Sunday, April 13, 2008

Evolution with time

Life is still busy. I just got back home after leaving for school early in the morning.

Here's how I spent my day:
0200 hours: Go to sleep. Have done enough socialization for the day.

0715 hours: Wake-up!

0800 - 1530 hours: Reach school and then proceed for COLE Leadership Fellow Team Building exercise at an Army Base Camp near Durham.

1600 - 1700 hours: Brief pit-stop at home. Shower and dress up for a Leadership celebration event at a nearby restaurant.

1700 - 1830 hours: Attend the event.

1830 - 2100 hours: Classmate's daughter's first birthday party.

2100 Hours: Scheduled phone call with a Class of 2010 admit.

2200 hours: Writing this blog and debating whether I should go for the awesome Fuqua Latin Party taking place tonight. Or should I just sweat it out at the racquetball court for an hour and then hit the sack?

This is a far cry from a day in my life around six months back! There were learnings then, there are learnings now. Each interaction here has the potential to enrich your experience. I am learning that there is a certain time for every type of experience. Hopefully, I am going through my set of experiences at the right time - neither too late nor too early.

In other news, an admitted student mailed me informing that I am one of ClearAdmit's in the Best Student Blogger category. Not too bad, huh?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Chicago must be beautiful

I was invited by my summer internship employer to spend a weekend in Chicago. Met people at the firm, got to know prospective fellow interns better, partied for a couple of nights, caught up with old friends from India, all this while staying in a plush hotel in the heart of downtown.

I like Chicago for some reason. It was typical Chicago weather, what with the winds and the snow. However, I get this feeling that it is a buzzing place. There's movement all 24 hours, everyone looks busy, people are friendly, so many activities going on any day of the week and there's plenty of history associated with the city. There is a certain order to the chaos in Chicago. Having spent four years in Bangalore and having loved every moment of it, I guess that's the way I like it. I hear that Chicago is particularly vibrant during summer time and I look forward to spending 10 weekends there. Hopefully, I will get a decent nest in downtown itself, and that will enable me relish the place even better.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

ISB versus a top B-school in the US

A lot of my friends in India are faced with the option of MBA from ISB versus an that from an American B-school. I will take a shot at penning down my opinion on this.

The first step is to figure out what factors are relevant to making this decision. Some factors that I can think of are:

Career Prospects
Both the breadth (range) and depth (options within a particular job description) of career paths is important. I think a US MBA has an advantage here. Brand recognition is critical specially when you are looking for jobs that are not run of the mill.
First of all, the sheer range of options that are possible if you are graduating from a top B-school in the US is unparalleled - Investment Banking, Sales and Trading, Private Equity, Hedge Funds, Wealth Management, Venture Capital, Consulting, Real Estate, Marketing, Sales, General Management jobs in almost every industry vertical that you can think of - the list is as endless as the number of job profiles that exist in this world. A US MBA opens window of opportunity to many more possibilities than ISB would. Caveat - As an international student, it is really difficult to enter into job functions such as Marketing.
But then what about people who want to pursue careers in industries where it is possible to find a job through ISB? That is where the depth comes in. You have the opportunity to get an Investment Banking job with Goldman Sachs in New York or London of you are graduating from ISB. However, do perform due diligence on what percentage of people actually get the job - more importantly how many people having your background and experience get what they consider to be the best possible scenario. This should be particularly relevant to career switchers - it is easy to switch your function or your industry, but difficult to do both things simultaneously. A US MBA will open that much more possibility of you pulling it off than an ISB. If after graduation, you would anyways prefer to work with Cognizant versus the same job profile in Google's headquarters, then ISB is probably a better choice.

Return on Investment
A major concern about US B-school education is the extremely high fee, specially when converted to Indian Rupee. I wonder if anybody would have even bothered comparing the two options had the investment amount been the same. Joining in the US is definitely a bigger risk - given that it is a bigger investment. However, the returns are definitely bigger as well - even if we consider only money and no other aspect. Question you should ask is what you want from your career in the long term. In the short term, it will probably take the same time to pay back either loan (assuming that you are taking a loan that is).

B-school experience
B-school is a remarkable journey. You have to live it to believe it. Academics is just one small component of the journey. Apparent cliches like diversity in cultures, ethnicity, professional backgrounds can only be appreciated once you are here. My curriculum team of five at Fuqua consists of a people from three different countries and five different professional backgrounds. This is so typical of any MBA student's experience in the US. The educational and learning value of this team I realized only after I was a part of such a diverse team. I doubt if one can get the same experience at ISB. Also, the skills that get ingrained in you by experiencing and learning so many different cultures can only help you in the real business world.
I am sure the quality of education in terms of faculty and facilities are at par with the world's best at ISB. Still, not everything is taught and learnt in the classroom.

Alumni effectiveness is a very strong factor in the business world. We do not realize this much in India, but networking is almost a make a break factor in business - and networking starts with alumni most of the times.

A two year MBA makes it easier to transition into a new career. This relates back to the first point about career prospects for career switchers. A summer job is mutually beneficial for both the student and the company. You get a chance to explore and understand whether you actually want to do that job or not. The firms are also more willing to give you a chance to explore and learn.

There can be numerous other factors that can be deciding factors - such as geographic location, personal reasons, weather, affinity to Hyderabadi cuisine etc. To each one her own. I do not think you can go wrong either. It is more a matter of what you want from your MBA and from your career.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Thank you Life, Thank you Love

Watching Marion Cotillard deliver her cute thank yous at the Oscars '08 and later on thank you cam, took me back to my own special moments that life has given. The day I cleared my engineering entrance exams, the day I got my first job, the day I got my letter of acceptance at Fuqua, the day I bagged my dream internship - all moments of triumph, lots of silent thank yous and momentary speechlessness. Thank you Life!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Decisions Decisions...

It is decision time of the year for many. I am getting many queries from first round admits trying to decide which school is the best for them (certainly a nice position to be in). Then there's others deciding what to do with waitlists. I was waitlisted same time last year and was not even sure whether I'll be heading to a B-school or not.

On the school front, many of us are deciding what internship offer presents the best opportunities in terms of interests, future prospects, summer experience etc etc. Many are still hunting for their ideal job. It has been a crazy six months of B-school experience - most of it focussed towards that dream we aspire to achieve with the help of an MBA.

I will talk about recruiting and internships in another post. Lets focus on B-school decision for now. The tough part for some right now is deciding which is the best school to attend out of these. Here's my two cents:

1) Visit the schools if you can. Many schools have an Admitted Student Weekend to help admits experience the culture of the school and know their prospective classmates. All my classmates who attended the Blue Devils Weekend say that it was vital aspect of their decision whether to join Fuqua or not.

2) Do not let perceived B-school reputations sway you into a wrong decision. Rankings might have been helpful for you in beginning to research about schools, but that's where your dependence on them should stop. Do not think that a school is not good in Brand Management simply because it doesn't have a course named 'Managing Brands' in its curriculum.

3) Speak with current students - they should be your best resources of information. Ask them what they were looking for at Fuqua and whether they got that or not - both from a professional and personal development aspect.

4) When it comes to placements, one metric I find useful was the ratio of students getting a job to the number of students applying for that job. This is a difficult number to get though. Again, current students can help you here - they may not have the numbers in their notebook, but they sure do have an idea of how many people were vying to get into a particular industry and how many actually got through.

5) Finally, try to figure out how would you like spend your two years.
Do you want to know your classmates well enough that you dont have to introduce yourself all over again when you meet them 5 years from today? A smaller town and a not so big class size should make this easier in that case.
Fuqua might be the school for you if you are looking for a leadership experience where you can influence the way the school works, where you have opportunities to decide which club should be run how. I have participated in discussions where we tried to figure what direction should Fuqua take given the current global scenario, what is the image we want a Fuqua student to project, what does it mean to be a Leader of Consequence and what should be done to achieve these goals for Fuqua.

Some schools are more team-oriented than others. Not all schools have a heavy focus on team assignments. Fuqua swears by its Team Fuqua culture and I am glad I am a part of it. The Fuqua Fridays, Campout, academic curriculum teams - have all given me friends for life. Be aware of what you want and then decide.

No decision is a wrong decision in the end. It is just a matter of making an educated decision and that is what we have been trying to do all of lives, havn't we?

Friday, January 18, 2008


Congratulations to the newly aboard members of Class of 2010 at Fuqua. I remember awaiting the results with bated breath same time last year, eventually falling asleep before getting an intimation :) Hope most of you are able to attend the Blue Devil Weekend and get a taste of Fuqua before joining.

Good luck to all those who did not make it or are awaiting other results. Hope everyone gets the best. Having been through a string of rejections, I understand the not so sweet feelings that accompany it. All I can say is that B-school apps are just a part of a long journey and not the end of the game.

Here's some tips for waitlisted candidates. Forrest's latest blog will also be helpful to you in case you have been waitlisted.

And the answer is...YES!

I have an internship. It took 5 interviews over 2 rounds to land up an internship in the industry that I wanted to get into.

It is amazing how things change. Just 5 weeks back I was worried about whether firms will even look at me. Then, it changed to whether I will be able to impress the recuiters with the skills that I have learned over the past semester. With an internship in hand, all those scary thoughts of having to spend a jobless summer have been thrown outside the window. I am now looking forward to the day when all my friends here land up super awesome offers and we can laugh over some of our silly responses in those claustrophobic interview rooms. Personally, it is a big relief to have a summer job offer before the first day of school. This should help me focus on my academics better.

Overall, it has been a good start to the internship season at Fuqua. Despite fears of a forthcoming recession, firms are picking up good numbers from here - seems to be either more than or same as last year. Of course, the final word will come from the Career Management Center (CMC) later.

The second years are a vital cog of this recruitment process, and their efforts to prepare us have been exemplary. I know of so many second years who came to school during the winter break just so that we can practice interviews and sharpen our skills with them. Hats off!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year

Life is still exciting, only the players of the game have changed.

There is another challenging year in front of me as I prepare to embrace myself for the upcoming recruitment roller coaster and the related uncertainties. Same time last year, it was just as uncertain. I was awaiting my decisions, writing new applications. Literally everything I did found some link to my essays and my life story. I used to check my e-mail with anticipation.

Then I got through Duke and it felt that my life was about to change. Life did change. It has been an intense last six months. Networking is the name of the game. 'People know people who know people' has been the mantra. Life's goals have evolved from getting into the best B-school and best career to getting the best in whatever I set my sights on. My classmates from around the world have set the bar high. I miss India but find myself learning more and more about America - a country I had so many pre-conceived notions of.

In a nutshell, I am loving it! Here's good bye to 2007 and celebrating the spirit of Team Fuqua as I wish all readers a Happy New Year.