Friday, October 29, 2010

Q1 Ends, Q2 Begins

The whirlwind that was Q1 ended yesterday, and now the whirlwind that is Q2 begins. The focus of Q1 was squarely on academics. I got through it, but it wasn't pretty (not that it needed to be). Accelerated accounting was the toughest class, but also, surprisingly, it was the most interesting. I'm no fan of accounting, but the cases we did illustrated that general managers need to know enough about accounting in order to make informed management decisions.

My other classes varied in quality but were generally good. My heart just wasn't in Finance. I did finance in undergrad and having worked in it, I view this subject as too theoretical. Statistics was interesting and should be especially useful for me, though the pace was slow. Marketing was fun and well taught. Healthcare Systems is a full semester class that often seems too high level to be practical.

All in all though, I was pretty impressed with the classes in Q1. Most of my classes had cold calling which I think is a great way to elicit class participation. The quality of discussion was high and few comments were extraneous. Lastly, people mostly showed up on time and were attentive, which was in stark contrast to a lot of my engineering classes, where there was very little classroom discipline.

Now Q2 begins, and the focus shifts from academics to recruiting. I am focused on industry companies and start ups with a preference for start-ups. Right now, I'm interested in product marketing positions because I think this will put me on the path to general management (having P&L responsibilities), and hopefully to CEO one day. In terms of classes, I will be taking Managing People at Work, Competitive Strategy, Healthcare Systems, and Medical Devices. This set of classes will be less technical / quantitative then Q1 classes.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Strengths or Weaknesses?

It's 2:45pm on Thursday in the Lipincott Library, and my Accelerated Accounting Final is in 3 hours and 15 minutes. I have all but thrown in the towel. I'm reading the words on the page but I don't understand what they mean. This reminds me of my undergrad days in classes like Microelectronics when the words on the page might well have been written in another language. It's an unsettling feeling of defeat. Pure and utter defeat. You don't want to give up, but giving up would be so comforting. Looks like this is going to be my first LT of my Wharton career. If I can avoid an LT here, it will be a small miracle. The irony? I got an A in this class in undergrad. I guess that tells you something about the quality of the competition at Wharton.

This led to a conversation with my neighbor in the library about strengths and weaknesses. At this point in our lives and careers, do we focus on our strengths or weaknesses? I'm starting to understand what my strengths and weaknesses are. I've usually considered myself to be 'well-rounded' in that I can hold my own in most areas. But, being that as it may, I've realized that you can't compare yourself to the general population. If you do, you'll come out pretty far ahead in most categories and won't really know what are your true strengths and weaknesses against the people who matter. Rather, you need to compare yourself to your peers (classmates for example), so the bar is set higher in every aspect. Then, with this new mean, see where you are relative to your peers. That will give you a better idea of your strengths and weaknesses.

My current thinking is to spend 3/4 of my time focusing on my strengths and 1/4 on my weaknesses. With my real career beginning now, there's not much time to waste doing things I'm not good at. I think my 20s were the time to address those weaknesses. What do you think? Should we focus on our strengths or weaknesses?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Hiking in the Poconos

Last Saturday I went hiking in the Poconos with 5 of my classmates. Thus I accomplished one of my goals for the Fall - seeing the leaves change color. We were supposed to do the Pinochot trail in the Lackawanna State Park here: The hiking was absolutely splendid, even though we didn't do the trails that we intended to do. I hate to say it, but the scenery was even more beautiful that the scenery in the hikes I've done in California. Clearly, different trees grow in the Northeast and there is more precipitation over here, so it's not uncommon to see random ponds and rivers. Contrast this to the fairly dry California climate. I can take solace in the fact that California still probably has a better coastline.

We left Philly at 7:30am, hiked from 10am to 3pm, and returned to Philly at 5pm (in time for Cohort Cup - Flag Football; Cohort B beat Cohort C by a score of 32 - 0. Yes, we are athletic). I would like to go hiking once more before all the leaves fall.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Small Victories

Wharton has been holding a writing competition for all 1st years, where 1st years are divided into groups of 6 and over three rounds they write three essays. The top scorer from each group gets to proceed to the semifinals. I'm one of those people!

The essay topics over the three rounds were:

1) If you could compose or perform music, which would you choose and why?
2) What is your favorite city and why?
3) Describe a time when you could have changed something said during an interview. This could be something said by an interviewer or interviewee.
What would you say in response to these questions?
Getting to the finals is tough though. Out of the approximately 137 people in the semifinals, I have heard that only 6 are selected to the finals. In a school where it's hard to shine because of the talent around you, this is indeed a small victory for me :)
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