Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Waiting Game

In the middle of June, six of my coworkers in the Commercial Sales training program received word of their soon-to-be new homes. My finance counterpart and I sat back as they received relocation checks, locked in housing, packed their things and said goodbye to Louisville! This was their time to make a new home!

RS and I always knew that the waiting game for us would be longer. At first, we were told November, which in June seemed so far away that it wasn't worth worrying. In July, we were told October, but still three months can seem like a lifetime after business school. I lived in Atlanta and Stockholm for three months each. Just enough time to settle in to a routine, yet not long enough for it to feel like home. Since starting our finance assimilation, every time we meet a new person, they ask where we are moving. The answer of TBD is getting old.

This past Monday, the October deadline was reiterated. So now, I sit and wonder. Will I make it to Chicago where my better half resides? Or will this be the start of a series of tough decisions to come in the future?

The waiting game, while exciting at times, has gotten the best of me over the last three years. You wait to hear from business schools, and then you wait to start once you accept. Next, you start interview season, only to wait to hear if you're on the interview list, whether you make it to second round or finally receive an internship offer. At the end of an internship, some people even have to wait to see if they are extended a full-time offer. Even if they are, many still recruit, repeating the interview process. While I wouldn't trade any of these experiences for the world, I'm ready to plan my next move, which is hopefully to a place I can truly make home.

I suppose the good news I've become very patient and with all this moving, I have become the opposite of a pack-rat, constantly purging the items I own.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Darden Connection

Darden was one of the best decisions I ever made. I continuously say that and I think with each time, I mean it more. When I first started my position, I received a welcome email from a guy named Charles. I'm not sure how he knew I had joined the organization and I didn't bother to ask. He set up lunch a group of us including an intern and other alumni. Needless to say, I missed that lunch as Lotus Notes, our email system, doesn't include an automatic calendar reminder. You have to manually check a box to get a reminder, which I still forget to do. After missing that meeting, he was incredibly understanding. Then I traveled for a couple months off and on. Finally, two weeks ago I reached out to setup a new lunch meeting.

Charles graciously accepted and after a couple confusing exchanges, we missed yet another lunch. Today was the day that we were going to get this right. Sure enough, I waited by the lunch trays. Noon came and went, but about ten minutes after, he showed up. We grabbed our respective meals and found a place to eat. As most people do, he asked me how I picked Darden, having been from San Francisco. I explained to him that the Darden networking reception sold me. When looking at business schools, I suppose everyone has to consider HBS. It's known as a gold standard. The HBS reception was a mock case with roughly five alumni in attendance. I spent more time discussing the GMAT and tips with college kids than speaking to anyone about the school. Darden was different. The head of admissions spoke for five minutes and told us if we wanted to know anything about the school, talk to them, pointing to the alumni. She explained that they were the appropriate people to answer my questions. I spoke with people from the class of 1984, 1993 as well as some recent graduates. I was grilled by the head of Alumni Relations. Every person I met had their hand on their business card and wanted to know what they could do for the school. They wanted to give back. There was something about that interaction that simply stuck. HBS may be able to run circles around Darden in terms of network size, except the large class size doesn't give you the bond and connection Darden does.

Charles, who graduated almost 10 years ago and has had a very successful career, thanked me. He thanked me for reminding him why he loved Darden so much. There's nothing better than the Darden connection. When I mentioned the name of a coworker in my organization, Charles said he knows him well. I proceeded to tell him that he reminds me of Elliott Weiss, a Darden professor who wears a bowtie every day. This guy wears a bowtie daily. I guess that also speaks to the tenure of Darden's professors.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Putting It Delicately

Three Fridays ago I officially "graduated" from the first part of my rotational program. Six of coworkers had received their location assignments and took off to their new homes. Learning about the commercial sales organization is something most people in the corporate office likely fail to do. They forget that it is the sales organization that continues to keep a steady flow of revenue coming into the business, supporting the need for their jobs.

The next week, I attended the commercial finance conference. My first real interaction with many of the finance leaders at corporate as well as in the market offices. Great people and great information, though not as "fun" as those traditionally gregarious and outgoing sales people. The end of the week was light prior to my paid week off!

When I first heard of the vacation time, I struggled with the decision as to where to go. Free weeks aren't as plenty as business school, so I understand I need to take advantage of them. However, after ruling out a handful of exotic destinations, I decided home is always a good option, as is Chicago to see the boyfriend. While home I hung out with a handful of soccer friends. I'm not sure why it surprises me that I have such great friends in the Bay Area. I've always known that, but I suppose I have almost forgotten with the amount of moving I've done lately. Further, I hosted a handful of Darden 2010 alumni at my parents' house for a BBQ. It was incredibly good to see everyone and almost made me ask myself, why did I leave or specifically, why didn't I go back? Further, I keep finding people I missed as I didn't realize they had moved West. The contingent keeps growing. Chicago was also fun with more Darden reunions including a home-cooked meal by a Darden husband and BBQing on the 10th floor of a friend's downtown building. Very cool! I suppose it makes me realize how much I miss even having one person around with whom I've spent more time than the last three months.

I arrived in Louisville late last night and after fighting with my work computer for over an hour, finally, was able to access my email. This week started off promising, until I got to work. There's a lot of "catch up" time baked into my training schedule and while I appreciate the consideration, Darden never taught me the slow pace I've been going. It's not good or bad, just different, but I'm starting to want more.