Archive for October, 2009

Job search and placements 2009

October 26th, 2009 by under General. No Comments.

It is almost the end of the third semester and I am nearing the end of my MBA. Studies have been taking away most of my time but just like my classmates, I’ve been juggling around trying to keep up with the work, the job search and spending some time with friends.

I have been spending considerable time on searching and applying for jobs but the interviews have been hard to come by.  Recruitment seems to have come to a standstill, and the news of the unemployment figures has been even more depressing. The stock markets are still volatile and even though some of the financial figures reported by some companies sound rosy, with many firms posting profits for the first time since the recession began, some people still believe that the worst is not yet over, not yet.

There have not been many companies on campus this year. Most of the students are still struggling to get their first interview call. The worst part is that it is the same across campuses in the U.S.  I have visited 3 career fairs this fall – the Asian MBA conference in New York, the Black MBA conference in New Orleans, Louisiana and the Hispanic MBA conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The situation at all the fairs was not very encouraging, although the Black MBA conference saw the most companies putting up stalls at the fair. However, most of the employers did not have a clear picture about the recruiting this year and wanted us to check on their websites sometime in January. Yeah, that is a big relief.  Anyways, I did make some good friends at these fairs and got to see some places that I may not have otherwise visited. I also had some good conversations with some of the recruiters. It has been a good experience overall.

Recently, the Office of Career Services released the recruitment statistics on the MBA class of 2009, and I was a bit surprised, especially because it did not look as grim as I thought it would be. BusinessWeek too recently published some statistics on best and worst MBA recruitments across the schools in the U.S. I was amazed to find that our school figured amongst the schools with relatively higher employment figures after 3 months of graduation.

The complete list can be found here – “Business Schools: Best & Worst MBA Job Placement

At number 6, the Smith School of Business had around 13% of the students without a job offer 3 months post graduation with a median starting salary of $85,000. The median salary was lower as compared to the other schools in the list, but that was in line with the historical figures for our school. So, I believe, our school did pretty well, given the dismal economic  conditions.

I would have expected lower figures but guess things may have improved a bit. There has not been much change in the economy as such; still the markets seem to be improving. Employment typically lags the stock markets, so I am hoping that the job markets will improve too. I am starting to get worried, but am hoping that things will improve in Spring ’10. Fingers crossed!

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Diwali celebrations & the end of term

October 19th, 2009 by under Events. No Comments.

The school has been in full swing for around 2 months now and it feels as if the work load has been continuously increasing by every passing day. Last week the first term of the semester concluded, which was good in some ways as some courses would end, but it also meant final exams for some courses, mid semester exams for others and reviews and submissions of group projects that we had been procrastinating working on up until now when they were due.

I used to think that the second year of my MBA would be less challenging and would give me more time to engage in activities outside academics, and not to mention get the full 10 hours of sleep I was accustomed to before coming for the MBA. Well, I do agree that there is much less to read in the second year compared to first year, but somehow there is so much more to do now. It feels like you are always working on some assignment, group project or participating in some activity, and you’ve ended up with actually lesser time than in first year.

Anyways, so all this was supposed to end, at least temporarily, with the end of the term. The first years too had been going through their high, with all the mid-terms and finals in the same week. A break was what we all needed. Thankfully, it was Diwali – the Indian festival of lights, and the International MBA Club organized an event to celebrate it. The event was organized on Thursday, right after the day the exams ended for most people. The atrium where the event was organized was filled with the smell of incense sticks and awesome Indian food, and decorated with the traditional “diyas” and fancy “dupattas”. There was a happy hour, with hits from Bollywood playing in the background, followed by some song and dance performances.

One dance performance to the tune of Slumdog Millionaire’s – Jai Ho, was especially amazing, because except for one, all other performers were non Indians who adorned traditional Indian attire and put up an extraordinary show. Building up on the tempo from the performances, the audience jumped in and formed a group and tried some Indian dance moves, with a lead guiding them to the tune of the latest Hindi pop songs.

Dance Performance to the tune of Jai ho from Slumdog Millionaire

Dance Performance to the tune of Jai ho from Slumdog Millionaire

The audience jumping in to learn the moves

The audience jumping in to learn the moves

It really is amazing to see how an event can bring together people from such diverse cultures and backgrounds and make them participate and enjoy the sounds and sights of another culture. The energy and fun everyone had was visible in the way people were just doing their own thing even in smaller groups and all over the place, just relieving themselves of the pressure that had built up over the past few weeks. This sure was a perfect ending to a term before we move on to the next, starting today!!!

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Exploring the value of interdisciplinary courses

October 3rd, 2009 by under On MBA courses. No Comments.

The second year of my MBA has brought about a tremendous change, not just in my thought process or the perspectives I have developed but also in the dimensions along which I think about issues. During the first year, we focused on developing the core business knowledge and skills, learning about the major components and functions of business, in addition to developing competencies in some of the tools and frameworks that are applicable across businesses. The second year on the other hand, has been more experiential and more application oriented, with an increased focus on understanding and actually working on problems across functional domains.

Most of the courses in the MBA programs across schools focus on the economic aspects, primarily because the sole motivation of businesses is to generate profits and create value for the stakeholders. For the most part, MBAs work on cases and solve problems to allow businesses to strengthen the bottom line of a company. However, there has been an increased focus on teaching ethics and social responsibility to business students, especially because recent events have shown that leaders have not being paying much heed to being responsible towards the society while fulfilling their fiduciary duty towards the investors.

The ethics course in the first year had exposed us to the idea of thinking about business problems across three dimensions – Economic, Ethical and Legal. The course provided us frameworks that could guide us in taking decisions, making us cognizant of the ethical aspects of engaging in businesses and the value of acting responsibly, especially when the conditions are tough and the stakes are high.

This year, I came across another unique course, which offers tremendous insights and from an entirely new perspective. This interdisciplinary course, titled Technology Law Seminar, has graduate engineering students, MBA students and undergraduate students in their fourth year. The course introduces students to legal issues commonly faced by management in a technology company, exploring various topics relating to intellectual property, with an emphasis on patent law and trade secrets. The cross-disciplinary nature and the value of the course is amplified by the very participation of students from different backgrounds – business, engineering and others.

Through reading assignments, and case discussions we are developing a general understanding of intellectual property and other areas of technology law, and feel challenged to develop strategies for both identifying and solving problems that intertwine issues concerning technology, business management, and law.

Having spent a year with people who come from different backgrounds and are very ambitious and business oriented, I find this class especially insightful, for the value it provides, both in terms of the content and the nature of the perspectives that students share in class discussions, and also the integration of the legal perspectives associated with conducting businesses.

I believe that more of such “truly” cross-disciplinary integrative classes should be incorporated in the curriculum of an MBA program, especially because such classes provide the platform to engage with people with different motivations and value sets. In addition, such courses enable you to be a better leader, a leader whose actions are motivated not just by economic profits, but are also guided by the ethical and legal implications of their actions on the society, thus allowing for the creation of  value in a responsible way.

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