First Friday Off

laelene Posted in mba,Tags: , , , , ,
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What an insane weekend! It was the first time that we first year MBAs didn’t have class on Friday and boy did we take advantage of that.

Thursday afternoon it started off wonderfully lax as I sat in the courtyard chatting with classmates after class. I went home about three hours later and worked on my first cover letter for an internship application. Around 7:30, I went out to a bar that many of my classmates were at and socialized until nearly 10. At that point, I was ready to leave and eat dinner! Three of us went across the street to try to get food, but they had just closed the kitchen, so we walked over to a pizza place instead.

iphone temperature alert due to overheating

I accidentally left my phone in the sun for a bit and it overheated!

It was so nice to actually be able to go out and spend time getting to know classmates, some of whom I hardly ever see since they’re not in my cohort. The next day, I got to sleep in, which was fabulous. My roommate was going down to the pool, so I went along and brought my computer so I could edit my cover letter based on feedback from a mentor. In the afternoon, I went on campus to meet with a second year to get more tips on how to tweak my cover letter. To round things out, I asked one more mentor for insights and then I felt pretty ready.

By then, it was time to head off to Fusion BBQ, which was a mix of foods from black, Latino, and Asian cultures. We hung out at Echo Park chatting and eating for nearly 4 hours and I completely forgot to get a picture of the food spread. At 10 or so, we headed off to part two in K-Town, stopping by two places to meet up with others. I thought that I was going to head home as they left around midnight to go to the Line Hotel, but then we ran into more classmates outside and I decided to go along with them.

At the hotel, they got tables so we sat there as some people danced nearby. It was extremely hot, everyone was crowded in, and the floor was sticky. Felt like your typical nightclub. I was standing outside when they started to close the place down not long after 1:30 and they almost didn’t let us back in to get our valuables! I don’t think I’ll be going back there again, especially after the insane charge for the table.

I was giving a couple of people rides home, but at the first stop we decided to just go hang out in the apartment for a bit. The four of us went up and woke up the guy’s roommate, who hadn’t made it to the festivities. We hung out there chatting for over two hours before calling it a night. I was starting to crash and absolutely knackered from the evening I thought would end by midnight. At 5, I happily climbed into bed for a few hours’ sleep.

apex sign at leadership conferenceSaturday morning I had to get up at 10 to attend a professional event at the Sheraton (APEX Leadership Conference: Reinvent Redefine Rediscover). I walked over and made it there on time to meet a couple of cool people who help run APEX. The first session of the day was either Personal Branding or Global Networks. I went to the Personal Branding one, mostly because I was curious about hearing from a female speaker. I wish I had gone to the other one since much of what we talked about was exactly what I’ve been learning in business school, but I did meet two wonderful ladies, so I’m grateful for that.

leadership operating system slide by lisa gates of career oxygen

Learning about our Leadership Operating System.

After lunch, we broke up into other sessions and I chose the Negotiating one (there was one about Managing Up in the other room). It was a really great session run by Lisa Gates of She Negotiates and I felt like it helped me figure out my value proposition a bit better. I even got a chance to speak in front of the room and share a bit of my story! We then spoke with the person sitting next to us and as coincidence would have it, my partner turned out to be a rising YouTuber, Kevin Yee. You should check out his YouTube channel! He’s super chill and a great person, so I’m glad we sat next to each other. He even interviewed me briefly for his vlog. 🙂

I wasn’t as interested in the final sessions, plus I wanted to catch part of the tailgate, so I left around 3 to walk back to my apartment and drive down to campus. At the tailgate, I met some older alum who graduated over a decade ago. One was having a blast making crazy tower creations out of empty cups! I then hung out with a bunch of folks from the first and second year classes and as the tailgate ended, we made our way to one person’s apartment to watch the game. I was there until about 9. Since the Trojans were beating the Sun Devils by quite a bit, I didn’t stay for the end of the game. After so much being out, I was ready to go home and chill!

Key lessons from yesterday:

  • Talk to people you sit next to. You might just make some friends!
  • Skateboarding with a pencil skirt works just fine; cartwheeling with a pencil skirt does NOT work.

Now it’s time to get back down to business and write up my next cover letter, prepare notes for the marketing final, and study data for the quiz on Tuesday… #mbalife

building plastic cup tower at tailgate party

a different kind of "professional skateboarder"

I rolled in with what I call a “SoCal Professional” look.

USC Own It Conference 2016

laelene Posted in mba,Tags: , , , , , , ,
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This Saturday, I spent the day on campus at the inaugural USC Own It conference. It’s targeted more towards undergrads, but was still a good opportunity to meet women.

view of crescent moon in blue sky with trees

The moon was still out when I arrived! The trees were also shedding like crazy (perhaps there was a squirrel?).

line of ladies getting breakfast before usc own it 2016 conference

piles of tote bags for attendees of usc own it 2016 conference

Lots of goodies!

glowing lights inside usc bovard auditorium executive panelists at usc own it 2016 conference

 

The morning panels were women in high leadership positions and then media/news.

sign post guiding attendees to breakout rooms for usc own it 2016 conference

We split for breakout sessions before and after lunch. I went to both tech ones.

lunch trucks at usc own it 2016 conference

Lunch time!

microsoft tent at usc own it 2016 conference

A little bit of networking at lunch, with the lovely folks at Microsoft and Bing.

giant "we own it because" board with empowering statements posing with art wall

using a power pose in front of art wall

Power pose time. 🙂
(If you’re not familiar, look up Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk.)

women entrepreneur panel at usc own it 2016 conference

The afternoon panels were women in tech and then entrepreneurs.

Small successes

laelene Posted in mba
0

Today was pretty successful in my book! I tried some sips of 5 Hour Energy for the first time and managed to stay awake in class. I seem to nod off for a few seconds no matter what, so the energy boost helped me get past that. Then I got to do an informational interview for a student position I’m interested in. I’ve spoken to quite a few people about their experience in the role and I hope my application shines!!

At lunch, it was time to claim free hot dogs for lunch. Pink’s Hot Dogs was on campus giving out free dogs. Each person could claim two, as well as chips and drinks. On my way out, I ran into a second year who I’d been meaning to talk to (“Superman”) and had a nice interaction with him and another second year (“Caser”) who came over. My friend and I then proceeded to spend the rest of the afternoon attending meeting after meeting together.

First up was case competition training, complete with catered lunch boxes. I was able to chat up a classmate I hadn’t officially met yet. He recently got a product (coconut cookies) into Trader Joe’s, which is awesome! After sitting down, I swapped cookies with the classmate next to me because he had chocolate chip and I had poppyseed. I call those small wins.

The next meeting was training for case interviews, which I hope I don’t have to do. I got called on by Caser to talk through one of the slides during the live demo. I talked a bit more than I needed to but ultimately got a decent point across and didn’t make a (complete) fool of myself! At the start of the meeting I was able to set up time to talk to Superman about two roles I am interested in. We met up at the mixer following the event to chat about his experiences. I hope I get both roles!

After the mixer, it was off to yet another kickoff meeting. Here I was able to score some Jimmy John’s sandwiches, as well as the platters they came on, which I plan on using as serving trays when we host parties at our apartment. 🙂 To wrap up the night, our quiz #2 scores were posted for the Data class and I managed to pull off another 90! I’m pretty sure the professor accidentally copied my quiz #1 grade – I had no clue what I was doing!! 😉

So all in all, a good day. Now if only I could put my sore throat and “under the weather”ness behind me…

An ocean of work

laelene Posted in mba,Tags: , , , ,
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Yikes! I’m getting worse at staying on top of things here. With two full weeks of class behind me, I’m in the thick of things and just trying to stay afloat. It truly feels like a tsunami is behind me and I’m trying to swim to stay ahead of it. Every time I get past a wave, it’s a relief but then I look back only to find the massive waves have not receded.

Just about every single day, we either have a quiz or some sort of homework or project due. Next Friday we’ll already be done with two classes. How crazy is that?! Three intense weeks of class and they’re over. I’m still not sure how I feel about that at this point. On the one hand, we are basically going through recruiting boot camp so we are prepared as polished professionals as soon as we begin looking for internships.

(In case you’re not familiar with MBA life, you basically starting the recruiting process in the fall, where recruiters from various companies come on campus to seek interns for the summer. These internships are done in the summer between 1st and 2nd year and often can lead to full-time job offers to start after graduation. Much of the focus is on what internship experience you can get, since the whole idea of business school is to prepare us to be leaders in corporations.)

This week was pretty brutal, with long days dragging into long nights. It culminated in an all-nighter Thursday that lasted until nearly 5 am on Friday. I ended up sleeping for an hour and a half. Surprisingly, I was pretty functional for the day and didn’t even sleep early last night. This morning it was tough getting up though, so thank goodness it’s the weekend and we have a little bit of breathing room. I still feel pretty stressed since there’s a lot to do – research for two projects, studying for a quiz on Monday, reviewing for a quiz on Tuesday, conducting an informational interview and doing a write-up on it, plus a bunch of readings.

There are some boxes I really want to review but I just don’t have the bandwidth yet! Hang tight and I’ll hopefully get around to them later this month and into next.

MBA time

laelene Posted in mba,Tags: , , ,
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Orientation is in full gear and we are buuuusy! (In fact so busy that I started drafting this days ago and never finished posting it… til now!!)

They’ve kept us busy, with days starting either at 8 or 7:20 and “ending” around 6. Afterwards, we’d have group meetings and homework to complete before the next day of jam packed activity.

usc marshall mba orientation bbq

Sunday was our first time ever as a full class of 228. We had a BBQ to kick things off and meet each other and our SOs/kids.

balloon animal usc trojan horse

The kids and staff got to request balloon creations! Someone had this awesome horse.

brand new lecture room in fertitta hall at usc marshall

We took the opportunity to visit the new building, which is meant to house much of the undergrads at Marshall. This is one of their big lecture rooms.

usc marshall mba welcome sign with balloons

Monday morning, we got in before 8 to start our lives as MBAs.

usc marshall mba orientation folder with name tags, schedules, and other documents

My orientation binder contained tons of material and name tags. The big laminated one is for class, the small one was for getting to know each other this week, and the gold one is for networking and professional events.

usc marshall mba binder

I sat at a gold table, which foretold the core I was split into (we are divided into 3 for classes). Core A is gold!

usc marshall mba orientation welcome

We were greeted by many, including Assistant Dean Bouffides seen here in Town & Gown.

uscard table at usc marshall mba orientation

During lunch, we had a chance to pick up student IDs/parking permits, ask about the fitness center/health insurance/financial aid, etc.

usc marshall mba box lunches provided by usc hospitality

The lunch boxes were quite good! I devoured just about everything. I love the Marshall mints. #branded

Starting Tuesday, we were split into our cores. There are three with 76 students each – Core A, B, and C. I’m in Core A! (Best one, of course.) I like to call myself an alpha female. Each core is then split into 13 groups (11 with six people and 2 with five people). My group is A6 and we have one other female, who is international. Of the 4 men, one is international and the other 3 domestic. These folks are going to be like family in the coming months, as we will have TONS of class work, teamwork, and other interactions.

usc marshall mba students walking to classroom

The next morning, there was coffee with the deans, bright and early at 7:20. We then walked back to Popovich Hall for class and more orientation.

The next couple of days was a blur of class, assignments, reading, group stuff, and more orientation sessions. We were trained on everything from teamwork to career management to elevator pitches.

usc marshall mba core a in class

Yesterday, it was TAM day in the afternoon (Teamwork at Marshall) so we got to dress down.

In our strategy class shown here, we set the tone by whooping the other two cores in the cola taste test challenge! Our team got 6 out of 9 correct whereas the others… got 1 each. Core A has stellar taste buds!

usc marshall mba tam day

We got out on the field and competed in a variety of challenges. Here is Core B in their grey shirts, waiting for Core C to show up.

usc marshall mba tam day activity

Activities included this one where we had to get people to “islands” without touching the ground.

We started off with a hula hoop challenge (sending two down the line without letting go of each others’ hands), then did an egg drop before splitting into smaller groups. Each core was split into 4 and we rotated through challenges. Our team did the marble challenge, getting 4 in the bucket (2nd place). The first rotation took us to the water challenge, transporting as much as possible (we won). Then it was a word game and the one shown above, both of which we lost. Luckily it’s based on overall performance across all teams!

usc marshall mba tam day core a pride

To wrap up, we had the water balloon toss. We did quite well but my partner and I got eliminated about halfway through. This is my attempt at an “A” symbol.

usc marshall mba core a

Our team did really well and had the last team standing!

usc marshall mba tam day group photo

The professional photographer took a big class photo for us.

usc marshall mba coffee with deans morning breakfast

Finally, today we had another coffee with the deans to kick off the day.

usc marshall mba networking event desserts

To wrap up the week, we did a mock networking event complete with hot food, fruit, cheese & crackers, and of course, dessert.

It’s a relief to be at the end of the week, but there’s so much to do. Tomorrow I have a social event where I’ll get to meet some 2nd years and I need to prepare work for Sunday, when my group is meeting. We’ll work on group stuff, discuss some things, and go hiking together! I also need to fit in filming a box opening for Yuzen.

It still feels surreal that I’m (shh) technically a Trojan now… I think at best I can be a Brujan. I feel a connection with Marshall and “the network” and the people, but somehow not the generic Trojan image. Once a Bruin, always a Bruin I guess. Have you felt a stronger affiliation to your undergrad institution, if you continued your education too (and went somewhere else)?

Easing into student life

laelene Posted in mba,Tags: ,
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It’s the first official day of taking a course at my MBA program and I’m glad that I signed up to take the JumpStart for Accounting. It’s not as fast-paced as I was afraid it might be, so it makes me feel like I can handle the material, even though there’s already stuff that confuses me. This is a quick refresher course that is just 2 hours a day for 3 days. Official classes start next week for us, before any other students are even back on campus.

With just one class right now, I already find it hard to get the work done, but part of that is probably getting used to studying and learning so much again. Plus, I’m still doing a lot to get settled in to the apartment and I’m only about a third unpacked at this point while still trying to figure out the food situation (should I eat out and have leftovers or cook in bulk?). There’s also so much socializing to be done…

Oh, and there was a fire alarm today that was quite distracting. I wasn’t sure where to go and by the time I got downstairs, I saw people milling about but then the alarm ended as they tried to figure out who pulled the alarm. I had my “essentials” with me – purse with electronics, keys, phone, and skateboard. With the coast clear, we stood in line to get back up the elevators and I noted a ton of tiny dogs (and one cat).

The day was off to a rocky start after that and the glass thermos that I broke. I hope my dad can help me buy another one of the thermoses. Then to top it off, just as I was about to shower before heading in to class, I dropped my ring down the bathroom sink. I was able to turn off the water but didn’t have the tools to unscrew the pipe. I had to go off to class without it, which felt weird.

At school, I picked up my parking permit and went to park in the lot I’ll be using this year only to find you need your student ID to get in. So I had to go to a different structure that is also open to the public. I was going to get my ID after that, but I wanted to make sure I was early for class so I just went in.

My life feels a little off-kilter these days, with so many things going slightly wrong. I damaged the moving truck I used to bring my furniture. I couldn’t find my precious rock salt lamp that was a gift from Calavera (it took me 3 hours of searching, but I did find it). The car key batteries died so I had to use the key manually while trying to find the right size battery. I couldn’t find my extra car key, which my roommate will need sometimes since we are tandem parking. I then received the batteries today and managed to jab myself while trying to unscrew the tiny screws. One promptly fell into the fuzzy carpet and I had to run a magnet all over the floor to find it again. Plus, everything that happened today!

But you know what? None of these are life-threatening or anything that will impact my life in a major way. I’m trying to keep my head up, my hands steady, and focus on the business of being a student again. It’s not an easy transition and having to think so hard at night when I just want to veg will be a challenge, but plenty of others have been through the same. I have two awesome roommates splitting a great apartment with me and there are dozens of fantastic classmates ready to make this year incredible. I’m looking forward to our first social event as a class this Sunday!

Communal parenting

laelene Posted in general blog, relationships
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In China, personal lives are a family affair. I’ve seen this playing out day after day in my family, even in my relatively short visit. Everyone spends time worrying about others’ situations. Is that nephew struggling to find a job? Can that granddaughter get into preschool? Does that niece have a significant other yet? Is a cousin’s marriage in the rocks? Does that uncle have financial troubles?

These all seem to be each other’s business. It even extends to the in-laws’ families, so it can get quite complicated. One person may be helping pull strings to get so-and-so into a good school, at any age. In fact, the younger children have a harder time just to get into a program. At least when they’re older, their grades play a factor.

Meanwhile other family members are discussing how best to interfere in a relationship that has gone sour. One aunt might go talk to the wife and another aunt or uncle would approach the husband. Of course the parents and in-laws have been heavily involved all along, often in the middle of the conflict.
Then there are those dealing with some crazy complex financial situation regarding property ownership or some business venture. Who lays claim to what? Should they engage in a lawsuit? How much money should each family give? It’s a big muddled mess.

These aren’t exactly what’s happening in my family per se, but you get the gist. I don’t think Western cultures put as much emphasis on meddling in each other’s affairs. It’s completely normal and expected in Chinese families though. Sometimes I wonder about my own sense of obligation to participate in family affairs in the future. In a way, I’m shielded from this because I’m so far and there’s little contact between me and my relatives outside of my occasional visits to China.

Yet, I can choose to engage. As a connection to the Western world, I can help those who want to send their kids to school in the US. Some of my cousins have expressed interest in this when their toddlers get closer to that age. We’ll see what happens when the time comes. Having Eastern and Western influences growing up, but slightly more from the West gives me some freedom of choice which way I want to lean. My heart has always been on the helping side!

What was your upbringing? How much involvement would you think is normal for an extended family?

Central/Eastern European souvenirs

laelene Posted in lifestyle glimpses,Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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This most recent trip to Europe allowed me to revisit some places I hadn’t been to in 9 years and also check out new places that have been on my wishlist. It was a lot of fun and I got some gifts along the way to remember each place by!

Our first official stop was Praha (Prague). There were so many artists, musicians, and crafters to be found everywhere. In one of of the shops, I got my first souvenir – a little metal cup. One of the few that wasn’t a glossy finish, which appealed to me.

teal metal cup with owl designs

I liked the matte look and the funky owls!

Then as we were walking across Charles Bridge, perusing the various vendors, I saw a guy selling these adorable paintings! I just had to have one since he had such a fun style and had cats in each piece. This one is perfect because it has the cat couple, plus two extra cats – just like me, Panda, and our cats.

original artwork of prague with cats and hot air balloons at night

I loved that this incorporated cats and had cute little hot air balloons.

Next up was Warszawa (Warsaw), where we explored a massive park and the Neon Muzeum, all the while eating peirogis. I managed to add to my growing collection of TOUS jewelry (this is the 4th piece) and find some local folk art. I’m very happy with the usefulness of the giant coaster, which will be good for putting pots on.

tous onyx bear necklace from warsaw

When we saw a TOUS store at one of the shopping centers, we couldn’t resist. I finally got something from the onyx collection I’d been eyeing!

brightly-colored coaster with roosters and flowers

I originally saw a tote bag with a similar design, but I have so many bags that I was determined to find this look and feel on a different product.

Then we were off to Wien (Vienna) to fulfill my long-awaited dream of seeing the Spanish Riding School. We also went to tour one of Mozart’s homes and the Haus der Musik. When we came across the stalls by St. Stephen’s Cathedral, I found the opportunity to get something with the word “Vienna” on it. I liked the handmade nature of these glass cups that are perfect for holding a tea light.

glass cup for candles with colorful stained-glass scene handpainted on

We had just a few Euros left, but I really liked this one because the name was easily visible (unlike the others where Vienna was along the bottom). We had to pay in a combo of Euros and dollars!

After that, it was down to Split in Croatia. We enjoyed exploring the city of Split, where I found the amazing backpack that is perfect for my needs. We spent a whole day going up to Krka National Park for the waterfalls (freezing cold water, but totally worth it!). And of course, we just had to go out to Hvar Island to check it out. My favorite was going over to Palmizana, a smaller island off of Hvar.

drawstring backpack with elephant design from split, croatia

All pockets open and close with a magnet, which I love. There are side pockets inside as well as zippered areas inside and on the back. All sorts of storage options!

box of lavender buds and essential oil drops, plus bonus pouch of lavender buds from hvar in croatia

Apparently there are lots of lavender fields in the area, so at Hvar I got this adorable box filled with lavender buds. There’s a bottle of essential oil inside as well, to help enhance the scent with a few drops every now and then. The lady kindly gave me a pouch as a bonus.

Finally, rounding out the trip was Budapest, with fantastic views from the Buda side. I loved getting goulash nearly every meal and we got to relax at the Szechenyi thermal baths. Up at Citadella, I saw a tower of mugs (think Christmas tree shape, except everything hanging is mugs) and knew I had to get one. I wasn’t crazy about any of the color combos, so I waited to find them again elsewhere until I decided on this funky one.

giant polka-dotted mug from budapest

My ladybug mug, as it will be known. It’s really a bowl with a handle and I can just about stick my entire face in it.

So these are all the items I have to remind me of this super fun trip to Central/Eastern Europe! I tried to get things I would use and not just stuff to put on a shelf. There’s so much more that I would have liked to have gotten, but that will have to wait for next time. 🙂

Whirlwind trip

laelene Posted in lifestyle glimpses,Tags: , , ,
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The past two weeks have been a blur of travel activity. We managed a whopping 10 legs of flights going through 6 countries and boy are we pooped!! We crammed so much into each day that sometimes we couldn’t believe all that we’ve seen. I’ll recap some off it in the coming weeks.

It feels strange to be home, no longer having to pack up and get to the next destination. My legs are achy from all the walking (we topped out at over 30,000 steps one day) and I’ve had a bad ankle much of the trip. We ate so much good food that we needed all that walking to not gain weight! It’s nice to rest now and take things slower.

I look forward to sharing more about what we did, in case you’re ever interested in going to the places we did. 🙂

NASM Volunteer Appreciation Night

laelene Posted in lifestyle glimpses,Tags: , , , , , ,
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This Monday, the National Air and Space Museum held a Volunteer Appreciation Night for the folks who help out at the Udvar-Hazy Center and the NASM downtown. It was in the main hangar of the Udvar-Hazy Center, extending into the space shuttle area. Since Panda volunteers there, we decided to go and see what it was all about. Apparently they really stepped up their game this year and had a great event with delicious catering and a hired band with dancers and singers. There was even a 1950s theme with the performers.

nasm volunteer appreciation night in udvar-hazy center

When we first walked in and looked down in the hangar, we saw plenty of people mingling. There were food stations, stand-up bars, a live band, dancers, and singers.

nasm volunteer appreciation night food table with lobster ravioli

The first thing we did was help ourselves to all sorts of food! They had these lobster ravioli as well as chicken and beef dishes.

nasm volunteer appreciation night food table with mini sliders

Another table had an adorable spread of ingredients to make your own sliders. The patties were beef, mushroom, or salmon.

nasm volunteer appreciation night food table with poblano corn souffle

My favorite dish of the night, which is made of sweet corn and somewhat like a dessert.

nasm volunteer appreciation night drinks table with mugs stacked neatly in pyramid shape

They lined up the mugs so very neatly for us. Everything about the catering was wonderful. We were told that it didn’t use to be so fancy.

nasm volunteer appreciation night dessert table with plate of s'mores on a stick

How could you make s’mores an elegant snack? I’d say this is the way. These were delicious!! I need to try making my own.

nasm volunteer appreciation night bar with artfully stacked martini glasses

Small touches like this cool mini art sculpture made of martini glasses really elevated the feel of the event. The bartenders were very professional too.

We were very pleased with the event and went home happily full. I look forward to attending more of these and hopefully getting a chance to check out mine for the Natural History Museum another year.

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