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Intentionality

January 31st, 2013 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

Perhaps I should have introduced myself earlier, but allow me to do so now. I am first year student in The University of Maryland Smith School of Business full time program where I work as a Graduate Assistant for The Office of Admissions. As such I have the opportunity to meet prospective students interested in the program. Recently, a prospective student asked me a great question – “What do you think the difference is between Undergraduate and Graduate School.”

As someone who attended a large University for my Undergraduate degree and majored in liberal arts, I could easily cite coursework, work experience, age, size of the program etc. But I think that would be a surface level valuation of the degree differences. The greatest difference between the two experiences, and I would wager an indicator of success, is intentionality.

In Undergrad my coursework and choice of degree were pretty much piecemeal until my third year as a student. The only certainty of my degree was that I was in the process of getting one.But now, in a world where the number of students pursuing an MBA each year decreases and newspapers frequently feature editorials that criticize MBAs, there was only one reason for me to start school again – because I am certain this is the best route in pursuit of my career goals. Prior to sending in any school applications I spoke to alumni, students, admissions professionals and working professionals regarding the degree and made a well informed decision that an MBA was the degree for me.

Don’t get me wrong – I love Business School thus far and have appreciated my time in spent in the program. But would I advise someone who is unclear regarding their next career steps to forgo salaried employment to begin an MBA? Absolutely not. It is significantly easier to spend all night staring at an excel spreadsheet when you can remember the purpose of why you’re doing so. Intentionality.

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Greenstorming Case Competition

December 3rd, 2012 by under Net Impact Club, student life. No Comments.

Tonight leaders from Net Impact Club & The Supply Chain and Operations Club partnered together to host “Greenstorming” a case competition that brought together MBA and MS Supply Chain students to solve a supply chain challenge.

The case was written by leadership from both Clubs and sent to us, along with our team assignments, over the weekend to review and prepare prior to the event. An interesting component for the event was the opportunity to work on a team with a combination of first year MBA classmates and MS Supply Chain students.
We had the opportunity to meet for forty five minutes prior to presenting our solutions to the audience and receive brief feedback from the Judges. Supply chain professionals from Deloitte, the American Red Cross and the Maryland Department of Transportation served as volunteer Judges. I would certainly never claim to have had experience in supply chain but was impressed with how thoroughly our team worked to build ideas together and provide feedback quickly.

During the presentations from other teams, the weaknesses in our analysis were addressed by other competitors but I felt confident in our presentation and our conclusions. We had uniquely positioned ourselves to dive beyond responding “yes” or “no” to the questions posed by the case related to the greening of Walmart’s fish supply but addressed strategy concerns for moving to action. Each member of our team was able to speak during the presentation and had a blast during the event.

By the time the announcement was made that our Team had won the event, we had already had a great time networking with other MS students and asking questions to learn from other teams to understand how they approached the case and were able to address areas we could not.

Overall the event was a success from both a case preparation and event stand point – next year I look forward to having more teams participate and providing more publicity to the Smith community regarding the event. And I can honestly say, as a true nerd, that I learned a significant amount about our world’s fish supply, or lack thereof .

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Here Comes the Story of a Hurricane

October 30th, 2012 by under student life. No Comments.

How to prepare for Hurricane Sandy when you are an MBA student at the start of term:

  • Step 1: Ignore friends in the District who are all out celebrating government closures on U Street by completing your Finance pre-skills homework.
  • Step 2: Text classmates to invite others to take refuge in your apartment. Check in on friends throughout the District and NYC.
  • Step 3: Consider dusting since you are now sitting on your couch realizing how long it’s been since someone has addressed the issue happening on your windowpanes.
  • Step 4: Try to hold to your meeting schedule with classmates regarding your upcoming First Year Board Member event by chatting on Skype.
  • Step 5: Track power outages based on who is able to chat.
  • Step 6: Follow Twitter with fellow classmate to view the damage in NYC.
  • Step 7: Realize with fellow classmate that you have done nothing to prepare for the storm.
  • Step 8: Listen to the news and actually prepare apartment for the storm.
  • Step 9: Dress as if you belong on a frozen fish package and walk to a neighbors to celebrate everyone having power.
  • Step 10: Wake up and repeat…with twice as much Skype and dinner with friends in Dupont.

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Terps helping Terps

October 19th, 2012 by under Alumni, Career Services, Uncategorized. No Comments.

Whenever I go for a jog throughout my neighborhood there are few things that grab my attention – a bad song on my iPhone, any type of rodent or someone wearing maize and blue. Pointedly stating “Go Blue” to anyone sporting University of Michigan apparel is not only normal behavior for me but a testament to the Michigan Alumni community. As Wolverines we have a standard of school spirit; cheering one another on during runs like the Army Ten Miler (yes, I shout Go Blue during races as well), saying hello on the metro and most of all – supporting one another within our community.

Although I would contend that many people feel passionately about their Undergraduate Institutions – the time of the end of their adolescence and the start of their independence as young adults, the caliber of our degrees only exemplified by how we contribute to our those communities long after the mortarboard hat goes in the air.

“Terps helping Terps.” As first year students this mantra is repeated to us to set the standard for the level of engagement we will contribute from the point of entry in orientation until long after graduation. As of last week, I would content that this saying is somewhat moot.

Today I had the opportunity to participate in Alumni Soft Case Interviews hosted by our Office of Career Services. I entered the Office of Career Services suite and sat down with two full time students. We introduced ourselves in time for the first Alumni volunteer to walk into the room. The first Alumni volunteer of four to conduct practice case interviews for us during the session. As someone who had yet to practice case interviews, this session was incredibly helpful. The Alumni were challenging and helpful as they conducted the sessions and provided valuable feedback. Even more significantly, many of the Alumni participants joined us at a brief reception to provide personalized feedback and networking. This is Terps helping Terps. Alumni being actively involved in the career preparation of current students by volunteering their time on a Friday.

I am grateful to our Alumni who donated their time, but even more grateful to be a part of a University where Alumni engagement isn’t limited to the Development office – it’s just Terps being Terps.

Terps Logo

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Midterms

September 16th, 2012 by under student life. No Comments.

I’m a people person. I’m that person who talks too long to the waitress, who what her neighbor’s anniversary, and who acknowledges the passengers next to her during red eye flights. Although, rest assured that I draw the line with chatting up strangers on the metro.
Getting to know others and interacting with people have always been an important part of my M.O. However, since starting at Smith 1.5 months ago I’ve had access to another facet of working with people, nay relying on other people.
Less than forty eight hours ago I took my Data Models and Decisions midterm, a test I have dreaded since Math Camp during Orientation. I knew prior to Day 1 of Business School that I would be reliant upon my peers for assistance learning quantitative material. But the fact of the matter is, I have relied on my classmates more often than not this past month and a half. Team assignments aside, the extra help from second years in the case rooms late at night or first year students early in the morning before class have significantly contributed towards my learning this new material. One would think I would predict this need to reliance on my peers since one of the reasons I chose Maryland, oh so few months ago, was because of the collaborative environment.

But it’s hard to predict what collaboration will actually feel like and even better when you recognize how significantly need it. I recognize now that being a people person is not what will contribute to my success at Van Munching, it’s becoming comfortable with my weaknesses and to learn how to ask for help from my peers. The same peers that willingly went over the practice midterm and the same peers that broke out the champagne to celebrate our first midterm.

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The Five Stages of Grief: A beginner’s story to business school group projects

September 12th, 2012 by under academics, student life. No Comments.

Stage 1: Denial

In the first week of class, our Managerial Economics and Public Policy team formed and quickly requested to present a case early in the term in order to complete the assignment before our other class work heats up.

It is now our first meeting, at 1:00pm on a Friday and we have already patted ourselves on the back for the previous decision to select an early presentation date within the term, “We really made a good choice guys.” We have also thanked the team member who recognized that our selection of an early date meant that we needed to meet ASAP, “Thanks for staying on top of things!”

We are each happy to be in a team where everyone comes to the meeting prepared, “Great work everyone” – with the case read and where we can readily begin to divide up work. We happily create a shared document to share our portions of the appropriately divided up paper and are confident we will complete the work in time despite deadlines in other courses.

Stage 2: Anger

It is meeting number two, if you can call it that. The time is now 4:30pm on Tuesday, which gives each of us roughly 25 minutes before we separate to our respective Employer and Club events. We have been working on the shared document and realize that this meeting is no longer about final edits but to re-write our entire paper. We are crammed around a circular table in the basement student lounge near our lockers in the hopes that we won’t be interrupted by classmates. Incorrect. Everyone is suiting up for their events and frequently, people have come over to inquire about our furrowed brows and looks of exasperation.

When someone begins to discuss off topic subjects, the group acknowledges the comment as mutinous. We realize that we have limited time to complete this project and are going to need to meet again after each of our evening commitments finish at 9:30pm. Jokes are being made, but everyone is frustrated.

Stage 3: Depression

We are now at meeting number three, it is now 10:00pm on Tuesday, and we now acknowledge that we each need to complete other work for our additional class the next day prior to this presentation. We have lost a team member who has yet to arrive in the Caserooms.

No one ate at their respective events prior to this meeting. So we are hungry and beginning to fade. We briefly pat ourselves on the back for figuring out how to Skype someone in to the meeting and have his face be projected onto the flat screen TV.. until we watched him fall asleep mid discussion.

There is a brief moment of redemption when a few Second Year Students knock on the door with leftovers to share with us for dinner – pizza, hummus and veggies. Our gratitude is only surpassed by the realization that although our team of five has now dwindled to three, we still have at minimum three hours to go.

Stage 4: Acceptance

We are at meeting number four and the time is now 12:30pm – 30 minutes until our presentation. We have partially assembled ourselves in the hallway outside of our classroom and are clustered around chairs going over our notes. At 20 minutes to go, we have finally found all five team members. We each share our portions with the group and seek out last minute feedback regarding answers as we try to shake our nerves.

At 15 minutes to go, we realize what we have is what we have, so we print and pass around the bound copy of our paper.
We see the other team that will be presenting on the same case, and for a moment, feel a glimmer of hope as they too look nervous and they are unclear whether or not they have correctly broken down the case.

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Terp Marketplace

August 6th, 2012 by under orientation, student life. No Comments.

Nothing like a healthy dose of competition to wake everyone up.

As of today we have spent nearly two weeks in Orientation and I’m realizing now that if our schedule during school is similar to orientation then my vacuum will remain in hibernation until Thanksgiving. In fact, despite the trash talk between some of the newly minted “Class of 2014” I expected to walk into Van Munching  to be surrounded by less than enthusiastic Terps.

False.  From the moment I walked into Van Munching this morning with my bag of supplies, much earlier than necessary, I passed classmates carrying everything from crockpots of steaming food to printing supplies. We had been told to expect some faculty and 2nd year students to attend, but no one was able to predict how many Smith community members would voluntarily mill about spending “Terp bucks” to purchase goods and services from our class. Within twenty minutes after the start of the event, the hallway was packed.

Our team spent time showing glimpses of our project – “Get Out! Beyond Van Munching” a guide to activities in the Washington Metro area for newcomers and residents with longevity alike. The five of us worked really well together, rotating who spent time editing and designing and in the end I would be grateful to be on a team like this in any of my upcoming classes. Unfortunately we will be split before tracks, but this was the beginning of getting to know my classmates.

 

After a few hours of demonstrating previews of our guide on Kindles and iPhones alike to passersby, we were happy to end the day winning the “Entrepreneurship” reward. If only all team projects ended with a  cash prize.

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