Friday, October 30, 2009

Shotgun Update

There is always a lot going on at Kellogg, and it can be difficult to find time to write up blog entries in the thick of it. Therefore, I'll have to rely on "shotgun" updates where I cover a lot of different topics pretty often I think. So here we go.

I had my last midterm on Tuesday in DEC-433, Decision Making Under Uncertainty. It felt great wrapping up Midterm Madness and moving past the accompanying stress. Afterward, I went through about 2 days of burnout and was unable to focus or get much done for my classes. Fortunately, there was a lull in the workload this week due to midterms, so the burnout couldn't have come at a better time, and now I'm back to fighting form. It's funny, but even after making it through many difficult projects at IBM and building up a decent list of professional accomplishments, I was still stressing out about the midterms; so where my classmates, many of whom have much more impressive backgrounds. In theory, we shouldn't care about midterms, right?

I think I ended up with 3 strong performances and one that was below-average (accounting). Even after telling myself to not get fooled by how easy the accounting concepts and classes were, I still didn't spend much time preparing for the midterm. I'm certain that my grade is going to reflect my cavalier attitude. On the flip side, I managed to ace my TurboFin final, which felt great given how much time I've been devoting to that class. I'm definitely feeling a bit more relaxed going into the 2nd half of the course.

Consulting Club
I went to the Consulting Club's 2-hr presentation "Intro to Consulting," which provided a general overview of the recruiting process, case interview advice, and a case interview demonstration, on Wednesday. I was surprised by the turnout, which was not as high as I expected given how much people talk about finance and consulting being the mainstays of MBA recruiting; that said, there were still something like 60+ students at the presentation.

I was pleasantly surprised to hear the presenters echo pretty much the same advice that I wrote up for case interviews in this post, such as using multiple sheets of paper, writing out the mental math, and not using canned frameworks (this last one was also repeated by the consulting recruiters that they surveyed). They also endorsed Case In Point, which is the book that I relied on heavily throughout the entire process. The book's author, Marc Cosentino, is hosting a few workshops at Kellogg in December, and I'm looking forward to attending those.

Course Bidding
We just wrapped up 1st-round course bidding today, so of course everyone was talking about their results today on Facebook and in class. The actual bidding process was fairly straightforward, although you wouldn't think so by the large number of presentations that they had on the subject; the difficult part was devising a strategy to get all of the classes that you wanted for as few bid points as possible.

This is where the rockstar professors have a huge impact, particularly on bidding inflation. The professors can really take your Kellogg experience to the next level, and students are fully aware of this, so the rockstar classes typically go for a substantial premium. The most expensive course that I know of was Negotiations with Professor Medvec, which went for 1452 points! Of the 2000 bid points that we get for the Winter and Spring quarter this year, some students spent as little as 2 points, and others pretty much exhausted the majority of their points. One of the biggest surprises, which left more than a few students upset, was that the 8:30am Marketing class with Prof Hennessey (rockstar) went for 400 bid points, and the same class/prof at 10:30 went for 1 bid point. Busicow said it well today when they mentioned that a lot of us outsmarted ourselves by thinking that the 10:30 class would be more expensive given the better time.

I spent 1200 points, got into four classes, and was waitlisted for one (Microeconomics). I'm pretty happy with my bidding results, though I'll have to bid for another Microecon class in the 2nd round, since it is a core course that isn't offered at Jacobs in the Spring quarter. I'd like to spend no more than 50 points for the class, though we'll see how it turns out.

At first, I planned on taking a lot of quant courses throughout my two years, but after numerous presentations and conversations, I've started valuing the soft skills courses a lot more. In response, I've decided to mix up the courses as much as possible, possibly favoring qualitative classes. I signed up for 2 Management & Organizations (MORS, which is all about soft skills) classes next quarter, including Management Communications, which is taught by Professor Van Camp, a rockstar, and cost me 700 points. Here is what my schedule is going to look like next quarter.
It will be interesting to see what the 5-course workload will be like next quarter. Although the tuition that we pay covers 4-5 courses per quarter, most students normally opt for 4, especially in the winter quarter when recruiting is in full swing. I'm hoping that I can pull off 5 courses in most of my quarters, but that will depend on my experience with this first one.

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