Archive for August, 2007

Are you in the box?


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Week two has started and I feel great! It may be a bit premature to celebrate but I am actually starting to feel like I might belong here! Unlike last week, when I had absolutely no idea how to go about understanding the cases and depended on my LT 100% to show me, this week I feel like I am actually coming to LT meetings prepared and ready to contribute. I was also cold called this morning in the accounting class and felt really comfortable setting up the case and answering questions. Yay!

As of today, I’ve had 4 of my 5 courses for the quarter. Let’s recap.


  • Rough start, mostly because I had no idea how to approach the reading and cases, but I’m starting to get into it
  • It helps a lot to read the assigned chapters first, before getting started on the case
  • Use Excel! At first, I attempted to understand what was going without doing any calculations. It really helps to put all the numbers in a spreadsheet, including the ones provided to you in the case/book. It makes so much more sense if you go through the calculations yourself.


  • I have zero marketing background, so I was bit thrown off by all the numbers in the cases
  • We had to do “Marketing by the Numbers” modules, which helped with margin calculations and fixed/variable costs. These actually apply to accounting as well. There are several more modules to do over the coming weeks
  • So far I see this as one of my harder classes

Leading Organizations

  • The “soft” class - no hard numbers, mostly opinion
  • Read “Leardership and Self-deception”. I actually enjoyed this book and would recommend it for people to read

Decision Analysis

  • So far, so good!
  • I’ve taken a few statistics courses and I feel like it’s helping me and making it seem fairly easy so far
  • One of my favorite classes for now. We’ll see if it stays that way

Who has time to eat?

The first week at Darden is coming to a close. Let’s look at my schedule this week:
7:00AM — Wake up
8:00AM - 1:10PM — Classes
1:15PM-7:00PM — Lunch, work through assigned cases and other homework
7:00PM-10:00PM — Learning Team meeting, work through cases together
10:20-2:00AM — More self-study

So in conclusion, I’m averaging 5 hours of sleep a night, I can hardly find time to eat, and I’m already feeling behind on my work! On a positive note, I do feel like I’m getting somewhat faster in analyzing the cases, although I still find it hard to zero in on exactly what information I need to process. After yesterday’s LT meeting, I felt really well prepared for my classes this morning, which is a great feeling. Tomorrow is Friday and we only have marketing class scheduled, which will be followed by a community building exercise with our learning teams, which in turn will be followed by dinner with LT members. And after that it’s officially the weekend!

Learning Team intro…

One of the things aside from class participation that I was incredibly nervous about was the whole concept of Learning Teams. In fact, I don’t think I would be too far off base to say that a good portion of my classmates were just as worried about it as I was. There was certainly a lot of talk about forming “alternative” study groups in the days leading up to the big reveal today. Before finding out the names of our group members we were given a bit of a background in how teams are chosen. Apparently they don’t just pull names out of a hat, in fact, there is a whole science behind assigning people to different groups. Prior work experience, nationality, race, gender - all those are taken into account. Most Learning Teams have 6 members although some only have five.

I have to say that so far I’m pretty happy with my team. I am certainly humbled by their accomplishments and I am really looking forward to learning from and with them. With just one study session under our belt, I am already a big proponent of the LT concept. If I had to grade on a scale my understanding of the cases before and after the meeting, I would give it a 15 and and 75 respectively. Testing out ideas, asking a lot of questions - Learning Team is the place to do it all.

Must be present to win…

That’s it, I’m officially a first year student at the Darden Graduate School of Business. Today we had the welcome speeches by the dean, director of admissions and the president of the DSA (Darden Student Association). First, let me just comment on the fact that after pre-mat classes I really felt like I’ve met close to all of my classmates but I was oh so wrong. There were so many new faces in the auditorium that frankly it’s a little scary!

Some interesting statistics provided by Sara Neher, the director of admissions:

  • 318 first year students
  • 98 women (a new record) = 31%
  • 34 countries represented = 34% international students
  • average GMAT score - 688
  • there were 8 people competing for each spot in this year’s entering class
  • And let’s not forget that Forbes ranked Darden 4th! This ranking is based on return on investment.

Afterward we took the class picture on the steps of Saunders Hall. I do have to say that I was a little surprised that it was taken with a point and shoot digital camera, I guess I was expecting something a little more professional. After the class picture, we had a cookout in Flagler Court along with some faculty, admissions officials and families.

The schedule for tomorrow:

  • 8:00AM - Report to section class
  • 9:30AM - First Coffee in Pepsico Forum
  • 10:00AM - Return to classroom and meet with First Year Student Life Support Team
  • 11:25AM - Break
  • 11:45AM - Career Managment Course
  • 1:15PM - Done, pick up the week’s assignments from student mailbox
  • 2:30PM - Career Panel
  • 4:00PM - Darden 101
  • 5:00PM - The National Association of Women MBAs meeting

Heavy lifting

CasesThis lovely pile of papers is our official stack of quarter 1 cases. I don’t have a ruler handy but I’m going to estimate that it’s about 4.5 inches high. All that for a seven week period!

I really thought that I could manage here without a car, but I realize that I was sadly mistaken. It’s about a 15 minute walk from my apartment to the school, which in itself isn’t bad at all, but once you add in the weight of the laptop and the case binders it really gets much less attractive. It gets even less appealing when I think about wearing a suit and heels, or walking in the rain or snow. Anyway, back to the case booklets.

I haven’t worked up the courage to look inside any of them yet, but I did peruse the cover pages. Looks like in Q1 we’ll be taking the following courses:

  • Career Management Program
  • Marketing
  • Managerial Accounting
  • Decision Analysis
  • Leading Organizations
  • Operations

We’ll find out early next week the exact class schedule and also our section. By Wednesday we should have our Learning Teams assigned. I actually kind of can’t wait to get started, although I know that in a couple of weeks I will probably feel otherwise!

Day two of pre-matriculation classes was pretty much the same as first, except I was even more tired due to only getting 4 hours of sleep the night before. But hey, at least my accounting homework was correct!

And so it begins…

It was probably completely unnecessary, but after a social event of the night, I decided that it would be best to go ahead and do my first homework assignment. It’s now 3AM and I will probably regret this tomorrow during my eight hours of class, but I am done and it looks pretty correct to me (I think). In any case, I just really want to start the year off on a good note, which for me means going to class and doing all assigned work. Unfortunately previous experience shows that I’m 0 for 2 in those areas so I have to try extra hard. I was really tempted to drop the econ pre-matriculation course today, but just for discipline reasons I know I have to stick it out. Sigh. Stay tuned for day two…

So much to do, so little time

Technically, school hasn’t even started yet and already I’m struggling to keep up with everything that is going on. Time management is definitely going to be the skill to hone. Between classes, club meetings, homework, learning team meetings, company presentations, recruiting events, and social events, I’m not sure when I’m going to find the time to sleep! I also would love to squeeze a couple of workouts in there too and possibly eat, maybe. But I digress.

To get some extra last minute review before classes officially start I signed up for accounting and economics pre-matriculation courses. Although, I’m not sure that I am going to learn anything new in them, I’m glad to get back into the swing of things. It’s been four years since I left undergrad and let’s just say my attendance then was far from perfect.

So this morning started at 6AM for me as I was woken up by an overzealous bird whistling outside of my window. Thankfully I was able to get back to sleep for another hour at which point it was time to get ready for my first Darden class! Accounting class started at 8AM, and by 9 I was tired, hungry, and having hot flashes. At least there were no cold calls and we did get some free pastries and tea (or coffee) during our first break at 9:15. By noon when class was almost over, I felt like a new woman - energized and confident that I could tackle some t-accounts and statements of cash flow on my own. The four hours between 1:30 and 5:30 were spent in Econ class, which included a hands-on game of wheat trading to remind us about the laws of supply and demand.

My roommates and I made a pact to workout out at least a couple of times a week, so after class we headed to the AFC. After a mile run, a stint in the hot tub and the sauna, it was back to the apartment to shower and get ready for the social activities of the night. Oh, and let’s not forget that there’s still homework to be done!

It’s going to be an interesting year. I guess they don’t call it bootcamp for nothing.

Things to do before Monday, when classes officially start:

  • Career Next Step module
  • Math and Stats module
  • Resume
  • Finish setting up room/apartment
  • Celebrate Birthday
  • Get sleep

Packing is such a chore

Too Old for Roommate

I sure hope I like my roommates because this packing and unpacking is killing me. And I haven’t even gotten to the unpacking part! Ideally, we’re going to love our townhouse and each other so that we can renew our lease and neither I nor my roommates will have to do this again for two more years. I’ll be much happier in two weeks when I’m all moved in. Sigh.

I do know of one thing I’m going to love - washer/dryer in the apartment! There’s almost nothing worse than lugging 30lbs of laundry a block or three!

Caps on H-1B visas

I really don’t understand why the cap for H-1B visas is so low. It allows for only 85,000 university educated workers per year. This quota was exceeded in less than two days this year. Shouldn’t we want the smartest, most educated people from all over the world to work here?

I was excited to see that Darden is being very proactive in trying to change the legislation. Please read Dean Bruner’s blog entry on this matter.

What is success?

As I was working on my Career Next Step module for school, I came across this question - What is my definition of success? I generally have a very hard time answering questions like this. In fact, I just don’t like sitting here figuring out how I feel about anything or everything at all. Well, that’s not exactly right. I know perfectly well how I feel about many things, I just don’t want to sit here and think about why I feel that way. It’s so much easier to just ignore and skip any inkling of deep introspective thoughts. Here’s what Bessie A. Stanley, an American poet had to say about the definition of success:

“He has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much; who has gained the respect of intelligent men and the love of little children; who has filled his niche and accomplished his task; who has left the world better than he found it, whether by an improved poppy, a perfect poem, or a rescued soul; who has never lacked appreciation of earth’s beauty or failed to express it; who has always looked for the best in others and given them the best he had; whose life was an inspiration; whose memory a benediction.”

I find this definition inspirational. It suggests that no matter what your stature in life is, no matter how small your achievement is, as long as you led a positive life, regarded and affected the people around you in a positive manner, you are a success. Unfortunately, it seems like most people these days measure success in dollars. Sadly, I’m no exception. Although, I do like to think that I don’t necessarily want money for money’s sake, but because I feel like if you don’t belong to a certain echelon of our society your opinion doesn’t matter or count. I have a lot of opinions. Good or bad, I’d like them to count.

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