Kogod women

Christina, Lavana, Sajal, and Silvia

This Thursday will mark one month until exams and the close of the semester.  As I look back on my first year at Kogod and anticipate my summer internship in corporate America, I instinctively reflect upon some of my most meaningful relationships I’ve developed — those with fellow Kogod women.

Although I have always surrounded myself with thoughtful women whom I cherish dearly, the relationship with Kogod women is different.  Business school is a time of self-improvement where students devote an unimaginable amount of energy to reach personal goals and maximize potential.  And, let’s face it, as business women, daughters, wives, and mothers we will encounter different life and work challenges than our male counterparts.

Out on the town during DCs Restaurant Week

For these reasons, we have an unspoken bond in knowing that we need one another to lend a listening ear, give the final push, or provide words of encouragement.  As highly educated, driven women reentering the professional world, relationships with older friends may change.  Differences in professional and personal lifestyles or no longer connecting through major life changes may sever ties with old friends.

But we Kogod women share similar goals in our pursuit of success.  Knowing this, we will support one another in our personal and professional lives now and into the future.

Kogod in a NY minute

One of the great benefits to attending graduate school on the East Coast is the proximity of so many great cities. Last week the students at Kogod enjoyed a much needed Spring Break. While I was unable to travel to any exotic locations, like some of my classmates (I’m looking at you, Amanda), I did go to New York to visit friends and family.

Having originally hailed from Staten Island, it was nice to be able to travel back north. I was very fortunate to have a colleague from Kogod join me. My friend Kristen decided last minute to come to New York for a fun filled 36 hours. Kristen, who grew up in Ohio, had only been to New York once and I was intent on showing her as much as we could fit in.

No rest for the weary

KO and LL in Times Square

Once we arrived in Manhattan, we pretty much didn’t stop moving until it was time for Kristen to leave. Lunch in midtown was an easy choice. Pizza was the only food group on Kristen’s mind. And with only a day and half in the Big Apple, we had to make sure we covered all our bases… pizza, bagels, coffee. After lunch with my college roommate, Nick, who was also gracious enough to be our host, we hurried downtown to do some shopping. Shopping in weekday Soho was rushed but luckily bountiful.

With about an hour to get back, get ready and get to a Times Square pub for networking, Kristen and I booked it to the subway to travel back up the East Side. The Networking for Professionals event at O’Brien’s was definitely worth the rush. We had the opportunity to speak with several experts in their given industries. Kristen (interested in finance) and I (interested in marketing) were the perfect tag-team. Our time at the event flew by but we both walked out with a better idea of the New York market and some great contacts.

With no time to spare, we rushed to Hell’s Kitchen to grab dinner with Nick. After dinner, we hopped in a cab to go back over toward where we were staying. Our classmate Kate and her mom were staying one block south of us while they had their own NY shopping adventure. We joined them for post theater drinks. They had just seen The Addams Family (very jealous). Meeting someone’s parents is always a great way to get to know more about them. It was really fun to hang out with Kate and her mom for a while with Kristen in a new city. Unfortunately, we didn’t think to take a picture at the time.

Beat the bus

When we woke up on Wednesday, I was really disappointed that we only had a few hours in New York. So we were in a rush again. We traveled uptown to grab some bagels and visit museums. I was in heaven with all the Kandinsky’s that were being exhibited at the Guggenheim. We spent about 2 hours walking down the spiral gallery. As a huge fan of the Met, I had never been to the Guggenheim and was really happy to have a new experience in New York with my good friend.

Then it was back downtown for last minute shopping. And what do you know? We bumped into two other classmates of ours! Big city, but small world. Kevin and Julie Jones just happen to be in Soho at the same time as Kristen and me.

Look who it is

After a rushed 5 minute conversation, we were running again. This time Kristen needed to make her bus.

The city that never sleeps

While many of my colleagues at Kogod plan to stay in Washington, D.C., my career search has mostly focused on the New York City metropolitan area. It’s hard to believe that I will be coming back to New York after almost 9 years away. But $40 round trip bus tickets are a small price to pay to stay in touch with close friends. Even though I am excited by the opportunities that exist in New York, I look forward to sharing New York with my new friends when they inevitably come to visit, hopefully often. It’ll give me an excuse to break out my running shoes….

Global Innovation: Paris and Prague

 

Global Innovation at the L'Oreal Plant in Paris

I can’t imagine why anyone would want to spend their spring break in a classroom. Unless that classroom is in Paris.

When I signed up for the IBUS course on Global Innovation, I did so for a few reasons. First, the class is the only at Kogod’s international business department that has a European focus (the subject of my undergrad degree). Second, the course includes travel. Third, travel meant spending spring break and Paris and Prague.

We all know that one of the highlights of Kogod is the international atmosphere here, which is augmented by the many opportunities to take short study trips abroad. Whether it’s Brazil, China, Argentina, South Korea, or Europe, twice (or even three times) a year you can take a class that not only teaches you about doing business in a foreign country, but actually exposes you to engaging with business in that country.

For me, going to Paris felt like it would be a homecoming. Having spent all of my life since age five studying French, all of my college years studying French history and language, and four months living abroad in Paris, I felt like the first leg of the trip would be a piece of cake.

How very wrong I was.

Seeing Paris with Professor Tomasz Mroczkowski was like seeing an entirely new Paris for the very first time. Our group of 22 — mixed full-time/part-time MBAs, SIS grads, SOC grads, and some undergrads — was folded into the renowned European business school, ESCP. Apart from taking class with incredible professors, we went on a whirlwind tour of French companies to study innovation at France Telecom, NYSE Euronext, and finally, L’Oreal. By the end of the trip I was exhausted (and craving steak frites), but ready for more in the Eastern European city of Prague.

Having never been to Prague, I first thought I would be completely lost. I didn’t know a word of Czech (I now know how to say hello, please, thank you, beer, and water), and I certainly didn’t know the city like I did Paris. But Prague exceeded my expectations, and quickly took the top spot in my personal list of most beautiful cities. The academic portion was incredibly enlightening, and extraordinarily impressive. Our meetings were with the leaders of each featured company: the directors of strategy for the Czech energy company Cez; marketing, customer service, and PR executives of Vodafone Czech Republic; the leader of the US Commercial Service in Prague; and the CEO of GE-Walter Aviation.

Despite moments of exhaustion (it’s amazing how much you can fit into a day…), the trip was constantly eye-opening, and incredibly inspiring. Now back in class in DC, I find myself many steps ahead of where I was before the trip. The exposure to different cultures’ approach to business has changed the way I think about business, and has made me able to take the theories in class at Kogod and synthesize them in a way I hadn’t been able to before.

So in short, spending all of spring break in a class room wasn’t half bad. Let’s put it this way: I want to do it all over again.

 

 

Stories of our lives

Spring Break, and I finally have time to make the numerous phone calls I need to make. The pace of life is hectic, unbelievably hectic. The parents 7000 miles away try to comprehend my art of routine management but the lines I sketch via the Skype calls somehow never give them a clear picture. My brothers do a better job of understanding and relating. I miss them yet again in between the deep sighs I manage to take in between expectations and deadlines. Such is life at times for a first year graduate student at Kogod.

NOW, don’t get disheartened J, the adjective I am trying to get to here is “intense”. I cannot emphasize how critical time is at this particular phase in our lives. Naturally, there is so much to absorb through the course works and the discussions in class. However, I specifically cherish the exchange of ideas outside the partitions of the textbooks and the tedium of power point slides. I somehow manage to steal time from myself to catch up with people because I like to listen to stories from different intersections of life; and this is probably one of the most valuable aspects of being a student at Kogod. Despite being one of the smaller business schools in the DC area, Kogod surprises me with its supply of a highly diverse student body, a true reflection of how the world is shrinking. The stories from China, Thailand, Colombia, Armenia, and Bangladesh are riveting. The next day, the stories from Ohio, North Carolina, and Florida entertain me equally.

So, with the onset of the second half of the remaining first semester, I hope to listen to the other stories that float at Kogod and I hope to share mine. I mean, one of the first things we learned here was the elevator pitch, which in itself is an executive summary of our life stories. And at Kogod, it is ensured you have this essential story-telling skill in business, whether it be 7000 miles away via Skype or at one of the cafes right here at AU.

Big decision: Go full or part-time?

In my experience as a Kogod Ambassador I’ve noticed that some of the most popular questions among prospective students relate to their decision about going full or part-time. They wonder about the main difference between both programs, and what they could miss if they chose the latter. To them, here’s my answer, and know that I’m fully writing from my personal experience since I’m a full-timer while my husband is a part-timer, both at Kogod…

By comparing my husband’s experience with mine, I can tell with absolute confidence that the learning experience as well as the ability to network and make friends is exactly the same. Professors demand as much from part-timers as they do from full-timers, with the only difference that part-timers take fewer courses per semester. As for the interpersonal relations, it’s true that part-timers meet in class less often; however, their class is smaller so they share all courses, which allows them to get to know each other more quickly.

The main difference between you becoming a part or full-timer relies on (1) the time you spend on campus, and (2) the extent to which school becomes your main focus. Of course going part-time will require you to spend less time at school, since you will be working simultaneously and taking only 6 credits per semester as opposed to 12+. Plus, work will probably continue to grab a big part of your attention, since there’s a reason you didn’t leave it in the first place, this being: the need to continue getting an income, the potential of growing within the organization, the risk of quitting and having to look for a different job later on, etc.

No one program is better than the other per se; it all depends on what YOU want to do, meaning what your interests and priorities are. Most international students for example, prefer to go full-time, looking for an on-campus experience that they probably lacked in their hometowns. Other people feel they want to become 100% students again: dress up comfy, grab food on the go, study at the library or simple sitting on the grass, and generally following an unstructured time schedule. Some decide to go full-time to graduate earlier and make that career switch they’ve been long waiting for. Others are willing to cope with only one type of stress at a time.

But everything is relative. For many people, working and studying at the same time proves less stressful than studying only, since it gets easier to set up time boundaries and become more productive. Plus, people may feel psychologically less pressured when taking care of several issues than when only focusing on one. Some others are career enhancers as opposed to career switchers, so keeping their job to capitalize on opportunities of growth within the organization makes more sense for them. Other people simply need their monthly income and are not willing to take on the risk of getting a new job in times of recession.

So… Who are you? What are your goals? What are your interests and priorities? Inquiring yourself can help you find out whether you would be happier as a full or part-timer at Kogod. Ask yourself:

  • Do I want to spend more or less time on campus?
  • Does having two focal points stress me out more or less than having one?
  • Do I want to have the 100% student experience again?
  • Am I a career switcher or enhancer?
  • How does quitting my job affect my career potential?
  • Can I afford to stop receiving a salary while studying?

Getting to know who you are and what you want is the first step to choosing the school and program that will fulfill you the most.

To know more about Kogod’s full and part-time graduate programs click here.

So you’ve got a statistic…now what?

In Professor Gibson’s statistics class, we have been told that the best way to understand what a problem is asking is to “state it statistically”. I couldn’t agree more. But I find it a little more interesting to understand why we do certain problems in the first place. A vast majority of time, the problems we analyze in class are relevant to fields that are completely beyond my interests.

Bet you wish this were your dog! Me too.

For example, determining the average length of dog hair amongst European shi-tzus is not on my list of things to retain from Kogod. Nor is figuring out the likelihood that average U.S. funeral fees exceed the 2005 average of $6,500 as stated by the National Funeral Directors Association (if you’re dying to check it out, here is their website).

What I find most interesting with this class are the actions that can be made after statistical conclusions have been reached. Let’s say, as a recent in-class example presented to us, that we have a machine which is calibrated to fill Candy-Cane-Coated Cereal boxes with 13.0 ounces of deliciously bad-for-you Candy-Cane-Coated Cereal. The problem, which gives other necessary statistical information, asks us to determine whether or not the machine is actually filling the boxes with 13.0 ounces.  Through the use of certain formulas, we can figure this out and make a statistically sound conclusion about our machine. But now what?

Let’s say for instance that we conclude that our machine is filling the cereal boxes incorrectly. This is generally where the textbook problem ends. I like to take it a step further and ask “what the heck is the manager supposed to do now?”. Answering this question usually gives me a better idea of the usefulness of statistics.

Cheerios: A much healthier alternative to Candy-Cane-Coated Cereal.

In the example, the boxes had a target weight of 13.0 ounces; and for good reason. The company determined that they would make the most profit per unit at this weight given they charge a certain price per box. They likely chose this amount because this is how much, on average, is demanded  by consumers on a weekly basis since grocery shopping is generally a weekly affair. If the machine filling the boxes malfunctions and boxes start becoming under-filled, the manager risks customer complaints and apologetic actions (like sending out gift certificates) to keep his/her customers. On the other hand, if the boxes start becoming over-filled, the manager risks being inefficient with his/her materials, and giving the consumer more than he/she deserves for they price paid for the cereal. Both scenarios risk to negatively lower profits. It is up to the manager to make an adjustment to his/her machine and maintain 13.0 ounces to the best the machine’s ability.

I don’t expect to go into the cereal business either, but that doesn’t mean the skills learned from this type of problem are useless. We are learning know-how, not necessarily about other industries. Looking at statistics from this perspective, however, makes these other industries rather interesting.

“Smoking is one of the leading causes of statistics.”
Fletcher Knebel