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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