Sunday, January 31, 2010

Our dream

John Metz and Matt Sturdevant

Back when Matt and I were living in Corpus Christi we dreamt of a fictional time when we'd be at an Ivy League cocktail party, wearing ties, drinking punch out of a bowl that had floating orange slices in it. Tonight we did just that. Unfortunately, we brought ourselves to the island, and life is not nearly as easy and breezy as we'd imagined (it's not all squash matches and pipe tobacco ... in fact, it's not even a little of either of those things). But at least we had the punch.

Good party. I sang.

John + Danielle

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Today's invisible wonderland

Snow I suppose I like to take pictures when it snows, although my photos never capture the magic of the snow as it's falling. Anyway, we had a lovely snowfall today, and here's the best I could do.

Another week over. I have to say this quarter -- I'll regret saying this, I'm sure -- is not as demanding as previous quarters. Or I'm just used to it? Not sure.

Going out for drinks tonight, have an phone interview tomorrow, and generally hope to have a good time over the weekend. Hooray leisure!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The juice (and appetizers) is loose

Cranberry juice is distributed in The Operations Engine at Yale SOM. Today I got some free things, which is wonderful for grad students on a budget. The first was more ceremonial than substantive, but nevertheless appreciated. In our Operations Engine class we all split into groups to tackle a notoriously complex case about a cranberry plant, and in the spirit of tradition, our professor, Arthur Swersey, had cranberry juice on hand for the discussion. A very nice gesture.

At the end of the day, I met up with three friends for a happy hour at The Taft, a downtown eatery and drinkery that had $2 draught beers and quite a nice spread of scrumptious lagniappes -- bruschetta, frittata, meatballs, pizza. Enough for a nice little meal, and all free. One of my companions is apparently privy to the best places to score free happy hour goodies, so I am going to follow her around more often and take advantage. A boy has to eat.

Meanwhile, I am soon going to put my rarely applied piano experience to use as I accompany one (or two) classmates as they sing at an upcoming SOM-wide talent show. These can be slightly high-pressure situations, but I think I am up to the challenge (i.e. I have what looks to be a pretty free weekend.) That's the kind of thing I think one should do while in school; it's not as if the real world is full of opportunities to participate in talent shows!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Anyone for squash?

Squash court at the Payne Whitney Gymnasium Yale's gym, called the Payne Whitney Gymnasium, is really something -- the second-largest gym in the world, although the dude at the front desk swears the Russians are lying. What doesn't this gym have? There are squash courts (pictured), pools to practice rowing, fencing areas, a basketball court, tracks, pools to not practice rowing, just about anything you can name. Oh, except a tennis court. Looks like Matt and I will have to head to the Cullman-Heyman Tennis Center next time. It's the fourth-largest tennis center in the world!

Our dead-end led us to decide we should do the opposite of exercise, which is eat hot dogs and ice cream. After that, we checked out the inside of The Whale, the ice rink, where we will be in a couple weeks for the Yale-Dartmouth game, as Matt is an alumnus of the latter. Happily, people were enjoying themselves.

The WhaleAnd back to work I go.

Snickerdoodles and tennis

Not-yet-baked Snickerdoodles It might turn out that I am taking a more balanced approach this quarter between life and school, as is evidenced this weekend by too much time spent playing new games on my iPhone, making Snickerdoodles for a dinner party (I recommend the recipe), attending said party, and, I hope, playing tennis with my roommate Matt today. Between these activities I am indeed reading cases and fiddling around with spreadsheets and so forth, but this quarter I'm really not interested in sequestering myself for 72 hours at a time with my nose buried in a glowing screen or a course pack, even though I like the subjects just fine.

I think two factors are at work. One is that a semester has passed, and we're all familiar with what it takes to get by. But maybe more important is that it's recruiting time, and it's becoming a bit more obvious that, ultimately, getting work is the No. 1 point of being here. There are, of course, other important reasons to be here, like to learn, but when all is said and done, leaving with a bunch of neat knowledge and no job is a deeply stupid idea, because being here is mad expensive.

Anyway, these are my thoughts of the moment. I wouldn't tattoo them to my face. Then again, I wouldn't tattoo anything on my face, except maybe a to-scale tattoo of Brad Pitt's face. Ooh, business idea.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Nobody seems to have perished

A New Haven fire truck A drawback to living in the North is that it gets cold, and the heat comes on, and the building catches on fire and burns down. At least that's what you'd think, since this is maybe the fourth time this winter I've had to exit the comfort of my home amidst the wails of my building's fire alarm. This happened twice in one night when the heat first came on a couple months ago. It had been a while.

Thanks to my handy iPhone, I could capture the excitement.

We were only outside for about three minutes before we were allowed back in. I suppose that means that either there was no fire, or the New Haven Fire Department doesn't care whether my fellow tenants and I live.

Trying Trojan on for size

Yesterday I got my first solicitation from a recruiter, Church & Dwight, a company that owns Arm & Hammer, OxiClean and, among other things, Trojan condoms. We'll be having a phone interview for their summer marketing internship sometime over the next two weeks. Today I have an interview with Unilever, a CPG company that owns everything consumed in the United States other than Arm & Hammer, OxiClean and Trojan.

Shortly after today's interview, I'll be meeting with some of my Australia-bound classmates to start working on a project in advance of our "international experience." Our trip group divided itself into six small groups of four, and each of us is going to research and present information about a particular aspect of Australia's economy. We're doing mining, and specifically I'm doing laws and safety, which I picked because my dad was at one time an attorney for a coal mining company, and oddly I had long conversations with him about it over winter break.

So far, this quarter has had a distinct sort of tone and feel. In some ways, it's the best quarter yet. The classes are interesting, the professors are great, the students have gotten to know each other, and I think people have a handle on the work load. But there's a new sense of tension, and maybe even disconnectedness. One reason is that our cohorts are less unified because of electives and a few swaps (to accommodate electives). And, perhaps more importantly, we're all in internship-interview mode. The environment isn't necessarily competitive, but I don't think it would be unreasonable to say that (a) some of us are measuring ourselves against one another, and (b) there's a lot of hope and rejection in the air. I'm relatively relaxed about recruiting, though. I get nervous before an interview, of course, but I do believe that match is what matters, and that the right match will unfold.

Anyway, I'm hoping to have at least a hint of fun this weekend -- I'm going to a small dinner party tomorrow. Naturally most of my time will be spent in study. I'd like to get ahead for once!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

SOM picks new dean

I love my new iPhone, and one of the benefits, I hope, is that I'll stop being the last to know everything.

Case in point: I sprinted into class yesterday to find everyone abuzz about SOM's pick of a new dean. (Read more here.) Our professor happened to have led the search committee, so we spent a good portion of the class discussing the new dean. His name is Ted Snyder, and he was most recently the dean of the business school at the University of Chicago, my brother and sister-in-law's alma mater (for a PhD in Economics) and an institution representative of what's called an efficient view of markets, a view decidedly not shared by the most esteemed finance faculty at SOM. Naturally that makes the choice either puzzling or worrisome to those who care about such things, although I'm not sure a person, especially since Mr. Snyder does not join our Yale community until summer 2011, just after I've graduated. (My class also gets the dubious distinction of barely missing out on the new building for the business school, which is supposed to be spectacular ... Whoops.) Our current dean, Sharon Oster (who was also my microeconomics professor) will stay dean an extra year until Mr. Snyder arrives.

Did I mention the part where I love my phone?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Why don't you love me?

With the excitement of interviewing for summer internships come the inevitable rejections, and I received my first yesterday, from Mars. To review, this is a candy company to which I applied for a summer marketing internship; I visited them on a trek and was flattered to have been asked to interview. I thought the interview went OK. My honest feeling about it was that I would have certainly been honored to have been offered the internship, because it's very selective (five people a year), and it would have added a major CPG company to my resume. It would have been great experience, and, as marketing jobs go, probably quite fun. All that said, I wasn't exactly convinced it was the perfect "fit." Some aspects of marketing interest me more than others; I'm still not sure if it's my calling. I'm sort of letting these interviews decide that for me. If it's what I should be doing, then a match will be self-evident to both me and the company.

They tell us quite a bit that "match" is what's really important, and that we're interviewing the companies as much as they're interviewing us. That's definitely true, although at the same time it's obvious that we as candidates are trying to put on the best impression we can; so when you get to an interview stage and then get rejected, it takes a lot of faith in fate to just say "Well, it wasn't a good match." Human nature would have me wonder what I did wrong; what did I do or say, or not do or say, that signaled to Mars that I was not appropriate for their program? And if I knew what that something was, would I agree and be OK with it? For example, if that something was "He didn't seem particularly passionate about candy," then I would agree with that and be fine with it, because it's true. If that something was "He didn't seem intelligent enough to handle the tasks we would have given him" or "He didn't show any evidence of leadership skills," then that, on the other hand, tells me that there's a discrepancy between how I'm coming off in interviews and how I think I am.

I'm still not exactly sure what I want to do. My interview with Apple went well, I thought; the internship has nothing to do with marketing -- it's about executive training and HR. I wish HR didn't have a reputation of being sort of small time. I think that's unfortunate, because a firm's staff and the way they are organized, managed, trained and incentivized are, I think, more important to a firm's success than anything that gets done by, say, a marketing department (depending on the nature of the business, I suppose). I'm quite interested in HR, and in corporate training, and also in operations -- I suppose I'm most interested in the intersection of those fields. "How can the staff best be organized and trained so that people are most productive and happy?" A very interesting question ... more interesting to me, frankly, than "How can we get more Hispanic women age 18-24 to buy this product?"

I'm not necessarily writing off marketing, though. I still think I could learn an awful lot of useful things in a good CPG marketing internship, which is why I'm still excited about talking to Unilever this Friday. It's a great company with a million brands, worthy missions, gay-friendliness and so forth. But I think the best approach to avoiding the pain of rejection is to have that faith that the right match will only be evident if both the company and I are honest about who we are, and who we're not. I'm sure the right thing will come along. Taking a more macro view, the options open to me are a thousand times greater here and now than they were a year ago, so I'm just very thankful to be here, truly. I would never have gotten Mars to even look my way for a marketing internship before getting into this program.

Monday, January 18, 2010

My poisoned Asian chicken salad

I found this little Margaret Cho routine so hilarious that I decided to, in fact, buy the ingredients for Asian Chicken Salad, including Mandarin oranges and crispy wonton crunchies. Observe the result below:

Asian Chicken Salad

I even made my own dressing, and the whole thing turned out delicious. I shared it with my roommates. The problem came a couple hours later, when I slowly started to feel achy, feverish and nauseated. Soon I was unwillingly tasting the Asian Chicken Salad for a second time.

It appears I have come down with some sort of awful flu or disease. The good news is that we have the day off because of MLK Jr. Day, although I have to cancel a meeting with my macro group. The bad news is that I better get over this thing ASAP because I'm supposed to be interviewing with Apple in 24 hours! I do not want some dumb germs determining the course of the rest of my life.

Anyway, I don't blame the Asian Chicken Salad, since my roommates are both healthy. It must be a coincidence. But my taste for it has certainly deterioriated. Ever gotten turned off from a particular food because of illness? There were years when I wouldn't eat popcorn or chocolate-covered peanut butter balls for that very reason. But maybe one day I'll give this salad another chance.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Mariah was on fiah

Mariah CareyShe was great! Superb voice, and a nice choice of songs. Naturally she didn't get to all of them -- and she didn't do anything from her first album, or from "Daydream" as far as I could tell. But she did cover some classics -- "Emotions," "Honey," "Heartbreaker," "Hero"-- and focused mostly on newer stuff. I'm so glad I went! In life, one must go do the things s/he wants to have done before one is dead.


Friday, January 15, 2010

Why I bought an iPhone

iPhone Today I bought an iPhone, which I cannot afford. Thanks to having to buy international plane tickets -- to New Zealand and Australia -- I am cash-strapped. But I bought it anyway. Here are seven reasons.

1. This morning I was invited to interview with Apple. I should probably have an iPhone in case I'm asked to whip out my mobile thingy. The interview is Tuesday.

2. I hate my phone. It is junk. The screen is broken. The buttons stick. Yet it's not that old.

3. I hate my service. T-Mobile is awful, especially in Florida. I can't get service anywhere.

4. I consistently rely on other people's iPhones. Lost? Ask whoever's got an iPhone. Need to hop on to see who played who in whatever movie? Ask the iPhone person. Need to find a place to eat? The iPhone guy will know. Why aren't I an iPhone person?

5. I keep missing important e-mails. At SOM, people communicate by e-mail like they're texting, and if you don't have quick and easy access, you're bound to miss a critical meeting or fun activity. Now, to check e-mail, I need to power up the Dell laptop, and that's time-consuming and cumbersome.

6. I feel better about myself when I'm more like others.

7. According to Matt Sturdevant: "You can do everything with that iPhone."

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Places in the news: Haiti, Australia, Mars


Because I attend a school with a sizeable contingent of nonprofit-focused students, I am endorsing this organization as one to which you can donate money, which you should do right away. The person operating this aid organization is a friend of a classmate. They particularly target rural areas, which are often neglected by aid groups. (I hear you can also text HAITI to 90999 and apparently donate $10 automatically via the Red Cross.)

In other news, I have purchased my tickets to New Zealand and Australia! I am excited. The New Zealand portion is not school-related; I'm just going there with about four or five classmates to enjoy part of our spring break before the school-related "international experience" trip begins. We have a meeting about our trips tonight, so I may have more info to share.

And today is the big day -- an interview with Mars for their summer marketing internship program! If nothing else, I hope to get a nice load of candy out of it.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Have some class(es)

I have head each of my four classes, and I am convinced that this is going to be my favorite quarter yet, since I'm truly and genuinely interested in 3 1/2 of the four classes. Here's the breakdown:

1. Employee. One of our required first-year "perspective" classes that looks at management problems through the lens of the employee, and talks about how we as managers can best hire, motivate, manage and generally lead employees. Basically an HR course, but one that focuses more specifically on the relationship between manager and employee (as opposed to, say, the broader organizational structure of a firm). I'm way excited about this.

2. The Global Macroeconomy. Another required first-year class, but this is the first year it's required; last year it was a semester-long elective. That makes two things immediately different: For one, there are second-year students who were allowed to take this first-year class, since their option for the elective disappeared. Also, the semester's worth of material has been condensed into six weeks. Between you and me, macro was my worst grade in college, and I had a really hard time following it. But that was more than 10 years ago, and I think/hope that maturity, wisdom and previous business classes will make this class more interesting. But it's going to be tough nevertheless.

3. The Operations Engine. When I enjoyed the probability portion of Probability & Statistics so much in Fall 1 (first quarter), I asked the professor about careers that used some of these nifty probability techniques, and he said, "Operations." So ever since then I've been eager and curious about this class. It's still too early for me to know exactly what we're getting into, but my preliminary assessment is pretty positive: great professors, and a first homework assignment on queueing theory that I really enjoyed.

4. Statistical Modeling. This is my first elective, and most of the students are second-years. We learn more about statistics while working on one major project, putting together a data set of our choosing, doing some analysis, and presenting it. I'm going to do something about chart positions of songs, since I happen to be interested in that, and happen to have a giant book of every Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart in the 1990s. The data has been collected! I'll collect more data, of course.
Meanwhile, the fifth implicity class is always LDP, our monthly evening class about leadership and values. We have a meeting next week.

Monday, January 11, 2010

OK I'm back

Mike in Key West This image of Mike freezing in sandy, tropical Key West unfortunately summarizes our trip there, although we managed to have quite a bit of fun and laughs despite record low temperatures. But this blog isn't about vacationing, it's about returning to grad school, so let's get on with that ...

Rest assured, loyal readers, that I am back from vacation and ready to share all my intimate, insightful thoughts, naturally offset by a great deal of nonsensical filler. Today was the first day of classes in our third of eight quarters. I am lucky to have only one class on Mondays, "Employee," an HR-ish class about how to manage people. I expect to enjoy it thoroughly.

After looking at this quarter's syllabi and remembering that (a) I give tours, (b) I'm volunteering for Food For Thought, (c) I just volunteered to be a tutor 3-5 hours a week through, (d) I recently said I'd be on the board of CABO, (e) I'm supposed to be a journalism cluster leader for the Media & Entertainment Club, and (f) I'm trying to have a life, I thought to myself, "(g), this is probably not the best quarter to overload on classes ... perhaps I should drop one of my electives." So I did, just half an hour ago: Financial Reporting. I know it's important; I'll take it next year. This makes my load Employee, The Global Macroeconomy, The Operations Engine and my one elective, Statistical Modeling. Plus we'll be doing some academic work in preparation for our international trips; you may recall I am going to Australia.

Now that I'm well-rested and back, I am trying to get into those good habits -- being tidy, eating right, exercising, practicing good hygiene, wondering if that's really how you spell hygiene, Googling hygiene to verify its spelling, and so on. I just want it all, and I won't settle for less!

A couple other tidbits I've recently learned:

-- If you're ever out of town buying clothes at a Men's Wearhouse and they tell you they'd be happy to ship all those clothes to another location and that the receiving store will gladly press the clothes, DO NOT BELIEVE A WORD OF IT. You will not receive all the clothes, and they will not be pressed.

-- Precious had good performances and Up In The Air was cute, but if these are really best-picture contenders, 2009 sucked.

-- If given the chance to do something in Key West, do it. See the weird performers at Mallory Square, eat French food, go to the drag show, do karaoke*, go out on the glass-bottom boat. It's all worth it.

*I did karaoke, and the next day, I was walking down the street, and a guy shouted, "HEY, it's that angry guy in the white T-shirt from karaoke!" That's when you know it's been a good vacation.

Monday, January 4, 2010

And Carla, looking dashing

And, finally, a picture I took, of Carla:

Carla Segurola. Photo by John Metz.

John and Sarah love each other

And one more picture Carla took that I like:

John and Sarah. Photo by Carla Segurola

The Metz men, hard at work in the morning

One other picture I like that Carla took:

John and Richard Metz. Photo by Carla Segurola.

Frequent driver miles

We're just like a family. On the 30th of December, my friend Carla (bottom right, above) came to visit in Sanibel, and then on New Year's Eve we took a little trip to Sarasota, Tampa and back again, visiting people such as those pictured above (me and Carla's boyfriend Bryan in back, my friends Sarah and Unconditional SurrenderCarla in front). A few highlights included seeing Precious, trying to eat one grape per second in the 12 seconds leading up to midnight New Year's Eve, doing Bikram Yoga on New Year's Day, making a kick-ass karaoke CD at the mall, and visiting the Unconditional Surrender statue in Sarasota, pictured at left.

Last night, I met up with two people I hadn't seen in ages: Tim, who I went to high school with and who works as a TV reporter in Fort Myers, and Jenelle, who I went to both summer camp and college with and who, coincidentally, works as a TV producer, with Tim. We had loads of fun with drinks and appetizers.

Mike gets in town today, and we'll spend a couple days in Sanibel before heading to Key West. Unfortunately, it's going to be pretty cold for his visit -- highs in the 60s and lows in the 50s, which is a good 10-15 degrees colder than average. Curses! But still warmer than Connecticut.