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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