Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Year Ago...

As I see posts on Facebook about people moving down to Charlottesville and see the evidence of moving trucks in Ivy Gardens, I can't help but remember the intense stress I put myself under this week a year ago.

I know that I really shouldn't admit things like what I'm about to admit in any sort of public forum, but in the hopes that it could help someone else, I'm just going to be honest and vulnerable. Anyway, the worst moment of my pre-move week was the emotional breakdown I had in the Alberta Registries office (Canadian equivalent of the DMV) when I discovered that the new-to-me car I was registering was still listed as leased... Not a big deal in ordinary circumstances, but a big deal when you are trying to drive it across the border in a cross-border move.

Among the other "adventures" that I went through at this time last year were having to get a new I-20 issued two weeks before my move (something I discovered while I was in Iowa for a friend's wedding), realizing that there was no way I'd be able to fit everything into my car and ultimately vacuum sealing anything that could possibly be shrunk and a very intense border crossing in which I had to tell my sister that playing the Arrogant Worms song with the chorus "burn, burn, burn the White House" would not be appropriate border-crossing music. (Referring to the War of 1812, not any sort of Canadian terrorist plans!)

Before I get to a suggested survival plan, I'm going to let you in on the punchline - everything was just fine. I got the right papers to take "leased" off my car registration. My sister turned off the stereo. Although I had to go in to get "processed," the merciful border guard did not attempt to open my vacuum-sealed trunk. And everything was A-OK.

Anyway, the best thing I did in my pre-move week was turn off my cell phone, leave my laptop at home, and head to the Canadian Rockies for a few days of camping, hiking and relaxing with my best friend. So, while most of you (and yes, this blog post is targeted at the Darden Class of 2012 - both of you who are still reading my posts!) may be tempted to check and re-check those lists of things to do, do yourself a favour and get away to RELAX! I'm not going to remind you of what's in store over the next few months... but trust me, relax while you can. :-)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Motor City

Detroit doesn't have the best reputation.

When I told one of my friends I was headed to Detroit for the weekend, she referred to it as the "crotch of America."

My first impressions of Detroit were less than stellar. Although the airport was cool (I walked through a large tunnel with changing coloured lights and sound effects), the fact that domestic Delta flights came through the international terminal resulted in me waiting for an hour until my friend (who was new to the city) and I figured out we weren't in separate wormholes - he just needed to come to the other terminal.

After that, Detroit just started to pop up with sweet surprises. For starters, we drove down Michigan Ave. - a long street filled with abandoned buildings on either side. But our drive took us to this fun, cool, delicious and BUSY BBQ restaurant, where the wait to get in was over an hour. It just seemed such irony to wait so long for a table when the abandoned store just two doors over had a sign filled with bullet holes.

Over the weekend, I found all sorts of pleasant surprises in Detroit - the gorgeous DTE Energy concert venue where I lay on the grass watching the Goo Goo Dolls perform with the sunset in the background, Greenfield Village with its Model Ts and a tavern right out of the 1830s, Belle Island Park surrounded by beautiful blue water and a quaint neighbourhood in Dearborn with ivy-covered parking garages and brick houses.

So, as it turns out, Detroit isn't so bad after all. My main impression of the city was that it just felt empty - like it used to house many more people who all left after the crash of the American auto industry. But shoots of life are springing up all over the place. As my friend liked to point out, Ford is now at the same quality ratings as Honda (and even better in some cases, though I am loathe to admit it as an avid Honda lover). And with real estate prices at rock bottom (we saw a house listed for $300. Not $300k, but $300), it could be a good place to be if you have a reason (read: job) to be there.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Always Be Ready

My roommate got me hooked on Good Morning America, so now I watch it every morning as I eat breakfast as a more peppy alternative to the regular news. (As a bonus, they show local news and weather right around the time I tune in.)

This morning, there was a moment that had the potential to be awesome. Some of the cast of Project Runway, including Heidi Klum, were doing a Q&A for the audience. A 16-year-old girl, asking as an actress hopeful, stepped up to the microphone and asked Heidi Klum when she had gotten her first big break. Heidi told the story of her first modelling contest and then the hostess (Robin? I haven't been watching that long) invited the girl up, giving her the opportunity for her first big break.

The girl choked. She got on stage and messed up an opportunity to show the world what she was capable of... not by messing up a song/dance/joke, but by not offering one at all. To be fair to the girl, she wasn't expecting this opportunity. But, think of what could have happened had she been ready.

The moment reminded me of recruiting. Everyone dreams of having an audience with the HR director/high-up partner, but few are prepared when that moment comes. I wasn't always ready because I wasn't expecting that kind of moment. But seeing GMA this morning, I realized that we can't afford to let those moments go by without being prepared. Just like an aspiring Broadway star should be ready to bust out a song and dance at a moment's notice, I should always be ready to tell someone exactly why they want me on their team.

So... Although I know most of the prospective/incoming students have stopped reading my blog for the summer (at least that's what Google Analytics would suggest :) ), if you are reading, the biggest advice I have for you as you get ready to come to Darden is to get your story ready. Know why you are the best candidate for the jobs you are seeking and be prepared to tell that story given the proper audience.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Meanwhile, Back in Cville...

Although I haven't blogged much about it in my last few posts, I have still been working at my internship and hanging out in Charlottesville. A while back, I thought I hit the halfway point of my internship, but my project manager and I mutually agreed to extend my internship so I could do some more analysis for the company and get some more experience, so I've lost track of my progress at this point.

So, what's summer like in Charlottesville? Well, it's HOT. I used to use "it's 100 degrees outside!" as a hyperbole. There have been a few days here where we've approached that temperature. Of course, when I used the expression previously referring to the temperature in Celcius, it has certainly been much hotter than my poor Canadian tundra conditioning can handle. My dad was telling me about his cold camping trip this past weekend, and I was envious.

I've been playing on a softball team with a bunch of people from Darden, Darden partners and some law students, and it's been fun. Today we had our most stellar victory... didn't even have to show up since the other team forfeit and we got an email informing us we'd won this afternoon.

Yesterday was my first Fourth of July in the US. I think one word pretty much sums it up: fireworks. Americans like fireworks! We were delayed going to the fireworks Charlottesville shot off because people were lighting sparklers in the middle of the street. I managed to get in a few quintessentially American activities yesterday: played softball, watched a hot dog eating contest on ESPN, ate a hot dog at a cook out and watched fireworks. I didn't light off any fireworks myself, but the adventure of the evening was when my friend who's an ER resident at the UVA hospital had to attend to a child who got second degree burns from some amateur fireworks shooting.

The internship continues to go well. I am a huge fan of the virtual office. The company's entire file system is done through cloud computing, so I can access files anywhere I get Internet. Even more importantly, the files are synched to my computer, so I can work offline and sync once I have Internet access again. This was really handy when I took the train to NYC a few weeks ago and could work on the trip up. From the sounds of it, this set-up is way better than what some of my classmates have in terms of technology.

Even better than the virtual office, I do feel like I'm both accomplishing something and learning at the same time. It's been great to see there is life in Charlottesville outside of Darden!