The business of ballet

On Saturday mornings you’ll find the typical graduate student one of two places: on his or her way to the AU library to get a head start on their studies or more likely in bed until 10am recovering from their late night of “studying” the evening before. But I have a confession to make: I am not the typical graduate student. On Saturday at 8:30am I jump on the orange line metro over to Foggy Bottom to greet a class full of teenage girls in their leotard and tights ready to hit the ballet bar.  I am a full time MBA with a part time job.

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts aka my second home (behind Kogod of course!)

Now before I gripe too much, I must admit that I have a pretty great job for someone, such as myself,  who loves all things artistic. I spend my Wednesdays and Saturdays at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts managing a dance residency program for the Dance Theatre of Harlem. While my fellow classmates are meeting with their group mates or studying for the upcoming exam, I’m in Rehearsal Room 7 of the KC ushering 100 prima donnas to their ballet class and making sure our day runs smoothly.  While my job may be slightly more enjoyable that the average 9-5, I must admit that working during Kogod’s full time MBA program is much more to handle than I ever expected.

Me and our littlest ballerinas!

As soon as I had my fall schedule, I began my job search. I have always been the typical type A personality who enjoys being busy 23 out of the 24 hours in a day, so working during my schooling seemed like an obvious choice. When the position at the KC opened up it seemed as if it was destined for me: a part time position in one of the finest performing arts establishments in America. How could I not love this? But even in my first week of the program I started seeing how that “free time” has a way of filling up pretty fast. First it was peer learning groups, then it was extra class meetings in the financial lab, next it was Saturday review sessions and somewhere in between all of this I was supposed to meet with my group members. I began to feel like I was drowning and the more I began to drown the more I resented my choice to work. Now, don’t get me wrong, the feeling I get when I see that lovely paycheck in my mailbox every other week is nothing less than what a four year old feels on Christmas morning, however it comes at a price. I find myself wondering, if I had the extra 16 hours to study for Accounting would my A- have bumped up to an A? Who knows, but working during the full time program is definitely something to think long and hard about. Each person is different but in this program a part time job also means sacrifices and the need for plenty of time management. For me, I make it work, but there isn’t a Saturday I wake up, look back at my big comfy bed, and regret being a Type A overachiever.

Love, Like, and Marriage

As I mentioned in my previous post, my husband, Kevin, and I are attending Kogod School of Business together.  Many people thought we were crazy when after two years of marriage we told them we were BOTH quitting our jobs to go back to school.  Others had the do-it-while-you’re-young mentality.  Either way, we took the leap, packed our bags, and moved to the big city from Raleigh, North Carolina.

Me and Kevin in Europe this summer

Kevin’s grandparents are both in their 90’s and have been happily married for over 65 years.  We asked them before tying-the-knot what are the keys to lasting matrimony.  To my surprise their answer was not the typical, “never go to bed angry” or “communication.”  Although both suggestions are valid (cliché, but valid), they advised us to not take life too seriously and to make sure we actually LIKE the person we are marrying.  Not your typical wedding advice.

Let’s face it, one day I will develop every woman’s worst nightmare, kankles (paired with orthopedic sneakers of course).  Kevin will be bald and will probably be missing teeth. According to his grandparents, one day we will slow down, our kids will be grown, and it will just be the two of us, kankly and bald.  When that day comes, we need to enjoy one another’s company, we have to LIKE and love each other.

Loving all the LIKE happening in this photo

Often I think people believe that Kevin and I have this student-married life down pat, but the truth is, sometimes we are missing the LIKE during the semester.  Our MBA frequently bleeds into every aspect of our lives.  Arguments tend to resemble a case analysis, with every detail scrutinized.  We are quick to lose patience at home or even when doing homework, we incessantly worry about money, and frankly sometimes we are just too exhausted to make time for one another.  If there is one lesson we’ve learned in all our years together, it is that relationships require a lot of work.

This semester we’ve implemented Tuesday night date night.  We take time away from school, homework, meetings, or any other distraction to reconnect.  Tuesdays have officially become my favorite day of the week.

Even with the struggles of earning our degree together, I am fortunate to be experiencing a new city and meeting new people with my best friend.  And no matter where life takes us after we’ve received our MBA’s, we will still work together to make our relationship strong.  For better or worse, richer or poorer, (we are in our poorer stage now) we will love and LIKE each other until we are old, gray, and well, bald with orthopedic shoes.

Best seats in the house

On Wednesday, despite not having any classes to attend, I spent the entire day at school.  After a day full of meetings,  I found solace in stuffed mushrooms and coconut chicken at an alumni reception in the Palmer-Kettler Skybox at Bender Arena before AU’s game against Army. From the comfortable lounge, current Kogod students mingled with university alumni while basketball team members warmed up on the gymnasium floor.

Despite having the best seats in the house and a table full of goodies, the most memorable moment was definitely when my friend (and fellow contributor) Julie realized that “Clawed”, the AU eagle had joined us. “Ahhhhh! I love mascots!” My classmate, Vivek and I laughed at her but then quickly realized that mascots have a unique ability to make people smile.

Kristen, Julie, Clawed and Luis

We joked with Clawed about how hot he must get wearing his uniform and how difficult it would be to see out of his plastic eyes. Clawed would have none of that. Clawed was even kind enough to take time from his busy schedule of igniting school spirit to pose for pictures with his adoring fans (and we covered #136).

This interaction got me thinking more about mascots. I went to high school at Staten Island Tech where our mascot was Sammy the Seagull. Legend says that Sammy was added to the ballot as a joke and wound up winning. Truth is that Sammy (or privately known to me as my friend Suzanne) is one of my favorite memories from high school. As a student leader at the time, I helped organize student pep rallies and Sammy was by far the star.

While I am happy with most of the choices I’ve made, I do wish that I had taken the opportunity to don Sammy’s costume that time Suzanne offered in high school (though I’m note sure it would have fit). My new friend Clawed seemed convinced that he was actually an eagle and was unlikely to let me get the crowd fired up.

In support of KCCD

It’s a new semester, which means new classes… like the first-year career development class run by the Kogod Center for Career Development. I hear my fellow first-years groaning, and I know the reasons why. First, the class is from 9:55am to 12:25pm on our “free-morning” days. Second, it’s a class about the tedious, nitty-gritty of career development: resumes, cover letters, networking skills, interview skills, etc. And finally, it’s a zero-credit, pass/fail class. So all in all, I’d venture to say that some of you aren’t huge fans. This got me thinking: How useful is this class anyway? What is it really doing to develop my career? And what’s so great about KCCD anyway? I would venture to say that it is Kogod’s greatest asset, and that this class will give you the skills to present yourself professionally for the rest of your life.

The KCCD is what drew me to Kogod, and so far, I’m thrilled with my experience there. The graduate counseling staff is outstanding; Arlene Hill, Jen Murphy, and Jacques Domenge are your biggest champions, and are some of the nicest, well-connected people you’ll ever meet. Without their counsel, we really could not reach our final goal upon the completion of this degree.

In my opinion, the career development class is our biggest value-add at Kogod. Our school emphasizes perfecting your resume and cover letter, sharpening your interview skills, setting yourself apart from other candidates, and helping you to take a hard look at yourself and your goals to find that perfect career enough to hire and entire staff to assist you in doing so. But KCCD also understands how busy we are, so they’ve carved time out of our schedules to help us do so.

Though KCCD does an excellent job getting employers interested in its students, we can’t lose focus of building our own networks through old-fashioned networking. Jen and Arlene and Jacques might hold our hands through some things, but they’re not going to feed us, too. Having trouble getting your networking plan off the ground? New to DC or switching careers? Make an appointment and reap the benefits of what KCCD does best: career development.

Oh, and let’s forget that we’re all in this together. I couldn’t be happier to go to school with the friends I’ve made in both the first- and second-year classes. I know that I’m not going to be able to build a successful career without you all.

~

For those of you doing your research about whether or not you want to come to Kogod, here’s the skinny: The KCCD gives you an incredible support system to get where you want to go, but you need to be realistic about coming to school in Washington, DC. If you’re expecting to go into finance, CPG, or commercial consulting, you’ll need to get your networking shoes on and get to work. (Or go to school in New York or the Midwest.) KCCD has amazing contacts, but the companies who recruit are largely consulting firms looking to hire for their federal practices, for IT positions, or in the non-profit world. So if you’re keen on IBM, Deloitte, CSC, or any of the hundreds of small, development consultancies in the DC-area, you must come to Kogod. But if you want to do something else, consider this: How often do you have the opportunity to study in a global city, the capital of the United States of America, and have chances to network with some of the most important people and influential companies in the world?

Winter break is over

So we are back in school and come upon lots of mixed feelings. On one hand, I lament the end of my so expected winter break, and feel kinda lazy just by thinking the workload that awaits me. Plus, I spent the whole month back in Uruguay, with temperatures rounding the 90F and being too much spoiled by family and friends.

On the other hand, I’ve been nicely welcomed by the cold and beautiful DC. It’s motivating to feel my projects are closer to be accomplished. With only one semester left, I’ll hopefully graduate next May and complete my so longed MBA. But will this actually make me SO happy? Of course I want to graduate; in the end, this is the reason I came back to school. But I will miss Kogod’s warmth, the people, the campus, the student experience and most of all my friends!!

Everybody was happy to see each other again

School friends are probably the reason no.1 people are excited to be back. Nothing better than catching up after a long break and sharing emotions. First impression is shocking: your friends look stunning!! Good sleep, healthy food and relaxation return a glow to their face and they look refreshed. You know this has a short life with school starting again, but you feel good for them for the time being!

And then, everybody starts planning all types of hangouts and get-togethers… So far, my agenda is already packed with fun events organized by different groups. Yesterday I hung out with Jeren and Tugba, my two special best friends from school, at a cozy place near AU. This Saturday I’m meeting up with Nastya and Brigitte, my “international orientation” friends, for some good dinner and wine; we’ll miss Angeles, who is already back in Spain.

Fun get-together with Jeren and Tugba. And great food btw...

Two Saturdays from now, Bill and Lucia, mine and my husband’s unconditional friends, who we met through my husband’s part-time MBA program at Kogod, are having us over for a fun barbecue with friends.

And sometime soon, at a “secret” location and time my friends and I are throwing a surprise party for a friend, with a special purpose I cannot mention in case he/she is reading and realizes. So exciting!

In the end, life is all about balance… Prospective workload is balanced out by the excitement of starting my last semester, and I’m aware that I should enjoy the rest of the program as much as possible before it’s over.

Opening day

My alma mater crew.

First day of semester two. Stepping into Kogod yesterday gave me a familiar feeling. I’d get the same rush of anticipation and excitement every time I’d walk back into the field house to start spring training with my baseball teammates.

Really says something about the connections I’ve made so far and to the team spirit we all bring to the table. So glad to be back!

Back in the saddle again

I woke up Sunday morning to find my house in shambles, a giant Elmo costume (yes as in Sesame Street) on the floor, a cardboard crown in the living room, and a name tag stating “hello my name is D. Inferno.”  Some may find this a bit peculiar, but I see it as the marks of a successful theme party.

"Saint Elmo's Fire"

"Bootylicious" with her husband, the "Smooth Operator"

My husband and I are attending AU’s MBA program together and needed one last hoorah before our long winter break came to an end.  What better way to celebrate reuniting with our classmates than a theme party?  Everyone had to come dressed as a song title.

I’m not sure if my favorite part of the night was realizing that we had “Baby Got Back,” “Bootylicious,” and “Fat Bottom Girls” all represented (you can imagine the costumes), or when “Saint Elmo’s Fire” arrived (hence the giant Elmo costume), or the song revealing when I discovered I am classmates with a “Smooth Operator.”

The “Love Potion Number Nine” and “Poison” punches were a hit.  Everyone was cutting loose.   But seeing my fellow classmates, now friends, back in town (and taking a night away from studying, interviews and cases), that was the real treat.

And as for the nice long break, I guess “Another One Bites the Dust.”