Monday, March 30, 2009

Cloud 9

It's been a roller coaster week. Friday I returned to Atlanta for 2 interviews, only to receive the ding call, from my previous Atlanta trip, between them. Talk about timing! I think my break was all of an hour. Anyhow, after putting up a mild fight, as I said I would only go to Charlotte instead of Charlottesville if I had an internship, I gave in and ventured to Charlotte for the rest of the weekend. Overall, pleasant trip, though I've decided I have the stamina of a 4 year old when I'm NOT driving. Within an hour of being on the road, I was sound asleep. OOOooops.

And so this week began with me scouring the interweb for internship opportunities. I'll admit, the resurgence was definitely bringing down my morale. With 5 weeks left in the quarter, 2 vacations planned, I don't even know how to explain the anxiety that I was beginning to feel. But alas, there is mercy!

This mercy came as a phone call just minutes before 9pm tonight. Apparently, I now have a verbal internship offer, pending a credit check, which is the absolute least of my worries. I won't go into more details than I already have until I see the letter in writing, but as of this moment, I'm skyhigh and am wishing the week was further along.

BTW, I had to change the layout as it seems some of the previous links were broken. I'm still fussing with it and the layout will likely update again shortly.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Best of Blogs

I'm sure a number of people have seen this, but compiled a list of the 100 Best Blogs for MBA students. It's a very interesting list and though not all inclusive provides good insights. I'm happy to see a number of Darden folk on there. :)

Check it out here.

Musical Chairs

Q4 kicked off last week! ( least I believe it was last week, the days run together.) And you may be thinking, so what's new in Q4? The newest aspect of Q4 is that in 3 of 5 of my classes, I got to select my own seat! Sounds nifty huh? Well, I've decided I miss the days of sitting in one classroom all day and having my professors do the rotating. It sounds ridiculous, but being able to leave the computer in one place for a solid 5 hours. These days I never plug into the internet, simply because it is more stuff to unpack and repack. Throughout the day, I check almost everything via blackberry, which means outlook doesn't update until I get home. This is definitely a very new feeling.

Of course, I'm sure you can assume that I also have 3 new classes that are not in section. That's right, this quarter I selected the electives Valuation, Global Financial Markets, and Financial Reporting & Analysis. In retrospect, I probably should have taken an "easy" class. Basically something that's a little lighter on the work and reading, but it seems I've enjoyed the agony and pain that I've been through since August. (Ok, maybe it isn't THAT bad. Though 30 pages of Ethics reading week after week has been a bit much.) Leading Organizations feels like an extension of strategy and Ethics is always an interesting discussion. My Valuation professor is likely one of the best at Darden. I can't believe he teaches 3 separate classes of Valuation and still manages to keep the same high energy level at 3p that he has a 8am. For GFM I have Professor Warnock again, who is downright badass. He knows his stuff, which I'm sure has something to do with the fact that he worked at the Fed. He has also invited 3 guest speakers this quarter, which should make the class even more engaging. And the best part about Financial Reporting and Analysis is my tag-team professors - yes, that's 2 professors, 1 class.

On a completely unrelated note, as I was writing this post, mom sent me this link to a video that features my god-sister. So proud of all she's accomplished at 17!!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Status Updates

It's just one of those days, you get two posts for the price of one! I have so much to say about life's happenings and yet, I don't seem to have time to sit down and write. One reader commented when I was in Spain asking how my interview went and where I was. Well, I was in Spain... living life to the fullest. As for the interview, it went well. I heard today that I am in a holding pattern. I suppose that is always better than the great reject. I interviewed well and my resume is with a couple of managers, so we are simply waiting for their verdict. I should know by next Friday, and trust me, I'm just as nervous as I was when I was waiting to hear from schools. That pattern never seems to die. (And perhaps just as excited about this prospect as I was about Darden...)

On another front, I landed two more interviews, which will be held at a conference in Atlanta this coming Friday. Both are great companies, so we will see how that goes. Crossing my fingers something works out though I don't think I've hit total breakdown yet. At the same time, I was contemplating the delayed timing of the process this year. We're still at approximately 50% offer rate. Typically I think we're more like 75% at this time of year. It isn't that I'm worried I won't find anything as I do know that I'm very capable. At this point, it's just a lot to juggle as I still have Q4 classes and in a "normal" year, I'd likely be done with the process. Of course, with the economy moving the way it is (yes, the Fed is actually going to buy US Treasuries!?!), I'm not sure normal will ever be as we remember it.


Oh to be in fourth grade again!! Those were days, huh? Self sufficiency was minimal - meals were prepared and someone had the pleasure of being your designated chauffeur. Not only that, but the inquisitive mind roamed and the energy level was almost always high. At least, this is what I noticed when I participated in BBSF's Take a Kid to Class Day.

A number of fourth graders from the local elementry school had the opportunity to visit Darden on Thursday. A case was written specifically for them by Darden's own Professor Fairchild (my strategy prof). In the morning, the kids were broken into learning teams with a Darden mentor as their lead to discuess the case. Afterwards, the class returned to hold a case discussion, led by Fairchild. Once the discussion completed, another set of Darden students were matched with 3 kids each to have lunch. Finally, the class reconvened and we did an art project.

One of the SYs here used to run summer camps prior to Darden, so she was in charge of presenting the art project. I was very impressed by her demeanor and command of the vibrant audience. We talked about billboards, slogans, logos and why they exist. The kids were very alert and creative. Once directions were issued, the class broke into groups of six, again with Darden students as their leads, and the kids had to come up with a product, a logo, a slogan and a billboard. They were then charged with presenting their billboard to the class. Amazing presentations for such a young group of people.

Definitely a fun day!!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Time to Retrain?

The UVaToday News Blog posted an interesting link on its blog to an article titled, Is It Time to Retrain Business Schools? I suppose in this environment, this is a fair question. The article points out that a number of graduate students are required to take "professional" exams before joining the workforce (lawyers, doctors & accountants). However, an MBA program does not require a test before you enter the working world. The article also questions if programs are too analytically focused and don't give students enough practical application to push businesses forward instead of simply increasing shareholder returns. All valid thoughts, but I must disagree.

For me, I have only attended one business school and thus, can only speak to the actions of Darden. Darden's goal is to develop leaders in the world of practical affairs. If you notice, it does NOT say managers. Darden is encompassed in the greater UVa community where ethics and the honor code hold each us as individuals to the highest of standards. Though, my first true ethics course is not until Thursday, I have not once heard a professor say that the only goal of a business is to make money, especially at the expense of its stakeholders. Further, we learn that stakeholders do NOT equal shareholders. Stakeholders are more, and in a simplistic view, include customers, employees, the community, and suppliers. Of course, it is possible that these lessons are that of the case method.

Though I understand the finger pointing as those with MBAs are held to a higher standard, people must remember that at the core of each of us is our own personal values. We may sculpt those values in business school, but I don't believe we initially learn them there. I recognize that these MBA carrying professionals were submerged in this financial mess. That said, there are likely a number of other people, from those who purchased homes that could not afford them, to mortgage officers who approved loans consumers couldn't afford, to banks who extended the loans and so on, who do not carry MBAs. The entire system collapsed in a way that people did not expect and part of it was no one thought about risk. People wanted increased returns, so they received increased returns, though there was no acknowledgment of the increased risk that comes with those returns. (Yes, I am simplifying the crisis)

As for Darden's response to the financial happenings, we've analyzed the crisis real time. From the outset, Darden setup two or three impromptu speaker series with experts in the field to further our understanding. During Q2, two classes were inserted into the Global Economics and Markets course. The first, to allow students to understand on the surface the chain of events leading to the crisis. The second, to deepen understanding of what policy responses and how the crisis may play out. Moreover in Q3 GEM, another financial crisis case was written a week before we studied it. If that's not real-time, I'm not sure what is. There has been talk in other classes as well. Additionally, many of us are feeling the effects in our own job and internship searches. I know more about the intricacies now than I ever would have without business school. I also feel I have more knowledge and that this investment is a good one.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Alcohol-Free Beer and Éspresso

Spain has been incredible! We started in Barcelona five days ago and moved to Madrid yesterday. There is so much to write and given that I'm trying to walk and type in Madrid, this is going to be short.

We attended the FC Barcelona champions league game on Wednesday night. Futbol as it is called here, is an institution. It's like attending a college football game with all the chants and none of the debauchery. There are coffee grinders at every other vending station. And though Heineken is a sponsor, the only beer sold is alcohol free. The game was high scoring with a 5-2 win going to FCB. It was very pretty soccer with smooth transitions and great control by Barca. The end of the match was filled with some acting in my opinion, but perhaps that's just homefield advantage.

Besides the game we walked the streets, saw the sights, and grabbed drinks with the fellow Darden students. Last night we did a tapas crawl grabbing drinks and tapas at every stop. Museo de Jamon is an ode to the pig as only the Spanish can do. The shrimp boiling in olive oil were also delicious. If nothing else I will definitely be coming back.

I hope to post pictures and maybe a video of the game later.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Autopilot Malfunction

Do you have those mornings when you wonder what you did with your brain? I definitely do. In fact, I'm blaming this morning's mishap on my "autopilot." I have been fighting a cold the last few days. With that cold has come a not so nice runny nose. To counteract some of the stuffiness, I have refrained from putting milk in my cereal. Simple, right? It seems this morning autopilot did not quite comprehend what I was doing. I poured my Cheerios into my bowl, and then grabbed an empty glass and put it next to the bowl. At this point, I grabbed the OJ from my fridge and carefully poured it into my cereal. Yes, my cereal! Halfway through my pour I snapped out of my trance realizing what I had just done. I guess of all things, it's not the worst that could happen, though I do know a number of my friends were quite entertained with that Facebook status this morning.

In other autopilot news, I carefully wrote my return address on a letter that I need to mail tomorrow. My return address in CALIFORNIA! Ooops! Hopefully the receiver's address is correct and I don't have to worry about the letter returning to my parent's house instead of my own. I guess the good news is, I can laugh! A little humility is good for the soul.

One more final and a review of my paper, then Q3 is complete! I'm off to ATL tomorrow afternoon.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Exams: Day Deux

Besides the fact that I had no idea what was going on in my strategy final today, I suppose it went well. Sometimes the vague questions don't give me enough direction. Of course, that's likely the point.

In other news, I received another interview invite for Friday, which I happily accepted. I spent some time last night trying to figure out what was the "right" way to tell last night's interviewing team that should I warrant a second round, Friday was no longer available. It's a thin line to walk as I don't want to sound pushy because that wasn't the case at all, though, I did want to give them the update or option should they want it.

I crashed a few minutes sub-9pm last night. I was exhausted after the exam and 2 interviews. I think the sleep is helping my cold and demeanor. However, going to bed early meant that I didn't make this important decision as to how to approach the interview on the table as well as a hopeful second round. Needless to say, this all came to a head about 10am this morning, in the middle of my exam. I had to wait until at least 7am west coast time before I could call the family and by then, I had to speak with mom and dad, individually, twice. Dad put it best, a bird in the hand is worth more than 2 in the bush. Although they were a good help, I'm sure the 30 minute break didn't help my focus on the exam.

Nonetheless, I'm off to Atalanta on Friday...

Monday, March 02, 2009

Exams: Day Uno

The timing of my cold couldn't be any worse. I'm in between interviews right now and slightly congested. Not to mention, I took a finance exam today that is only worth 65% of my grade. Oh case method, how I <3 thee. After six weeks, illness free, you'd think the bug could have waited one more. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

It's exam week and I'm one exam closer to my trip to Spain. I'm stoked! However, I'm still internship-less and likely have a number of cover letters to write by Friday. Isn't business school fun? It's both scary and exciting to think that we're about to start Q4. This means no more first-year curriculum and for some, no more 8a classes. I contemplated the ritual of being able to sleep in, but acknowledge that I wouldn't be any more productive. I'd simply stay up later and sleep later. At least 8a classes force me to be on a "normal" schedule, though I am happily accepting 11:45a end times on late week electives. WOO HOO.

Tomorrow is my strategy final and as my roommate commonly says, "I just can't be bothered" to study. I love the British! I know I need to focus, but it's definitely difficult right now. Here's hoping that a lot of rest and some good food will kick the cold before I know it.