December 18, 2009

Teaming and Learning in Community

Posted by Betsy Stiles
MS·MBA in Public and Nonprofit Management
Class of 2011

Teams are a huge part of the learning at the School of Management and in the last four months I have experienced teams of all sizes, shapes and life cycles. We started off in pre-term in teams of four to fifty, conquering fun orientation tasks at the Warren Conference Center, like raft building and ropes courses. These teams and sessions were short and fun, particularly if you happened to win the raft building contest with your awesome all female team. There was a bit of friendly competition, but I think everyone also saw the value of learning from one another. As the semester has progressed, we still recall lessons we learned as teams in our first weeks at Boston University.

As a class, we were divided into cohorts of a little over fifty. Initially, it just helped me identify the overwhelming number of new faces: Are you in my cohort? Oh, you are in that Cohort. Cool. However, my cohort and our cohort professors have quickly become a family. This semester, our cohort commiserated over early morning classes, drank a lot of coffee, participated in career fairs and lectures, cheered one another on in more or less friendly basketball games and trivia competitions, won the pumpkin carving contest, and spent a lot of time in smaller teams on class work. Sadly, this semester one of our professors lost a significant other, and this was another instance where I saw this community rally together in his support. I have been grateful to be part of a community of really generous classmates, who support one another and the staff and faculty at Boston University.

Some of the teams are informal and quick like the short break-out problem-solving sessions in the Managerial Statistics course or homework study groups. Any time you are looking for help on homework, there is some kind of study group meeting somewhere in building. The School of Management has teams rooms throughout the building, outfitted with monitors and screens for slideshows, or blackboards for brainstorming sessions. Other team experiences are more intense. In one project, I spent five long and intense days with a team of four working through a marketing simulation that involved frequent decisions under high pressure, and then developing a presentation of our learning.

I have spent the entire semester with one team of seven very diverse people working on product research and developing a business plan for the theoretical acquisition of a brand. This integrated project cuts across multiple disciplines, requiring us to apply learning from all of our classes this semester, and it involves way more work than any one person can do. You have to trust your teammates and let go of your own control of the project. Sometimes this works out very well, and sometimes team members have really different expectations than one another. I have experienced some of both, as I think many of my classmates have, and both are good learning experiences. And that is why I am here, to learn more about working with a really diverse group of people.

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December 15, 2009

Making the Most

[Posted by Matt Sullivan, IMBA Class of 2010]

It’s difficult to believe that already we are into finals time here at BU but it’s been confirmed. The parade of final presentations, numerous meetings in preparation for final presentations and the noticeable lack of free time and sleep all point toward the end of days. And finals mean not just a much needed holiday of general overindulgence. No,no. More importantly it signals the end of the first semester and the sobering fact that only one semester remains in my career as an International MBA student at Boston University. Unreal how fast it flies!

Several thoughts pass through my mind as I see May graduation on the horizon but it’s mostly a mixed bag. Excitement for new opportunities and new challenges in new places, nostalgia for our amazing experience in China, anxiety about securing the perfect job offer, sadness that a chapter of new friends and new adventures is closing, and an urgency to make the most of my time and opportunities here.

But with that sense of urgency, comes the risk of spreading too thin. If there is one unifying theme I’ve experienced from my fall semester at BU, it’s there is never a shortage of networking events and activities to keep busy with. In fact, the challenge becomes selectively choosing those lectures, outings and networking socials that will best enhance my overall experience and marketability post graduation. The goal being that when this great experience inevitably does come to a close I can look back and say I have no regrets passing on many events and opportunities because I took advantage of the right events and opportunities. They are the choices that shape my BU career and future career.

For example, I’ve recently been spending a lot of time organizing a ski trip for the International MBA group. It’s taken a lot of effort but as a local Bostonian and lifelong skier, I wanted to make sure the winter season didn’t pass by for my international classmates without a classic New England ski trip weekend. It’s the memories we have as a cohort that, come May, I hope everyone will look back on as the times that made their IMBA experience really special. I know I will.

Since it is the end of 2009 and everyone seems to be looking back at the year passed, it’s time to look forward and make a New Year’s resolution. Mine? To take the opportunities that enrich and pass on those that are energy drains and always live with no regrets. Best wishes to all for a enriching and prosperous 2010!

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December 7, 2009

One of Santa Claus’ greatest gifts: Winter Intensive Courses

[Post by Jesse Brooks, MS·MBA Class of 2010]

Boston University’s MBA program offers a great option for students willing to sacrifice a week of their winter vacation time. This option is the Winter Intensive Course.

These courses are 5-day long, 8-hours per day crash course in a given subject. The goal of the intensive is to attempt to cover the same amount of content that is taught in a traditional semester long course. For students, this is a great way to take a course that may be of some interest, but not necessarily worth investing an entire semester’s studies to. Students also receive a full semesters course credits for each intensive, which can alleviate a possibly overwhelming course load.

Personally, I am a big fan of the intensive. During my first year winter break, I took IT Applications in Management. Pre-summer session, as part of the MS-MBA program, I took Systems Architecture, Telecom & Biz Networks and Issues in Managing Networked Systems. The week before my 2nd year Fall semester started, I took Global Sustainability. For this winter break, I am enrolled in two intensives: Applied Ethics and Emerging IT Perspectives Synthesis.

Though these intensives do shorten a student’s break away from school, they are great practice for future Management/Executive training sessions that many MBA graduates will have to experience in their professional careers.

If you do decide to enroll in an intensive, make sure you are prepared with the essential items for survival: Caffeine Beverages, Various Snack Items and Plenty of Sleep.

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8 Interviews: 1 Job

The title says it all---this week's post is about how eight interviews led me to one job. Earlier this fall, I found a post on the School of Management's internal job board (MiTrac) for a marketing position with EMC Corporation. This posting, for the Marketing Leadership Development Program, sounded intriguing---or at least intriguing enough for me to punch the "Submit Resume" button.

About two weeks later I was working a normal shift in the Graduate Admissions Office when I received the invitation to interview for Round 1. I was extremely shocked and excited and immediately began planning my interview preparation. Step one: call my career advisor in the Feld Career Center and schedule a practice interview (Interview #1). Diane, as requested, grilled me thoroughly and left me feeling exposed but prepared for Round 1.

On the morning of my Round 1 interview I was nervous but looking forward to meeting my interviewer. This first meeting went fantastically well (Interview #2). Sometimes in life, you get lucky, and you just need to take advantage. In round one, my interviewer told me of his previous career as a brewmaster, his entrepreneurial ventures, his term as Class President, and his job marketing tech products with EMC. It just so happens that I used to work at Anheuser-Busch, founded my own company, serve as MBA Council President, and spent the summer marketing software for Ubisoft. Like I said, sometimes you just get lucky.

After our meeting I was looking forward to hearing back about the final round and was invited back after another few weeks. Next step, call Diane one more time for another practice session (Interview #3).

The final round was an incredibly intense process. Two BU classmates and I traveled out to Hopkinton where we each had five 30-minute interviews (Interviews #4-8). EMC placed its 34 final round candidates in a large conference room with 34 marketing managers. Each interview was conducted at a one-on-one table but the tables could not have been more than a few feet apart. The setup was intimidating but it forced me to focus in on each interviewer and give them everything I had. At the end of the day, they announced a pre-Thanksgiving timetable for final notification.

Thanksgiving came and went----but no notification. I contacted a classmate who also interviewed and found out that he had not heard back either. Sure enough, the following Monday night I missed a call and received a voicemail from EMC Human Resources. Unfortunately, I had a Business to Business Marketing final presentation in approximately 4 minutes and could not call back.

The next morning I woke up bright and early to find out the final word---but was not able to speak with HR until almost 6pm. The payoff, however, was unbelievable. I had done it! I made it through the waves of MBAs and was given, in official language, "a verbal intent to offer."

The process was long and exhausting but I could not be more excited about the position. This will be a perfect launching pad for a career in marketing. I will be exposed to four different functions in the first 24 months and will then find a home somewhere in EMC.

In the meantime, I still have to summon the motivation to finish off my final semester at BU. I am excited for this last semester as a student and hoping to enjoy time with my classmates before we all scatter across the world.

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So Many Classes, So Little Time

[Post by Lauren Ferris, MBA/MPH, Class of 2010]

Everyone told me that the MBA program would go by quickly, but I have to admit when I took my last final in May of last year I thought "wow, this past school year did seem longer than 9 months and did not go by quickly."

However, now that I am picking my classes for the spring, my last semester here, I find myself wishing I had more time to take all of the classes that sound interesting. As a dual degree student, it is particularly hard to fit in elective classes since so much of my schedule is packed with core classes for the MBA and MPH. Still, I do have some classes to chose from, and planning for my last semester does make me feel like the program has gone by quickly.

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October 25, 2009

Already, only October

[Post by Betsy Stiles, MS∙MBA – Public and Nonprofit Management Class of 2011]

The leaves are changing colors. The wind is picking up. I have already started using the “cold weather” clothing I had to pick up after moving here from San Diego. My first New England autumn is underway. I can’t believe it is already the end of October.

I also can’t believe it is only the end of October. I have worked on so many case studies, readings, problems sets, papers and presentations that it feels like many more months. I am learning a new language – business – through total immersion. Most days I feel my brain is going to explode from the sheer amount of information I have taken in, and I am only half way through the first semester of my dual degree – MBA in Public and Nonprofit Management/MS in Information Systems.

I have already started to use my new skills. This year students in the Public and Nonprofit Management club launched a volunteer consulting program, Collaborative Consulting. I am on one of the MBA student consulting teams working with a nonprofit in the Boston community. Our project is focused on program evaluation and marketing strategies, and I find myself drawing on lectures from each of my professors as we research the organization, analyze data and develop recommendations.

In their current evaluation system are they asking the right questions? I think back to the session from statistics about writing effective surveys. How can they best reach clients? I remember the different marketing models from the marketing class that I can use to evaluate existing promotional strategies. Is the problem what they think it is or is there some other underlying issue? All of the organizational behavior papers whirl around in my brain, as I make sure we really understand all of the issues and needs of this organization.

It’s a really interesting and exciting project, and the team of students I am working with is great. I have had the opportunity to meet second year and part time students, in different places in their degrees, and learn from their experience. Best of all, I am already getting hands-on project experience and working towards my personal career goal to go into consulting—in my first semester, just two months into school…

…Which is amazing and gratifying because it is, after all, only the end of October.

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October 7, 2009

Pedal to the Mathematical Metal

[Post by Trevor Middleton, MS-Mathematical Finance Candidate]

My first week in Boston was great. The math finance orientation program started and was comprised of barbeques, dinners, other social events… with some important information sessions thrown in. There were no problem sets, no weekly quizzes, and no pressure. The weather was great and I had plenty of time explore Boston and move in. I looked forward to classes starting and the challenge of learning new material after a brief but lazy summer.

After spending last night struggling with Mathematica syntax, I can only reminisce about how simple life was back then. Classes started out at a modest pace, but are at full throttle now. We have almost covered a semesters worth of material in one class that meets six hours a week, while our two other courses are paced slower and meet for three hours a week. It’s as if one part of our lives is set on fast forward, while the rest is at normal pace.

I haven’t quite reached a routine yet, since each week has been so different. Whether due to a mid-term exam, overlapping homeworks, or trying to get around New England without a car, every week has its own challenges. On top of this, I have been tutoring undergraduates in economics and trying to stay in shape by running 60-70 miles a week. For better or worse, running is the first thing to go when work piles up. I try to make up for it on the weekends, particularly by going for long runs on Sundays.

Luckily the math finance program does not meet on Fridays. This gives us all chance to catch our breaths while we start any problem sets that are due during the next week. Even though our official week may end on Thursdays, Fridays haven’t been as carefree as they initially sounded. All in all, it has been challenging but manageable by staying on top of my schedule. The older I get, the more I realize how important time management is and that despite how many times I heard that growing up, it still seems surprising.

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September 30, 2009

For Dual Degree Students, The New School Year Means a New School

[Post by Lauren Ferris, MBA/MPH Class of 2010]

As you may know, I am in the second year of my MBA/MPH dual degree program. While I have been very impressed with the coordination of the program, as a student who is enrolled in two different schools within the University, life can sometimes be a series of explanations, clarifications, and duplication.

Last year nearly all of my classes were in the School of Management and I spent hours upon hours in the SMG building attending classes, team meetings, and social events. A few months into my first semester I had learned where the lost-and-found, quiet library rooms, and comfortable reading chairs were located. I had also learned that it was important to speak up in class and to argue with other students if you disagreed with their opinion on a case. By the end of the school year, the School of Management was like a second home and I had adopted the lifestyle and personality of an MBA student. (For those of prospective students who may be unnerved to read that a school building could feel like a second home, don’t worry, if you get your MBA, you will understand and it won’t be so bad… most of the time)

This year almost all of my classes are at the School of Public Health on BU’s medical campus in the South End of Boston. While I am very excited to be learning more about public health and earning my MPH, I found that I have underestimated the culture shock I would go through switching schools. I know culture shock might sound a bit dramatic, but there are significant differences between the two schools. Library and computer systems are different and I am still looking for the place to get coffee. The biggest differences however are usually in the classes themselves, for example, it turns out that speaking up to argue with another student’s opinion while wearing a business suit during class is not so common among MPH students. In fact, it is a little like wearing three scarlet letters that spell “MBA.”

While I do find the differences between the School of Management and the School of Public Health to be confusing, humbling, and at times, frustrating, I have realized it is a good learning opportunity. In the real world, business and especially healthcare is filled with different types of people with different backgrounds, and it is critical that all of these people communicate with each other in order to get things done. Having the ability to work within the MBA and MPH sphere is one of the major benefits to having both degrees so hopefully by the end of the year the School of Public Health will feel like a third home.

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September 23, 2009

1st Year MBAs feel like Freshmen, 2nd Year MBAs feel like Seniors

[Post by Jesse Brooks, MS-MBA Class of 2010]

It is hard to believe how much you grow up as an MBA, over the course of a summer. One 10-12 week internship and possibly a few weeks of vacation, turns any 1st year MBA into a seasoned 2nd year.

When reuniting with my classmates, there was a mutual understanding that we now have to take on the role of educated, slightly confident, and generally all knowledgable 2nd years. While this may seem like Dazed and Confused, this natural development cycle benefits everyone.

As 1st years take their first steps into SMG, then learn how to crawl in the Career Toolkit course, the 2nd years are ready to help out during terrible twos and awkward teenage years. With first hand experience in dealing with the first semester integrated project and the intense internship search, the 2nd years want to pass their knowledge on and give the 1st years the inside tips for success.

Though we 2nd years may walk tall and carry large laptops, we are friendly and here to help. Asking questions and getting the inside knowledge can only help to slow down the fast paced life of a 1st Year Boston University MBA Student.

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September 21, 2009

New Year, New Routine, New People

[Post by Tyler Alrup, MBA Class of 2010]

As much as I loved my internship and the city of San Francisco, the excitement for MBA year 2 was always in the back of my mind. After all, last year's 2nd-years raved about their newfound freedom and, in many cases, early job offers. More importantly, I was looking forward to seeing old friends, making new ones, and settling into a nice little routine.

So good. The first two weeks back were a whirlwind of spending nights out with old friends and learning as many 1st-years' names as possible. Although fun, this was not the most *sustainable* routine. Class quickly arrived to smack my brain back into shape and make sure I quickly shook off a summer's cobwebs. Now roughly three weeks into the semester, a new routine is taking shape.

In addition to academics, my responsibilities as a Graduate Assistant in Admissions and as MBA Council President have added layers to this year's experience. Add in social activities, intramural sports, and that little endeavor called a career search and well----I do not have a surplus of free time. This new routine is similar but slightly different than the old version and promises to offer new challenges and memorable stories for future enjoyment.

One more (literally) tiny update: I am now an uncle for the second time, welcoming Kelsey Elizabeth Altrup into the world.

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September 2, 2009

Starting a Finance Forum

[Post by Sougata Basu, MBA Class of 2010]

It’s hard to believe that the summer vacations are over and the classes start this week. Time flies really fast! I was working as a financial analyst intern at a venture capital firm in Boston. The internship was pretty interesting as it involved financing startup companies who are working with some very innovative ideas. Some of the companies are working on micro-blogging, some on cleantech and some on nanotechnology.

I was inspired to start something new and was thinking about a few ideas. I discussed it with some friends at BU and they helped in transforming the idea into a proper business plan. When I was preparing for CFA Level 1 in India last year, it was difficult to get relevant resources and information. I was trying to build a career in Finance and it was difficult to understand what will be the right career path. So I felt a need for a forum for finance students and professionals, especially in India.

So I started (, with a vision to create a community of finance students and professionals who are willing to share and help each other. "Daulat" means "wealth" and this forum will try to create the real wealth of knowledge. This forum will help MBA Finance/Math Finance students and also for CFA/CFP/FRM exam preparation.

The website also features finance-related articles ( and interviews of well-known professors and executives. Prof. Zvi Bodie agreed for the first interview and shared valuable insight on finance education. I am really grateful to him as he took out time from his busy schedule. (

Some of my friends in Indian and in Boston are working on the technology, content development and marketing of the website. This team is working to build and market the forum and I am lucky to get their help and support. This initiative was a way of combining the Finance education with Entrepreneurship. I am not sure how successful it’ll be but at least I am happy to have tried.
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The Last First Day of School

[Post by Lilly Needleman, MBA Class of 2010]

Today was the last day of my summer internship. Looking back, it really was a great experience. I learned a lot. I was in a new industry and a different role than any I had held before.

But I’ll be honest. I am ready to go back to school. Wednesday is my last first day of school. EVER. Without revealing exactly when I had my first first day of school, let’s just say, “Money for Nothing” by Dire Straits was the number one song in the country and the tag on my clothes said Osh Kosh B’Gosh.

Just like back then, I’ll have peanut butter and jelly for lunch, and like then, I have a new lunch box. But, that is where the similarities end. This time around, my to-do list includes buying new running shoes, getting folders for last semester’s cases that I feel some need to keep, picking up my T pass, and grocery shopping. The night before, I’ll make sure my cell phone is charging, that I know where my name card thing is, and that my computer cord is in my bag. That first time I got ready for school, way back when, my preparation was limited to…well, waking up. That’s about all I was responsible for and mom and dad took care of the rest.

But just like the other first day, in the year not to be named, I am a little nervous. New professors, new classmates… And this time, there’s a little added pressure of having to figure out what I want to do with myself after all of this is done. I’m not going to lie, I have no idea. I know what I don’t want to do. And that’s a start, right? Right.
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August 27, 2009

Hola a todos!

[Summer post by Karla Hernandez, MBA Class of 2010]

Hola a todos! Para los que no me conocen, me llamo Karla, soy venezolana y casi estudiante de segundo año del doble postgrado de gerencia de empresas (MBA) y de sistemas de información (MSIS) de Boston University. Se preguntarán: por qué casi? Bueno, porque en estos momentos estoy haciendo una pasantía/práctica antes de empezar en septiembre con las materias de segundo año.

Hablemos un poco de la pasantía: muchos se preguntan si es realmente necesario hacer una pasantía entre el primer y el segundo año del MBA. Si me lo preguntan a mí, yo diría que sí. Y no es porque yo no necesitaba vacaciones (trabajé hasta el día anterior antes de empezar las clases), pero es una excelente oportunidad de poder poner en práctica muchas de las cosas aprendidas en clase. Además, si son de esas personas que desean aprovechar el MBA para cambiar de profesión, la pasantía los puede ayudar a la hora de buscar trabajo más tarde. Si no los he convencido todavía, pues piensen en las personas que conocerán en la empresa donde hagan la pasantía y que podrán agregar a su “network” :)

Bueno, es hora de que vuelva al trabajo, y muy pronto comenzaré clases otra vez! Mi consejo número uno en general: disfruten cada día que pasen estudiando su MBA, así les parezca muy difícil e intenso. Mucho de estos momentos como estudiantes serán parte de los mejores momentos de sus vidas, y conocerán amigos que durarán para siempre!

Chao :)
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August 8, 2009

An Embarrassment of Riches

[Post by Tyler Alrup, MBA Class of 2010]

Almost exactly one year ago last week I began one very long cross-country roadtrip. Packing all of my belongings into a Penske truck, I set out for Boston with my best friend as a copilot. Driving twenty-five hours, straight through the night, we reached my new home at about 1am the next day--and nothing has been quite the same since.

I rolled into the city excited for a new beginning and looking forward to new opportunities but I had no idea what Boston University had in store for me. Faster than I could have possibly imagined I felt comfortable and had made new, great friends. When I first thought of writing this retrospective I knew that I wanted it serve as some kind of guide for our incoming class.

Several good friends and former "2nd years" helped me learn to take advantage of opportunities at BU and I can only hope that our class can pass along the same message. I am excited to see that some of our students have already begun planning "unofficial" social events to integrate the two classes as quickly as possible. We also have an entire group of new students to the School of Management -- the Mathematical Finance graduate students.

Especially for those students making a geographical jump, starting an MBA program is about much more than a set of classes and projects. An MBA is a chance to stretch your perspective on management and also on your own circumstances. Simply put, if someone told me a year ago that I would have the friends I have, doing the internship I am doing, and enjoying the leadership position I am in----I would have told you, (in more colorful, less-blog-appropriate language) that you were nuts.

Some of you are aware that I am an absolute sports nut (and the rest will know soon enough) and while reading an article about the Red Sox pitching surplus the other day I saw the phrase "embarrassment of riches." I absolutely love this phrase. Furthermore, I encourage every student in the graduate school to put together a group of classes, friends, groups, and careers that can only be described as exactly that--an embarrassment of riches.
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June 30, 2009

Toasting to San Francisco

[Post by Ana Cruz, MBA Class of 2010]

As rigorous as our first year of business school was, one of the hardest things for me was saying goodbye to most of my classmates for the summer. We’re scattered all over the country, all over the world, actually. There are classmates in Europe, Central America, South America, India, Asia and beyond, with some globe-trotting between these locales. A number are centered in or around Boston and I’m jealous of their weekend trips to the Cape and all the fun stuff that New England holds in store for summer residents. Then, there are those of us on the West Coast. We’re spread from Seattle down to Los Angeles, with a sizeable cluster of us enjoying life in the San Francisco Bay Area this summer.

I may be a bit biased, but I consider the Bay Area crew to be the lucky ones. As a native of Northern California, I knew that when I moved to Boston I wanted to be able to come back to California. Which is one of the reasons why I jumped at the opportunity to be a marketing intern this summer at a winery in California.

My unofficial title is marketing intern extraordinaire for Crushpad, Inc., a state-of-the-art urban winery in San Francisco. The responsibilities are real, which is both exciting and a little daunting, as I help make decisions for the marketing directives of this unique start-up. It’s my first job in cubicle-land, but far from the “Office Space”-style corporate graveyard that one usually associates with cubes. We’re in a converted warehouse space in one of San Francisco’s more industrial neighborhoods and things are far from ‘corporate’. Recent highlights have included a spur of the moment basketball game down on the winery floor, a major event pouring wine for almost 1,500 guests (some of whom were fellow BU MBAs coming to support me!), and regular barrel tastings to help familiarize me and another intern with our products.

Soon enough, I’ll be back in Boston with my far-flung classmates again, sharing our summer experiences and gearing up for another year of finance, and strategy, and marketing classes. In the meantime, though, I’m toasting a great summer in San Francisco.
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June 24, 2009

Guest Post from the European Field Seminar Blog

The following post was originally written for class participation as a part of the European Field Seminar. Boston University offers four field seminars that travel either to Europe, Asia, Brazil, or India. To see the other 16 posts from fellow attendess, head over to

Connections, Bikes, and Ex-Pats (June 8, 2009)

Before I begin to talk about our meetings and adventures on the 8th, I have to mention my fantastic off-day on the 7th. During the fall and spring semesters I work part-time as a Graduate Assistant in the Graduate Admissions Office. As a result, I have the opportunity to meet and greet hundreds of prospective students and I get to spend even more time with them at admitted student open house events. At one of these events I met Thomas Eisner, a prospective full-time student living in Paris. Little did I know, I would be traveling to his city in June. He noticed a status update on Facebook and before you know it I was getting a personal tour of the city. The walking tour was a perfect way to spend the off day.

On the morning of the eighth we hopped backed on the Paris subway and headed toward the La Defense area to attend our first meeting at JCDecaux. The advertising firm pulled out all the stops, treating us to a presentation in their rotating presentation hall delivered by their Director of Marketing Strategy. Ms. Mari detailed the entire Cyclocity project and the unique challenges presented by the Paris project and the development of Velib.

Our second meeting took us to Business Objects, a unique firm developed with both French and American characteristics and employees. We spoke with Timo Elliot and Michael Thompson, both ex-patriates who told us about their firm, the merger, and their life in France. They presented one curve designed to display the satisfaction of ex-pats over time--which included one deep trough of dissatisfaction. Timo and Michael shared their personal experiences and emphasized the importance of assimilation and maintaining strong personal relationships during the process. As a person interested in work abroad, this part of the presentation was especially interesting.

Invest in France hosted our group for the final meeting of the day and was forced to improvise. The Managing Director was only able to speak with us for a few minutes before departing but the agency found two other speakers to take our questions. We discussed France's unique requirements for greenfield investment and their interest in building local employment. After our final meeting we enjoyed a typically French dinner--lasting over four hours and including more courses than I am able to count. All in all, a good day.

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June 8, 2009

“Derivatives are financial weapons of mass destruction.” - Warren Buffett

[Post by Sougata Basu, MBA Class of 2010]

Prior to joining the MBA program at Boston University, I was learning some basic concepts in Finance. When I was reading about “Derivatives”, I came across this quote from Warren Buffet. I didn’t understand what exactly “mass destruction” meant in this context. Within the first month of my MBA program, a number of reputed companies like Lehman Brothers went bankrupt. Now we know why Warren Buffet was against the excessive use of derivative instruments.

The MBA Finance Club at Boston University is setting up an Investment Fund to be managed by students under the guidance of Professor Scott Stewart, who is the Faculty Director of the MSIM program. He joined BU after a 16-year fund management career, including founding and leading a $45 billion global investment team at Fidelity Investments. The Student Investment Fund is similar to a mutual fund and is a great platform for students to learn investment management. So we want students to research and conduct thorough fundamental analysis and not engage in any speculative stock or derivative trading.

The management team of the Investment Fund consists of Portfolio Managers and Analysts. The Analysts will research a particular company within their preferred industry and present their recommendations to the Portfolio Managers. The Portfolio Managers will decide on the asset allocation and regularly track the fund’s performance. We hope this hands-on experience will serve as a good base for future careers in Asset Management, Hedge Funds or Private Equity.

- Sougata
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May 26, 2009

The Internship Search: A Three Part Saga: Part Three: Bending the Bat

[Post by Tyler Alrup, MBA Class of 2010]

Part Three: Bending the Bat

"Good Intentions" and "Tunnel Vision", compared to the title of part three, might seem like very straightforward headings. Forgive the analogy but my first love in sports was St. Louis Cardinals baseball and as I wrote the first entry in this saga I had this image on my mind:

The picture is of prospect Brett Wallace taking batting practice--one I originally found on the St. Louis Post-Dispatch website (here for the full article). As the photographer and columnist explained, bending a bat requires extraordinary strength and hand speed, so much in fact that the lifelong photojournalist has only caught two other players capable of the feat: Albert Pujols and Scott Rolen.

And what, exactly, does this have to do with the MBA internship search?


The sprint to the finish in the search process requires every ounce of energy and demands perseverance and creativity. As a result, my classmates and I used every available career resource and even created a few of our own.

Create Your Own Solutions

It is my personal opinion that you cannot create your own opportunities--but I do believe that you can create your own solutions. These solutions are extremely important in taking advantage of opportunities and closing the search successfully.

Business Schooled

The first example of a student-created solution was the result of a conversation between candidates during a sports marketing conference in Washington D.C. Jason Serino and I headed to D.C. to learn more about the industry and left with a greater understanding, renewed energy and a new solution. At this conference and many events before it, every professional discussed the importance of passion for and knowledge of a specific industry. Jason, an ESPN alum, loves the sports industry and I love the video game what?


The one major problem with industry passion is authenticity. Every employer must question how passionate you really are about marketing ultrasound machines or creating new financial tools for insurance. Realizing we needed a new vehicle to demonstrate our sincere interest, we created it. Business Schooled was created as a blog forum and platform for students to demonstrate their industry passion and knowledge in any industry. The site relies on each student to post strong content (in their career self-interest) in order to build a site that improves with every post. In three short months, Business Schooled has expanded to host over twenty contributors from five different graduate business schools (with more soon to come). For more information on our sister blog, or to learn more about Playstation 3 pricing, the expansion of the MLS, or advances in personalized medicine, check out Business Schooled here.

The Changebase

Ashley Parsons Jablow, another MBA candidate at Boston University, also created a site to facilitate her career exploration. The Changebase is focused on all aspects of social entrepreneurship with the goal to "engage young leaders in a discussion of what change looks like in communities around the world." This site is another example of MBA candidates creating their own solutions and preparing for new career opportunities. For more information on The Changebase, follow this link.

At Long Last

At this point in my search, the semester began to wind down and I had done everything I could think of to bend the bat--I had more informational interviews than I could count, I had submitted innumerable applications, and I created Business Schooled. On April 24, the opportunity email arrived:

"Thank you for submitting your resume to apply for the brand summer internship here at Ubisoft. We think you could be great fit for this program. I'd like to schedule a time for you to do a brief phone interview next week. Please let me know your availability next week and I will coordinate a time for the call."

That email changed my whole perspective--I was instantly excited and failed in every attempt not to tell friends. I jumped into researching the company, its list of published titles, financial health, and future projects. I keyword searched "Ubisoft" on every industry site and read every article I could find.

The Interviews

The interview process took about two weeks and involved phone sessions with a brand manager, senior brand manager and their supervisor. The first began with the very traditional "walk me through your resume" and quickly became comfortable and conversational. My research and passion for the industry came through and even diverged into a debate on the merits of NHL '94 (introduction of one-timers) versus NHL '95 (faster gameplay). The second interview followed a similar pattern and also allowed me to discuss Business Schooled, a few of the articles I had written, and the purpose of its creation. The final interview skipped the resume walkthrough and jumped immediately into industry discussion and career questions. One important question asked, in so many words: do you see this as a summer experience or as a possible career opportunity?

The question is simple enough but also serves as a reminder to be prepared for the short-term/long-term question. Luckily, this internship is in the exact function and exact industry I targeted. It also helps that Ubisoft is a 5,000+ employee firm with strong financials and multinational operations. My answer, in short, was that I hope to secure this position, prove myself, and transition into a career opportunity.

The Search Concludes

On Friday May 8 I enjoyed a wrap-up party for the Graduate Admissions Office staff and headed to a Cohort C party to meet up with friends and watch the Celtics game. Sometime during the first half I received a call from an unfamiliar area code, and answered with my generic "this is Tyler." The call was from my interviewer and he was offering me the job! I laughed, apologized for the bar noise, and stepped outside to accept and take the rest of the call. As many of my peers experienced before and after me, I felt relief, excitement, and the weight of many months falling off my shoulders.

Advice to Incoming Candidates: Don't Start from Scratch!

In all three parts of this search saga I have mentioned the classmates, advisers, and friends that helped along the way. My advice to incoming candidates: don't start from scratch. The second years have all gone through this process in their own unique way and most would be happy to help as you follow behind them. Pick our brains, send us an email, invite us for coffee--find someone that interned in your area of interest and learn everything you can from them.

I would choose to pass along a simple message--every candidate will enter the program with good intentions, will focus and achieve tunnel vision, and will bend the bat to create their own solutions--how you go through this process is entirely up to you. For those preparing for next year's search, good luck, best wishes, and please grab me anytime in case this three part epic hasn't given a complete rundown of my personal experience.

I will now get back to my "research"--also known as playing No More Heroes and Super Smash Brothers Brawl--life is tough.

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May 21, 2009

The Internship Search: A Three Part Saga: Part Two: Tunnel Vision

[Post by Tyler Alrup, MBA Class of 2010]

Part Two: Tunnel Vision

The first semester of any intense business school program flies by--leaving students to wonder how Thanksgiving has suddenly arrived. Blink once more and it's New Years Day. The holiday break was very well timed--heading home to St. Louis provided an overdue opportunity to spend time with friends and family and catch up on local sports. Returning to a snowy Boston, however, was a reminder that the internship search was about to intensify.

No More Darts

I returned to Boston about one week before class restarted (I highly recommend the downtime) and kicked off the semester by making an appointment with my career advisor Diane Riemer. After briefly catching up, Diane began to quiz me on my networking efforts (or lack thereof) and outstanding applications (or abundance thereof). We talked through the lists and I quickly began to realize that as much as I wanted a strong internship, I didn't really want any of the jobs for which I had applied. As I discussed in "Good Intentions" (is there such a things as aft-shadowing??), my only first semester search activities were a few networking fairs and online internship postings through our career center. The online postings are valuable but the functional areas and industries cover too broad a spectrum for any candidate to use them as the sole resource.

Diane then asked a very simple question--one to which I did not have an answer--what industry do you want to work in? I pride myself on thinking on my feet quickly but in this instance I really didn't have an answer. I knew from day one I was interested in marketing and specifically brand/product management but I had never given the specific industry a great deal of thought. I then remembered one of the online internship posts: Electronic Arts.

Tunnel Vision

When Diane and I began to talk about the gaming industry, I knew that something had clicked. Here I am, sitting with my MBA career advisor, talking about the game companies I grew up with, and I'm loving every minute of it. Games had always been a hobby and a passion but I had not ever seen the industry as a possible career path. The EA internship and my advisor had altered my perspective entirely. Leaving this meeting, I was determined to focus on the industry, learn as much as possible, and employ new-found tunnel vision.

I could wax nostalgic about my favorite EA Games for hours but instead I'll grab something from my Facebook page: "NHL '95 is a metaphor for my life." I grew up watching my older brothers Adam and Nick playing Mario 3 and Final Fantasy when I was still too young to understand exactly what was happening. NHL '95 was one of the first games I could challenge them in and also one of the first I would play regularly against friends. As soon as I wrapped my head around the idea of working in the gaming industry, I knew that I needed to search for every available opportunity. As February began I applied to online posts at EA, Activision and dozens of others. I also began to aggressively lobby contacts for informational interviews--which offered another turning point in the search.

Informational Interviews

First semester candidates at BU are required to complete at least two informational interviews--a requirement I met by interviewing my girlfriend's career advisor and a first-year classmate. Both were interesting and successful individuals but neither was involved in an industry that intrigued me. With my newly-found focus on gaming, I lobbied our career center for as many contacts as they could provide. This "get what you ask for" scenario led to an Excel spreadsheet with about 400 contacts.

I began emailing them immediately and learned an important lesson: if you are a student and you do not ask for an internship in the email, almost anyone will talk to you. The strength of our Corporate Relations team's contacts and the openness of these individuals allowed me to talk to the following individuals and more:

VP of Licensing at Atari

CEO of Skill Technologies

Senior Brand Manager at Capcom

VP of Marketing at TransGaming

Marketing Manager at FEARnet

These conversations and other were absolutely essential in helping me to understand the gaming industry and the skills/traits most valued in applicants. None of these phone conversations led directly to an interview but each helped me to refine my story as an MBA interested in marketing roles in the gaming industry. I prepared for each call extensively which allowed them to be less formal and much more conversational. For example, anyone calling a marketing manager at Capcom needs to know about recent events with Resident Evil, Mega Man, and Street Fighter. Making sure this marketing manager knows you've played through Resident Evil 4 three times also doesn't hurt.

Learn to Love the Search

The old adage "do something you love and you'll never work a day in your life" is, in my opinion, overused, but it was incredibly true for my internship search. As soon as I focused on something I truly enjoyed, the informational interviews, applications and cover letters became less of a burden and more of an opportunity. My original good intentions and new-found tunnel vision were each crucial for the sprint to the finish line, also known as Part Three: Bending the Bat.

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May 19, 2009

The Internship Search: A Three Part Saga: Part One: Good Intentions

[Post by Tyler Alrup, MBA Class of 2010]

A Saga in Three Parts

As many of you have no doubt heard, the internship and job search has been extremely challenging this year for MBA candidates and graduates. Consequently, the process of finding an internship has been extremely difficult and, at times, nerve-wracking. To give a full picture of this process, I have decided to break it apart into three pieces titled, Part One: Good Intentions, Part Two: Tunnel Vision, and Part Three: Bending the Bat.

Part One: Good Intentions

Every job/internship search starts with an understanding of your own background and strengths. Before arriving at BU, the career center sent their first email asking for an updated resume in their format. This task was the first of many that would force me to sell my experiences in the most effective way. As one of the youngest candidates in my incoming class, this process would be absolutely critical.

Looking back, the process went something like this:

Entrepreneurial experience? Check.

Solid internships? Check.

Good GPA? Check.

Above-average work experience? Not so much.

Self-awareness is crucial in MBA candidates--we must identify our weaknesses early and compensate for them in every possible way. Incoming candidates, especially those young enough to appreciate the recent DVD release of X-Men: The Animated Series, must also have some idea of their future career options.

Early in orientation, I remember our Dean of Admissions, Hayden Estrada, asking a series of questions to the gathered incoming class:

How many of you wrote in your essays that you knew what you wanted to do after graduation? (Everyone raises their hand).

And how many of you, in reality, know exactly what you want to do? (Half of the hands fall--followed by a few embarrassed laughs).

At that exact moment I felt both relieved and apprehensive.

Good Intentions

Those essays, and those hands that remained raised, were all indicators of our good intentions. After all, I didn't lie in my entrance essays--I simply did not have a full picture of the options available to me--or those that were not. I wrote extensively on my ambitions to do international marketing consulting and to start my career abroad with an American-based firm. I knew I was interested in this function but I did not have a specific industry selected. As I came to learn during the search, a candidate must isolate functions and industries in order to truly focus and achieve the desired "Tunnel Vision" (everyone loves foreshadowing).

The fall semester had plenty of distractions from the search--everything from cohort events to Cheers with Professors to another Big XII North title for the University of Missouri (my alma mater, GO TIGERS!). The first semester is intentionally challenging and the BU Integrated Project looms over unsuspecting newbie MBAs until its conclusion in early December. Academic and non-academic responsibilities consumed my attention and led to my first major search mistake: procrastination. Every MBA program begins with an intense semester and project--and BU is no different--but students must persevere and not lose sight of the internship search.

Relax...then Focus

My first piece of advice for new students beginning the search: relax. Relax in any way you enjoy--grab a drink with a classmate, head to our amazing FitRec, sit on a couch, see a movie, play a game (I suggest Resident Evil 4 on Wii)--do whatever you need to in order to escape and take a deep breath. Stepping away from academic and professional work for a moment allows you to remember why you came back to school, to realize how many new friends you've made, and to take a mental break.

Relaxed? Alright, time to focus. Pick a function, pick an industry, find a job. Part One has come to a close.

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May 1, 2009

The end of another chapter ...

[Post by Julien Lee, MBA Class of 2009]

As of 3:30 pm yesterday, I finished classes for my MBA. From the looks of it, this may be the last time I ever take classes towards a degree. Getting a doctorate just isn't in the cards for me, but that's what I said about getting a masters degree, so I'm not going to say it won't ever happen ...

The end was very bittersweet. There was a feeling of jubilation among my classmates that classes were finally over, but to be honest, I don't think it will really hit us all until finals are done and we are crossing that stage at commencement getting our diploma. The last two years have been a whirlwind. Everything people say about the MBA experience is true: you learn more than you could imagined about yourself, others and the business world, time flies by in a blink of an eye, and you create relationships and networks that you will carry with you for a lifetime. I'm going to miss seeing the same people day in and day out that have shared so many memories with me over the last two years. Many are staying in the Boston area post-graduation, but many are dispersing to the various corners of the U.S. and the world. I hope that the popularity of social networking will keep us connected via facebook, linked in and twitter! :)

I am excited for school to be over and for me to start another chapter in my life. I'm thrilled to start working again, especially getting a paycheck! With that said, it's a very scary world out there right now. Chrysler filing chapter 11, swine flu outbreak, unemployment at an all time high and home values at an all time low ... yet, the general sentiment in my class is one of hope and resiliency. We have been well-prepared to enter the real world again through our MBA education at BU and know that the school and its staff and faculty will be there for us should we need to reach out again for further support.

So let the festivities begin! MBA Talent Show tonight with points going towards our Cohort Cup Competition among the full-time cohorts ... Fenway Park tour with the MBA Ambassadors (current students who work with the Graduate Admissions Office ... 2nd year party ... lunch at Dean Lataif's home ... and the list goes on!

Until next time,

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April 27, 2009

Entrepreneurship in Recession

The alarm rang at 6:58 AM on April 1st, ’09 and I quickly woke up to boot my laptop. I was trying to register for the courses offered in Fall 2009. The class for “Starting New Ventures“ got filled in less than 5 minutes. Peter Russo, who teaches this class, is an Executive-in-Residence who teaches Entrepreneurship and Strategy at the Boston University School of Management. He is the Director of Entrepreneurship Programs for the Institute for Technology Entrepreneurship & Commercialization (ITEC).

The Institute for Technology Entrepreneurship and Commercialization (ITEC) provides a platform for entrepreneurship education and training to the students of Boston University. The annual ITEC $50K Business Plan Competition provides BU students and recent alumni with the opportunity to develop their business idea into a successful business plan. So young entrepreneurs receive mentoring and advice from start up veterans, as well as the opportunity to expand their network and connect with potential sources of funding. This helps the teams to connect with Venture Capitalists and Angel Investors.

The 2009 Finalists of the Business Plan Competition were the following teams: BikeNow, Novophage, Click Chemicals, and AirGO. BikeNow is a bike-sharing program which can be thought as a bicycle version of Zipcar. The students from SMG have a vision to change the way we commute in Boston. Their proposed company, BikeNow, would offer bikes (with helmets) that could be rented with a swipe card, then returned to any of 100 or more drop-off stations.

Novophage is a company that will market genetically engineered bacteriophage therapy for clinical care. Doctors have used bacteriophages since the early 20th century, but their use declined after the introduction of powerful antibiotics. Now Novophage has genetically modified a bacteriophage so that it zeroes in on a bacteria’s natural DNA repair mechanism, increasing the killing power of antibiotics and hindering the development of superbugs. The Novophage team won the 2009 ITEC $50K Business Plan Competition.

The US Government needs to understand that jobs will not be created by giving billions of dollars to General Motors or AIG but by funding entrepreneurship incubators like ITEC. Many great companies have started during recessions and this seems to be a great time to bring in some disruptive technologies to the market.
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April 14, 2009

Renting an Apartment in Boston

Finding housing in Boston can be tough especially if you are moving from a different state. When I began looking for housing last summer I had no idea what the market was like, how brokers operated, and what questions I should ask, so for those of you who will be moving to Boston from another part of the country here is a list of tips I've learned over the last year. Some of it may be obvious already, but here it is:

-Almost all leases start Septmeber 1st and run for a year. However, you can negotiate with your landloard to have someone else take over the apartment in May or June when the school year runs out. This may be important if you have an internship or job in another area. Subletting does happen but in my experience landloards are getting tougher about it.

-If you are a full time single student you will probably need a cosigner. Yes, it seemed weird to me too since I have rented apartments for the last six years without one, but Boston is different.

-Getting an apartment without paying a brokers fee in September is tough but it can be done. Check craig's list under the "no fee" section, but be carefull a lot of sneaky brokers put apartments in there that are "half" fee.

-It is helpful to ask who the other tenants are the in building, (i.e. undergraduate students, grad students, young professions etc).

-Check out the property management company online, there are reviews on yelp that can be helpful. My management company was good for the first few months and then they started to get really shaddy. I looked them up on yelp and saw that other people have had similar issues with them.

-Finally, this BU medical campus office can be helpful. Their website gives good descriptions of different areas and neighborhoods and what you can expect to pay.

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April 10, 2009

Networking at SAKS Fifth Avenue

[Post by Julien Lee, MBA Class of 2009]

One of the two major events that the Women's MBA Association hosts each year is the Alumni Networking Night in the spring semester. (The other event is the fall EMPOWER conference that brings women business leaders from different industries to campus to share advice and insights with participants.) This year, we were fortunate enough to be able to host this event at SAKS Fifth Avenue in the Boston Prudential Center.

The night was a huge success! We had over 60 attendees with about 40% alumni who graduated as recently as two years ago to alumni that graduated in the 1980s! It is wonderful to see that conversations and connections were occurring as freely as the champagne was flowing! Many of the women also got to do some shopping as all participants were given a 15% shopping discount at SAKS that night. The food was definitely a highlight as most people couldn't stop talking about the prosciutto wrapped asparagus, california rolls and chocolate dipped strawberries!

My time as President of the Women's MBA Association is quickly coming to a close and I will need to hand over the reins to my successor. The transition will be bittersweet as I will miss the opportunities this position has made available to me, but I will be glad to have one less thing on my list of responsibilities. As an alumnus, I will be sure to keep my eyes open for any WMBA invitations and will look forward to attending next year's alumni networking night!

Until next time,

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March 18, 2009

Reinventing Management

[Post by Sougata Basu, MBA Class of 2010]

Boston University Graduate School of Management hosted the annual MBA Symposium on February 28th, 2009. During the past few months we have seen some rapid and random changes in the business world. The cascading effect of excess leverage has destroyed the world economy. So it was apt to focus on “Reinventing Management” during this year’s Symposium.

Apart from the Keynote speakers, there were several panels on Consulting, Energy, Entrepreneurship, Finance, Real Estate, Non-Profit etc. The speakers were senior executives from reputed companies who are leaders in their respective industries. Students from various Boston-based business schools attended the event.

The day started with a motivating speech by Randy C. Papadellis. He is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Ocean Spray Cranberries, Inc., the number-one brand of shelf-stable juice drinks in the United States. He shared his experiences and gave us his insights on how to lead effectively. The second keynote speaker was Dr. Gary Hamel, who is a visiting Professor of Strategic and International Management at the London Business School and one of the world's leading experts on business strategy.

Some of the recent events (like the failure of Lehman Brothers) show us that senior management doesn’t always take the right decisions. However a collective failure of so many financial institutions shows us that there is something fundamentally wrong in the present management systems. We will need to analyze and challenge the assumptions which form the basis of business decisions. That’s what we mean by “Reinventing Management".

Many organizations face a lot of problems and challenges especially related to human resource management. However most of the HR managers and CXOs are not willing to accept this fact. That’s where the problem lies. If we don’t accept the problem, we can’t solve it. For example many engineers are not really engaged in any creative engineering, but just keep doing some routine job. This leads to de-motivation and lower productivity. Most of the firms facing these challenges have not come up with anything more than a normal curve to assess employee performance. Is that enough?

It’s time we question the existing management systems and change them to be suitable for businesses of the 21st century.

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