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!