In the Rearview Mirror

Posted: January 7, 2013 in Uncategorized

As I write this, I feel like a ship without a rudder or a helicopter without a cyclic. I am done with the MBA program at the College of Business at SUNY Stony Brook and I am not sure what direction to go now. I don’t have to register for spring semester classes, buy or rent textbooks, plan my class schedule. It’s strange and, for a few moments, I thought my days would be empty. After all, when I moved to New York, I didn’t know a soul. My community quickly became my classmates, professors and staff in the MBA program. My full-time job was to attend classes, study hard, pass exams, and put my heart into papers, projects and presentations. What will I do now?

Then reality set in. I have a whole new exciting chapter unfolding before me!

I look at everything differently now that I am a MBA graduate. I listen to news reports on the economy and have a better grasp of the economics behind the report. I look at products and better understand the consumer behavior that drives people to make purchases. I ponder why some business people do what they do and the ethics involved in their decisions. I look at marketing, the channels used and the effectiveness of campaigns. I notice branding and the strategy behind the company’s image. I stand at deli counters, assess their production line and rework their operations in my head as I wait forever for my order (yes, I really did that).

I went back to college in part to gain credibility as a business person. I had years of experience in a cornucopia of jobs. But, I felt that I needed to learn the terminology, the theories and the reasoning behind business. Now, I have done that and feel prepared to go forward into new business opportunities. As a bonus, I have made connections with classmates, professors, and staff that I plan to keep. Yes, my LinkedIn profile is up and running. I look forward to keeping in touch with the fabulous folks I have met at Stony Brook.

So, here’s to a New Year!  My boat is steady, the rudder is in place and I am cruising toward new opportunities…

Best regards,

Julie

Grad1

Gratitude Magnified

Posted: November 5, 2012 in Uncategorized

I am going to take a moment and divert from my usual topics of classes, projects and generally life at Stony Brook University, the College of Business and the MBA program. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, I think we are all taking stock of what we are grateful for in our lives.

What am I grateful for? Funny how a disaster can shake our lives to the core and make us stop to think about our lives and what is important to us: family, friends, a place to live, electricity, heat, hot water, food, water, gasoline for our cars and the generators…Those are the things that come to mind after riding out those horrific winds, hearing trees crash around our home, and then rallying with our neighbors to make it through five days of no power.

Fortunately, everyone we know is safe. I am anxious to see my classmates tomorrow and to be assured that they are all safe. Some I have heard from but some I have not.

During the days following the storm, I found that there were simple things to appreciate.  I am so grateful for having a fireplace and a stack of dry firewood to keep our family room warm. I am grateful for our neighbor who is a talented mechanic and could fix our generator when it refused to stay running the morning after the storm. I am grateful for my husband who smartly fueled up our vehicles before the storm so we are not camping out in gas lines today. I am so very grateful for those first responders and line repairmen who have been working 24/7 to take care of those who need help and to restore our electricity. Never have I so appreciated heat and hot showers!

I know many folks took the storm predictions seriously and I suspect that those who didn’t prepare will do so next time. My husband is a pilot and takes “pre-flighting” seriously but we discovered that there were things we wished we had done before the storm. We sat down yesterday to make a list of what we need to restock and what we wished we had done before the storm. In December, I will sit down with my own kids – young adults in the earthquake-prone southern California – to share our lessons learned, and encourage them to make preparations. After all, why not? It is much better to have supplies set aside and a plan in place than the alternative: a frenzied, frustrating scramble during an emergency.

Now, as the clean-up begins, let’s keep our priorities in order, be grateful for what we have and keep on helping each other. Thanksgiving is at the end of this month. It’s my favorite holiday of the year but this year I am not waiting until November 22 to count my blessings…

With gratitude,

Julie

P.S. I am also grateful for emergency notifications by text. The University did a great job keeping us notified of emergency procedures and the status of classes. If you are a SBU student and have yet to sign up for the emergency notifications, stop and do that right now! It’s important.

 

 

Breakfast of Champions

Posted: November 5, 2012 in Uncategorized

To go or not to go…that was my question. The Stony Brook University College of Business was hosting a networking breakfast before the on campus job fair a few weeks ago. I was torn on whether or not to attend. Why on earth wouldn’t I? I am graduating this December and this is an easy convenient way to meet some potential employers face-to-face. Yet, I was hesitating for several reasons: first, I am not sure what kind of job I am seeking and what locations would work for me. And second, it sounds silly but Fridays are my day at home, when I hunker down and try to plow through my schoolwork. Did I really want to get all dressed up in professional clothes and high heels (ewwww), drive to campus and spend half the day at the job fair?

Well, while I was wavering on attending, one of my professors addressed the job fair in class. She asked us to practice our “elevator speeches” and gave us a quick tutorial on what to wear and how to conduct ourselves in a professional manner. When I mentioned my doubts about going, she asked point-blank, “why not?” She reasoned that it was, if nothing else, great practice for meeting and talking with prospective employers.

So, I polished my resume, dressed in my favorite suit and went to the networking breakfast. I am so glad that I did. The College of Business staff and the MBA Association volunteers were fabulous hosts, treating us to a lovely breakfast buffet and planning out a networking routine for us. Various companies were represented: Target, Northwestern Mutual Financial Services, Aflac, Travelers, Power Home Remodeling, M3 Technology and more. I have to admit that I went to the breakfast seriously doubting that I would want to work for any of these companies, but, after hearing their representatives talk about what each company offered, I changed my mind.  We were afforded the opportunity to speak with each company’s representatives in small group of about eight candidates. I was able to give my min-introduction about myself and my qualifications and to hear other MBA students’ introductions as well. The setting was comfortable and intimate compared to the bigger job fair later that day. Surprisingly, with the tough economy out there, each company’s representatives were eager to answer our questions and encouraged us to submit our resumes. I think that speaks volumes about the outstanding qualifications of Stony Brook University job applicants!

In retrospect, my advice is to take advantage of these opportunities as they are presented to you within the MBA program. It forces you to get that resume ready. You can  reevaluate what you are looking for in employment and more clearly see what you can offer a potential employer. And, I have to admit that  it was nice getting all dressed up – my classmates all looked professional – and we tend to act even more polished when we are in suits. So, why not attend the next “Breakfast of Champions” and show off all that great stuff we are learning at Stony Brook University? I am glad I did.

Entrepreneurs & Einstein

Posted: October 10, 2012 in Uncategorized

I know we have all had an idea for a product or a business, perhaps to solve a nagging problem, something that made us wonder if this could this be the next Pet Rock. Yes! We could be famous, make millions, retire to a gorgeous home on an island in the Pacific,…Most of us dream about that for a minute or two and then dismiss that idea, thinking that we don’t have time to do anything about it. We have work, school, families, friends, and more to do every day. There simply aren’t enough hours in a day!

This reminds me of a quote by H. Jackson Brown, Jr.: “Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo Da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.”

Ouch. The truth hurts. “Not enough time” is not a good reason not to pursue an idea or a dream.

Last week three young entrepreneurs who are launching a new business drove this point home. Fred Reimer, Jim Myers and Steve Dell’Amore gave an eager and enthusiastic presentation to our Leadership class. It was an opportunity to hear first-hand about the steps they have taken to turn an idea into a business.  They methodically laid out their plan for an exciting new platform to connect students and communities with their start-up business, Lend Experience. They answered our questions with honesty and enthusiasm. These three young men have taken some of the concepts we have learned in our MBA classes here at the College of Business and put them to good use. The biggest takeaway that I got from their presentation: you can find the time to act on an idea if you really want to. You can use your determination to fuel your passion.

A side note: Steve is a fellow student here at Stony Brook University. Yep. He’s a student AND an entrepreneur! We  were classmates during the Social Entrepreneurship class in Manhattan last January. It was nice to catch up with him after the presentation and to hear what he is doing at Lend Experience. What a perfect example of networking in action. It’s a great idea to keep in touch with classmates, professors and other professionals that you cross paths with while in the MBA program. You never know where those connections may lead…

So, I encourage you to NOT dismiss a fleeting idea. Write it down and, if you think it has merit, take action. Make the time. And don’t forget to invite me to the celebration party on your tropical island!

P.S. To follow the progress of this new start-up business, check out the website at LendExperience.com and their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/LendExperience. Someday you may be able to say that you heard of them before they became famous….

Getting Your Red On

Posted: September 30, 2012 in Uncategorized

Recently, Stony Brook University held its annual Wolfstock 2012. It’s our Homecoming celebration. My husband and I had the opportunity to attend the festivities in the big tents on the athletic field and then later, the football game.

Getting ready for the big game.

I had several “takeaways” from the experiences:

  • There’s a lot of school spirit here at Stony Brook University. From babies in strollers to kids to young adults, to older adults and even senior citizens…I saw so many people wearing our school color, red.
  • SBU throws a great party. Burgers, fried chicken, jalapeno cornbread muffins, corn on the cob, baked beans, watermelon, beer & wine, sodas…there was so much food and everyone was having a good time. The noise in the tents was a clear testament to the level of fun!
  • Homecoming is like a big family reunion. It was obvious that many alumni were in attendance and that many brought their families with them. I saw groups of old friends, smiling and laughing as they posed for Kodak moments. Talk about a networking opportunity….
  • I am old. My husband is old. It had been nearly 30 years since we attended a college Homecoming. Yet, some things don’t change that much in three decades – school spirit is still contagious! Although we were older than the majority of the students in our section of the bleachers, we had a blast watching the game and cheering on our Seawolves. The “people-watching ” was fun, too and reminded us of the good ole’ days when we were young college kids!
  • Most importantly, it is really wise to experience graduate school from not only the classroom but from across campus, too. It’s good to step away from your desk or your hideaway in the campus library and get a taste of what’s going on at the University. Participating in the Homecoming festivities was fun and invigorating.

So, whether it’s Homecoming, the MBA Association or whatever group/activity you choose, get out there and enjoy the camaraderie with your fellow Seawolves. I know that doesn’t seem possible right now – with midterms looming – life as a graduate student will be over before you realize it!

SBU Mascot Wolfie leads the band as they entertain the crowds at Wolfstock 2012.

In a Perfect World…

Posted: September 9, 2012 in Uncategorized

In a perfect world, I would be so organized that I would be the calmest, coolest MBA student in the College of Business. I’d have everything planned out and wake up each day, look at my to-do list, and execute everything on time and within budget…with no spelling or grammar errors…AND have time each evening to curl up with a good book (not a text-book), go off to bed before 10, get eight hours of blissful sleep and wake up, refreshed and ready to tackle a new day!

What’s wrong with that sentence? Mainly, it’s the part that mentions “a perfect world.” Ha! Now that I have hit 50, I have come to realize that nothing and no one is perfect. But, after three semesters of grad school you would think that I would have a system for making my life at Stony Brook University fairly smooth and seamless. Some of my friends say, “you are so organized!” Ha, I have them fooled!

Sure, I take decent notes, get my assignments done on time and do fairly well on exams. I can count on one hand the number of classes I have missed so I usually know what’s going on. I am known by my classmates as an organizer: a “sheepdog” that herds everyone along as we work on a group project. I am the one who will gather the contact information, send out the initial email and nip at everyone’s heels to make sure we are on task and on schedule. Of course, I do tend to temper that nagging with loaves of homemade banana chocolate chip bread! And I have to-do lists galore! (And yes, I confess that when I do something that is not on my list, I add that task to my list for the sheer pleasure of crossing it off!)

But this just isn’t enough to make me calm and content. I still feel scattered and fret that I am going to forget something. So, this fall I decided that I am going to be SUPER-organized. Each College of Business professor gives us a very comprehensive syllabus as a road map for the semester. I am going to gather each class syllabus and condense all those assignments, projects, and exams into one master list. I am going to abandon my old-fashioned paper planner (ouch – that hurts) and go with a technological calendar. I am going to sit down, spend one afternoon and conquer my grad school world!

Sounds good, doesn’t it? Well, I have been working on this for two days and I am overwhelmed. I had no idea that there was so much out there in cyberspace. So many calendar apps. Everything promises productivity perfection! I don’t know where to start…and then I complicate things by not being a diehard Apple user. I have a MacBook, a Mac desktop, an iPad…and a Droid for a cell phone. Getting them all to talk to each other is frustrating!

So I am asking for help. My fellow grad students and blog followers, can you offer any advice? What’s your best method for corralling all this information into one comprehensive list that flows with the semester? I’ll even share my secret banana bread recipe if you can help me get organized! And I know I am not the only one out there who would be grateful for any tips on organizing my student life…so please let us hear from you.

Thank you!

Julie

Welcome & Welcome Back!

Posted: August 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

A quick note to welcome back my Stony Brook University MBA classmates…I will miss our friends who graduated last June and in August but I am looking forward to seeing many familiar faces on Monday when classes begin. I know we will all have fun stories about our summer adventures to share. I can just hear the chatter now!

A warm welcome to our new MBA classmates – those who are venturing down the halls of Harriman Hall for the first time. No worries – it’s a solid MBA program with so much to offer! Our professors are approachable and want us to succeed. Erica, Marie and the rest of the folks in the administrative offices are willing to help you get settled in and answer your questions. Your classmates are from such a plethora of backgrounds: different work experiences, different undergraduate education programs, different generations, even different countries. This makes our classroom discussions so worthwhile.

My advice to you all: be a sponge. Soak up as much as you can each and every day to make this a fantastic journey! And don’t hesitate to ask if you need help.

I will see you on Monday. Be sure to say hello. This is going to be a great semester!

Best,

Julie