Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Jingle Bells, Glögi is delicious

OK, so that doesn't quite rhyme...
It's the holiday season and tonight I have made Glögi. In fact, I am now drinking some. Glögg, Gløgg, or Glögi is the traditional Nordic Christmas drink. It is basically mulled wine- it is made of wine or port, all sorts of delicious spices, and of course, vodka. That last bit is the Nordic addition to this wonderful drink. You add raisins and almonds and have some alcohol soaked deliciousness at the end of the sipping. It is one of the best ways to keep warm so far up north! That and... well let's just say there are a lot of summer babies.
Yesterday, I went to a Hannukah party, hosted by my friend Lauren and her husband. I had delicious latkes and potato pancakes, and was not required to sing any dreidel songs, although I did get to eat a dreidel cookie. There was an excellent showing by some fellow Gentiles, as well as some classmates from Israel, who got a great glimpse at holiday celebrating, American style.
I spent the weekend with the family, and put the awfulness of exams behind me! I got my first grade back today... although I am unclear on the curve, at least one grade is securely a B+ or above. Whew. As we head into break (after rounding out two days of career management stuff) I will be leaving the country for a wonderful two week hiatus, before coming back home for New Years and Module 3!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

And all of the sudden, I miss Boston

Today, it snowed! This morning it was naught but flurries, but by the time I picked my Dad up from the train station in our suburban town there was ACCUMULATION of at least two inches. Very exciting. It almost never snows like this in DC at this time of year. I witnessed Christmases in the 60s as a kid. It's exciting. I really like snow. See previous entry. Snow also makes me miss Boston. Perhaps I'll break out my heavy duty snow boots and reminisce walking through the Boston Common and through the downtown wind tunnels tomorrow by walking across the Key Bridge.
Missing Boston may also have something to do with talking to both my favorite Anna's in the past week! (Just checking to see if you're reading!)

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Difference Between Undergrads and Grad Students

I am sitting in the student center, getting a few rays of sunlight (sorely lacking in the aging and soon to be abandoned McDonough School of Business MBA building) and waiting for a second year to chat with me about her internship. I am listening to a great mix of songs from a very nice undergrad somewhere out there over the network who has left her iTunes playlist open for everyone else to listen to. It was very nice of her and right now I am very much enjoying the Black Eyed Peas. I wish I could say I would do the same, but mine is password protected so you can only listen to my music and ponder why the heck I have both the Spice Girls and CCR on the same playlist if I like you.
Undergrads tend to be a much more open and less cautious bunch than we grad students. I mean, who else but an undergrad would unabashedly post both her first and last name on a playlist that includes an extensive collection of Celine Dion? They also have a very different view of business education. There tends to be a larger focus on the academic skills needed as opposed to the holistic management views many MBA programs take. There are several students in my class that did business degress of varying kinds for undergrad. These type folks should be very careful in selecting schools. Many general management programs will repeat basic business coursework in marketing, accounting, etc. that the undergrad program offers. On the other hand, if you had a narrowly focused business degree (i.e. marketing major) or have not really utilized/ completely forgotten everything you learned since obtaining the bachelor's degree, it could be entirely worth it to repeat the basic academic work. Many programs allow students to test out of the basic levels of coursework, which is always another option for someone who has an academic business background but feels a particular program fits in non-curricular ways.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

I am so full of turkey I think it is blocking the flow of creative juices to my brain. I have a bit of writers block. Suffice to say, after a finance case, a marketing case, a quant exam, a management communication speech and analysis all due in three days, I am pleased to have a long weekend. Tomorrow I will be hanging out with old friends from high school at an old favorite restaurant. One of our professors this week did leave us with some excellent advice. He said that sometime during the weekend we should take the time to sleep, eat and relax. I was planning to do so anyways, but a semi-official stamp of approval was nice.

Friday, November 16, 2007

But what do you actually do?

I think many of my fellow bloggers and I fall into the trap of assuming everyone else's school functions the same as far as clubs, academics, bidding, etc. Sometimes what we actually do gets lost between the lines. Georgetown, as a general management program, has a very extensive core curriculum during the first year. You only take two module electives during the year, or one semester long class. This cuts down on the amount of bidding. Due partially to Georgetown University's administrative set-up, something the business school has been slowly but surely extracting itself from, we do not have our own registration system. So we therefore do not have a bidding system for courses like many MBA programs. We also have a smaller program, so you pretty much eventually get to take what you want, even if you have to wait a module or two. Next semester my top choices are Social Enterprise and Negotiations. The second years usually take over the Negotiations classes, so I doubt I will get into that, but it will be fun trying. Perhaps I should negotiate with the professor to prove what a fantastic asset to the class I would be?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Booze and Buddies: What B school is all about

There are stereotypes aplenty flying around regarding business school. All you do is drink… you’ll make the best friends of your life… finance is a killer.
I’m here to tell you they are all true.
Last weekend I attended the NAWMBA conference hosted by the University of Maryland. A friend and I decided to watch the entire competition (the Georgetown team presented last) and we were incredibly impressed by our polished women! After the competition we attended a delicious reception where I enjoyed a few glasses of wine with MBASalsera and many of the other Georgetown ladies. We then moved onto the dinner, where it turned out we weren’t just biased- Georgetown won 1st place: $5000.

In the academic arena, this week we studied segmentation in marketing. The case accompanying the lesson was written by a few Georgetown MBAs who now work at Miller. The case was on the challenges in the domestic beer industry, and the questions centered around examining shifts in demographics and tastes, identifying appropriate marketing responses to these changes and arguing for a strategy. The Georgetown grads came in to present, along with top brand managers. And of course, they brought the new product (their solution to the case questions) with them. That was how I came to be drinking Miller Chill at 9:30 am.

Back to buddies… I was studying in the fishbowl with a mostly empty table. This only lasted for about ten minutes when one of my cohortmates joined me and chatted a bit. Then a friend from a different cohort sat down. Cohortmate turned to friend: “Hi, I’ve seen you at a bunch of marketing events, right? Would you mind looking at my resume?” After ten minutes of review and chatting they both stop and extend hands saying, “oh right, my name’s…” Collaboration is the name of the game this mod because…

FINANCE IS KICKING MY BUTT. I know I am not alone in this feeling, but happily our class is really pulling together, truly collaborating within study teams, within cohorts, and frankly with whomever happens to be sitting nearest at the time. I'll conclude with some words of wisdom from Sandeep, my wise finance professor: "No one force feeds you broccoli and loans." Something to keep in mind folks. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go drink a Miller Chill.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

So busted.

Today my mind was running about an hour late for life. I got to school at 9:30 and met with my study group to work on a case for Miller that is due tomorrow. In case I have not mentioned this before "get it done" is our motto. We even had our Korean group member translate it for us so we can speak the group motto in several languages. We had a productive group meeting but at 11 am I still needed to further review finance. I am unnecessarily unnerved by this class. I usually know what I'm talking about but am unmotivated to participate because I know I am surrounded by future bankers who NEED that class to go well in order to propel them into future financial greatness. Or at least a decent internship. I decided today was participation day. I had my hand raising strategy down, but I wanted to re-read the material that went with the homework to confirm my thoughts. I also decided to cram a bit more study time for our quant. methods test in. These two items came at the expense of accounting. Now, as previously mentioned, I am a cohort rep. Our accounting professor, bless his heart, is the nicest man alive. However, he utilizes the cohort reps quite a bit more than any of the other professors. Before I didn't go to class today I said to my group, I just know something is going to come up and he will look around the room and I will just not be there. And so it was. The social rep emailed me during class to relay the information. Sigh. My group members justifiably gave me quite a hard time about that one. Apparently he was looking around the room repeating my name and I... was just not there. I suppose I do not have a bright future in accounting anyways!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Making an Impact

"Too much! Too much!" My life is in overload right now, which is the main reason I have been absent for a few weeks. After visiting the bf in England for a week, I returned to DC, refreshed and ready for Module 2! This Mod it's Accounting Part 2 (a direct continuation), Quantitative Methods 2 (a divergence from statistics into more operations), Finance I, Marketing and Management Communication. My cohort has a brutal schedule- with Quantitative Methods, Accounting and Finance all on the same day. At least those classes are Tuesday/ Thursdays. I get to ease into the week with Marketing on Monday mornings. Nothing is really wowing me this term, but that was to be expected given my career interests. I will certainly learn a lot this term at least!
Out of all my classes, Management Communication is fun. We all have to speak on a prepared topic in every class and in addition a few of us have to give an impromptu speech. We're randomly picked and have a minute to prepare a 75 second speech on a topic. However, the professor doesn't pick the speaker until AFTER the prep time, so he sends the entire class into panic mode for a full minute after announcing each topic. It's great fun.
Outside the classroom, last week our chapter of Net Impact had the first (appropriately titled) McDonough School of Business Net Impact Day. It consisted of panels on CSR/ corporate giving, microfinance and social enterprise, and different paths to a non-profit related job. The microfinance panel was of particular interest for me.
This week is the NAWMBA (women MBA) conference at the University of Maryland. Georgetown, in our typical inclusive form, is bringing at least three men. They're a bit nervous, as they should be, but I think it will be a great experience for them.
I have a my first marketing case due tomorrow! I should get to work on that. Last night I went bowling for our SGA "retreat" so I didn't get a whole lot done. :)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

On the other side of the pond.

I'm visiting the bf in jolly ole England this week. It's rainy and 50 degrees out and I'm a bit jet lagged. I'm not sure if I'm going into London on this trip, which hopefully will cut down on a few costs. Thanks to the horrible exchange rate my return bus ticket from Heathrow to Cambridge cost about $70. Ouch. Tonight we'll be dining at one of my favorite quick eats spots- Pizza Express. It's so cheesy but I like it! Cambridge is a cute town and some of the colleges are magnificent. Best of luck to my classmates who are off on various treks- Wall Street Week, Marketing Trek and Consulting Trek exploring their futures! Net Impact Day is next week, which is my opportunity to get a great glimpse at all the non-profit opportunities in the DC area.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

I love fall... but I hate leggings.

I walked to the train station this morning and stopped for a moment to appreciate the crunching of leaves beneath my feet. It was 92 degrees yesterday and the leaves are starting to die without really changing colors, thanks to a summer drought. But I still enjoyed the crunch. Unfortunately fall seems to be heralding the return of leggings. I don't know what I have against leggings really. Perhaps it is some repressed memory from elementary school when my leggings/ scrunched sock combo was just not cool enough. Perhaps it is a natural abhorrence of many things spandex. One can only guess at the origins of my loathing. At any rate, I can't stand them and noticed at least two separate pairs on the metro.
For more on this subject visit my favorite Fug Girls.
In MBA related news I am over halfway done with finals!! We have one paper and four finals for module one, and we are through two exams, with Strategy and Accounting left to go. Accounting is technically a midterm, as it is a semester long class, but it counts for about a quarter of our grade. I think I have done OK so far. Because our grades are curved and I am not going into i-banking or corporate finance I will feel guilty if I manage more than a B+ in any of my classes because I know that someone else had to get below a B+. On the other hand, I would like something to balance my inevitable B- in accounting. It has been a looooong week, but I just have to hang on until Friday when the SGA is sponsoring a BBQ and the South Asian Business Alliance is sponsoring a party at a local club.

Monday, October 8, 2007

NSHMBA Part 2

As I mentioned in my previous post, I just spent two days at the National Society of Hispanic MBAs annual conference in Houston, Texas. (Don't mess with it.) There were 7000 people registered so I went two whole days without seeing many of my fellow Georgetown attendees! For some reason the people I ran into the most went to Thunderbird and Darden.
A lot of the marketing folks got interviews, including one of the other Georgetown MSB Forte Fellows who got interviews with all her top choices, and was also taken out to dinner!
I was invited and attended the two receptions I was aiming for. My fellow Georgetown consultant wannabes also scored the same invites, so it was nice to schmooze amongst friendly faces. Target threw the big open bash of Friday night, but I waited too long to get in line and left before getting in. Saturday I mainly practiced my pitch and visited some booths that I hadn't made it to the day before. I finished around lunch time, changed out of my suit and accomplished one of my most clearly defined goals of the weekend: eating some goooood Texas BBQ! Aforementioned marketing friend, me, and a half-British woman who had never had bbq before headed to Goode Company Texas Barbeque. I had the two meat combo dinner platter that came with two "vegetable choices." The veg choices included coleslaw, potato salad, pinto beans, black beans and Texas jambalaya (which had pieces of pork in it.) One of my friends found a piece of bbq in her coleslaw. After stuffing ourselves silly we headed back to the hotel, did a little work, then caught a flight back to DC.
It was an exhausting weekend, and my earbuds and hairbrush were casualties of the rush, but I'm glad I went. I practiced networking and generally enjoyed a bit of Houston!

Friday, October 5, 2007

I may look awake, but inside I'm asleep.

It's NSHMBA conference time! The world of the MBA is filled with wonderful acronyms. NSHMBA is the National Hispanic MBA Association. After my last class of module one yesterday afternoon I got on a plane to Houston, along with about 20-30 of my classmates to come to the national conference. The other 80ish Georgetown attendees were scattered throughout various flights. I have to finish getting ready for a loooong day of meeting company representatives and giving my pitch.... "Hello, I'm Hairtwirler, I have a background in...." Hopefully I won't fall asleep waiting in line.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Dear Apple

Please stop acting like Microsoft.
It's quite annoying.
Thanks,
Hairtwirler

Friday, September 21, 2007

I'm a bartending cohort rep

So in the past week I have been a tad busy. I decided to run for cohort representative, which involved a quick week turnaround between the interest meeting and elections. Everyone voted yesterday, and we found out before our first class today that I was elected cohort representative! Each entering MBA class at Georgetown has four cohorts of about 65-70 people. The cohorts each elect one representative to serve on the SGA executive board. We work to ensure that the first year career services, curriculum, social (etc) needs are being met.
Oh yeah, and the day we find out we are elected, we have SGA bartending night. Today was a bit crazy. I got to the car barn around 9:30 and sat at a table collecting donations for our class service project, collecting school supplies for DC schools. I had class from 11:40 to 4, then had a break before a corporate presentation (changed into a suit) by Booz Allen Hamilton. I then went back to the car barn, changed back into hang out clothing and then headed to Rhino Bar on M Street. I grabbed a bite, and listened to bar tender training! We basically just learned what alcohol we were NOT allowed to serve. The party was awesome. We had a great turnout and the Class of 2009 beat the first years in a boatrace. (The drinking game...) The 2009 Cohort reps had the last shift of bartending which was a riot. I was happy to see so many of my classmates out and getting a little wild- I won't go into detail here. :)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Of cell phones

THE most annoying thing that can happen in class is for someone's cell phone to go off. This only happened maybe once or twice during the first week of class and hasn't been a problem since. Now, many people (such as myself) only get service in some parts of the Car Barn 2nd floor, where we MBA students live at Georgetown. So even if you forget to turn off your phone, if you have class on one side of the hallway, you may not have service anyways. For some reason yesterday was cell phone incident day.
As a side note- I have had relatively few embarrassing cell phone problems in my life. Two weeks ago was one of them. I walked into an accounting pre-test after most of my class (as in half of the 270 people) were already seated and took out my pencil. No sooner had I started on problem one than my cell phone started ringing. I then proceeded to say "Oh crap!" very loudly, further distracting my classmates before turning off the offending phone.

Yesterday. I went to a semi-corporate presentation for the Wall Street Without Walls org, which works to provide investment banking services to community based and community development organizations. It deals in structured finance to help rate paper and connect wall street to these small orgs. Georgetown MBA folk are usually heavily involved given our proximity, interest in finance and interest in helping people. A classmate sat there texting for about half the presentation. I didn't judge as I hoped it was something important, but as I was giving up talking to my significant other while at the presentation I had difficulty understanding what was so critical. Eventually the individual stopped texting but then someone texted him back... and his crackberry was on full volume! It was quite embarrassing for the group as a whole, luckily the presenter just ignored it.

Also yesterday, my accounting professor was in mid-lecture when someone's phone started ringing. He froze, then hastily started digging around in his pocket- HIS phone was the one going off! He was a bit embarrassed but turned the phone quickly and proceeded with the lecture.

So although my classmate should have been a bit more discrete about his texting, even professors sometimes forget to turn off their phones so we can all stand to be a little forgiving.

This moral brought to you by a tired yet amused HairTwirler.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Point, Counterpoint: You know, microeconomics provides a useful framework for studying business... Versus I Hate You, I Hate You, I Hate You.

POINT
You know, microeconomics provides an incredibly useful framework for studying business. Microeconomics is an integral part of your MBA degree and will help you analyze supply and demand in order to make effective market entry and exit decisions. It can also help you determine both the marginal cost AND the marginal revenue of your firm and the market. If you ask me, this subject is so useful you should be spending less time on accounting and strategy and really concentrate on learning microeconomics. We're moving into a very exciting part of microeconomics- perfect competition! Now most economics textbooks think that you should study perfect competition first. If you ask me, that is hogwash. Yes, I just said hogwash. Monopolistic competition provides a much better framework to start a beginning economics class, don't you agree?
Most people think that economics is just a set of useless theories, but they're wrong! Please do stop by my office hours if you'd like to chat some more about microeconomic theory.

COUNTERPOINT
Is that right? Does microeconomics provide a useful framework for analyzing business problems? That midterm exam was horrible. I can't believe you're standing at the front of the room telling me I should have finished the first three problems in five minutes.
I Hate You, I hate you, I hate you.
While microeconomics may be useful for analyzing business problems, I no longer care. I wish I could walk out of class, but then my grade and my future ability to get a job where I have to talk intelligently about economic principles may be affected. Although that midterm might have done enough damage to my GPA to kill all hopes of a lucrative career in the financial sector.
No, I don't want to stop by your office hours. I am desperately clinging to my last vestiges of concentration to stay awake in this class. Any more discussion of microeconomics might send me into an unrecoverable coma. It's # o'clock, I'm outta here!


Note: I don't really hate my economics prof, he's quite a good prof. He also has a great sense of humor which is why I hope he'll appreciate this spoof of one of my favorite Onion articles EVER.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Georgetown... past present and future

I made a great new discovery on Thursday morning. I so rarely leave the car barn (home to the business school) during the school day, it was a bit of a change to have the time to hang out in the Leavey Center for a few hours. I popped into the Leavey Center (Georgetown's student center) and went into the convenience store run by the undergrads. The undergrads are an enterprising bunch and run a convenience store called Vital Vittles and a coffee shop called Uncommon Grounds. It turns out that Vital Vittles sells fresh salads and sandwiches prepared by four different Georgetown shops. I had a delicious gyro for lunch and settled down with an iced tea to work on my organizational behavior homework. I stared out the window and to my left saw the Jesuit graveyard tucked away in the middle of campus and to my right I observed construction on the new McDonough School of Business building! The class of 2009 is supposed to be in the building second semester next year if all stays on schedule.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Our Student Services Rocks

Me: Dear Student Services, There is generally not enough tea in the fishbowl in the morning. Could you please put more out? Thank you!
Student Services (less than an hour later): I put more tea out. Please let me know if there is anything else you need.
It's the little things... and free caffeine is a critical little thing!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Kill Goliath in the cradle

In strategy today we discussed network effects and how early entrants to an industry generally come out the winners, but first entrants generally do not. This topic prompted several good quotes from my strategic management prof today: "The first entrant just tenderizes the steak, the other early entrants come along and eat the steak." This was later followed by an analogy about David and Goliath relating to a case on eBay we were discussing. He ended class with the recommendation that actually, Goliath would crush David like a bug, grind him into the ground and really you want to kill Goliath in the cradle.
Point made.

On the opposite end of the bouncing around the room perspective, my organizational behavior professor stood in front of our class for five minutes silently, just looking around the room. After about two minutes the class was settled and silent and staring back. I checked my email, then the clock and at five minutes I raised my hand, was called upon, and asked if we were going to start the class. And he did. When he does this exercise every year there is always some delay. The average delay is 7 minutes, the longest a class has gone is 12. He used it to transition into a discussion on norms and company values.

I attended the first Georgetown Women in Business club meeting during lunch today (free lunch, always good) and started to fill up my calendar with events. Busy bee I am!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

First case analysis: the airline industry and why it stinks

Classes have begun, and I have soooo much work to do. We did our first case analysis in my strategy class on airline industry as of 2004. It was a bit frustrating because this professor told us to take the case as is and not take into account current information. This is obviously to get us to focus on answering the basic questions and learning the analysis process, but some of the facts and airlines in the article had changed radically in the past three years. It was my group's first opportunity to work as a team and I think we were dedicated and efficient. The latter is one of my favorite attributes in a colleague so if the first meeting was any guide, I will grow quite fond of my group members the shorter our meetings.

I read an interesting article in the Economist today. It was a book review regarding a new publication about Ryanair. It was an interesting commentary rather than analysis but brought up an important note about firm culture.

Michael O'Leary, the boss of Ryanair, wanted nothing to do with the project. As far as Mr O'Leary is concerned: "Business books are bullshit and are usually written by wankers.”

The article talked about no matter how crappy the service and how... brusque the CEO, Ryanair continues to make profits. This can be contrasted with Southwest, the consistently profitable airline in the U.S. Southwest is known for their friendly, happy employees and customer service, even if you have to pay for the extras like food and beverages.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Fun from a fellow blogger

I thought this was entertaining: see if you can read it! I am of the opinion that this is just one of those things floating around the internet and not actually a "Cambridge University study" (note actual name: University of Cambridge. But it is a bit of distracting amusement nonetheless.

http://www.owenbloggers.com/isha/2007/08/only-great-mind.html

No thank you, I do not want to wear business casual today

And on the 7th day, I rested.
No I am not God, and therefore, I decided that after an exhausting one week intensive integrative where my group worked our collective butt off in a mock case competition and were beaten to the semi-finals by a team who proceeded to give a very weak performance, I decided I needed a break from all things Georgetown today.
So, no thank you, while I appreciate the 2nd years' career day internship fair, I chose to get a pedicure, have some wine, and spend the afternoon NOT wearing business casual in the 95 (heat index 110) degree heat.
OK, so that was a bit of a rant. I had a really interesting, challenging and fun experience this week. I also met a lot of really interesting people. Naturally!

Next week's challenge is the start of classes. We're off to a bit of a rough start. The strategy prof announced Friday afternoon that he had emailed us about an assignment we had to complete by Monday. We all trooped to the copy shop and the bookstore when we got back to campus around 5 pm to discover that neither were stocked. Also, I am disappointed, but not surprised that in my study group of five, I am the only woman. That is the sad reality of business school. It would be much worse if I was in Europe, so I have my- mainly American and Asian- women peers to thank for their drive to take on business school.
Upcoming moments of interest should be the careers extravaganza, consulting day, and meeting my second year mentor.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Where am I?

I haven't posted in a week. There is a simple reason for this. I am FREAKING EXHAUSTED. The Class of 2009 is currently at the National Conference Center in Virginia where we are being run (literally... more on that later) ragged. We are participating in a live case study sponsored by FedEx. The Georgetown MBA has several week long course called "integratives" where we are supposed to integrate knowledge learned in the classroom into a real life business situation. Later integratives include creating a new business idea and the global integrative consulting project during your second year. This is the international business integrative introducing us to a global business and each other! Now, before this week we have had three days of orientation and about half the class attended statistics class before that. We, as a whole, have no knowledge from the classroom. This week they threw us into the deep end with 7-8 other people, a life support kit, and a deflated raft. To follow the analogy- we have to figure out how to inflate the raft, use the life support kit, and help group members swim through certain sections. We have a few readings, lectures and talks by FedEx Kinkos execs to answer business questions and compete in an NCAA style case tournament. (We're not seeded!) My group is functioning well and got really intense and into the competition all of the sudden during our second meeting. As a group we have a ridiculous amount of energy and ideas, which we are learning/attempting to organize effectively.

Onto the running. This afternoon we had something called The Great FedEx Race. With your team (split up into twos and threes) you were sent all over the national conference center to collect puzzle pieces that eventually ended up being a photo of Georgetown and the Potomac River. The race functioned like the original hub and spoke model of FedEx where we had to come back to "Memphis" (a central lecture room) after each pick-up and show the puzzle piece before receiving our next geographic location. My team lost, even though we put forth a good effort of sprinting (ahem, I mean walking fast) around the NCC, turning in circles, stacking chairs, swimming across a pool while holding up a tennis ball and other such feats.

Tomorrow we pretty much work on the case presentation all day and the competition starts mid-afternoon. Tomorrow night we have a faculty-student volleyball game, which the faculty has won for the past five or six years. There is a trophy and much gloating involved. We had a random draw, certified by one of our classmates and one of the professors, who are both CPAs.

I am going to grab a bite before what I'm sure will be a long meeting session later this evening. And then, I hope, a few glasses of wine with my classmates!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Day 1

My overall thought at the end of Day 1 of orientation is: SO TIRED. I have not seen 6 o'clock a.m. in a very long time. There is the possibility that I had a very early flight to catch somewhere along the way, but that only requires me to be awake for a limited period of time before I can go back to sleep on the plane. Today started with registration (info packet) and breakfast (pastries and fruit) and then began a long day of lectures and discussion. The wise planners of orientation banned laptops. There were several moments where I would have enjoyed the opportunity to "multi-task" i.e. play games on the web, but alas, no computer. The morning welcome session was properly energetic. Our SGA president, whom I have met before is a five foot ball of freakish energy. I love it. The Dean has a great sense of humor that worked especially well towards the end of a long string of introductions.

Our theme (I cringed quietly when I heard the word "theme" come out of the orientation leaders' mouths) is "THINK BIG!" Such a motto can only appear in capital letters followed by an exclamation point. It is a necessary grammatical construction for such a theme. We got a book of inspirational quotes, which I appreciated as I have collected quotes as a hobby for over ten years. After the intro speeches we had a talk by the CFO/ Sr. VP for the Gap Brand, a 1988 Georgetown MBA grad. He had very useful, well articulated advice.

We then had a brief presentation by the head of facilities planning about the new building, which will be ready in January 2009. Supposedly.

After lunch, which was a bit food coma inducing, we spent the entire rest of the afternoon on integrity and professionalism. We broke into small groups and discussed various short ethics/ career development case scenarios. Most of the discussion was thoughtful and interesting, but a few people simply seemed to miss the point. Granted this was an academic exercise, so people were likely drawn more to extreme responses than they hopefully would if the situation actually presented itself. In many of the groups some individuals got caught up in debating the difference between a legal contract and just giving your word in a reneging your job offer acceptance scenario. The point of the exercise (apparently hammered home in one of the 4 groups by a careers rep) was that going back on your job acceptance will most likely hurt your peers and those who come after you at your b school no matter what your circumstance is. The case also covered several important points on handling career matters professionally.
After a few related integrity presentations and slides we finished the day and had a wine and cheese reception on the roof of the car barn.

The only things I did not enjoy about today were lunch, which was way too heavy, and the subtle yet present Harvard complex. Several of the second years during the opening presentations and a professor on the curriculum panel mentioned Georgetown's rankings and how we as individual students are supposed to compete with the top ten school students. It was not focused upon, but provided an unwelcome distraction from what Georgetown offers and what exciting things OUR program does. The Dean, from what I recall of all the speeches, did not make mention of any other schools by name. This is an excellent little example of his extreme professionalism and focus on Georgetown, which is an inspiring thing to witness in your school's leader. I was also disappointed when the statistics for our class were posted and women only make up less than a third of the class.

We do have about a third international students from 33 different countries. I am continually excited about the upcoming year and the people in my class. There is a such a diversity of international experience which I hope will increase the diversity of opinion and contributions in the classroom. I better get some sleep so I can "think big" tomorrow!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Accounting: bleh

I just got back from my first accounting test. I think I passed it, which is all that was required this time around. Yesterday the program hosted a back to school welcome party complete with a food spread that brought us all back to the elementary school days- sloppy joes, chicken nuggets, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and cookies. Very cute. A critical difference from school days of old was that the drinks selection featured cold beer instead of cold milk. The admissions/ student services also wisely scheduled the event at 4 pm, as the entire class had the accounting pre-test today.
Apparently about 150 members of the incoming class are attending stats camp. ($500 extra) I am not one of them. Last night people were bemoaning how they spent about an hour going around the entire room having everyone say their name. Being MBA students many calculated out how much the introduction hour cost them and discussed it with classmates. Estimate: $41.67.

A quite American method of meeting people is to have brief conversations in which we search for sometimes shallow commonalities, chat for a little, then move onto another conversation. International students I have spoken to find this a distinctly American and sometimes overwhelming characteristic of American university life.

Now that the accounting test is over I can start studying my statistics textbook. Yeah! (Note the dripping sarcasm...)

I love air conditioning

Air conditioning.
Lovely bursts of icy air.
D.C. heat loses.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Geography

I enjoy my sitemeter as a method of seeing where in the world my readers are located. Today I noticed I had a georgetown.edu ISP on my list of visitors and one in the Cayman Islands. The Cayman Islands sound nice, except for the fact that it's hurricane season. Undergrads have not yet arrived on campus so the georgetown.edu must be a grad student, faculty or staff. Hmm...

Cultural differences

I was out to dinner with the bf's family the other night and I happened to glance across the restaurant just in time to see a woman throw a glass of water in a man's face, pause, then pick up her other (alcoholic looking) drink and throw that in his face as well. No one in the restaurant, including the people at the two tables closest who definitely observed the incident, reacted. Everyone kept eating and drinking, choosing to be oblivious to what was going on around them. Similarly, I was at a bar (fairly nice one) when two men started fighting on the floor. Everyone briefly glanced at them, then turned around and continued to dance. The bouncers ejected the fighters, but everyone just kept dancing through the whole scene.
These recent experiences stand out to me because in India we could not get two seconds peace in public. Everyone in India is in each others' business all the time. At first I thought we were getting more attention because we were potential easy prey and the bystanders wanted to watch/ assist the touts in screwing us, but I quickly realized many people were just culturally nosy. It reminded me of one gigantic small town in the southern U.S. People swarmed around conversations and other minor incidents only involving fellow Indians as well. I eventually learned how to deal with the inevitable crowd by raising my voice slightly, which seemed to disturb many of the rickshaw wallahs and other bystanders. Several looked to my boyfriend and said things along the lines of, tell her to be quiet, tell her I am giving the best price, tell her to get in the taxi. To which he politely smiled and replied, I'm sorry, we don't speak to women like that in the west. The bf found it highly entertaining that many of the service industry men could simply not cope with an assertive woman.

Cultural differences often pop up in unexpected circumstances and I think that international student orientations can be critical times to ensure newcomers to the U.S. (or from the U.S. at other schools) are properly integrated into every day life. I noticed on the Georgetown calendar that my international colleagues have arrived on campus and have also noticed international bloggers have begun to appear in the U.S. for their respective pre-term activities and apartment shopping. As I said, these programs are important to allow students to take a bit of time to adjust to a new country and to get a firm standing before classes start. When I did a visiting student's program in London my junior year we had a two hour information session and were sent into the wild. I thought, well, UK, no problem, they speak the same language, I can read signs, I'll be fine. And within a few weeks, I was. However, information on the banking system, where to buy pots and pans, groceries, how much I should be paying for a pint, were all lacking from my orientation experience. U.S. undergraduate institutions and business schools seem to do a lot better in preparing international students for every day life in addition to coursework.
I hope my international classmates are enjoying the July/ August DC weather!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Applying Round 1

Today, Clear Admit posted a succinct entry on round 1 planning advice, all of which I followed last year. One thing that is implied, but not explicitly mentioned in this article, is that turning in eight round 1 application is probably not a good idea.
Almost exactly a year ago I made the interesting decision to apply to all my potential schools in round 1. At the time I know this was because I wanted to sort my finances and have a clear shot at financial aid as well as express a strong interest. The University of Cambridge, for example, requires Americans to apply for certain scholarships in October. Hindsight being 20/20 I can now say that this was a mistake. I thought by applying all in round 1 I would receive my results roughly at the same time and be able to make my decision with all the options laid out. However, this turned out not to be the case as some of the earlier deadline schools required a three week decision from me, which ended up being before the admission results were released from my later round 1 schools. At any rate I think I applied to an appropriate number of schools, but I could have spread out my applications a bit more to round 2. Then perhaps I could have avoided a few 3 and 4 am nights and a sick day from work.
Again, hindsight is 20/20 and it all turned out well in the end!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Pre-MBA homework

Once I departed the United States and had irregular and unreliable internet access Georgetown decided to give us all the summer homework assignments. Luckily I managed to squeeze in the easier career assignments in Jaipur, and got a start on the math assignments.

Georgetown (McDonough) as well as American (Kogod), Arizona (Eller), Arizona State (Carey), Ashridge, Aston, Auburn, Azusa Pacific, Babson (Olin), Bentley (McCallum), Boston College (Carroll), Bridgeport, UC Berkeley (Haas), UC Irvine, UCLA (Anderson), Cal Lutheran, Canterbury (NZ), Carnegie Mellon (Tepper), Chicago, Colorado State, Columbia, Cornell (Johnson), Dalhousie, Dartmouth (Tuck), DePaul (Kellstadt), Duke (Fuqua), Edinburgh, Emory (Goizueta), Florida (Warrington), George Washington, Georgia Tech, Hartford (Barney), Harvard, Hawaii (Schidler), HEC Paris, IMD, Indiana (Kelley), INSEAD, Johns Hopkins (Carey), London (LBS), Loyola, Maryland, Michigan (Ross), MIT (Sloan), Mississippi State, Monash, Morgan State, UNC Chapel Hill (Kenan-Flagler), NC State, Northwestern (Kellogg), Notre Dame (Mendoza), NYU (Stern), Oregon Executive, Oxford (Said), Penn (Wharton), Penn State (Smeal), Pepperdine (Graziado), Phoenix, Rice (Jones), Rochester (Simon), St. Louis (Cook), Saint Mary, Santa Clara, SDA Bocconi Milan, Southern Methodist (Cox), Stanford, Strayer, SUNY Empire State, Temple (Fox), UT Austin (McCombs), UT Dallas, Thunderbird, Toronto, Vanderbilt (Owen), Virginia (Darden), Wake Forest, Wales, Warsaw, Warwick, Washington (Olin), Webster, Widener, William and Mary (Mason), Wisconsin Madison, World Trade, and Yale) according to the website use MBA Math.
Georgetown requires incoming students to complete the statistics and finance modules, and score 75% or above on the post-lesson test. We are also encouraged to use the other resources in the program. In addition, we are required to study the first two chapters in our accounting text and first five chapters of the statistics book.
All this work is making me quite happy I quit my job as early as I did. Last summer I was coping with a promotion and longer hours at work while studying for the GMAT and other application prep. This summer I can at enjoy most of my days before tackling the homework.
Time to get back to work. I need to recall the years of statistics that have been hiding in the recesses of my brain in the next few weeks. Good luck to everyone else with their prep work!

Out of India and back to studying

I arrived in bf's small country on Friday and returned to my usual joys of eating cow and salad, driving in German cars, and reliable high speed internet.

The last night in India we decided to splurge and stayed at a five star hotel
At the end of the day I prefer privacy to having my slippers laid out for me every night. But it was nice to try the lifestyle.

After my last post we went up to the mountains, specifically the state of Himachal Pradesh. starting in this horrible touristy town called Shimla. The views were spectacular and it was a good place to acclimatize. Every one in town was on holiday but there isn't anything to do in town except visit the monkey temple. After we did that we joined all the Indian tourists walking up and down the mall staring at each other. Cultural practices prohibit females and males from showing affection in public. However, men hold hands and hug and show affection all the time in public, which I found rather annoying. We left Shimla as quickly as possible and moved onto McLeod Ganj. After McLeod Ganj we went to Manali to arrange a trek, which we managed in a day and departed after a very brief stay. Manali was almost as bad as Shimla, although we did not venture to Old Manali which was supposed to be the more laid back area of town.

We did a five day trek over the Hampta Pass, with a full staff carrying our belongings, cooking for us and generally attending to our needs. I have never camped with so much attention before. I am fully capable of setting up my own tent, cooking by fire or small stove and otherwise dealing with camping life, but as I am not capable of carrying my large backpack over a mountain pass it was better to sign up for the full service deal. We did meet two Americans who hired one porter and were doing everything themselves. They were from Colorado and looked very hardy and we did meet them on the other side so they did come over successfully, although a few slides down glaciers caused the loss of some smaller equipment. We arrived at this roadside dhaba stop with ten minutes to spare to catch the bus to Kaza.
We completed a circle around Himachal Pradesh through Tabo, Nako and Rekong Peo before descending back down to Delhi to do souvenir shopping before flying out. All in all it was a fantastic trip, filled with interesting places, diverse people, sights and sounds. A bit too much hassle to entice me to ever live there, but enough spots to make me want to visit again.

Some more highlights:
An Indian Oil truck that got stuck when trying to cross a washed out road.
Chandigarh rock garden
Goan beach (Palolem)
And of course, the Taj Mahal
It's now time to get back to work and start on the rest of my MBA prep! I'll discuss that in a separate entry for organization purposes.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

When in Rome...(or India)

I just left McLeod Ganj, or as I have been calling it to family, friends, and other backpackers... Dalailamaland. Home to the Tibetan government in exile and a large population of refugees, Dharamsala and McLeod Ganj are little pockets of Tibetan culture in India. It is to the credit of India as a nation and a reflection of the strength of India's democracy and freedom of religion that this community can exist and thrive. Although I attended a yoga class, I do not see myself suddenly becoming interested in taking up Buddhist philosophy. However, I will say that these monks are definitely onto something- they are all so happy!

Before McLeod Ganj I have resisted the temptation to go vegetarian while traveling mainly because I love meat. I love Indian food with meat. I find nothing in this world tastier than a big juicy steak. I own this shirt. You get the picture. However, I am now on meatless day 5. I'm not quite sure what to think really. I haven't noticed a change in energy levels or overall well being and I fully intend to have a reindeer steak shortly after arriving in Finland, but Tibetan vegetarian food was just so tasty I think I am going to stick to eating momos and veg Italian food for as long as possible before descending from the mountains. I suppose the vegetarianism in town did rub off a bit. Yum.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Back to Delhi

After a whirlwind trip and travel from Goa to Mumbai to Jaipur to Agra, (yes the Taj is gorgeous) we came back to Delhi to regroup and reclaim our stomachs before heading up to the mountains. Day one we basically crashed although I did venture through the bazaar by our cheapo hotel without being tempted to purchase anything. Many hawkers post "fixed price" signs in this particular bazaar at the heart of backpacker hotel heaven. Fixed prices at an open market quickly makes me lose interest and I ambled across the street to the train station where I was physically blocked from entering by three different touts who attempted to direct me to the "official tourist office" (i.e. their commission paying office) across the street. I am not a fan of the touts who attempt to physically intimidate me so I chose to simply say ahh, thank you, turn around and walk 10 feet to one side of them and try again. On the third attempt I managed to dodge the touts and actually enter the station and find the tourist booking office. Unfortunately I left a critical piece of info at the hotel so it was all for naught and I had to return the next morning. The phrase "you're looking for the tourist office?!" has become a joke of the trip. We have only ever looked for the tourist office once, in Delhi, and we had a map.

Yesterday was consumed by taking care of business- train tickets purchase, doctor's visit, nice Italian lunch, shopping at the Oxford bookstore, starting on the assigned math prep. I may have my accounting text ordered to Delhi so that I can study in Finland. The bookstore was as close to American style Borders and Barnes and Nobles as you can get. I love bookstores, and can spend hours in them. A chef for Park restaurant was doing a mango demonstration- showing recipe development and taking questions about different varieties and ingredients that complement mangos. I had no idea India produced so many different varieties. I ended up being one of the audience members interviewed by several camera crews for who-knows-what specialty programs about my thoughts on mangos. Interviewing for business school was a piece of cake compared to coming up with coherent feelings about mangos. I do like mangos though... ironically I haven't seen any mangos in fruit stands.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Globalization... or How I Learned to Love McDonalds

One of the things that has made our lives slightly easier in India is the presence of Citibank and other major banks. With trustworthy, easy to use ATMs and clearly posted exchange rates our finances have gone quite smoothly thus far.

Speaking of globalization, after flirting with food poisoning for the second time in a week the bf decided it was time to add another country to his growing global list of places where he has eaten at McDonalds. Now, given the fact that Hindus consider cows holy and many MANY Indians are Hindu, there is no cow based meat on the McDonalds (or any Indian) restaurant menu. McDonalds carries a lot of varieties of chicken and their flagship sandwich in India seems to be something called the Chicken McGrill. Now, the lack of the BigMac sandwich brought to mind one of my favorite things published by the Economist- the BigMac index. The BigMac index is an interesting look at purchasing power parity. For example, we purchased two medium sized chicken mcgrill combo meals (smaller than the US medium sized meals but similarly including a soft drink and fries for a total of 170 rupees. (Approximately $4.25) Last time I checked- at the bus station in Boston a similar purchase would cost between $10-12. The Economist has to ignore India in the index as these stores do not sell the BigMac but it still makes for an interesting read about the appropriate valuation of currencies and the "basket of goods" used by governments to determine inflation and cpi.

Another interesting note is the global advertising campaign recently launched by Reebok. I noticed the amusing ads aimed at people interested in keeping fit but not competitively sporty with the slogan "Run Easy." The slogan began with "Run at the speed of the Big Dig. Run Easy." The Big Dig in Boston is a monster construction project moving a highway underground and building park land over it that has been going on for 10 years or something like that. It's slow and is immediately identified as being slow by any local resident. In India as we were taking in the sights and smells from an autorickshaw I noticed the local version of the "Reebok ad- Run at the the spped of chat. Run Easy." From what I recall chat is some sort of relaxation food(?) At any rate, due to the global nature of Reebok's ad campaign, I know chat is something that should cause me to assume it is relaxing or slow. This campaign reminded me of HSBC's ad campaign that started around 2002 (?) focusing on local knowledge and cultural differences- such as the different meanings of the color red in different countries. A TV ad in 2004 showed an American golfer getting a hole in one- which would require nothing more than a round of drinks from the golfer in the US, but required him to buy his Japanese companions expensive gifts. The whole "think global, act local" mantra seems pervasive in the marketing culture- I can't wait for my marketing courses!

I didn't check my email for a week and Georgetown gave me three assignments. Ah well. I get on an overnight train up to Jaipur tonight, then into the hills.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Oh right, MBA stuff

The only bad thing about traveling all summer is the pre-school activities I will be missing. I am missing the Forte Fellows event in a few weeks, which is disappointing but I would not have changed my India plans for it even if I had known earlier. I am also missing the career workshop, the first assignment from Georgetown. The email I received only listed workshops in the US. I wonder if I am on the domestic mailing list and if there are any international workshops... at any rate I can complete it online but it won't be the same as meeting classmates! I tried to pack in as many Gtown events as possible before I left the U.S. so I know I will recognize a few faces when I start. I'm pretty sure I took care of my loans, email accounts, etc. as well, although I received mail at my address in Boston up to the day before I left. Ah well. I have a very responsible law student sublettor who will hopefully keep my mail for me as promised.
One of my Boston friends took the GMAT the week I packed up which gave me flashbacks to last summer and reminded me that the great circle of life that is the application season is now back to the beginning. My conversations with her and another friend is part of what led me to start this blog about six months ago so I hope that she has a successful application season as I did! Best wishes to everyone out there taking the GMAT, writing essays, etc. Keep calm, stay cool, and you'll do fine.

Goa

The off season in Goa gets two thumbs up from this backpacker. The monsoon has not hit Goa yet so it's muggy (I grew up around DC, so that's par for the course) and it rains a little bit every day but not enough to even cause us to stray from a walk on the beach. It has been consistently in the lower 90s which was a relief after roasting in Delhi.
There is a lot of hedging of relgious bets in this area of the country with Jesus and Mary iconography posted next to various Hindu gods many places, but particularly the busses. I am woefully ignorant of the Hindu worship system and god set which makes the variety of temples a bit confusing but fascinating nonetheless. The capital of Goa- Panaji- is pretty laid back but every one seems to be rushing around to get somewhere. Where exactly I have not discerned. The influence of Portugal still hangs around Goa like the humidity. Vaguely oppressive although you can't quite put a finger on it. The archives in the capital are crumbling but the Indian government will not give enough money to restore and preserve them. However, nor will the government (for the obvious political reasons) accept any funds from Portugese foundations.
Most of the western tourists currently in Panaji all ate at the same restaurant last night. It's recommended in Lonely Planet. Amusingly these two British kids (they're 18 which made me feel old) who were also at the same bar as us two nights ago at Baga- a beach area northwest of the capital- were eating at the restaurant. They are traveling on the pound which gives them a bit more luxury than the dollar and euro travelers but everything is so cheap here it's hard to blow even our conservative budget.
One of the local pastimes of the wealthier set (judging from the top end Nokias they own) is collecting currency and stamps. Everywhere we have been in Goa there has been some kid or teen approach us and ask us where we're from and if they can have "some of your currency" all in one breath. My bf is from a smaller nation that is much more exciting than my Americaness so he has attracted much more interest and requests. We had one guy give us a full address, phone numbers and invite us to his house yesterday.
With the caste riots in Rajastan still happening we have delayed Agra and the Taj until the end of the trip in hopes that things will settle down in the next 6 weeks. Most of the coverage on Rajastan is on the Hindi language channels and local newspapers. BBC world has been a great link to the western world to follow things like the G8 summit. Instead of Jaipur we are headed a bit more to the east from Mumbai towards the Ajanta caves. From there we'll see how much heat we are willing to take before hightailing it up to Nepal.
I am taking a break from Indian food for a few days so that I will be able to one day consume chicken tikka masala again. Right now it is giving me nightmares. Or maybe that's just the malaria pills talking.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Give me an I!

For India! I am typing along on the comp at the guest house we're staying at in Delhi. It's 6 am. I can't quite recall the last time I saw 6 am willingly but that's what a combo of jet lag and initiative to finish touristy things before the temp hits 105 does for you. We started out near the US Embassy yesterday to take care of some business and I took a great photo of the ridiculous line forming for U.S. visas. Once I get to a place where I can hook up my camera I will post the photo. We saw the Red Fort which was full of Indian tourists and three other white people- a dutch woman and two north American women. I had my photo surreptitiously taken by two men who then not so sneakily stood by me and took more photos. That was before we even entered the red fort. Then had my hand shaken by all the women and girls in this one family. I'm not sure what part of the country they were from but they ignored the bf entirely and were dressed to the hilt with jewelry, bangles, earrings, etc.
The poverty is pervasive, but I was expecting it and was not as shocked as I hadexpected to be. What is heart breaking is the street children. You have to ignore them but I know it will continue to bother me throughout the trip.
The goal of today is to hit at least one muslim site and not get totally screwed by autorickshaw drivers like we were yesterday. Tomorrow we fly to Goa (yes, I know it's the monsoon season but I still want to see the cities) and then Jaipur and Agra- assuming things have calmed down ion Jaipur. Otherwise just Agra. Breakfast time- so far no Delhi belly. Let's see how long this lasts...

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Forté Fellow

Dear Hairtwirler,

Congratulations! Upon recommendation of the Scholarship Committee of the McDonough School of Business, we have reviewed the list of women who have received merit-based scholarships. We are happy to notify you that you have been named as a Forté Fellow! The Georgetown MBA Full-Time Program participates in the Forté Foundation, a consortium of major corporations, top business schools, and influential nonprofit organizations that work to educate and direct talented women toward leadership roles in business...


I first learned about the Forté Foundation last fall when I was googling for women MBA networks. I attended an event in Boston in the fall, before which I had a voluntary interview with the Georgetown admission rep. They are a growing network offering career support, networking and outreach to woman interested in business. This is a very exciting opportunity. Just when I was feeling a bit complacent about starting school (the India trip is edging out b school as more exciting at this moment) I received this email!

So even for Americans dealing with financial aid is a pain in the rear. Everything with Georgetown is set, but trying to figure out the details for my previous loans is annoying. Finding basic information is easy, but once you want to get into any type of specifics (definitions of terms, dates of deferrals, etc.) it becomes a maze. A Georgetown rep should be calling me this morning to discuss my questions, hopefully all will be cleared up.

T-minus thirteen days until India! Have I started packing- no!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Boston nostalgia

I am in the midst of my last full week of work. My roommate asked me if I was having any "last meals" or other such events in Boston this week. I had not really considered this and decided I don't intend to be sappy and visit the last sites, etc. I have hit a few favorite spots in the past month but for the most part, I will really miss the people, not the places. A few things I enjoy and will possibly miss:

Cambridge 1 in Harvard Square, Upper Crust in Beacon Hill and Pizzeria Regina in the North Enf: delicious pizza.

The crazy Chinese man who sits a park bench from spring through fall saying hello to everyone, clapping when you respond and sometimes throwing in a "happy today!"

Walking to work.

My wine budget (no salary = no wine) and having three bountiful stores around the various corners of my apartment.

Newbury Street- for people watching.

The Common and the Gardens.

Having an airport 30 minutes from my front door.


As a related list here are my favorite Boston quirks:

There are at least five Beacon Streets in and around Boston. None of them connect.
The silver line goes underground in a one lane tunnel. But it's not a subway, it's a bus.
It is almost impossible to get an apartment in Beacon Hill with straight floors.
The accent of the natives.
Hollywood inspirations like The Departed and Boston Legal.
Weatherman Al Kaprielian.
Did I mention the accent?

Monday, May 14, 2007

Stamped, sealed and ready to go

No, I'm not talking about Georgetown. Besides turning in my deposit I have done approximately nothing to prepare myself for the upcoming year. That is part of the reason I'm going to math camp. I really don't want to spend all summer reading accounting and statistics books. Which leads me to what I AM doing this summer- my passport came back with my Indian visa this weekend! After this summer my passport will officially have no blank pages left and a paltry three blank spaces for stamps. I haven't even traveled that much, but the U.S. government is stingy with passport pages so I'll have to get a new one sometime in the upcoming year- a full four years before the thing expires.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Visas, immigration, and the CIS: Part 1

Hello all,
Before you dive into my immigration guide please be aware that I AM NOT AN ATTORNEY. I am not qualified to give legal advice and nothing I say can be construed to be legal advice. Any examples I give on this page are fictionalized accounts of work experiences. The details have been changed to protect the innocent (Law & Order style.)

That said...

The F-1 visa
Most international students will obtain an F-1 visa to study in the United States. This is a strict nonimmigrant category. This means that you have to promise to return to your home country and should have no intent other than to do so after you complete your degree. In the alternative you must convince the consular official of the aforementioned nonimmigrant intent even if you want to get an H-1B, marry an American and live happily ever after.
What you need:
- I-20 issued by your university
- Proof of ability to pay
- All the other stuff (see the DOS website)
In order to obtain the I-20 you have to prove to your university that you can pay their estimation of tuition and living costs. Even if you swear you will only eat cereal for two years the school will require that you show you can pay for their outlined budget. Most students show proof of ability to pay through personal savings, loans, family funds and scholarships. For many international students family funds form and important part of this equation. I recommend your supporting relatives transfer money into an account in your name, or other similar action to demonstrate support. A letter of support only goes so far, particularly if it is from a non-parent relative. Once you are issued the I-20 you have to prove ability to pay all over again to the consular official. See the above linked website for helpful tips on what to bring to the interview (income tax forms, bank statements, etc.) The government is big on original documents.

There are several interrelated organizations that you will deal with in your quest to come to the United States to earn an MBA. Here is a brief run down.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
Overarching cabinet level (it has a secretary that advises the president) organization that fights terrorism, protects our borders, etc. Citizenship and Immigration Services is the division of Homeland Security that handles immigration. It was formerly known as the INS.
Other DHS agencies include:

ICE: The people who track down illegal immigrants, illegal drugs, and handle other customs and immigration enforcement issues. They come up with clever phrases like "Operation Return to Sender." Confusing priorities. If George Bush is the Decider, ICE is The Enforcer.

CBP: The people who check your papers when you enter the U.S., amongst other duties. The frontline of security, immigration, and incompetence.

SEVIS: This is the wonderful little system used by universities to transmit information to the government for the purpose of tracking international students. This organization is under the control of ICE. Ice, ice baby.

Department of State: (DOS) The state department oversees and manages the U.S. consular posts. This department oversees the issuance of visas. Visa forms that start with "DS" are department of state forms and deal with some sort of nonimmigrant or immigrant visa application.

MYTH: All schools can sponsor foreign students.
FACT: Most schools can sponsor foreign students. Specifically, most real schools. I had a client one time who paid $400 for a bachelor's degree from a degree shop based in someone's basement in Minnesota as far as my internet research told me.
There's this thing called SEVIS. In the age of big brother, SEVIS is the U.S. government's way of tracking foreign students. Not all institutions of higher education can sponsor foreign students but it seems that way from the perspective of an American. I have seen many examples of students coming to the U.S. to take English courses and then moving onto a degree granting program.

MYTH: "The CIS is out to get me!"
FACT: The CIS is out to get EVERYBODY.
The CIS and the DOS do not discriminate based on anything. I once got a request for more evidence (RFE) on an immigrant petition for a nun. That's right, a nun. The government wanted a percentage breakdown of the nun's day. Our response went something like this: "30% in prayer. 10% social work with poor and homeless in the community. 15% cleaning the church. 10% cooking for fellow nuns and the poor." etc. I hope the RFE was randomly generated (many are) otherwise whomever sent that is going straight to hell. Probably either the sixth or the eighth circle.

MYTH: If I have been refused a visa I cannot reapply.
FACT: You can reapply as much as you want if your visa denial was not based on something that would make you inadmissible to the United States (having a communicable disease, practicing polygamy, committing a crime involving moral turpitude, etc.) Some of the inadmissibility issues can be fixed or waived.

MYTH: Money
FACT: Money is kind of a myth to me. I don't really have any and given my career goals in the non-profit sector I never will. The State Department requires that you prove financial ability to support yourself in the United States during your studies. Each school should require that you show ability to pay their defined tuition and other estimated costs. No matter what you actually budget for your education, you must show the university and the DOS for your visa interview that you have the ability to pay the full amount through a combination of savings, school based aid, outside grants, loans, and family sponsorship.

My next post will be about the elusive H-1B and staying in the United States after you graduate. I will also touch on how having a U.S. MBA can help you work in the UK.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Holy crap

The bf reminded me that yesterday was the three week mark until we leave for India. Hopefully my passport is in the mail back to me complete with a visa! Unlike the U.S. visa process where unless you are quite old or quite young you have to appear in person even for a tourist visa, I merely popped my passport in the mail with what proved to be yet another horrible passport photo of myself, the application and fee, and my passport is supposed to return to me in the mail in approximately one week. I haven't packed, shopped, or really done much for the trip except buy Best of all... only eleven more days of work!!

Oh yeah... still working on that immigration post. I've been working in the field for 3 years, I have a lot to say. :)

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

My list

My initial list of schools included UC Berkeley, Harvard and Columbia which I eventually dropped for one reason or another. UC Berkeley offers international consulting trips and other related opportunities but you are required to apply for the opportunities. I took a hard look at the application fee for Harvard, the likelihood I would be accepted and the likelihood I would attend if accepted and decided it wasn't worth the time or effort. As to Columbia I was less than impressed when the school sent a male alum to the Forte Foundation event in Boston ill-prepared and well, male!

In developing my final application list and making my decision the important factors were program offerings, specifically international business and/ or non-profit focuses, location, total cost and post-MBA employment opportunities.

Cambridge
This is a highly ranked program, but still comes in second in the UK. Although limiting from my perspective as a one year program, the MBA has two practical consulting projects/ internships integrated into the curriculum. The international consulting project combined with the international composition of the student body attracted me most to this program.
+ : international focuses, student body, global name recognition of larger university, location in the UK
- : 1 year, b school not known in U.S., older class, exchange rate would make it a ridiculously expensive year
End of story: the non-fit factor eventually moved me to accept Georgetown over Cambridge. This program was not a good match for me and I applied partially for personal reasons.

IESE
I was really excited about the possibility of studying in a dual language MBA program. The IESE program is a two year U.S. style MBA program top ranked globally but with a smaller class size compared with similar U.S. schools.
+ : international experience, foothold into European job market, Barcelona, case study method, very American friendly program.
- : name recognition in US not very strong though increasing, exchange rate makes it a "very expensive language class" to quote one of my bosses.

UCLA
I applied to UCLA to give myself a west coast option and to throw in a wild card to see how my profile would be accepted at a slightly larger program with a less specialized program. I was attracted to the international focus and exchange opportunities afforded to students. The international focus looked east to Asia, which is of course an important outlook in today's economy [insert boring fact about China's growth here.]
+ : west coast school, international focus
- : state school, comparatively limited resources

Yale
The facilities, ivy prestige combined with a small class size and non-profit focus drew me to this program. When I interviewed I spent a long day around the b school facility with students and touring the rest of campus and the town. I was impressed by the size and scope of the facilities
+ : Ivy. Non-profit focus. Semi-proximity to NYC. Low cost of living.
- : New Haven. It sucks.

Maryland
I was interested in this program mostly due to its proximity to DC. It was more of a back up school but with enough general positives to induce me to apply.
+ : proximity to DC, great facilities
- : state school, not a regional hegemony for my interests (but a top draw for tech firms in DC)

Notre Dame
I was courted by Notre Dame and applied fee free.
+ : Ethics (in Catholic form), small program
- : South Bend is in the middle of nowhere, the b school is a bit too small and cannot compete for recruiters with nearby Kellogg and UChicago

Georgetown
I am interested in microfinance so the international focus with a fairly strong finance program seemed like a good fit.
+ : international focus, including Global Integrative, location in DC
- : lower ranked than many other cities top programs

LBS
I am in love with London. LBS was the only consistently top ten program I applied to due to it's smaller class size, international student body and excellent reputation with recruiters.
+ : London, great program reputation, international student body, top ranked
- : money, the dollar/pound exchange rate is absurd and not in my favor

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

flashback

An article in my Onion weekly dispatch gave me a flashback to my interview with the Cambridge dean. :-)

In other news, I am currently working on obtaining travel insurance and a visa for my India trip. My fellow bloggers, many of whom are from India, have started writing about their visa process. I hope to publish soon on that topic as well as a bit on what happens after you graduate. Poking through the business week forum yesterday (yeah, yeah, I know I swore I never go on that thing but a link to info on Georgetown hooked me) I noticed a LOT of confusion about H-1B visas. I am holding firm to my personal policy of not posting on the forum, but I will post what I hope to be helpful immigration advice here, where I can moderate comments!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Clear Admit Best of Blogging

Woo hoo! I earned a respectable 7th place in this year's BOB contest. Congrats to my fellow bloggers and thanks to those who voted for me. I must say, I was a bit bemused when I saw that Graeme Harper of LBS was one of the guest judges. Mr. Harper who stated at a Boston event "we reject plenty of people with 740 on the GMAT." Yes, that turned out to be me. I'm having a bit of trouble with the HTML- trying to turn the BOB icon into a link. I can't seem to access the full HMTL for the blog. Help?

Monday, April 23, 2007

post-Georgetown admitted students weekend


It can be said that I am officially at the alpha stage of my b school experience. I took this photo during the campus tour portion of Georgetown's admitted students weekend. [Side note- Georgetown, being a Jesuit institution is full of Catholic and Christian symbols. I'm comfortable with this but outside influences on your chosen school are definitely something to research, whether it's Catholicism or state government budget cuts.] My Team 3 (which included another Boston area admit!) took the prize of Georgetown hats for the most creative collection of photos. I credit my contribution to the team to being a camp counselor for three summers. That can be categorized under "things I took off my resume but become useful in random situations." Friday included a welcome speech, a faculty panel, a mock class, a campus tour, lunch with faculty, current students and staff, a careers talk, a student presentation (oh I wish there were you tube clips of that hilarity,) dinner with a group of fellow prospectives and current students, then a social at a private club on M Street. It was exhausting. I think I semi-randomly ended up spending most of my time with the few international students that made it to the open house. At one point I was talking to my Icelandic classmate about paintball in Iceland while my bf was advising a Japanese couple on the Chinatown bus services along the east coast. I met a lot of really cool and interesting people and had a few inevitable encounters where the conversation died after 45 seconds. Overall I'm excited about my classmates and how their experiences will contribute to a positive classroom experience.

In related news I have had the sitemeter on my blog for about a month now. A "Georgetown and bars and MBA" google search is officially my favorite referral to my site.

I skipped the Saturday activities in favor of sleeping in and relaxing. The rest of my weekend was filled with family, sun, daiquiris and good food such as the delicious Maryland crab cake I had for lunch yesterday.
I am begrudgingly back at work today. It is 85 degrees and sunny outside. As 5:30 tolls I will be sprinting out the door!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Georgetown admitted students weekend

I am attending the Georgetown admitted students weekend (well, admits day really) down in DC. It looks to be a loooong day, starting at 8:30 am and going straight through until whenever I catch the metro back to Virginia. Too bad the metro stops running so early! Or maybe that's a good thing... Either way it should be fun.

However, this morning I was surprised to find a case study for the mock class sitting in my inbox! Ack! I haven't done homework in years. I haven't done finance ever. This should be interesting.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Virginia Tech


I don't have much to say except it all keeps hitting way too close to home. I grew up in northern Virginia. There was the sniper a few years ago that was taking out people all over the DC area. Virginia Tech was the college of choice for many high school friends and classmates, luckily all of whom graduated at least several years ago. But then there are the younger siblings, the cousins, the family friends. The best we can hope for in NOVA is that a death is three or four degrees removed instead of one or two. My thoughts, my prayers, are focused on home right now.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Let's start at the very beginning, A very good place to start

Last year I applied for master's degree programs in development studies. It was year two of my job and time to decide whether I was going to stay or try something different. I was pretty confident I wanted to work in international development or for a non-profit but I was unclear on how to get there. I half-heartedly applied to master's degree programs, was rejected, and when offered a promotion at work I decided to stay on another year. During this time I first examined the possibility of an MBA. I was lucky to have a colleague who had also whole-heartedly rejected law school and was studying for the GMAT. At a law firm professional advice regarding business school is scare, but I am lucky enough to have a few relatives who served as good resources. I familiarized myself with the GMAT, and formed a preliminary list of schools based on internet research. Then I made a spreadsheet. This spreadsheet evolved over the months, was put on google docs and shared so that my bosses, family and bf could access it, and included a lot of info including: location, deadline, application fee, interview date, tuition, average GMAT score, average GPA, years experience, class size, number of applicants, average age, % female, and % international.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

So it goes.

I was lucky enough to be at my college when Kurt Vonnegut spent a year there as a visiting writer/ lecturer. Vonnegut himself marveled at how long he lived given his chain smoking habit. He used to sit on the library stairs smoking cigarettes at 7 am. He gave a lecture and ended it by instructing everyone to ask a question of the person sitting behind you, and then walked off the stage. He was a fascinating human being and the American cultural landscape will suffer for the loss. So it goes.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Dear Boston:

Are you kidding me with this weather?? It's time to get warm!

Recently weather.com seems to be sponsored by golf. The sport in general. This reminds me of my recurring impulse to learn a corporate sport. I've decided on tennis, but have neither the equipment nor the club membership to make this a reasonable goal at the moment. I will wait until I have access to free courts in my parents' neighborhood this summer and see where it goes.

Since my younger brother has a sports event on Saturday April 21st, I am going to forgo the "extras" during the admitted students weekend for Georgetown. Friday should be interesting and I am looking forward to going out in Georgetown. Hopefully the weather in DC will be a bit better and the bars will open up. I have become accustomed and quite enjoy coming home from clubs and bars in NY and Boston without smelling like an ashtray. I haven't been to DC since the new smoking ban took effect. It should be a refreshing change!

Georgetown admits dinner

Last week I attended a dinner for the Boston area admitted students. Most of us had not sent in our checks yet but the forecast for ultimate attendance was positive. One of the common denominators was a love of travel and several people at the dinner started to plan a South America ski trip! Overall it was a great group of people and I am very excited to meet more classmates in April. I heard something about a photo scavenger hunt during the open house...

I met up with an old friend from London today who is now at the Kennedy School. We had an interesting conversation about HBS and the type of individual that program attracts. She said the atmosphere was very similar to the university in London we both attended where an elbowing your way up, hiding books, shallow mentality prevailed. There seems to be a lot of expensive partying and showmanship, at least among the set that my friend is acquainted with. I do not actually know anyone at HBS, but many individuals I know from the college and other grad schools at Harvard seem to have the same opinion of the b school students.

We also touched on the related subject of what I like to refer to as the "H bomb." My friend experienced a marked negative shift in attitude from friends and acquaintances of her youth by dropping the H bomb (Harvard) in her small hometown in a large European country. Internationally there is one school and only one school that is recognized by almost anyone. If someone can name a U.S. school, it's Harvard. That level of brand is arguable unmatched by any other ivy league university in the country.

That's all for now. Only 30 (ish) more days of work!

Friday, April 6, 2007

Gulp

The check is in the mail.

I'm going to Georgetown!

Sorry, boys.

Georgetown posted some great info on summer exploratory opportunities in NYC for matriculating women MBA students. I will be out of the country of course, but hopefully some of you will take advantage of these programs!

CREDIT SUISSE MBA EXPLORER PROGRAM -- July 11-12, 2007

The Credit Suisse MBA Explorer Program is a two-day educational outreach initiative for women who are entering business school in the fall of 2007. The program provides a unique opportunity for students who may not have investment banking or financial services experience to learn first-hand about the exciting world of Wall Street.

  • For women matriculating in Business School in the fall of 2007
  • 2 days in New York — expenses covered up to $250 by Credit Suisse
  • Program provides inside view of financial services including Investment Banking and Sales and Trading
  • Applications must be RECEIVED by Friday, May 11, 2007

You will get to meet new people and have a little fun. Please e-mail diversity.recruiting@credit-suisse.com for an application.

For more information:

http://campusrecruiting.credit-suisse.com/etc/medialib/campus_recruiting/mba_explorer.-Document-Single-DocumentFile.tmp/CM00352C_Flyers_MBA.pdf

MBA FORUM FOR WOMEN -- June 20-22, 2007

The MBA Forum for Women is a 3-day event presented by CDG Perspectives in partnership with top financial services companies, business schools and non-profit organizations. The Forum will bring together women enrolling in top business schools across the country, leaders from the financial services sector, and experts from non-profit organizations for an intimate introduction to and candid conversation about how women can think about launching and developing a successful career in the financial services arena. The Forum will offer:

  • A non-competitive, educational environment
  • Two days of educational and informative events
  • A "Day on Wall Street" offering exposure to firms and individuals working in the financial services industry

What to expect:

  • Case studies in consumer banking, sales and trading, investment/wealth management, investment banking
  • Panel discussions
  • Keynote addresses by leading executives
  • Opportunities to network with a cadre of peers entering the nation's top schools

For more information:

www.mbaforumforwomen.com

Clear Admit nomination woo hoo!

I am officially a best of blogging applicant nominee on the Clear Admit site. I really appreciate this site as a resource as it cuts through the crap, dispenses advice with a grain of salt, and provides pointed, clear information on everything from essays to the GMAT. Cheers to my fellow nominees!

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

MBA raps

I am going to stick with my amusing theme this week started by April Fool's Day. I have come across more than one amateur video effort by MBA students. Most involve some sort of rapping/ music. Along with other important details such as food served at events, I definitely think students' ability to produce funny videos for YouTube should be included in everyone's b school decision matrix.

Georgetown

Yale
This one is a fake promo for a Korean soap. This commentary makes it even better.

IESE

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

And they're gone (H-1Bs)

It appears that the fiscal year 2008 H-1B cap was reached on the 1st day. Geez... I posted an excerpt from the press release below.


USCIS REACHES FY 2008 H-1B CAP

WASHINGTON - U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that it has received enough H-1B petitions to meet the congressionally mandated cap for fiscal year 2008 (FY 2008). USCIS will use a random selection process (described below) for all cap-subject filings received on April 2, 2007 and April 3, 2007. USCIS will reject and return along with filing fee(s) all petitions received on those days that are not randomly selected.

Cap Procedures: In keeping with USCIS regulations, USCIS will use the following process to handle

H-1B petitions subject to the FY 2008 cap:

· USCIS has determined that as of April 2, 2007, it had received enough H-1B petitions to reach the FY 2008 H-1B cap and has set the "final receipt date" as April 2, 2007. [But the final receipt date is actually April 3rd. Thus the quotation marks. Why say April 2nd when you mean April 3rd?]

· In keeping with its regulations, USCIS will subject H-1B petitions received on the "final receipt date" and the following day to a computer-generated random selection process. [Again with the quotation marks. I get it. The CIS "totally" knows what its doing.]

· USCIS will reject all cap-subject H-1B petitions for FY 2008 received on or after Wednesday, April 4, 2007.

· USCIS will reject and return along with the filing fee(s) all cap-subject H-1B petitions that are not randomly selected. [Our clients will probably blame us if their cases are not randomly selected because that's what they seem to do.]

· Petitioners may re-submit petitions on April 1, 2008 when H-1B visas become available for FY 2009. This is the earliest date for which an employer may file a petition requesting FY 2009 H-1B employment with a start date of October 1, 2008. [Oh, how generous and forward looking of the government.]

As of late Monday afternoon (April 2), USCIS had received approximately 150,000 cap-subject H-1B petitions. [Holy crap!] USCIS must perform initial data entry for all filings received on April 2 and April 3 prior to conducting the random selection process. In light of the high volume of filings, USCIS will not be able to conduct the random selection for several weeks.

In order to fully utilize its data entry and initial processing capacity, USCIS may choose to distribute filings received at one service center to other service centers for data entry. In the event that USCIS exercises this option, petitioners may receive receipt notices or other correspondence from a service center other than the one to which the H-1B submission was sent. USCIS advices employers that there is no need for concern should that occur and that there is no need to contact USCIS. [Don't call us, we'll call you.]