Anne: New Year, New Me
Near-daily messages from our career-services department remind me that fall is coming, recruiters are gearing up for the MBA recruiting season, and it's time to update my résumé. While I'm not aiming for a traditional MBA career, I am planning to explore a few different ways to accomplish my goal of helping the non-profit world, which means that, for me too, it's time to update my résumé.
Anne Ruybalid (Turchi)
University of Washington
Class of 2007ANNE'S JOURNAL
First Semester Overview
First Year Review
I've said goodbye to Turchi, the name that has served me so well these past 29 years, and hello to Ruybalid, my new husband's last name. Marty and I were married on Aug. 13. Our wedding was just like the marketers in the wedding industry have always told me that it should be: magical. Many of my B-school classmates drove down from Seattle to Portland for the wedding, which took place outdoors at a park. Serena Davidson, our wedding photographer, took a picture of the MBA group:
|13 of my favorite things about business school|
Serena put a few other wedding photos on her photo blog.
After removing, adding, removing, then finally adding Turchi back, in parentheses, I sliced my first "real" job off the end of my résumé and replaced it with my summer internship.
DRESS FOR SUCCESS?
My internship was unlike those of my classmates in a few ways. For starters, it was part-time. I wanted to have time for my fiancé, friends, family, wedding planning, and honeymooning. Also, I worked remotely. My supervisor and I communicated with each other via e-mail and telephone. Third, I took on a project with a non-profit (YMCA of the USA) rather than with a company experienced in hiring MBA interns. Here's how it went:
In March, I jetted off to the YMCA of the USA Headquarters in Chicago to meet with the national consultant for YMCA of the USA Arts & Humanities, Jason Shinder, and discuss summer possibilities. Since I wanted a job, I wore what any earnest business school student who had been listening to her career services coach would wear: a suit.
When I entered the room, Jason looked at me and said, "Anne, you're wearing a suit." Then, as more people entered the room for the meeting, he told them "Meet Anne; Anne's wearing a suit." At the end of the day's meetings, he told me, "It's O.K., tomorrow I'm wearing a tux."
BIG SLICE OF WORK.
My project resembled one giant, messy business-school case.
Throughout the last several weeks of spring quarter, Jason and his counterparts e-mailed me odds upon odds and ends upon ends: trends reports, papers, statistical summaries, financial information, strategic plans, and templates. "Take a look at this," the subject line would say.
A phone call to the national office would result in three more e-mails with new attachments relating to the five-year development plan that I would be spending my summer creating. Since classes were still in session, I kept these e-mails in a file and left the attachments unopened. The first day after finals, I opened them and began printing.
A fat contribution to the health of HP's (HPQ) print cartridge division later, I had a 5-in. thick pile of documents. To me, it was like a big fat 8 1/2 by 11 chocolate cake. I took it to the Camas (Wash.). Public Library and began to take it apart.
ASKING THE QUESTIONS.
I knew how to approach the questions and see the problems. More than that, I could see both sides—I could see the issues from where the documents' authors were presenting them—but I could also approach them with this new MBA lens. Especially exciting was that I could clearly see the differences between how I would have approached the project last year, pre-MBA, and how I was approaching it now. This stack of papers didn't know what hit it. My shiny new MBA microprocessor was humming and whirring just the way it should.
Here's an example: YMCA of the USA Arts & Humanities Division would like every YMCA in the U.S. to be "arts friendly." Sounds simple, right? But how? Isn't it true that, in the immortal words of Dean Jimbalvo, you get what you measure? How do you measure that? What the heck does "arts friendly" mean? Has anyone even thought about opportunity cost? And what, for goodness sake, about the market?
Is it our obligation to create change in these markets, or rather should we provide the community what it wants? Does a community, and its members, always know what's best? And the most heartless question of all, why does YMCA of the USA Arts & Humanities Division want every YMCA in the U.S. to be arts friendly?
BETTER THAN NOTHING.
Wait a minute. Either I've been totally ruined or it's downright dangerous to send people who only have half of an MBA into the world thinking they have all of an MBA. A simple sentence at the top of the page had turned into a six-page analysis, and I couldn't boil it back down again.
As you can see in the above example, while mildly amusing and a good way to get lost in a six-hour time void, analyzing something using half an MBA is not always advisable. The trick is to learn when to listen to the shiny new MBA and when to turn to our old friend Common Sense.
Common Sense would say (perhaps in rhyme?) that, while all of this MBA thinking is important, so is forward progress. I can ask questions, analyze, think, and mix up each question until the challenge at hand gets lost in the batter.
Sometimes it's easy to get stuck in this place of needing more information, but common sense tells us that there's never enough information, or enough answers, and it's time to move forward. As Jason tells me, "What gets in the way of the work, is the work." So true too is the statement, "What gets in the way of an MBA, is the MBA."
For most of my classmates, summer vacation was more summer than vacation. The typical internship involved getting used to working in an MBA-type position: working MBA hours, wearing MBA clothes, talking MBA talk, and solving MBA problems.
Now that I know what these are, I can safely state that most summer internships involved a manager, a team of some sort, at least a dozen meetings (agendas, milestones, deliverables…), a white board, a few ego-satisfying perks and teasers (can you say 5,000 different kinds of free soda in the company fridge?), and a presentation to a whispering bigwig or two at the end. To our credit, many summer internships have turned into fall part-time jobs.
For now, though, we're all in the same place: nipping and tucking and finding spaces for this club vice-presidency or that board fellowship, trying to identify which action-oriented words will call most loudly and persistently to the recruiter whose attention we're trying to capture. We've got fewer classes, but we're just as busy.
This year, we'll be the ones telling the first-year students "don't worry about your grades" and conveniently forgetting to mention that we were all crying in our vegetarian lentil soup the day those first-quarter accounting midterm scores came out. We all know that we're different people now, as half-MBA's we've become confident, strategic thinkers.
The secrets that I mentioned in my first journal entry are no longer secrets to me—the collection of courses, paradigms, and frameworks we learn in business school create a powerful, rare, and useful body of knowledge. The question that remains to be answered as we enter our second year and job search: Will we use our powers for good, or for evil?