Sunday, January 25, 2009


Sums up the topic of my post. Third quarter, second row (in class), first week.

Q3 classes began last Monday for the class of 2010. I have a whole new section – just a fourth of my class comprises of the familiar faces from Section D, the others being from sections A, B, and C – no section E since our new classroom is the Section E classroom – with the tap dancing blackboard.

It’s been a weird sort of week for me. There are a lot of people in my class I have never seen before and I’m only just getting to putting names to faces. It doesn’t help that I’m no longer in my perch on the last row, at the top of the class – the one I referred to as prime real estate in an earlier post. This time I’m in row 2, right under the teacher’s nose, uncomfortably so, if I may add – I got cold-called in 2 of 3 classes on the first day of the quarter! It’s comforting to have some familiar faces in class, but they’re all so far interspersed that they are almost lost in the sea of unfamiliar ones. In the Darden curriculum, a lot of the classroom experience is a function of the class dynamics and in this first week I’m still trying to put my finger on the pulse of it. This I know for sure – there’s an awful lot of ex/current bankers in my class – they’re the lot I’m somehow always intimated by, don’t ask me why! I miss my section D, but I get to meet a whole bunch of new people and they already seem like fun!

The subjects and the set up this quarter are deceptively laidback. Nearly every Friday is a reading day – more like a callback day for recruiting activities. We have strategy, more finance, decision analysis once again, GEM (but no P-Rod) and communication. So far all the classes have been pretty interesting. We also have a whole new set of professors, so that’s another thing you have to figure out – different professors respond to the class dynamics in different ways. While some are very cold-call-friendly, others are very voluntary-class-participation-friendly. I’m kind of undecided on which one is the lesser of two evils.

So why this week is weird is simply because I’ve been feeling oddly restless in class. And so have a lot of people. There’s two kinds of people in the classroom these days – one kind that have got jobs for the summer. They are the kinds that literally drag their feet to class (shout out to YG for the GS offer and to GC for McK).The other kind are the ones who also drag their feet to class but only because they are still looking for jobs and therefore would rather be hooked up (to the internet) doing something to further their efforts – that precious green light is being promptly switched off before and during every class, cutting us off from the internet. Thankfully classes (and comments) are interesting enough for me to zone in and out of my reverie often enough to actually type out enough notes!

It’s Saturday night and I stopped by Starbucks on the way back from dinner. A night of insomnia follows.

Friday, January 16, 2009

The 4Ps of an internship search

Take one super awesome SY, and four hungry and tired FYs. Put them in a hallway in school. Get them talking about consulting firms. Amidst a lot of back slapping, high-fiveing and PJs, here’s what you get!

Second year SN (“What do you want to do?”) and first years AK, AS, RJ and yours truly present:

The 4 Ps of a consulting internship search:

Project / Position – The position or role you want to go for. Corporate strategy vs Supply Chain Strategy. Business Technology Consulting vs S&O consulting. Healthcare consulting vs energy consulting. List is endless.
Place – Everyone wants to go to New York. But there are other offices. Most websites have an interactive map that lights up your location when you click on it. Pretty cute stuff. So yeah, there’s life outside of New York.
People – The “fit” factor (no it doesn’t end with business school applications). The culture. The work-life balance. Over rated in a down economy but we’re going to leave it there for the sake of the 4Ps.
Payment – The salary. You want a good salary and you look at that right from now since you have the long term in mind (translated – if they offer you a full time position). Period. If you need more explanation, maybe you want to look at non-profit work.

Chin up

You know what’s coming from the title. And by the end of this post you’re probably going to ask me if I want some cheese (LT39 will get this one).

When I was hanging out at the Root residence on Christmas Eve all I could wish for was that I get the gift of an interview call at a consulting firm. By the time New Year’s Eve rolled in, all I wished for was any firm to call me for an interview. 12 days into the New Year, all I’d received were reject letters, and the year was threatening to turn into one massive nightmare. On day 13 I got my first invite, but going by the number of offers firms are making here, I don’t even know if I should be hopeful. I will admit that others in my school will tell you it’s too early to press the panic button. I will also admit that when I came to business school I really thought I’d put my foot in the door to a great career. I thought my days of worry and of feeling like I was headed nowhere were finally over. Someone in Wall Street obviously had other plans.

I don’t like this feeling of general all pervading gloom that seems to have set up shop in my head. And I hate playing party-pooper with my friends. But these wonderful people who I have the privilege of calling friends, stand by me, calling me up and telling me it’s going to be ok. They’re the most awesome people and I’m thankful to just know them. You all know who you are and I want you to know I’m grateful for your support, especially the one you’ve given me in the last two weeks. Special thanks for all the hugs, chai meetings and to those who would call me on the phone only to hear my outburst of frustration.

Sometimes you just have to look for treasure in the unlikeliest of places. Sometimes good tidings also come when you least expect them. They tell us the way out is to cast a wide net, as wide as you possibly can. I watch some of my batch mates holed up in learning team rooms doing cases while others walk the halls looking sharper than before in crisp suits and I feel a sense of deep disappointment for not being a part of the race. And then I hear of the offers that are coming in – less than 5% of the total interview invite list, and I wonder which of us would be more depressed – the suit clad banker-wannabe or me.

In other news, I’d gone to Seattle on a job trek last week. Standing in Microsoft’s Redmond campus, the techie in me was full of glee, like a kid in a candy store. I felt strangely comfortable and familiar and awe for the organization, its culture and its products, so much that I could actually see myself working there! And there’s a lot to be said about the Darden alum – they all took time off their schedules to spend an informative couple of hours with us. It was the same case with the other firms we visited – everywhere the Darden alum were there to talk to us about school, work, internship search and even networking! We capped off the evening with a student-alumni mixer which was a great opportunity to talk at length with all the alum we’d met in the course of the day. And while I really liked Seattle, I didn’t like how far away it is and how it took me forever to get back home. Like every trip I’ve been on, I met some interesting people on the flights; including another bschooler from Cornell (we exchanged some gloom).

I’m back in the Ville now and yes I’d like some cheese. And I’d love a belated Christmas gift too. Actually just a gift would be nice…

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Watching the ball drop on 2008

I remember the post I wrote same time last year. I remember like it was yesterday that I was sitting in my office in Bangalore as the clock struck midnight on the last night of 2007, writing that post and editing my essays for Darden while making plans to fly out to the US that same week. Looking back now, I could say I was in denial for the most part, but itching to get somewhere better than where I was at that time. Just that week, two out of the 4 business schools I had applied to had communicated their dings and I had no idea what I was going to do or where I was going. The only light was the change of scenery in the work place that I was being offered.

Coming to the US changed me so much! It seemed like I was learning something new at work every day, and then there was Darden. I’ll spare you details, but that was undoubtedly the best thing to happen to me in a long long time. I have to thank a lot of people for their faith in me, but special thanks to PV for his constant egging and nudging, for convincing me to take the plunge and apply. Summer of 2008 passed by in a whoosh, 2+ months of getting pampered at home by the family and in what seemed like the blink of an eye, it was time to board the flight again, to make that 24 hour journey to the place I’d begun to think of as home.

Darden. Oh what can I possible say about it that I haven’t already said before? Every day has been a new experience. I’m continuing to meet great people from different countries of the world, realizing that geographies are just lines on a flat bit of paper and that in essence we’re all the same, here to chase our dreams, ambitions and so much more. I can see that I have changed so much in the last 6 months of being here.

Without a doubt, the last year was one where I worked harder than I had ever before – first at work and then at school. I knew going in that the year was going to bring in a lot of change, but I had no idea it would be this big. Priorities, thought processes, attitudes – all changed, seemingly for the better, but only time can tell.

The coming year is going to be the big one. This time I know it and not just feel it. For starters, there are two recruitment seasons to get by at school – the internship as well as the full time in the second year. I’m going to travel to a new continent in the first quarter of the year – first person in my family to get a South American stamp on the passport, woo hoo! There’s exams, the end of first year, the start of the second year, welcoming new students, and god knows what other adventures and experiences await me and my class in this eventful year. And this is just school – which I can safely assume will be almost 100% of my world/life for this year – very welcome too! Of course, I will be blogging through it all!

Last New Year’s Eve I told myself I’d watch the ball drop from Times Square in real time - I had thought I would go to NY. This time I did watch the ball drop in real time, not from NYC but right here in NoVa. And the setting was so much better! I was surrounded by people I did not know until I met them few hours ago, yet they made me feel so welcome. New Year’s Eve couldn’t have been better, neither could new year’s day – so far away from home, yet I never felt like I was a stranger. Cheers to good friends, great people, an eventful, life-altering new year and to the rest of the blogosphere.

Note to business school applicants: Some of you may have your dreams come true this year. Some of you may not. For those in the first category, you’re going to remember this year for the rest of your lives. For those in the second, don’t worry because in the grand scheme of things, this setback will mean nothing more than a blip in a pretty blipful life! Irrespective of which bucket you fall under, good luck to all of you.


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