Posts Tagged ‘orientation’

MBA time

laelene Posted in mba,Tags: , , ,

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)?

The “Sk8er Girl” inside

laelene Posted in stories,Tags: , , , , ,

smiling girl in hoodie sitting on skateboard going down hillI’m not your average “skater girl,” whatever you think that may be.  At the least I can guarantee that when people picture a skater, they’d never come up with me.  I don’t resemble Avril Lavigne, I don’t wear skater shoes, and I skate just fine in flip flops and a dress.  To me, skating is a really fun way of getting around and improving your balance.  I don’t do it to try fancy tricks and I can’t say that I know much about the subculture.  All I know is that there’s a certain pleasure in having a board under your feet. It looks and feels really cool too.

My favorite is when I’m breezing along, picking up some speed from a slight decline in my path, but nothing too crazy. I can go down steep hills if I foot-brake along the way, but that does a number on my thighs. When you’re cruising, it’s the best feeling in the world. There’s a gentle breeze as you roll on by enjoying the scenery along the way. I once did spent a Saturday afternoon going from Malibu to Venice and back (about 6 miles each way I think). It was amazing – beautiful weather, easy boarding, and great company. I even got to practice balancing on one foot and streamlining closer to the ground.

showing off bloody hip injury from skateboard fallWhile I did manage to get pretty good (well, better than people probably expected), I never handled hills too well. I’m not brave enough to do what it takes to carve down a hill effectively. The one time I tried going down a hill with a friend, he held my hand to steady me, but we both ended up flying from our boards and “Supermanning” down the road on our hips. That scar finally faded after a good four or five years. I may never do the more crazy stuff with my board, but I can certainly hold my own when it comes to the basics. I have a Loaded Board that I absolutely love, partly because you can bounce up and down on it and it will not break. That sort of flexibility offers better maneuverability, though it does present a challenge every time you kick off and might veer more than usual. Still, it’s totally worth it and I wish I had more of a chance to use it these days.

I made sure to take advantage of the opportunity to ride around when I was doing Orientation at UCLA. In fact, I was awarded the Avril Lavigne award:

top half of certificate for the avril lavigne skater girl award

That’s me, just the skater girl cruising around campus with my fabulous board.

standing with brand new loaded boards bamboo skateboard

Job history: college summers edition

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

If you missed the first two parts of this series, you can go read about the jobs I had in high school and the jobs I had during my college school terms.

I was one of the students who didn’t take summer school, but used that as a chance to land internships and try to figure out my career path. Even though I double majored, I carefully planned my classes from the very first quarter so I wouldn’t need summer school. I did end up taking an extra quarter, but that was because I didn’t realize that studying abroad limited how many classes I could take. Apparently they don’t take well to overly ambitious plans for education abroad programs, even if you are learning in your native language. But I digress. I certainly took advantage of those summers to try out some pretty diverse jobs!

As my first year of college was wrapping up, I had my eye on getting an internship. I tried a bunch of things, but everything was so competitive and very few companies would even look at a first year student. Ultimately, I was able to land an internship with a small film company about to film a low-budget movie. With all this entertainment industry influence around me in Los Angeles, I figured I should see if it was something I’d want to get into. I started off doing administrative work during pre-production. I looked through Craigslist to find housing for actors and I even found a dog to be in the movie. I helped book things and plan things and manage things. I also got to go out scouting a few times, driving around all parts of LA looking for that perfect spot for this and that scene.

filming messiah's castle scene of wristcutters with lots of extras

One of the scenes in the movie, in which I got pulled in to be an extra extra (har har).

Once we started filming, I took on even more, constantly managing the changing grips and electrics, getting second meals (a ton of fast food after a long day as we’re wrapping up for the day/night), wrangling extras, running lines with actors occasionally, and going around doing all that production assistants do. I enjoyed seeing all the behind-the-scenes stuff and running the operation was fitting for my skills. I learned a lot, met a lot of cool people, and even got to put my cat in the film – hence my credit as cat handler. I was probably in there somewhere as well, but only in scenes where you can’t even find me. Oh, and one time I found they’d used my car for a scene… we were very low budget. (The film’s title is Wristcutters: A Love Story, by the way – in case you want to watch it. :))

When it came time for my second summer internship, I wanted to explore a different industry. Since one of my majors was economics, I decided to see if I might want to pursue a career in finance. I landed an internship at Smith Barney with a duo who managed the financial portfolios of mostly aerospace employees. They’d carved out a niche for themselves so they could be one of the most knowledgeable in that area of expertise. Very smart! I spent my time there learning how to cold call, prepare financial portfolios, do financial research, and run a small portion of an office. They taught me how to read the financial portfolios, shared with me how they strategized, and being in that office space showed me what it was like to work in a big office high rise.

working at whole foods demoing food

The only picture I have from my food demoing days.

That same summer is when I found a job to do on the side, since my internship only required 8 hours a week. I became a Product Demonstrator, going to various grocery stores in the LA area, setting up a little table, and giving out samples of food, drinks, and whatnot. My employer was a third party company that represented many brands, so I got to demonstrate everything from ice cream to health bars to tea. I mostly went to Whole Foods to share the products, but sometimes I got sent to other grocery stores as well. For one brand, we actually did our work in Costco! I was pretty good at this job since I love interacting with people and I always carefully read and memorized all the selling points of the product. I did this job on and off for about two years because it was so flexible and I enjoyed it a lot.

ucla live events wall collage of images from event pamplets

I didn’t think to take many pictures so this is all I have – the collage on the wall from programs for the various shows.

When I returned from my year abroad, I interned with UCLA Live! (apparently renamed the Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA), which organized live performing arts events affiliated with the university. I was to help with their marketing, which I figured would be a good way to explore my other major, which was in psychology. I did a fair share of warm calls and emails to help promote the upcoming lineup of events for the season. I also had some cold calling to do to try to increase the database of potential attendees. While I didn’t help with the marketing strategy much, I did learn about it and did what I could to push it along.

Finally, when it came to my last summer – the one after my fourth year – I decided that I wanted to do something for myself. Every summer before, I’d gone out and done an internship. It was probably expected that I’d do one more since I was coming back for a final term in the fall and it wasn’t quite time to secure a job yet, but I wanted something else. I was suddenly reminded of my dream to be an Orientation Counselor. Back when I attended orientation, I had such a good time and saw the counselors having such a fantastic time that I told myself I wanted to become one someday. I then kind of forgot about it as the years went on and I learned so much. But then, somehow the idea crept back into my mind (or maybe it was in my subconscious the whole time) and it was now or never. If I was ever to be an OC, it had to be that summer, so I went for it. I was pretty nervous when I went to pick up the notification letter from the office. It was just a tiny letter so I couldn’t tell if it was good news or bad. I was pretty thrilled when I read “Congratulations!”

group of students standing on janss steps at ucla with counselors telling stories

Part of the job was giving tours of the UCLA campus, where we shared many urban legends.

All of spring quarter, the orientation staff met twice a week to train. It was basically like taking another class, since it had quite a bit of homework and a big test at the end. We learned so much about the academic requirements for incoming freshmen vs. transfers, all the cool resources available to students, tons of students groups for so many interests, and just about every aspect of life at UCLA. Don’t worry, we had fun too! I made some great friends and even met Panda there. Serendipity brought us together! (More on that another day.) Once the summer started, it was intense fun and hard work. Session after session of students came and went, we helped them choose majors and pick classes, we took them on tours of campus, and we even performed some pretty amazing skits. On our days off, counselors had various bonding activities planned including a trip to Vegas, hanging out in the middle of the night to watch the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony, and just plain enjoying each others’ company. I had a fantastic time!

That wraps up everything I did while I was an undergrad at UCLA. Stay tuned for the “real world” job experience I’ve had so far!

What did you fill your college summers with?

Trigger words

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The actual topic of this post delves into a sobering subject. If you are not comfortable with that, please do not read on.

Are there certain words in your life that evoke a strong, intense emotional response? Sometimes they crop up in the most surprising places. I happened upon one today as I was entering some giveaways. It was for gift baskets of food and/or personal care products like lotions and they asked you to share which one you liked the most. I chose the Ghirardelli Springtime Chocolate Sampler and in the comment section, as I was sharing why I liked it the best, I nearly used the word “decadence.” And that’s my trigger word.

Why? Because it reminded me of a sad, sad song from my past. I couldn’t quite remember the lyrics or who sang it, but I did remember it contained the word “decadence” and alludes to the subject of rape. So of course I did a quick search and eventually found with the song: Wash Away Those Years, by Creed. I don’t know why that single word stood out to me in this song – perhaps because it is rarely used in songs – but suddenly I found myself melancholic.

Whenever I think of rape, I think of the cathartic time I spent one summer in a darkened Broad Auditorium at UCLA, crying to a slow, sad version of Precious Things by Tori Amos. I was an Orientation Counselor and as part of the Orientation Program, we showed incoming freshman a video/audio presentation with slides of sobering facts about rapes on college campuses and of young adults in general. At one point, the lights came back on and the audience was asked to stand if they or someone they knew had been raped or sexually assaulted. Many fellow counselors and a sizable portion of students stood as we all looked around to see just how many of us had been affected.

When I attended my own orientation before starting at UCLA, I probably saw this presentation, but at that time it didn’t stick because I had no emotional connection to the subject. By the time I became a counselor I’d experienced attempted rape myself and then the presentation suddenly struck a chord with me. The first time we were shown it was during training, and I’m pretty sure I wept. It was so unexpected that I was struck to my core. I’d gone through the emotional healing process and put it behind me; it wasn’t something that I had to think about so I’d moved on. But suddenly it came rushing back to me and I found myself having to deal with all the sadness again.

And so, I spent many a time sitting with the newest batch of students and those fellow counselors, wondering if they thought I cried because I knew someone, that I was a sensitive soul, that I felt the pain of others… or if they thought that I might have experienced it too. I doubt I’ll ever really know what they thought (or even if they noticed), but that’s fine. I remember that one counselor had revealed her pain during a time when we were sharing a lot of personal stories. I had wanted to, too, but it just didn’t come out. So when it came time for that presentation, I let my emotions get out. I don’t think I could ever sit through that presentation without shedding a few tears, no matter how much time goes by.

Luckily, the hurt, the trauma, the confusion… that has faded. Every now and then I’m still deeply affected by thinking of that time, but I recover much more easily than before. Tonight (well, early morning technically) was the first time since that summer nearly 5 years ago that I got a rush of the old emotions again. It’s a reminder of a scar that may never go away. And sometimes, randomly, I’ll be reminded again because of a trigger word like “decadence” when I think of yummy chocolate.

Engagements left and right

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , ,

So many of our peers have gotten engaged recently!  There have been three couples since the summer, all of whom met working as Orientation Counselors.  That’s how Panda and I, as well as Opti and Doc met!  Funny how so many pairs have come from the Orientation Program staff.  I’m sure there will be many more to come.  There’s something about the whole Orientation thing that seems to really bring together staff.

Just wanted to share.  🙂


laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , ,

Tonight, Panda, Opti, Doc, and I went for a spin back at our old stomping grounds – the cabaret performance that Orientation Staff puts on for incoming first years.  Cabaret consists of a series of acts that include musical numbers and some skits.  O-Staff creates all of the performances, generally with a spirited Bruin theme, to get these students pumped up to join the UCLA Bruin family.  A lot of inside jokes are shared, including the famous one: “A Trojan is good only once, but a Bruin is forever.”  Of course, we can’t avoid a bit of good-humored poking at the USC Trojans, who are our arch-rivals.  The UCLA-USC rivalry is probably the greatest intra-city rivalry in the nation, so we’ve got to teach the incoming classes to be prideful!

Just being back on campus for the first time in months was nice, with everything so familiar, yet with bits of new developments showing up, like the new police station that is partly built now and the area by Pauley Pavilion that’s fenced off for the tennis tournament.  Entering the ballroom just before the performance brought back memories of when I used to groove to the music and go for a few spins around the large room on my longboard.  Then it was just spotting after spotting of people we knew, from those who have been around for 4 or 5 years to those who joined when I did last year.  I went around saying hi and hugging as many people as I could find amongst the crowd before settling down to watch the show.


The staff on stage teaching the 8-clap.

Many of the acts were still familiar and some were new, but the same Orientation flavor was in all of them.  It was my first time truly seeing it as an audience member and it went by faster than I remembered.  The four of us marveled afterward in how much shorter it seemed to feel, but in looking at the time, it didn’t seem that much shorter.  Strange, isn’t it?  I guess being backstage and part of the acts makes it seem like a lot more time passes.  At times, Panda was tempted to help out his fellow engineer and a returning counselor, Ra, who seemed to be the only one doing stage crew work most of the evening.  I remembered last year how I’d help out here and there, though sometimes I’d feel like I was more in the way when there were too many hands helping out.

It was really nice to go back and see everyone again.  I feel very out of place with the people I don’t know, but it’s almost as if not much has changed with those who I do know.  I still think of them as fondly and remember those wonderful days of living up in a beautiful residence hall with the staff that I got to spend so much time with last summer.  I loved what we did and the time I spent fulfilling a dream I’d had since I was a little high school graduate, ready to embark on my college career.  Though my memories of my own Orientation experience are limited to a general positive feeling and scattered memories of fun times, it left a lasting impression and I’m really glad I got the chance to work on O-Staff before I lost that opportunity.  Plus, I got to meet Panda there.  🙂

Los Angeles

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , , ,
Driving to UCLA with the Getty up front.

Driving to UCLA with the Getty up front.

I never thought I’d truly settle down in a city until I was older, closer to my 30s, but I may just find myself in LA indefinitely.  Though I still want to work in other cities for a few months at a time, I think that home base will still be in the sunny landscape of Southern California.  Much of this has to do with Panda’s preference, since he is a born and breed Los Angelian (or whatever they’re called).  This city is all he’s ever known and all he cares to, at least when it comes to living.  I’m fine with that as long as I still get a fair share of travel and interstate and international time.

As my departure date draws near, the anticipation for all the things I’ve missed grows – I keep imagining how it will be like to see Panda again and hang out with my old friends.  There are plans to go to Six Flags, eat all you can eat Korean BBQ, chase after the Korean taco truck, pig out on Red Mango/Pinkberry, go do yoga on Santa Monica pier, skate around, enjoy the beach, get the best boba in the world, and so much more.  The greatest thing about Los Angeles is the breadth of activities that you can do.  Granted, everything is rather spread out and parking is a hassle, but it’s not so bad.

Just another day on the job!  :)

Just another day on the job! 🙂

I also miss bumming around at my house and hanging out around campus.  Panda’s moving to his new location for the year soon, so I’m also excited to go see it (and have a place to crash :-P).  Some of my friends are still going to be on campus, so when I miss my undergrad days, I can just go visit them too.  It’ll be nice to see the places that I’ve gotten so familiar with and be able to drive around again.  It’s a terrible internal conflict between wanting to drive around on my own and enjoy the peace of that, versus not wanting to be a polluter.  I’ll just enjoy the drives I do need to make and hope that the traffic isn’t too bad.

I’m sure that when it comes time to actually leave Singapore, I’ll miss it a lot, but right now I’m still here and able to hang out.  I’m happy that I’ll be getting back early enough to catch some Orientation sessions – after all, that defined my summer last year and it was so much fun.  I can’t wait to go visit and see how things are this year.  Things have changed a lot in the past year and it’ll be nice to get back in touch with old friends.  I’ll never forget my Orientation experience, not only because I met Panda, but also because it had been my dream since starting at UCLA.  Being able to fulfill that in the last summer I would have the chance is truly a blessing.

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