Thursday, October 25, 2012

Closure (maybe)

Hiya classmates, applicants, current GSBers, MBAers from other programs, envious Stanford undergrads, and Derrick Bolton -

Thanks for reading and for all your awesome emails and comments. Whenever I get an email addressed to this blog, I get a warm and fuzzy feeling in my heart that brings back delightful memories of my time in Palo Alto at the GSB and that brings more appreciation to the amazing relationships and opportunities I still have because of the GSB.

Stanford GSB offers the awesome opportunity to leave daily professional activities and explore businesses and markets in a quasi-academic environment. Quasi because the MBA experience is constantly interjected with case discussions led by people out there running businesses, guest speakers bringing up-to-date market information onto campus, and discourse among classmates who are themselves business leaders and operators, past current and present.

Academic because yeah, you are going to learn Black-Scholes option pricing model from Scholes. You are also going to learn NPV, which I have sadly seen very few places outside of a classroom. Oh yeah, and you'll read The Jungle if you're lucky (and Malcolm Gladwell if you're not!)

Please take my prior posts (especially the debbie downer ones) as in-the-moment frustrations along an awesome journey from my pre-MBA life to the GSB and out the other end, and let me just reassure you -- it is worth it.

The GSB costs a pretty penny and forces you to quit your job and relocate to the 'burbs of Silicon Valley, but I wouldn't take back any of it. The only advice I would give my self of a few years ago is -- chin up, smile big, release the worry, and enjoy. For serious.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

long strange trip

I am disappointed in myself for not keeping up with this blog on a more regular basis. Thank you for the comments and emails and many apologies for being unresponsive the past 6-12 months.

I am however pleased that my reasons for being withdrawn from the blogging world are happy ones - namely that I have been enjoying so much of my time the past 8 months or so.

My classes have gotten better with the addition of electives as early as winter of my first year. Having a full year at my disposal to take whatever I want this year is shaping up well. My favorites so far and ones that I am looking forward to:
- Interpersonal Dynamics ("Touchy Feely")
- Designing Happiness
- Managing Growing Enterprises
- Understanding the Recent Financial Crisis
- Paths to Power

I am learning so much that already feels applicable to my life and career.

In other news, I am getting ready to embark on a vacation with classmates to a third continent this calendar year (first was my study trip, second was my international internship).

I had a fantastic summer at my two internships - I learned the type of organization that I would aspire to build and lead and also saw the type of organization that stifles problem-solving, creativity, and high performance.

I have begun to leverage the Stanford GSB network and have been amazed and thankful for the responsiveness of even very senior people. Stanford grads are, with few exceptions, universally willing to open their rolodexes and minds to other GSBers.

Meanwhile, my relationships with classmates have gotten both deeper and broader. I know more people and feel more at home in almost any setting at the GSB. In addition, having a full year of context, including time away from people this summer, gives my close friendships much more depth than we had even in the spring.

I am certainly glossing over some of the struggles that I have had the last six months, but generally, I love the GSB.

Monday, May 17, 2010

things are looking up?

Internship - check
Partial-quarter classes starting to go away - check plus
Summer housing - check minus
Summer travel plans and flights - check minus
Alienating my academic advisor - check plus

So that's the latest around here, folks. And with the quarter ending officially in less than 3 weeks, I don't feel a drop of nostalgia, anxiety or fear that my time at business school is passing too quickly. All I can think is, so long farewell I'm out.

I cannot wait for the school year to end and to re-enter the working world in a relatively risk-free role as the summer intern. I get to make a little money (precious little). I get to socialize with people who aren't my classmates. I get to learn about an industry that makes me tick. I also know that during my fifteen weeks away from the GSB, I will get to do a lot of reflecting on the good and the bad at Stanford. There is a lot of good, but I often need to be removed from a situation to remind myself of all that I love about it. I hope that my summer experience will help me solidify my business school "learnings" and reinvigorate me for my second year.

Or at the very least, I hope I'll get a good tan.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Summer dreams ripped at the seams

I have no summer internship and it is starting to get a little bleak around here. I'm tired. I'm disheveled. I've lost track of my "story." And I'm really really whiny these days.

I have learned a couple things that I am happy to share with other job searchers:

1. Balancing an interview "pipeline" with companies you're waiting to hear back from is tricky to say the least.

2. Don't assume that you'll be juggling multiple offers and will have to turn away one of the companies nicely. Get over that assumption, pick your ego off the floor and move on.

3. You know you aren't that psyched about a job when the thought of interviewing with them seems like the most annoying chore on your to-do list, and you wish the hiring manager would just pick up the phone and tell you that they are canceling your interview because the position has been filled.

4. People expect a lot more from MBA candidates than they do from undergrads and pre-MBA job switchers.

5. Have questions for your interviewers. Good smart questions. Write them down in the notebook you're bringing to the interview so that you don't go blank.

6. Having a put option on yourself (i.e., an offer to return to your old company) can make you really jaded/lazy.

7. Remember when I said not to pursue crap you're only marginally interested in? That was good advice.

8. Stay hydrated.

I'm off to the GSB show, which should be highly entertaining. Have good weekends!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Mo money Mo problems

For a while, I have wanted to write a post about money at Stanford and more generally, at top American business schools because I don't believe that the spending mores of GSB students are unique among business school students.

Two events spurred me to stop delaying:

1) 2nd quarter tuition is due tomorrow. (That's two for two that I have paid on time!)

2) The weekly GSB email of compiled announcements and deadlines informed me today that the Stanford Board approved a 3.5% tuition increase for incoming GSB students. Class of 2012 will be paying $53,118 while members of the class of 2011 (current first years) will still be paying only $51,321 because the school commits to keeping tuition flat during each student's two years of study. (Before I get comments from readers who are outraged that I consider $50K+ a paltry sum, please take a deep breath and realize that "only" is being used facetiously in the previous sentence. Thanks.)

The issue that has been troubling me is the buy-now pay-later spending habits of members of the GSB community. I don't have time tonight to discuss in depth, but I want to begin to write about how we Stanford business school students spend money and what that means about our attitudes towards our job prospects, how that might limit our abilities to take risks, and why everyone else should also be worried.

How we spend money: Recklessly (e.g., mid-week trips to Vegas, regular jaunts to San Francisco and wine country via party bus, numerous official events that cost >$30 per person, international travel every chance we get). How we pay for it: Loans for the vast majority of us. How we treat people who express concern about not being able to keep up: Dismissively and derisively.

How we implicitly view our job prospects: Optimistically. Clearly if we are willing to saddle ourselves with US$200K in debt, we are confident that we will be able to pay roughly $10K per year for the first twenty years of our post-MBA careers. Important to note is that if we decide to stop the principal amortization clock for any reason (e.g., inability to find a job because of prolonged elevated unemployment levels), interest continues to accrue.

How this debt limits our career choices: Safe bets on consulting and banking take the place of start-ups. It's tough to pay down debt when you're getting paid in equity from a start-up or bootstrapping your own venture with credit cards or money from friends and family. The monthly fixed payments from debt skew career choices towards well-worn tracks, while existing debt load makes it difficult to take out a new loan to start a business.

Why everyone should worry: There may be more reasons, but two immediately come to mind:
1) The first stems from the issue I raised above about MBA grads veering away from riskier careers. This is problematic because well-trained managers should be trying to start new businesses to solve the world's problems. Losing a portion of young, energetic, but debt-strapped MBAs does not bode well for the "innovation economy."
2) This endemic attitude is inherently irresponsible and short-sighted, and it is distressing to see the business leaders of the future refusing to make tough choices about how to spend their own money.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Summer Hunt

I am trying to be very focused on my summer internship search, which should take me out of OCR (on-campus recruiting) for the most part. However, I am finding the job board and classmates' aspirations to be very distracting.

A winery in northern California, a New York private equity fund, Apple's online store--none of these are great fits for what I want to do this summer. However, when I think long enough about them, I seem to be able to fit them into a box that makes them acceptable enough to invest 30 minutes writing a cover letter. But do I really want to invest a couple hours preparing for an interview and then an hour actually doing the interview on campus? And if I got an offer, would I accept it? No and no and no.

But the real problem is actually not the 3-4 hours applying and interviewing for a job I don't want. The problem with this strategy is that when I expand the universe of jobs to pursue from truly excellent fits to maybe-I-can-get-them-to-fit jobs, I am completely inundated. There are enough potential positions that are truly excellent fits that I barely have enough time in the day to make the connections I need to pursue them, so opening up that universe by even half a degree is to truly open the floodgates.

Time to refocus.