how I miss San Francisco and Boulder... smoke free!!). The Box, while fun, gets packed quickly, so as long as you don't mind acting like a sardine, the music is good enough to stay there all night. This brings me to Trinity.

Trinity has three levels with the top floor boasting a variety of music. Surprisingly, during my past two visits, I haven't smelled as smoky as I do when I leave most the bars in Charlottesville. The patrons have been nice enough and what little experience I've had with the bar staff has been pleasant. The new bar gets my stamp of approval and I have a feeling, Darden students will become frequent customers.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Why Is Selecting Courses So Hard?!?

At Darden, you can take anywhere from as few classes to as many as you want per quarter as long as you end second year with 60 credit hours completed. The average number of courses per quarter at Darden is five. You take five every quarter of the first year and assuming you don't have a GBE, J-week, M-week or DBP (Darden Business Project), you will most likely continue taking five courses per quarter throughout second year.

So what happens when you turn everything upside down and decide to study abroad for Q3? Well, now I have to choose TWO classes where I normally had five. Additionally, I need to ensure that these classes will transfer to Darden, replacing the minimum of four classes that I must take to ensure not only graduation, but also a manageable fourth quarter. Further, these classes need to be taught in English. I'd say my Swedish is horrible, yet it's worse, I don't know any! And there's one more aspect I almost forgot. SSE's study periods are different than Darden's, which means I need to be allowed to sit for the exam in Sweden a week prior to my Swedish classmates. Now if that wasn't a nightmare waiting to happen?!?

It's interesting as I browse the course descriptions, finding some description in English where the classes are taught in Swedish, I continue to wonder if this is all going to work out. One class in particular had me super excited, until I realized the exam is a week after the date I MUST return to C'ville. At this point, it's in the professors hands, so we'll see.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Job Searching...

I feel like I've been recruiting for the last 1.5 years straight. While I realize that is a stretch of the imagination as I did have a 3 month internship in there, it's all weighing down on me right now. I just completed a second round NPV analysis that at best, I'd give myself a C. I know it's harsh, except when I hit submit on the email returning the case I almost wanted to tell the guy to withdraw my name from the candidate pool. Can you tell I'm running thin?

I've spent the last couple weekends traveling for second rounds and have another weekend of traveling ahead of me. I'm grateful to even have made second rounds, yet, given that I haven't heard back from any of them, I'm not sure where my benchmark is. Am I doing well? Do I need coaching? Will I end up with a job prior to Christmas?

In some ways, it doesn't matter when I end up with a job. In many others, I feel overwhelmed with classes, recruiting and life. One of my close friends had her baby this past weekend, likely the soonest I'll see him is April. These days, I feel the need to blow off some steam and occasionally I do, though when I return, the work is still sitting there.

For instance, I had dinner with my boyfriend, a classmate and his wife last night. We sat around the table for 2 hours after a yummy homecooked turkey dinner - swapping stories, sipping on wine and enjoying exactly what second year is about, a little TLC with people who may only be around for the next 7 months. Of course, when we finished dinner I still had 100 pages of my reading seminar book to complete. It's the never-ending list of things to do.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Time Flies

Grades and exams are slowly rolling into our inboxes from last quarter. Yet today, I just finished my first "real" midterm exam at Darden - take home, 4 contiguous hours - who would have thought that you could give a midterm with 6-8 weeks per quarter? I'm in absolute aww as time seems to travel in super speed. Every week is booked to the max and trying to find open time is like finding a needle in a haystack.

Last Friday I was in Chicago for my first second round interview. Afterwards, I flew to SF to celebrate Halloween with my old soccer team and see my friend's new baby. I spent Sunday returning East and thankfully, United switched me from my original connecting flight to a direct flight. Props to them, I didn't even have to ask and ended up landed 4 hours earlier than expected!! I'm traveling again this weekend and the next. I fear Thanksgiving will be here before I know it, which also signals the end of the quarter and finals, again.

As for study abroad, I am officially enrolled at SSE (Stockholm School of Economics) for quarter 3! I just can't seem to wrap my head around going to India for 3 weeks in December to return home on New Year's, back to school for a one-week course and then I move to Sweden during the coldest time of the year for 7-8 weeks. It's insane.

I'm trying to enjoy my time and the moments, but lately, I feel like everything is just beyond my grasp. Before I know it, I'm going to wake up at graduation.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Oh Blackberry, You're MUCH Better Now

Ever seen the facebook status message: "Blackberry Storm or iPhone?" It's a constant battle trying to decipher which phone is better. Not to mention, if you're locked into Verizon (or some service other than AT&T), should you think of switching? For the most part, there are many aspects of the iPhone that are "better", though many work environments utilize the Blackberry instead.

Last December, I got my very first Blackberry as I was about to head up to Week on Wall Street. Prior to my travels, I was informed that having a Blackberry helped facilitate communication in New York. Indeed, it was likely any smartphone helped. As a loyal Verizon customer, I didn't want to go through the hassle of switching providers and the Storm had just arrived, so why not be an early adopter on the technology wagon.

Since then, I've found that having a smartphone keeps my inbox clean. Additionally, I love having internet access overseas, no matter how crappy the browser is. Google Maps is heaven sent in new cities (especially when you're walking) and now, I get be a full fledged Facebook addict without having to open my laptop.

Parts of the phone were always incredible and other parts, namely the OS, left me wanting. However, I want no longer. This past week Blackberry pushed out an upgrade to their OS. In some ways, it reminds me of the iPhone, however, I still have problems using the iPhone. It's faster, sleeker, pops up and back smoothly, and even bounces a little when you get to the edge of a list. I'm completely fascinated by the new OS and almost feel like I got a new phone during the last week. While the argument between which phone is better may never truly be won, I must say, Blackberry did well with the latest upgrade! Two thumbs up.

(Note: Still an Apple lover.)

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Ding

It's inevitable that in interview season, everyone receives the illicit ding. If you're one of the fortunate ones to never experience this, I congratulate you.

There is not great way to get the ding, though I do feel some ways are easier than others. Email is just about as informal as it gets. The pro is that you don't have the awkward silence as you try to figure out what to say once someone has said they're uninterested. That leads me to the phone call, often the recruiter or someone from the corporate office who has no connection calls you to say you will not move on to Round 2. How are you supposed to respond? I simply say "thank you and enjoy your day/night/afternoon" though I'm not sure if there's a more appropriate response.

The voicemail is less painful than the actual phone call, fact is however, this person was trying to talk with you and the chance of them catching you may be as great as the chance that they don't. The voicemail to return a phone call typically means good news, unless of course you were me this morning, returning a phone call only to hear thanks, but no thanks.

Finally, I had another interesting experience this evening. I received the typical email this afternoon, only to get a phone call this evening with feedback. While I appreciate the feedback, it made the email ding feel worse than the typical recruiter phone call. I know it is meant to be helpful, except the feedback was regarding my quantitative skills and my knowledge of the industry. Fine, I did not articulate my industry knowledge well, but my analytic skills are part of my profile that I feel is strongest. I suppose we'll say last Thursday was simply a bad interview day.

While this post is mostly about the negatives of the interview process, I have heard some positives along the way as well, so don't think it's all dull-drums over here.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Surprises at Darden

I love the case method, which is ironic because I told my mom when I was first exploring business schools that I wasn't interested in 100% case. During one of my interviews this past week, I was asked, what surprised you most about Darden? In fine case method fashion, I paused, smiled and started talking. I wasn't quite sure where I was going and ended up somewhere fantastic. A Darden grad was sitting on the opposite side of the interview table from me and I proceeded to tell him that I was most surprised about how much I learn from my classmates. I then mentioned how this aspect of the case method would easily transition into the workplace as I'd be joining the company as a newbie who would have a lot to learn from other people (not to mention a lot to bring to the table as well).

I was a bit amused with myself. Darden is often touted for having some of the best faculty and while I do agree with that statement as our faculty spends more time focused on students than research, it is my classmates who have exceeded my expectations. I recall sitting in the sea of Section D wondering how I got in next to all these incredible people. At some point, reality takes over and you realize you were admitted on your own merits just as much as they were on theirs.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Interview Malfunction

As if life wasn't stressful enough these days... Last week, I almost forgot to grab a snack on my way to school for the day. Focusing on the fact that I didn't want to forget my interview shoes, I missed grabbing my house keys and didn't realize it until I was over halfway to school.

Earlier this week, I packed up my laptop, books, lunch and thought I had grabbed everything I needed, including my keys. I got to school to discover that I forgot my power cord for my laptop. While this would not be a problem for most, my laptop doesn't recognize that it has a battery, nonetheless stay on for more than a couple minutes.

It seems we all have our interview malfunctions and are creative in how to respond to them. I asked my roommate to bring my keys to school and borrowed a power cord from the technical support desk. Today, may take the cake on resourcefulness though. As a classmate walked down the hall, she broke her heel completely off, nearly 10 minutes prior to her interview. She yelled down the hall to Carrie, who works in the Career Development Center (CDC) and asked if she could borrow her shoes for 30 minutes. Carrie obliged and the temporary malfunction was avoided for the day.

I can only imagine what others have faced given the level of interviews, classes, and cases these days.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

LGBT and Business School

This past weekend a handful of Darden students attended the Reaching Out MBA Conference in Atlanta, GA. Many of us were there as allies of the LGBT community, though I don't think I fully understood what that meant until I got down there. As I sat with a Darden alum and he mentioned his "coming out" story, he highlighted that each individual down there had one. I think when we discuss LGBT, we often forget how trapped individuals feel before they come out. In fact, it was interesting to be in an environment where you were first assumed to be gay instead of straight.

I don't believe students at Darden raise the question of what it means to be LGBT in the workforce unless there are members of their class who identify themselves as LGBT. As far as I know, I don't have any "out" 2010 classmates. Indeed, a married man and another classmate are running our LGBT student organization on grounds. As the conference progressed, issues of marriage equality arose, as well as the fact that there are no CEOs who are out (but don't quote me on that one). The experience was definitely enlightening on many fronts. I hope to continue to be the best ally I can, especially when there are no LGBT representatives in the room to speak for themselves.

My favorite part of the weekend was dinner hosted by a 2007 alum of Darden. His house was beautiful, the food was delicious and the company delightful. Though the job search was not fruitful, the experience was well worth the cost.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Interview Mania

And so it is the first real day for on campus interviews, though a few of my classmates and I have already kicked off the process. I think I have 3x the interviews I did last year, however, that doesn't calm the nerves of what if I don't get a job? I want to go to Sweden for Q3 without the dread that I will have to go recruiting in Q4. Fingers crossed, it won't be a problem!

My first interview today was for a leadership development program. The fluffy questions of tell me about a time when you had a difficult team challenge me more than they should. I essentially worked in a team environment for 4 years, but it was the same team. Had it been difficult, I would have left far before I did.

My second interview was odd. My interviewer is likely one of the people from the bank that I knew best. It poses a problem when you're trying to get into "interview" mode. Honestly, I'm not quite sure what to think.

My final interview went well, I think. At least better than yesterday's with the same firm. MY technicals were spot on and the voice was friendly. I guess we'll find out soon enough.

In other news, I'm attending the Reaching Out MBA Conference this weekend, which I haven't decided if it's a good or bad idea. Good because there are a ton of firms. Bad because I'm missing class and have interviews on Monday. A group of us are set to do the case competition as well, which I'm thinking was a horrible idea. I haven't had a break in weeks and my body is feeling it.

Good luck to all on interviews. Here's to finding a job!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Why "I" chose Darden

Shout out to the roomie! Check out why she selected Darden here. I'd also like to think she came to Darden to live with me as we had met a couple times in California prior to school starting. ;)

Sunday, October 11, 2009


It never fails that, you've spent all day writing a paper, the computer crashes and you forgot to save it. You would think, after nearly 5 years in post-high school education, I'd remember this story.

Microsoft Word and Excel have become increasingly better at recovering documents, but to my disappointment, PowerPoint has not. One of my final presentations is an 8 minute self running PowerPoint file. I started it last night and decided to continue working on it today. Unfortunately, when I went to save the file, PowerPoint froze, crashed and didn't recover, leaving me without a deliverable for my two additional hours of hard work. As if the weekend wasn't stressful enough with take home finals starting on Thursday and being due on Monday. Not to mention, interviews start on Tuesday as I try my best to find some sense of a routine again. My grade for the idea of second year finals over a weekend: epic fail.

I'm not sure when break time is as I think Management Decision Models (MDM) is up next. MDM is known to be one of the hardest classes at Darden and from what I have heard, one of the smarter kids in the class simply said the final was impossible. Here's to hopefully finishing finals today (without another computer error)!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

What not to talk about?

As you dream of the corner office and the fancy title of CEO, what topic is often avoided? To achieve that type of "success", what has to give? Can you have the family, the pets, the friends, the spiritual connection, the great body and everything else you desire in connection with the success that most MBAs are stereotyped into wanting?

It's an interesting paradox to contemplate. Most people believe it is every MBAs desire to be the one at the top. What those people don't realize is that there are many people who come to business school to make a difference in philanthropy and on the world. I should know, I live with one of them. The other aspect of the corner office that is often removed is the extreme difficulty of balancing a demanding C-level position in Corporate America with the rest of life. According to Professor Clawson there are 16 different aspects of the balance wheel including Professional, Financial, Material, Recreational, Physical, Sleep, Intellectual, Emotional, Spiritual, Marital, Parental, Familial, Social, Societal, Political, and Ecclesiastical. Further, each aspect has a number associated with it from 1 to 10 and no one is capable of being a 10 on every aspect. A 10 for physical may equate to being an Olympic athlete or for professional, it could be a CEO of a highly visible company.

The reason I bring this topic up is that I took a class this quarter titled Tactical Leadership. The class was about influencing people. One of our last cases was on Bob Johnson, former chairman and CEO of Honeywell Aerospace. The case started out with a list of his professional accomplishments and by the end of the first paragraph stated he was lonely. When people visualize the life of a C-level exec, I don't think lonely comes to mind very often. It was fascinating to analyze the case and hear everyone's suggestions on what this guy should do to get out of his rut. Not to mention the CEO of UTC, George David, was sitting in on our class. His insights were even more spectacular from the standpoint that there are likely similarities between the two lives. A couple items struck me as profound that day, so I share them with you as something to contemplate.

1. Every 5 or so years, reassess. What are the end values? Where am I really going and why? Is this about reward, satisfaction, or security? Is it about awards or fame? Is it about business success or making people's lives better? (While there are not "right" answers, I think it's important to understand where you are and where you want to be.)

2. Businesses end and businesses change, eventually the business will run out on you. Thus, it's important to have other interests.

3. Relationships outside of work are crucial.

4. Understand from where you're sense of self-worth is derived. (Friendships, professional accomplishments, personal achievements etc)

5. The true value of a Darden MBA according to George David is that we're taught the process of thinking through problems under uncertain conditions.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Customer Service & Apple

Customer service is a very interesting part of private industry. Often, people ask for customer service because they are not as knowledgeable as those giving the advice. When customer service bridges into technology, healthcare, and other services where the information differential can be wide, customer service becomes utterly imperative. Then there is the bad apple (no pun intended) that doesn't meet your expectations, what happens then?

I'm a loyal Apple customer and have been for some time. My mom is on her third iMac, often upgrading to something newer and faster every couple years, though she doesn't understand the the technical language associated with a faster processor or more RAM. After about a year with her current iMac, she noticed it was running hot, so she took it into the local Apple store to get it fixed. They asked if she had backed the data up, but to someone who knows more about simply using computers than the peripherals, the answer was no. Hence, the Apple technician said they would do a complementary file transfer. Return time of 24-48 hours quickly passed with no update. After multiple phone calls, she asked that they call her at home. Instead, she received an apologetic phone call on her cell phone saying that they couldn't transfer her data and may have potentially lost it. For someone who uses her computer to document her life via photos and music, this answer is unacceptable. In my opinion, if you can't perform the service up to base expectations, don't offer the service.

Needless to say, after a lot of back and forth, the store said they'd like to make her whole. Whole entailed giving her a brand new iMac with specs comparable to her old one. I asked if that was ok with her and she said yes. I still speculate if simply replacing an old device with a new one is appropriate. I guess the act of new and free lessens the pain. I recognize items break though I know myself well enough to say, I'd still be infuriated.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

On the Horizon: Finals

Finals are around the corner and I'm not even close to ready. Ironically, I keep telling the first years that finals are one of the easiest times of year, at least that's how I felt. In contrast, this year if I'm not completing finals, I will be applying for jobs, researching jobs, prepping for interviews and then finishing that other list of things to do. (Grocery store, laundry, take my car in etc.)

I'm not sure where the first quarter went. I realized the other day that I managed to take a course in essentially 5 different subject areas, likely not something one does at a non-General Management school. The balance of information is fantastic. I suppose this will at least make the array of subjects similar to first year. On the other hand, the actual exams are quite different. First year, exams were approximately 5 hours long and had to be completed between 8a and 3p. Now, I have a group project which will be presented on Tuesday, a 15 min "dinner" speech followed by a paper reviewing my leadership presence, an 8 min self-running PowerPoint (with voice over optional) highlighting a combination of what I learned in the class and what I learned from the hour interview I have yet to conduct, and finally, 2 exams. (Wow, that was a run-on sentence!). The exams will be available on Wednesday and must be turned in by 4:30p next Tuesday, which is also when the paper and PowerPoint are due. The other presentations will take place on Monday and Tuesday.

I try my best not to feel stressed out. I know I need a release though I seem to always avoid that as I try to focus on the tasks at hand. I haven't been to the gym since I sprained my ankle 3 weeks ago. The number of times I've gone out can likely be counted on half a hand. My late nights have included more cover letters than drunken conversations of how to fix the world. I wonder what happened to my sense of release and if I'm just going to blow one of these days. All I hope at this moment is to finish my exams promptly so I only have to worry about the career search for a couple days. Fingers crossed!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Invite Lists, oh my!

It sounds all too familar as the whispers crowd the halls. The interview invite lists from the first round of resume drops are flooding in and many of us are waiting patiently for the "invited to interview" email. Applying to jobs on grounds is very different than off-grounds. On-grounds, you can see when an interview list has been received and there is no preformated "ding" email, just silence. Off-grounds, there's the typical, yeah, you were interesting and better luck next time "ding" email. I suppose the real difference I find is on-grounds, you can speculate that you didn't make the cut, yet until you hear someone else say they did, you don't really know.

The timing of recruiting this year is very different from last year. The idea that I could have an offer in hand by December excites and scares me. Exciting as then I could safely continue my quest to study abroad without the lingering thought of recruiting from Sweden. Scary because the offer is the beginning of the end of an incredible experience.

The list of jointly selected cities is sitting on the backburner right now. I suppose that's also frightful. On some level, I want the best job for me and my future that I can receive. On another level, I'm willing to make some sacrifices in the future. Leading me to wonder at the end of the day, for the first two years post business school, what's most important? Though "everything" sounds like a fine answer, what I've learned in business school is trade-offs and they exist everywhere.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Is the plate full?

I'm 30 minutes away for my Co-Chair of the Annual Gift Campaign for the Class of 2010 interview. I'm underwater in regards to recruitment as it never seems to end even when there's a pause. Classes and cases are quickly wrapping up. With two weeks left in the quarter, I dread the idea of finals and what it all means as far as the time crunch. Though I'm not playing soccer this season, I've transitioned into the true role of coach, constantly trying to ensure we have a full team for Sunday's 9am games.

So what makes me think I can manage all of this plus the position of Co-Chair of the Class of 2010 Annual Gift Campaign? I guess it's because Darden has taught me that I can!! That's the essence of first year at Darden. There's too much to do and not enough time to it all, yet priorities get made and you DO finish everything that needs to be done. The Annual Gift Campaign position is a multi-year commitment and in my opinion, this is a great way to give back to a community of which I'm proud to be a part. Is the plate full? Definitely. Am I still above water? Maybe. Can I add this and still survive? Unquestionably.


Last night, Darden's National Association of Women MBAs (NAWMBA) hosted their annual Women in Business dinner. This dinner is all about recognizing the achievements of women in business as well as the challenges women still face. Further, the event gives women a chance to network with representatives of companies. Platinum sponsors included Accenture, Danaher, Progressive and Target, all of whom had a panel representative. Other sponsors included Harris Williams, Deustche Bank, JP Morgan, BB&T, M&T Bank and Deloitte Consulting.

It always amazes me when we get Darden women together. The talent and drive is unlike anything I've seen before, even compared to my women's group in San Francisco. I managed a couple good touch points with some people from a company in whom I am interested. However, I also had an unexpected touch point in a company I had written off last year when banking didn't work out. It fascinates me how second year can be vastly different from first year as here I am deciding my FUTURE. In contrast with the non-committal nature of internship recruiting.

I would like to give a shout-out to the NAWMBA leadership for a job well done last night. The event was spectacular.

Friday, September 18, 2009

USPS v. Email

- Instant & Efficient
- Allows for immediate replies
- Less expensive
- Chances of getting lost: slim to none
- Often isn't forgotten once written

- Slow
- Handwritten is a nice touch
- Most mail = bills
- Incur an incremental cost per item sent
- Need to locate a mailbox

The list of amazing things the internet has allowed is long. Communication is something the internet has allowed to rapidly evolve with instant communication facilitating more productivity than was likely imagined. Indeed, many believe the postal business is a dying breed. These days, you can do almost everything you want on the internet. Of course, given that I come from a family with a long history in the envelope business, I hope for more uncertainty than many will give me.

Ever since college, my mom has sent me at least one letter a week and even though I talk to her on a regular basis, that letter makes me smile. Today, I received a letter with a $15 iTunes giftcard. I cannot think of anything else that would have made my Friday better after going to sleep at 5a upon finishing a number of cover letter/resume submissions. While I understand that email is fantastic and the capability surrounding it still amazes me today, there is nothing better than a handwritten note laying alongside the handful of bills that typically sit in my mailbox. Before you say the postal service is a dying breed, think about the smile you get when someone does take the time to write a note, purchase a stamp and locate a mailbox. Definitely a source of warm fuzzies for me!

Personally, I do think USPS should be privatized, but that's a whole new ballgame.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

How well do you know European geography?

Test yourself here.


As I crutch around the halls of Darden, I'm met with a mixture of concern and condescending remarks. It's not as if I openly chose to return to crutches for my third time this year. I suppose on some front, I should give up the sport that gives me such agony. Even with the injured ankles however, I find that thought heart-wrenching. How can I actually give up something that I feel partially defines who I am?

This past Sunday I visited ER for the first time in a long while. Shortly after halftime of the first co-ed soccer game of the season, my foot jolted to the ground and I rolled over it with a large pop before pain began. Second degree sprain was the doctor's diagnoses and given that I own my own pair of crutches, he likely thought he'd leave the rehab to me.

I know my classmates don't mean to sound annoyed by my injury. I guess it does look funny seeing I started last year with the same injury. That said, it doesn't mean that I'm unaffected. I don't want to be in this state any more than they want to see me in it. In the future, do me a favor please, if you're not genuinely concerned with what I did, don't say anything. "Again?" equates to a backhand to the face in my mind. I take the proper precautions and I do the best I can to stay on my feet, but without quitting the game, I still risk injury. And the injury is never fun, even if it is the third time this year.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

To TV or Not to TV?

My roommate and I have managed to survive a year, sans TV! When I moved from California I contemplated bringing my gorgeous 42" plasma that I gave to myself as a post-undergraduate graduation gift, but then quickly decided it was too large to fit in any sensible suitcase given that I shipped my car. So I, like my roommate, arrived TV-less. I found that during first year at Darden, I didn't miss the TV much as I could watch movies on my Mac if I had time. Atlanta was much of the same for me. No TV = more movies on the Mac. Since I've returned there have been talks of a purchase, but no fruit.

While I was in Atlanta, I got accustomed to watching TV as I warmed up at the gym. This was my 10 minutes to catch up on the latest happenings in sports or the news. Though North Grounds (the gym closest to Darden) has TVs, I've found that I can't read the subtitles from the treadmill. This is clearly not the gym's biggest worry, however, TVs are a great distraction as you try to round the 2 mi marker. Hence, the need for BIGGER TVs. In contrast, TVs were put in half the learning team rooms at Darden. Maybe they have a few lying around that can be sent to North Grounds?

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

A Different Perspective

In the last few weeks, I have not been able to find a sense of balance. Early week is jammed with classes and during late week I try to complete everything I put off for early week classes. After class today, I finally went to the gym and there I saw an old section-mate whom I don't see often these days. We had a casual conversation of classes and then he asked me about recruiting. The first comment referenced if I would target banking again. The second asked when recruiting started. In that instant, I realized that we are living very different lives. He, with his offer in hand (and almost signed), is enjoying SY for all its worth. I, having interned at a company that does not use its corporate finance internship program as a pipeline to full-time (fancy way to say, no offers), am back in recruiting mode trying to meet and greet with the best of them. Perhaps the myth of SY is not a myth at all. It may be that SY is easy, if you have an offer and plan to take it.

Our conversation continued to discussions about India for a classmate's wedding this winter. Further, we talked about study abroad as he plans to attend ISB when I'm at SSE. I find the different mentalities interesting. Due to the fact that SSE starts later than Darden, I've already begun the legwork to see if study abroad is feasible from a logistics standpoint. On the contrary, ISB's quarter completes in mid-February which means there's no overlap. Thus, for him the only worry is whether or not classes transfer.

This conversation reminds me of the very different lives people can lead at Darden and I'm sure there are many other perspectives.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Summer Montage

Someone at Clear Admit made a comment that she would have liked to see more pictures of Atlanta. While, I have minimal pictures of Atlanta itself, I do have a plethora of pictures from the summer, so this is my summer in photos!

Second Year Myth

Last year, all the second years told me that SY is much easier than first year. After completing almost two weeks of school, I've deemed this comment a myth. My Sunday through Tuesday are much rougher than FY was. While I understand that I did it to myself, stacking four classes on Monday and one on Tuesday, it's still insane. I haven't even figured out how to fit the gym into Monday and Tuesday. Once Wednesday hits, I play catch up. I blog. I run blogger events as the president of Darden Student Bloggers. Further, I write cover letters and I've just completed revision 6 or so of my resume. And don't forgot, the usual errands like going to the grocery store.

Last night kicked off the first SY Networking night, where four companies had representatives to discuss open positions. This is the first of many SY Networking Nights that will take place every Wednesday. Wednesday nights starting next week, a group of girls are starting a workout routine. I suppose the good news is that I will be getting exercise. Darden's Bowling League starts next Tuesday and runs every week through November. I signed up as an alternate, but you know I'll show up more than I should.

Then there's soccer! The season hasn't started yet, however, I find myself scheduling pick up games and desperately trying to get a team together to go to the UCLA MBA World Cup on November 7th and 8th. Attending a MBA world cup is one adventure I wanted to have in business school and it was my one reservation about attending Darden, so I hope to make it happen!

Finally, I'm working on my Q3 study abroad. I sent a list of classes to SSE that I'd consider for my exchange. If the professors are a) teaching Q3 and b)say that I can take finals remotely from the US, then I can work on getting the classes approved for transfer to Darden. Lots of tasks to take care of these days and I've jumped back in head first! Welcome back to Darden, where "easy" is not a word we know well!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Club Fair

Today is Darden's school-wide club fair. Last year, at this event I had a friend and SY tell me to join them all! As I forked over cash for tuition, health insurance, first year cases and various required texts, I couldn't bring myself to purchase memberships to all of Darden's clubs. I chose a select few and while those clubs were sufficient for my needs, in retrospect, I should have joined them all!

The benefit of most clubs is the resume book that gets sent to corporate recruiters. Talk about an easy way to be on everyone's radar at once. In addition, you can get your funds back from many clubs in the form of alcohol-sponsored networking events. Clubs like LASA and GLAD throw phenomenal annual parties. Building Goodness in April is a great way to get involved with the community and Darden Follies is a staple that gets better every year. Last year, Professor Clawson's head was shaved to look like Professor Snell.

The greatest aspect of clubs is that you don't have to be involved, if you don't want or have time. Check 'em out here.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Step Towards the Weekend

Somehow I survived the hardest part of my week. On Monday, I managed to attend four classes, a SY reception with students and faculty, finish all my case readings for Tuesday, and field an entire soccer team. Woo hoo, go me! I had three more classes today and that ends my anxiety for a couple moments regarding massive amounts of reading. While the idea of how much I need to read is looming, I can turn my attention to more pressing items, like bills and perhaps my resume. Yeah, the resume, that thing that's been lingering over me head! And with the resume comes questions, thoughts and ideas. What do I want to do?! I have ideas, I've had ideas, I've discounted ideas and yet they all seem to return with vengeance. I look at the tired eyes of the bankers and sometimes thank the stars I didn't end up there, but there's a part of me that perks up when a fellow classmate and good friend mentions we should talk if I'm still interested in banking. Am I? I was so dedicated to the idea, the lifestyle, the perks, the downfalls and right now, after another 40 hour a week job, am I still ready to throw away a social life for stimulation and let's face it, money? Indeed I suppose the negative way I just wrote that sentence might warrant a no, yet I'm considering the idea.

Additionally, where do I want to live? I came to business school fully prepared for this crazy life where reflection was only in my dreams and I worked 24/7. I didn't think I'd consider anyone else except myself when making a choice about the next location of my job and here I am, having conversations with someone who means a lot to me on where "we" want to live! Since undergrad, I've focused immensely on location, location, location. Boulder was a great location nestled in the mountains with a winter climate that didn't strike fear into me like that of the Northeast. After college, I wanted nothing more than to return to my home outside of SF where it doesn't snow and though the sandy filled beaches are cold, they still exist a short drive away. Charlottesville was a cute town and I'll admit, I didn't give much thought to it, other than it sounded good and may have a similar college-feel to Boulder. While a college feel is nice when you're in school, it's not a necessity post-MBA. I have a tentative list of about 17 cities I'm considering and know it should be cut down to perhaps 7 target cities, which then leads to target companies. Or should I even contemplate picking target companies and then cities. What makes these questions tougher is a counterpart willing to work with me to find an area we both enjoy. Chicago sounds massively cold and miserable to me. My perception however cannot be backed up with much experience (especially recent experience) and I know many people who love Chicago. (Plus I love deep dish pizza, which makes it a more dangerous location than the South as I tiptoed around Southern food often during my time there.) Even as I complain about cold, I wonder if that's appropriate as I've tentatively agreed to spend 7 weeks in one of the coldest and darker parts of the world, Sweden. Then you have Minneapolis. I've never been, I don't know what to think and as much as I contemplate crossing it off the list, there are a number of companies with operations there that I may want to consider. All these thoughts flying around and I still have a mini list of personal items. Thank goodness for a light late week!

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Disaster that is Me

Hello Monday morning and the first day of classes!

The California adventure was good fun and likely deserves its own post. Though, let's be honest, I rarely return to write those when I say I will... here's the recap. Three days in SF were grand and I had a small soiree for myself that made me remember why I love and miss the Bay as much as I do. My mom, bf, and I drove to Vegas from NorCal, but took the scenic route because the GPS was set wrong... oh yes, an additional 2 hours in the car was fun. (I was more than peeved.) B's wedding was gorgeous. It was small, so I felt lucky to be there especially given how incredible she looked. After 3 nights in Vegas, we ditched mom and headed South to visit the bf's family. I took a tour of SoCal from stops in Palm Dessert and San Diego to a couple nights in San Clemente. This part of the trip was much more relaxing and included multiple trips to dealerships as the boy is looking to purchase a car. We spent one night in Morro Bay, which has the infamous Morro Rock, before finishing the coastal drive north. Part of me wishes we had returned to Cville on Wednesday instead of late Friday night because perhaps then, I wouldn't be such a disaster, though the drive was wonderful and something I hadn't experienced even after growing up in CA.

Darden's school-wide picnic was on Saturday afternoon and I attended after a couple errands, including the big case packet purchase. It was weird being back on grounds. The halls were familiar and yet multiple faces were missing. Missing faces were replaced with a sea of new ones and though I do want to meet the first years, I find I still have problems recalling names of my own classmates. Saturday's picnic went straight to Saturday night festivities - beer pong and flip cup in full effect. I woke Sunday, feeling overwhelmed by the fact that I had FOUR Monday classes for which to prepare. I managed to get all my reading accomplished, but I'm still struggling to figure out how tonight's reading will be done after about 7 hours of class and an end time of 7:30p. My desk is a disaster, practically still in boxes. I'm running around trying to get an entire soccer team registered by tomorrow and I can't help but look forward to this weekend, which is an entire four days away. Cheers!

All in all, it's good to be back! And as mom would say, life is good! :D

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Goodbye Atlanta... Hello...

Two days ago I wrapped up my internship in Atlanta. My team went to lunch at a swanky country club called East Lake. Though the menu was similar to a traditional country club anywhere else in the country, I must admit, I was impressed with my Asian Caesar Salad. YUMMY!! I ended up with more swag - another t-shirt to add to my growing collection from the company. I think I now have 5 new shirts from the last 12 weeks. I also got a new sweatshirt, a water bottle for my gym workouts and a sweet pen. My team and I exchange some small talk and then some pleasantries regarding the summer. I can't believe the 12 weeks flew as fast as they did. I left East Lake and headed due north towards Charlottesville arriving shortly before 11p. It felt good to be back in Cville as I never realized how much I missed it, especially Arch's Frozen Yogurt. Incredibly delicious and a Cville staple!!

I spent the weekend moving the boyfriend's stuff out of my townhouse and into his. I organized my closet just enough to repack for the next adventure. Last night, some second years caught up with drinks at CD's house. I still remember the first Camp Darden party at his place on Aug. 1, 2008, it was insane! I'm a little bummed that due to not having a free summer, most people are traveling up until the wire, myself included, so there is less gathering prior to school. I guess we'll have to make the most of our time together during second year.

Speaking of adventures, I'm off to CA tomorrow! When we planned this trip, it was supposed to be relaxing and reviving, instead, I think I'm going to need a vacation from my vacation, but isn't that always the case? I'll be in SF for 3 days and they're all filled. I've invited a small group of friends, about 30, over for a BBQ on Wednesday before I take off to Vegas on Thursday morning. It's a 9 hour drive from my house in CA and I need to be as prepared as possible for the ad-hoc bachelorette party on Thursday night. My good friend from college gets married on Saturday and Sunday we drive to SoCal to see the boyfriend's family. After three days there, we'll drive north again, stopping in Morro Bay for a night to ourselves before one last night in SF and a flight back to DC. It's going to be a whirlwind, but it's always good to see friends and family.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Timed Lights?

I live 2.5 miles from work. I don't take the freeway. Yet, it still takes me the better part of 20 or so minutes to get to my internship. There's one street that encompasses most my drive, Ponce de Leon Ave. This street does not have timed lights and so it never fails that every 2-3 stoplights, I hit red, even at 6am, which I found out on the way to the gym this morning. I've learned that if you speed, I can actually hit most the lights and get to work much faster. Lately though, I've seen police on the side streets of Ponce, typically already conducting a traffic stop, which leads me to be a bit more careful. It makes me wonder however, about the behavior not having timed lights cultivates. Yes, I expect not to make every light, but it'd be nice if I could go past more than one.

There are streets in San Francisco that are known for traversing the city. They have timed lights all the way and you can cut minutes off of a commute. South to North, Franklin is a perfect example. Once you hit one green, if you drive the speed limit, odds are you can venture from the freeway to the Bay quickly with no red lights. I'm not sure what the drawbacks of timed lights are, but if they're going your direction, they help immensely with a commute. Other sets of timed lights in SF – Fell/Oak, Gough is the counterpart to Franklin (they like their one-ways in SF), and Pine/Bush. I'm sure there are more, but that's what I remember off the top of my head.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Two Days!!

I don't feel the end as much as I thought I would. I'm excited, yet incredibly busy. My boss' boss, who is the Global IT finance director, has me working on a project with him regarding IT spend. He also did not realize that I'm out of here at the end of the week, so it's been non-stop meeting after meeting to get this project completed or at least as done as possible. Many of my intern-mates are transitioning responsibilities while I'm simply trying to complete all of mine. The plan is to have my computer picked up at 9:30a on Friday. Likely a silly idea as that'll leave me 2 hours to do nothing, but that was the time proposed, so I obliged.

In addition, last night I said farewell to my summer soccer team. It was fun playing while in town and I'm a bit bummed to miss the coming games after such an awesome match. We've lost every game with the exception of one tie to have my final match be a WIN! Not only that, but we found a formation that flowed and actually had us putting balls in the back of the net, including the game winning goal by yours truly in the last 60 seconds of regulation. After the last year of constantly losing teams, I forgot what it was like to win a game. While I appreciate good competition and try not to get down when good competition leads to a loss, I find merriment in winning.

I have one suitcase packed and another one to go. I want to wash my sheets before I leave and need to make sure the car is packed Friday before work. I keep making mental notes about the odds and ends that I need to ensure return to Charlottesville – toaster oven, water purifier, olive oil container – but I’m convinced something will be left behind. That summer project on which I was working for a local retailer is about to be cut off. I never got as far as I desired, but the owner was not willing to help herself as much as I anticipated. She very much wanted me to do the work and I'm sitting here contemplating if I should even go help tonight. Since I'm not one to "drop" projects or people, I will probably try to help her for an hour.

Two more days and it’s one more crazy “vacation” before second year and the Darden case method are in full effect.

Monday, August 03, 2009

5 days until Freedom

There's something rather strange about being an intern. I feel like 3 months is about the time on a job that you start actually understanding the way a company, a department and your job works. And here, exactly 11 weeks later, I'm getting ready to break free, again. While the paycheck has been nice and the experience has been good, I'm ready to return to Virginia, though not without another trip under my belt (off to SF next Monday!!).

Friday, my intern class took a tour of the collaboration lab. It reminded me of James Bond meets sustainability. Quite an interesting experience. We even got to try some new product. One of the products sounded horribly weird and yet tasted fantastically good. Afterwards, we had lunch in a nice private conference room and the CFO essentially joined us for dessert. There were some interesting questions raised. I asked him about relieving stress and work-life balance. He said he trained his body not to be stressed, much like you train your body to fall asleep on an airplane. I understood the analogy, yet, I'm not sure I'm convinced. As for work-life balance, that wasn't a problem for him either. He believes in everything he has done, he has had a choice and so if he was reviewing a 10K instead of attending his son's baseball game, he was exactly where he wanted to be. It sounds like, long ago, his dream was to be successful in the work place and so he marks that a priority, a very interesting perspective.

One of my Darden classmates, who is also interning here, asked about him not having an MBA and what he thought about the degree given that many of us are returning for our second year. Again, we received a response I was surprised to hear. He mentioned that if we found an MBA necessary, that it would open doors, but once in the door, it doesn't really matter. I almost got the feeling that he thought the value of the degree is not what we believe it to be, and while I understand the argument that once you're in, you must perform. I do think, especially in this organization where more people are CPAs than MBAs that MBAs help round out thought. Plus, MBAs tend to be financial analysts versus straight accountants. Quite thought-provoking.

We rounded out Friday with final presentations. It feels good to have that out of the way and I'm not quite sure what to make of my last week. I'm tying up loose ends and will leave work on Friday after lunch. Part of the reason is that my badge dies at 11a and the other is that I plan to drive due north, back to C'ville. Ooo-wee, I’m excited.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Questions for the CFO

On Friday, my internship class is having lunch with the CFO. We have been told to have prepared questions for him given that in our past roundtables, questions may have seemed a bit ad-hoc. While I understand the excitement of this meeting, I'm a bit stumped as to what I ask an S&P 100 CFO! Without much access to the TV and internet at home, I’ve only caught snippets of news. My Wall Street Journal subscription expired at the end of school and I opted not to renew it until I return there. I wasn’t sure how much time I’d have over the summer.

I’ve thought about asking about the future of the company, specifically how the devalued dollar will affect future operations and decisions (though I know more revenue comes from outside North America than inside). I’ve also thought about asking about this person’s personal choice to come to the company after a very successful career elsewhere. What were the motivations – money, power, new experiences, or additional personal development? Then there is the thought surrounding work - life optimization. At this point in their career, how do they balance the two?

I want to find out what makes this person tick and why they’ve become so successful. Sometimes I feel, however, that my preference for “fluffy” questions is misconstrued in the formal workplace. I don’t ask these questions because I don’t have anything academic or thought-provoking to ask, as above. I ask these questions to understand with whom I’m speaking. A Darden MBA, a business major from Colorado and a career in finance doesn’t tell you much about who I am. My blog, the fact that I love team sports – in particular soccer, and that someday I want to return to the Bay Area are facts that can give insight to what makes me tick and how I ended up here.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


My resume is the source of most of my anxiety these days. I spent all last year editing, sculpting and getting my resume to a point where I am comfortable. I am comfortable with the way it looks and the person it conveys. And here we go, time to rewrite. While I'm grateful for the internship I do have, I do wish the company believed in offers. It's been quite clear that the company hires for need and not before, so the chance of any of us getting an offer before April 2010 is slim, which means, I'm back on the market and my resume carries that much more weight.

So what did I do this summer? I'm struggling to answer that question. While I have fancy names for my projects that make sense internally, an outsider may simply be lost if I attempt to use them. Plus, I have space restrictions. I have an entire section that I can theoretically delete. However, that section shows a bit of me that the rest of my resume does not. This leaves me approximately 4 lines of text for my summer internship and lately I'm at a loss of words. Whenever I think I make sense, the outside world disagrees. I suppose the good news is that I have people willing to work with me. Although, the resume is due August 10th, so I need to work quickly.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Fancy Website with Flash

My intern class is going to lunch on August 5th and we were asked to provide individual recommendations, on which, I assume, we will vote. I figured, I would not only provide recommendations, but also links to websites. As I was doing so, it occurred to me, the flash websites may seem pretty, however, if I needed to look at them using my phone, it'd never work! Though my taste has vastly expanded since I was a child, I still like to look at a menu before I head to a new restaurant. Maybe that takes the fun out of trying something new. That said, I've run into this problem living without internet this summer (long story that I plan to avoid). I surf for everything on my phone from trying to figure out if aquarium tickets are actually half-off for students to selecting a restaurant I can attend with my parents. Needless to say, these days, flash is my worst enemy. I'm not sure who needs to conform though. In some ways, it may be the browsers of our fancy phones, though in others, perhaps it should be the designers of the pretty webpages. It reminds me of undergrad marketing, who is your target audience and what do they want? I want an easily viewable menu, is that a lot to ask?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

To Twitter?

I had a meeting today with a communications director who covers social media. I often forget exactly how interested I am in the space. I joined Frienster far before anyone dreamt of Facebook. Being from the Bay Area, I lived on the edge of the tech boom with my father being a member of one of many start-ups that just couldn't make it. And even today, I look at companies like Google, Yahoo, Facebook and SalesForce in wonder that someday I may join their ranks or find a company to compete with them.

So how does Twitter fit in you may ask? As I sat there discussing the next big thing this company is doing (definitely cool!!), I thought, how can I consider myself a full blown participant of the digital revolution and still not be a part of Twitter. So it hit me, even if I didn’t use it to its full extent, I had to join. Well, slight problem. As you’ve noticed, the title of this blog is JulyDream, which has been an alias since I was… oh… 10ish. I often contemplate getting a “big girl” name, but revert back to this alias time and time again. Turns out, is taken! My first name is just common enough to be gone as well. My initials are short a middle name, so that too is unavailable and for whatever reason, whenever I set an internet address, I get a sense of anxiety that this is permanent. Think of the hassle there is in even changing an email address!

The first letter of my first name followed by my last name is available, but then I actually have to spell my last name for people, which is one of many reasons that I have kept the alias for so long. While I realize, in comparison to future decisions, this is minuscule, it seems these are the thoughts I have while eating my lunch. So if I join twitter, what name do I use?

Home Stretch

It may be premature to say that I see light at the end of the tunnel, but I do!! This is week... 10 and I have 2 weeks left of my internship. Some of my classmates are ending theirs and albeit it has been a great experience, I’m ready to join them in the official employment status of student.

At the end of last week, I was finally able to enter inter-company bills. This was the culmination of two months of data mining, manipulation and analysis (mixed in with other projects). Today, I feel like I’m a business school applicant again, waiting for the status of each of these bills to update. Each bill must be approved by four different people before it officially gets processed. Naturally, since this is Corporate America, those people often span two continents, which are on opposite sides of the world. Needless to say, I anticipate (and hope) this project completes before my internship does. (Woo hoo!)

I keep looking at my to-do list with the thought that I’m almost done with just about everything on there. Almost, because it never fails that I’m waiting on someone else. I do get anxious at times that the information or data I need will not come with ample time to finish the project. And to me, that’s unacceptable. As soon I’m done on Friday August 7th, I’m headed out of town because in true JulyDream fashion, I have set plans for the following 2 weeks starting on August 10th. And yes, my new townhouse in C’ville is STILL a disaster, unless of course some stranger with OCD came in and cleaned it for me.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Our Nation's Capitol

First, I'd like to thank everyone for the birthday emails, comments, texts, phone calls and FB posts! Definitely a great way to feel special!

My final destination during my whirlwind summer travels was Washington, DC (and surrounding area) this past weekend. Even arriving at the airport on Friday afternoon seemed all too familiar. While, I should not complain as my travels are for pleasure and not work, it's still hard to venture out on Friday, only to return on Sunday evening. My body felt taxed.

The condo, in which BVB temporarily resides, is very cute! I met his roommate, who happens to be an '08 from Darden and a consultant. I guess my exchange with him was the longest the two of them had ever conversed though they've shared the condo since mid-May. Funny, but I suppose it's the lifestyle. Friday night I asked to stay in and in doing so met a new TV show, "How I Met Your Mother." I proceeded to beg and plead to watch more episodes and I think I was cut off around five or so. (TV shows on DVD are the way to go!!)

Saturday was my actual birthday and that morning I received homemade French toast with bacon and berries. Though I was not selfish enough to ask for it in bed, it was delicious. We strolled around Arlington in the afternoon and ended up at the Iwo Jima memorial, which has a great view of multiple monuments in DC. Dinner was another home cooked meal and then we kicked off the night with the DC United/Colorado Rapids game. It was a great game and the fans reminded me of FC Barca, however, with far shorter songs that only have the fans knew.

Afterwards, we arrived at Local 16 on U Street shortly after 10:30p, the original meeting time. I'll admit, with no one there, I was a bit worried about the trajectory of the night. Then a learning teammate and husband-to-be showed up, followed by a couple classmates and their friends. A few more ventured in from Arlington and the surprise of the night was my cousin arriving with one of his friends. It’s always great to catch up with people, but sometimes I feel a birthday is not the right time to do so. I mean, everyone wants your attention and the more people you add to the mix, the harder it is to spread yourself around. We finished up the night with a metro ride home as the group on the opposite side of our car sang …something… I had hiccups that disappeared by the time I arrived at the Virginia Square stop. The day and night were perfect and all I wanted.

Sunday was also relaxing with food, video games, and some more “How I Met Your Mother.” Now I have three more weeks of work and then I move back to VA. I can’t believe how close SY is and I’m sure the FYs are getting excited!!

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Mirror Before Me

Do you ever look in the mirror and think, so this is it? It's the day before my 27th birthday and I'm honestly not sure what to think. Half my friends are married, a few are pregnant, and then a couple more already have kids! WHOA! Some are on a career path and others are likely still "finding themselves." And here I am ready to finish my internship in 3 weeks and return to my fake adolescent life called business school. Of course, I have some important decisions on the horizon. Where do I want to live? What do I want to do? For which company do I want to work? AH!? It all happened so fast.

It's crazy to think at this time last year I was finishing up my week of Bay Area goodbyes. I remember the craziness of going out every night in an attempt to see everyone that was important to me or had influenced my life in some way. I always thought I'd move back there immediately after business school, at least until I actually moved to Virginia. Getting out again (the first time being college), opened my eyes to another world. I love the Bay Area and in my opinion it is still one of the best places to live, but why not try other places while I'm young.

Then I think, so exactly how young am I? A good friend, who I admire because she does have the guts to move on a whim, picked up and moved to Texas last week! Though she's nowhere near where I would call desirable, I still think her view of the world can be refreshing. Mind you, this is the same friend who returned from living in St. Thomas within the last 2 years. I am not sure I’d ever have the fortitude.

Work is going well, but after an early morning field trip to a call center (which was more interesting than it sounds) and a bit of a fuzzy head (which I fear is the last 3 travel weekends catching up with me), I can't seem to focus today. It's interesting being back on the learning curve and while at times it's fun, I do miss the feeling of knowing it. I used to have days at my previous employer where I just knew everything going on and I felt like I was on top of the world. This business is very different than that one with more integrated parts than I think I ever imagined.

As I think of all these aspects of my life, I wonder what or who I will see in the mirror next year.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Backwards Atlanta Soccer

I started playing soccer when I was five. In those days, I was less concerned about the placement of the ball and more enthralled with the random daisies growing on the field. These days, I play more on dirt or turf, so there are no daisies to admire. Of course, I don't think anyone thought back then, even with my tomboy nature, that over 20 years later, I'd still be playing soccer. I played club in college at Colorado and though I regret not playing at that level past my freshman year, I never gave up the sport. Intramurals always kept me in the game and my senior year, Friday night co-ed indoor reminded me why I love the game.

When I first moved back to the Bay Area after college, I found two teams, one indoor and one outdoor - both co-ed. November 14, 2004 was a rough day for me. I extended myself too far and injured my left ankle substantially. I stepped back onto the field over six months later, and was never sure my level of competition would be the same.

Naturally, I'm a competitive person and unfortunately poor teams who lose week after week have been of great frustration to me. Before I moved to Virginia, I played on 3 or 4 teams concurrently. One of them was a losing team. Eventually, I quit and just couldn't handle trying to pick up slack for people who didn't understand the game.

When I moved to GA, I went looking for a new summer team. My friend who lives here invited me to play on hers and with a new season beginning, the timing worked well. So here I am, on another losing team and yet, I'm just happy I'm playing! I play my heart out knowing every week that we will get killed 7-2 or so (high scoring because it's 7v7). But here's the kicker. This is the SECOND league in Atlanta that the rules are different than any I’ve used while playing out west. Girls' goals are worth TWO points. Just the very thought that whoever runs these leagues thinks that in order to even out play, girls goals have to be worth more makes me sick! I've played many co-ed sports and have learned that as long as you have the proper male to female ratio, guys will be forced to play WITH girls and not around them. Only when you have a ball hog will he play around them, but likely he's playing around guys as well. Further, this rule changes the architecture of play. Why put a girl at defense, even if she is stronger there, if there is a chance that she'll score and receive two points. Ridiculous!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Vegas Vacation!

The weekend didn't quite look like Chevy Chase's, but it was still fun and VERY short. Before business school, I used to jet-set on the weekends. I'm not sure if it was because I only worked until 3p in the afternoon or because I felt the money that I didn't have to pay on rent burning a hole in my pocket. (Thanks Mom and Dad for letting me live at home!!) Regardless, I often traveled to Colorado (my alma mater), Vegas (to dance) and various destinations on the west coast. I once went to Houston, which was a blur. I never went further east than Houston for a two-day weekend and after this Vegas trip, I remembered why!

My flight on Friday night didn't leave Atlanta until 9:15p, but thankfully for the time change, I landed in Sin City at 10:33p. Not too shabby for a 4 hour flight! I intended on taking a long nap. However, I purchased the book, Never Eat Alone, and spent a solid hour reading it before watching the in-flight film. So far, the book is fascinating; I'll give an update later. My boyfriend arrived 10 minutes before I did, so met and took a cab to Encore. I've stayed at the Wynn, but had yet to visit Encore. We dropped our bags and headed for my parents suite at the Wynn Towers. They had a nice one bedroom suite with a living room and half-bath. They had stocked the bar and before we knew it, room service was on the way and drinks were in hand. The group for this trip was quite random. From my brother and his girlfriend to my parents' friends and their kids, whom we'd never met. There were approximately 18 of us, though it was rare for everyone to be in the same place at once. Drinks flowed in my parents’ suite and the adults left until just my parents remained. We headed for bed as our bodies didn't quite know what to make of the time change as it felt like 4a and the clock read 1a.

Saturday morning the phone rang at 9a, our wake-up call to get ready for a day at the outlets. I got a couple cute items, but truth is, I don't need anything. And lately, I stare at my closet contemplating what I should leave with Goodwill on my way out of town - not because clothes don't fit though, simply because I don't wear certain articles (and haven't for years, even after I try them on multiple times). Saturday night was dinner at Capital Grille - a pre-birthday celebration for me. However, we did recognize the many other July babies in the room. After dinner, four of us headed to XS, the hottest club in Vegas, which just happened to be at Encore. Vegas, more so than other places, it pays to know people. I have no idea how long the line would have taken to get in and I didn't want to find out. A good friend from home knows a DJ at XS, who indeed is now one of my new friends. :)

The night included a good mixture of dancing, people watching, drinking and taking in all that is decadent about the club. I give it two big thumbs up and hope to return soon! Sunday was a travel day and now I'm home! Monday I was exhausted. I drank TWO cups of Green Tea, often a sign of my exhaustion, and continued to feel two steps behind, yet still managed to work until 7:30p. One more weekend away (DC to visit my man and celebrate my actual birthday), two here and then I move to C'ville. Where did summer go??

Thursday, July 09, 2009

I feel like a FT Employee

A couple weeks back I was mentioning how being a summer intern is hard. While some of my classmates have received meaningful projects, others had found that they are not being used to their full potential. Needless to say, I was in the latter camp. Thus, I screamed, yelled and asked for more work and the company happily obliged. I'm knee-deep in spreadsheets with somewhere around 4-5 concurrent projects right now. Many of them, while independent, are very much intertwined as one project builds on the next. It feels good!

Yesterday, I was here "late." Not late in terms of actual standards, but late in terms of I'm required to only be here 8 hours. Let's just say for the first six or so weeks, I happily obliged, lucky if I was busy for the entire 8 hour workday. Yesterday though, I met with my manager for a three project update and walked out of her office feeling absolutely refreshed. Not only that, I also taught her how to construct a data table, who would have thought?!? I figure it was a good thank you for the intimacy I now have with PivotTables.

After my meeting, I sat down at my desk and finished updating my sheets and sent them to various people around the world who represent a sub-section of the company's legal entities. This morning, I had emails from Costa Rica, Philippines and a few from Atlanta. I'm excited to feel more involved, though I still have questions.

One more day of spreadsheets and then I'm headed to Vegas to release some steam!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

SC Beach House

Surfside Beach is just south of Myrtle Beach on the South Carolina coastline. It's much cheesier than I ever anticipated with miles of "all you can eat" seafood joints, "cheap beachwear" signs, a random waterpark, a couple mini golf places and lots of billboards. Our four bedroom, four bath house was across the street from the beach. It slept 14, we had 21, which meant accommodations for the weekend were inexpensive. We loaded up plastic tubs with ice and all the "decent" cheap beer you could drink. Shots flowed as we had TWO ex-bartenders competing in a shot-off. Afternoons were often spent at the beach, sometimes with a football or what some like to call a frisbee in hand (the hole in the middle makes me beg to differ). All around, the six hour drive to the coast from Atlanta was worth the weekend. The extra traffic for my drive home was unwanted, but the great thing about long car rides by myself is that I can to catch up with friends. I spoke with a former classmate from Colorado for 2 hours about business school, the internship, his job, his hopes of b-school and other aspects of life. I promised I'd visit NY sometime as well (though at the rate my weekends fill, who knows when that will be).

I'm back in the grind for the week, until Friday when I head to Vegas for a triple birthday celebration, one of which is MINE! :D I've spent hours playing with spreadsheets this week and while I'm not analyzing the end numbers, I have been combing through the inputs and corresponding equations. Analytical in a different way. What I found on Monday was no less than shocking. The NPV calculation in excel was being used wrong. Let me preface by saying I learned TVM (time value of money) calculations on an HP 12C. When I first switched to excel, I was warned of some idiosyncrasies. Needless to say, I often still check my answers on my financial calculator simply because I am more comfortable with how to get the correct answers. Excel, when using its “=NPV” function, you do not include the initial outlay, essentially Year 0. You add Year 0, which more often than not is a negative number, to the NPV of Year 1 through X. This spreadsheet, used Year 0 through 5 within the NPV function, ooops. While the correction increased the NPV of my example by a couple million dollars, I suppose it's possible the correct NPV for a different project would have an unfavorable result.

The summer is racing by.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The Darden Connection

I'm not sure why I'm surprised. Since the day I started investigating Darden, I've heard of the network. I experienced the network in San Francisco and quickly became sold on the school. So why is it when I'm working for one of the largest corporations in the world am I surprised that some very senior Darden alums are willing to spend a couple minutes with me?? Honestly, I don't know.

It's fascinating to hear how they ended up where they are, and it also gives me a good perspective if there type of position should be my dream. One of the alums with whom I spoke yesterday grilled me a little - though not in a bad way. He simply was trying to figure out what makes me tick. What is my passion? What do I want to do? Not in the sense of, I'd like to work in M&A or Corp Fin, but more along the lines of, are you quant driven? Do you like details? The big picture? Traveling? Staying put? Challenges? Theoretical discussions? Philosophy? Anything!

This alum also gave me the names of additional alums, some of them quite senior, and so as I sit here at 6p finishing up a spreadsheet, I thought I'd email a few of them. Within moments, one replied asking his secretary to setup lunch. I seriously feel high on life!!

BTW, still LOVE Pandora. I can put the headphones on and get into the zone. Back to it.

Make It or Buy It?

We live in a capitalist society where we often buy instead of make. Think about it, these days, we purchase clothes off a hanger instead of mending our own from scratch. We go to restaurants because we either want something different or are too lazy to cook food ourselves. The average person doesn't need instructions on how to make a computer chip, because we often buy them already in a computer. We're definitely a buy it society, but buying it, adds up! However, my thoughts drifted this morning as I spent approximately a combined 30 minutes eating breakfast and making my lunch, as I do every morning.

While cheaper in terms of actual dollars spent, many of my colleagues choose to purchase breakfast and lunch at work instead of bringing their own. Heck, when it comes to walking in with my cooler, ready for the day, I'm a black sheep. I'm convinced the food in the cafeteria is either only mildly marked up or the company subsidizes portions of it. My coworkers save 15 or so minutes in the morning by buying food. I guess purchasing is a factor of how much your time is worth. But there's another aspect to purchasing versus making. Making is often much healthier for you (at least the way I eat). After spending a considerable amount of time in the south, I can say that they definitely need healthier food.

Further, these health aspects are a front and center discussion among members of our administration. "Sin" taxes as people like to refer to them, are being drafted as we speak. An extra 3 cents for a sugar-sweetened 12 oz. beverage? Is that going to keep you from enjoying soda-pop? It is an interesting concept to target specific foods, why not tax sugar instead? Additionally, think about the fried food, nothing about it can be good for you. Don't get me wrong, onion rings are in my top 5 vices, so I'm not advocating for extra taxes at all. I just want to know where it stops. The administration is looking to change behavior and I wonder if this behavior is ingrained in our buy it society. Many schools have discontinued physical education programs and I have no idea the amount of nutritional education available these days. Would implementing those routes be a better answer to our problem? In the meantime, I’ll do my part of make my lunch and get to the gym as often as possible.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Big Weekend Move

Here I sit in Dulles airport, delayed. While this is not my ideal finish to a weekend before work Monday morning, I am thankful that this coming week is a short one. I flew into Dulles on Friday evening and drove the two hours to Charlottesville to spend one last night in my Ivy apartment. Moving is often bitter sweet. On one hand you have the opportunity to purge your excess belongings, but on the other hand, someone has to physically move the items you decide to keep.

There we were, 8 in the morning on Saturday, picking up the Uhaul truck that would be our best buddy for the next eight hours. I had made a deal with my roommate that due to her scheduling conflict, she could pack the weekend prior and send someone to help my boyfriend and I on moving day. That someone showed up and helped for 45 minutes until he was called away for a family emergency. I do feel bad about the circumstances though that left two of us to move out all my stuff, her stuff, and my boyfriend's belongings (we're storing his stuff at my new place until he gets his). We succeeded in our moving adventure. However that day was far too long! Although the items are moved, the new pad is a complete disaster and will be dealt with another day.

Before the cleaning frenzy that was Sunday, we met up with some classmates to see Transformers 2 on Saturday night. Afterwards, four of us ventured to a friend's for fresh strawberry daiquiris and beer. It was well deserved. The conversation turned towards internships and many people noted their disappointment with the level of challenge set forth. I've come to the conclusion that many large corporations either don't know what to do with interns or they don't realize the amount of horsepower an MBA brings to the table. Still trying to figure out which one is more true.

It was a great weekend, even with the endless hours of manual labor. I thoroughly enjoyed my classmates and forgot how much I missed cville.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Is AAPL Steve Jobs?

The market is alive with clatter about whether or not Apple disclosed enough information about Steve Jobs' medical condition. On one hand, I understand the concern, but on the other, I wonder exactly why people invest in Apple. Do they believe that all of a sudden a large company like Apple will lose its vision, style and prestige if Steve Jobs doesn’t return to his post? I almost feel like the secrecy revolving Jobs' ailments aligns perfectly with the overall mystery of the company.

It's interesting, as one becomes such a public figure, privacy quickly deteriorates and I'm not just talking celebrities and political figures. It seems these days, people want to know all the nuts and bolts about the high-powered business society.

While I do believe that Jobs' helped invigorate a lackluster Apple many years ago, I also believe that there is life after Jobs. I would hope that the company has become a well-oiled machine and is cruising at this point. Innovation, as I understand it, is vaster in that company than just one person. The SEC may judge Jobs' liver problem as a material investor fact that should have been disclosed, but in my opinion, it's only material if you believe Apple is Steve Jobs.

As an investor, I understood the undertone’s severity when Jobs decided to take a medical leave of absence.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Evolution of Brands

I walked into Express on Monday, as I often do when I'm out wasting time. There was a day that I wanted everything in the store. These days, I'm lucky if I purchase once over a span of five visits. As I walked to the back of the store, I chuckled when I saw their "lingerie" section. Express has returned to panties and bras, a division that was discontinued long ago.

I suppose the reason this evolution is so comical to me is because I worked at Express for three years during college and one year post. I actually concurrently worked a 40 hour full-time job during the week and at Express on the weekends to keep my discount. (Fortunately, I figured out quickly that I could afford the clothes on a salary, without the discount.)

The first tag I remember at Express was "Express Worldbrand." I was young and thus, don't recall what the purpose was, but I suppose it was supposed to be some sort of tilt towards globalization. Soon after, Express dropped "Worldbrand" and was simply Express. This is the timeframe in which I loved their clothes and purchased often. The company discontinued their lingerie line as, at the time, the parent company, who was Limited Brands, owned Victoria's Secret. Why compete, right? Next Express went high-end with "Express Design Studio", likely to compete with Banana Republic instead of Gap. EDS started as a portion of the store, mostly suit clothes, but I think as time has gone on, most, if not all, tags carry "Express Design Studio."

This brings me to today. Express was spun-off to a PE firm about two years ago. It seems their investing in lingerie, though it looks as if it is made for 15 year olds. Most of their clothes these days are bright, but I wouldn't say beautiful. I contemplate if I've gotten "too old" or if the company has truly changed over the years. Either way, they seem to have come full circle and I find myself at Banana, BCBG (outlet) and various other stores for my latest trends.