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Short and long term career objectives

For my Cambridge essay I have to write down by short and long term career objectives as a part of the personal statement. Easy enough I said, done it all last year. Wrote the essay, gave it to my friends to comment. The end result: I need to go back to the drawing board on career objectives.

The long term
The short term I’m fairly clear on, but the long term. Well that hazy, really hazy. So in my month of searching I’ve had several ideas from running a successful regional theatre, fixing the next Detroit, fixing tescos to being a business school lecturer.

As all the long term ideas are a bit crazy, I’ve gone for the classic wanting to work for the World Bank when I’m older.

Skills needed in the future
The next challenge is that I also need to be clear what skills I have and what I need for my future career. To help with that I’ve gone the for classic of trawling through guardian jobs and Linkedin and to find out what skills Chief Executives need; if only more of those jobs were advertised with person specifications.

Back on the MBA wagon

Know how I said, i’il do a part-time MBA? Well, I’m thinking of climbing back on the full-time MBA wagon. This time with an European focus.

I’ve climbed on to the wagon far enough sign up for the forte event in London this evening.

Only one downside, I might need to take either the GRE or the GMAT again. I thought the GRE might be easier as they are more dyslexic friendly. Justing reading what the GRE entails got me very anxious, specially when I saw the maths. So might need to reconsider that plan.

I might need to consider living with my GMAT score and focusing on schools which run their own tests or have an open mind regarding GMAT scores.

Anyone got any thoughts on the GRE v GMAT question?

Update: went along to the forte event had a good discussion with a couple of schools. Conclusion; no need to resit a standardised test. Some are aware that GMAT does people no favours; while others recommend their own test.

How to stay sane on a project

I’m leading my first project since I fell ill last year. Personally I thought it would easy managing my stress as after all it had been a year since I got ill and I’ve learnt. Plus, I managed to apply to business school and pass an exam. I mean how hard can it be?

My manager asked what objectives I had for the study; I have one. Stay sane (or not go nuts) during fieldwork. I’ve been finding out this is not so simple in practice.

Techniques to stay sane
So here are the hints and tips I’ve picked up from a friend to help me achieve my objective;

  • It’s normal to be wobbly; so no need to worry about the odd panic attack.
  • Takes a lot of positive reinforcement to break bad thinking habits and develop new ones. There some useful CBT techniques admittedly I’ve learnt most of them, but I need to write them down; not just do them in my head.
  • Regular breaks are important. So going for a coffee or tea break is a good way to break up the day.
  • Ideally daily cardio exercise; it burns off the stress hormones. So when it gets busy, exercise becomes more important! So I go swimming most weeks on a Wednesday lunchtime. I’ve signed up for summer hockey and started a 5k training plan. Oh, I’m due to start tennis lessons. So, yep this should keep me occupied. (Tennis ended quickly after I had a bit of a meltdown. Now going to stick to the running.)

Here’s some other stuff I’ve put in place

  • making the effort to go to lunch everyday and have a break away from my desk.
  • my calendar now tells me when I should leave the office. I hope it will help work life balance. (This is working really well, I now have to consciously chose to work late.)
  •  Built in socialising during the week to give myself a break.
  • Updated my ereader with lots of trashy books.
  • Trying to well behaved about bed time; doesn’t always work when I have a good book on the go.
  • I’ve also signed up to the cycle for work scheme. I have this bright idea of cycling to work during the summer. Will let you know whether that happens. (just picked up the bike today…next step finding the route to work.)
  •  Booked holidays in advance; so I have no excuse not to take them! Next trip commonwealth games.

I’ve chosen!

Good news everyone. I’ve chosen where I want to study for my part time MBA!

I’m going for part time MBA at Manchester.

Here are my reasons:

Price; it’s good value for money. And I feel happy to pay it.
Flexible; it’s highly flexible. I can still do my international work and undertake an MBA. As long as I have an internet connection I can take the class room with me. Plus I get to choose three electives. Bonus.
Time off work is about right. I go to campus three times a year. I think that is a level that work would allow and give me the time off.
International component; I can take courses at different overseas locations including Miami! Guess where I’m going for my next holiday!
Time: the taught element is 18 months long. The second component is a project for 6 months. So not too long, they’ve cut down the duration of the course and increased the number of trips to manchester.

But even with this amazing list, I going to have to think carefully on how to manage the downsides;
Less contact with fellow students.
Less careers support
Less face- face time with lecturers.

Suggestions include:
Make effort to socialise with students who live in London and the surrounding area. Maybe a quarterly meet up. Does anyone know of any?

Make most of other networking opportunities I have through work. And if there any external networks I can join. Who says you should only network with classmates and alumni of the school you attend?

For careers it might be worthwhile to make more of an effort to build relationships with the careers advisors and see what extra informal support I can receive. Though I suspect I may need to use some of the money saved from attending Manchester on careers coaching. But we will see.

what next
Well, I had a brief thought of applying now and starting in July when I got an email saying fees will be increasing for January. But I checked my diary, I have plans. Namely stay sane leading the latest work project and go on holiday and watch loads of sport at the commonwealth games. So a January start it is.

nominee for Best MBA blog of 2013-14

Wow!  look, I’ve been nominated for a blogging award. (In the best way…I found out after reading MBA the non-profit way’s blog.)

What a Year! I started this blog to prove to myself I could write, as I had started to believe my bosses who said I couldn’t.    One year later, 80 posts, and a readership beyond my friends and family.  Amazing, people want to read what I write.
Thank to you everyone for dropping by and reading my blog whether it was that one post reviewing the Economist prep software or as a regular reader.
Voting
To win…the readers need to vote for their three favourites.  Of course, I would love you to vote for me. 🙂
To vote follow this link. Voting closes on the 28th May.
Fellow nominees
I read all the nominees blogs…..so hard to pick a favourite.
Timbob ; Fellow Londoner who got into HBS.
MBAMyWay; is willing to combine here love of animal and welfare with business. Go girl!
CoffeeBeansandTeaLeaves; Is like me struggled with the GMAT but still willing to beat the odds.
Two Years at HBS; Successful HBS applicant who gives the low-down on what its really like to study at HBS.
Domotron; loves Tuck, loves movies (always interesting movie/tv clips with his posts.
MBA Over 30; studying at Wharton, plays rugby.
Boots to Suits;  posted his admission story in funny detail.
 MBAGirlJourney  posted thoughtful blogs and resources….which I have used or considered.
Good luck everyone and thank you for sharing your stories.

Cass business school

I begrudgingly went along to Cass’s open day on Saturday.  I had a really good feeling when I left the open day…but it rapidly changed as I started to write the blog post.  Here’s how my thoughts changed.

Initial thoughts before I wrote this blog post
I really liked it. It would be Easy to  get to Cass from both home and work. It has an excellent vibe and great facilities. I would get to play with both Bloomberg and Reuters and get trained up on both. Excellent! It is really easy to access campus when I would need/ want to and I think I’ve underestimated the benefit that is.

What really sold it was the people who attended the open day. They were bright, friendly and people similar to me. Much preferred this cohort to Cranfield.

Admittedly it wasn’t the most slick operation I’ve ever seen. They will definitely need to work on that aspect before they jump to the big leagues. Here the stuff that bugged me:

  • No contact number for the day. Couldn’t let anyone know I was running late.
  • No tea or coffee mugs at break time. Not even plastic cups for the water fountain;
  • The mess from 2 hours early hadn’t been tided up. Bad!
  • And the sandwich selection at lunch was miserly, though I will give them points for providing wine and beer!

Lack of slickness even went to the lectures. The marketing lecture used an example from t-mobile marketing campaign but was unable to answer the question of what impact it had. Said it was commercially sensitive information. Well that what case studies are for…..you gain access to the information and write it up and then present it. Why present half the story? (Ok, as I’m writing this I’m liking  Cass less. Seems a bit half assed. Like I said, it needs to be slicker for the big leagues.)

But now having moaned about the lectures. What about the good stuff. The lectures were engaging, had good class debate and a good class atmosphere. I learnt!

They also focus on careers and for the part-time MBA that is mostly done at the weekend. Which means you can get good access, but potentially  the MBA will consume your life.

But oddly enough I struggled with the finance class; why, because it wasn’t technical enough. The lecturer explained complex issues in a very easily understood way. However as soon as he added the technical aspects he didn’t fully explain it. That annoyed me! I know this technical stuff. For instance he talked about the central limit theorem…the idea that a population tends to the mean…but this key  principle only works if the sample size is big enough! He used that fact in the example by having a hundred observations the minimum needed to make the theory work.) but didn’t explain this fact to the class. Yes, I know it was an introductory class, but if you use the theory, you should also be able to explain when it can be used. (Now, my masters in economics has paid off with this rant alone.)

Thoughts after I wrote blog post
Good MBA course, but not ready for the big leagues….bit half assed! Could do with making better case studies and engaging more with industry. This would mean not only hiring academics, but also academics that work with firms. Didn’t get the feel they engaged much with industry.

Think Cass is a would be a good comprise MBA but I think it shows in the finer details. Cass has great students, excellent location, it really needs to work on the small stuff to really shine. However I’m not certain they really recognise that aspect. They are spending money on getting bigger hitters in terms of lecturers. But I wonder how much effort they are putting into the softer aspects that make a big difference. I’m not convinced its worth the £42,000 fees.

 

cranfield MBA

I was never that interest in Cranfield MBA until I went to a121 event. At the event I heard about the schools focus on leadership and personal development, not just theory. After that I was keen to hear more.

I went along to their open day in Sunny Bedfordshire to check out the reality. Overall I was really impressed.

The full times course director lead the day, which was amazing. We got taught how to read a case study and get the most of it. We were also treated to a lecture in change management. For me it ticks the boxes

They teach via case method, using papers from a variety of schools
They enable equal access to careers development for both full time and part time MBA.
They help you be a better leader, and know how to apply what you learnt.

I have a couple of unanswered questions, but they may be application killers:
Who would I study with? I think the Manchester part-time MBA cohort is more similar to me, in terms of age and experience.
How often is the part-time option? I thought I had to attend campus one weekend was a month, but I heard at the open day I needed to attend campus twice a month and there are six one week blocks. Just not sure how doable that is for me.

So before I put in any applications I’ve signed up to Cass Business school open day and I need to take another look at Manchester.

Yes I’m having a goldlocks moment with MBA schools.

GMAT prep: useful materials

In an effort to engage with social media here a link to the Pinterest board which shows the materials I found useful studying for the GMAT.

Happy Easter.

Random thoughts on the states

So after three weeks in the States here are my random reflections and comments.

Roads
While it maybe the land of the car; the roads are awful. Not even the interstates were well maintained. However the states has an odd policy called Adopt a Highway. So bits of highway have been adopted by the various local organisations including the Scouts, TGI Friday and the Fire Department. Without fail, these stretches of road were well maintained and not a pot hole in sight.

Driving

Nutters. Some states were crazier than others. You could in general overtake and undertake. In Maryland the speed limit was more of a suggested minimum speed. Not even the police obeyed obeyed the rules; we saw them speed and undertake. As a Brits we thought the worst offence was undertaking and then secondly lane hogging, forcing people to undertake. By the end of the trip both me and my friend were undertaking and speeding like a native.

Places to stay

    In three weeks of road tripping we used lots of hotel brands and stayed in the basic to the posh. We were happy if it promised and delivered. No breakfast included fine. We weren’t happy when the included breakfast was an apple and a cup of coffee. We thought our expensive historic inn was over priced. They couldn’t do afternoon tea to save themselves. Seriously if your going to offer it do it properly. Tea pot per a person and put the tea bag in the pot. Breakfast waffles were boring. The Quality Inn’s waffles were much better. While the Red Inn was a basic motel it delivered. I was slightly annoyed by being woken up by odd noises next door. But it was simple and good. We done a mix of booking in advance and walk-ups. One time McDonald’s wifi saved us; we were at risk of spending the night in the car, as we couldn’t even see the signs for the motels that we knew should exist. Thanks to our new found internet connection we were able to find a place to stay.

Food
We alway got great recommendations from the locals. We tried oysters for the first time in a wee fish restaurant in Maryland. We tried the famous chicken and waffle place in Durham. It does work. We thought it was great more for the concept rather than the food. But it’s definitely be something I will make when I get home. I also learnt how to eat McDonald’s whilst driving. My friend was amazing pretty every time we had room for dessert we got it on the house. 🙂

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