Sunday, July 25, 2010

Mid-summer update

As usual, a lot of things have been happening the past couple of weeks making it really hard to sit down and write anything. Weekdays have been as busy as I expected with work and travel, but I am surprised at how busy my weekends have also been, making it really difficult to keep up with everything.  Fortunately, this weekend was a little bit slower, so I was able to sit down and get through some items on my to-do list, but I already know that next weekend is shot (for good reasons). 

At work, I had my mid-summer review a few weeks back, and I think that it went pretty well. I was a little frustrated at myself after hearing some of the things that I need to improve on, mainly because they were things that I was completely expecting and should have been able to avoid.  Nonetheless, it was good to hear that feedback because it reminded me to focus on those items.  That coupled with some really dumb mistakes I made last week made me feel like I was going into the second half of the internship with some negative momentum, which led me to start putting in more hours to to try and reverse the trend. For all I know, I may still be doing really well, but it doesn't matter, because I'm not meeting my own expectations (darn my personality).

It hasn't all been doom and gloom though. The work has been a little different than I expected, but I am having a good time.  I recently learned about the things the other interns are working on, and it sounds like there is a lot of interesting stuff happening at the office.  I can definitely see how a few years at a consulting firm could make for some amazing personal development. Traveling is pretty fun, and I've learned how to pack extremely efficiently for 3-4 day trips with my half-sized carry-on and laptop case. I think that I've also leveled up in Excel thanks to the amount of time I've been working with it.  I wholeheartedly believe that Excel is one of the greatest programs ever created. Finally, I started taking more video and pictures while on travel last week, and that will hopefully lead to a sweet montage at the end of the summer (I wish I had started sooner). 

The weekend after the midsummer review, I went with some of the other interns to play a round of golf.  Although I had been to the driving range a few times (less than 4) in the past, it was my first time playing on a golf course.  I would like to say that I did as well at golf as I did at sporting clays, but that wasn't the case.  Simply put, I am terrible.  At first, I thought that I might have beginner's luck on my side because I had a pretty amazing first hole (sunk a long putt), but it turns out that was an isolated incident.

I don't think that I'll be picking up golf anytime soon, but it was great to get out there and enjoy the Texas heat for a little while. If I do pick it up and you happen to be on the same course as me, then be on the lookout for stray balls.

On the school front, the second round of course bidding was a lot more forgiving than the Texas heat. I got into two classes for two points and then snuck into FinD via the waitlist.  Although I am still on the wait list for another class that I'd really like to get into, it is very possible that this will be my final course list for next quarter.
All in all, I am very happy with the classes. I've wanted to take 3 of the 4 classes for a while, and the last one, ACCT-451, looks like it could be quite the gem.

Finally, it's time for another round of the Summer of Gratitude.  I spent the day yesterday out on the lake with my good friend Quinn and the Dallas Texas Exes, and it was a great reminder of just how critical my time at the University of Texas was from both a professional and personal standpoint. I'd love to get involved with my local chapter in some way after grad school, but we'll see what happens.  For now though, I'll be directing some gratitude to the university via donations!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Bidding Bonanza #3 - Minesweeper boom edition

Bidding results were released last week, and things did not go very well for me...once again. I didn't realize that the results were out because I was head-down in the work I was doing, but I knew something was up when I saw 18 emails between my friends at school in a 5-minute stretch of time. That prompted me to check and learn that I had only gotten into 1 class: MORS-468 - Managerial Leadership with Professor Kraemer (who graces my banner above).  I just barely outbid the minimum clearing price by 20 points.

On the one hand, I'm bummed that I didn't get my superstar line-up; apparently, I am not as good at it as Miami, though I just wanted to do what was best for Orlando O'Neill. On the other hand, I'm really glad that I didn't get all of my initial picks, because it forces me to go back and take a harder look at classes. Unfortunately, I let myself get swayed way too much by the teacher rankings when selecting classes. Normally, my approach to selecting a class is to:
  1. Check for classes that I'm targeting, like Managerial Leadership, and bid the highest clearing price from the last couple of years plus some premium...say 100-150 points. I usually end up targeting classes that I hear about from classmates and fit well into my interests.
  2. Next, I search the course catalog by Course Name for anything that sounds interesting. I tend to prefer classes in majors that I'm interested in, but I am willing to bid on classes that fall outside of those majors as well.
  3. If the Course Name piques my curiosity enough, then I'll check the student ratings for the professor teaching that course. I focus on the professor and course ratings, and then follow it up with the workload rating (no more repeats of last quarter :) ). This is where I'm weak; if the ratings aren't as good as I'd like, I won't bid on the class. Instead, I'll opt to either not take it or else wait to take it another quarter with a different professor.
  4. Finally, I read over the course synopsis to confirm that it is something I'd be interested in taking. If the description is way out there, then I won't bid on it.
The second round of bidding is underway, so I went ahead and placed bids on 3 more classes. I am on the wait list for 2 of my original classes, and I'm hoping that I'll at least get into Financial Decisions.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Summer of Gratitude Round 2

It's time for another round of the Summer of Gratitude. Yay! I'll keep it short and sweet.

I am extremely grateful for music.  It has played an invaluable role in my life, normally as a way to relax or clear my mind.  I have been known to chair dance while listening to a boss.  When I am at home, there is a 95% chance that I am playing music in the background. At work, I try to listen to music whenever possible; at IBM, I was once caught jamming out a little too passionately to some music in the lab by one of my teammates. I have been to 100+ concerts (which still pales in comparison to my brother), and I hope to attend many more.  My dream job is to own a small music venue (a la Stubb's in Austin), and I wrote about that in all of my grad school applications.

In short, I love music.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Tried my hand at sporting clays

I went to a nearby shooting range, Elm Fork Shooting Sports, with another intern to try sporting clays for the first time.  I've fired a few guns (including a shotgun) at my friend's ranch in the past, but to be perfectly honest, it really isn't my thing.  Like before, I was pretty nervous any time that I was handling the shotgun.  Nonetheless, I love trying out new things, and I am glad to say that I had a great time.

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I am not terrible at it.  I hit 24 of the 50 clays, and I think I could have hit more if the gun hadn't misfired a few times, completely killing my rhythm.

My scorecard for sporting clays

Unfortunately, the next morning I found the standard (for me) bruising near my shoulder, and I bruised my cheek up a bit; I'm assuming this means I didn't hold the gun properly.

As you can see in the video, we went right after work...I'm sure the employees there got a laugh out of our business-casual shooting attire!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy 4th!

Bidding for next quarter's classes are underway.  I went through the bidding tool and made my selections a few days ago.  It is going to be an amazing quarter if I happen to get all of my classes, but it could also mean using up the majority of my bid points for the year. We have to take a half-credit SEEK class at the beginning of the quarter during CIM, so we can only bid for 4.5 classes before having to pay extra this time around.  I was more than happy to limit myself to 4 classes. 

As I was going through the available classes, it was fun to see all of the core classes that the incoming class has ahead of them, along with some familiar professors.  I know exactly what they'll be going through soon enough.  It is kind of nuts how fast the first year came and went...and I imagine that the second year will go by at a similar (if not faster) pace.  Especially since I know what to expect, and I won't have to go through the learning curve again.  At this point, it is just a matter of slipping back into the groove.

Speaking of grooves, after 3 weeks at work, I am starting to find a bit of a groove, though I am still a very long ways off from navigating through everything with ease. My team started traveling last week, and that should continue through the end of the summer. I'm glad that I'll be able to travel given how integral that is to the whole consulting experience; it would have been weird to go through the entire internship without having to do so. The traveling has also accelerated my transition to being a "carry on" passenger, and that makes the whole process a lot easier/smoother.  I don't know why, but in the past I always insisted on checking in a bag, unless it was a very short trip (1-2 days).  Now, I am rolling with my laptop case and one small carry on bag.

This was a good week for me. I've been making steady progress on a number of items and getting familiar with the company's processes/resources along the way.  I made my first big mistake thanks to a nomenclature issue, but I was able to catch it, fix it, and find a good point in the process.  I'm glad that I got that out of the way early on, because I had been building my first mistake up in my mind as some devastating thing for a while.

A big part of my focus has been on using my time (and "dead time") as efficiently as possible (same as when I was in school). For example, I was doing some work at the airport while waiting for my flight down to Austin for the long weekend.  I worked up until we were asked to put away our devices for take off, and then I took out my notebook and started outlining things to do once I could take the laptop back out.  A few seats next to me, one of my officemates on the same flight was going through the same process.  I took that as a good sign.

On the monetary side, I was able to sublet my apartment in Evanston to a classmate; that should help out quite a bit with finances. I also found out that the family leasing my house plans on staying for another year, so I won't have to worry about that at least until after school.  Needless to say, I was extremely relieved by that piece of news.