Monday, December 26, 2011

What I've Learned at Johnson

Business school is an interesting time and I know that many of my peers at Johnson and at other schools would agree.  Looking back on last year's madness that was applying to business school I have a whole new outlook on the process itself.  There are many things that as an applicant I thought were important, but now that I'm in school I see how, not unimportant, but less important certain things are.  Conversely, I now understand why certain things are more important that applicants think.  With that being said I would like to just jot down some things that I learned DURING THE CORE in business school that probably capture the essence of business school.  And no - it's not necessarily the hard skills that one learns.

FINANCE - For me, Finance is no longer another language.  As per THIS post that I made before I can speak at a very high level about derivatives, synthetics, calls, puts, forwards, futures, time value of money, weighted average cost of capital and all that jazz.  Don't get me wrong, Finance was a tough course, especially since I didn't have ANY Finance background, but I can say that I did learn an immense amount in that class.  So now with that I feel comfortable asking deeper questions to my classmates who are more than happy to further my knowledge given that they're pursuing careers in Finance.

STRENGTH - I've also learned that I'm a WOO.  In the beginning of the semester we all took a Strengths Finder test.  This test gives the top 5 character traits of someone and then we were put into our Core groups based on our Strengths.  My top quality was a WOO - Woo stands for winning others over. You enjoy the challenge of meeting new people and getting them to like you. Strangers are rarely intimidating to you. On the contrary, strangers can be energizing. You are drawn to them. You want to learn their names, ask them questions, and find some area of common interest so that you can strike up a conversation and build rapport.

This was an interesting Strength to have because it's not like other strengths that my classmates got like Analytical.  If you get the Analytical strength, you kind know how you fit into a situation or a group and you essentially know what your role is.  As a WOO, I must say that at first it was tough to figure out how I fit into my Core group that consisted of 3 engineers and a consultant.  The beauty of the Core though is that I had faith that I was put in the group for a reason, and that the reason would naturally come out.  I definitely learned that my strengths compliment the weaknesses of some of my classmates (which is why it's important to BE YOURSELF throughout the application process.)

WALMART - I learned that not everyone in the world has been to a Wal-Mart.  As per the post that I made right when I got to school, I took a classmate from Georgia (the country) to Wal-mart and he had never been before.  It's nice to experience Wal-Mart through the eyes of someone who had never been. Maybe we should have started with Target!

STRESS - I've learned that people deal with stress in a myriad of ways.  I'm the type of person who will convince myself that things are not stressful if everyone around me is stressing.  However, if the situation is one that only pertains to me, then I will stress about it a lot.  In a group I try to be the calming voice so that people just take a step back and realize what's really important.  That's a quality about myself that I think will definitely stick with me for the rest of my life.  Knowing how I react in certain situation is uber important and b-school is definitely a place where one finds out their true self.

DRINKING - I've learned that there is a lot of drinking that goes on in business school!  I feel like we are always celebrating something.  In the beginning of school we were celebrating BEING at school.  That stint lasted for about 3 weeks.  Then we started having corporate briefings on campus, so of course there were cocktails and finger foods served at those.  Then we had mid-terms, so we celebrated for finishing midterms.  Then we drank because we had all of these new friends whom we quasi-knew, so what better way to get to know them even better?  Then we drank because we finished finals.  Then for about 2 weeks after our Fall break, we didn't go out much.  Then after Mid-terms we drank to celebrate that!  Then it was Thanksgiving, so the day before that break we WENT IN!  That following weekend we had our Winter Formal which was a Masquerade party.  Then we had finals and of course after that last day of finals we had an incredible time!  It was an 80's party.  Enough said right?!?

HOLISTIC VIEW - In hindsight one of the things that the Core has afforded me is a holistic view of business.  In that regard this long winter break is a good thing because it's allowed me to reflect.  When I came into business school, I had only seen business problems from one angle.  Now that I'm in school and have been exposed to many subjects, I now see things from many angles.  Sure I have a lot to learn STILL but I have learned a lot.  It's interesting to me to see how everything comes together because it really does come together and a lot of it has to do with weighting other options that someone or some firm may have.  A true joy that I have now is going back and re-watching movies that are related to business because I now understand more deeply what they're talking about.  Not that I didn't before, because of course those movies are made for the masses, but when I re-watch something like Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room or Inside Job, there's just something more intriguing about the situations.

Out of all of the fun that I've been having in business school, one of the key takeaways that I think the Core had provided me is simply (or not simply) is learning how to deal with multiple personalities.  Sure, I took Stats/Marketing/Strategy/Finance/Accounting/and Economics, but my biggest learnings have come from being around incredibly smart people with different personalities and strengths.  As we all progress up the corporate ladder or start our own businesses the likelihood of us encountering more and more strong Type A personalities will increase.  Knowing how to deal with those types of personalities in different settings is what will make a good manager, trader, managing director, consulting or what have you.  The sooner one realizes this the easier his/her experience through the Core of ANY business school will be.  I whole heartedly believe that.  Don't get me wrong, the hard skill learning will occur.  Maybe not in the Core, but I'm sure at some point in business school.

I think that's all I have for now.  I'm hungry and am going to go eat some leftovers while watching the morning news!

P.S. - To all of those people who are stressing about January deadlines.  JUST BREATHE!  You will get through it.  Let me know if you'd like a 2nd eyeball on your essays.  I really have all the time in the world at the moment.  Just shoot me an email at richardbattlebaxter@gmail.com with a little bit about you.  I'll try to respond within 24 hours - THIS WEEK!

Bored on Winter Break

Yes, it's 5:19am the day AFTER Christmas and I'm awake just sitting on my moms couch watching Home Alone!  My biorhythms are jacked up and I sleep at the oddest times - which if you ask my GMAT tutor isn't that far off from my normal life anyway.  In any event, I was just going through my blog and looking at where I was at this time last year in the application process and I was just about to embark on another day of massive essay writing.  You can read about that blog post here:  Last Years Essay Writing.

So that's that! I had an incredibly busy weekend - starting on Thursday.  First, I signed up for Tuck's Winter Retreat hosted by what I assume is TAABA - Tuck African Ancestry Business Association, but I could be mistaken.  In any event, one of my friends up at Tuck sent out an invitation to many of our peer schools for this 3rd Annual Retreat up in Vermont.  Of course then we all texted and emailed our friends from other schools to see if they'd be going.  The turnout from what I hear thus far should be great!  It's going to be a blast and I need to brush up on my Skiing skills.  Thankfully, one of my classmates has offered to teach my how to snowboard at the Ski resort not too far from Cornell, so I definitely need to take him up on his offer.

After signing up for the retreat, I trekked my butt into the city to hang out with my friend who goes to Stern.  When I got to his apartment I had to take a nap because like I said, my body is all out of whack.  But then after I napped (he was at the gym) we went to grab a bite to eat.  That was actually the first time in over a year that he and I had a chance to just sit and chat about business school.  I first met him last year at NYU Stern's Discover Stern weekend and then his brother is the one who stayed at my house in Ithaca a couple weeks ago the night before his interview.

After he and I had dinner, we headed up to Harlem to go to a bunch of our mutual friends who go to school with him at Stern.  I know many of them from Consortium and from MLT.  House parties are always fun and a conversation that I had that night is what is going to spark my "What I've Learned in Business School" post after I finish writing this one.  I have nothing else going on anyway - well at least not until January 2nd when I fly to San Francisco for our Silicon Valley Trek but I digress.  While at the party, one of my classmates from Johnson showed up too which was a lot of fun.

The following day I went to my other friend's Holiday Party down in Central Jersey.  It was very nice seeing everyone again and being able to have discussions with other people now that I know what they do.  What I mean by that is, now that I know what someone does when he says that he trades derivatives or that he's in retail banking.  Yeah, it's a great feeling and a whole new world has opened up to me!  But with that said, I'm going to close out this post and make another one right now about what I've learned in business school.

Sidenote - how come in Home Alone this 7yr old boy doesn't just think to go to a neighbors house and tell them what happened to him?  Why is he running around town setting up traps?  SMH

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Winter Break (from B-School)

Here is a post from what I was doing exactly 365 days ago!  WRITING ESSAYS

... I have been home now for about a week on Winter Break!  It definitely feels good but I must say that I'm very bored! I've been doing a lot of sleeping and watching documentaries and reading Steve Jobs.  Aside from that I'm diligently working on recruiting things.  As much as I love being home and being able to relax and do things that I want to do, I have to admit that I do feel a void because I'm not at school.  I'm not sure if any of my classmates feel the same way or any of my friends at other schools.  It's interesting because at Johnson, as I've said before, I see my friends/classmates every day of the week and not just while we're in classes or in Sage, but even if I walk to the convenience store in College Town, I'm sure that I'll bump into someone.  That was the case for five months and then all of a sudden we're all torn apart and left to our own vices.  It's quite sad - however it's MUCH needed!

I know that I definitely needed to re-calibrate in more ways than one so this is a good time.  But it's still very much a weird time.  I would go hang out with my friends in NYC the whole time, but they have work!  I don't think about them having to work much when I'm at school because well quite frankly there are many other things going on.  I do call them every once in a while in the middle of the day to say "Hey What's Up?" only to get a response like "Um... I'm at work!"  I've just completely forgotten.  I think it's not only a function of being in business school, but it's compounded by being in a College Town in the middle of upstate New York where you don't see people going to work everyday unless you're walking by professors and/or administration.  It's very surreal.

Last Friday, I was in the city having drinks with my GMAT Tutor, on the East Side.  I also invited one of my best friends from school to join in the conversation since she was there recruiting.  It was fun to be able to introduce her to the person who really helped me get into business school and then have her thank him for getting me into business school!  :-)  Talk about humility huh?  It was nice to just talk to my tutor not about the GMAT and applications but different things now.  Sure I was still venting to some extent about new topics such as recruiting... classes... the whole 9 yards, but I was definitely more relaxed.

Then after about an hour and a half, one of his recent students joined us.  I met this applicant back in February when my tutor got all of his students together for a happy hour of sorts.  But then this applicant reached out to me recently to ask me about my experience at Johnson.  She was accepted!  It was great that I had my classmate there because then they could talk about I guess female related bschool things.  It's just natural to want to connect people to people who have similar backgrounds or interests.  At least it's a natural occurrence for me!

Then I had invited a prospective Johnson student to come hang with us too.  He had recently been up to visit Johnson a couple weeks prior and we were emailing back and forth regarding his essays (Hi M_____, cuz I know you're reading this right now!)  So for a short bit it was me, him, my gmat tutor, the newly admitted applicant, and my classmate.  It was a fun time and a couple of drinks later it was time to head down to the Meatpacking district for dinner.  So I said to the prospective student, "Do you have plans?  If not come to dinner!"  So he decided to come to dinner with me, my classmate and another classmate who is from the city."  We ate at Catch.  The food was surprisingly good and not overpriced given the location.  The drinks however were overpriced, but that's tolerable to an extent.

Post-Dinner, we went a couple blocks north to Park to meet another classmate of ours and meet up with a couple of my non-b-school friends.  I say that all to say that even though I'm on break and should be cherishing this time away from my classmates, somehow some of us still gravitate back to each other to just the same thing that we did back in Ithaca.  It's weird, but that's my reality for the next couple of years.  I welcome it!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Last Year's Blog Quality

Last year on December 12th, I received a not so nice blog comment about the quality of my blog at this juncture last year.  Here is a link to what it was:  http://money9111.blogspot.com/2010/12/blog-post-quality-fail.html

Basically the person had been following my blog for a while and then when I was in the trenches with GMAT prep and Essays and following up with my recommenders, I didn't have time to put into blogging.  Well this person called it out and said that the quality of my blog had declined.  How ironic that a year later I've had more than 200,000 visitors.  More and more people tell me that this URL has been incredibly helpful to them, so I'm going to keep at it.

Just as I offered advice and insight into my own trials and tribulations, I plan to do the same after I get out of the Core.  Thankfully this happens tomorrow AFTER my Statistics final.  Then I'll be headed home for winter break at some point this week.  Even though we have about a month off - I don't have a month off because on January 2nd, I'll be headed out to Silicon Valley for our High-Tech Club trek.  That's when recruiting really begins to kick up for me!  Then the following week I have to fly up to Seattle to go on our High-Tech club trek up there to visit a couple more companies.

There's a specific post that I want to make about all that I've learned this quarter which should be very insightful to those who are applying this year and also to my classmates to remind them all that's gone on thus far.  One can become incredibly short-sighted and forget all that's happened.  I'll probably tell some funny stories about my own experience too.  One in particular involves a Kimberly-Clark 10-K!  I'm dying laughing as I think about it.  So needless to say, if anyone thinks my blog quality has decreased as of late, it's because just like last year this time with Essays & GMAT, I'm very busy with finals and wrapping up this school semester so just bear with me!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

2 Finals Down - 1 To Go!

I can't believe (although I'm relieved) that the only thing separating me from being done with the Core is 1 measly little Statistics final!  It's actually not measly at all and will be quite difficult even though it is an open book exam.  I just took my Strategy final today and my Finance final was on Friday.  That Finance final was crazy difficult.  I looked at the information and said to myself "um... what in the world is this?"  The cheat sheet that I had did help, but the understanding that one needed to have in order to get an A on that exam definitely superseded my capabilities!  I'll keep my fingers crossed and hope that I did well enough!  I did everything I could do so we'll see.  The Strategy final today was very ambiguous and I know that the grading is alway tricky, so that one can go one of two ways!

Other than that, things are just wrapping up now.  I'm not sure exactly when I'll be going home for winter break.  It will definitely be at some point this week though!  Some of my friends from school will be in the city on Friday, so we're definitely planning on going out having a great time.  It'll probably be much of the same conversations just in a new location - unless our other friends come out too.  

We've all worked hard this semester and are starting to realize that it's coming to an end.  The thing that really facilitates the realization that the Core is done is the fact that prospective students are being admitted now!  I'm getting emails from people who I've helped with essays and just had conversations with saying "I GOT IN!!"  I know the mass influx of acceptances will happen in January during R3 decisions, but as a 1st year it's definitely a jarring experience to now have our conversations here at school and in clubs revolve around "the class of 2014."  Last year at this time, I was studying for the GMAT (STILL) and working on my essays so these newly admitted students are definitely in a much better position than I was in at this time last year.  They can enjoy their Holiday and not have to worry about essays and all that other jazz.

I'm going to make this blog post short because I have to do some more laundry, do some more company research, study for Stats exam and clean my apartment because I have a prospective student staying over my place tonight who will be interviewing tomorrow!  

If there's anyone out there who would like for me to review their essays, please send them to richardbattlebaxter@gmail.com.  Include a short paragraph about yourself and what you want to do as well as your resume.  You can send me essays for any school.

To the Johnson Class of 2014 - if you're reading this blog, know that your Class Facebook Page is here:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/JohnsonClassOf2014/  It will come in handy when you're looking for your classmates and other admitted students.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Selfless 2nd Years - Thank You!

I just wrote another blog post on the Johnson blog as a tribute to the amazing 2nd years who have been helpful to me and other 1st years during the core!  Just click the hyperlink below:

Selfless 2nd Years - Thank You!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Insomniac's Post

Hi All!  I have to apologize for not writing more often but things have been crazy with Thanksgiving and Finals coming up this week!  I can't believe that the 1st half of my 1st year is practically over and done with.  The last day of classes for us is on Wednesday and then I have my Finance final on Saturday, Strategy Final on Sunday, and then my last final, Statistics, on Tuesday!

As I wrap up this portion of my first year there are a lot of things that I write about, but I should really be sleeping. I was up late working on a Finance Assignment, and couldn't force myself to go to sleep.  My GMAT Tutor would not be surprised that this has happened.  So basically right now I'm doing company research and I figured, I would upload some pictures from school.

This picture below was taken in 2010 after the NYU Stern Diversity Weekend, which I attended as a prospective - obviously.  The gorgeous woman in the middle is my friend who just graduated from Stern in 2011.  On the right is my friend who I also met that weekend and became good friends with.  He is now at Columbia.  

This picture below was taken this past October when we were all at an MBA Conference in Dallas!  My how things change!!!

This picture below is from the Winter Formal Masquerade party that we just had this past weekend at Johnson.

My friend and I did not plan to wear similar outfits this day.  We had a Citi Integrative Case competition and when most people were in suits, we were not!

Aw two of my besties are pictured below! 

This is a picture of a handful of us who attended the Cyberposium at Harvard Business School, the Saturday after our Boston Trek!  That was an incredible conference with a lot of heavy hitter speakers.  Keynote speech was the CEO of Sony - Don't get that everyday huh?

On our Boston Trek we visited Microsoft and here is a picture we took.  What you really need to see if the view outside the window we were staring at.  Absolutely incredible!

Here is a picture of me in our library using the Bloomberg Terminal.  See... I did learn something in business school!  My friend from Greece taught me when he saw me sitting there one day trying to send an email to someone!  (Just kidding... but he did help me navigate)

So we have a bowling alley on campus.  Literally ON CAMPUS in the middle of the freshman undergraduate dorms.  This is a silly picture we took after a couple games!  One of my favorite pictures.

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