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.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Parentals Visit ATL

I can't believe week 6 is here! That means I'm halfway done with my internship come Friday...(assuming I have the math right) Atlanta has been a blur and I think time is speeding by quicker these days. My project at work is moving slow, which I suppose is expected with the amount of data through which I am sifting. But to make these mediocre days that much better, my parents decided to visit this past weekend.

Ever since I moved from California, I don't see my parents nearly as much as I did. Indeed, living down the hall facilitated a lot of interaction. I still talk to them on a regular basis. I'm not sure if that is habit or because if creates some balance in my life. Mom mentioned that she wanted to come visit and given my upcoming schedule, I thought - NO WAY do I actually have time, except for 3 particular weekends. Two weeks ago, they booked tickets. They arrived from SF on Friday, just in time for me to miss the bulk of rush hour traffic and take them to my trendy Tapas Restaurant, Noche. It helps that I also get 15% off the food seeing I love the place. They had margeritas, I had sangria and the adventure began. Then, I turned in early after dinner in preparation for Saturday.

Saturday, I picked my parents up at their hotel and we had breakfast at Flying Biscuit. I think we were discriminated against. While I'm not sure if it was a friend thing or something else, but I did ask the hostess why a 4-top, who arrived after us, was seated before the 3 of us. She tried to explain that there were 3-tops finishing up within the next 5 minutes, otherwise we would have been seated first. Sure enough, we sat at a 4-top. Ironic. Afterwards we headed North to the outlets. I swear the world is on sale and I'm happy to partake. I got some cute clothes to freshen up my closet as the weather gets increasingly hotter here. Dad picked out a couple shirts, mom got a new pair of shoes. All in all, a successful trip. I returned mom and dad to the hotel, only to go home, change and pick them up again. We ate dinner at Aria and I invited a classmate. Impeccable service, decadent food and an absolutely fantastic night!!

Sunday morning we had breakfast at Murphy's and showed dad what he would be doing that afternoon - painting pottery - to later be kindled. His initial reaction was one of "really?!? Likely not." However after breakfast, he picked out his doggy bowl and quickly started designing. It was seriously cute!! We don't get the pieces until Thursday after they've been cooked, yet it was an excellent afternoon. Talk about a great date place too - and it's BYO everything (including alcohol).

We wrapped up Sunday night at Park Tavern with my friend from college joining us. We laughed, listened to a little live music, ate and had some more cocktails. It was another perfect ATL weekend. Hard to believe I'll be gone for the next four.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Forte Conference

I've been meaning to write this post for weeks now, but it seems there are always other things on my mind. As an admitted student at Darden, I had visions of being a Forte Fellow, sharing my experiences via video blog, giving prospective and current students advice, and representing my school on a panel at the Forte Conference. Unfortunately, those dreams never panned out as I was not selected to be a Forte Fellow (and have no idea what the selection criteria is). While I have since gotten over it, I feel that I am not lesser of a person for not being one.

All that said, I DID attend the Forte Conference in NYC last year before galavanting off to Germany with the fam! The Conference was very helpful in multiple ways. First, there were some great lessons and presentations. Second, the speakers there, current MBAs and successful women, were aw-inspiring. Finally, companies were there to network and one woman is the reason I spent the entire year recruiting for investment banking. While that career path did not work out, I'm glad I did it. There was a lot of passion there that I didn't know existed. I was also able to meet new classmates before getting on campus and able to network with women from other schools. I met a fellow blogger from Georgetown, whom I had followed during her years there. Darden Alumni met a group of us for dinner. And basically, it was a great way to kick off a couple crazy weeks.

Check out this year's conference being held June 26-27!

PS I will not be in attendance this year due to a conflict in C'ville (I'm moving), however, my roommate is on a first year panel, so look for the Brit and be sure to ask her some tough questions. ;)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


I moved to Virginia almost a year ago and when I did so, I said I'd get renters insurance (which was also required by my lease) and change my car insurance. Indeed, my "permanent" address is still in California and will likely stay there until I graduate. All the same, if you “move” your insurance is supposed to be for the state in which you live. I understand why in some cases – if a city is more dangerous for you to drive in, the insurance company wants to be compensated for the increased risk. At the same time, if you are paying more to drive in a city than it should actually cost, theoretically, the driver would want the discount. Well, I never did change my car insurance. I always said tomorrow and of course tomorrow came, the cases won and the phone call was never placed. I decided yesterday was the day to change and sure enough the voice on the opposite side of the phone was pleased to help. She checked Georgia requirements and basically my insurance in California far exceeded any state minimums and thus, is fine for Georgia. Problem is, apparently, it is MORE dangerous to drive in Atlanta than it is in the Bay Area!? Who would have thought?? So out goes another $94, which I should easily recoup if I remember to change my insurance to Virginia when I move back in August. The summer is flying!

This weekend, my parents come to visit!! :D WOO HOO. It doesn’t sound like they care to explore the city much, but we do have plans for a trip to the outlets. I feel like we should do something a little more “Atlanta” besides restaurants, though, I’ve just done a lot of “Atlanta” with other visitors and exploring on my own. We’ll see.

Tonight is also the GRAND OPENING of the little retail shop I’m helping to get financially situated. We’re not close to done yet, but after I fixed a ton of transactions (read: processing returns, re-ringing transactions and applying the appropriate line item or order discounts to match the point-of-sale system with cash collected - reminded me of my 4 years working retail at Express) last night, we’re steps closer. The store has been nominated best baby store in Atlanta 2009 and also had a visit from Sandra Bullock, who has been filming in the area. I'm hoping this bodes well for the future. Plus, just being in the store, makes me want to learn how to sew again. Everything is handmade from recycled material! So nifty.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Marketing Darden

Darden is well known in the business school community, but many people in the rest of the world are unfamilar with the school. Why is that? Is the marketing of the school not sending a clear message? Does Darden have too many names? Is "rural" Virginia too far from a major city?

UVa has a tremendous reputation as a public school. As far as I know, it is often on par with many of the Ivy Leagues, which as we all know are seen as the prestine colleges of the east. So what is up with the Darden - UVa disconnect? I was thinking, you hear Darden called: Darden, Darden Business School, Darden Graduate Business School, Darden Business School - UVA, Darden Graduate School of Business at the University of Virginia - and the list goes on. Let's be frank, the longer the name gets, the more you "lose" people. Heck, I get sick and tired of saying it. I once saw it written as Daren GSB. I like it! Now, I'm not saying we should try to copy Stanford or Chicago, but let's be honest, GSB is simply Graduate School of Business. And the mouthful is a whole lot less.

Here's the next problem though, re-branding. Once upon a time Darden was not as "affiliated" with UVa as it is now. It's not as if Darden moved onto campus, they just started recognizing that UVa is a good name. Darden reverted its colors to Orange and Blue instead of Red and Black (the once school specific colors). I think the school even changed its logo to its current state encompassing clip-art of the rotunda. I think the re-branding has started in many ways and perhaps it's time to shorten the name. It'd make us students a lot happier. ;)

Summer Job #2

As if I didn't have enough to this summer with trips on the horizon to Charlottesville, a beach in SC, Vegas and SF. My parents are coming to visit next weekend. I may head to DC for another weekend in July. I'm still exploring Atlanta and the one thing I've learned is they sure eat well here. Well as in delicious, not necessarily good for you. I'm joining a Tuesday night soccer team and playing pick-up on Saturdays. Plus, the Darden crew has been desperately trying to meet up for drinks - thus far, to no avail. So with all this going on, not to mention my internship, which is the real reason I'm in Atlanta, why would I need a second summer job? I guess the truth is, I don't, but I'm hoping this may be a resume builder.

One of my first solo weekends here I met a local store owner while eating at the bar of my beloved tapas restaurant. We got to talking and she's been open for 4 weeks now. She's a designer and manufacturer of children's clothes. The retail outlet is something she has almost casually tacked on. The clothes are very cute articles which are made from recycled material - material that was once something else, for example, sheets, pillow cases, and seed bags. She asked if I needed extra money - thinking no way would I work retail again (after a combined 4 years during and post college), I declined, but still inquired as to if she needed help. Needless to say, she had a project in mind, her finances. Being a finance person who is honestly too detail oriented, I couldn't understand why this woman hadn't put effort into the money side of the business. I told her that although I was not looking for summer work, I'd be interested in helping her.

We had another meeting earlier this week to discuss what she needs, wants and can afford. Yesterday started the reconciliation process and I'll admit, I have my hands full. Part of me understands that she doesn't want to spend a lot of money on software, however, as her newly appointed financial consultant, I believe you should do it right the first time. I didn't get as far yesterday as I'd hoped, but I'm anticipating squaring to zero on Sunday.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


How many systems does on large company need? How much does technology help, if the systems don't talk with each other? This is what I contemplate as I manually type in USER ID numbers to find specific locations so that I may bill the appropriate cost center. Sounds fun huh? It isn't bad when the data comes speedily, but every 10 or so minutes, I have a solid 60 second delay as my computer "thinks." I realize, an IBM T42 is a little dated, but the RAM seems on par with my needs and the processor speed, though not over 2Ghz is still spinning.

What I find even more entertaining is with all the systems we provide in IT and all the development dollars that are invested to keep this shop running, we're still behind. I'm using Excel to compile my data - all 30,000 lines of it. The knowledge I have about Vista is useless as the network is still run on XP. Tab-browsing, what's that? It couldn't possibly be more efficient could it? The company has recently switched to Office 2007 and I hear the woes from cubicles as I cruise through programs because of Darden's use requirement over the last 10 mos.

Technology can be a business' best friend and also, the bain of its existence. It's a necessary evil in today's marketplace, a capability for many companies that help them surpass competition. I wonder if the breadth of this company hinders its ability to invest in the technology it should, at the pace it should. Maybe for now, the company is destined to swim among the old fashioned CPGs of America.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Amazing Weekend

I didn't come into work on Friday. Instead, I arrived at a local plant at 6a for my ride-a-long. This was a chance for me to understand a part of the supply chain that no one thinks about when they see product on a shelf. How does it get there? Who stocks it? Turns out, there's a little man in a brightly colored truck. The experience was eye-opening and the work ethic impressive. Physically, I could not do his job today. The speed and acuracy is important, as is the execution. From local food outlets to convenience stores, everyone expects the best service. Further, this man's scheduled 10 hour shift can be shortened by moving quickly. He's paid for the minutes on his paper, not for his actual time of execution unless he works past 4p. Absolutely fascinating.

As for the rest of the weekened. My boyfriend landed around 9p. I've learned that the airport is just big enough that if company calls me when they LAND, I should arrive as they exit through baggage claim. That said, the Atlanta airport has numerous flaws in my opinion. The largest being that baggage claim and ticketing/check-in are along the exact same wall. Meaning halfway through the wall, the cars on the left want to be on the right and the ones on the right want to be on the left. SILLY!

Friday night we ventured to one of my favorite tapas restaurants in the Highlands, Noche. Indeed it was bustling, but the 10p reservation had us seated quickly. Afterwards, we strolled N. Highland to a local pub with a highly entertaining singer. Plus a unicorn dance that looks like the chicken dance on steroids. Saturday morning we had breakfast on the otherside of Piedmont Park at Flying Biscuit. Quite yummy and yes, incredible biscuits!! I've decided the food here is enough for my waist to expand a size (thank goodness for the walking I do!). We spent the afternoon in the Atlanta Botanical Garden before crossing the park back to Summerfest, a Virginia Highland festival. We met a couple interns and ran into more classmates at the festival - bands on both edges of the street, funnel cakes, knick-knacks and lots of art. The dinner destination was Ruth's Chris - decadent food, but delicious. Opera Nightclub was our final stop for the night, meeting up with another intern and her roommate. It slightly reminded me of a club in Vegas and though I didn't last until 3a as I was still full from dinner, it was a fantastic experience and a place I'll likely frequent.

Finally, Sunday kicked off with Murphy's brunch followed by an afternoon at the Georgia Aquarium. Can't beat the 50% off student rate after 3p on Sundays!! I'll admit, there were a few too many kids out for me, but the afternoon was still fun. Dinner was a home cooked meal, which I missed after 2-3 days of hearty Southern food. After my drive to the airport, I relaxed before heading to bed early. It'll definitely be 5 gym days for me this week! Perfect weekend.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

What is it about the floor candy jar?

This is a very tenured company. Most employees I've met have been around for multiple years if not decades. The kind woman who sits kitty-corner from me tells me that she's gained 60 pounds during her 4 years here. I'm not quite sure that's true, but I'm sure there is some office weight in there. I sit right next to the floor candy jar. On one hand, I meet numerous snackers, but on the other, I've done all I can not to indulge myself. I have a horrible sweet-tooth, though you wouldn't know it since I've been here.

At work, even before business school, I was always regimented with my meals. And so here, even with the expansive cafeteria that I'm convinced is partially subsidized by the company, I'm trying my best to keep with my previous trend. It's hard! When I meet friends for lunch with my fancy Igloo Maxcooler filled with tuperware and portioned food, I walk by the grand cafeteria thinking I COULD have one cookie. Though one cookie today will lead to one tomorrow and while I'm here, I'm trying to find my routine because as we all know, it goes to hell when I return to C'ville. "Regular" meal times and gym time is often subsidized by cases and free pizza.

My goal for the next 8 weeks: Keep my hand out of the candy jar!

Darden grades were updated today. I logged in thinking this may make or break my day at 9a. I'm proud to announce, it made my day! I was impressed with my performance and look forward to seeing professor comments on my exams.

The Finance Interns are going to dinner tonight. Should be a fun way to kick off the weekend except that I need to be somewhere at 6a tomorrow. OUCH.

Life Changes

Three of my friends are pregnant, one is newly engaged, a few others are about to be hitched, one just bought a house and numerous others are going through moves and life's trials. It amazes me how fast everything changes. And for me, these changes have taken away any hope of reviving my annual Vegas birthday trip. A trip that financially seemed silly for 21 through 24, but is even more ridiculous at almost 27. I suppose the year I cancelled, my 25th would have been the best year to go. Oh well.

I'm excited for all my friends and a bit disappointed that this fantastic idea didn't work as planned. I'm trying to figure out how important it is to me to have certain people there or should I attend the celebrations with mostly family. Though if you knew my family, you would understand just how entertaining they can be.

Besides Vegas I'm headed to the beach in South Carolina for the 4th, back to C'ville to move between houses and my parents are looking to visit in July. This summer is going to fly before I know it.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Solo Weekend

Atlanta is your typical big city with lots to offer! That said, enjoying many of the places and sights is better spent with someone than solo. Though that may be true, my weekend included a lot of alone time. It seems that the majority of people I know in this town had ventured off to finer places. On Friday night I went for a walk and stopped for a late supper. I sat at the bar next to a local who looked like she was doing "homework." Turns out she was analyzing an inventory report for her first 3 weeks of business. We spoke at length about anything and everything. She has two daughters, one who attends Haas ironically enough. She opened a children's clothing store 3 weeks ago and frequents the restaurant I was in. She asked if I needed some extra money, to which my imagination flashed back to the days of working retail with fickle customers. I declined, but inquired as to if she was looking for extra help. She said she had one project - she needed someone to set up an accounting system. I was a bit baffled as that would be on the top of my priority list for a new business, but I guess that's the difference between designer and number-nerd. All the same, I said I'd be interested, not for the funds, but for the experience. I emailed her when I returned home, but haven't received a response. Oh well... more time for me.

Saturday I watched a few movies and wandered around the area. I was starting to feel lonely as hanging out by yourself in a new city is only so fun. I still don't know where the usual amenities are. Saturday night, I ventured out again, but this time for a drink. I walked up and down N. Highland and settled on a bar whose name reminds me of a Boulder bar from undergrad. I walked in to see one of the other interns there, out for his brother's bachelor party. It looked almost too tame for me. The boys might as well have been on a houseboat - with no females! We spoke for a while and after my drink I headed home.

Sunday mirrored much of Saturday. I grabbed breakfast at a fabulous local joint. Ate at the bar and people-watched. The entire weekend made me realize just how hard it can be to move to a new city. Most of my moves have been for education, which allows for instant friends, this move is quite different. I've scoured the net for soccer teams too, but to no avail. However, my friend from college who lives here says that I can play with her next season (starting soon). I'm going through mild withdrawals since my Vegas tournament!!

In better news, my boyfriend comes in on Friday and there is plenty to do in the area with Summerfest happening about a 100 yards from my house. I'm also planning a trip back to CA in August!