Monday, September 28, 2009

Getting Involved

There are an unbelievably large number of opportunities to get involved during your time at Kellogg, including almost 90 clubs. The school prides itself on the high level of student involvement in all aspects of the program. The fact that Kellogg is a "student-run program" is repeated on a daily basis, sometimes more than once, via emails, presentations, and club fliers, which are posted all over the place, including the bathrooms (this is considered prime marketing real estate in Jacobs).

I think I'm starting to get the hang of 18-hour days packed with HW, classes, activities, and socializing. Now that I'm getting my groove back, Stella style, I've started branching out a bit into some of the Kellogg organizations.

Kellogg Rugby Football Club

I've joined the KRFC. I'm already spending a lot of time in the gym, so this is a bit of redundant from an exercise standpoint, but it has been a great experience so far. The other players are all great guys, and I couldn't ask for a better team. I'm surprised at how many "first-time" players have come out. Unfortunately, if things get hectic, this will be one of the first things I sacrifice.

Kellogg Admissions Class Host
I've volunteered to be a class host. Whenever a potential student comes to sit in on a class at Kellogg, they are ushered around by a class host. It's a low involvement activity; all I have to do is meet up with the visiting hopeful 15 minutes before one of my classes and then walk them there. I think it will be a good way to meet some future Kellogg students. I don't know how they assign hosts to visitors, but if you are coming to campus, don't be afraid to ask for me by name! I promise to show you a good time ^_^.

Neighborhood Business Initiative
This is the school's only volunteer consulting program, which places teams of student consultants on projects for a variety of non-profit organizations in the Chicago area. As a student, you can apply for either a Team Lead or Consultant role and select your 5 preferred projects, which are categorized by their primary function, such as Marketing or Strategy. I applied for the program, but I haven't heard back yet, so there is a chance I may not get selected. A few of my friends were selected for Team Lead roles though, so if I don't get selected, I'll live vicariously through them.

UPDATE: I just found out a couple of minutes after posting this that I got assigned to my first choice for NBI; I'm totally working with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra!

Kellogg Student Association
Last night I was gearing up to go to sleep around 1 AM, when I received an email from the KSA President imploring folks in my section (Jive Turkeys) to consider applying for one of the available positions. I started mulling it over, and after some consideration, decided to run for the Academics Section Representative. The position is a 2-year commitment, and it involves working with Deans, professors, and faculty to assess the academic curriculum and lead initiatives to make improvements and address student needs. We had to submit a platform, so I spent 40 minutes writing one up and sent it out. I should know by the end of the week if I am elected; I still don't know if anyone else will run for it. Here is the platform I submitted:
Name: Orlando O’Neill
Position: Jive Turkey Academics Section Representative
Platform: We have all made significant personal, professional, and most importantly, financial sacrifices in order to attend Kellogg. In return, I believe that we are owed an academic experience of the highest caliber during our time here.

As the Academics Section Representative, I would work to ensure that we receive that experience by collaborating with the faculty and other representatives to:
  1. Institute a mid-course evaluation form designed to provide student feedback that can be utilized by the professors to address the immediate student concerns. For example, this feedback may include suggestions to discuss more international cases in a course.
  2. Create industry-specific 1st-year course suggestions that can provide Kellogg students with an additional advantage throughout the recruiting process and summer internship. For example, incoming students should be made aware if the material covered in a course like Financial Decisions was extremely beneficial to a majority of students that went into consulting internships.
  3. Gather student feedback to identify weaknesses in the curriculum and address those deficiencies, via new electives, presentations, or any other means possible.
To summarize, my platform is built around improving communication among students and faculty at Kellogg. In closing, gobble.
There is still one other club that I'd like to get involved in, but they still haven't started taking applications. In addition, I've also been attending events daily for some of the other clubs. Not only do they cover fantastic topics (for example, I've listened to a CEO/professor talk about General Management and a Volkswagon VP discuss leadership), but they also generally provide free food!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Fall 2009 Courses

Following Stephen's lead, here is my schedule for the Fall 2009 quarter at Kellogg.
And my orientation class.
The MORS class is just about over. We took the final this past Friday, but there is a still a group project that we need to submit in mid-October. The class covered 5 topics:
  1. Decision Making
  2. Managing groups/organizations
  3. Negotiation
  4. Social Capital (networking)
  5. Leading change
Fortunately, Prof. Medvec specializes in Negotiations, and she is a rockstar, so that part was amazing.

I'm still trying to find the right balance between classes, clubs, and socializing. At this point, I think I've been socializing as much as my married classmates (not much). I've started playing rugby again on Kellogg's team, and I figure that will be my primary social activity. It's not perfect yet, but my balance is slowly coming together. There is no doubt in my mind that classes are my priority though.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Ferris Was Totally Right

Life moves pretty fast, if you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. --Ferris Bueller
The last couple of weeks at Kellogg have completely reinforced the strength in the words above. The final for my first class, Leadership in Organizations, is coming up this Friday. On Sunday, I'm meeting with my team to discuss the group project that we have to turn in for this first class...a month after it has ended. On top of that, I have a couple of assignments to go over this weekend for my classes that start next week. On Monday, the main Kellogg calendar explodes with activities, which are mainly scheduled around the same times (lunch or 5pm), forcing you to do some soul searching to select the ones you will attend. Even now, I can't believe it has been 8 days since my last blog post and 3 days since my last journal entry (personal reflection is awesome). It all seems like a crazy juggling act, and from what 2nd-year students have told me, the number of balls in the air are about to increase by...A LOT.

It is hard to imagine right now how people make it through the 2 years, and yet I know they do; heck, I've met people that have done it in person! I've been told that at some point, probably halfway into the first quarter, I'll start to figure out when a reading assignment is required versus "required", I'll stop trying to go to every single event at Kellogg, I'll forget what sleeping more than 6 hours was ever like, and I'll enter my groove. I'm hoping it comes sooner than later, but if it doesn't, I'll just have to remind myself to stop from time to time to look around.

With that said, I have to go. I'm trying to catch up on the required reading assignments, and then I have to look over the case for tomorrow's class.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

CIM Update

Jive Turkeys are large and in charge! Gobble gobble!

The first week of CIM was insane. We had activities scheduled throughout the entire week from 8am to 12am (sometimes later depending on how long you stay out "networking") with our section, which is made up of anywhere between 60-80 classmates. The schedule doesn't leave much time to sleep, and that coupled with late nights, socializing, and germs being imported by KWEST from all over the world, leads to a phenomenon known as "CIM SARS", which refers to the fact that the majority of students will be sick by the end of the first week. I saw this gradually happening everyday, as a few coughs in the auditorium slowly expanded to a large chorus of coughing, lost voices, and runny noses.

Some of the CIM activities are primarily informative, such as listening to student panels on diversity, but other events are competitive and scored by a variety of judges across the eight sections. The scores are tallied and overall standings are maintained on a scoreboard in the main hall of the Kellogg building. At the end of the first two weeks, the top section is crowned the winner and given a much higher amount of money for social activities throughout the year.

I don't want to get into the details of the competitions that we had, because I think that would ruin the fun for incoming students, but I may change my mind. The CIM Executive Committee changes it every year, and I'm sure other people have already written up detailed accounts of the entire experience, so I may not be actually giving much away. That said, I'll always try to notify you in advance if I have included a CIM spoiler in my post.

My section, the Jive Turkeys, has a history of winning CIM (1st in 2006, 2nd in 2007, and 1st in 2008). Our section leaders, who were members of the 2008 (Class of 2010) section, let us know that they were counting on us to keep it going. Their enthusiasm towards winning got them branded as the "crazy" leaders by students in the other sections, but honestly, I think they are awesome! They are very outgoing, energetic, and fun, and they have been working diligently towards building up strong bonds in our section. This isn't to say that the entire experience has been rosy; the fact is, when you get so many accomplished individuals in a group with no clear leadership structure, personalities are going to clash. This was very evident during the planning for one of the big competitions. Modern Business Cow, who is in my section, can probably attest to this.

During the beginning of the week, the Jive Turkeys started out with solid performance, but we weren't able to make it into the top 3. Nonetheless, we were pretty motivated (in large part due to our section leaders' enthusiasm), and we managed to win the competition that is worth the most points, propelling us into 1st place overall. Now, we just have to hold off the other sections through 2 less-challenging competitions, and then victory will be ours!

Last Wednesday, I started my first class, Leadership in Organizations, which is a compressed class taken for 2.5 weeks during CIM. The class so far has been absolutely amazing, in large part due to the professor, who I've been told is one of the most highly sought-after professors for Negotiations. We've been covering general leadership topics, such as the decision-making biases that cause us to make flawed decisions and persuasion techniques. The discussions are dynamic and very informative, drawing upon the professor's experiences as a very successful consultant, as well as the classes various work experiences. I'm hoping the class is an indication of what I can expect throughout the rest of the program.

This week, the CIM schedule has become a bit more relaxed. Our activities now only run from 10am to 5pm everyday, with a large dosage of HW sprinkled in between.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Cost per class

I should be working on the homework for my pre-term class, but I'm taking a moment to write this post rather than continue reading the remaining 46 of 52 pages of material.

I just wanted to highlight Stephen's post on the cost per class at Kellogg: $132.63. So every class that you miss is like giving away 4 or 5 blu-ray movies to someone. Yikes.

I thought it was interesting, and if you are cool, like me, you probably will too.

Now back to the reading and highlighting (with a pen cause I somehow managed to not include a highlighter in my $600 Walmart trip and subsequent Target trips...seriously).

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

KWEST 2009 - Hong Kong Ritz and Macau Glitz

We just started our official 3-week orientation on Monday, and it has been as busy as expected; forget about getting much accomplished during the first week at least. I think it will slow down a bit once we start our compressed leadership class on Thursday.

I'm taking a break from the night activities to allow myself to recover from this cold that has been kicking my butt since I returned from Hong Kong. Instead, I am catching up on some personal items, such as this blog entry, and then looking over the case that we are discussing tomorrow.

I went on my KWEST trip to Hong Kong and Macau last Saturday with 17 classmates and 5 2nd-year students that served as our trip leaders. We left Saturday afternoon and arrived in Hong Kong on Monday morning to a very busy schedule for the day. The leaders said this was done on purpose to tire us out so that we could sleep that night, thereby adjusting to the new timezone. Judging by how many people slept soundly the first night, I'd say it worked.

The main highlights of the trip included:
  • Visiting Victoria Peak
  • Getting custom suits from Sam's Tailor
  • Visiting Stanley Market (tourist trap)
  • Taking a 5-hour trip on an "authentic" junk barge
  • Sightseeing in Macau (the sites we visited were all within walking distance of each other)
  • Having tea in a little tea shop
  • Eating at fantastic Chinese and Portuguese restaurants
  • Meeting and engaging with my classmates
Although I didn't list any nighttime outings above, we did go out to a few clubs in Hong Kong and Macau. The clubs were a lot of fun, especially for those of us dancing, but they were also extremely expensive. Beers (Carlsberg) started at around $10 if you were lucky, so it was easy to spend a lot of money very quickly. In Macau, I eventually (call me naive) learned that prostitution is pervasive throughout all clubs and hotels, including the Venetian, which is where we stayed.

The KWEST trip was fantastic, and I have to give full credit to the leaders for putting it together, but it didn't completely live up to my (much hyped) expectations. In part, I shared DG's experience, in that I wasn't able to engage very well with everyone on the trip. I am hopeful that the group will maintain a strong connection now that we are back in Evanston, but I can't say with certainty that it will.

The KWEST trip and the first couple of days of CIM helped me realize that although everyone is extremely friendly, and we all share a common link through Kellogg, it doesn't mean I'll be close friends with all of my classmates. The activities that we go through in KWEST and CIM definitely help you form connections with a large number of classmates, but they do not guarantee strong bonds. I think those will be formed over the next two years, and much like in the past, I probably won't have any control over who I naturally gravitate to and vice versa.