Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

I have always considered myself a very self-sufficient person. I figured that I was born with enough ability and aptitude to conquer anything I put my mind to. If I couldn’t solve the problem after countless hours and attempts, then the only solution was “this is impossible.” If I couldn’t figure out a 17-letter word that described the derivation of sub-atomic particles, then I was certain that it didn’t exist. As self centered as it may be, it was a symptom of being the youngest child in the household and always having something to prove.

Business school is a completely different animal. So much emphasis is placed on working in teams. While I may have had some initial resistance to the idea, upon further thought, it makes so much sense. For one, my classmates come from so many different backgrounds. These different backgrounds have allowed them to develop skills in areas that I love to avoid…namely accounting (among others). Efficiency ensues. I can focus on areas where I feel comfortable while my teammates do their thing. In the end, a great product is produced and everything is empowered because they feel they had a hand in the team’s success.

This process very closely mirrors what goes on in the business world. The best managers are able to organize teams in a manner that maximizes each individual members talent base to achieve a desired result. It all makes sense now…business school is preparing us for the business world. Kogod, I see what you are doing here. Thanks.

Kogod (GBA) for the Cure- In support of the JDRF

On Saturday, October 15 at 5:45 am (or earlier), 4 Kogod students dragged themselves from bed and set off for Baltimore to participate in the annual Under Amour Running Festival. As one of these 4 students, I can say that it was no easy task.

Mostly because, like most racers, I could hardly sleep. 2 competing thoughts kept me awake that night. One being that I was terrified to attempt running a half marathon considering that I had little time to train. Though most of us had starting preparing for this race during the summer, our workouts had become more sparse and certainly less effective given the workload of the semester.

The other that occupied my mind, like a little kid waiting up for Santa, was the terrifying image of oversleeping and potentially missing the race. Given the impending 6am wake-up call from Michael Moran, the impossibility this did not deter me from checking the clock every hour.

Once we were in Baltimore, things seemed to get easier but only because we were all in it together. Michael and I watched as Julie and Meredith crossed the finish line after a nail-biting 5K. We proudly cheered as they strode unscathed past a surprisingly cheerful morning crowd. My nerves were not calmed seeing how well they did during their race and for the most part, I wished I had run the 5K.

Proud finishers

The half-marathon course was beautiful.  Michael (way more prepared than I was) and I ran the better part of the first 4 miles together. Taking in the fresh Baltimore air and the support of the crowd along the course. Throughout the race, I was really impressed with the culture of the city and continually awed by its majestic nature. Though I have lived in the DC area for nearly 5 years, I had never explored Baltimore (only 40 minutes away) nearly as much as I did that beautiful October morning. The weather, the cheering crowd, and the course could not have been more amazing.

After crossing the finish line 2 hours later, I was thrilled to have survived and even more happy to have discovered moleskin earlier that day. During the ride back to DC, we were all elated to have completed 2 great races and Baltimore and even discussed races for the spring.

By far the best part of this experience was raising nearly $2000 (thanks in part to our heroic captain) to support a great cause. As the 2012-2013 honorary charity of the Graduate Business Association, we are developing several programs to create buzz and raise funds to help eliminate juvenile diabetes. Despite tendinitis that lasted longer than expected and particularly bad knees for a 27 year old, I plan on continued participation in races and even more support for the JDRF.

Money Woes

Kevin as "The Penny Pincher" at our most recent superhero theme party

The first semester of my second year in business school is rounding the halfway point, and I can see a light at the end of the tunnel.  As each day passes, I get more excited about my future.  Like many of my classmates, I am entering the final stages of the job hunt and looking forward to the structure, stability, and hopefully sanity that my future job will bring.  Don’t get me wrong: I love school.  I adore my classmates, look forward to social events, enjoy the classroom environment, and even like studying-it’s true (nerd alert!).

However, I miss having weekends out of the library, eating dinner with my husband, and unapologetically wearing pajamas after 7pm to get out of my work clothes.  Most of all, I can’t wait for a paycheck.  My husband and I are normally pretty frugal (some might even accuse Kevin-who is also a student at Kogod-of being cheap…you know who you are) but lately we have been spending ridiculous amounts of money. Between concert tickets, dinners out, shoes, and other purchases, one would think we had an income.

For now, we will just have to tighten the purse strings and get back to the library.  Dreaming about the future is exciting, but nothing beats making the most of the present.  Hopefully we can make the most of our time in school with as little money as possible.

A few of my favorite things…

Know what my favorite thing is about Kogod?

Its not the small classroom sizes, or the fact that my teachers know who I am (no matter how many times they might confuse me with Kate Robinson…) and it’s not even the fact that we often are surprised by free food when we least expect it.

My favorite thing about Kogod is the diversity amongst the students who attend this school. Not just racial diversity but diversity of background, of experience, of career interests, of lifestyle- I think you get my point!

A history major, a southern belle, a theater nerd, a foodie, a runaholic, miss middle east studies and a kung pao empanada all in one class!

When I first applied to business school I was TERRIFIED that people would look down on me because of my background. In undergrad, I majored in music and then worked as a teacher. I had never taken a business class before in my life, nor did I have any clue what a case study was when I received the orientation schedule. But walking into Kogod, I learned that my background became something that did not define me in a negative way, but instead became the thing that made me unique.

This fear of not being the traditional business student extended beyond the classroom, and despite the insistence of the KCCD, I feared that having “BA-Music” on my resume would make employees immediately discount me for jobs in my new career field. But as is usually the case, KCCD was right and my uniqueness is what made employees remember me- not throw my resume in the trash. To this day, I am asked about my roles as a musician on every interview I’ve ever been on, including here at Kogod.

I may or may not have played a sheep in Candide during undergrad...

So this is my challenge for you- whether you’re a first year MBA or in your final year of the part time MS program. Ask yourself: what makes me different? What is my “thing”?  Embrace it! Hopefully by doing so you’ll realize that the only one who sees your “quirk” as a problem is you!

Résumé of the Future

MBA students have the toughest choices.

I’d like to say that everything I’ve done in my MBA courses has been relevant to my career; I’ve analyzed the Disney/Marvel merger (twice), I’ve performed linear regressions (multiple times), and I’ve determined my BATNA (ever more frequently).

One thing, though, stands out as the most beneficial exercise I’ve performed to date: My Future Résumé.

In Professor Clark’s Management of Organizations and Human Capital course, we were instructed to develop a résumé which reflected how we wanted our “next five professional years” to pan out. My first reaction when I sat down to do the assignment was a little nervousness.

Before this assignment, I was still trying to find out “what I wanted to be when I grew up.” I wasn’t walking a well landscaped and properly drained path like many of my colleagues. My path was more reminiscent of pave stones forming a crooked, yet generally straight line surrounded by grass that hadn’t been mowed in a while. Couple of weeds in there too.

The path was a mess, but the destination it was leading to was a little less unkempt. Destination: I want to be a leader in business. Vague? Duh. But it was less vague than my actual career path. When I began putting together my “5 Year Résumé,” I went into it with an open mind. Whatever I decide to “concentrate” in at Kogod doesn’t necessarily determine where I go in my career. Not to mention, my career, God willing, is going to be over a fairly long period of time. The chances of me changing my mind or becoming interested in new things are rather high – especially for someone like me.

I started with what I currently think Kogod could result in. I like the numbers and analysis we performed in economics, and I also like the soft skills I’m learning in my other classes. “Maybe Private Equity or some other financial field would suit me well,” I thought. “Maybe that’s how I start my new career when I leave Kogod.” So, the early years of my 5-Year Résumé reflected some financial analysis experience.

My thought process, however, kept coming back to an operations mindset. I’m moving away from being an engineer, per se, but I’m not losing my interest in how things are made. In fact, I love the show “How It’s Made.” So, I envisioned my career turning toward something more logistical in the products industry (rather than the services industry). I suppose, though, I could always operate a service…but, that’s neither here nor there.

You can't operate this with an Xbox controller.

I decided I’d take my “newly acquired” finance background and transition into Operations Management for a manufacturing firm called Company X. They make widgets…damn good ones, too.

There I would start managing the general operations of a factory (no, I’m not a floor manager) and then progress through the ranks employing innovative thinking and strategies to cut costs and increase employee retention. I even imagined creating a “brand new” way to incentivize my workforce. It involved a company trophy. Nuff said.

At the end of five years, my Future Résumé has me working as Director of East-Coast Operations for Company X. Sounds good to me, I guess. Is this necessarily what’s going to happen? I hope not – that’d be mad boring. MAD boring. I’m fully expecting things NOT to go according to plan. But at least at this point, my path is a little more manicured, the weeds have been trimmed back, and my destination is a little more in focus.

I figure this trend will continue as I progress through the MBA program and gain new insight to the possible career options I’ll have. I recommend that everyone develop their own Future Résumé. It’s a great way to determine how to potentially reach your goals and it helps make sure your current path (if you have one) still leads to the goals you have in mind.

Who do you think you are, October?

Dear October,

Well, you’ve done it again – it is only day four and you’ve managed to turn my world upside down.  I thought after last year we could learn to live in peace and harmony, but I was wrong.  Frankly I’m sick and tired of your demands that keep me awake at night.  Between my portfolio analysis cases (that’s right, plural), derivatives mid-term, change-managment presentation, and weekly quizzes, I don’t know which way is up anymore!  So really, who do you think you are, October?  What gives you the right to wreak havoc in my life two years in a row?  And what is worse, it isn’t just me – it seems everyone is sick and tired of you. How can we learn to live in peace?

So it is time to come to a truce because we have 27 days left of one another this year.

For all the added work and overlapping assignments, you are preparing me for future leadership.  You are teaching me how to prioritize and manage my time.  You are teaching me how to listen to and lead others by quieting my selfish thoughts about the work I have waiting for me. You are preparing me for the business world.  So thank you, October.

Yours Til the End,

A Very Stressed MBA Student