Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Kelley Direct In-Residence Experience

I'm in the airport waiting to fly back to Indiana for my second Kelley Direct In-Residence. I can't believe it has been a year since I was on the Indiana University campus for my first in-residence. My first year in the Kelley Direct MBA program has gone by fast. It has been challenging, inspiring, rewarding, and fun. As I reflect on all my experiences from my first year, I have to say my favorite part of the program was the first in-residence in Bloomington. I thought I would share some of my experiences from that in-residence in this post.

It all started with a reception dinner in the Indiana Memorial Union Hotel. We heard from leaders and professors of the program, and it was our first opportunity to meet other students.

I was so excited for the program to begin, I was the first to arrive at the classroom on the first day of classes. I knew I was surrounded by greatness when the first two students to sit next to me had each previously earned their Ph.D. in different fields. I never knew any of the people in this photo before the program, but I became friends with all of them. Three of the four people in this photo were later in groups of mine in different classes.

The professors at the Kelley Direct In-Residence were awesome. Clockwise from top left: Professor Linda Dunn-Jensen, Professor Sheri Fella, Professor Sarah "Intelligirl" Robbins, Usha Venkat, Professor Steve Hayford, and Professor Tatiana Kolovou.

The lunch breaks were a good place to enjoy some delicious food and meet other students in the program. My advice to everyone planning to attend an in-residence: take advantage of every opportunity to network.

Our cohort was broken up into teams of six. We did all case analysis, assignments, and presentations with our team. Meeting and working with my team was the highlight of the week for me. They are some of the brightest, most talented people I have had the pleasure to work with. I hope that we will all be friends the rest of our lives.

The in-residence culminated with a case competition. Here we are preparing for our presentation for the competition. It was a long night, but we stayed on schedule and did some of our best work. Most nights we were up until 1 or 2 a.m. finishing our assignments. This night was no exception.

Despite our busy schedule, we were able to get out and enjoy some of Bloomington's finer eating establishments. This night we were in the mood for Thai food.

Here's my team working on a simulation. The goal of the simulation was to get 60% buy in from the employees regarding a shift in strategy. We had to choose which tasks to perform in what order. Each task would affect the employee buy in either up or down. We got up to about 56% buy in before we ran out of time and money.

One of the funnest evenings of the week was the Kelley Direct social at Nick's English Hut. My team and I arrived in matching Kelley School of Business t-shirts. It was fun to relax and hang out with new friends without having to worry about assignments or deadlines.

Here my team is working on our assignment for a social media module. Our assignment was craft a social media policy for our fictitious company. When the company I work for posted their first social media policy earlier this year, I had to pull out my team's policy form the in-residence and see how it compared.

I am looking forward to the second in-residence. It will be different than the first because I have a better idea o f what to expect. I know many of the faculty and students who will be there. I have a year of MBA training under my belt. On the other hand, I am currently enrolled in two other courses and will I have to balance completing assignments for those classes while focusing on the workload for the in-residence. In the words of professor Kolovou, I'll have to be a "total and excellent juggler." I'm sure I'll be fine. My first year in the program has taught me that I can do it all.

Monday, July 26, 2010

A Year in Review

What’s up KD!! I hope this blog finds you well. I am writing to finish up our double feature, as promised. Life is still busy, we have moved, and are about to move again – due to some challenging living conditions. But, we are still up beat and excited about life!

Today’s blog is some tips from my first year in the KD program. I just registered for classes for this coming fall, and it seems nuts that a year has gone by already. But, alas, it has, and with that idea, I figured that I would give you some tips as you prepare for your first year in the KD program.

  • Do the in-residence early!

Due to my career in education, I could not do the in-residence in August, but I really wish that I could have. I wound up doing the in-residence in February, which was great, but some of the information from the in-residence would have been handy during those first couple of quarters.

During the in-residence, you are welcomed to the Kelley Direct program, and meet many of your peers in the program. But, more importantly, you learn about ANGEL, the program your classes are in. You will also get a chance to meet a number of your professors and the other staff in the program. It was invaluable to have faces to go with names in this program – especially with everything being already distance, due to the nature of the program.

  • Figure out your study style.

Whether you are a person who groups assignments around certain days, or like me, someone that does a little every day, you need to figure out your study style and stick to it. I know people in the program who are successful a number of different ways, but I would advocate for doing a little every day. It makes the load more palatable, and is more manageable with a life. I have a family with two small children, so that was the only way that this was going to work for us.

If you are not sure, I would talk to colleagues in the program to see what they do. It might be a little bit of a transition moving back into school, especially if you have been out for a long time. Sometimes, getting advice can be helpful.

  • Understand your plan of study.

Whether you are a dual-degree student, like me, or just going for one degree, you need to make sure that you understand your class schedule. You need to especially understand what classes are offered at which times. If you don’t change your class schedule, you will be fine – but you may determine that you want to take different classes at different times.

Moreover, if you are a dual degree student, you really need to understand the plan of study, because it will allow you to take your dual degree classes to meet electives in your primary program. This is what I am doing with the MBA/MSSM degree.

  • Connect your class work to your everyday job.

This is the tip that is the most valuable on this entire list. Even if it is not the easiest fit, connecting your current job with your class work will make the class work much, much more interesting. I can understand if you have to strain a little to make it work, much like I had to with my job and operations management this past quarter, but you have to do your best.

If you are successful, not only will the class work seem more relative, you will be in much better position to work with other departments or individuals, as you will be able to speak their language. The best example I have of this is my experience in the finance/accounting course. My ability to get and apply those concepts made my conversations with the finance people in our department much different. They began to understand that they could not “talk over my head”. So, we greatly improved our communication – and it worked wonders.

Well, I hope that’s helpful KD! Until next time, I’ll catch you later.

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Process and Beauty of Employment

What’s up KD!! It’s been a while since I have been able to write you. There has been a lot going on in the life. So much that – you are getting a double feature this time around! I’m going to write this blog – and am I’m going to work to get a 2nd one out to you this month.

This blog is about my job search. I just finished searching for a job in the field of Education, as I work in Housing in the University setting. My new position is an Assistant Director of Residence Life for Southern Illinois University Carbondale. In this role, I am responsible for supervising an environment that houses 1600 students. It’s going to be a great fit – I have already enjoyed my first week here.

For those of you that are looking for a new position, or a position in general, here are a few tips that I gathered during my experience that were really helpful .

  • Looking for a new job is a job!

Between interviewing, looking for positions, networking, following up on leads, and travelling – looking for a job became my 2nd job. It took a lot of time, dedication, and follow up to make it happen. Furthermore, you need to have multiple plans for finding a position. I have degrees in education, business, and computer science, and created plans for finding positions all three areas. If you want to move up, in, or on, you need to put time and effort into finding a position. If you are not spending 15-20 hours a week looking, then you are not really trying.

  • Use your contacts and networks

This is often a repeated mantra in KD, but it is so true. I got my current position, in part, because I knew the people that I was interviewing with. It helped that I’m competent, and have a great attitude, but it started because I knew the people well. If you are not looking for a job, spend the time investing in meeting and getting to know others in your field. If you are looking for a job, use those contacts that you have gathered over time to figure out how to get information about positions that might be coming open soon.

  • Make sure your personal brand is strong!

This is a term from my marketing course – but it means that you need to make sure that you have a good reputation throughout the interview process. You need to make sure that you look good in all forms – paper, speech, and in-person. It is a great idea to have others review your resume and/or do a mock interview with you. For this, the KD Graduate Career Services is a great help. Dave Thompson, and his staff, did a great job in helping me get ready for my search.

  • Be patient

It is widely believed that when you are looking for a promotion, you need to give 3-6 months to find a position. This is an extremely long time. My job search process started last November, when I concretely decided to find a new position, and finished in June when I accepted the position that I just started. That is 8 months!! Therefore, you have to understand that this is a process, which will take time to happen.

Well, I hope that’s helpful KD! Until next time, I’ll catch you later!!