Archive for the 'Too much work' Category

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.)

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.

One of the three classes I’m taking is “Leadership”. The class is about (if I understand correctly):

  • What a leader is
  • What makes a good leader
  • Knowing ourselves
  • What we can do to make ourselves good leaders

I’m looking forward to the self-examination. Tragically, this involves taking a lot of personality tests - something I’ve always disdained because they never seem to take into account the nuances of a person. The reasoning behind taking them, though, is simple: know ourselves and be able to see how we stack up against a so-called leader. (Then knowing what areas of self we have to work on to be most effective.)

The class is a lot of work. Not that I’m one to complain about work, I just find it to be occupying a disproportionate amount of my time. The professor’s method is to assign us a bunch of reading - all of it relevant - but trust us to read it and not test us on it or even necessarily discuss it in class. The idea, it seems, is that we’ll read it because it’s good for us. I, of course, always do the readings, but I cry with frustration whenever I try to decipher the syllabus to figure out exactly what we’re supposed to be doing. I mean, it says things like “on the first and fifth sessions, do [this]“, and makes me cross reference the reading we’re supposed to be doing with the list that tells me who wrote it, since I have to hunt it down in the library catalogs myself. Just a minor frustration, really, but a frustration nonetheless.

Since a leadership position is a goal of mine, I hope I get a lot out of this class. I’ve already known some areas I need to work on for a long time and I know many of my weaknesses, but it will be interesting to see what’s revealed through this class.

Tomorrow is my first day of school of my last semester of my MBA program (if, of course, all goes according to plan.) I’m signed up for a paltry three classes at this point, which is precisely the number I need to graduate. There are, of course, plenty of classes I want to take, but financial reasons (if nothing else) prevent that.

I’m currently registered for:
Data Mining/Information Based Products
Operations Management

I’m hoping that these three classes will round out my education nicely as well as giving me the background I need for success in the future. Hopefully, too, the schedule will give me plenty of time for job hunting - and I assure you, my dear reader(s), that a job is something I’m eager to find.

It’s just days before spring semester starts (and a full month after I took my last final), and I finally received all my grades for fall semester.

Business & Economic Forecasting: A-
Negotiation: A-
Marketing Strategy: A-
Public Finance: A
Project Management: A

While my grades were better over the summer, my GPA then was based off just one class. This time I took five graduate courses and managed to end up with a 3.82 GPA for the semester and it pushed my overall GPA up to a 3.74!

Yeah, I’m feeling pretty awesome about that.

Well, I took my last final for fall semester and I am officially done with courses for 2007. Oh, I still have some work to do for various professors, but none of it is for a specific class. Also, I’m done a week early (since I only had one final and my professor graciously allowed me to take it before the weekend) so I can now enjoy my winter break until about January 14th!

As I noted a few posts ago, my team managed to be the co-champions of the MarkStrat simulation. In the spirit of showing off, we were actually given a nice-looking certificate by the professor for doing such an awesome job. (He said something like, “Burton, I was impressed. Not only did you talk a lot of smack at the beginning, but your team actually managed to win, too!”)

Anyway, here’s my piece of paper:

Our MarkStrat Certificate

Today is the beginning of the end of the semester for me. Tonight I take the final for my public finance class.

I’m pretty terrified.

Yes, I have - of course - put time into studying. I’ve read darn near the entire textbook, and I’ve attended every class and done a good job on all the homework. The problem is going to be the format of the test - which will be the same as that of the midterm.

Now on the multiple-choice midterm, I had the second-highest grade in class. I was only one point behind, too. However, the problem is that the midterm (and final) were written by the authors of the textbook. Our class discussions have been helpful (and I have pages and pages of notes) but the questions asked are truly obscure.

For instance (and I’m generalizing here):

“This phrase” is an example of:
a) something
b) something else
c) a third thing
d) even a fourth option

I’ve never heard of “this phrase”. I even went back to the book (as did the person who got the highest grade on the midterm) to try to look up the answer. We looked up all the different things that could be the answer, and still never found it. That makes it a little difficult - even on a multiple choice test.

I’m looking forward to this test, though… because after I take it, it’ll be done.

My negotiation class had its final session a couple weeks ago. This was not, however, the last thing I had to do for the class. We still had a take-home final to do, but the professor was going to send it to us electronically later in the week.

Well, that time came and went and we did, indeed, get an email with our final in it. The final was not designed to be especially challenging; our workshops and intermediate papers were where the real work was. The professor even stated in the email that he didn’t expect us to spend more than a couple hours on it.

… and I didn’t. We were given a week to work on it - it was due last Tuesday. Being surprisingly proactive, I even finished it several days in advance (Sunday) and planned to print it out at school and turn it in Monday. (I don’t have a printer at home, since I a) don’t print a lot, and b) don’t have room for it in my 300 square-foot apartment.)

Well, Monday passed and, you know, being in a Master’s program, I got really busy and forgot to turn it in. No big deal, I’ll do it Tuesday.

Well, Tuesday came and, in the hustle and bustle of getting everything done for my other classes and getting ready for Thanksgiving… I forgot. Plain and simple, I spaced it.

Now, I didn’t remember all of this until Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, at which point I desperately penned an email to my professor with a humble apology, an inadequate explanation (how can you not look down upon “I forgot”?), a copy of my final, and of offer to do any extra work I could to complete the class should he not accept it (or just deem it necessary.)

After a night of fretting about it, I woke up Saturday and forwarded that email from his school address to his personal address (wanting to cover my bases.)

To my infinite relief, the professor chose, Saturday evening, to show mercy and accepted my final, late though it was. Words can not describe the worry that was alleviated upon reading his reply.

And that is the story of narrowly avoided tragedy in my Negotiations class.

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