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    Life of a Second Year

    December 18th, 2014

    Originally Posted: 9/17/2013 5:44 PM  

    Second year is a time of relaxing. You don’t have to go through the core. You’re taking all the classes that you want and can drop the ones you don’t want. Life is a party from Wednesday night on. Sure, there are some things to deal with from 1st year students, but that’s a minority of the time. Or at least that’s what I had in my head.

    The reality is much different but I am still having a fantastic time.

    I arrived back on campus August 25th and that evening was the first Consulting Club meeting where I co-run the education curriculum. The next two days were training for leading a 1st year core team (group of ~5 1st year students who do projects together). Then class resumed. That’s when the juggling act really started.

    Class has been really interesting. This is because the classes I’ve elected to take this semester don’t have finals, but projects. This is in stark contrast to the constant quiz/midterm/final process of first year. Interestingly, I almost want finals back. It’s pretty darn difficult to find time for group meetings in between everything else that is going on.

    So what classes am I taking? Cases in strategy, Pricing Strategy & Tactics, Women in Leadership, Oral & Written Communication, Johnson Leadership Fellows curriculum, and (of course) Introduction to Wines – the most failed class at Cornell. It’s a nice mix of topics and about as much as I can handle. Sadly, Introduction to Massage had to go. Really.

    Outside of class I am doing this (blogging), the Johnson Leadership Fellow role, Career Work Group Leader (career prep for 1st years), Student Council Operations Chair, Consulting Club VP of Education, Admissions Ambassador (on campus tours), and a TA for Intermediate Accounting (next semester, thankfully).

    So why does all of this matter to you? My hope is that it shows you just how engaged 2nd year students are at Johnson. I did mention it in my prior post, but now that I’m living it I thought it important to validate that it is both possible and very fulfilling.

    So the excessive partying may have to wait, but I sure am enjoying my time. Also, please note that it is only the excessive partying that has to wait. Regular partying is alive and well as demonstrated by my classmate who performed his fire dance routine at a recent house party.

    Part of a series of my re-postings of my blog for the “Life @ Johnson” section of the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University MBA program website.

    Time for a Triumphant Return

    December 4th, 2014

    Originally Posted: 8/6/2013 10:02 PM  

    So what goes through the mind of a newly minted Johnson 2nd year? Wow. Let me pause on that for a moment. A 2nd year. I held on to my 1st year designation as long as possible because the first year was such an amazing experience; I didn’t want to let it go. I always said “next year’s first year students” but no longer. They have started their orientation, started building new friendships, and officially joined the Johnson family. There is no denying it. I am a Johnson second year. I hope those 1st year students read my shopping list.

    Okay, so back to the question of what’s going through my mind. The short answer is I am thinking of all the ways I can help the first year students. I am preparing for my return to campus and all of the activities I have signed up for. Johnson Leadership Fellow, Career Workgroup Leader, Student council, Consulting Club, TA positions, and a bunch of other things.

    Why is this what I am so focused on? Well, during first year it is easy to think of these activities as “resume builders”, but that is a mistake. The entire first year community is counting on the 2nd year students in positions similar to the ones I listed. I need to be thinking of what I want to accomplish in the next few months before I transition responsibilities. I need to be thinking of what knowledge I want to share because time is such a precious resource. It is this sort of thought and preparation – largely invisible except for mistakes – that makes the first year so enjoyable despite its rigor.

    After I am done thinking about all of that, I think about the classes I want to take. The things I want to experience during this time which is unlike any other in my life. But that’s for after we get things rolling for the Class of 2015. 🙂

    Will the second year be less intense than first year? I would say the clear answer, from an academic perspective, is yes. But will I be any less busy? Not if I can help it.

    Part of a series of my re-postings of my blog for the “Life @ Johnson” section of the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University MBA program website.

    Beginnings and Endings

    November 20th, 2014

    Originally Posted: 6/6/2013 12:36 PM  

    As with any exciting adventure, time goes by quickly when you’re having fun. Curiously, I found my first year at Johnson to go by extremely fast as well as very slowly. When you’re in the middle of it, you can’t believe there is so much left to do before the quarter or semester ends. But sometimes, even if for a brief moment while having a beer with friends, you realize that you’ve actually accomplished a lot. That time has gone quite quickly and the road ahead is relatively short.

    Year one ended about as you would expect. A flurry of projects to be completed, both individual and group, as well as finals to study for. It was a little reminiscent of first semester in that school became all consuming for a stretch. Social functions dropped off and preparation for next year’s club activities and events took a back seat. Actually, if I’m honest, it probably still wasn’t as much work as first semester was. But after the fresh air of winter break and a lighter load 2nd semester it sure seemed like it!

    After courses finished up I took time to visit family and take a vacation. It was a good time to recharge before my internship with Accenture (Strategy – Chicago), which I start in a few days. I already have my orientation schedule and it appears days will be packed with wonderful learning opportunities and fun events to get to know my intern class.

    That’s all for now, but here’s a secret for you: as amazing as the last 10 months have been, I fully expect the next 12 to be even better.

    Congrats to the incoming class on your successful admission to a fantastic school. To those looking for next year, good luck!

    Part of a series of my re-postings of my blog for the “Life @ Johnson” section of the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University MBA program website.

    Bibimbap Backpack at Johnson

    November 6th, 2014

    Originally Posted: 4/17/2013 6:55 PM  

    Today Johnson was able to host a fantastic group of individuals that are part of the Bibimbap Backpack organization. This was a highly anticipated event by many members of the community, a sense that was only heightened by its prominent location in the atrium, the heart of the Johnson community. Fortunately, we had a beautiful and sunny day here in Ithaca to welcome them.


    One of the 6 organizers, Sang Mi Lee, spoke with me before the event and offered an introduction of what to expect. She did an amazing job of helping me understand what the Bibimbap Backpackers were out to do. Shortly after, the event opened with a presentation by Su In Lee, where she shared the background of the organization (as well as that she was up at 5AM making our dessert, Hotteock)!


    The organization is still young, just 3 years old, but has been to over 15 countries since starting in 2011. This year they are focusing on top MBA programs across the country and the vibrant area of Silicon Valley to help introduce “leaders of the future” to this wonderful dish.


    I have never had the experience of sampling bibimbap, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I can certainly say, if you have the chance you should check this event out. The dish takes care of “Five a day the color way” which encourages the consumption of 5 colors of vegetables every day: black (mushrooms), green (spinach/beans), white (sprouts), yellow (egg), and red (carrot).  Besides looking great, it has a fantastic taste as well. The rice base, combined with the crunch of fresh vegetables makes for a satisfying mouthful. Top that off with the sweet and spicy magic sauce gochu, mix it up, and you have yourself a delicious, healthy, quick, and easy meal!

    I can certainly see why Johnson was so excited about the event. We had a lot of fun and it, interestingly, really embodies the Johnson spirit by promoting “harmony, peace, friendship, coexistence, and cooperation; where each ingredient is unique but comes together to create a new flavor”.

    They can count on one thing: this future leader’s opinion is that I’d take seconds!

    Part of a series of my re-postings of my blog for the “Life @ Johnson” section of the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University MBA program website.

    All The Small Things

    October 23rd, 2014

    Originally Posted: 4/12/2013 9:36 AM 

    No matter what program you enter, academics are a big part of it (obviously!). Time is limited because of how much is going on between recruiting, club events, social connections, and coursework. Make sure you have a system in place to help you deal with the work load. Here’s a few tips from my experience that might help you.

    There will be lots of paper flying around and keeping track of it can be tough. My recommendation is the Five Star Stay-Put Folder. The reason I love this folder is that it’s made of a durable material that stands the test of time. It has the typical 2 pockets, but also has these little fold-down elements for the top that help you separate the material, effectively giving you four pockets. Add onto this the thin plastic case for random notes and the 3-prong holder and you have a very versatile folder.

    Plastic Tabs
    When reading or going through lecture, creating flags that tell you about that section makes studying or doing homework go so much faster. For this task I have 3 levels of tabs. First are the large 3″ tabs. These are prefect to divide large sections such as Notes and Exercises. You could use actual divider pages, but the tabs let you move them around as needed whereas the divider pages you are constrained to their layout. Second are 1″ mid size tabs. These are great for topic headings, but be careful not to get the flimsy ones – go for Durable. Finally, use small flags for specific formulas you want to remember. Stay away from the paper ones! they get bet very easily, so stick with plastic.

    I love to highlight things by topic. Something like a critical point might get a blue highlighter while a key formula might get yellow. It’s an easy way to draw your eye to exactly the type of information you are looking for. Personally, I got the pocket sized 5-color Target highlighters. They don’t bleed, the colors are not overly dark. They’re small and easy to tuck away. Those are the reasons I love that set of highlighters.

    Writing Tool
    You will be taking lots of notes, doing problem sets, and – probably – making mistakes along the way. For this reason I take a pencil and eraser to all of my classes. Of course, I also have some pens along for the ride, but I tend not to use them most of the time. Interestingly, I found that when I’m writing that much, some pencils worked better than others (in terms of ease of use) and mechanical pencils were way better than standard pencils. I did a lot of research to find the best mechanical pencil for a reasonable price. It is with great confidence that I can recommend the Pentel Sharp Automatic Pencil (0.5mm). This pencil is fantastic because it has a solid grip, nice weight, and sharp point. The only drawback is it has a very small built in eraser, but that’s why I bring my own eraser. The eraser is always the first thing to go on any pencil anyway.

    So that’s my advice to incoming students: take the time to get your things organized at the beginning and it will make your life that much easier down the road. It really is the small stuff like the things I listed above that makes the whole process that much easier.

    Some of it may seem silly right now, but when you’re exhausted after a long week and taking an open note final you’ll wish you had listened to me.

    Part of a series of my re-postings of my blog for the “Life @ Johnson” section of the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University MBA program website.

    Business and Bowling

    October 9th, 2014

    Originally Posted: 2/6/2013 6:26 PM

    One of the things that you hear a lot about when looking at schools is fit. What is the class dynamic like? Do you actually get to meet everyone in your class or is it just limited to a section? All of these are great questions and things one really needs to think about, both for an MBA but also for a full time offer.

    If you’ve done much research on Johnson, you know that it is a very close knit community. Students really do hang out with one another, both in and outside of the career path they are looking at. While there are many examples I can give, perhaps the biggest is the bowling league.

    The bowling alley is 16 lanes, 4 people per team, and two time slots every Friday. Some quick math tells you that that’s 128 people involved. Then, since there are always scheduling conflicts each 4 person team actually has about 6 people (mine has 8). So that’s about 192 people. Add to that people that come and are not even on a team, and you easily have over 200 people coming out to bowl every Friday during the Spring semester.

    That makes it roughly 1/3 of the student body is out together having a great time.

    Think about that! One out of every 3 people in the whole school come out together every week. That is something special. That is what we mean when we talk about the Johnson community.

    Side note: the average score is probably around or less than 100, so bowling skill is not required.

    Part of a series of my re-postings of my blog for the “Life @ Johnson” section of the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University MBA program website.

    How to Win an Internship

    September 25th, 2014

    Originally Posted: 12/5/2012 8:26 PM  

    I promised that I would post about my experience with the Accenture Innovation Challenge and I will deliver on that promise! In good executive summary form, I’ll start with the results. We won!

    Background: This was the first year Accenture did a case competition on their 9 advanced degree recruiting campuses, including Stern, Booth, Ross, and Wharton. There are a few things that make this competition different than other competitions.

    1) Structure – 80 teams applied, 50 teams presented on-campus, 17 semi-finalist teams (2 per campus) were selected for a PowerPoint only round and short video, 3 were selected as finalists to present at the client and one is the winner.

    2) Case Problem – The solution you present, you must be able to implement. I don’t mean Accenture, I mean you. In the final rounds the presentations were to the CEO and senior staff of the nonprofit we were working with (in addition to very senior Accenture practitioners). The winning proposal is then scoped by Accenture and the winning team will have the chance to help implement.

    3) Reward – Most competitions have cash or interview rewards for winning (and also typically fewer total teams competing). Accenture offered a guaranteedinternship to the winning team. Not an interview, an internship.

    The Challenge: I’m not sure how much I can or can’t say about the challenge itself, but I will say it was for an extremely fun Washington, DC based nonprofit. We were trying to help them increase the number of projects volunteers completed annually. It was a very interesting challenge and there were a few things that I feel made our team successful.

    Teamwork: I can’t say this enough – the team I was a part of functioned at an extremely high level. We were able to have open conversation, get solid feedback, let go of our own ideas, embrace ideas of others, circle back to issues and ideas as needed but not run in circles, seriously commit to the project yet keep it fun, and many other traits. Each person brought their own strengths and the team just got stuff done. Even the most talented team will fail if they don’t have the proper chemistry and my team definitely had chemistry.

    Preparation: We prepared for this. A lot. I would estimate that each round was 30+ hours of work per team member. At each stage we refined our concept and changed things based on feedback we received. This includes the final round where we had a call with the client and we decided to rework half of our entire concept. The call was Friday at 4. The new deck was done by Monday afternoon and turned in Tuesday night. We practiced presenting our sections, gave feedback on how to work the slide, what points to hit, what words/themes were needed to frame the ideas. Johnson faculty made time to coach us on our presentation style. We also did individual practice and then came together as a group so we wouldn’t burn out. Our preparation enabled us to present our sections to the client rather than at the client – a key difference that shows just how much we cared about our solution AND the client.

    Risks: No analysis is complete without risks and mitigation strategies. We all took risks to win this. We missed class and a quiz to participate in the finals and we knew our grades were going to be impacted. The weekend we spent doing the final deck (after that Friday call) also contained a statistics mid-term so we didn’t study as much as we could have. There were other things that are hard to measure: stress, networking, recruiting, relationships, or even just sleep. These were real risks for us which we decided to mitigate by winning 😉 Joking aside, we spent time saying what we could commit. We all knew when people had stopping times. We needed to be sensitive to those things. This was important to mitigate some of the risks and critical to our success.

    That’s my summary of the Accenture Innovation Challenge. Good luck to those of you partaking next year!

    Part of a series of my re-postings of my blog for the “Life @ Johnson” section of the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University MBA program website.

    Thankful for Success!

    September 11th, 2014

    Originally Posted: 11/26/2012 3:27 PM  

    Things are busy. I feel like I need to start every post saying that so you are not surprised when you are in the thick of your MBA. You can’t say “nobody told me there would be so many opportunities”. The thing is, that’s what they are: opportunities. They are all over the place and it is up to you to pick which ones you will seize and which ones you will pass by.

    I set my sights on a few things this semester and have been extremely humbled by just how well things have turned out. It started a few weeks ago when I won the election for the Facilities Chair with the Johnson Student Council. My platform is that I want to have a bunch of small wins we can see the benefit of now while also making sure student voices are heard in strategic planning. When you see awesome signs for room locations you’ll know I’ve accomplished a core part of my platform.

    The next victory was winning the co-VP of Education position (along with Matt De Paolo) for the Consulting Club. It was awesome that so many people showed interest in the position, and I consider myself lucky to have been elected. It will be a lot of work, 20-40 hours a week next year, but I learned so much from the co-VPs this year that I really wanted to find a way to give back. They did a fantastic job with case preparation as well as general recruiting tips & etiquette. My goal is to somehow fill their massive shoes and help the class of 2015 as much as they helped my class.

    Next up was a series of wins that I will write a whole post about. The short story is that I had an amazing team that won several rounds of competition and, ultimately, we won the first Accenture Innovation Challenge case competition (over about 80 teams). For a bit more detail, read on! There are various case competitions people can sign up for (which Johnson has been dominating). A few are on campus. Accenture decided to produce their very own case competition this year at their core recruiting schools. After two rounds, 3 (of 80) were picked as finalists. We were flown to Washington, DC to present to the CEO & senior members of the organization as well as national and global heads from Accenture. The prize was an internship – a HUGE deal, not only because getting an internship is such a focus, but because most case competitions have cash prizes or guaranteed interviews.

    The same day that we won that competition it was revealed that Johnson had climbed the BusinessWeek rankings to #7. The mood was electric around Sage! What a great time to be here.

    That said, I needed a break and the Thanksgiving break provided exactly that. Sure, I should have been catching up on school work. I didn’t. That will make this a tough week of catch-up, but when you need to recharge, you need to take time and come back full-strength.

    Part of a series of my re-postings of my blog for the “Life @ Johnson” section of the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University MBA program website.

    Journey Through the Core

    August 28th, 2014

    Originally Posted: 10/28/2012 11:39 PM 

    It finally happened for me.  After working so hard during the first quarter of classes and having the occasional “when will I ever use this” thoughts, I was listening to some conversations in class and realized just how much I had learned since August 4.

    Sometimes it is hard to appreciate it when you are right in the middle of the class or pounding out an analysis of a case, but when you take a step back and think about all of the connections you just made, it’s amazing. It’s a capital lease, not operating, so it has a different impact on the depreciation structure (accounting) and how I value the company using a DCF analysis (finance). The shift in long run average total cost in an industry (econ) will change the supply curve, cause firms to exit, and, therefore, alter the competitive forces of the remaining firms (strategy).

    If you don’t know what that means, fear not. They will teach you. That’s what our professors are there for. The point is that everything really is connected. Knowing these connections starts to change the way you think about issues. It also makes the material that much more interesting. You can see, in short order, the use of the knowledge you gained just a few weeks prior.

    The part that is fantastic is that it’s all planned. The faculty that teach the core 1st year classes meet on a weekly basis and discuss what is going on in each of their sections.  They seek feedback from other faculty members to make sure that not only do they use material and references across the courses, but they make changes to support one another. When reviewing a quiz, we have even been explicitly told that the question was included because another faculty member wanted the point stressed because of what they were planning to do in future coursework.

    This is what we mean when we say Johnson is collaborative. It is not just a saying. It’s not just for your team or even just the student body. It is a reflection of Johnson’s approach to learning and makes learning here such a rich experience.

    With that, Happy Halloween from Sage!


    Part of a series of my re-postings of my blog for the “Life @ Johnson” section of the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University MBA program website.

    Exams With Faculty That care

    August 14th, 2014

    Originally Posted: 10/5/2012 8:06 PM  

    Exam weekend is here! The core class line-up is Saturday, Sunday, and Tuesday.  It is a marathon of study time, practice exams, group session, TA and Professor led reviews, and – when one can find time – some sleep.

    As you can imagine, this could be a very stressful time for the students, and I’d be lying if I said that it wasn’t. That said, there are tons of examples of the true Johnson spirit shining through. I want to just share a few with you so you can appreciate the awesome atmosphere that this school creates.

    I could write a whole post (and should) on how much the 2nd year students help out the 1st year students. It is part of what Johnson is. This weekend they are sponsoring extra snacks for us in the atrium to keep us fueled up for our exams.

    The people love to learn. We just had a re-screening of the presidential debate that was very well attended despite the looming exams. The main focus was two professors of economics that were taking Q&A and giving their opinion and insights on some of the comments.

    Extended office hours and review sessions were all around. There was help from the faculty of the school, if that’s who you wanted to talk to

    The students themselves organized into groups and had open study sessions that people can pop in and out of.  In fact, there was even a Facebook group that was started specifically for the exams so that people could post questions with a virtual study group.

    Back to the faculty, they provided all sorts of study materials to make sure we could prepare for the exams. Sure, there are a bunch of curve balls on the day of, but just knowing that the system is in place to support us is very reassuring.

    The last thing that I’ll say is the coordination for the semester.  Sure there are conflicts – all of them can’t be avoided, but the entire school is VERY good at planning things out. And not just for social and professional events, but for course deliverables as well. On top of that they take feedback and then take action on it.

    In short, it is a very busy time here at Johnson and I couldn’t be happier that I’m in the middle of it.

    Part of a series of my re-postings of my blog for the “Life @ Johnson” section of the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University MBA program website.