Wednesday, August 19, 2009

3 days of bombardment

A break during orientation, in Davies Auditorium.If the first week of orientation last week didn't feel like a traditional orientation, this week has more than made up for it. We've had wall-to-wall sessions on student clubs, data analysis and spreadsheet programs, library services, student government, security, transportation, diversity, the honor code, health services, the communication center, the career office, our international trip, plus guest speakers (including Laszlo Bock, Yale SOM alum and VP for People Operations at Google), a homework assignment, bowling, a "taste of New Haven" luncheon. That's a lot. Of these, the surprising gem was the honor code session, which involved some interesting discussion about eight supposed violations, whether they were wrong and why, and what the punishments were or should have been.

Vinnie, Susan and Matt.In addition to all that, my roommate, Susan, has moved in, assisted by her boyfriend, my best friend Matt. His stay was brief, but I got to have dinner at his brother's family's house and get some face time, which we haven't had much of over the past few years. Hopefully we'll have more if and when he gets a job in New Haven; for now he's back in Virginia. Their cat, Vinnie, is joining us in New Haven. He has not yet embraced my affections.

So one of the main points of getting an MBA is to connect with a good professional network, an advantage that was nicely illustrated in an exercise we did today. We broke into groups of about 25-30 and each had to write down a professional desire: Examples included "I want to learn more about investment banking," "I want to learn Spanish," or "I want to meet so-and-so." Then each was read aloud, and if we could help that person, we were to write a Post-It and pass it up. I naturally didn't figure I'd be able to help much of anybody, since I don't have a business background, but in fact one person wanted to learn how he could improve his public speaking, and I was all over that. My request was to learn more about opportunities for MBAs in the news, newspaper and media industries, and four people said they could help; I have not pursued how.

Truthfully, the networking aspect of the program offers a distinct challenge to me, because although I think I'm pretty good at social networking, professional networking really isn't a game I've had to play. The difference is that the latter requires a deeper understanding of the industries involved -- to do it effectively, I need to be able to comprehend what people's jobs really mean and make mental connections, and that's been a little tough for me. (If someone tells me they "were in mergers and acquisitions," it takes me many follow-up questions to begin to understand what that person in fact did.)

Much of the career advice hinged on needing to, basically, get serious, and get serious very quickly. That's obviously what I am trying to do, although it's a bit overwhelming to be more or less asked to determine what kind of internship and career I might want when we haven't even had our first class! But, as I keep being told, that's just the reality of this world, like it or not. I'm reasonably focused, though. I want to find out what kind of jobs exist in which I could apply business knowledge to help news companies pursue successful new strategies and ventures. I shall, indeed, find this out, in due time.

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