viernes, septiembre 28, 2007

Cherrypicking, a.k.a. signing up for elective courses

Hi have just finished a course (block week, again what a great idea) at London Business School on "Strategies for Growth", and must say that I'm really happy. It's a fantastic course taught by a fantastic professor. He has developed a few concepts and frameworks for companies who want to grow the business, and the course was all about that: what has worked in the past and what hasn't, the role of the managers, the environment, the team, the investments bankers....;)))

It has made me think about my elective choices, reaffirming what I suspected: there are no courses, there are professors. So if you take an interesting looking course, but the instructor is not a good communicator, you'll get bored and not get as much from it as otherwise. In this case, the instructor is really one, IMHO, of the best professors at the school. Dynamic, a good facilitator and entertaining. Besides, he has taught this course several times and to different audiences (so he knows how students and executives react to the things he presents), and he uses mostly cases written by himself (so he can provide additional material, details about the different actors in the case, or just his own impressions).

Discussing this with other people, I have come to develop some recommendations for anybody when it comes to choosing elective courses:

- decide early on the topics that interest you. The earlier you do, the more information you'll be able to gather
- don't worry (let me repeat this: DON'T WORRY) about the supposed knowledge you'll need for a job you want in a bank, consultancy, or the like. Rather choose things that interest you, and remember that for some subjects, it might be the last time you'll ever have the chance to learn about
- make sure to dig into the syllabi, websites, prof's resumé, etc....
- talk to 2nd year students and alumni about the different courses. Bearing in mind that the most important component of a course is the professor, make sure that it's the same one that taught them!!!
- alumni (graduated 1-3 years ago) have a different view, because they can tell you also whether a course you thought would be uninteresting might become very useful for othe purposes (e.g. a job lead, potential investors for a venture....)
- in almost all schools it's possible to see the course evaluations, be it online or on hardcopy. They are there for a reason (other than to measure faculty performance)
- some clubs might maintain databases of electives evaluations for their members, with more comments than the "official ones". If you have access (because you are a member of that club, for instance), they might also be a good resource

Then it all comes to planning, bearing in mind the environment and some events: when are the courses offered, do the schedules conflict, when is the recruiting high season, am I going on exchange....but if you have finished your 1st year, building an optimization model for this one should be a piece of cake!!!

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jueves, septiembre 27, 2007

an excuse to my readers

I just noticed that I had not been posting for a month. Dear reader, if you follow this blog, please accept the fact as a key indicator of how extremely lazy MBA students become during their holidays.

I even missed Microsoft's CEO, Steve Ballmer (who is coming to campus next Monday) because I didn't check my email for 4 days, so when I did all the spaces to see him had been taken. Pity, the more I read about him, the more I would like to see him talk....and maybe I'll buy some of his products, he can be very persuasive...:P

Still, I will remain an Apple loyal....only 43 days to go for the iPhone launch in the UK!!!!

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miércoles, septiembre 26, 2007

holidays are over....

....and we're back with the MBA rush!!

The summer finally had to come to an end. My internship finished, and I departed rapidly to some well-deserved holidays in the Mexican Caribbean and Spain. Cannot say they were not a lot of fun and relaxing!! In Mexico we even attended the wedding of a classmate, and in Spain we divided ourselves between the beach, Valencia and visiting relatives and friends. Batteries are recharged (although one can never have enough holidays!).

So, after just 3 weeks, we are back to the school with a block week (a term-long course condensed into a single full-time week, a very nice innovation at London Business School). With the new schoolyear, the full-time recruitment season starts again. This means that in 3 weeks I'll be interviewing again, but this time for longer term commitments.

Therefore, it is important to develop the right strategy to look for a job. I am much more sure and confident about what I want from a full-time job. After the summer, I have had experience in the sector and know that could do well. A question that remains unanswered is, where would I prefer to work? London, despite being cloudy and rainy since I came back last Sunday, remains a very strong and attractive possibility. Madrid is as well interesting. My background also drives me towards exotic destinations in the Middle and even the Far East, albeit just for a few years.

And of course, one also needs backup plans...especially since, after the financial markets turmoil in August, there is growing uncertainty in the economy, which means nobody knows how many people they are going to hire. So stay tuned for the news!

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