Monday, September 28, 2009

Making the Most of Year 1

Two more days until the official start of class (why do quarter systems begin sooo late in the game?) and I wanted to offer my two cents on making the most of my first year. In creating this blog, I noticed that the vast majority of bloggers are full-time MBA students--so, where are the peeps who are doing this part-time? Working, I suspect, and leading super busy lives. Well, I'm no exception, but hopefully, I can encourage others to realize that yes, getting your MBA is important, but don't let it get in the way of your education.

As a working professional MBA candidate, I understand that time is a precious gift---with school, work and family obligations, I can already anticipate the craziness of this juggling act. However, I'm one of the crazies out there who wants to relish in the opportunities that an MBA presents with it. How does one accomplish this? Well, my's all about networking (or as some like to refer to as "schmoozing").

Case in point: From the moment you begin to think about b-school, reach out to the current students via the school's student clubs. Most schools don't post the current student contact info on their site, but once you browse the student clubs/activities pages, you'll notice a list of emails of their leadership team. I started this process a year ago and I've already befriended a few of the 2nd years. They are a great wealth of knowledge and advice. In fact, they are the ones who introduced me to the Women in Leadership & Net Impact clubs at Davis.

I'd also recommend attending the school's networking receptions. As a prospective and incoming student, I was really able to get a feel for the vibe of my future classmates by attending a good number of these events. Davis really stood out to me as having one of the most chill and down-to-earth group of MBAs who you could really start a good conversation with without having to fake the funk. I'm sure you've been to one of those events where the atmosphere is so uptight that you feel so suffocated and out of your element---the whole time wondering why the heck you signed up to be there when you honestly couldn't picture yourself befriending any of the folks you meet that night. Well, Davis was not like that for me, so I naturally gravitated to this group. In fact, I was just at the Dean's Welcome Reception earlier this week in San Francisco and meet a lot of new faces as well as bumping into a college buddy of mine who is also in same program---what a small world!

The choice to come to b-school was more than just getting the nice 3 letters after my name, but it had much to do with me hoping to enhance my personal and intellectual growth. Being out of school for 5 years sometimes made me question whether my brain cells were dead or alive. It's so easy to become complacent in our everyday lives and quite honestly, (and I might sound like a major dork for saying this but) I missed the critical thinking component that intrinsically comes with being immersed in academia.

Many moons ago, I blogged about my desire to attend a certain conference this year. Two hours ago, I just finished registering for the Net Impact 2009 Conference . Comprised of the top 30 MBA schools (yes, UC Davis is in the top 30 for CSR!), the conference is possibly the largest gathering for MBA students interested in issues pertaining to corporate social responsibility, sustainability, microfinance, social entrepreneurship and all that other good stuff. This year's theme is centered on advancing sustainable global enterprise. I have no idea what to expect, but from what I've gathered from the 2nd year students, it's a great networking and learning opportunity---so I'm down for anything. And just in case you're wondering, it's also being hosted by the Johnson School of Business at Cornell.

3. GET INVOLVED (somehow)
I know this can be much more difficult to do if you're in a part-time MBA program like myself, but your MBA is what you make of it. If you asked me to look back at my college years and tell you what distinctly stood out in my mind, I would not recount the chemical formula for a periodic element or tell you how to derive the standard deviation for a data set. I would, however, point out the handful of student organizations that elevated my social and political consciousness to help me understand and analyze my own personal and global views. I would point out the thousands of under-resourced public school students I worked with to ensure greater access to higher education and who (I might add) are now becoming the first ones in their families to finish college and also apply to graduate schools. These are the experiences that remain vivid in my mind and I can confidently assure you that the people and experiences I'll embrace in my MBA program will also be the lasting memories I'll have years from now. So, however you choose to get involved, I would encourage folks to really think about how they can make the most of their own MBAs because after all, for many of us, this may be our final foray into academia (at least for a while, right?)

BTW: For those of you who are applying to b-schools, good luck!!!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Oh my Word...Where Has the Time Gone?

It's gone to summer, that's where. I guess the nature of my blog is quality versus quantity, so since the first year of my MBA is nearly here, I'll definitely TRY to be more frequent with my posts---after all, it's also my intention to chronicle this important and exciting new chapter of my life with the hopes that it'll help both prospective and current MBA students on their journeys.

First off, I got some great advice from the 2nd year students in my program to 1) take it easy and go on vacation OR 2) get some preparation to make my fall quarter easier. Although I would have chosen the former option, after checking with the bank of Ms. Piggy, I realized she'd have to be saved up for my student fees. Oh, the sacrifices for this 3 year investment continues. I ended up taking a financial accounting course at the local community college and braced myself for a world loaded with statements of cash flows, income and balance sheets galore. Honestly, I felt like dropping the class my first week b/c I was SOO not motivated to take a class just for sh$%! and giggles (and I could probably dream up better things to do with my summer), but then I realized how helpful it would be for me once I started my courses in the fall and chugged on like the fool that I am. In hindsight, I'm actually really glad that I did since I learned a boatload of new concepts and even more surprising was that I LIKED it! I know, I'm wondering how that happened as well, but it was actually refreshing to be exposed to something I never thought I'd have the faintest interest in whatsoever. I also befriended some characters in class and even a fellow Cal alum. Go Bears! Overall, the course did equip with a new-found confidence in accounting especially since I was a social science major in college.

And as much as I would like to say that I finished the books on my summer reading list, I know very well that I'd be spitting out a big, fat lie, so I'll just be honest and tell you guys that it is seriously on my list of books to read SOON! But they are in my possession since I was very fortunate to receive the majority of them for my birthday---thanks to my hubby and sis for checking out my blog:) I guess blogging does have its perks, eh?

Fast forward to a couple days ago, and I just finished my MBA orientation. It was funny that I met a few of my classmates who recognized me from my blog (although I have no pictures of me on here). I read a while back that some first year MBAs felt a bit uneasy about so-called strangers coming up to them and chatting up about their blogs, but did we forget that our sites are public and anybody can view what we write? I personally didn't feel the least bit awkward, but it's nice to know that your blog is being read by folks who actually think what you have to say is valid. I sure as H#$% wouldn't be checking out blogs that are full of crap. I do, however, just have to be conscious of what I do post since it can always come back and nip me in the butt. For the time being, this blog has and will be a continuation of my journey. I know that when I was going through the MBA process, it was such a breath of fresh air to know that others where either going through or had been through the trenches before me and that ultimately gave me the motivation to keep on chuggin along. If this blog can do that for others, then consider me a happy blogger.

In the meantime, classes start Sept 29 for me and I'm taking financial accounting & organizational behavior this quarter. I expect that I'll love OB and continue to fine tune my skills in FA. So far, I am psyched for my professors (they are both women at the top of their game!). I'm also headed to meet up with my a GSM alum tomorrow and then a welcome reception with the Dean...will keep you posted on what transpires, so check back!