Archive for September, 2010

The National Black MBA Conference

September 29th, 2010 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

Whew! What a busy couple of weeks it’s been for me. I got back from LA at about 1AM, just in time to get a few good hours of sleep before getting up to prepare for class on Monday. I’ll have to catch up on a few hours this weekend!

The National Black MBA Conference was a pretty great experience. Job interviews, meeting new people, seeing a few celebrities…what more could I ask for? Maybe I should say I saw one real celebrity, and some other people that have been on TV…that’s probably more accurate.

Me with the Dean of the our school- Dean "Anand"

Anyways, I spent both Thursday and Friday at the career fair all day, talking to companies like Bank of America, ConAgra Foods, GlaxoSmithKline, PepsiCo, etc. Most of the positions I applied for were for Brand Management. I was fortunate to have a few interviews as well, so hopefully I hear some good news. The Black MBA Associatio also hosted an Employer and Alumni breakfast event during the conference- I had the pleasure of introducing our Dean to the attendees.  Now for some other highlights of my trip:

Trey Songz performing at the Target party- First of all, who knew that Target not only sells everything you need but also knows how to throw a great party! Catered food, open bar serving “Targetinis” and a great DJ (all free by the way). Then, to end an already fabulous party, they brought out Trey Songz to perform a few songs! (He just so happens to be one of my favorite artist- SCORE!)

Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffles– this place is famous for its great food and of course the randomly delicious combination of yummy fried chicken and the BEST WAFFLES EVER. I’m still trying to decide if the authentic Belgian waffles I had this summer are better or equal. The food was amazing! And- very moderately priced to be in LA.

Sightseeing with classmates- We definitely didn’t have time to see everything, but we got around to Hollywood Blvd to see the Walk of Fame, visited Madame Tussaud’s Wax Musuem, the Santa Monica Pier, and Rodeo Drive. Good times!


Heading West

September 21st, 2010 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

Today I’m preparing for my trip to the National Black MBA Conference in Los Angeles, CA. I am super excited!!!!! (And a little stressed, but that’s just the way it goes.)

There’s been a lot of activities to do in order to get ready, partially because I am President of the Black MBA Association. From answering tons of questions for fellow students regarding logistics, to planning and executing a Pre-Conference workshop for the student body- it’s been busy! Not to mention I’ve had to get myself ready- practicing my elevator pitch, setting up a coaching appointment with our Office of Career Services, etc. Hopefully it all pays off!

Last year, I had a great time at the National Black MBA Conference in New Orleans. It was my first time there as well, so I had more than one motivation for attending. I made some great contacts and had a lot of fun seeing the city. The only thing is that they go by so fast!

I’ll be sure to write about my experience at the conference next week. I’m off to pack, print resumes, practice my pitch…the list goes on. 🙂

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"I didn’t come here to make friends."

September 14th, 2010 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

Watch a complete season of any reality show with some element of competition and you’re sure to hear these words. I think it’s supposed to tell people that you are focused- you came to win- that you are a serious competitor.  Right? For the most part, it’s just what is said in place of an apology when you’ve done something that’s not so nice in a competition. I wonder if that works in the real world…

Well, that’s not the way it is here (thank goodness). I came back to school with the goal of expanding my network immensely. (And getting an MBA, a better job, etc etc- you know the other stuff.) But seriously- I was determined to really take advantage of the fact that I was going to be in school full time and I wanted to make some vaulable connections. The students here are smart, talented, entreprenuerial – for purely selfish reasons I should want to get to know these people!

Out having a good time with classmates...

And now, as I evaluate my situation, I realize I don’t just have a bigger network- I have friends! How cool is that? And yes, I realize that friends are in your network- but people in your network aren’t always your friends, right?

Smith MBA women celebrating at a baby shower for our classmate.

So – the point I’m trying to make is that you can do it all. This isn’t some competition with every man for himself. You can win, get that great job, get good grades and, make some friends along the way if you try.  This is especially true if you are going to school full time. I mean, it’s very similar to living in a house with a bunch of people you don’t know (picture MTV’s The Real World). Seriously! That’s how much time you spend with your classmates.

And, just like on reality shows, some people even find their next boyfriend/girlfriend here! The only things that are missing are the catfights, backstabbing, and alliances. And the random, sort of degrading contests that you win to get immunity. Oh, and the eliminations. And a host.  But other than that, it’s essentially the same.

My group members and I feeling accomplished after a succesful final presentation in our Leadership class.

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Summer at Sylvan

September 8th, 2010 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

Thinking back to my first year as an MBA student, I remember being completely consumed by the internship search process. It was such a roller coaster of emotions. There’s excitement about the new possibilities that are available to you now that you have that title of “MBA Candidate.”  New companies, better pay (we all hope at least!).

There’s also this feeling of uncertainity. What type of internship should I look for to make sure I get to where I want to be? What type of company? Are companies still hiring? What does “MBA Candidate” mean to employers- do I have what it takes?

So, you can probably imagine what type of emotions I had in May when school was ending, and I did  not have an internship yet. If you would have asked me what my worst nightmare was at the beginning of my first year, I may have very well described this situation.

I did have one company that I was speaking with though- Sylvan.

Headquarters: Baltimore, MD
Approx. 900 centers in U.S, Canada, and abroad

Leading provider of tutoring and supplemental education services to students of all ages and skill levels.

My first interview with the recruiter had gone well. My second interview was going to be with the CEO of the company. Yes, the CEO- talk about a flat organization, right? Long story short- I received my offer letter in an email while I was traveling in Europe for a week. BEST-DAY-EVER!

I spent my summer working mainly with the VP of Franchise Growth and Sales and the COO of Corporate Centers. (Not likely to happen at a larger company I must say!) This was very cool, not only because I was working with the executive team, but because these guys happen to be two of the smartest and supportive managers I’ve had. Cheesy, but I actually felt like I learned a TON just be watching them in action. They were that good.

My main project involved working on a new way to price and bundle Sylvan’s tutoring services into differentiated packages- which had never been done before at the company. We developed a pilot program for 9 of the corporate owned centers that involved everything from new messaging  at all consumer touch points to changes in the sales process and CRM tactics. I truly enjoyed the entrepreneurial aspect of the project and the cross functional nature of it as well. Overall- a great experience.

So, a few pieces of advice for MBA candidates looking for internships:

1. Smaller companies can be BIG opportunities. You stand to benefit from increased visibility and the ability to implement real changes quickly,just to name a few things.

2. Forget about your timeline. Don’t forget about your plan- you still need to set goals for yourself. But, don’t set a date for when you have to have an internship. And don’t compare yourself to everyone else. Just work hard everyday, don’t give up the search, and your offer will come. 

3. Be open to companies and positions you didn’t think of originally. As an MBA student, you are expected to have an idea of what you want- but be sure to really evaluate internship listings to see if you can get what you want and need in a position or at a company that may not seem to be a direct match. Example- the Sylvan position was listed as “Corporate Intern.” Where would I be now if I’d only been looking for Brand Management positions at CPG firms?

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I signed up for this.

September 1st, 2010 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

I signed up for this. I signed up for this. I signed up for this.

That’s what’s been going through my mind. And school just started.

I wouldn’t say I’m stressed out, but I think I’ve come to realize exactly how much I committed myself to this year. Before I go into what may seem like a rant, or maybe a venting session, I’d like to say that I have no doubt this year is going to great. I just need to get ready for it and get out of summer mode.

So, before I started the program,  here is how I envisioned my return to school for my second and final year. Imagine:

-I complete the most awesome internship of a lifetime.

-I spend the last weeks of my summer vacation traveling, soaking of the sun on a beach, hanging out in DC with friends, sleeping all day, etc.

– I return to school like a senior in high school without a care in the world- because I’m graduating this year- YES!!!

Maybe not quite like that, but something similar…

But no. Not me- I signed up for responsibilities. And the thing about responsibilities is that you don’t really get to decide when they start or stop…they’re just there- and they’re yours. My responsibilities decided to kick in over the summer.

I should note- I didn’t just sign up for these responsibilities- I ran for them, applied for them, fought for them- I wanted them!

And I still do. This year, I am President of the Black MBA Association, Executive Vice President of the Smith Association of Women MBAs (SAWMBA), and I have a Graduate Assistantship with the Department of Marketing Communications.  I am also still wrapping up my summer internship with Sylvan Learning, Inc. which is headquartered in Baltimore, MD (more on this in another post). Oh, and by the way- best internship ever. I can check that one off the list.

So that may not sound like too much… but I’m also a member of the Graduate Marketing Association and a few other clubs that I like to participate in. And then there’s the reason I’m here- class! Class itself isn’t what takes up the most time. It’s the readings and group work. Finally, as a 2nd year, I have one activity that should be taking top priority. JOB SEARCHING! That is why I’m here right? Oh, and did I mention I have a two year old daughter?

So I’m busy. Or at least the year’s upcoming workload looming over me has me feeling like it.  And I probably wouldn’t have it any other way. 2nd year MBA candidate does not equal high school senior (go figure). From reading this you may not be able to tell, but I actually love it here. I wouldn’t change a thing. And honestly, I signed up for this. 🙂