Archive for the 'Complaining' Category

We’re down to less than three weeks from graduation. In terms of classes, I have merely this week and next week left. You’d think I’d be thrilled, but I still haven’t found a job yet and that’s a major source of stress.

Still, I’m looking forward to being done. This has been a major adventure in my life. I’ve made some great friends and gained a huge amount of highly relevant knowledge. I’ve been supported by loving friends and family, which has made a huge difference.

Before graduation I have - at this point - a presentation to give in Leadership and a ton of work and presentations for Data Mining. I’m pretty much done with Operations Management - but for an off-site visit. The end it is sight!

I was a few graduation invitations to send out from the school. They look pretty snazzy… I’m just not sure who I should send them to. I mean, aside from my family, everyone else has something better to do at 9:30 AM on a Sunday! Anyway, here’s a sneak peek:

The cover of the invitation

And, of course, the inside:

The cover of the invitation

Please, come if you’d like. If you can’t, feel free to send money… or just pledge to my student loans. (E-mail me if you need my address for this task.)

The end is in sight!

I just got the results for my Operations Management midterm that I took just before Spring Break… 99/110 (90%), which is, apparently, the highest grade in the class. This is probably the best school-related news I’ve had in a while. Woohoo!

Graduation day - May 11th - is rapidly approaching. A mere 40 days remain before the conclusion of this program* and I’m ejected back into the harsh, cruel reality of the professional world.

In terms of classes, I believe I’ve taken all the tests I’ll be taking as part of this program. In my leadership class there remains only a large presentation (and the background research.) In my Operations Management class there also remains only a presentation. And, to keep with the trend, in my Data Mining class, has two projects to complete. Classes are technically over on the 29th, with finals afterwards; since I have no finals, I have less than a month of classes left.

What does this mean? I’m searching for a job with painful intensity, yet still trying to stay engaged in classes. It’s difficult since the pace of the two necessities is vastly different. Yet, I will figure it all out… for better or for worse.

*barring, of course, unforeseen events.

It’s at this point in the MBA experience that we start turning our eyes to finding a job that will utilize this fancy degree upon graduation. Fortunately for me, there’s a 100% historical correlation between “Burton graduation from college” and “United States economic downturns“. So the job hunt is basically awful and everything - EVERYTHING - I’ve applied for has rejected me, either explicitly (”No, thank you.”) or implicitly (”Don’t call us, we’ll call you.”)

The problem is that I’m being ambitious. I’d really like to use the education and experience I’ve gained here to springboard into a career with upward mobility, but, as noted, that’s not working out so far for me. I’m starting to get scared; since I want to stay in the Portland area, I’m worried that I’ll just have to go back to doing what I was doing, which will more or less (in my mind) invalidate the last two years of my life. I’d be okay if it was just ~$100k-120k in lost income from quitting my job, but the $40,000* I’m going to owe in student loans may mean that this will rank as the biggest mistake in Burton’s long history of mistakes.

We’ll see, though. All’s not lost yet.

* with a student loan interest rate of 6.8%, my student loans (compounded annually) will cost me something like $226.66 per month in interest alone.

In an interesting marketing move, the folks at Atkinson decided to hold a video contest wherein people show off videos describing their MBA experience. I felt compelled to enter for many altruistic reasons… but also because there was a cash prize: $1000 for first place, $500 each to two runner-ups.

I teamed up with a friend to create “My Willamette MBA Experience”. I wrote most (if not all of the script) and did the filming, the editing, the narration, and even a bit of the acting. I was pretty impressed with the result, especially considering that I did it in about three days (though it actually represents about 23 hours worth of work.) Here’s our entry:

… and the contest was held, and my team was one of the runner-ups! I can’t link to the winning video right now, but it was really good. Still, we won cash, which is awesome. (By an amazing coincidence, my half of $500 is roughly what I currently owe the school for incidental fees this semester, so that’s handy.)

I had a rather unique opportunity this past weekend. One of our professors - the one who teaches my leadership class - decided, at the request of many students, to offer a seminar on real estate investment. The thing of it is that it’s not an “official” class. He volunteered his time to meet the demand from the student population, and even said, “Hey, bring any friends you want to.”

And that’s the whole reason I went. I’m more or less interested in the topic (I just don’t have any money) but I have a couple friends who are really into real estate investment. I invited them and figured it would be poor form if I myself didn’t show up. So goes my Saturday morning, last and next weekend.

The professor brings a lot of experience to the lesson. As we go over topics, he intersperses stories of his own considerable experience, which helps bring the lessons home. Also, he recommended a book, The Real Estate Game, which is quite interesting to read and full of useful tips.

The only real problem I have with this whole thing is that, after about three and a half hours of seminar, my head is spinning from trying to absorb so much information. But at least it’s interesting!

One of the concepts that’s resonated the most with me here at business school is the concept of alignment. We allude to it in almost all of our classes, from accounting to strategy. Alignment basically means that your business processes and performance metrics are in line with your company goals.

I thought this article, at BusinessWeek, really highlighted it well. The gist of it is this: Sprint/Nextel was losing a lot of money and customers. After the merger, they had a metric for measuring call center performance; shorter times spent with the customer were better. This led to customers being rushed off the phone and being left unsatisfied. After changing CEOs, the metric is now tracking the number of customer issues that are being resolved on the first call. Does anybody else see the difference?

Anyway, it’s an interesting article and apparently people still have to learn the lesson the hard way.

(Interesting side note: I have seen people in situations like this get promoted not on the basis of skill, but on the basis of “how many calls they can handle”. Organizations that work like that are truly broken. However, I had a great experience once calling HP’s Procurve support and being told by the engineer that answered the phone to take as much time as I needed.)

Today was my last day as Vice President (and, of late, acting President) of the Atkinson Student Association. We had a nice little luncheon off campus with the incoming and outgoing officers where we officially “handed off” the baton. What was really great was that we were given, as a parting gift, a pair of laser-etched wineglasses that say “Willamette MBA”.

Our nifty wineglasses

It does help, I’ll be honest, that I was consulted as to “what a nice gift would be”. I didn’t want - for instance - a pen I’d never use, that’s for sure. It’s been my stance that it’s nice to be asked what I want as a gift, because then I’ll get something I like. It’s convenient that way.

Anyway, I’m pretty thrilled to have that off my plate. I’ve handed off the editor-in-chief position for Atkinson Management Today and now this; it frees up my time so can really start concentrating on my job search.

“Out of control emotions make smart people stupid.” - Daniel Goleman

One of the topics we’re coving in my leadership class right now is the concept of emotional intelligence. The idea, posited by Daniel Goleman (quoted above), is that emotional intelligence is one of the most powerful factors that good leaders have in common. Emotional intelligence is, generally, comprised of elements such as empathy, self-control, self-awareness, etc.

The idea is interesting to me - that lack of quantitative intelligence can make a bad leader, but emotional intelligence is what it takes to make a good one. I’m not sure how I’d rate in his criteria; I feel that I know myself and what I’m capable of, but I know that there are certain criteria I don’t hold as well as others.

Nonetheless, I find the concept interesting as we delve more and more into leadership.

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