So Far, So Good…

The past couple of days couldn’t have been more disparate weather wise. Yesterday was absolutely ugly…cold, rainy, and overall miserable. It wasn’t just normal rain, it was that “big ol’ fat rain,” in the words of Forrest Gump. Also, I repeat, it was cold. I’m a firm believer in if there is going cold precipitation, it might as well be snow.

The wisest of men

Today was the complete opposite. The upper 60s temperatures and bright sunshine were a welcome change. Great weather has the tendency to lift my mood and as I basked in my natural high, I reflected on the academic year so far.

I remember studying for weeks for the GMAT and feeling like I hadn’t studied enough. I remember interviewing with admissions and stressing out. August seems like so long ago. I remember not having the slightest clue how the year would unfold and feeling anxious. There was definitely some bad weather along the way. Exams, projects, and all nighters all had a way raining on the school year a little bit.

Perfect

There were plenty of great weather days as well. It’s always a rush to get good results on assignments that I poured many days and hours into. It’s always rewarding to feel like hard work is starting to pay off. Even though there will continue to some bad weather days, I know sunshine will make everything worth it.

Business school, a year later

August 29, 2010 – Jet lagged, I dragged myself to Managerial Economics class on a Monday morning. As I settled myself in one safe corner of KSB 233, I started noticing the cliques my classmates had already formed with each other. A few formal hellos, some friendly smiles, and many curious glances. As the class proceeded, the numbers flew right over my head; most of my concentration was on the faces around the room. I suddenly realized I had completely forgotten what competition felt like. Rather, I realized, the only person I was competing against was myself. At this point, I gave up my attempt to listen to anything; my head went on spinning around faster and faster.

Fast forward one year…

August 29, 2011 – I’m not jet lagged today. I don’t have classes either. Yet, for some reason, there are a thousand things spinning in my head yet again. I wondered why today has been a strange day – until it struck me as I started typing this blog that today marks the first anniversary of my first steps at Kogod. The past year has been a whirlwind – a race against time, a self-imposed deadline to succeed and still be the best person I can be.

I don’t know if I’ve succeeded, but I know progress has been made. I know that I have moved one step (if not several steps) closer to realizing my career goals. To realize, to accept, and to develop my strengths has been the hardest thing to do in the past year, mainly because I come from a culture where even slight praise and a strong level of confidence in women are often termed as being “un-lady-like.” Perhaps being able to completely dodge that traditional thought is something that has helped me – or perhaps not. I don’t know yet.

As an accountant, I am still in the process of making additions and deductions of all that I have experienced in my travels to figure out what exactly makes me who I am. But the experience at Kogod has definitely added a deeper dimension to my personality through the people I have met. A year later, my peers are my strengths and my competition is still only me.

“See you in August”

The end of the school year is a mixed bag. Though it’s exciting to have a break from classes, there is no real rest for the weary. Internships start shortly after finals end and, especially for those of us that are interning outside of DC, there are plenty of logistics that need to be finalized. The biggest surprise was how hard it would be to say goodbye to friends.

Guys at Fogo de Chao

After finals, we began a series of little celebrations to herald in summer vacation. A few of the guys from the program enjoyed a steak dinner in downtown DC before meeting up with others in Adams Morgan.

The exhale that accompanied endless meat was both welcome and slightly overwhelming. In the end, we were happy to discuss our completed finals, expected grades and summer plans.

One (unfortunately cloudy) day some of us got together for a small barbecue. Since the pool wasn’t really an option, we mostly sat around, ate and enjoyed the musical talents of our friend Kevin.

Sing us a song, Kev

Some of us sang along from memory, others cheated by looking up lyrics on our phones.

Many of my classmates will be in different parts of the country for their respective internships. The likelihood that we’ll see each other over the next few months is low. Eight months of group projects, study sessions and back-to-back classes can really turn strangers to close friends. It is thus no surprise that while we are all excited to work and learn over the summer, it was weird to be saying goodbye for a few months.

As for me, I am in New York, interning in midtown. The summer is off to a great start despite waking up earlier than I did during school. It’s exciting to be back in the work realm using the tools that I gained in my first year. But I already miss my friends in DC and look forward to being back in August…. even if New York is pretty awesome.

Professorial quality

I’ve been on a committee for the past 6 months that has given me the opportunity to really, thoroughly understand the school’s benefits and drawbacks a lot more intently. Faculty from International Business, Management, Accounting/Tax, Marketing, Finance, Information Technology are also on this committee, as is one alumnus, one dean from another school within AU, one undergrad, and two staff members. Our mission involves looking at what we have and how to use it to really position Kogod better in the marketplace so that, with coming efforts, it will be understood and known what a gem this place really is.

The question often comes up, “Why did you choose this school?” I went to an enormous undergraduate institution in a moderately-sized city and, though I got a lot out of my education there, thought that a small school in a big city would have been a better fit.

I got into other graduate schools with recognizable rankings and was even offered a pretty large scholarship at one, but Kogod just worked out better for me. I remember sifting around through faculty profiles on the Web site and thinking, “Oh wow, that’s a pretty cool background/research interest/pedigree!” and noticing the faculty to student ratio and thinking, “Hmm… so a professor of that caliber will actually know my name?” Well, it’s absolutely true. They will and they do.

It’s actually one of my favorite parts about this place– the collegial community. I can stop in a professor’s office, I can email them, I can run into them in my neighborhood, and they know who I am, they’re interested in what I’m doing, they want to help if they can. It sounds so cliche, but it’s true! And just recently, Professor Wasil was awarded yet another Scholar of the Year Award, not to mention that he’s been awarded the Scholar/Teacher of the year award before. No one was surprised. (And he teaches statistics to the MBAs!) What a boon to have such a talented person in the classroom, especially for a subject that isn’t always easy for the masses.

And we all just continue on, taking advantage of the strength of our professors within the classroom, their abilities and successful research outside of the classroom, really reaping the benefits of this diamond in the rough that Kogod truly is.

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!

First Semester Tips: PT MBA Perspective

The Part-Time MBA program at Kogod has thus far been a challenging, yet manageable endeavor. The hardest part, as expected, has been using my time efficiently while keeping my sanity and not losing touch with those people important to me. With the second semester around the corner, my head is still between my shoulders and I have not been ostracized by anyone. My “success” in balancing Kogod into my life is by no means worthy of a trophy, but a few tips from my first semester may help yours go a little smoother.

MAKE A LIST. If you’re like me, you’re flooded with “important things”; Google Calendar, the Blackberry, work email, work calendar, events I don’t even care about, and events that are so important that I forget about them. It’s an age-old technique, but writing down and prioritizing what you have to do in a single place for the day prevents the panic of “I have no time to do this because I have this other thing to do.” My experience as an engineer has taught me that while the type of steel used for a railroad track may be important, the track still has to connect in a logical way. Organizing your day in a concise and clear manner will help you get from A to B as smoothly as possible.

You could also take a trip to a water park. I was put in the back seat.

ME TIME. Try to budget yourself a good half hour for you to do absolutely nothing. Watch some YouTube, listen to music, or flip a coin enough times to find the elusive body between heads and tails. This time will allow you to meditate and realize that while school and work are important, you’re only human. When I’m running with a clear head, things always end up finding a way to work themselves out. A little relaxation keeps me crystal. Also, this time is expendable, so if you REALLY need it, you’ve got yourself an extra thirty minutes for that paper due tomorrow.

EXERCISE. This is separate from “me time” and perhaps more important. When I get lazy, so does my work. By keeping myself active, I sustain my energy level and am much more productive. Kogod charges a nominal fee for access to Bender Arena/Gymnasium which is paid for at the beginning of each semester. My advice is to take advantage of this proverbial freebie and keep yourself moving physically. I’m not saying to set lofty weight-loss goals during exam week or anything like that, but a few minutes of physical activity may have a great impact on your scholastic performance.

“You don’t want another Enron? Here’s your law: If a company, can’t explain, in ONE SENTENCE….what it does….it’s illegal.”

– Mr. Lewis Black