About Me

My photo
a baker-holic, choc fanatic, dessert-freak.. yeah and i'm south asian :). A happy member of the Fuqua Class of 2011.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Reflections from a year and a summer

Its a bit strange, when you get caught up in things, you do them without realising why and if they even make sense. B-school, for some, may be something like that. I've had some time to reflect this summer - during my internship, during my time off in the evenings and during this break from Fuqua.

What I've realised though is this - most people come to B-School thinking these 2 years are going to be the best ones of their lives - because thats what they've been told by their friends who went to b-school, whose friends' friends went to b-school and so on (you get the drift..). And in that quest to make it the BEST 2 years of their life, they go all out, thinking these 2 years don't even matter in a way. That in itself though is a idiocyncricity - if you can define 2 years as the best of your life, and you still have to live the rest of your life, how do you know these 2 years were the best ones? :)

My problem though, at a larger scale with B-school (not Fuqua specifically, B-schools in general) is this - why do people fall in the rat race? 90% of the people you run into are running the rat race - it starts off with who fits in best, the orientation parties, the 'best section', the 'best team', the 'best courses'..and as days and terms go on, it becomes the race for 'the best resume', the best mock interview, the best closed list notifications (how many did you get? as if number is a reflection of one's ability!), the best internship. Even today, mainstream schools don't recognise untraditional fields such as social entrepreneurship or non-profit organization management, as ones that require MBAs. The attitude may be changing but it still has a long way to go.

For the prospectives and first years just starting b-school , let me say this...these 2 years DO matter. Its impossible to be best friends with the people you meet at orientation parties on the 1st day and think you have so much in common with. Truth is, you probably won't run into them again for the rest of the 2 years! Networking is not a skill, talent or ability - its really a mindset. Either you agree with it or you don't. If you don't, don't try to make yourself agree with it.

Think over things that you end up doing and how you're spending your time too. I thought proms, luao parties and themed parties were meant for an age when you're still trying to prove yourself (high school? college?). At graduate level, it just seems stupid. To some, at least.

So - to b-school - and to thinking though your choices. Don't get me wrong - the academics, program and professors are amazing - but don't fall into the trap of thinking this is the best thing you're going to do with your life....you'll hopefully do much better!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

'Networking'...what is it really?

So I remember when I started my b-school process, a few words I heard a lot were 'networking'. B-school teaches you the art of networking, or so I heard. And thats when I thought, okay, thats great, I go to b-school, do whatever's expected of me, and I'll have acquired the art of networking. Only problem is I never knew what networking really is. Is it having the recruiter remember your name (because it may be that it's hard to pronounce, oh wait, he/she will forget it immediately then!), or is it having the comfort to do the "small talk" with recruiters - and that comes to sports, the National Championship, or the weather? No idea, really.
So I started out, not really knowing what exactly networking is, but knowing that somehow, someway b-school will teach me how to network. And thats when I started noticing what was going on around me.

So my observations of the various "types" of networking:

1. The sycophantic networker:
The scene? A company presentation - think of the big names - the top 4 consulting firms, or the big shots in the social media/ computer industry in today's age. Yep, you got it. And so, what plays out is this: You hear the company presentation, hear why company BigShot is so awesome, what kind of people are they looking for, and thats that. And then, the real stuff starts. You'll have say 5-10 company representatives, and within a second (and I literally mean a second), you'll have those 5-10 mini-hubs or SIP circles as they were called. (I'm assuming SIP means something like situational informational or something. hm?) Anyway, so yes, there we are with those 5-10 mini hubs. And now, here's the funny part. If you're the "outsider", just try observing the expressions of those 10 individuals (read sycophantic networker) gathered around that company hotshot. The expression is one that reads: I need a job, give me one; I don't care why you're here, all I know is that YOU can get me a job. Hence, my admiring expression.

So the problem is, I couldn't see myself playing the sycophantic networker. I thought it seemed ridiculous to try to sneak in a 2 minute "star story" or "why I love your company soo much", when surrounded by 10 other people, each trying to prove they deserve this more than you. Seriously though, from a recruiter's perspective, doesn't it get tiring? Or maybe, its just flattering.

I will say one thing though, any time I saw the circles developed, one and only one thought always came to my mind: "Like moths gathered to a flame".

2. The "I dont-give-a-damn networker":
This is the type of person who thinks they're too cool to meet recruiters, talk to them, and that your star-studded resume will get you the job you want. So, all you have to do, is fill in the application, send in your resume, and bam you're done. Thats how it worked before, right? So why shouldn't it work now?  

Well: (and this comes after working as a I dont-give-a-damn networker for a good 5-6 months, and then realizing why my approach may be wrong):...the point is, things are different now. Think of how many top b-schools there are in the US. Think of how many MBA grads come out every year. Add the ones who may still be looking for jobs from the previous years. Think of the other extremely qualified individuals, who may be non-MBAs and yet even a better fit for the job than you are. Think of the companies who don't even believe in the value of an MBA. 

And that makes you realize precisely this: You are a small fish in a big pond. You cannot change that. Remember it, acknowledge it, and re-strategize according to where you are.  Find your own comfort level in networking, you'll improve, slowly, but definitely. 

3. The "I network-with-reason" networker:
And so that's the final one. Thats the path I decided to take, and am glad I took. I realized (luckily not TOO late), that we all need to network at a certain level. What level and what type of networker you decide to be, is totally up to you, and thats fine. 

When I realized I really did need (and more than that want) a summer internship in the US, I started thinking seriously about what kind of companies interested me. Who could I reach out to? Who might be interested in speaking to ME given my background, experience and prior skills? I started thinking a bit about how to relate what I had to what company x really might need. So when you start thinking along those line, you'll be more comfortable in reaching our, expanding your professional network and learning from other's people's advice on your career. 

That: for me, is what defines networking, really. Being open, finding new avenues, expanding your horizons and actually taking an interest in why person x at company x is at that role - how has their career been shaped? What advice can they give you (given their lessons in their professional life)? Treat them like mentors, and you'll develop a longer "networking relation", rather than a bland "I need a job" relation.

As I started reaching out to my friends, friends' friends and so on, one person made a comment that had an impact on me. 

He said, "Choc Heaven (well obviously replace with my real name), Linked In is your friend. Use it."  That is very true. Right after that, I joined LinkedIn, and tried to see what the fuss is all about. Linked In is an amazing tool & can be your friend too :) Let it be one!

So..enough philosophizing, but here's hoping you're a step closer in understanding what to expect from b-school networking, and what you want to achieve from it!


Thursday, May 13, 2010

First year @ Fuqua over...


my first year at Fuqua is officially over.. damn!  But..it has been a truly great year.. and the best part is, this year has led me with many opportunities. To have the ability to dream, and see opportunities - I feel - is one of the luckiest feelings one can have!

I thought I would dedicate this post to my internship search and how it progressed. I feel like I did some things right and others wrong. But in the end, I think it paid off... To give you an academic calendar of my internship search , here's how it went:

August: School started, no idea what this whole internship search stuff involves.

Sept: Started attending company presentations after company presentations. Wisdom # 1: Do NOT attend the company presentations you really don't give a damn about. It doesn't matter if they hire ' a lot of internationals' or that they pay so well. If you're not interested, thats that.

Oct: Again, just trying to follow the crowd. Not sure why I went to all those presentations at this stage, and what I achieved from it all.

Nov: Missed out on the Week-in-Cities. Thought I was "too cool" to follow the herd, and go network by going on a 'Week in Cities' networking trip. Instead, I took it easy.

Dec- Jan: Didn't have any luck in the on-campus internship search. Finally realized why everyone said you need to 'network' (and what is that exactly? For next time) to get an internship.

Jan - Feb: Started thinking about which companies interest me, and how I am going to go about doing my off-campus internship search. Off-campus means that these companies do not come to Duke to recruit for internships, rather I have to contact them on my own, make an impression, and learn about the internship process.  Harder? Yes.  Less competition? Maybe, maybe not. Does having Duke / Fuqua alums in those companies help? Yes, but its not a pre-requisite. 

Feb - April: Started doing an aggressive internship search. Sending out emails to prospective employers, Fuqua alums, trying to learn more about the opportunities present, how they related to my past experience, where I wanted to be going ahead et al.

May - received my 1st internship offer: for a non profit in NYC. :) Work sounded great!
May - received another internship offer: for small and medium business consulting in Phillipines.
May- received the offer I finally decided to accept - headed to Bloomberg for this summer in NYC! Yay! Bloomberg sounds like a great place, and excited at the opportunity!

Lessons learnt from my subjective experience....

Don't give up hope. Stay positive. Be yourself in interviews. Be natural. Be genuinely excited about the work, company, culture. The markets are definitely better this time, compared to last year. Numerous, and i mean many many of my "international" students friends at Fuqua have gotten amazing summer internships. Its been a great year for all of us.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Being voted #10 in Clear Admit's BOB!


a little shout out to celebrate the e-victory of being #10 in this year's top student bloggers at Clear Admit's Best of Blogging contest! :)

its the second last day of my 1st year of MBA today, and I cannot even begin to explain how fast this year has gone by!
apart from other summer plans, I do vouch to fill in the silences by highlighting some recommendations fori ncoming students, news, and student life at Fuqua!


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Fuqua club-elections

So, only 6 months down with my FY and we're already fully fully entrenched in everything - I'm running for co-presidential elections of INDUS - S.Asia MBA Club; creating a platform, giving a pitch presentation, presenting our agenda for next year, and dreaming of what I'll achieve as Co-president - the politics has already set in. Lets see, results will be out next week. 

Fuqua R1 admits have already started becoming active - excellent! I guess some R2 applicants are hearing of interview invites nowadays - if any of you requires any advice, pls feel free to reach out or drop a message.

I'm sacrificing some study time for Operations & Inventory Management as I'm typing this - but couldn't resist the temptation to update with my little blurb about running for elections :)


Friday, January 22, 2010

Term 3 at Fuqua! Woo hoo!

I guess my track record at blogging hasn't been too regular...My last post was in November :( Wow, when I was applying to b-schools, I promised (myself) to be more regular so that fellow blogger readers could get more updated info on b-school life.. Sadly, b-school life is well, ever-engulfing. It takes you by in a swirl, makes you dizzy, until you realise the term's almost over.

And so today's the second day of Term 3. Half of my first year at Fuqua has flown by. Already. Wow, it has been super quick.

So, yes, the internship search is still going on. I relaxed for my term break - a whole 5 weeks. Quite generous I have to say. Perhaps I relaxed a bit too much.. But anyway, its back to spinning wheel once more :) 

Thank goodness Durham's less cold now. By the way - international students - if you thought Durham won't get cold because its in the South, think again. It definitely gets cold ...but then again, I am ever grateful I'm not studying in Chicago or NY - that cold is unbearable (for me at least).

So, again, Term 3. My courses for this term are: Operations Management, Market Intelligence (one of Fuqua's most prized and popular courses), GATE course in Latin America and Effective Advocacy. Interesting. 

I've also signed up for Junior Achievement (www.ja.org) - every week, I am going to train kindergarten / 1st grade students at a local school on how to develop business skills :) Now that's called an early MBA education! Seems fun nevertheless!

For all my Fuqua-applied-and-waiting-desperately-for-the-result-bloggers, relax! You've earned a great break..Hope for the best, and enjoy the time till b-school starts!


Friday, November 6, 2009

What Fuqua's all about...

I remember when I was applying to Fuqua, I had a hard time finding current student's Fuqua blogs, and not being able to visit the school as I was international (and the ticket was steep!), really left me wishing I could get a glimpse of a current student's life :) So, if any of you are in the same situation, here's a collection of my random thoughts on Fuqua, what makes it stand out amongst other B-schools, and what I've enjoyed about it so far.

Some common topics that you always wonder about:
1) School culture.
"Team Fuqua", yea baby, that's what its all about!

For me, Fuqua's greatest strengths are its focus on Team Fuqua (collaborative, team culture) and diversity. Roughly 40% of our incoming batch is international - and quite diverse - from nationalities, backgrounds, work experiences - everything. We get quite a few people from "non-traditional" backgrounds as well e.g. some of my batchmates are professional sports players, some have done non profit work in Latin America and Africa, some have had their own businesses, some have been school teachers. My favorite so far? Our batch is quite sporty- a professional (ex) NFL player, NBA player, and a tennis player too.

So, what really is Team Fuqua? Well, it basically means that you think as "we", not " I", to put it very simply. It means you should think globally, you cannot succeed individually - have to be able to benefit from and help others along your career and personal growth. The school prizes itself on its team-oriented approach - it's a close knit school. Probably this also has to do with the location - Durham's a small(er) city, sort of like a college town (but not quite), it's very different from the big city life you would get in NYC for example - as a result, you get to socialise with and see more of your classmates much more than I would expect for a larger city.

My favorite? Almost always see a classmate at Super Target when I do my quick 10 minute sprint of picking up some basic groceries or buying folders for the heavy course packs :P

2) What is student life like?
Student life is fast, crazy hectic, diverse, social, stress, fun, food, corporate presentations, friends, cultural activities, blur. It's all that, and much more. Why I find this question tough to answer, is because you really can't put down on paper (oops, blog), the whirlwind of activites that encompass a typical MBA student's day. But anyway, I'll try to be more specific.

One of the things I have enjoyed has been "Fuqua Friday" - basically every Friday, we have a 2 hour social event at school - with a theme. So a few weeks ago, as part of INDUS (South Asian MBA Club), we organised a Diwali Fuqua Friday; other Fuqua Fridays have also been done by other student clubs such as Chinese New Year, Jewish New year, Eid, Oktoberfest etc. It's a great chance to just socialise with your classmates and seniors (its open to 1st year and 2nd year MBAs, plus their families) who you may not have seen on regular weekdays due to the work load. It's also an amazing way of just learning so much about different cultures. The INDUS Fuqua Friday saw a lot of us teaching bhangra to our class mates :)

3) Some cool things?
Okay, so I find these things cool - its pretty subjective.
1) The GATE / GCP trips - I'm doing a GATE (Global Academic Travel Experience) trip to Latin America in March - other locations this year which you could choose from were S. Africa, Russia, China, S.E.Asia and Middle East.

2) Love Durham's greenery. Very pretty.

3) Mentored study opportunities.

4) Habitat for Humanity - any weekend, or whenever you feel like, you can help Fuqua build houses for H4H ( above) - it's pretty cool, plus such a good way of distracting your mind from the usual academic talk.

More later, I guess. Thought I'd throw this out in time for those of you eyeing the R1 deadline in case you had any queries on Fuqua!

Happy to help on any last minute queries, just leave a post.