Tuesday, April 25, 2006


Pacific Coast Party

Hello All-

Sorry for the delay! It's been an interesting couple of weeks here in Sunny So. Cal. After a great weekend in Boston, I've spent the last week applying for housing, financial aid, and putting together a reimbursement proposal for my company. (oh and spending a fabulous weekend in LA)

Boston: I really think I'm going to like HBS; the people that I met last weekend were absolutely amazing. Really engaging, personable folks who all have interesting stories: like the comic strip guy who works in advertising to pay the bills, or the investment banker who's also a professional pianist, or the former Michigan basketball player, who worked at Goldman Sachs before going to play basketball in Venezuela for three years. I love hearing peoples' stories about their lives and adventures. That's why I'm excited about HBS. I also had a chance to attend a class, which I hadn't done before, and that was cool. Every class at Harvard Business School is taught using the case study (aka Socratic) method, which is basically a psuedonym for big brainstorming session. The class that I went to, the Entreprenurial Manager, was cool because the guy who ran the company that was being analyzed came in to offer his thoughts on the discussions. Very cool. The only thing about the case study method is that you have to be prepared for class ahead of time. And trust me, to use lingo from Industry, I am a JIT (Just In Time) kind of person. So that will take some getting used to.

In good news, I think I found a roommate, another girl from LA who is getting married in October. Her fiance is a writer who will be staying in Cali. Actually that's one thing that was really funny about admit weekend. About 1/2 the people I met were engaged or married. Side commentary: it's kinda scary how many of my friends are starting to get engaged / married. I guess it's that time... It's different living in LA, or I guess in any major city; people tend to get married later, so my close friends haven't taken that step yet. But it's on the horizon. (roll scary music. :)) (not that I'm commitment-phobic or anything; I do totally want a family, but I'm just not there yet.)

Major topic change: tuition reimbursement: So, it's kind of interesting how different companies, even within the same industry have different approaches to education. Some companies believe in lifelong learning, and will reimburse for any program from any accredited school and endorse fellowship programs. (This is ideal). Others, like my current employer, believe that the company only benefits from paying for someone's education if the employee is applying his education real time to the job. This is a much older model, which I suppose has some benefits. However, trying to get a company to switch models is like trying to push a boulder uphill.

Unfortunately, I tend to be a fan of challenges, so have drafted a proposal to my company that I believe is fairly low liability. The proposal, which is modeled after other existing programs, would enable me to take a 2-year leave of absense from my company, but would require me to pay for all expenses up front. Then, on Day 1 that I return to the company, the company will reimburse me for 1/2 of my loan expenses, which would obligate me for 1 year. Then on Day 366, they would reimburse me for the other 1/2, which would obligate me for another year. The beauty of this plan is that neither the company nor I have any liability in the near term, and either party can walk away at any moment. It's a cool deal. But, we'll see how far it gets.

Ok. Gotta run. Have a great day!

Thursday, April 20, 2006



With this post I effectively retract my last post. Went to the Admitted Students welcome reception at HBS and had a great time. The people are REALLY cool, and come from all sorts of backgrounds. This afternoon there was a mix and mingle, a Women at HBS reception, followed by dinner at John Harvard's. The women's reception was a panel discussion at which first year women answered questions from the Admits. I also made a major decision today: I am Definitely not living in the dorms. The room is 6'x10' and smaller than my room in Newberry. I'll stick to apartment life, thanks.

Totally falling asleep. Will post about Admit Day tours tomorrow.


Hi from Cambridge

So, here I am, about to cross the Charles River to go to Admitted Students Weekend at HBS. I know I have to go, and I will go, but truth be told, the only thing I want to do is take a nap. "Why?" Because I'm ever so slightly intimidated. I realize that this logic is flawed, given that I did get in and all, but it's the same feeling as being the new kid in school, wondering what it's going to be like and whether you are going to like it. (This is the cool part of being an adult... Instead of wondering whether they are going to like you, you get to wonder whether you are going to like them... :)) Either way, it's the same slightly nervous energy.

Ok. I have to go. Must be there by 3:30 to check out my dorm. Yeah, I'm not sure I can live in a 6'x10' space either, but I have to check it out and make a decision by tomorrow.

More later.

Thursday, April 13, 2006



Just wanted to post a pic of the Michigan girls in California. We all graduated in 2000/2001, but met in LA.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


grad schoooool

oof. I sincerely applaud anyone who goes to grad school at night after working a full day. I just got home from accounting class at UCLA, which was ... rough. :) It's the first class, so fingers crossed that it gets better. Or it could be that I no longer have an attention span after a full day at work. Somehow, when I first moved to LA it was easier than this; back then I didn't mind schlepping all the way from Manhattan Beach to Westwood for German class. (maybe I am getting old?!?!):)

But despite all this, I feel like writing, so I thought I would tell you a tale about how not to apply to business school. The story begins on October 16, 2004 when I forgot to write down the address for the GMAT test center, ended up 10 minutes late to the exam, which miraculously, they still let me take. Fortunately, the lateness killed the nervousness, so I was actually thinking clearly when I took it! But a few words of wisdom: if you do plan on taking the GMAT, find the test center BEFORE the exam, and MAKE SURE YOU STUDY!!! I'm not going to kid you, the GMAT is hard, even if you are a whiz kid wunderkind, which I most assuredly am not. So practice, ESPECIALLY online with the practice tests from ETS.

The other thing that I would strongly recommend not doing is applying to only one school. Due to a combination of factors: work, college football, friends, The Bachelor, the beach, etc., I started my HBS application in July, and finished it four hours before the deadline on January 3rd, effectively spending 5 months ruminating on my essays, and 50 hours writing them. But, truth be told, I do my best work under pressure. Most people, in contrast, sit down in front of the computer for a week, and just pound out their applications. The latter approach will save you money on antacids. :) (In my defense, I also only applied to Michigan for undergrad, so this is pretty much my MO.)

Applying to business school is a grueling endeavour. Unlike law schools, which use a common application, no two B-schools ask the exact same essay questions. Even when the questions are similar, they often require different word counts, challenging because there is a big difference between crafting a 1000-word essay and a 300-word essay. In short, any B-school application to a top-tier program will require a significant time investment, so do your research in advance.

But, despite the somewhat laissez-faire approach I took to writing my apps, I have to admit that it's pretty exciting to log into the website on decision day and seeing an acceptance letter. And more importantly, I'm pysched about HBS!

Ok, I'm really sleepy, so I guess I'll close by saying that if you have any questions about the b-school application process, feel free to e-mail me at uma@umclubla.com.


Tuesday, April 11, 2006


On Alex Trebek

Today might have been the randomest day ever. It started on a slightly bizarre note on account of a missing top, was followed by a visit to Jeopardy!, and ended with a speech by Colin Powell, who is actually hilarious.

8 a.m. Pacific Standard Time: My friends will tell you that I am chronically 5 minutes late (a habit which I am trying really really hard to remedy), but this time I had a legitimate reason. See on Saturday, one of the roofs of my T-top Chevy Camaro (I know, probably not the car you expected me to drive) popped off and shattered on the side of the highway. As luck would have it, the forecast for this week in Los Angeles (the SOLAR CITY of 1976) is rain, broken up by the occasional torrential downpour. Therefore, this morning, I had to fashion a rain slicker for my Z28, and consequently arrived at the weekly business development tag up exactly 2 minutes late. (a BIG deal when you're leading the discussion)

The point of this incredibly long ramble is to nonchalantly introduce you to the Business Development, a world of strategy, intrigue, and politics. And since this is not a blog of random musings, I will spend this entry telling you about a pretty sweet (read: interesting) career alternative for engineers. (especially for those of us who are not excited by aluminium alloys or solar array configurations) In most organizations, the business development team, is responsible for capturing new business and deciding which opportunities to pursue. On the CEV program, the BD folks are also responsible for public outreach and for initiatives such as helping Congress see the value of the space program. It's a cool gig, and I've been fortunate enough to moonlight in it for the last 2.5 years.

But before I go any further telling you about how great BD is, I'm going to take a second here to proffer some advice ... My first job out of college was working on the aft fuselage of the F/A-18 Super Hornet conducting stress analysis on sub-flush countersunk Hi-Lok fasteners. Trust me, work doesn't get much more detailed (read: boring) than that, especially if you're not a tinker-er. I can't fix ANYTHING, and am not a low-level detail-oriented person. I'm all about great big ideas, such as turning around an alumni club or selling a space program.

I had great co-workers on the F/A-18, but the work bored me to tears. So within a year, I was doing everything in my power to transfer to the space program. It took quite a bit of finagling, but eventually I landed in systems engineering on the Orbital Space Plane program, which ultimately morphed into the CEV. Today, I split time between BD and systems engineering, which exposes me to both the business and technical sides of the house.

So the advice is this: be proactive. I was able to get into space because I sought the opportunity myself. I've had a chance to work in BD because I volunteered. The thing is, it's really easy in engineering, or in anything else for that matter, to stay where you are put. Most of the folks I started with still work on the F/A-18, and there's nothing wrong with that. But if you see something that interests you, go after it, because there's a good chance that you just might get it.

OK. Enough pontificating.

2 p.m. PST, I left work early today because my awesome friend Mark (a fellow Michigan alum) got me a ticket to a taping of Jeopardy! It's the last taping of the season (and, in fact, ended up being the 2006 Tournament of Champions finale :)) I've been wanting to go to Jeopardy! since 2002, and since I'm moving to Boston in August, I figured I'd better act fast. btw, in case you're wondering, in which case I applaud you for making it this far in this post, Alex Trebek is ornery, but incredibly funny in person.

8 p.m. PST, After Jeopardy!, I bummed around for a couple of hours before heading to downtown LA to hear Colin Powell speak. The best part of living in this town is that there are so many opportunities to see cool things. I subscribe to a speaker series, and have seen some great speakers from Tom Brokaw to Dennis Miller to Bill Clinton. Powell made the audience laugh with some great stories about saving an island inhabited by 20 goats.

11:22 p.m. PST. I should really go before I bore you all to tears. G'night from the West Coast!

Sunday, April 09, 2006


The real MICHIGAN difference

So, I just got home from an HBS Los Angeles admitted students get-together thing, where I met exactly (count 'em) 5 people, 3 of whom went to Michigan, and one of whom works at my company, Northrop Grumman. The reach of the Michigan family, which you will definitely discover after graduation, never ceases to amaze me! More tomorrow on an interesting week in the aerospace business. But for now, GO BLUE!

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