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.