Thursday, May 27, 2010

Nearly 20% Complete!

It's hard to believe that I've been at my internship for two weeks as of tomorrow, and 20% complete! It feels like just yesterday that I was busting open the bottle of champagne to celebrate my offer.

My internship has been the best of both worlds. I am getting the opportunity to make an impact because I'm at a smaller company and they have a lot of projects that have just been waiting to get tackled. At the same time, I am working with people with significant experience in operations, the grocery industry and marketing. In fact, in just a week and a half, I have a meeting with three Darden professors to discuss what I've learned so far and get some feedback on how to go forward. Seems too good to be true!

Life has pretty much revolved around work. Somehow I've managed to get out most evenings while still clocking in a lot of hours. With time passing so quickly, it seems the eight hours of being in the office are not nearly sufficient. Fortunately, most of the work in the evenings has been pretty mindless and been done on the couch while watching TV.

Charlottesville is getting hot. I don't know how I'm going to survive a summer of +33C/+93F, but somehow I think I'll make it through. It would sure be nice if I had working AC... :-)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Internship Bliss

Internships probably have honeymoon periods just like everything else. If that is true, I am still in mine.

The internship search was filled with tears, stress and anxiety for me. I never started counting my rejections (or "dings"), but some of the highlights included a rejection mere hours after I submitted the application and a rejection from a company that I never actually even submitted an application for. All in all, there were many, many moments during which those who were close to me had to remind me that things WOULD work out, and I would find the right internship.

Five days in, I couldn't agree more. Besides the fact that it's very convenient to stay in Charlottesville for the summer, I am finding the more I discover, the more I like this great town. Even better, I am working out of the Charlottesville Technology Incubator this summer (no room to work in the warehouse!) and it's located right on the Downtown Mall, which is by far my favourite part of Charlottesville. I spend my lunch and coffee breaks people watching and sampling some of C'ville's great restaurants. Perfect!

But all of that is cosmetic.

When I started my internship search, I was very focussed on consulting. I wanted to do consulting because of the ability to gain experience over a variety of functions and take on new challenges every couple of months. Anyway, Relay Foods excited me because it would give me the opportunity to work across functions, make an impact, and be part of a growing company. As it turns out, my internship is being constructed like a consulting project. I am working with a project manager who is a Darden professor who was a partner at a consulting firm pre-Darden and has already taught me a LOT about strategy, operations and marketing. In addition to getting the consulting experience that I really wanted, I get to use a lot of the skills I learned in my favourite class - Decision Analysis and Optimization.

All that said, it's also going to be quite an intense summer. I can't believe a week has already flown by! Given how much I want to accomplish yet, I know there are going to be many long days in the future.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Step One: Watch and Listen

After a ten-month hiatus from the work world, I set my alarm early this morning, donned a suit and heels, and showed up to fill out all sorts of paperwork and get oriented.

First lesson: suit not required. No, in a start-up, where there's a good chance that you may end up loading trucks or sorting groceries, it's less important to dress to impress than it is to be able to weather whatever tasks arise during the day. I still haven't figured out exactly WHAT the dress code is, but I DO know that I am in need of some new cute FLAT shoes and may have to hit up the Nine West outlet this weekend. ;-)

Second lesson: start-ups are awesome. Not only did I see everyone perform a huge variety of tasks today, but there is tons of enthusiasm and energy in the company. It was hard to find a place to sit without getting in anyone's way, but nobody minded having someone in their way, since it seems to be standard operating procedure. One of the reasons I chose this company was because of the breadth and depth of expertise, and today I was reminded just how prevalent that is. And I'm a little sad that I won't be spending every day at the warehouse, but at the same time, it will be good to have a working space so I can focus on all the fun analysis I will be doing. (No, that's not sarcastic... I'm a quant nerd.) And my working space is downtown, so I will definitely be hitting up all the great downtown eateries that are only open during the day. (There's a sandwich shop called Baggby's, or something, that I heard of before I moved here but have never actually tried!)

Third lesson: your first, well, at least a week on the job, the best thing you can do is use only your eyes and ears and keep your mouth shut. As much as I may feel I learned during my first year at Darden, I still need to learn as much as I can about the business before I can really start to analyze what is happening and start making recommendations. Today, there were times that I wondered if I could possibly add value considering the depth of knowledge and insight already at the company. Fortunately, I have one thing that all those other people don't have: time. And hopefully, I can start with that, pick off the "low-hanging fruit", and then add some value before my short internship time is up.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Building a House

Not me... My parents. And they're blogging about it. It's the second house they've designed and built, and this time they are taking care of everything.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Change of Pace

Many of my fellow bloggers are off on exciting adventures - at the Cannes film festival, off to India, roadtripping across the midwest, partying at beach week and getting settled into new locations for new adventures.

Me? Well, I've spent the last week recollecting myself. Life during my pre-B-school life was organized and tidy. I came down to C'ville, threw in several months of 16-hour days of work, and suddenly my ordered life became less ordered. After finishing all the "Yay! We survived first year!" celebrations and saying some tough goodbyes, the first thing I did was make a list of everything I needed to do to feel human again.

It's been a great week! I got a taste of what it's like to be a "lady who lunches" as I've tried out new restaurants (big thumbs up for Blue Moon Diner), mosied along the Downtown Mall, and spent time browsing fun stuff in the shops. My greatest triumph was having an apartment so clean that I could invite friends over for dinner at the last minute.

All of this leisure time ends Monday morning at 8:30 a.m. when I start my internship. It's probably for the best. Starting this early leaves room for exciting adventures at the end of the summer, or to stick around my internship longer and make a bigger impact. And though I haven't yet been bored, I suspect there is the possibility if I were to have yet another week of leisure.

Anyway, since this isn't particularly interesting, you can read about Brianne's road trip or Sierra's trip to Cannes.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

And That Concludes Act 1

My final assignment for Darden first year was turned in on Thursday evening around 6 p.m. Ever since then, I've been meaning to write a post about finishing, but I've been too busy celebrating! I think I've had three glasses of champagne since then, baked a pie, and spent time riding roller coasters at Kings Dominion. (Though I need to go back because the Intimidator305 wasn't running yesterday!)

My MBA degree is half finished. It's been quite the year. I have learned more in this past year than I have in probably any other year of my recent life. And I haven't just learned about operations and accounting and finance. I've learned about myself, about how to be a good friend (both by having them and being one! I feel so blessed in that area), about how to balance having WAY too much on my plate, about how to say NO (to volunteer commitments), about how to relax within time constraints and that I can be pushed to the brink of what I think I can handle and come out okay. On top of all that, I've learned that Americans say "dinner" instead of "supper," "grades" instead of "marks," "soda" instead of "pop," and that they give you a weird look every time you pronounce that last letter of the alphabet as "zed."

My internship starts a week from tomorrow. I am one of the lucky few who does not have to deal with moving and packing, so I'll be spending the next week getting my life organized once again, and being a tourist around Charlottesville. If anyone has suggestions on touristy things that I can do, please feel free to leave a comment! (I've been to Monticello three times already, so please not that!)

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Exams, Take 4

For three quarters, exams were a one-day, five-hour (plus printing time!) affair that came every day between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. Exam week was one of bliss, since you could only write one per day, and they were all open book.

This quarter, everything changed. We wrote our core exams (LO and Ethics) yesterday and today, but the elective exams are all "at your leisure." So instead of turning in my ethics exam yesterday and going for a nice, long stroll, I ate lunch and wrote Valuation.

Some people have already finished all their elective deliverables. I am still plugging away at a business plan and have another final to write. But I'm almost there!

As for the business plan, it's actually really exciting. A local Charlottesville entrepreneur wants to start a business that will help Haiti, and I am writing his business plan with a couple of other students from my Creative Capitalism class! It's exciting because the business is actually taking off, and because it caters to my passion of alleviating poverty.

Anyway, I know that I am long overdue for an interesting blog post, but given the time constraints that is finals week, this is all I've got for now. (Actually, I can't complain... I went for sushi and a pedicure tonight...)