Saturday, June 02, 2007

The End

I packed up my apartment in New Haven and moved to New York. My business school journey has come to an end.

I’ve been thinking a lot these last few days about what to write in my final post for this blog. What can I say about the past two years? I loved most of it, hated some of it . . . and would absolutely do it all over again if given the chance. I made some great friendships here and learned more than I ever thought I would.

If you value community, understand the importance of diversity, and long to make a difference in the world, Yale SOM is the place for you. It challenges you. I am a better person having come here.

Thank you for reading. Goodbye.

Thursday, May 31, 2007


On Monday, May 28th, I graduated. It was Yale’s 306th commencement and the School of Management’s 30th. There were two separate ceremonies.

Commencement 1:

Soon-to-be graduates from all schools at Yale met at Cross-Campus to organize themselves for the procession. In rows of two, we marched by school until everyone arrived at Old Campus. In the middle of the quad were the graduates of Yale College, by far the largest contingent, flanked by professional and graduate school degree candidates. Though everyone was situated, the procession continued as the banners from each school were brought to the platform. Everyone from a particular school would cheer as that school’s banner became visible to its graduates. When the procession concluded, the president of the university, Richard Levin, welcomed everyone. This was followed by a prayer and a hymn. Afterwards, the presentation of candidates for degrees began.

At Yale, degrees are awarded en masse by the president of the university, by recommendation of the dean of each school. Until the dean formally presents his or her candidates and the president admits them, a person has not graduated. The president jokingly reminded the College’s degree candidates of this when they wouldn’t stop cheering after the dean presented them. But candidates from the School of Management started cheering even before Dean Podolny presented us. In fact, he hadn’t even reached the platform before we started, chanting “S-O-M! S-O-M!” for what seemed like a long time. The dean, anxious to proceed with the ceremony, used his arm to indicate that he wanted us to calm down, which only made us cheer louder. But both he and President Levin must have enjoyed our enthusiasm, as they continued to watch us, smiling. Finally, we quieted down and the dean presented us. A minute later, at exactly 11:13 a.m., the president formally admitted us. At that point, we officially graduated.

All graduates from all schools at Yale were reminded at the time of admission that this came with certain rights and responsibilities (as opposed to privileges). Candidates from the Law School were offered conditional admission because that school’s academic calendar ends later than the other schools’. And the Doctor of Philosophy presentation and admission were spoken in Latin. After another hymn, the conferral of honorary degrees, and another hymn and prayer, the ceremony ended and we made our way to SOM for our second commencement.

Commencement 2:

At SOM, we first heard from the dean. He was followed by our student-elected speaker, whose speech was the perfect mix of humor and seriousness. The refrain of “I was there, then,” created the most laughs. (This line came from an email that the dean sent to our class last year about the new curriculum. He explained that, while we wouldn’t benefit directly from the changes, we would be able to think to ourselves, “I was there, then.” This was supposed to make us feel special, like we were witness to some historic event. You can see how effective it was. LOL.) After this speech, there was a speaker from the first EMBA class. We then began the process of self-graduation, an SOM tradition, where the person receiving his diploma says the name of the person behind him, who says the name of the person behind him, etc. After the ceremony, we joined our families for lunch, took a few pictures, and said a few goodbyes.

Later that night, I spent some time with some of my nearest and dearest friends from SOM.

The ceremonies were awesome. At the first commencement ceremony, sitting with the other graduates from the university in Old Campus helped me to remember that SOM is very much a part of Yale, which is easy to forget when you only ever really see the same people in the same building everyday. And there was so much joy . . . a big, happy future in the eyes of everyone there. I will never forget the experience. It was easily one of the best of my life. Later, I asked my mom if she could hear the SOMers. She said that, after the College, we were the loudest. Yay! The second ceremony was considerably less formal. It was sweeter, more intimate; a great way to end two years of hard work, to be with your friends and to celebrate their accomplishments. I’m so proud of us!

Congratulations to the Yale SOM Class of 2007!!!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Big Day

Well, tomorrow's the big day. We've had a number of activities leading up to commencement. I wasn't able to attend all of them, but I did make it to the class dinner and after-party. A lot of people made toasts at the dinner. One guy from the Gold cohort started his toast by saying, "Will members of the best cohort please stand up?" Of course, people from every cohort - Blue, Green, Silver and Gold - stood because everybody thinks his randomly assigned group is better than anyone else's. Sadly, I am no different. :-)

The family came into town this morning. I plan on giving them a brief tour of New Haven this afternoon. Friends come in tonight and tomorrow morning.

I picked up my cap and gown today. The master's hood looks confusing to me. I may just throw it over my shoulder and be done with it.

Furniture sitting in storage for the last two years is on its way from San Francisco to my new apartment in New York.

Not much else to say right now. I'll let you know how commencement goes.

To everyone who has graduated, or is graduating, this year, congratulations!!!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Advice For Future SOMers

So, I figured it was time to share some of what I’ve learned . . . through personal experience and observation . . . during my two years here at Yale SOM. You’re not going to find this information in any official publication from the school. I hope current and future SOMers find it helpful.

Note: I reserve the right to add to this list. Readers are encouraged to leave their own pearls of wisdom in the Comments section.

1) Proficient is sufficient. Believe it. Or at least resign yourself to it.

2) You’re rewarded for what you already know, not for what you learn. Of course, learning is its own reward. (But try comforting yourself with that when you work your ass off and still get a Proficient. . . . And, no, I’m not still upset about my grade in Pricing Strategy. I swear.)

3) Contrary to expectation, the elective classes that are most difficult to get into are usually the worst. Ignore the email from the registrar that tells you which courses are traditionally oversubscribed. You’ll be glad you did.

4) Some people come to business school to work. Others are here on vacation. Try to get into study groups with people who came here for the same reason you did. It will save you a lot of grief.

5) Don’t fool around with your classmates. (Unless there’s REAL potential for a relationship. Then, maybe.)

6) Be careful about the reputation you develop. Though I like almost everyone here as a person, there are some people that I would never want to hire after working with them (or not working with them) in a group. And I’m sure those feelings are reciprocated. The point is: Be careful.

7) Don’t take CorpFin2 in the spring semester of your second year. Every distinction-gunning finance nerd from the first year class will be in there with you.

8) Don’t get suckered into serving as editor of the Yearbook . . . or doing any other thankless job.

9) Many of your classmates will behave as though they can trade in their livers at the end of two years. Your liver needs to last your entire life. Take it easy. Don’t try to keep up with the alcoholics in your class. It’s impossible.

10) Don’t cheat. A first year student got a bad grade on his exam and changed some of his answers. He asked the professor for a re-grade. What the student didn’t know was that the professor had made a photocopy of the student’s original exam. Needless to say, the student was expelled. Two people in my own class were expelled last year for lying about the fact they cheated on a homework assignment that was worth less than 2% of their overall grade for the course. Trust me, were the 35 Duke students caught for cheating a few weeks ago enrolled at Yale SOM, all of them would have been expelled. This school has a zero tolerance policy . . . and rightly so.

The Class of 2009

Some stats on the Class of 2009:

Average GMAT: 713
Acceptance Rate: 13%

The acceptance rate isn’t adjusted for last year’s deferrals and is likely to go up to ~15% after Round 3.

In short, this was a very competitive year and gaining admission was difficult. To those of you who made it, Congrats! To those of you who didn’t, don’t feel too bad. It was tougher than it’s ever been.

SOM Secret Society?

Rumor has it that a group of students is trying to form a secret society at SOM. My only question is, Why? There seems to be no purpose.

This isn’t Yale College, where there are thousands of undergraduates. There are only 200 of us in each class here. And if membership in this group of 200 doesn’t make you feel special enough, if you insist that you’re better than your classmates, then maybe you should consider continuing your education at a school more worthy of YOU – your genius, your potential for future success, your [insert other highly subjective criteria used to determine elite status here].

Hopefully, this remains a rumor. Hopefully, the people involved will realize that this isn’t a good idea . . . or at least explain why they feel that a secret society is necessary. Who knows? There may be a very good reason for it. I doubt it, but maybe.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The Beginning Of The End

Well, today was the last day of classes. The instruction portion of my MBA is over. I have two finals this Thursday, a final project, and a paper; but, all will be finished by Monday of next week. Then it's three weeks of coordinating (and executing) my move, meeting with managers at my company, entertaining out-of-town guests, and participating in commencement activities before it's, "Au revoir, New Haven."

The Dean sent a very nice email today to the Class of 2007, far more personal than the letter he wrote for the yearbook. I've included it here. It's quite long. Consider yourself warned. :-)

To the Yale School of Management Class of 2007:

As some of you know, I am in East Asia this week meeting with alumni and friends of the school. However, I wanted to take a few moments out of my travel here to email you as you head into your final projects, papers and exams.

When we see each other next and you have finished your graduation requirements, you will have already begun the transition from Yale SOM student to SOM graduate. I am experiencing this transition with mixed emotions. On the one hand, I am excited to see how you will collectively live out the mission of the school in your lives and careers to come. On the other hand, you have been wonderful partners with me from the day that you arrived. We have been First Years – and Second Years – together. Your feedback, thoughts, and hard work helped to usher in so many of the positive changes this school has seen in the last two years -- from enhancements to the Loan Forgiveness Program and direct funding support for the Internship Fund, to increased resources and funding for the CDO, to enhancements in our IT infrastructure, to new elective offerings – and yes, even the new curriculum, which, I know, you did not have the opportunity to take. But you were there at the creation, and you were instrumental in bringing it to life and in supporting and sustaining it through its first year of existence, as Teaching Assistants, as Mentors, as Second Year Advisors, and as the collective voice of tradition, continuity and community at SOM in your second year. As you make the transition to alumni and interact regularly with those who have not been to SOM but have heard about SOM, you will hopefully have the opportunity to experience what the curriculum change has done to elevate the perception of the school as a true pioneer in MBA education, something from which the entire community benefits.

It is my deepest hope that you all can derive considerable satisfaction both from the contributions you have made and the benefits you have realized that were not part of the fabric of this school on the day that you arrived in 2005.

Above and beyond the resources that we as a community of students, faculty and staff have collectively worked to direct, the Class of 2007 has been the carrier of the SOM culture and commitment. You have demonstrated the values of our community from the time that you embraced students from Tulane in the wake of Katrina to the way in which you helped one another (and even members of the Class of 2008) to prepare for job interviews. Your class implemented the first form of elected student representation in the school's history, and in the process you helped to establish a tradition of voice and partnership with the administration and faculty that had not existed before. Perhaps more than any class in history, the Class of 2007 has actively reached out to work with the SOM Alumni Association, helping to create a bridge between the graduates of the school and the current student body. The amount of alumni involvement in the institution has never been greater, and I am confident that it will only increase over time in many ways as a result of your efforts.

To be sure, there is much that remains to be done, and those of us who are staying here will need to continue with what you have helped to begin, whether it be the diversity task force, the IT advisory committee, or the myriad other student-faculty-administration partnerships that have been initiated since your arrival.

We will certainly see much of one another as Commencement approaches. However, I wanted to take this opportunity to wish you good luck on your final papers and exams, and even more, to thank you personally for the support and enthusiasm you have shown to me, and for everything else that you have done to play a part in the exciting story of Yale SOM as it has unfolded over the past two years.

I hope you will stay close to and engaged with the school, and that you will continue to provide us with feedback and continue to be involved in the many positive changes we still have planned, even though you will certainly have some competing commitments over the next few years. Along with the rest of the faculty and staff of the school, I am looking forward to doing all that I can to ensure that the institution will continue to be a source of ever-increasing pride and enthusiasm for you wherever your path leads you, just as all of you will doubtless be a source of pride and inspiration for us in your new lives as Yale managers.

So, from Tokyo, good luck with finals, and thanks again.

See you soon,

Dean Podolny

Sunday, May 06, 2007

To Those Who Feel I Am Responsible . . .

. . . All I have to say is: Sharon Oster, Donald Trump poster, ILP class. Oh, and JPod.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Thank You, Gloria!

Apparently, Andrea worked on the student newspaper. Not on the yearbook. I guess I'll have to stop making that joke now. Dammit.

Apartment Found

I'll be living at 42nd & 10th. Yes, that's only one avenue away from Port Authority and two avenues away from Times Square. So the location is hardly ideal. But I wasn't going to get a 13'x11' bedroom in a two bedroom apartment with parquet floors, stainless steel appliances, central heat and air, Hudson river views, and a normal sized bathroom in a New York City doorman building for a decent price without making some trade-offs. :-) My roommate and I sign the lease on Friday. I'm a little nervous about living with a co-worker (although he is in a completely different division) and I have no idea how I'm going to get the money I need for the deposit and the broker's fee that quickly, but I'm sure I'll figure it out.

I only have one more week of classes and one month left in New Haven. That suddenly seems a little scary to me.