Graduation, here I come!

So graduation is approaching and I’m starting to look back to see how getting my MBA in Kogod has helped my personal and professional career.

Not that I was so junior when I started the program, but the two years at Kogod helped me grow a lot. There are many additions that make me feel more fulfilled, the first being that I am now more prepared to take challenges and interact with top-notch professionals. After two years of hard work, I’ve gained more confidence in solving problems, making decisions with little information, and presenting orally to whatever size group of people. What else can a person interested in management ask for? I’m extremely happy for all the training and knowledge I’ve received, and this will stick with me forever.

Friends and connections will also stick with me. Through Kogod, I’ve met very cool people that have become a very important part of my life in DC. These people have different experiences and perspectives that make of any short conversation an interesting one. Thanks to them, I’m a much more open-minded and cultured person now that I was before, and it feels good. Most importantly, these people made me enjoy the ride, even though it was a tough and demanding one. I had fun.

Now graduation is less than three weeks away and it feels a bit weird. I’m excited of course, but I’m gonna leave the “workplace” I’ve been in during the past two years. After spending so many hours at school and meeting up with so many groups and friends, Kogod has become pretty much like my home. I’m sure I’m gonna miss it, and I’m glad I’m gonna miss it. I’m glad I’ve been part of Kogod.

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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.

Hands on!

If I had to choose a couple words to define our MBA program, I would definitely go for TEAM-BASED and APPLIED. As opposed to most undergraduate programs where the main focus is to generate a knowledge base through theories and technical concepts, the MBA is purely based on real life projects and cases.

It’s not easy. Reality is complex and requires you to put in your best soft-skills. Time management, prioritization, team coordination, communication, integrative vision, and decision-making in situations where not a whole lot of information is available become key! And this is exactly what the MBA is giving me. You would be surprised to see what a few tests are given compared to hands-on projects. I’m actually glad this is the case because I feel I’ve had enough of theoretical education and was eager to engage into something much more applied. 

Groups of students working on projects

Right now I’m working on four different projects, one for each class I’m taking. For my entrepreneurship course, my group and I are creating a business plan for a new venture that one of my teammates wants to pursue. She has even bought the name and domain for the business already, and expects to open it up soon after the business plan is ready. Pretty cool, eh? It will be exciting to see the business operating and feel I was part of its planning.

For our market research class, we are studying Fast Gourmet, a Uruguayan restaurant that opened up in DC only four months ago and whose owners are eager to get consumers’ insights on what they are doing good/bad, and how they can improve. We are carrying out interviews and focus groups, analyzing secondary data, and will follow-up with surveys. It’s great to feel that your work could help someone’s business; feels like you are somewhat giving back to your community.

For our negotiations course we’re interviewing a very successful lawyer in the DC area to learn from his everyday negotiation strategies and techniques. This is helping us get a better understanding of what tends to work or fail in different situations, as well as allowing us to get insights and advice from a skilled negotiator. Finally, we are studying home furnishings retailer Williams-Sonoma for our global supply chain management, aiming to identify the benefits and limitations that would arouse in its supply chain if it were to expand into Brazil.

So yeah, I feel like a more complete professional now. The MBA has trained me on real life situations experienced by real life companies. I’m ready to perform.

Click here to learn about graduate open house events and information sessions coming up.

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.

Welcome to our blog. Meet KCCD.

WELCOME TO OUR BLOG AND MEET OUR KCCD!

Hi everybody! I’m happy to share my thoughts and experiences with you guys and hope you find them interesting and helpful.

Who am I?

Just so you know a little about me, my name is Ana Rodriguez Larreta and I’m a second-year full-time MBA student at Kogod. I’m originally from Uruguay and moved to the US just before starting the program, with the aim of having an academic, professional and personal experience that would open up my mind in many ways.

In Uruguay I got my bachelor’s in Accounting and CPA, and then worked two years for Ernst & Young as a tax analyst. Even though I enjoyed my experience as an accountant, I became further more curious about the business area and decided to pursue an MBA that would help me switch. I am concentrating my MBA on Marketing Management, aiming to acquire the right tools and skills that will help me perform in a strategic or analytical position within the Marketing Department of a firm.

During this past summer I had the chance to join a golf manufacturing start-up called “Sweet Wood Golf Company” in the role of Marketing Communications Analyst; what I learned is invaluable! I actively participated in the development of a video marketing campaign that doubled the company’s web page traffic, managed relationships with national and international publishers, created targeted online communications and prepared strategic business & marketing research analyses for the company’s Presidency.

Being foreign is not hard when your school helps you!

As an international student living in the US for the first time, I felt that having a successful internship experience was important for getting an overall feeling of how things work in the US marketplace and for opening my opportunities to full-time jobs. I can’t be more grateful to Kogod for helping me get this internship! The resumes of all those students who had signed up for the popular “Kogod Case Competition” of 2010 were saved in CDs and distributed to employers, and this is how I was contacted!

Thank you KCCD.

We are lucky to have the Kogod Center for Career Development (KCCD), which helps us find our career path and polish our job-search-related skills. KCCD emphasizes the importance of networking and organizes numerous events to encourage students’ interaction with potential employers. Did you know that just around 2% of job seekers get a job through online applications while between 70%-80% do it through networking?

Our KCCD is very much aware of the importance of networking, mainly in times of recession and in the case of career switchers who are likely to be filtered off from online applications for not having the desired experience for a certain job. Check out some of the KCCD events here.