Posts Tagged ‘work’

Moving On

laelene Posted in mba,Tags: , ,
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I’ve been planning to move up to NorCal to work at Cisco after graduating ever since I got the internship offer back in October. After working there this summer, I got back this week and learned that they decided not to extend me a full-time offer. So now that I’m a free agent looking for a job upon graduation, I’ve got a lot of options to consider.

Where do I want to live? What type of companies do I want to apply for? Should I keep looking for a rotational program?

It’s strange, having the ground shift underneath your feet. I feel like I’ve been sent into a freefall and a new world is opening up below me. It’s a brand new universe that I get to create as I fall into it, and right now I’m not sure what I want it to look like. So here I am, considering what I want it to be.

While I’m disappointed that I didn’t get the offer, I’ve never shied away from a world of opportunity, so I’m leaning in to the exciting possibilities that re-recruiting will offer me. We’ll see where I land!

Celebrating a most excellent day

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , ,
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What a wonderful day it turned out to be. I woke up a little anxious because I had a lot on my plate, including my first presentation to a VP at work. I took it one step at a time though, and make it through a crazy day with some great wins.

I started the morning working in a small team on survey questions for a group intern project before doing a run-through of the presentation with a colleague in Engineering HR. I then had to focus on other aspects of the group project (an interview guide) and then it was time to go volunteer at a Party on the Patio event. There happened to be an intern expo happening in the same area, so I swung by and was able to get a really nice leather notebook! That made me happy.

Then while volunteering, we biked to blend smoothies, handed out patriotic bead necklaces, and encouraged people to enter the raffles. I met some cool people and the time felt nice and long, giving me a mental break from everything else. I earned a free t-shirt and lunch for my time, which was nice.

I geared up for work again, returning to my building and meeting about some data around diversity. I met with my Eng HR buddy again to go through the presentation again and it was really coming together at that point. We took a break to listen to Bryan Cranston (some famous dude you may know) talk to Chuck Robbins (our CEO) for the closing keynote of CiscoLive! out in Vegas. Another colleague in Eng HR had put together a viewing party complete with cake, milk, popcorn, and other snacks! Nom.

I left that party early to get into gear for my meeting with the VP, which started a little late and with a slightly frazzled audience. She had just wrapped up another meeting that didn’t seem to leave her in the best of moods. Luckily, the presentation went off without a hitch and she really liked it, with just minor comments and a great dialogue around what the intention and purpose of our work was. I was happy to hear her say she ended up in a much better mood after our meeting. 🙂 My team was incredible in getting me prepared for such a successful meeting!

On a high, I went to chat with one of the advisors we have who has been through our internship and the rotation program. She and I had a great conversation before I returned to the intern area and began to prep for my evening interview. I had signed up to conduct the very first interview we’d use for the group intern project. I tested out the technology with some colleagues, worked out some kinks, and then got ready for the conversation. My interviewee was in China and such a fun, vibrant woman! I had a lot of fun talking with her and I think it was wonderful content.

I was pretty drained by the end of the day, having been at the office nearly 12 hours. I got home to rest and was about to go to bed when my host texted to chat. He and I ended up discussing the terms for the rest of my stay and I’ll be moving to a new location this weekend! I’m absolutely pooped now but I wanted to remember this day when I got in quite a few wins. The past two weeks have been intense and I’m looking forward to a slightly slower pace through next week as everyone peaces out for the holiday weekend.

And now I’d like to go pass out, thank you very much. I’ll reward myself by trying to sleep in a bit tomorrow.

Summer work life

laelene Posted in mba,Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
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I’m starting to settle in to my role at Cisco and create a few habits. I generally get to work around 8 (ugh) and wrap up around 5, with lunch at 12 with some of my fellow HRLPers (Human Resources Leadership Program interns and full-timers). After work I go to the gym to work out and then relax in the steam room and sauna before showering and heading to dinner. Some evenings I have happy hours or other events to attend.

Later in the week, the interns in other Cisco departments tend to get together for dinner. They also try to coordinate lunch together, but I work in a building about a mile from them so it’s too much of a hassle and I like having some time to my own intern cohort and potential workmates.

I usually get home (to my AirBnB) around 8:30-9:30 and sometimes I chat with one of the other tenants. There’s a South American working for a wine company, a Chicagoan who works at the ER at Kaiser, a traveling consultant, a Chinese girl and her friend, plus one mystery guy who I have yet to meet. I then spend the rest of the night in my room grooving to music and doing a variety of things online before calling it a night.

It’s a rather peaceful yet somehow still busy life. I feel a certain amount of stress making sure I do a good job this summer at work and I also want to ensure I’m taking advantage of the opportunity to explore the area with a variety of friends. This past weekend we went to the redwoods and Santa Cruz, which was an amazing time. I held my very first banana slug!! I’m sure there will be more to come. I should also try to reconnect with old friends who are working up in the SF area, but it feels oh so far…

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.

Revisiting work

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , ,
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This week and last, I went back to my old work place to say hi to come of my colleagues and grab dinner or drinks. It was so strange showing up and not being able to get in without someone letting me in, then hopping around from conversation to conversation while I was there, with no desk or seat that was mine.

It was great to see everyone I ran into and get caught up on some of the changes that had occurred. I was at once surprised at how little had changed yet how much had. It was so strange – the past six months I’ve been in an insane bubble away from much of the world and since I’d undergone intense changes, I sort of thought more would have happened at the company too. At the same time, some of the things that did transpire during that period were changes that could have meant major changes for what my role was.

How often and how frequently do you go back to visit your previous workplaces? I’ve found that I initially return every 6 months or so and it seems to taper off after 2 years, since by then many of the people I knew best move on and there becomes a weaker tie back to the company. I do have some good friendships that came of each place and I maintain loose ties with those friends as our paths find ways to crisscross in the future. In fact, one of my old colleagues who had left will now be moving to NorCal, not far from where I’ll be interning over the summer!

Funny how life works sometimes.

I hope that over the course of my career, I can maintain strong relationships with the people I worked with and maybe we can even work together again in another capacity. It’s always so nice to see them again and be able to get the group back together for some conversation. I don’t know when I can visit again, but I do hope it’s a few more times before life moves on and we disperse to more places.

The craziest week

laelene Posted in mba,Tags: , , , ,
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Every time I think things can’t get crazier, they do! I mean, this week has been insane for me, especially in contrast to my classmates.

It started off on equal footing, with tons of studying and procrastinating for our finals on Monday and Tuesday. Luckily, we got through them and I think I’m relatively unscathed (we’ll see how the grades pan out). I then practiced interviewing with multiple 2nd years, worked on a case competition, attended various info sessions and workshops, had an informational interview, did a phone screen, and prepped for a big interview tomorrow.

Just today alone I was on campus for a full 12 hours of work back to back. I didn’t even have time to eat, though strangely I wasn’t very hungry. I did manage to eat 4 cookies to tide me over until I got home around 10 tonight. My body doesn’t feel tired, but my brain is a bit numb. Meanwhile, many of my classmates have the entire day off since we don’t have class and they don’t have many (if any) meetings. What a stark difference in lifestyles right now. They’re at the beach and I’m in study rooms and classrooms.

Oh! And then today I got a delightful phone call letting me know that I was selected to be a co-director for the Marshall MBA Ambassadors program!! Yippee! So I also squeezed in a quick meeting with the co-directors who are passing on the baton, then sat with the program director in admissions who helps guide us, and finally had a touch-base call with my co-director, who is out in New Orleans for a conference. We had a kick-off dinner to plan for tomorrow, a welcome email to send to the rest of our ambassador team, and other deliverables that don’t need to be done just yet.

It has been a whirlwind of a week and it’s barely half over. Tomorrow I have more meetings, case competition stuff, my all-important interview, and the kick-off/welcome dinner. I’ll have some breathing room after 9 tomorrow night leading in to Friday morning, so I might go home. Then it’s another informational call, a meet and greet on-site with a potential employer, and a long drive out to Joshua Tree for a fun weekend camping and rock climbing.

Whew!

But then when I return Sunday I need to regroup with my case competition team to finalize what we will submit Monday morning. We also happen to start a new set of classes Monday, with our very first prospective student visitors already! #mbalife

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.

On My Mind, episode 11: summer plans

laelene Posted in general blog, on my mind,Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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I don’t do a lot of journal entry type posts here, but there are some things going on that I just wanted to share. Sometimes there is no specific topic; it’s just about life in general.

This weekend, I was very excited to get a shipment notification from Baubax, which I backed on Kickstarter back in September. I had hoped to get it in time for Thanksgiving. So much for that! They originally anticipated being able to get them completed by November, but their campaign exploded way beyond they ever expected. The product is a travel jacket, which they designed 4 of. I chose the red bomber jacket because it seemed like a nice balance between dressy and casual. I hope it fits me well!!

Panda and I have been looking for someone to rent a room in our home. His organization has interns that will be coming next month and they always need a place to stay. There are a few students we’ve considered and I look forward to finalizing details. We’re happy to earn some extra money to help fund my MBA. I’ll be leaving halfway through their stay to get ready for my program. Things are going to be crazy the next couple of months! Maybe in the future we can consider listing a room on Airbnb.

Panda got the Whole Dang Thang, which included fried fish, scallops, gator, calamari, shrimp and more.

Panda got the Whole Dang Thang, which included fried fish, scallops, gator, calamari, shrimp and more.

About a month ago, Panda and I went out to dinner with Calavera for cajun seafood. As I was cracking away at my crab legs, I didn’t realize I was weakening part of my tooth and on the drive home, I noticed that my tooth had chipped. Prior to that, I had noticed a tiny little indentation along the bottom of the tooth, so it must have fractured along that groove. I needed a teeth cleaning anyway, so I scheduled a dental appointment and was told I should get a crown. Since dental procedures are expensive in the US and I plan on going to China this summer, I decided to wait until I go there to get it done. In the mean while, I look silly sometimes with what looks like a gap in my teeth that then shows itself as a missing chunk. At least a gap would look normal!

Now that I know what program I’ll be attending in the fall, it’s all about getting to know what they have to offer. I received a call from an MBA Ambassador today, but I was working and then wasn’t able to reach her later. I’m compiling questions about the program, life in general, and other things to know before I start school. There are four more people I should reach out to (two friends and two ambassadors, one who interviewed me). I think I’ll learn a lot at Admit Weekend next week and I can’t wait to start meeting people, learning, and thinking about what I’ll do. All this looking to the future has me distracted from what I should focus on, but I’m still making good progress at work. Still, I’m itching to train someone up and start handing things off, though it looks like that won’t happen for another month.

I’ve always been interested in helping uncover resources and make them more readily available, so I created an unofficial employee handbook using Trello. Tomorrow I get to train a new girl on it for the very first time! I can’t wait to see what she thinks, get feedback, and hone it into a lasting legacy that I will leave here. I’ve got quite a few projects that I hope will continue to live on when I’ve moved on. I know that our use of Slack will certainly be one of those.

There are so many things buzzing around in my head these days. With my obsession with Trello, I’ve put together various boards to help me track everything I should be doing. Now I just need to get better at checking them… 😛

Research your dreams

laelene Posted in mba,Tags: , , , , ,
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Do you have a BHAG for your life? Do you know what it will take to get there?

When I was in middle school, around 8th grade, I developed my own BHAG. I can’t remember how it came about, but somehow I recall playing full-contact basketball during lunch break, thinking about my future. I don’t know why I make the association thinking back, but that gym is the first place I can remember deciding that I wanted to get an MBA. I guess it was because I felt that I had three good options for a career: doctor, engineer, or businesswoman. I may have imagined it, but I’m pretty sure my dad told me that at some point.

Whatever the case, I became convinced that business was the way for me. And that led me to this idea of an MBA. As a 13-year-old, that does seem like a BHAG. Ultimately, it has taken me 17 years to realize that dream (and it’ll be 19 before the diploma is in hand). I’ve wanted an MBA for more than half my life now and that goal has sort of defined how I thought of myself. Back then, I hadn’t yet considered what I needed to do to reach my goal.

I started with first things first – in high school, I began to consider what majors I might be interested in. When I was accepted to UCLA, I learned that they had no business undergraduate major, so I had to get creative. I ended up choosing Psych & Econ to get two very different sides to what would be useful business skills. While I am proud of the double major I earned, I wish I had started to understand what it takes to get into b-school at that point. Had I known about the intense competition, I probably would have chosen majors I was most interested in – Gender Studies or Environmental Science, perhaps. Granted, the Environmental Science major was introduced too far into my college career to make a pivot without derailing my graduation timing completely.

What I wish I knew was that getting at least a 3.5 GPA would be extremely helpful towards my b-school applications down the line. Instead, I continued down the path I’d chosen from the get-go and my grades slipped as the work got more challenging, yet often was not as interesting to me. While I am interested in these topics, I do not have a great passion for them the way I do others. Had I researched what top MBA programs are looking for, I would have known to focus more on a major that I could get a high GPA in, one that I had a deep drive to learn and excel in. It’s not that I didn’t know grades would be important, but I figured a 3.0+ would suffice.

I consider my next misstep the choice to work for small companies. While I have enjoyed the experiences, I didn’t feel well-positioned as an applicant because the work I did was on a smaller scale. It’s hard to be responsible for impactful programs if the company is too small to have many of those opportunities. While I certainly took on quite a bit of work and led projects wherever I could, they didn’t sound nearly as impressive. With what I know now, I would have gone for larger organizations with bigger challenges.

But then again, maybe I’m just making excuses for why I didn’t make it into Stanford. Perhaps a higher GPA and different work experience wouldn’t have helped. I do feel proud of what I’ve done and the essays I wrote to convey that, but for all I know, those were not as strong as I feel they were. Ultimately, I would have done things a bit differently if I had looked into the details of what goes into applying for and getting into a program like Stanford GSB’s.

So if you have a BHAG, I encourage you to heavily research it. Learn from others and it will help you better position yourself for achieving that dream. I was fortunate that I was able to realize my dream and I’m thrilled to be attending USC Marshall in the fall. It was difficult though, because I had weaknesses in my application I needed to try to compensate for. I couldn’t go in the past to change what had happened, so I had to find ways to strengthen my application in other areas. I very well might not have been accepted at all. And this is a lesson I’m learning – that a dream worth pursuing is worth the time and effort to prepare for. As soon as you have that goal in mind, start learning everything you can to help you get there!

My next goal is to lead an organization’s Empowerment team (which is an amalgamation of People Operations, Culture, and Internal Operations). HR is a concept that has evolved to take on a negative meaning that people don’t really connect with, so I consider what I do to be the latest evolution of that functional role. I can’t wait to learn from others doing this work and take some classes on these ideas. I’ve been preparing for this for a long time. 🙂

Office move

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , ,
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It’s been a long time since we’ve had a major change at the office and today’s the day that we kicked it off. At 6 PM, everyone had their stuff packed in boxes and the movers began to roll things over to the newly opened section of the office, which has been under renovation for weeks (nearly 3 months). We have officially taken over the entire floor and get to enjoy the new area. Our current space will be closed off for renovations before the big reveal in May, when the entire office will be at its peak. I’ll get to enjoy that for about a month before I head off for business school!

At the end of the day, we went to the new part to start putting together new furniture, arrange desks, and get everyone’s boxes to their place. We have a ton of new meeting rooms and a nice hardwood area where the cafe and event space/theater are. I’ve found my new favorite room, which is a little one that can fit two people and is tucked up right against the window. It’ll be a cozy place for me to do webinars and get away from the mess of people in the main area.

For the next month, we are all going to be crammed into a space that is about half of what we were in. This means that the sales team is no longer in their own area and quite honestly, all of us are dreading the level of noise that means across the entire open office. I’m pretty sure I will seek reprieve in one of the meeting rooms or other public spaces. Or, perhaps I’ll be able to work outside a bit since our wifi signal can sometimes be picked up downstairs in the courtyard.

Tomorrow’s going to be a strange day as we discover a new pattern. I always enjoy some change, so this should be fun. 🙂

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