Thursday, November 19, 2009


This week was pretty rough. Our Business Strategy group project, a 12-page paper analyzing BYD's U.S. EV strategy with the e6, is due tomorrow, so we spent a lot of time working on it. On top of that, my NBI team is gearing up to deliver our final presentation to the client in the first week of December. My KWEST team is hurriedly throwing together a proposal (as I type) that is due tomorrow for a trip next year with the incoming 1st-years, and of course, I still had my weekly HW assignments in all of my classes.

Now that everything is winding down a bit before Thanksgiving break, I managed to steal away an hour to relax with the guitar. Good times.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

AT Kearney Survivor - Who was voted off the island?

When I last checked in, I mentioned that my team was gearing up for the 2nd round of the AT Kearney case competition. Well, we went to their global headquarters in downtown Chicago (a few blocks from Willis Tower) last Friday and handled our business. How did we do? Well, that's not important :). What is important, is that we had a lot of fun and gained some valuable feedback on our presentation.

For me, the most difficult part of the competition was the presentation. I'm perfectly fine crunching numbers, mock interviewing folks, and throwing together slides, but I've never found a way to migrate my one-on-one interpersonal skills into formal presentations. It doesn't help that in my past professional life, I rarely gave presentations or interacted with folks outside of my department.

One of my biggest regrets during my time at IBM is that I never tried to improve at public speaking. I went to one ToastMasters meeting, won their improv speech award at the meeting (I had to pretend I was giving a speech after winning an Olympic medal), and then never returned. Now that I've realized how important it is, I've made public speaking/presenting one of my main focus areas during my time at Kellogg, dropping 700 bid points on the Managerial Communications class, participating in the Public Speaking Club, and seeking out opportunities to practice whenever possible (such as introducing speakers at the Consulting Club events that I help plan). I think that it is going to be a great way to distinguish myself throughout my career, but I have no way of knowing if it will pay off. All I know is that I don't want to be like the speaker at the last Distinguished Speaker Series event at Kellogg, who read a prepared (by someone else) speech, rarely connecting with the audience, and steadily losing audience members throughout the sterile presentation.

Since I know that presenting isn't one of my strong points, I wanted to prepare as much as possible before the presentation. Ultimately, I decided to practice the speech in my Fortress of Solitude (apartment) over the course of 3 days, recording myself on iMovie and then watching for areas to improve. I showed my teammates one of the movies, and they got a kick out of it. Here is a portion from one that went well enough.

The day of the presentation I was pretty nervous, and then 3 minutes into it, one of the AT Kearney consultants interrupted my teammate to begin asking questions (and destroying one of our arguments). At that point, I knew that it wasn't going to be a formal presentation, and I couldn't have been happier. I ended up throwing out my canned stuff and just winging it, which I felt much more comfortable doing.

I was going to delete the videos of me practicing the speech, but then I decided to hold on to them to use as a baseline. I'm hoping that two years from now, I'll watch them and think to myself, "Wow. I can't believe how bad I used to be."

Sunday, November 8, 2009

I Can Has Recruiting Schwag!

I thought that I was doing a good job of controlling my extracurricular activities, but I am definitely over-committed this week. My team advanced to the local final round of the AT Kearney case competition, so we have to give a presentation at their Chicago office this Friday. In addition, I am in the middle of the first round of the MBA Odyssey competition, competing against 11 other Kellogg teams in a (seriously fun) simulation to see who will represent our school in New York. My NBI team is nearing the end of our project, and we'll have to make a presentation for it as well. On top of all of that, I have classes, HW, and a group paper to write for Business Strategy.

But none of that is really the point of this post. Instead, I was thinking of how great it is to get free recruiting schwag at school!

Going to Kellogg is wild, because since the beginning of October, there has been a steady stream of companies big and small coming through here for recruiting. The companies normally set up question-and-answer sessions in the Atrium to help students learn more about opportunities, give informational and recruiting presentations, hold coffee chats, and do whatever they can do to get out in front of students, build interest, and funnel some of us in their direction. It is easy to forget that all of these top companies are working just as hard to dazzle us as we are working to dazzle them.

If you don't have an idea of what you are interested in before hand, then it can definitely be exhausting to try and attend all of the events. Not only that, but you'll quickly have to make some tough decisions, because a lot of the events occur at the same time. If possible, I would definitely recommend spending the first couple of weeks looking over all of the materials offered by the career management center to try and determine what you might want to recruit for.

As part of the process, you can pick up a pretty good amount of free schwag as seen above. I don't know what kind of impact any of it ultimately has on company interest, but it's free, so I'm not complaining. This year the most popular items have been the BCG Umbrella, which we got in the middle of a particularly rainy couple of weeks, and a Bain & Company water bottle, which you see most students sporting in class.

I wonder what the experience is like at other schools and what kind of schwag they are getting.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Drag TG - Jive Turkeys bring home 2nd!

Every Friday at Kellogg, one of the student organizations (or multiple) will host a TG (thank goodness its Friday) event in the atrium at Jacobs. The clubs provide beer, wine, and snackies, and it's a great way to unwind after a long week with all of your friends. The TG events are all pretty well attended, but none of them do as well as the annual Drag TG, hosted by the Gay+Lesbian Management Association. The picture below is from this year's Drag TG, which occurred on Friday, 10/23.

At this TG, each of the 1st-year (freshman) student sections puts together a musical act with the guys dressed up as girls and vice versa. At the risk of harping about how important diversity is at Kellogg, I thought this event was a great indication of just how fantastic the student body is here. Everyone got behind the event, supported the club, and had a great time. That doesn't mean that all of the guys were gun-ho about participating though. In my section, the Jive Turkeys, we have about 40-50 guys, and we were only able to get 3 to participate. Nonetheless, most of the section was out there giving their support to the team.

I'm all about having fun and acting the fool, so of course I jumped on the chance to participate. My team (3 guys and 2 girls) ended up performing the "exercise" routine from the Eric Prydz video "Call On Me." Fair warning if you look up the video; the content is a bit inappropriate, which is why I didn't link to it. The routine went off perfectly, and I feel safe saying that we brought down the house, though we only came away with 2nd place (and a free wine tasting for 10).

This was one of the top highlights of my experience at Kellogg so far. It was way too much fun performing in front of everyone and then hanging out in the atrium in full drag with our classmates. When you make it out to Kellogg, I highly recommend that you participate, especially if this is outside of your comfort zone, because you are going to have a lot of fun and grad school is all about stretching yourself. After we finished our performance, I had sectionmates coming up to me and telling me that they wished they had participated. Unfortunately for them, you can only do this once during your 1st year!

There are more than enough career-limiting pictures of all of us from the event, but I'll leave you all with one of mine.

The other person in the picture is my friend Lorena, who was on the winning section's team. She was also selected as one of this year's Businessweek MBA Journal writers, so make sure to check that out! Knowing her, the journals should be interesting :)