Posts Tagged ‘grad school’

Gender gap and sexism at work

laelene Posted in mba,Tags: , , , , ,
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Last week, our class discussed the gender pay gap. Well, it was actually a follow-up that the professor brought up because the first time we talked about it, a classmate had been skeptical of the size of the gap and the professor felt bad that he hadn’t properly addressed that skepticism when it arose. So he did a bunch of research and presented us with a slew of numbers from various sources and studies.

This then prompted a very interesting conversation in which the guy who had pushed back initially explained his thoughts and a few of us chimed in. He said that while there is a discrepancy, it’s not the entire story – men are by far involved in the most dangerous jobs out there, risking their lives all the time and that is not accounted for. While this was very valid and gave me pause, I agreed with the professor that ultimately it was unrelated to the topic at hand. The point would be for any women who are in those professions, whether they also see a pay gap.

I completely agree that it is not fair that men are doing such difficult jobs – going to war, working in mines, and doing hard labor that puts them at risk. Another classmate threw in her two cents about how she felt women don’t choose as much risk as men do and that is a personal choice people make. (I don’t exactly agree with her on that, but it might be broadly true. I still think societal expectations do play a role.) Then as I was thinking about this, I suddenly realized that all my life I’ve been surrounded in male-dominated situations and much as I wanted to part of those worlds, I often did not feel welcome.

Prior to that part of the conversation, we also heard from some people talking about how the gap may be due to the fact that women don’t stand up for themselves as much and go ask for raises or negotiate salary. I’ve never had an issue broaching that topic and I always thought it was expected that you negotiate your salary before accepting. I hadn’t realized that so many people don’t do that!

With all that, I had quite a bit on my mind to share. When my hand raised up, the professor noted it and called on me in order. I almost never speak in class because I don’t like to say anything that isn’t truly interesting or valuable. I think what I shared certainly got everyone’s attention. What came out went something like this…

Two things. First, I think a lot of what happens is not just what women do or do not do, but how it is taken. I tend to be more on the assertive side and the last time I went to ask for a raise, I was told not to, that I shouldn’t ask (instead I should apparently wait for my manager to recognize me in due time). So I think to some extent, even women who do exactly what men do end up getting different reactions and results. Would the same comment have been given to a man asking for a raise? I don’t know.

Second, in regards to the gentleman’s comment about men in riskier roles… these are anecdotes and my personal experience, so I don’t know how well they translate broadly, but: I spent much of my life trying to break in to male-dominated arenas. I was in ROTC and I worked in the tech industry. At one point I was the only female in the office with 12 men. For the women who are trying to join these ranks, it isn’t easy. The amount of sexism I encountered – oh and in the film industry as well (I interned there once) – made me feel sometimes unsafe and at the least, unwelcome. So the question is, for women who do want to take on those riskier jobs, how do they do that with these obstacles?

Some of my thoughts hadn’t ever been properly formulated before I said them! I was the last person to contribute before the professor wrapped up the conversation and moved on to the next topic. It was strangely liberating to share those stories in such a public setting. I found my voice quivering a bit though I’m not sure why. With that, we laid the discussion to rest and continued on with other things in class.

It was strange; I had never made the connection between my own experiences in male-dominated situations and why it was such a challenge. Between this and some other things going on in my life, I have had some painful reminders of bad moments from my past. Then I received an email from the professor recently, thanking me for sharing in class and essentially apologizing for not giving me “an adequate response” and offering to chat more if I wanted. The niceness and effort hit me like a ton of bricks. I cried.

What we need are more men like these. Ones who are willing to open up the conversation, advocate for what they feel is right. After all, we all know deserving women. Too many women are treated poorly at work, whether it is inequitable pay or workplace harassment. On another note, one of the female MBAs in the program shared an article with some strong PSAs about harassment at work – they’re uncomfortable, awkward, and powerful displays of some of the very real things that happen to women constantly. I know I’ve been in similar situations.

So I’m uplifted that men are taking note and speaking up about this. But I’m also saddened that this is such a problem in the first place. I’m glad we talked about it and hopefully my stories touched some people in class, so as they rise in the ranks in their organizations, they can be cognizant of the issues that women face. More than that, I hope they take the professor’s lead and bring up these conversations so it can be dealt with.

As for that gender pay gap? Numbers vary from as good as 98 cents on the dollar to as low as in the 70s. Take what you will from that.

USC Marshall iTrek 2017: Purim & Western Wall

laelene Posted in mba,Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
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Spring break was AMAZING. Magical, even. I got a chance to go to Israel with 19 other classmates and I really can’t imagine doing anything better during that week (I can’t believe it has already been a month since, wow). Our schedule was jam packed with activities giving us a wide range of experiences all around the country and we were all raving about it when we got back.

I’m breaking down the trip into multiple posts since there is just so much to share. Let’s start off with the first two days! Friday night I boarded a plane to Istanbul and met five of the others on our trip. We had a short 1 hour layover before flying off to Tel Aviv and arriving at night in time to catch Purim (it’s like Halloween!).

The next day, we bused over to Jerusalem and toured the Western Wall tunnels and Machane Yehuda market. At night, it was Purim time again, since apparently they stagger celebrations and it was Jerusalem’s turn to party. The market by day became an outdoor club by night!

art display in tom bradley terminal of lax

This was my first time being in Tom Bradley since they renovated! This piece of art hung overhead as we lined up for security.

turkish airlines lunch on plane

On the plane, I opted for chicken as my first meal.

turkish airlines breakfast on plane

After about 12 hours on the plane, we ate breakfast prior to landing in Istanbul for a layover.

entertainment screen showing plane path from los angeles to istanbul

My remote didn’t work so I couldn’t watch any shows, but I did watch the map for a long time.

turkish airlines snack on plane

On the Istanbul to Tel Aviv leg, we all got a quick snack.

view of tel aviv coast from plane at night

First glimpse of Tel Aviv from the air!!

view of tel aviv city from plane at night

As we got closer to the airport, we saw more of Tel Aviv upon descent.

electronic display at hotel showing usc group meeting in alon hall

At the Metropolitan Hotel, the rest of our party was busy pre-partying before heading out for Purim!

food at tel aviv hotel

We got in late so there wasn’t much food left.

usc marshall purim party on the streets of tel aviv

Out we went to party on the streets (mainly Rothschild)! We even brought our sign. 😉
Photo cred: “Mr. Photogenic”

late night pizza after purim party with v for vendetta mask

I borrowed a friend’s V for Vendetta mask for a bit as we got pizza on the way back to the hotel.

tel aviv beach and ocean

The next morning, we got our first glimpse of the beach before leaving Tel Aviv for Jerusalem.

towns on the hill of israel

There were all these towns on hills that I barely captured on the right here.

entrance area to western wall in jerusalem

Our day tour for the day was the Western Wall tunnels. Check out the giant cemetery in the distance.

western wall tunnel under construction with empty bath

Underneath the tunnels were arches that are veeeery old. This used to be a bath.

western wall tunnel with restored bath

This is where they uncovered a bath and water mysteriously filled it up! Our tour guide Shani was there for the excavation. (He’s awesome btw!!)

After all that time underground, it was nice to come back out to the daylight.

western wall women's crowded side

We then took some time to visit the wall and write our wishes to stuff in the cracks.

western wall large men's side

The men’s side was disproportionately larger for some reason… ahem.

western wall bushes and birds

Up against the wall, you’ll hear plenty of chirping from the birds that are chilling on the plants and cracks.

walking back to bus

After the Western Wall, it was back on the bus to go over to Machane Yehuda for lunch and browsing.

signs in jerusalem on the way to machane yehuda market

On our way to the market! Who knew that later tonight it would be a raging Purim party?

facebook post on streets of jerusalem

They turned this post into a FB icon.

tuna tartare dish at mona restaurant jerusalem

Dinner that night was at a nice fancy place, Mona Restaurant.

tough pose with israeli security guard

Check out our awesome security guard for the day! He may have had a gun, but he was the sweetest (and who could resist that crown?). 🙂

purim party at machane yehuda jerusalem

Back to the market that night for some dancing!

israelis dancing on bus stop awning for purim

These crazies got on top of the bus stop awning and I was so scared it would break.

mary poppins costume for purim party jerusalem

I spotted Mary Poppins! Her costume was SO GOOD.

And that wrapped up the first full day of being in Israel. It was only the start to something truly special. I’ll try to get the other posts up quickly…

The nights are the hardest

laelene Posted in mba, relationships,Tags: , , , , ,
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It is a hormonal thing that at night I feel more emotional?

This has been going on for about two weeks now. Late at night, as I’m winding down for bed, I find myself feeling melancholic. It’s something that suddenly hits me and makes me cry (or just want to). It’s not that I’m going through a particularly tough time or feeling depressed these days. In fact, I’m very satisfied with where I’m at in life.

But right before I get to bed and before I can fall asleep, sadness hits. Out of nowhere, I miss Panda. It got so bad a few days ago that I basically had to coerce him into flying out to visit me this weekend (yay!). I don’t know why this happens because I’m perfectly fine and happy in the day. I really don’t think about it at all. What is it about the late night that is bringing this out? Am I suppressing something without realizing it?

We are about 8 months in to the third time that we’ve done a long distance relationship. It’s the first time since we got engaged and married. I live with two delightful ladies in my MBA class who I love to pieces. I’ve been doing pretty well in classes, though it feels like a struggle much of the time. Still, I’m very fortunate that I was able to get my recruiting done early so I haven’t had to balance interviewing with coursework. Instead, I’ve been able to focus energy into planning Admit Weekend, which is fast approaching (in early April)!

All in all, things are going well.

So I wonder, maybe it’s because I’ve been very introspective lately? Right now, we are in the midst of electing our student leadership for the next year. I have been struggling with how I want to be involved and how much energy I will be able to dedicate over the next year to new roles. Tooooons of thinking, questioning, and re-thinking there. Also, I am in the Marshall LEAD Fellows Program and we had our first session early this month. Another chance for introspection and reflection. Plus, they gave us Passion Planners and essentialism (a book), both of which I’ve started to use and have challenged me to think hard on my life goals.

I must say, I found it easier to outline what I want long-term. I’m having trouble pondering the next couple of months. Could all this intense thinking and soul-searching be triggering my midnight moods? Whatever the case, I’m glad that I get my husband back ever so briefly this weekend. Maybe that will be the cure (or maybe it’ll be finally settling the roles I may take on).

Oh yeah, and I completely forgot — Happy Valentine’s Day! <3

Offers season

laelene Posted in mba,Tags: , , , ,
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We’ve been back for a little under a month now and the school is abuzz with activity! I feel like every day there are multitudes of interviews being held in the career center and every week people are flying all across the country for interviews on site. It’s great to see the hard work of my classmates paying off – I’ve heard from people who have gotten offers from Deloitte, EY, BCG, Johnson & Johnson, Amazon, and more.

For the most part it seems that consulting, finance, and marketing internships are all interviewing and extending offers right now. Some folks have interviewed at Nestle, Amgen, and will go off to Adobe… I know there will be many more waves of offers as tech, entertainment, and others follow suit in the coming weeks and months. I’m so proud of the class I’m part of and all the amazing things they’re doing. It’s fascinating to me to see where everyone’s landing and I’m keeping track as I hear so I have a sense of our employment across the board.

I’m so glad that I did all my recruiting super early and was done interviewing in October. I can’t imagine how life has been for all my other classmates, who have had to work in high gear all this time. Meanwhile, I’ve kicked back and had time to focus on running the MBA Ambassadors program with my co-director. That’s something I really care about and enjoy doing, since it is affecting the future class(es) that we’ll enroll at Marshall.

I wonder if this flurry of activity will dwindle or if it will stay like this through February and March. Pretty soon I will no longer be the minority and those with offers will outpace those without! This creates great stories that we can tell the prospective students who reach out to us, so this is a stage of our development that I am really enjoying. Before we know it, we’ll have our own incoming class of first years to mentor and guide through the process. 🙂

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.

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!

On My Mind, episode 12: winning

laelene Posted in on my mind,Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
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It’s the first day of my last two weeks on the job and I’m not yet ready for the change, though I’m looking forward to it. I’ve been on a streak of good fortune, which has been nice.

It started when I got an email about potential roommates. I had wanted to split a 3-bedroom to save on costs, but wasn’t sure how to begin. I’d looked at some apartments and that was it. As luck would have it, one of the girls I met at admit weekend reached out to me – she and another girl had secured an apartment and needed a third roommate. The place is in DTLA just like I wanted and it looks fabulous. It’s a quick and easy drive down to campus. The rent cost is less then the $1400 max I was hoping for.

So there I was, with an opportunity in my lap. The other girl happens to live in DC, so we were able to meet up after work last Tuesday to chat and make sure we were a good fit. I’m pleased to say that everything went well and we’re going ahead with getting me added to the lease! How easy was that?

Then last week we had an internal testing event to try out the new app we’ll be rolling out. For our participation, we were entered in a drawing for one of three $150 Amazon gift cards. I was the very last name drawn, how exciting!! What a nice parting gift to get. 🙂

As if that wasn’t all good enough, I noticed a message in my Instagram account. I don’t check often, but it happened to catch my eye. I had won a contest for a free Lilee box, courtesy of Beauty Box 5 and others hosting a Sunset Shop Giveaway. Yippee! I don’t enter contests as much anymore, but I’m glad to see I can still win them from time to time. I’ve found that I usually have a 1-1.5% success rate.

And hey while I’m at it, I’d like to celebrate the fact that I opened a Capital One 360 Savings account and found out they have a pretty awesome interest rate of 0.75% APY. Certainly better than the other accounts I have open elsewhere. My mom says that Discover has a great one too, so when I see a good offer for new accounts, I’ll have to set one up.

Finally, it is the start of the end for me and in a way, that’s worth celebrating. I’ll miss my friends and aspects of working here, but I really look forward to learning new things, meeting people who are as excited about business as I am, and setting my career on the track I’ve wanted for some time now.

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