December 4, 2010

Commence Freak Out in 3...2...1...

Entries like the one that's about to follow should (heavens, I hope, anyway) as a warning against putting all of one's eggs in a single basket. Yeah, I've pretty much screwed myself over, I think, and all because I pinned a few too many hopes onto a pretty far-off goal.

So, just about everyone else that I know is currently entertaining, accepting, or has accepted an offer, if not multiple offers. And I, I sit here about ready to cry because the only company that had actually bothered to interview me and take me on-site and court me a little more insistently, well. They just emailed me today to say NO. And yes, this is upsetting, because yes, the company would have been so cool to work for, and just. Yes.

But I find myself hitting the wire. It's almost Christmas and without an offer in hand to take to my family, I don't know what I am supposed to do. I feel like (however irrational this feeling may be) that if I don't have an offer by the time my Fall finals are over, well. I should probably just give up.

I'm going to be more honest here than I think I've been even in my personal journal: I'm scared. I'm scared spitless and witless and a lot of other words that end in -less. I don't know what I'll do if, when push comes to shove, I find myself unemployed and out in the cold, proverbially.

If I could go back, there's so much I would change.

November 3, 2010

Hey Jealousy

My best friend got offered a job by my dream company. I don't have the heart to tell her a sincere congratulations, but I also don't want to look like the jealous best friend that I am.

So, instead, I've decided to ramble about it in my business blog. Well, I suppose this is supposed to be a record of my "journey" to gainful employment. Though, honestly, given my response rate so far, I might be better off joining an escort service. (I'm kidding. Kind of. Mostly.) But it is supposed to also be a place where I can share thoughts.

I have been trying to compose myself given this information. In this moment, in this nanosecond, I hate her more than I've ever hated anyone in my entire life. And that's not a feeling I usually feel. Normally, I feel...well, exasperated and affection for this girl. I think the biggest takeaway from this is that we cannot talk about our careers. I don't like feeling like I hate her; I feel guilty and ashamed of myself. I shouldn't begrudge her the successes that she's worked hard for. But, at the same time, I can't help myself from feeling this way, which in turn makes me feel worse.

Mostly, though, I think my heart is still broken from being told by my Dream Company that...that I wasn't good enough, that somehow all the effort and work and trial and everything that I had put into making nice with networking contacts and trying to learn more just...didn't matter. That I didn't matter. That's hard to hear, especially when all I wanted was a godforsaken foot in the door. One phone interview, one face-to-face, and I'm sure I could have wowed them. But I didn't even get that.

So hearing that my bestie, who is a liberal arts major Out West at a Much Better Name School than my Large State School, got the offer for the job that I so desperately wanted is causing me to tailspin again into this ridiculous depression that I've been trying to fight off quietly. Maybe I need to talk to someone, a stranger that I don't know who will listen quietly while I rant and ramble and sob and sputter.

I wonder, sometimes: what if I had made different decisions? Part of me wishes I had. Part of me wishes I had sought counsel more early on in my college career. Most of me wishes I could get a redo, at least in this moment.

October 25, 2010

Seeing Through the Smoke Screen

You know, in retrospect, I have to say: business schools - savvy ones, anyway - make a sale. It's just like in Glengarry Glen Ross (which was later homaged by Boiler Room) with the speeches. Alec Baldwin, Ben Affleck.

Always. Be. Closing

October 1, 2010

Ridiculously Late O'Clock

Well, it's been another 2 weeks since I updated (whoops...) but I do have some good news - I have been submitting my resume! And there have been responses! It's quite heartening.

For other internship-seekers (and job-seekers in general) here are the things that I have observed:

September 14, 2010


It's been a while since I last updated, and there's been a number of reasons for that. Mostly, it's been the fact that I was (a) computer-less for nearly three weeks, (b) moved from the Southern U.S. back to my Large State School in the Midwest, and (c) the sheer stress of job-hunting.

I was watching True Life on MTV (not a show I usually watch, I assure you) while I was exercising the other day. The program was about young professionals who had recently been laid off. (Even MTV is aware of the economy - that's crazy.)

I bring this up because one of the people being followed around with a camera commented, "Finding a job is a full-time job."

It is. It really is. Between the constant resume edits, cover letter compositions, the career center appointments, scouring the career center site, filling out applications on the firms' sites, attending career fairs, emailing contacts at the companies, following up with Alumni you've networked with (or maybe that's just me), and begging friends in all walks of life and disciplines to look over your work - and then managing all of that correspondence? A full time job is a mild description at best. Not to mention interview preparation, reading interview guides if you're expecting a case interview, and worrying that everything you're doing isn't nearly enough.

So, basically, my advice is this: spend you summer doing all of the resume writes and rewrites, composing cover letters, and reading the case interview guides. Stay in contact with career services personnel over the summer. Ask for resume feedback in July, not November (or even September, like I am). And finally, for the love of criminy, do your homework ahead of time and don't slack off. Job offers get rescinded for GPA changes of great magnitude.

It's true - they really do want you to do it all. But being able to show that you can is more impressive than you realize, even if it seems miserable while you're in the midst of it.

August 16, 2010

We Can't All Be da Vinci

I think the number one thing that I find lacking in the business majors at my Large State School is their lack of well-roundedness.

I think part of that has to do with the nature of state school itself. A lot of students (myself included) receive AP credit for courses in high school, meaning that by the time I enter college I have the equivalent of two semesters done, and most of those courses are liberal arts courses - the kind that number-crunching business types tend to hate.

But here's the thing: we aren't engineers! We aren't music majors! Business is a soft science, soft like cheese. Like it or not, the foundation of business isn't mathematics or physics or anything like that - it's history, it's economics, it's communication. These aren't hard and fast subjects, unlikely to change. These are subjects that are still young, are still occurring, are still in the process of developing or changing or simply happening. You can't be "done" with history - history is made every moment!

I think business schools should make their majors more well-rounded. It's business people that are going to pay patronage to the arts, it's business people who fund and donate to rotary clubs and charitable organizations, to groups that support theater and drama and music and opera and museums. I think a loss of these things, of support to those who do the free-thinking creativity that we lack in our day to day jobs is important, and I think it's important for every single business major to be able to distinguish good opera and bad opera, to distinguish a lacking performance from a virtuoso one, to evaluate critically a theater production and realize its weaknesses and its strengths.

Essentially, I'm saying business majors must be the modern-day Renaissance Person, one equally educated in hard and soft sciences, who understands the value of mathematics and writing and art/artistry. Mostly, it's because we're the ones holding the purse strings that future artists need access to. It's about keeping the circle (and the cycle) going - we can't do that if we're unqualified to make the key decisions.

August 2, 2010

Tempus Fugit

Well, as it's been over three weeks since I last updated, perhaps a new post is in order.

I've been thinking about what the next topic that I should cover ought to be, and I finally decided that clearly it should be about Time Management. So many college students, adults, and others are utterly awful at this, and it's such an important skill to have. I probably should be the absolute last person preaching about this - I have a truly terrible habit of watching television instead of actually accomplishing things.

However, as part of my life as a student at Large State School in Nowheresville, I've participated in Student Government, and that's kept me incredibly busy. I've had to balance taking full semesters (that is, the max number of hours and classes an undergraduate can take) whilst also having to deal with 20-40 hours a week of time demands on my schedule. It's difficult and intense, and it requires a steady hand and a serious sense of commitment and purpose.

Here are some tips that I learned along the way.

July 12, 2010

In Soviet Russia, Finance Number-Crunches You!

I think every self-titled economist should get a finance degree.

No, wait, here me out. Look, while "normal" economists do a great deal of econometric work, there's something to be said about the finance major who bolstered his degree with econ, and the econ major who supplanted her degree with finance. The two are strongly tied together, theoretically and in principle.

For example, introductory finance courses will have you look at the present value (PV) of a stream of cash flows. This exact same skill is presented to you in intermediate microeconomics, alongside such models as Stackleberg, Bertrand, and the Cobb-Douglas production function. Calculating beta values is a matter of understanding relative performances and supply-demand tensions that yield valuations. Essentially, it's an elasticity value. While the theoretical side of that explanation is all economic, the numbers and the math of it is all finance.

So why am I telling you that an econ major should pursue finance instead of, say, operations? Cobb-Douglas is, after all, a production function, and operations is all about Right Time, Right Place, Right Price. It seems like a match made in Nerd Heaven.

Well, it is. And that's something of the problem. Ops and econ guys will forever argue the finer points of each others' specialties. Ops people are all about the practicalities, while econ people can get too caught up in the beauty of their models. Finance is nice because it gives econ people the skills and tools to assign harder numbers to their assertions. It also aids in understanding valuation, understanding the logical extensions of economics, and to gain a more full understanding of the models in economics.

In turn, understanding economics gives finance majors a better theoretical basis for the hard numbers. It can, for some, provide the "why are these steps in this order" that finance students ask, especially early on. Finally, knowing econ models enriches a financier's understanding of her subject, as well. By being able to see the past, present, and future of a finance problem (relatively speaking: the past is the genesis of the theory, the present is the quandrary at hand, and the future is the application of numbers to the process) a finance major distinguishes herself from her colleagues by being able to speak intelligently and eloquently about the finer points of finance.

Finance and econ are like twin strands in a length of rope. As each lays over the other, the resulting cord is stronger. You are that cord. Knowing and understanding both well will give you greater strength than that of your colleagues.

July 10, 2010

Top-Down Writing

I was reading the newspaper today and realized something: most people don't know how to really read a newspaper. So here are some tips:

Newspapers, by convention, utilize something called the "inverted pyramid" in the structure of the articles. Now, most of us have at least heard of the reporter's checklist, which are the seven questions journalists strive to answer in a news report column: who, what, when, where, why, how, and so what. Reporters, when writing front-page news, will cram all of the details into the first paragraph or two of the article, oftentimes within the first four or five sentences.

So what does this mean exactly? Well, when you're reading a newspaper (say, for example, The Wall Street Journal) and an article about, oh, tax fraud by a tech company shows up, and you just aren't interested in taxes, fraud, technology, or any combination thereof, you can read the first three paragraphs or so and move on. In those first three paragraphs (or like six sentences) you'll have gathered all of the pertinent information from the news report and moved on.

The other thing: headlines lie. Here's a good example from sports--"NBA star to help murder victim’s son" (from The Star on June 6, 2010). What does this mean? I see at least two wildly varying interpretations: either an NBA star is helping out the son of a murder victim....or he's going to help murder the son of some sort of victim. Sure, the former is more likely, but the second interpretation still exists. I can't tell you the number of times I've been duped into reading an article about ForEX minutiae by it having an intriguing title. Likewise, I've skipped articles pertinent to my (hopefully) future career due to their blasé-sounding headlines.

The point is: skim everything, but only read what you're interested in. Also, bear in mind: op-ed or feature articles will usually not be structured like this. Finally, remember to always read with a little cynicism; I've disagreed with The Journal a few times with respect to their predictions and assertions. Newspapers are still written by people, who have opinions and interpret the information they receive, so reading with a discerning eye will make you better informed in the long run.

My last tip for reading newspapers is to get the hard copy. Not only will this help our ailing news industry, but honestly? Skimming a newspaper is a great deal easier than skimming a seemingly neverending series of web links from article to article. After all, the most popular article on is usually some human interest piece - how informed are you really after reading that?