Archive for the 'Extracurricular' Category

My dedicated reader(s) will recall that, during my tour of duty in the Willamette MBA program, I was editor-in-chief of and contributing writer to Atkinson Management Today. AMT is, of course, our humble semi-annual publication of interesting and relevant business articles written, edited, and published entirely by volunteer students.

So it is with great pride that I announce the availability of my second article for AMT, entitled “We Got Lucky“. The gist of it is that Oregon is, by and large, in a pretty good place to ride out the housing crunch and resulting fallout. I wrote it several months ago, though, due to time constraints, the current editorial board is just now in the publication process.

Anyway, give it a read and tell me what you think, please!

As the end of the year rapidly approaches, there are two school traditions that I’ve participated in.

The first is Brownwater. Named (I believe) in reference to the inner-tubing that usually takes place down the mill stream creek that runs next to the school, it’s a weekend-long party with multiple events. This year I went to the casino night (not at a real casino; fake money, but real prizes), the comedian night, and the barbeque (where the float happens.) I did chose not to float down the stream, however, as the 40-degree weather (with hail) was a full-on indicator of a “bad idea”.

Brownwater 2008 (Casino Night)

Then there’s Blackwater. An unofficial event, completely unsanctioned by the school, it’s best described as a “raging party”, and everyone’s invited. With a couple kegs, plenty of drinking games, and a “it’s not fun until the police tell us to shut up” mentality going around, you can bet it was a good time. (And yes, the police did come by to tell us to shut up.)

Below are two pictures, one from Brownwater, one from Blackwater. I leave it to you to decide which is which.

If you guessed Brownwater, you'd be right.

If you guessed Blackwater, you'd be right.

Fun times!

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!

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.

Tomorrow is the Northwest MBA Consortium Career Day up in Portland and, being close to graduation, I shall of course attend. I’ll be trying to find a job in IT Management, IT Consulting, or something of that nature that allows me to leverage my background and the education I’ve thus far received. It will be an interesting experience.

Trying to find gainful employment is why I set up my burtonsimmons.info domain and why I had new business cards made (thanks, Ink Spot!) to reflect that. I went for something simple, easy to read, and somewhat classic looking.

My new business card

I hope it goes over well… we’ll see.

Of all things, the accounting professor has asked me to be one of two graduate teaching assistants for the first-year accounting class. Because I have difficulty saying “no” to anything, I agreed, and have starting putting in the hours to help ensure that the incoming students have an easier time of it than I did.

As I said, I’m one of two. The other assistant was a fantastic accounting student. She won the oral exam competition we had (I was in the bottom 20%) an got a perfect score on the business case write-ups (where I earned one “A” out of several tries.) The thing is, I have certain skills which would be handy when helping the students, and - according to the professor - I was someone who was reasonably successful in accounting (I did manage to end up with an A-) despite having no background in it whatsoever.

So now, for the first time ever, I have “office hours” (though don’t let the plural there fool you) and I’m getting paid a mighty $11/hour to help out. Which is fine, I’d probably actually do it for free.

As I mentioned before, I signed up to be a writer for Atkinson Management Today, the program’s small publication - though I didn’t manage to finish my article in time for last semester’s issue.  And, if you recall, I became the Editor-in-Chief of said publication in January.

So, it is with great pride (and relief) that I announce to the general public (that’s both of my readers) the completion of the Spring 2007 issue of Atkinson Management Today - complete with my article!

Now that it’s done, of course, I have a great deal of work to do before next semester.  We want to figure our a new format for it, we’re considering moving into print as well, and we have to figure out how we’re going to recruit writers for our next issue.   But those are problems for another day, I’m just going to revel in this for a moment.

Enjoy.

Today is the last day of classes. From here on we have only our IKEW exam and finals. This is also the weekend for Brownwater, where everyone from the business school parties for a few days. (As a member of ASA, I was on the planning committee.)

Our first activity is tonight, where there’s an event at our Portland facility. Hors d’oeuvres are being served and it’s going to be a big party.

Tomorrow morning there’s a golf tournament. (Not a big deal to those of us who don’t golf.) Then there’s a wine tasting in the afternoon at the Eola Hills Winery. (I was more or less in charge of figuring that event out. Tragic, since I’m not really drinking right now.) Then there’s a “Casino Night” at a local restaurant (with fake money, of course!) Many of the professors will be acting as dealers and most have contributed prizes to a raffle. Fun times are sure to be had.

Finally, Saturday morning there’s a 5K/10K walk/run. (I could run a 1K!) After that is the capstone event, a large BBQ that features a inner-tube float down the millrace creek. (I suspect that’s where the name “Brownwater” originates.)

Then we launch into IKEWs and finals…

In the ongoing drama of super-curricular extra work, in our first year at Atkinson we have to get ourselves a Microsoft Excel XP Specialist certification. The total process, thankfully, takes only about an hour and a half between the practice exam (highly recommended) and the actual one. I took my test yesterday and scored a 90% - quite the disappointment for me, though only 70% is required to pass.

The test is highly structured and demands answers in very precise (and, let’s face it, bizarre ways.) We were given a series of 15 questions that involved doing stuff on various worksheets. You’re actually penalized for knowing shortcuts in Excel during this test since your actions as well as the results are tracked. So while I only got 90% of the test right, I’m absolutely convinced that my results were 100% correct.

I mean, let’s look at some of the things I’m now certified to do:

  • Insert, delete and move cells
  • Check spelling
  • Save workbooks using different names and file formats
  • Modify row and column settings
  • Insert and delete worksheets
  • View and edit comments

While this list isn’t comprehensive, I knew how to do all of it before taking the test. Seriously, this certification isn’t anything I’ll ever put on my resume because (for me) it would be out of place among the “5 years supporting Microsoft Office in an enterprise environment” and “1 year programming Cicso routers”. Yeah… I’m also certified to run the Excel spell checker…

Last Friday I assisted with MBA Preview Day, an evening event where people interested in Willamette’s MBA program of already admitted have an opportunity to come see the facilities and interact with students, faculty, and alumni.

The first part of the evening was simply a “meet and greet”, where we stood around with hors d’oeuvres and sodas and greeted people as the joined us, making small talk and helping them feel comfortable.  From there we moved to a conference room for the “sales pitch” from our illustrious assistant dean, which also included a networking event.  Then we had a 45 minute panel session (on which I sat) where we got to answer questions about amount of homework (tons), class size (about 60), and the such.  I was - as usual - slightly caustic but funny, which helped lighten the mood it seemed.  I tried not to sound too bitter as I described the workload.  The students were then invited to sample classes (we had two professors around so they got to experience teaching styles for 45 minutes), then we went to The Ram for a drinks and another round of socializing.

It was a fun experience and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

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