“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.

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 in a NY minute

One of the great benefits to attending graduate school on the East Coast is the proximity of so many great cities. Last week the students at Kogod enjoyed a much needed Spring Break. While I was unable to travel to any exotic locations, like some of my classmates (I’m looking at you, Amanda), I did go to New York to visit friends and family.

Having originally hailed from Staten Island, it was nice to be able to travel back north. I was very fortunate to have a colleague from Kogod join me. My friend Kristen decided last minute to come to New York for a fun filled 36 hours. Kristen, who grew up in Ohio, had only been to New York once and I was intent on showing her as much as we could fit in.

No rest for the weary

KO and LL in Times Square

Once we arrived in Manhattan, we pretty much didn’t stop moving until it was time for Kristen to leave. Lunch in midtown was an easy choice. Pizza was the only food group on Kristen’s mind. And with only a day and half in the Big Apple, we had to make sure we covered all our bases… pizza, bagels, coffee. After lunch with my college roommate, Nick, who was also gracious enough to be our host, we hurried downtown to do some shopping. Shopping in weekday Soho was rushed but luckily bountiful.

With about an hour to get back, get ready and get to a Times Square pub for networking, Kristen and I booked it to the subway to travel back up the East Side. The Networking for Professionals event at O’Brien’s was definitely worth the rush. We had the opportunity to speak with several experts in their given industries. Kristen (interested in finance) and I (interested in marketing) were the perfect tag-team. Our time at the event flew by but we both walked out with a better idea of the New York market and some great contacts.

With no time to spare, we rushed to Hell’s Kitchen to grab dinner with Nick. After dinner, we hopped in a cab to go back over toward where we were staying. Our classmate Kate and her mom were staying one block south of us while they had their own NY shopping adventure. We joined them for post theater drinks. They had just seen The Addams Family (very jealous). Meeting someone’s parents is always a great way to get to know more about them. It was really fun to hang out with Kate and her mom for a while with Kristen in a new city. Unfortunately, we didn’t think to take a picture at the time.

Beat the bus

When we woke up on Wednesday, I was really disappointed that we only had a few hours in New York. So we were in a rush again. We traveled uptown to grab some bagels and visit museums. I was in heaven with all the Kandinsky’s that were being exhibited at the Guggenheim. We spent about 2 hours walking down the spiral gallery. As a huge fan of the Met, I had never been to the Guggenheim and was really happy to have a new experience in New York with my good friend.

Then it was back downtown for last minute shopping. And what do you know? We bumped into two other classmates of ours! Big city, but small world. Kevin and Julie Jones just happen to be in Soho at the same time as Kristen and me.

Look who it is

After a rushed 5 minute conversation, we were running again. This time Kristen needed to make her bus.

The city that never sleeps

While many of my colleagues at Kogod plan to stay in Washington, D.C., my career search has mostly focused on the New York City metropolitan area. It’s hard to believe that I will be coming back to New York after almost 9 years away. But $40 round trip bus tickets are a small price to pay to stay in touch with close friends. Even though I am excited by the opportunities that exist in New York, I look forward to sharing New York with my new friends when they inevitably come to visit, hopefully often. It’ll give me an excuse to break out my running shoes….

Friday’s Feast

First-years looking full and happy

Last Friday the Graduate Business Association hosted the school’s first International Potluck Celebration.  Students brought food from their home countries to share with classmates.

I have planned many social and educational programming events in undergrad and now with Kogod.  This event was by far the least expensive and overall, pretty easy to put together.  Although so simple, Friday’s dinner provided insurmountable value to students.  I speak for all of my US classmates when I say that it was a privilege to honor Kogod’s international students.

One of our favorite professors, Ajay Adhikari, with students

The potluck dinner showcased cuisines from China, Thailand, India, Bangladesh, Iran, Iraq, Ecuador, and various regions of the United States (just to name a few).    International students are deserving of everyone’s admiration.  Not only have they moved from opposite ends of the globe to study at Kogod, but they bring valuable knowledge that spans beyond the classroom.  I love learning about their home life, previous work experiences, travel adventures, or even beer recommendations.

The butter chicken from India and lamb chops from Bangladesh placed second to the camaraderie in the room Friday night.  I can’t wait for another International Potluck Celebration next semester!

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!