Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Testing, Testing

The Career Development Office asked first-years to take a test to determine which career we were best suited for. We got the results back in a personalized report. As it turns out, I "have a high interest in creative production." Not surprising. Several pages later, I read that marketing and/or entrepreneurship were the best career options for me.

A two hour test to tell me what I already knew? At first, I wondered if the test just told people what they wanted to hear . . . until I heard some of my classmates complaining that they were advised to enter the Human Resources profession. A fate worse than death, judging from their laments.

Last week, a new diagnostic tool was launched as the Career Development Office is completely restructuring its approach to the placement process. (Thank you, Dean Podolny!) This tool tells you not what career you are best suited for, but who you are and what motivates you professionally. My results were spot-on and consistent with the previous test. I am, according to this new test, a "Reformer." I look for ways to make myself, people, processes, etc., better. As my original test results explained, my approach to life is: "If it isn't broken, see if you can make it better anyway."

My only quibble about the new test is how it tends to frame things in extremes. For example, I supposedly have "flash[es] of creative brilliance." Yeah, mmmmmm, not so much. In its recommendations on how people should approach me, it advised them to neither stand nor sit too close to me. Or what, praytell? It's true that I don't like it when someone is so close that he/she is practically on top of me, but who does?

It's always interesting reading about yourself. And these tools were useful in that they brought some of my strengths and weaknesses into focus. But there isn't an algorithm in the world who can capture who you really are. Just ask a classmate of mine, whose results from the second test we took literally read, "You leave chaos in your wake." Can we ease up on the hyperbole? She's not exactly Pandora, people. In fact, she's one of the nicest and most sensitive people I've met here.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

"Good Times" Update

Last week, I posted about a prank that some second-years played on first-years.

Well, here is how some of the folks in my class who prepared their slides tried to sell themselves:

  • Can financially regress any combination of numbers in less than one minute.
  • CPA, CFA, Series 7 & 63, Mensa, JD/MD, Eagle Scout, Professional Musician.
  • I'm quite quick with my TI-89 calculator.
  • My hobbies include calculus - know first 25 digits of pi.
  • Perfect attendance grades K-12.
  • Always ready for late-night encounters.
LOL. I don't know about that last one. ;-)


It's pouring rain in New Haven, with thunder and lightening. I've never witnessed a storm like this.

We don't get storms of this severity on the West Coast. The thunder here is deafening. It literally claps. And it seems as though your whole building is going to come down everytime it does.

I'm homesick for the wimpy little "rolls" of thunder we would get with storms from the Pacific. I miss the wind and the rain we have in San Francisco. It's nothing compared to this.

So far, the biggest adjustment I've had to make here is to the weather. Hot and humid summers, frequent storms, and ... soon ... freezing cold winters.

About a week-and-a-half ago, we had four days of beautiful weather here. Days in the mid-seventies, nights in the low sixties. No moisture. I remember telling a friend of mine who's originally from Washington D.C. and who now lives in San Francisco about it. Her reply, "Well, that was it. I hope you enjoyed it."

Will somebody from the East Coast please explain to me why anybody chooses to live here?

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Now I Understand . . .

. . . what friends and former colleagues of mine who had earned their MBAs in traditional two year programs were talking about when they said that the first year was tough.

My classmates and I are inundated with work. Three SEM assignments and two Accounting assignments are due this week. At the beginning of next week our first Finance, Econ, and Stats assignments come due - and they're pretty substantial. The reading, review sessions, study group meetings (we've already met twice and will meet two more times before the week is up), and career events have taken up 16 hours of every day since Sunday. And it shows no signs of letting up.

Midterms are in a month; and most of us are already stressing about them.

Time for me to get back to the books. It's pretty clear that if I'm going to survive the first semester, I'll have to start managing my time so that I can account for nearly every single minute of my day. Outlook Calendar has become my best friend.

I can't believe I wanted classes to start so badly. Now I just want December to roll around, and fast.

The Yale Response To Katrina

A letter from the president of Yale University sent today:

To the University Community:

The catastrophic loss of life caused by Hurricane Katrina and the harrowing physical and emotional ordeal suffered by the storm's survivors have shocked and saddened all of us. Even as we hope for the consolation of those who have lost loved ones, homes, and livelihoods, many in our community are hastening to provide what assistance they can to the survivors of this tragedy.

Here are some of the initial steps the University has taken to provide relief to those displaced by the hurricane:

Yale College will admit approximately twenty-five students whose schools have closed. Tuition will be waived for all students and their credit will transfer back to their institutions. The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the Law School, the School of Management, and the School of Drama also will accommodate dislocated students under special arrangements. The School of Medicine is accepting Tulane University medical students who need placement in clinical rotations.

We are providing library access and, where possible, office and laboratory space for displaced faculty scholars who have family nearby or research collaborators at Yale.

Yale is assisting the City of New Haven is its efforts to bring 100 dislocated families to the area to begin rebuilding their lives. Faculty members at the School of Medicine and the Department of Psychology have offered to contribute care for the relocated families. We will do what we can to make employment at the University a possibility for some of those who resettle here.

In addition to these institutional initiatives, efforts to raise funds are emerging throughout the University. For example, the Yale School of Music and the Yale College Council have each undertaken to organize benefit concerts this week, and the Chaplain has determined that Battell Chapel will give its Sunday offering once a month throughout the year to Katrina relief.

Individuals in the community are also stepping forward to volunteer, including those offering housing for relocated students and scholars. We will facilitate as best we can these voluntary efforts.

To encourage everyone's participation, I am pleased to announce that contributions up to $100 made by Yale employees and students will be matched by personal contributions from the Officers, Deans, and Fellows of the Corporation. The seven Officers of the University have contributed $xxxxx, and the Deans and Fellows have added sufficient funds to ensure that all student, faculty, and staff contributions will be matched. I urge everyone to join in this expression of community support for the victims of this tragedy. Contributions may be made to one of several designated agencies providing relief. Employees may sign up for a payroll deduction, and students may choose to have their contributions added to their bursary bill. Those who have already given directly will qualify for matching funds by submitting evidence of their contributions. For details, see http://www.yale.edu/katrina.

As the semester goes on, I am confident that the creativity of this community will be directed toward finding as yet unimagined ways to be helpful. In the weeks ahead, www.yale.edu/katrina will provide up-to-date information on individual, institutional and community activities in response to Hurricane Katrina. Those wishing to publicize projects should contact xxxxx.

Yale has long been a community of concern, taking special care of those within its walls. Now is a time to turn outward, to reflect upon our common humanity, and to reach out with compassion. It is a time for generosity of spirit. I thank you for all that you are doing, and all that you will do, to help those in need.

Richard C. Levin

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Good Times

Last night, we received the following email:

To the Class of 2007:

As you are probably aware, one of Yale SOM’s strategic priorities for the year is curriculum reform. Study groups have always been an integral part of the MBA experience, but their haphazard formation has limited the potential benefits that such collaboration could yield. To this end, we are excited to announce the new formal procedure for establishing study groups.

In the same way that second-years receive 500 points to bid on electives, so too will you receive 500 points to bid on members of your prospective study group. The size of each study group will be limited to four individuals. Thus, you may allocate your points across a maximum of three first-year students. In order to help you make an informed decision, students will be required to give a two to three minute presentation about themselves. Presentations will be given to your cohort in your cohort’s classroom from 5:30 – 7:30 tomorrow evening. It is MANDATORY that you attend and present.

Please create two PowerPoint slides that summarize the following:
· Work experience (e.g. industry, function, computer application expertise, etc.)
· Professional values and individual study habits
Please email the slides to your Second-Year Advisor by 5:00 PM tomorrow.

Because this is a new procedure, faculty and Second-Year Advisors will be on hand to facilitate the process. Second-Year Advisors will give instructions on the bidding process at the start of tomorrow’s session.

When: 5:30 – 7:30 PM, Thursday September 1st
Where: Your cohort classroom
Required: Email two PowerPoint slides to your Second-Year Advisor by 5:00 PM


Stanley Gartska
Deputy Dean
Yale School of Management

Of course, within minutes of receiving this email, we all began calling each other. Irate that the school would even consider making us "bid" on our classmates - and, to a lesser extent, that we were being asked to do so on the evening before the start of a four-day weekend for which many of us had already made plans to leave New Haven - we began to look for ways to express our dissatisfaction. We decided to start by flooding Garstka's inbox with emails. We even contemplated forming a committee of four individuals, one from each cohort, that could approach Garstka about the issue.

Willing to do my part, I typed up an email and sent it. Two seconds later, it bounced back. Strange. I tried to resend it; once again, it came back as undeliverable. Fishy. I then went to the Faculty page and realized that the surname of the Deputy Dean is not, in fact, Gartska, but Garstka. I wondered if his email was set-up incorrectly, so I searched for an email that he had sent a little over a week ago. Sure enough, his name was spelled correctly on the email that came from him. Another thing that was strange about the email, it was sent to each individual in the class; it wasn't sent to the Class of 2007 group. Why? Because whoever wrote the email didn't have permission/access to send to the group alias.

Several of us figured this out at about the same time and assumed it was a hoax. Today, we got the following email:

To Students in the Class of 2007:

The email you received late last night – telling you about a mandatory meeting this (Thursday) evening about study groups, is a HOAX.

There’s a mythical character at SOM, among the second-years, who delights in playing jokes on the first year class. A tip-off is that Stan Garstka’s name was misspelled – as some of you noticed who tried to email him to see if this announcement was real.

So, no meeting tonight. And be aware that Dr. Bad is out there trying to tease the Class of 2007!


Prish Pierce
Dean of Students
Yale School of Management

So, yes, we were PUNK'D, SOM style.

Unfortunately, some of my classmates went ahead and dutifully prepared their presentations. One SYA got 7 presentations before Prish sent her email - out of a group of 13 students! I believe, however, that she was in the minority among SYAs, many of whom received nothing but voicemail messages from bewildered students.

It was also unfortunate for me, personally, because this took two hours out of my evening, which meant that I had to stay up late to finish studying for today's classes. I woke up at 8 a.m. today and ran to my 8:15 class. I was pretty much out of it until I was able to get my hands on some caffeine during lunch.

Ah, well. It was all in good fun. I'm thinking that 1st years should now make it a priority to pull a prank on the 2nd years. This could be the start of a tradition! It's something to consider, later. Right now, all I want to do is take a nap.