Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Rant About Lines (aka Queues)

Two posts in one day - this might be a first. But, I couldn't hold back, I just had to rant.

I, like most women, love to shop. But, I hate HATE waiting in lines. Especially lines that are arranged inefficiently. As an industrial engineer in undergrad, I took a course at USC, ISE 331, that included queuing theory. It was actually one of my favorite classes and I learned about efficient ways to set up queues. It's complicated and I know that my comments below simplify it, but bear with me. ;)

Today, as my Mom and I walked up to check out at a department store, there were 3 cashiers open and no line. We opted to stand in a location that didn't commit us to any line, naturally. A line formed behind us until one woman asked what cashier we were waiting for which led to a cashier stating that there should be one line for each of the three check out stands. This caused near chaos as everyone tried to identify the fastest line and re-shuffle.

This makes me want to scream. Anyone who has taken a queuing theory class has learned that the way to minimize average wait time of all customers is to offer one line that feeds ALL cashiers. ONE LINE. This then balances out those people that take a year to find their credit cards or who bring up items without price tags and allows no one to be "punished" for getting behind the slow pokes.

I know some people could argue with me about the details of service type, number of cashiers, etc... but, honestly, this is the way it should be. Group similar customers and put them in one stupid line. Just Do It. I promise, not only will it get customers through the lines on average the fastest but it will also limit the anxiety customers feel when trying to pick that "fastest" line.

Rant. Over.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Winter Break is a Great Time to... Watch Football!

Ok, Ok, I know I probably should have said something like spend time with family or reconnect with old friends or enjoy the spirit of the season. But, bear with me. I was in Europe for all of football season so I am doing my best to watch as much football as I possibly can while back in the US and the last 2 weeks of December happen to be a great time to do that.

I must admit that not every game is exciting or one I'm even remotely interested in, but I can always find joy out of making fun of the announcers, watching terrible cheerleader squads and yelling at the overpaid NFL players who can't kick/catch/throw no matter which game. Yes, it's true. I'm a nut when it comes to football.

But, the absolute best part of my winter break and the culmination of the football season was the fact that USC landed in a Bowl Game 1 1/2 hours from where I was spending Christmas break and on a day I could actually GO to the game. So, I went. Yay!

The game was a blast. It was rainy and cold, a bit sloppy play, my cell phone died and there was a flood in our original seats. But, I enjoyed every minute of it and am so glad that I was able to make it to one football game this season and, that USC won!

And, now, some pictures:

AT&T Park - normally where the San Francisco Giants play, but for this game, it was transformed into a football stadium!
I *heart* Kettle Corn at football games. This is a photo taken after I removed my poncho and discovered I had "saved" some kettle corn from the bag I was eating earlier. Naturally, I ate those saved pieces. ;)

USC Won! That's the best part.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Tschüss Deutschland

It was just 6 1/2 months ago when I showed up here in Germany with no idea what I was getting myself into except that I was living in Europe until December. It's now less than 48 hours before Drew and I get on a plane back to the US. I am happy to return "home." Missing the US is hard to explain. I actually am an incredibly independent person and thought living in Europe would be a piece of cake. But, I was so wrong. I have become 100 times more patriotic than I was before I left. And, I place a lot more value on being on the same continent as family and friends than I ever thought I would.

But, I am still very sad to leave Germany. I am sad to close this chapter of my life. I would venture to say that these 6 months have been both the most incredible and the most challenging for my mental sanity. :) But, I loved it. So, on that note, there are actually many things that I Love About Germany. Here are some of them:

Gelato & Chocolate. Wow, I had no idea how much the German's loved their sweets, but they do. And rightly so, they are good! So good, that I will in fact declare that Germany's Gelato is BETTER THAN Italy's. Insane, I know. But I spent about 2 weeks in Italy and had some Gelato while there and all I know is that the best Gelato I had was in Germany. Also, they have Kinder candies here which are typically for kids, but there are these Happy Hippos that are awesome. Awesome. Thank you Germany for giving me a severe sweet tooth.

The Autobahn & Driving. As I posted once before I learned how to drive a manual when I got here. It is so much fun. Also, I like having no speed limit. I drove over 100 mph. It was awesome. it would have been a lot better if we had an Audi instead of a Nissan. But, oh well. Either way I loved the no speed limits and the fun associated with a manual transmission. Oh, and even w/ no speed limits, Drew and I still managed to get 3 tickets... Parking Tickets. Ha.

German's Love & Abide by their Rules, but they also Lack Some That I Appreciate. I get it, I like rules, I like organization. But, come on, when the walk signal says stop but there are no cars coming, I cross. The German's don't. It's insane. Groups of people stand at the lights while no cars pass and don't cross the street until the light says to. This stressed me out because suddenly, I feel GUILTY when I jaywalk. So, instead, I waste my precious time Just. Standing. There. I get it, but I actually don't. I believe some rules are made to be broken. With that said, though, they do lack rules in areas that I love... Drinking anywhere and anytime. No Problem. Speeding. Also, no problem. Swearing on TV and Radio. Not a big deal. So, I guess it balances out.

And, finally, my favorite thing about Germany... the Festivals (aka. Awesome. Parties.) It is said that in Germany there is a festival in some city every day. We went to beer festivals, wine festivals, city festivals and Christmas festivals. We drank and ate currywurst and danced and totally rocked the festivals. The atmosphere was so incredible at every one we went to, even when it was raining or freezing cold. I love drinking. I love eating. I love dancing. Therefore. I. Love. Festivals.

And with that, my dear Germany, I bid you Auf Wiedersehen.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Is it possible for 6 months to go by that fast?

I guess it is...

This time next week I will be back in the US and my LGO internship will be complete. Well, at least the working in an office part will be complete. The thesis writing part might take an extra day or two. Ha.

I am excited for a... hold your breath... 5 week break before there are any requirements for me to be back on the MIT campus. The first 2 1/2 weeks will be spent celebrating the holidays in California. 10 days in Northern California followed by 7 days in Southern California will offer everything a girl could want after 6 months in Germany... warmer winter weather, English, In-N-Out Burger, American football.

First, though, I must get through this last week of my LGO internship... (aka. The Time When Jo Sees How Many Places She Can See in Europe in 6 Months).

Monday, December 7, 2009

It's confirmed; German's are as crazy football fans as you think!

On Saturday night Drew and I went to see the Eintracht Frankfurt football (soccer) team play in Frankfurt against Mainz. It was absolutely insane, but... I. Loved. It.

There's no denying the fact that I am a crazy sports fan. I jump up and down in front of the TV screaming when both good and bad things happen. I even set my alarm to get up at 3 AM on a Sunday earlier this football season so that I could watch the big USC/OSU game. BUT, the German fan's are for real.

I have some photos and videos in my Picasa Albums linked on the right that barely do it justice. But, here is my attempt to list my top 5 favorite experiences while at the game:

5. Police. In riot gear. Yeah, for real. Apparently it was a big rivalry game and they were prepared for craziness to ensue pre and post game time. For good and bad, I did not witness any riot gear in use.

4. The Rowdy Section. Standing room only. Die hard fans. Flags required. (There were flags in the stands seriously 20 feet tall!) I am sure you must be able to sing/chant every cheer (see #2) to get in. And, I am also pretty sure that you need to consume a minimum of 4 beers before entering. This kinda reminds me of the student section at USC football games, except then when we were under 21 drinking it actually was not legal. ;)

3. Finish a beer bottle? Throw it down the stairs. I don't totally understand it, but they did it.

2. Cheers: we all do it and we do it for the ENTIRE game. Seriously it was non stop cheering and it was loud, and it was AWESOME. I only learned the cheer for the score, it goes something like this:
Announcer: Eintracht Frankfurt
Crowd: Zwei
Announcer: Mainz
Crowd: Null
Announcer: Danke
Crowd: Bitte

1. Fireworks... in the stands. Everyone loves a good fireworks display and my favorite holidays are those that include fireworks. So, why not bring it up close and personal... like IN THE STANDS. The Mainz fans set off some bright red lights in the middle of their rowdy section. And the security guards didn't even care!

My one regret? We didn't go to a game sooner. I could totally buy into this crazy football fan action in Germany. ;)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

How I Plan to ENJOY Documentation

So, it turns out I REALLY do not like to document things. I find it boring. I love to create something new and exciting and "solve a problem" but if I have to WRITE about it, I become unhappy pretty quickly. I have had to document a lot during the last 2 weeks at work (and for the remaining 2 weeks) and my fellow NV&D interns are getting instant messages from me nearly every hour complaining about how bored I am and posing questions such as "Why do none of my Facebook friends post updates when I am at work and looking for distractions?" On Wednesday evening, it got worse. I was in the taxi from Florence to Siena mulling over the next 2 days of training that I was doing for the inventory model I built when I suddenly realized that my thesis is a whole other type of documentation that will last til April! As a good friend of mine says, "Panic at the Disco!" Ok, I am being a bit dramatic, but this is what my life is right now.

Anyway, I kept pondering documentation for most of the taxi ride (yeah, really) and then it hit me... I love to blog. I like talking, I like typing, I like sharing my experiences, I actually really like to DOCUMENT MY LIFE. So, from that moment I decided to put aside my documentation complaints and approach documenting my inventory model and writing my thesis with the zeal I approach writing blog posts.

To my MIT thesis advisers,
I apologize if my thesis now reads something like this: After stressing over how to set up the calculations in the model so that they aren't obnoxious, I pulled out one of the books from my Supply Chain classes (a book that I am pretty sure I never read while I was actually IN class) and tried out method XYZ.... Method XYZ totally sucked, so next I decided to try method LMN and WooHoo! it worked, so that's why that method is in the inventory model.

On a side note: I really need to work on diversifying my transition words. I overuse the word "so."

Monday, November 16, 2009

And then there were 5.

5 weeks, that is.

I am back in Germany after 19 days wandering around the US. My flight arrived around 7 am this morning. It was actually pitch black outside when we landed... yes, at 7 am. I got to my apartment around 9:30 am and at that point wanted to climb into bed and sleep forever. But, I am mastering jet lag and know that a nap would be the worst thing to do. So, I actually went in to work and had a semi-productive day cleaning out e-mails and getting myself ready to power through the last 5 weeks. Now, I am trying to keep myself awake for 47 more minutes because I think going to bed before 8 pm would be a mistake. The fact that it was already almost dark by 5 pm has not helped this process, but I'm trying.

So, what's on the books for the next 5 weeks? Lots of stuff, actually...
... travel: there's still a number of places to see in Germany... Hamburg and Cinderalla's castle, and we also have a trip planned to Amsterdam
...Christmas Markets: this is a special trip Drew and I will take to Nurnberg because we have heard that the markets there are some of the best.
...finish my internship: got to work on documentation and training. And, most likely try to find some time to fly to both Italy and England again to train in person.
...get a job: I have some great opportunities already and I am super excited that I actually have a decision to make. Of course, the hard part for me is making the decision. But, I hope that when I sit down and really think about it, the answer will be easy.

With that, I've successfully wasted, errr, passed about 5 minutes. On to entertain myself in other ways.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Is it really time to find a job??

It took me awhile to get back into school mode, but I must admit, I have fully embraced being a graduate student. I like the freedom it offers. I can set my schedule, take what classes I want, and have minimal guilt if I need to take a personal day off for my sanity. But, of course, I loved working. Having an income, usually having my weekends free, having meaningful work and being a bit more stable are all good things.

So, now, in the LGO program, it's recruiting season. This past week many of the second year students returned to Boston, again, but this time to interview for jobs after we graduate. The LGO partner companies all come to MIT and interview during this week. It's actually really nice for those of us who have to travel far because it allows us to come for one week and get in a lot of interviews. The interviews were usually 30 minutes, and many of the partner companies were pretty quick about things; we often heard about second round interviews, offers and "dings" within 24 hours of our interview.

The week, however, was overwhelming; meeting lots of new people, being at the top of your game all day every day and doing personal soul searching. It's all pretty exhausting. However, I'm happy with how things have turned out for me. I have some terrific opportunities and still have some other companies that I am really excited about that I'm waiting to hear more from. I'm pretty optimistic that it'll work out for the best.

And, for now, I still have 1 more week to enjoy in the US. 2 more days in Boston because on Tuesday I give a presentation to the Novartis Vaccines CEO (I'm big time now ;)) and then I head to Northern California for more interview fun. Then, next Sunday, it's back to Germany for one more month of internship and European fun!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I need a 6th gear.

Ok, so, that’s a pretty terrible reference to driving a manual car. But, I am kinda OK with being a big dork and doing that.

Anyway, the point is that I need to somehow kick my butt into a faster gear. Sometimes I think internship allows you to run in 4th or 5th gear for most of the time, at least compared to school. In my opinion it’s not nearly as intense as classes are and allows for a lot more time flexibility than we had with classes. Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not all cupcakes and puppies (how I wish I could have both right now!), but it’s also not nearly as time or energy intensive as the normal school year.

(No more manual car driving references from here on out…)

And, internship is even different than a full time job. When I worked at NG, I was pretty easily working 50 hours a week. On a light week. And, it was sometimes stress city because I had so many people asking me for help and wanting me to get involved in new things. Since your internship project is typically something you own yourself and might not allow you to fully integrate with the organization since it's short term, the level of involvement is naturally much less.

BUT, there may come a time, as there has for me this week, when you realize that the laid back summer is over and the Fall is here – full-time job recruiting and finishing your internship project are upon you. This might mean a lot more intensity than before. Not just at the internship but also in the evenings. In July, I worked my 7.5 hours (I’m in Europe after all; I was just trying to blend in!) and accomplished what I needed to; I then went home, maybe played tennis with Drew or ran, cooked dinner, learned German on Rosetta Stone and still had 2 or 3 hours to stalk, err, catch up with people on Facebook or read my Google Reader articles. Times have changed. Now, I am not only working a lot harder, but when I go home I have to motivate myself to write cover letters, practice for interviews and really do some serious soul searching about what I want to do when I grow up.

So, with the new stresses (and possibly the fact that I turned a year older last week), I seem to be noticing more grey hairs. But, the bottom line is, I need to find that 6th gear again and push through the next 2 months (ok, I lied about no more driving references), cause come this time in December, I will hopefully have accepted the “perfect” job offer and will be enjoying the Christmas holidays and a 6 week break.

P.S. Our car actually doesn't have a 6th gear. It's sometimes a bummer.

Monday, October 12, 2009

My Newest Skill

I kinda pride myself on being a rock star driver. I'm not perfect, but I'm pretty darn good, if I do say so myself. Also, I am a Californian, so I LOVE driving. But, sadly, I was missing a key skill, because I never had the chance to drive a manual. A good friend in High School let me drive his truck in the parking lot occasionally so I could do it in an emergency, but mostly, I just knew "the rules" but not really HOW to do it.

Fortunately, in Europe, nearly every rental car is a manual. This means, I can now drive one. And. I. Love. It. It was a slow beginning at first because Drew lives further from work than I do and loves driving, so he drove about 99% of the time. Until finally, I got so frustrated one day when I drove the car cause Drew wasn't around and I totally sucked. That's when I told Drew I needed to drive more. And, since then, it's been great.

I'm kinda proud of myself because it's almost a skill I never thought I'd have. Not because I didn't want to learn, but because in the US, there's really no reason to learn unless you want to drive something specific.

So, the best part about this is that the new car opportunities are now wide open for when I graduate. I am open to car suggestions. :)

P.S. I am sure Drew will make a more detailed post about this at some point, but our Ford Fiesta had to go back to the rental place (we think for an oil change and whatever other services were needed), so now we have a new car. Introducing the Orange Nissan Micra, the color might actually be duller in the picture than it appears in real life.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Midstream, Meeting the '11s and Rum & Diet Cokes

Drew and I are currently "stuck" in Washington D.C.; our flight from D.C. to Frankfurt was delayed about 4 hours. This isn't great, but it means, I'm going to post a blog update about the past 2 weeks. Lucky you!

It was really a whirlwind 2 weeks. The original purpose of the trip was our LGO Midstream Review. However, we also had a lot of Novartis things to do, including a 3 day trip to the site in Holly Springs, NC.

First, my time in Boston back at MIT.
The main event during midstream is the presentations that we give to our classmates, advisers and company representatives on the current status of our projects. The presentations are only 8 minutes long, but are followed by poster sessions during which we stand next to our pretty posters and try to sound smart as we answer questions about the work we are doing. I was kind of skeptical, honestly, but it turned out to be really great to share lessons learned and it was neat to hear about what others were doing, and of course, to hear about their fun adventures over the summer.

One of the best aspects of midstream is catching up with the rest of the Sloanies and getting to know the other LGO class. I was able to hang out with a lot of Sloanies when I went to the U2 concert with a lot of them, and, of course, at BHP. It was so nice to see everyone - it's like coming home. Also, one of the annual traditions of LGO is a 2-class camping trip the weekend after midstream. This. Rocked. (well, besides the freezing cold weather) It was great to get to know the new class outside of the confines of the Sloan walls and they are a lot of fun. I am guessing when the 10's return in the Spring we'll have a blast hanging out with them.

Finally, Novartis. Besides all of the crazy MIT sessions we had to attend during the week, the 4 of us at Novartis Vaccines & Diagnostics (NVD) had a kinda big presentation to give to the NVD Operations Management Team. We presented from the Cambridge, MA office between 7 and 9 am so that our Europe managers could participate. It was a video conference between MA, NC, England, Germany and Italy. It was neat - yeah, I'm a dork. The second big NVD event was a trip to Holly Springs, NC. This was 2 days spent visiting the site, learning about the future plans and goals and meeting a lot of people that we'd interacted with on the phone. It was a terrific trip, and I can't emphasize enough how great NVD has been. They've really showed us all sides of the business and allowed us to integrate into the organization. It's pretty awesome.

Now, I know I didn't touch on the rum & diet cokes... but really, do I need to? The point is that in Europe coke is expensive and beer is pretty tasty. As a result, I was missing my all time favorite drink. So, I made sure to enjoy a few rum & diets while back in the US of A.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I'm gonna write me a thesis.

Yes, it's true. (or in German, since I am trying to practice, Ja, das ist wahr.)

A big part of LGO is the 6 month internship, which happens to be the basis for the 60 (or so) page thesis that we have to write to graduate.

I won't lie. LGO sounded perfect to me when I applied. I loved everything about it... but the thesis was something that I just couldn't believe I would have to do. Even when I was accepted, I wondered what I was getting myself into. I don't mind writing, or talking, but I am not really (and by not really, I mean not at all) a researcher. Fortunately, I learned that although our thesis requires research, it's not because we are writing a research paper, it is because we need to gain knowledge about subjects to help us implement or solve our internship projects. This made me feel a little bit better about it.

Now, it's not only internship time, but it's also thesis writing time. And, in an effort to brag to my classmates (and help motivate them), I would like to state publicly that I have about 6,000 words already written. Oh yes, 6,000 beautiful words in Times New Roman 12 point font discussing how I am creating the best inventory policy every seen. Now, let me step back a bit: 1) 6,000 words includes things like my bibliography, my Table of Contents, and my Title Page. But, still, it's a lot. 2) If it weren't for Drew, I doubt I'd have progressed nearly as far. I've said this before... having another LGO in the same city (if not company) as you Is. The. Best. We are constantly talking about LGO stuff and have made a goal to have our theses finished when our internship finishes. Yes, you read that right, and I think we both will do it. Or at least be 90% there with only fine tuning required. We are the bomb. :)

But, seriously... the hard part is just getting started. Once you get going, it's so "easy." The first 2 chapters can be written pretty early on and the rest just comes together as the internship progresses. The best way to make progress is to use your downtime to write instead of playing on Facebook or surfing the internet.

So, to all of you who are considering applying but feel nervous about the thesis and to all of my classmates that are reading this and need some motivation... just do it. After all, you don't want Drew and I to "beat" you...

Monday, August 24, 2009

My Favorite Part of LGO? Well, my classmates, of course!

Going on internship has its pluses and minuses, like anything. I've talked a lot about the pluses (at least mine... Travel, new country, lots of free time, etc.)... but what about the minuses? Well, the biggest one, in my opinion, is missing the rest of the class. I am lucky that Drew and I are together, having another LGO on internship has been awesome. Especially, since being in Europe makes it particularly hard to see people since a quick trip to Europe doesn't really happen. So, the result is, you miss the rest of the class.

Well, this past weekend was the first chance to see many of my classmates in the same place - one of our X-classers, Kash, got married in Chicago. So, I decided to make the trip back to the US to celebrate with him and his wife (who totally rocks) and hang out with other LGOs.

I am so glad I went. Despite it being a whirlwind trip, it was a blast. When our class is together, it seems we just pick up where we left off. It's like a terrific relationship, where you are just totally comfy with one another and can let loose and just be yourself, except there's 47 other people, not 1. ;)

Now, onto the wedding - it was INCREDIBLE. It was my first Indian wedding and I thoroughly embraced the chance to experience everything... from getting a Henna tattoo to dancing my feet off during the Raas Garba to eating as much Indian food as I possibly could. The traditions and ceremony (although I didn't understand most of it) were beautiful and, Kash and his wife, Payal, looked amazing. The entire weekend was just a great celebration and those of us from LGO who were able to make it, did our best to represent MIT. Here are a few of the PG photos from the weekend.

Becca and I with our Henna tattoos.

Dancing at the Raas Garba.

The bride and groom looking awesome!
Most of the LGOs with the bride & groom at the end of the reception.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Jo Meets Blogger, Readers Meet Jo's New Blog

So, with the program name change and other system changes, the X-class bloggers were given the opportunity to find a different blogging tool. So, now, you've got me on blogger.... It's rockin'!

And, the BEST part about this new blog is that I customized some of the HTML myself. Oh yes, it is true, this Industrial Engineer knows how to write and modify (some) HTML code.

But, wait, there's more (I bet you can't contain your excitement) - I'm seeking reader input. There are a few things in the HTML that I could not figure out:
  • I'd like to add a divider line between the two frames, or at least see how it looks
  • I want to add underline formatting to my individual blog titles
These both seem like they should be easy... so, I am sure someone can help!

In the meantime, ENJOY!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Things I've Learned While in Grad School

I like talking - a lot - which I guess is why I blog.  I think some day I'll write a book entitled: "Things I Learned While in Grad School."

Now, I know you're probably thinking - "Well, that'll be lame - who cares to hear you regurgetate information about NPV, Options, Supply & Demand curves, Leadership theories and marketing strategies?" Don't worry, no one does - so that's why it won't be about that type of stuff. Here's a taste of what it will be like:

Where you sit really does matter.

When I was at NG, I was once told to choose my seat in meetings very carefully. It could result in attention you do or don't want and certain seats can be better or worse for having power or influence during the meeting. I never forgot this and frequently used very careful strategy when choosing a seat in meetings. Watch others as they enter a room some time - it's quite interesting.

The thing about this is - it also holds true for grad school. To start, some times in the first or second class lecture you will be forever (for the semester) assigned to a single seat. It is important that the seat allows you to be engaged when you want to be or totally quiet (and hidden from cold calls) if you're paying for a late night out. The kids who really want to show how much they care actually do the reading every night will usually sit front and center. It's good that they exist, especially since I'm not usually one of them (Come on, don't judge, like you read every assignment you were given?). Then there's the kids who'll sit far on the ends or pretty much out of sight and don't plan to participate all that much (or at all). I am also not one of those - because as we previously discussed, when I have an opinion, I want to be heard. As a result, I will often sit in the last row of the center section. I like seats in the back because I'm a multi-tasker and often find that boring slow lectures are a great way to get other things done. But, I like sitting in the center so that if I want to actively participate, I can. Another important factor is who you sit next to. This can make or break ANY seat. For example, lets say you choose to sit in the far right corner just out of Professor's sight to take a less active role in this particular class - but, Mr. Statue of Liberty is right next to you and constantly has his hand up, drawing the Profs attention constantly to your area of the room. This makes day dreaming/napping or reading a case for another class even more challenging. Thus, seat selection is important. Choose wisely.


Now since this IS a school blog, I will make my obligatory caveat: What is even more important, though, is finding the classes and professors where you aren't worried about this type of stuff because you want to actually sit engaged for 80 minutes and listen to them talk. Plus, I might guess that the Professors are not at all fooled by our seat selection game, but just like to play along.


Ok, so on second thought, maybe no one wants to listen to that stuff either... but who knows... if my career doesn't work out, it might be fun to give writing a book a try. :)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

LGO Year 1: Photo Montage Style

Today, instead of talking your ear off, I will post some pictures from my first 14 months in LGO. Enjoy!

(Note: If any of you are active readers of Drew's blog, you'll notice I "stole" his awesome idea of a collage.)

Summer 2008: It all begins...

summer 2008

From top left clockwise: Summer team dinner, X-class taking a Duck boat tour, our first LGO house party, our end of the summer class party (with Don & Brad in attendance), my first trip to RI - beautiful!, some of the LGO ladies during a pub crawl.

Fall 2008: Meeting the rest of the Sloanies... kind of ;)


From top left clockwise: Karaoke - a favorite activity of many in our class, my Sloan Core team showing some C squared pride, my first Red Sox game!, our last night in Boston before Winter Break, LGOs at Fall Ball, a trip to Vermont during SIP break.

IAP 2009: Domestic Plant Trek - X-Class Style


From top left clockwise: It's snowing !!, X-class at the Harley dealership, Mark's Bachelor Party in Austin - on stage at a piano bar, Tough guys with their new Harley shirts, the west coast crew enjoying drinks and snacks while the rest of X-class was on a plane from Boston delayed hours due to bad weather, more snow in Boston - my fire escape.

Spring 2009: This school thing is a piece of cake.


From top left clockwise: LGOs in Munich during International Plant trek, Ski trip to Vermont, the streets of Warsaw, LGO ladies at Spring Gala, Tiger Team love at the end of the year party, Prague castle

And in the center - a group of us did a triathlon in May!

Summer 2009: How much of Europe can one see in 6 months?


From top left clockwise: Drew and I enjoying the Marburg festival, view of the city - Marburg, Pisa is beautiful!, for some reason Guinness tastes much better in Dublin, vineyards in Tuscany, Formula 1 race track in Budapest

Friday, July 31, 2009

Putting the "G" in LGO

If you're not hip with the name change, the "G" in LGO stands for Global. And, I am doing all that I can to live the Global of the program.

First, and the most obvious, I am living in Germany for my internship. This means (as you might have read in my previous blogs) that I am learning a new language and a different culture.

Additionally, I am traveling like a maniac; so far I've been to Stuttgart (Germany), Dublin, Liverpool, Frankfurt (which is only an hour or so from Marburg) and Budapest. Upcoming travel includes trips to Siena, Italy and the US. And, there are still some trips remaining to be planned to France, Amsterdam, Rome and Spain... plus, other cities in Germany that have been raved about... and possibly other locations if good plane fares turn up. To be able to travel and explore Europe to this extent is awesome. Being a West Coaster, travel to Europe never seemed easy, so it's great to be able to take a 2 hour plane ride to anywhere on the continent.

In addition to the obvious travel aspect, I have the unique experience of working on a project that spans across countries. A lot of LGO internships may be site focused, but mine is anything but, which makes me pretty lucky because I get to travel to places like England and Italy for work. Naturally the travel is fun, but the really cool thing is experiencing first hand the different work environments of each country. It gives you some great insights into cultural difference (good and bad) and adds a whole new level of complexity to my project.

MIT offers a lot of different classes on international business and relations.  With my schedule being so busy, I haven't taken advantage of those... BUT, this internship experience is really invaluable. I am not sure that a class or case study could teach me some of the thigns I am learning now.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Free Time...What do I do with it?

After a year of taking classes and working on two degrees, internship comes like a breath of fresh air. I think every one of us was looking forward to a break from the chaos of classes. The non-stop projects, homeworks and exams are tiring. And, even with a relatively "light" semester (which I think I had last Spring) there is still tons to do and no down time.

Now that internship is here, and I'm 6 weeks in... I am "overwhelmed" with FREE TIME. Being in a different country makes it even worse, because the things you might normally do to occupy yourself (TV, join a club, etc.) are not as easy to do when you don't speak the language. It's a tough thing because you go from being extremely busy to very NOT busy. So, the question is how do you fill the time?

Being in Europe, filling the weekends is A LOT easier than filling the weekdays. Drew and I are taking day trips and traveling often (he's even posted about our recent trip to Dublin on his blog), but what to do after work?

Drew's trying to teach me tennis, which I am loving... and he might not be.

I'm reading a lot and plan to read the Harry Potter series, just a few years after the hoopla... ;)

I should be exercising more, but it is odd that with an abundance of time, it's hard to fit in.

Learning the language, I spend a minimum of an hour with Rosetta Stone each night, but there's only so much that can be done before I'm over saturated...

Cooking dinners... something I did MAYBE a dozen times during school.

Stalking my friends on Facebook. Well, I made time for that even during my busiest days, so I've become rather efficient at it. ;)

I suppose as my project gets rolling along, I'll be able to spend the evenings working on my thesis, but still, it's quite a change of pace from school days, and although I'm not complaining, I am still trying to get adjusted.

But, for now, off to search The Internets to see if I can find any after work activities near by...

Monday, June 15, 2009

Back to work…it’s not quite like back to School

LGO internship is a pretty important and big part of the entire LGO experience. The first summer and fall are spent pondering what internships will be offered by the partner companies and if there’s one that you’ll really want… Domestic Plant Trek through Feb/Mid-March are spent preparing for the interviews (or trying to) and then hoping you’ll get one of the internships you want… then the rest of the Spring semester is spent in a whirlwind of activity to prepare for Internship. Then, suddenly, you show up at your first day of work and wonder what the heck you’ve got yourself into. Or, maybe that’s just how it happened for me…

Living in a country where I don’t speak the language… Check
Working in an industry that I have no background in… Check
Doing a project on topics that I’ve spent a lot of time studying in classes and had limited experience applying in “real life”… Check
I feel like there should be something that’s priceless here… but I think you can figure that out on your own. ;)

Anyway, I think the combination of all three of the things mentioned above have made the experience a bit overwhelming for me. I came from a job and company where I had become the person that knew it all (well, of course, not ALL, but a lot). I’d had the opportunity to have about 6 different roles and had learned a lot about both the manufacturing and business management details of building fighter airplanes. It was a pretty comfy place and even though I had some challenging assignments, I had built great relationships with my co-workers and I could always find someone to help me out. It has been a long time since I really started fresh… and, with school, you have instant friends because you’re all thrown into the same situation together. But, with work, especially some place where your culture is different, the language is different and you’re “THE INTERN” it’s an added challenge.

Things are coming along though. All of my co-workers are willing to help me, despite the fact that they are swamped with work. My officemate has even been helpful beyond work stuff and is teaching me some German, which is great!

And, I’m getting a grasp on my project and am really excited about it. I feel very lucky because both my supervisor and my project sponsor have expressed how glad they are to have me here and the importance of the project. It makes me feel good to know that I can/will have an impact on the organization and company. Warm Fuzzies! :) Plus, something that’s exciting (and also a bit dorky) is that as I am learning about my project, I am discovering that there are some things I learned about in school that are actually going to be useful in my project!! AND, there are also things that I did in my past work life that will be useful. So, as people talk about accruals and write-offs, I smile a bit inside about the A in accounting that I worked my butt off for during the fall. And, when people mention that they use SAP and Business Warehouse for data reporting, I am thankful I fumbled through it at NG so that it’ll be a bit more familiar now.

All in all, things are coming along. I’ll add a post about Life in Germany at some point in the near future… but, as a reminder, Drew and I are here together and as he usually does, he’ll be posting much more frequently than me… including lots of our traveling experiences, so check out his blog too!!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Internship (& Germany), here I come!

June 1st is a big day in the LFM. The class of 2011 will start school and many of us in the class of 2010 start our internship.

There's four of us going to Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics (and lucky for you, we're all bloggers!), and we all start with "orientation" on Monday. It's actually pretty neat - NVD has monthly operations leadership team meetings and this month it's here in Cambridge. So, they decided to have us participate as part of our first week & orientation. We actually had the opportunity to meet this group of people once before in March, so hopefully that will make it a bit less nerve racking. It's exciting, though, being interns with NVD because it's the first year this divison has participated, so we're getting a chance to help influence the future of their participation - hopefully we don't mess it up! :)

Starting work this time seems a bit different. I did lots of internships in undergrad, but I feel there's more pressure now... they pay a lot of money for us, and we have to write a thesis on the work we do. Now, I've worked hard, but, I'm not sure I've done ANYTHING that I could write about for 50+ pages... oh well, I'm sure it'll come together.

Part of the excitement of my internship is the international aspect. There are 10 of us going to Europe and a few others headed to other parts of the world. It'll be pretty interesting learning how things work there and seeing the differences of the cultures. I'm sure it'll be a challenge at times - beyond the language, but I can't wait.

7 days until the move across the ocean!! Now, back to some packing since the Uhaul is scheduled for Friday...

Saturday, May 2, 2009

How time flies!

Spring time seems to have finally hit Boston. I am probably happier than any other person in this city to see/feel the warm sun on my skin... SERIOUSLY, it feels amazing!

The last few weeks since returning from Spring Break have been busy but also a lot of fun.

My class load actually got lighter because 2 of my classes were only in the first half of the semester. USC did not have this - I really dig it!  So, with that lighter load, one might think that now I have extra time to dedicate to the other classes ...but, I've chose to focus more on enjoying time with my classmates than spending more hours in the office. ;)

Last weekend was the Sloan Spring Gala. Many people joke that it's a MBA prom. Everyone gets all dressed up, and we have a "fancy" night of dinner, drinks and dancing. This years event was in Providence, RI at the Botanical Gardens. It was a blast... also it was great to hang out some place besides our old and true Boston/Cambridge bars and in something besides my jeans and t-shirt.

Internship preparation is progressing well. I did learn that I will be based in Germany instead of in Italy. The reason for this is that my manager is in Germany. The good news is that I'll be having to travel a lot between three sites: Germany, Italy and the UK.  It turns out that I am more than OK with that. :) Drew and I should find out in the next few days exactly where we'll be living. Which is good, since we'll be moving in a month!!  I'm also learning German. It's one class a week through the Cambridge Adult School and it's awesome. I am learning a ton, but realize frequently that there is still a lot I don't know. I'm eager to get to Germany - I think I'll learn a lot more while immersed in it.

Overall, I'm really enjoying the spring. The last 2 weeks of classes will be busy with wrapping up group projects and final assignments, but it won't be as rough as the previous semester. I definitely think it's true when people say the Summer and first Fall at LFM are the worst. It has at least held true for me.

And with that, the sun has just peaked through the clouds and I'm off for a class BBQ at Travis'.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A 2 week taste of Europe

Lets see, since my last post, the most exciting thing would be spending 2 weeks traveling around Europe and getting a taste of what it will be like living there for 6 months.

A quick summary of International Plant Trek - INCREDIBLE! I did pre-trek activities with 5 other LFMs and we had a blast doing the sight-seeing thing and taste testing all of the fantastic European beers.  I'd post a lot of details, but as luck has it, Drew was traveling with me and his blog is already updated and fantastic. So, read that for details. And, here are some highlights from my perspective:

  • Beer is so much more tasty! I never used to be a huge beer drinker, but grad school changed that. And, I anticipate, living in Europe for 6 months will sway me even further towards being a true beer drinker.

  • Food is tasty! I absolutely love food - my favorite part about the trip was our groups willingness to read a menu and just walk in on a whim if it sounded good. We had some VERY good local food and funny experiences as a result.

  • Being 1/2 polish, it was absolutely incredible to see and learn about a country where my family has a lot of history. I don't strongly associate to my Polish roots for a few reasons, but there was something oddly overwhelming when I first stepped foot in the country and got to witness all of the amazing aspects of it.

  • It's eye opening to travel some place where you do not speak the language. We had very few problems since most people speak English, but you still realize how much you take for granted when you know the language.

  • As much as i hate to admit it, I am a naive American. I know very little about European history and current government. It actually makes me sad, and I've made a personal vow to learn a lot more about it in prep for my internship and just because it's good to be aware of what's going on in the world.

  • Corporate culture is SO different. Again, it was a great way to get some exposure before beginning my job in June...

  • And, finally... I LOVE TRAVELING! I can't put into words how excited I was every day we went out to explore a new city. It might sound silly, but it was like a constant high. I actually like the uncertainty and unfamiliarity and the discovery.

If you didn't get the drift, the trip was great. I think there's only thing that would have made the trip better... SUN!!! But, really, it was everything I expected. And, I think one of the best parts was the people I traveled with.

Friday, March 13, 2009

How could I have forgot how wonderful Spring Break is...

Since the new Admits have now learned who they are and might be considering what decision to make, I'll point out one of my favorite parts about returning to grad school - breaks and traveling!!

As we all know, while working, vacation is limited, no matter how great the company. And, even if you have a good amount of it, you have to bust you butt to clear your plate before you leave, it's still on the back of your mind while you're gone, and then when you return, it is inevitable that there's a big mess to clean up.

I've realized that there is no other time besides the time I have now to go away for weeks at a time with no responsibilities holding me back. So, with H1 (the first half of the semester complete) and 2 out of my 7 classes also over, I'm off to spend 2 weeks traveling in Eastern Europe, without my laptop and cell phone. The second week is the International Plant Trek (there's about 40 students from both classes going to tour plants and explore) but the first week is what I'm most excited about - there's a much smaller group of 6 of us. We'll be doing the hostel thing and being major tourists. I can't wait - I have no doubt it will be a blast!

And with that, I should try to do some packing since my flight leaves in less than 24 hours and I made the responsible decision to stay in on a Friday night just for that purpose. :)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

6 months to get in touch with my Italian side

On Wednesday night, the announcement of Internship matches came out. The timing almost couldn't have been better (or worse). Many of us were out at Beacon Hill Pub (BHP), where Sloanies spend Wednesday night enjoying a tasty adult beverage to help get through the week, when the e-mail came through. It was a flurry of iPhone & Blackberry action, as everyone worked through the list to find their name.

I am THRILLED about mine. I will be working for Novartis Vaccines & Diagnostics in... Siena, Italy. Yay! Personally and professionally I am pretty excited...

Personally, I am actually half Italian, so I can't wait to get the chance to learn more about my family.  Also, there are many other LFMs going to Europe so it will be an incredible chance for me to explore Europe.

Professionally, it's fulfilling exactly one of my major goals for LFM - the chance to do something COMPLETELY new. I don't think you can get any further apart than fighter airplanes and vaccines. ;) Plus, the way the project is described right now, it's much different than my shop floor/manufacturing IE experience.

All in all this is an exciting time.

Also, being the "fill-in" Internship Committee chair, I am SO glad that the chaos of the matching is over!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

It's Spring Semester, but not really Spring Weather

I am so thankful for MIT's policy on days off. Even though it's only been 2 weeks of classes, I am in need of an extra day off. I've already fallen behind in classes. Not necessarily because I'm overwhelming busy, but because I just can't seem to get motivated. The odd thing is that I picked my classes this semester, so I should be a bit more excited than I am... I think it's just getting back into the school mentality. After having 6 weeks without school I got spoiled. And although I went 6 years without school before last May - I was actually excited for classes when we started in June. Now, I'm thinking more clearly and know what I've got myself into. ;)

Ok, so here's what will be keeping me busy this semester:

Sloan Classes

Finance: Now, given that my title for the last year I was at NG was Financial Analyst, you'd think that I'd be more excited and interested in this class. But, I am not. I know Net Present Value, Bonds and various other stuff is important, but I actually think there's more interesting things to do with numbers ( wow, could I be a bigger dork? :) ).  Also, our professor is a disaster. Fortunately, he's a visiting professor, so hopefully, none of you will have to take it. One good thing about the terrible class is that we've formed an LFM study group to minimize our classroom torture and to help each other learn what we don't get in lecture.  It's a good chance for me to get to work with new people in LFM.

Sustainability Lab: This class is all about implementing and being aware of sustainablity initiatives in business. It's actually been one of the most interesting so far. It's primarily case discussion based. But, one of the neat things the professor has done is contacted people at the company that we've read about and getting them to call in and provide an update to us during class. It really makes it a lot more enjoyable, plus, I feel like I'm learning a lot about sustainability, which is new for me. (Yeah, I'm behind the times.)

Engineering Classes (at least those that count for me in my CEE degree)

Supply Chain Planning/Design: This is probably the most analytical engineering class I am taking this semester. It's a lot of supply chain modeling - inventory planning, etc. It should be pretty similar to a class I took in the fall, but not nearly as complex (thankfully!!). The only big downside is that it's at 8 AM (MWF) but that's because it's broadcast in Singapore.

International Supply Chain: Because I am hoping to go international for my internship, I thought this would be a great class for me to get some international business knowledge since I've never worked there. It's primarily case based and I haven't learned anything ground breaking, but the professor is a lot of fun, and I think some of the future case discussions should be interesting.

Case Studies in Logistics & Supply Chain Management: I think this is so far my favorite class. It's entirely case based (obviously) and the professor does a great job of managing the discussion and highlighting the key points at the end. I also find the readings pretty interesting. So, that helps. ;)

Product Design & Development: (The surprise of the semester!) A design class is a requirement for LFM and I was really not excited about this class. BUT, the professor who wrote the book is back this semester and the classes have been surprisingly a lot more interesting than originally anticipated. The class is focused on us learning how to do product development through lecture and a project. Our project teams were just assigned - I'm working on a team focused on developing a better solution for travelers trying to sleep on planes/upright. There's 8 people on the team, 5 of us are LFMs, 2 sloanies and 1 person from Rhode Island School of Design. Even though it seems like a lot of work, it should be real interesting.

So, that's that.

All in all, my classes are much more interesting to me this semester, now I just need to get into the groove. In the meantime, I'll keep wishing for spring days!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

It's interview time!

Starting this week, prospective students for the class of 2011 will be coming on campus to interview. And, instead of preparing for my internship interviews, I thought I'd offer some tips to those of you coming to campus. So, here's X (aka 10, but we use X for our class... class of 2010, aka X class) things I recommend you do to prepare:

  1. Relax. I know it sounds obvious, but, seriously. At this point, the committee has already decided you look like a good candidate on paper, now you need to convince them with your sparkling personality.

  2. Show Passion. As you probably know, grad school applications increased this year across the board. This means, you've got to be better than you might have had to be if you applied last year. So, when asked WHY NOW? Speak from the heart, don't be afraid to share personal as well as professional goals. Remember, just like you can tell when others are being fake, so can the interviewers.

  3. Situation. Think of some situations you've been in where you've learned a lot. These can be from work or from other environments where you've been a leader.

  4. Task. What were you tasked to do in those situations? What was your role? Was it tactical, strategic?

  5. Action. What did you end up doing? Be specific - formed a team, analyzed a process, developed a plan, implemented a solution, etc.

  6. Result. Quantify, Quantify, Quantify! Be specific, show that you've had results. Or, if it was a "learning experience" don't be afraid to talk about what you learned - and talk specifically about when you applied the new knowledge.

  7. Do program research. Be prepared to answer specific questions related to the LFM program. I was asked a few questions that I would have answered better if I'd done a better job reading the LFM website. ;)

  8. Practice. Have friends ask you questions, do a mock interview with someone you trust, anything! Just get yourself back into the interviewing mode.

  9. Socialize and explore. Meet the other people interviewing, meet the current classes, walk around campus. In general, just get a feel for the atmosphere and attitude of the people involved in the program. This while help you determine if you really see yourself here.

  10. Prepare questions to ask interviewers and current students. If you ask similar questions to different people, it's really great to hear the different answers and responses you get. It will help you learn a lot. Also, at the end of the interview, you will inevitably have your chance to ask some questions - prepare some smart ones that you really care to know about. I also think if you've done your research, it's OK to say "I've read through the website, been reading the awesome student blogs and think my questions have been answered." :)

Well, with all the said, my final caveat is that I (and all of the students) have no impact on the application process. So, take everything I've said with a grain of salt - do what is right for you.

Good Luck!!!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Although there's still one more week to talk about, on to a new topic - INTERNSHIPS!

During the past few days, when I took a break from writing about the two weeks of Plant Trek, some of my classmates posted great summaries. Check out their blogs here: Becca, Jeremy and Paul. As a result, I think I'll spare everyone another "boring" blog about plant trek and instead move on to a new topic:


One of the major parts of the LFM experience is a 6 month internship. The whole process is very different from the regular Sloan students who go on a 3 month summer internship and have the ability to recruit at any company.

Here's what happens for us: The LFM class has a selection of internships (primarily from our partner companies) that we choose to interview for, after interviewing and learning more about the position, we rank each internship and the companies rank each student. After that, a crazy algorithm performs voodoo magic and suddenly we are assigned our internships.

Ok, it's not THAT easy or simple, and actually it's a pretty complicated process. Adding to the challenges is that since many of the LFM activities are student run, it's no surprise that the Internship Committee is as well. Unfortunately (for me, but good for him), the Internship Committee Chair is going on an off-cycle internship (that means his internship goes from February to August instead of June to December) and couldn't do a lot of the final planning details cause he hass a big task moving his family. So, it turns out I am Internship Committee co-chair. Yippee! I say this with sarcasm, but it is really a great lesson in managing details and logistics for a pretty big event and it means that I am now intimately familiar with the internship process and the companies.

The interview process for internships spans over 4 days and most students will interview for nearly 15 internships during these four days. Thus, scheduling rooms, coordinating student interview schedules, managing time constraints and keeping the company representatives (and my classmates!) happy is quite a challenge. It's been a whirlwind 2 weeks since I took over, but I'm thankful for my classmates who've been flexible as we wade through the details.

Some advice for the Class of 2011:

  • Make sure you have a strong and committed team for the internship committee, come January it's a very important role - your classmates will appreciate your hard work!

  • Don't sweat the small stuff, things won't be perfect, but it will all turn out well. (I guess this is really TBD based on next week's events.)

  • Do as much of the internship planning and research process before going on Plant Trek as possible.

That's it for now, especially since no one will likely remember this by the time InternshipFest roles around next year. :)

Coming Next... no clue... it could be more Internship stuff, or maybe some talk about InterviewFest for the prospective students, or maybe some talk about Spring classes...

As always, let me know if there are any topic requests!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Domestic Plant Trek: Two Weeks, 9 Companies & 5 Cities

It's hard to believe our Domestic Plant Trek is already over. I remember when I first got into LFM and met the current students, I heard frequently that this would be the highlight of my two years here. I don't want to hype it up too much, but it was really pretty awesome!

Before I go any further, I'll just highlight things, but Drew did a GREAT job of blogging every night, so if you want more details, you should check out his blog too.

Below is a "brief" day-by-day breakdown of week 1 events, I'll post week 2 in another day or so.

Sunday 1/4:
Myself and a few of the West Coast people flew into Seattle separate from the large group. It turned out that it was probably the best decision we made, as the weather in Seattle was snowy, which caused the flight from Boston to have to make a pit stop in Montana (I think) for re-fueling and a flight that lasted 4 hours longer than it should have. Those of us already in town enjoyed happy hour dinner and drinks and a nice night of sleep before the official trek started.

Monday 1/5:
Our first plant visit was to Boeing's 737 manufacturing plant. I don't want to down play Boeing, but I must admit this was the least exciting plant visit for me since I'd worked in aerospace for 5 1/2 years and I find Fighter Airplanes a tad bit cooler.  BUT, I must admit, the highlight was the afternoon's visit to the delivery center, when we got to go into a brand new Delta 737. It smelled like a brand new car, and I did feel a bit like a kid in a candy store, wanting to open and close every door, despite flying probably hundreds of times in my life. The day was capped off by a visit to the Museum of Flight, dinner and a Q&A session with LFM grads now working at Boeing.

Tuesday 1/6:
The first half of the day was another visit to Boeing, this time to see the 747, 777 and the 787 Dreamliner assembly lines. I thought these tours were a lot more interesting because we were actually on the manufacturing floor and the planes were HUGE!!! Boeing also took us on a tour of their 787 Dreamliner Gallery where they bring customers to customize their airplane. It was another kid in a candy store experience. The highlight of which was playing with the various types of First Class seats!

After finishing our tours with Boeing we were off to take Amtrak from Seattle to Portland, Oregon. This actually proved to be very exciting and a lot of fun!  I'd never been on a train like that and I loved that it offered a lot more freedom to walk around than a plane. Our group did get "scolded" a few times for being a bit rowdy, but that's what made the 4 hour ride even more fun.

Wednesday 1/7:
This was the first day when plant trek activities did not involve getting up really early... but, because my Dad and Brother live in Portland, I still was up early to meet them for breakfast. After a tasty meal, I met up with the rest of the group at Intel in Hillsboro. This was my group's day to do the plant review, which means we observe the company, making notes about culture/environment, the plant and offering suggestions for improvement. Intel put on a great day for us. They even brought in a Fab manager and one of their Vice-Presidents. The tour was just a window tour of Fab 20 since it's a big effort to get us in bunny suits, but it did give us some appreciation for the complicated process of manufacturing chips. In the evening, Intel hosted a reception with drinks and finger foods and a great chance to mingle with their company representatives. After the company events, our time in Portland was caped off with an evening of drinking and socializing. We thoroughly enjoyed Portland's reverse Happy Hour where drinks and food go on sale from usually about 9 PM to close. The unfortunate thing about Portland is we were there on odd week nights, so bars were closing at 11 PM or midnight, causing us to frequently re-locate. But, that just meant that we saw a lot more of the city!

Thursday 1/8:
This was primarily a travel day, flying from Portland to Reno, NV. Once arriving in Reno, we had a few hours to kill before a dinner with Amazon... many slept, some went for runs, my group and I had to do our debrief from the Intel visit the day before. But after it finished, I still had some time for a quick nap. The Amazon dinner was great. They have such a relaxed culture and all of their employees really were easy to talk to. Their presentation was great because they focused less on inundating us with information and more on allowing us to ask questions. Which, with our group, might be a mistake, but it's still a lot of fun to be able to ask questions and hear various leaders answer.

Friday 1/9:
Amazon tour day - and boy was I impressed. The distribution center was amazing. I've been in a UPS plant, but this was even more mesmerizing. The amount of conveyors and automation was overwhelming and the rate at which the product moved through the facility was overwhelming. It was a great tour, and our tour guide did a fantastic job of explaining the process to us, but also offering us time to pause and just absorb everything that was happening. Amazon also did another great Q&A session after the plant tour - but this time with some of the LFM grads currently working there. Overall, this was my favorite plant tour of Week 1!

Friday 1/9 evening and Saturday 1/10:
Free time in Reno! Friday was spent out enjoying the city - we found a local brewery that turned into a bar with a live band. It was great for dancing and we shut it down around 3 AM. Saturday was spent relaxing and enjoying the NFL playoffs. About 6 of us locked ourselves in one of the hotel rooms and watched the games back to back. The only thing that pulled us outside was In-and-Out burger for dinner. :) It was nice to relax and of course catch up on sleep. Up until then I'd been averaging less than 6 hours a night.

Coming next... week 2!