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.

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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.

19th Annual Kogod Case Competition

"What's your Economist time?"- One of the ad campaigns from our presentation!

I’ve always thought of myself as a team player- I get along with most people, but am not afraid to speak my mind. But two weeks ago I embarked on a team challenge like none I had ever been through before: The 2011 Kogod Case Competition. For those of you who might be new to the world of business and are thinking “what the heck is a case competition!?”, don’t worry, up until my first day of MBA orientation, I was right there with you! A case competition is an intense, normally three day, analysis of a business case, basically a business situation or problem that you’re tasked to solved. You and your group of 4 to 5 people act as a consulting group trying to help the business the case focuses on- this year, we focused on The Economist. And while a case competition comes with many perks (great networking, good learning experiences, free food…) it can also be some of the most trying days you’ll experience during your time at Kogod.

Now before my teammates, Andrew, Kevin and Rick read this post and think I’m griping about them, please let the record show that I thought they were one of the best teams I have ever worked with. And it was through my experience as their teammate that I learned more about myself as a group member than ever before. There was a moment, about an hour before our initial presentation,that the boys and I were practicing in a break out room and I immediately felt transported back to my undergraduate days as a music major. My team was more than a team, we were an ensemble. Over three days of spending hours upon hours together we had learned to work as a single unit. We breathed together, we fed off of each other’s energy, and most importantly we learned to rely on one another.Of course there were times when we fought and the boys learned first hand that I’m not such a nice girl after my 11pm bedtime, but all in all, this case competition for me was hands down one of the best Kogod experiences that I have ever had.

Team MARK after our big win!

Teamwork is a big part of life at Kogod and in the real world, and while sometimes teams can provide more frustration than fun, I hope everyone can experience a true ensemble experience as I did two weeks ago. In the end, my team, Team M.A.R.K., took first place in the graduate division! And I’m so proud and happy to say that in that final round my team didn’t just include Kevin, Andrew and Rick, but also all of my amazing first year MBA colleagues in the audience cheering us along. If that’s not teamwork, I don’t know what is.

P.S. If you’d like more information on the Annual Kogod Case competition please visit: http://www.american.edu/kogod/news/20110214_ksb_case_competition.cfm.  Look out for a video on the page too-Team M.A.R.K. was filmed during case competition process!

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?