Archive for the 'Thoughts' Category

Well, as this site nears the end of it’s update-able life, I’ve decided to move it. You might notice that in the address bar now says instead of or just

It is my intention - when I finally get a job and move out of Salem - to start a new blog based on new experiences. (The implication here is that I’m not entirely employed yet, despite having graduated three months ago.) Still, when that day comes… watch out!

The old addresses will forward here for the next while, but eventually this will just be a glimpse into the past and nothing more.

I started this blog with the intention of capturing my MBA experience and its immediate aftermath. While I’m still unintentionally unemployed, eventually the purpose of this particular blog will no longer exist. My loyal reader(s) might be wondering, “what’s next?”

The answer, as it so often is, is “it depends”. At some point I’ll be archiving the “Adventures in Business School” and starting a new project. I enjoy blogging, and I’ve enjoyed capturing my thoughts and feelings as I’ve gone through this process. When I move to Portland (which is where I really want to be) I’ll probably find a new theme to start writing about. My goal is to make this particular blog permanently accessible, though, for anyone else who might be thinking about an MBA.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this. I still have a few entries yet to put in (as the job hunt continues) but the blog will be winding down. Thanks for following my adventures!

It’s been over a week since graduation, and I’m still unemployed. Apparently I’m not alone, though. As of last week, only about 40% of our graduating class had found positions, which is significantly lower than in previous years.

So let’s talk about my job hunt for a minute.

First off, there are two kinds of rejection. There’s the explicit rejection, where some company is good enough to tell me that no, they’re not interested. Or they’re looking for something else. Or they’re not filling the position. Or the salary I’m looking for isn’t in the range of what they’re looking to pay.

I can deal with explicit rejection. It provides a nice closure, and at least there’s feedback.

What I’m experiencing a lot of, though, is implicit rejection. Implicit rejection sucks because there’s no feedback whatsoever. I just don’t hear back from a company. I put a lot of work into my resume, a cover letter, and putting all my information into their database online (which asks for the same information that’s in my resume, which they also want a copy of), yet they won’t do me the common courtesy of returning any of my follow-up phone calls or emails. Many companies just have a wall and a “don’t call us, we’ll call you” attitude which is, quite frankly, extremely disrespectful of the time I put into try to find employment there.

So job hunting is unpleasant. It’s unrewarding. It’s frustrating to call a company to try to follow up and hear, “Oh, our recruiting department usually handles that… and they don’t take phone calls.” (Yes, that’s an actual quote.) It’s painful to try to get feedback so I can modify my search and search behavior… but I can’t even get an echo from the void.

Job hunting sucks a lot. That’s all I’m going to say.

In the speeches we listened to during our commencement, we were showered with the advice of others. Everyone from Tom Brokaw to Theodore Roosevelt:

You are educated. Your certification is in your degree. You may think of it as the ticket to the good life. Let me ask you to think of an alternative. Think of it as your ticket to change the world.
-Tom Brokaw


To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society.
Theodore Roosevelt

Let me offer my own quote for posterity. Please, somebody, quote me on this view of education:

Give a man a fish and you’re out one fish; teach a man to fish and you can charge him for the education.
- Burton Simmons

… it’s a business model.

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.)

“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.

So you write one post critical of a few things about Willamette, and - because I’m a computer nerd and I pay attention to the logs - 6 unique visitors (all from Willamette University) visit the site within an hour. (Notable because I rarely get more than two visitors in any given day, most of which are people looking for hints on Markstrat.) All visits were directly to that somewhat critical post. I strongly suspect someone saw the post and emailed it around, which makes me an unhappy panda.

In the interests of not stepping on too many toes until I’m safely out of here, I’m going to go ahead and make that post “private”. I’ll re-enable it when I graduate. If anyone is that curious about what I wrote, all you need do is email me and I’d be happy to discuss it.

… by the way, if anyone knows who “Reader Zero” was, I’d love to find out how they found my post so quickly.

I wanted to take a moment during my winter break, after my last final of fall semester but before grades have arrived or spring semester starts, to thank those people who’ve supported me during my MBA adventure. I’m not going to name names, but if you’re reading this, chances are pretty decent that you’ve been a good friend to me during my trials and tribulations as a broke college student (again).

I have some of the best friends on the planet; friends who have been kind, patient, understanding, and supportive as I run through this particular phase of my life. I have friends that give as much as they can while understanding I can’t reciprocate - and they don’t complain. Those friends are the friends I’ll cherish for life, and to whom I am deeply indebted.

And to those friends, I can only say, “Thank you. You are appreciated.”

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