Caffeine = MBA fuel

Before this semester began, I had only drunk coffee one time in my life. I was about 3 or 4 years old and was really curious about what all of the adults were sipping on during the morning. This was at an age when just about everything I was eating/drinking was fruit flavored: fruit snacks, fruit punch, Fruity Pebbles, Froot Loops. Needless to say, my taste buds were less than thrilled to be experiencing the phenomenon that is Cup-O-Joe. I swore it off for life.

Should have stopped a few cups ago.

Fast forward twenty some-odd years. As I am faced with innumerable assignments to complete chapter upon chapter to read, and events to attend, I suddenly feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to get a good night’s rest. How can I possibly be productive during these long weeks? Should I turn to the beverage I cursed as a child? Should I go against everything I had preached for so many years? DEFINITELY.

In the right situations, caffeine is a godsend and has helped me power through some of the longest days I have experienced as a student. My adult-style tastebuds have grown to actually enjoy the taste.

As a rookie coffee drinker, I quickly learned that you can have too much of a good thing (diminishing returns for you econ heads). But, I am pretty confident I have found the right balance to get me through the day without having me bounce off the walls. So when you need some fuel to get through those final few pages, a hot cup of coffee just might be your answer!

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“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.

Such lovely weather and such lovely things, as observed by a commuter from the suburbs

I can see green grass everywhere now – with some yellow and brown leaves in between and pink and white flowers on the side – and it makes me smile, wide. The once cold and dry ride from Rockville, MD to Tenleytown, DC has inconspicuously turned into a beautiful escape I look forward to everyday. I think there’s nothing quite like the nature of nature – ever changing, abrupt, lovely yet dangerous, and the DC metro area roads definitely have one of the most scenic botanical topography for the suburban commuter. For any AU prospective student or anyone looking to move next year, I highly recommend exploring the greater metro area, especially if you drive. My recent relocation to a new place has been nothing short of great.

With AU’s great geographic and meteorological position, I was thrilled to learn about the launch of the new Master’s Degree in Sustainability Management. I truly believe that the risks and rewards resulted from the environment will dictate the financial future of our generation. Mother Nature giveth, Mother Nature taketh. We’ve been brutally hit by natural disasters one after another in the past few years, as the depletion of natural resources continues at an accelerated rate. A friend laughed hard when I recently told her I am a “parks and mountains” type of person. But, I can’t help but think about the impact of my energy consumption every time I reluctantly pay for the bolting gas price to fill up my economical 2001 Corolla after I hit the I-270, I-495 or my favorite route MD 355.

The onset of the lovely weather has also stimulated my social life in the past month. It’s amazing how weather impacts my mood. I confess I have been somewhat anti-social during the first three months of the semester, primarily due to the cold weather (it is a good 20-30 minute drive to DC), work, and relocation (may I add HW?). The impact of de-socializing has been so significant for a social butterfly like me. I miss the stories I had intended to collect in between the intersections of Kogod hallways as I mentioned in my last blog. I felt a large vacuum in a very important part of my life.

In the past month, I signed up as an Admission Ambassador for the MSA program and I am already listening to a whole new set of stories from the incoming students. I attended a “Dish with the Dean” event where I got to meet Dean Durand personally for the first time. The interaction with my fellow students and Dean Durand elated my student experience at Kogod to another level.

I taught myself to not head straight to the Katzen parking lot after class. Instead, I have learned to look up events taking place on campus in the evening. Separating from the MBA crowd has definitely compelled me to re-think my socialization strategy.

Attending Graduate Business Association events in the evenings has also helped me reconnect with my peers. I am also making a conscious effort to change and re-adjust as a commuter from the suburbs and it has worked out perfectly. Completely unplanned, the semester is winding down on a beautiful note (so far).

As all of us are wrapping up the semester, I hope the summer brings in gentle waves of luck for each one of us as we embark on our internships or jobs; and joy for our lazy summer days with lots of lager beer around a pool; or whatever else we may find interesting.

Signing off, Sudipa

A weekend in South America

This past Saturday I attended the wedding of a close family friend in Bogotá, Colombia. The young parents on my Thursday night Avianca flight were shocked when I mentioned that I was traveling to South America for the weekend. The short trips that my sisters and I made to Colombia meant a great deal to our immigrant father and made for a once-in-a-lifetime weekend.

Bogotá is no small town.

This being only my second trip to my father’s hometown, my dad and uncle were intent showing us as much as possible. Thus my South American vacation was full of rushed car rides and little sleep. It was awesome.

Saturday morning we were up at 6 am to get ready to visit Monserrate. Next, we went to the Museum del Oro which featured some of the most interactive exhibits. The wedding on Saturday night was “espectacular” and the bride was a “princesa”. Sunday morning we were able to sleep in until 8 before attending a family reunion on a “finca” about an hour outside Bogotá. Three packed days but luckily hundreds of pictures to help remember them.

Family reunion on a farm

I took on a great deal of risk traveling when finals are only few days away and group projects are nearing culmination. It would have been impossible for me to make this rushed trip without the support of my classmates and professors at Kogod. Even though I am in the process of catching up now I am immensely grateful for the understanding that my teammates offered me before my trip and upon my return.

I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to attend two amazing events in Colombia and I have my great friends at Kogod to thank for that.

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.

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.

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.