Stretching Doesn’t Increase Flexibility?!

I’m not sure how I’ve made it to this point in my life without understanding the connection between muscles and flexibility. As you’ll recall from my very first post, I am not a flexible lady, and I’d heard my whole life that stretching improves flexibility and yoga helps to “lengthen” muscles.

WeirdTalesv36n1pg068_Shocked_WomanI’ve been practicing yoga regularly for nearly three months now, and I still have tons of tightness in my muscles, and when I am not warmed up, I have no increased flexibility. Because of this, I decided to do a little Internet research.

What my searching has turned up is that stretching more often and with more intensity does not increase our bendiness. This is because our nervous system control ours muscles, meaning our brain sends signals to our muscles to determine how far we can stretch. As far as lengthening our muscles through yoga, that’s also not possible, because muscles are a fixed length and are attached to our bones at set spots. When we are “cooled down” or not working, they will always return to this length.

So why is it when I’m warmed up I do seem slightly more flexible? Apparently by training, I can teach my brain to accept farther stretches before it sends a pain signal.

If you are curious you can read more here and here.

Does anyone have any further knowledge on this? Or any proof of increased flexibility through yoga or stretching?

Interview Guide Part I: The Resume and Cover Letter

For the rest of the series:
Series Introduction
Part II: Before the Interview
Part III: During the Interview
Part IV: After the Interview
Note that this interview guide is not comprehensive, it’s just some tips and tricks to help you land that job! 

As I mentioned in my last post, being offered a job or internship has less to do with your transcripts, and more to do with your “fit” with the company and your people skills.

14089974005_67509700a1_bThe students at my b-school like to tell the old wives’ tale about the smartest MBA student who ever existed, who had a 4.0, a perfect GMAT score, and who was a member of every club under the MBA sun. This smartest student failed to land a job post graduation simply because he was a jerk with zero people skills. (OK, this isn’t really a wives’ tale, this was a 2014 grad that no one liked very much).

But this is good news for everyone. Those of you with mediocre test scores can still earn the job of your dreams, and those of you with high test scores can simply not be a jerk, and also earn the job of your dreams!

After locating this job of your dreams, the first step is (obviously) the resume and cover letter. Some day in the future I hope to write detailed blogs on each of these items separately, but for the sake of job-hunting, there are really two key points.

  1. Align your cover letter and resume with each other and with the company
  2. Don’t be boring

Read on for detailed descriptions of each point.

Step I: Align your cover letter and resume with each other and with the company

Do not, I repeat, do not use the same cover letter and resume for every company you apply to, unless you don’t really want to work for them. Hirers can spot a generic cover letter from a mile away, and they place it right in the “not a good fit” pile. If you really want this job, you will have to write a brand new cover letter, and it will be worth it.

The first step is researching the company thoroughly. For me this means reading its last annual report, scouring its website, and searching for recent news items regarding the company.

As I mentioned in the last post, I applied to two marketing summer internships. Each of these companies has a unique identity. What we will refer to as Company A (the CPG company that I selected) has a friendly and outgoing culture. Company B (the other offer I received) has a very humanistic culture – it is focused largely on improving the lives of people all around the world.

My Company A resume and cover letter were tailored as follows: My resume highlighted all of my career experience in marketing (I shrunk the sections of my resume that were about being a school teacher, and increased the sections about my business accomplishments). In my cover letter I opted to tell a humorous story about an experience I had with the brand as a child, then I went into my qualities/skills using real-life examples from my business experiences.

My Company B resume and cover letter were a bit different: My resume focused on my accomplishments as an educator (I fleshed out how much impact I had on students and the school). My cover letter told a story about the impact humanistic programming can have on students at all levels of education (even though this company was not education related – I tied the two concepts to show how my history was directly relevant to the company). The rest of my cover letter used my experiences as a teacher to highlight my qualities/skills.

I wasn’t kidding when I said you should not send out the same resume and cover letter to every company you apply for. Yes, it takes time to align them to a company and to each other, but in the end I was offered both internships and therefore only applied to two jobs, whereas many of my peers who did not take the time to align them are now nearing their 30th job application. It’s worth the effort!

Step 2: Don’t be boring

For whatever reason, everyone starts their cover letters with something generic, such as: I was excited to see an opening for…; I am very passionate about…; I believe I am the perfect fit for…

I am calling SHENANIGANS on the people who say this is how you should write a cover letter. As a former high school English teacher, I know that unless you hook your reader on the first sentence/paragraph, you are doomed.

I always start my cover letters with a story. As I mentioned, I told a silly story for Company A and a serious story for Company B (because I deemed these types of stories to be best aligned with the individual company cultures).

When I made it to the interview rounds I had a lovely conversation with the interviewer for Company B about how best to serve low-income communities (an off-shoot of my serious story). The interviewer for Company A actually told me that it was the funniest cover letter that she had ever read, and she instantly knew she had to meet me. She went on to complain about generic cover letters, and how it was a breath of fresh air to see something new.

In your quest to not be boring, make sure you are still appropriate and on-topic (a cover letter does needs to showcase what you can offer the company).

I hope this (lengthy) post has been helpful. Reach out for any clarification!

Does anyone have any other helpful resume and cover letter techniques?

Landing My Summer Internship

I’m not the smartest b-schooler, my GMAT scores are questionable, and my finance abilities are abysmal. Nevertheless, I landed one of the most coveted summer internships in the MBA marketing world. I’m SUPER excited to say that I’ll be working in the marketing department of one of the top five US businesses in the CPG (consumer packaged goods) industry.

Senior_Intern

Luckily, the best companies often look for employee “fit” above GPA and GMAT scores (of course a GPA under 3.0 might be pushing it). Showing a company you are the right match starts way before the interview and continues after.

I only interviewed for two summer internships, and I was offered both of them. Each of the companies had a different culture, so although I employed the same general strategy to prove my “fit” within the companies, I varied my tactics to best align with the individual company culture.

Over the next couple weeks I am going to post a series on my strategy for acing job and internship interviews. The series will be as follows:

Part 1: The Resume and Cover Letter
Part II: Before the Interview
Part III: During the Interview
Part IV: After the Interview
Note that this interview guide is not comprehensive, it’s just some tips and tricks to help you land that job! 

Happy reading, and best of luck on your job and internship endeavors!

New Studio Adventures

Yoga Term of the Day

Savasana: Known as the corpse pose, savasana is typically the last asana done during a yoga practice. In the pose, the person lies on his or her back with arms and legs spread slightly from the body. The person closes his/her eyes and puts palms toward the ceiling. During this time, the person focuses on deep breathing and relaxing every part of the body, turning awareness into a more meditative state.

Savasana_artisticAs you know, I said goodbye to my first yoga studio last month for a few reasons that you can read about here. Now that I am no longer sick, and classes are back in full swing, I decided it was time to venture out to my new studio!

I started with a “Basic” class, because although I graduated to an “Open” class at the last studio, I wanted my first class here to be comfortable as I got my bearings. Plus, each teacher is different so I didn’t know if “Basic” meant the same thing at both studios.

First, the new place is significantly closer to my apartment, and parking was super easy. It also has an entryway, a front desk, and two big rooms for classes. All of this was very different from my tiny, first studio. Next, there were six people in my class. Six. I’m pretty sure I’ve never been in a class of less than 20. Out of habit I started to line my mat up just inches from the girl next to me, then awkwardly moved it away when I realized what I was doing.

The teacher was very kind and gentle. She was unlike both the first instructor I had at my old studio and the instructor that I loved (who really pushed us physically). The new instructor modeled poses for us, adjusted those who needed it, and gave us little foot massages during savasana. Yes please.

I purchased an unlimited month at this studio, so I’m going to step up my yoga game for the next 30 days to try out as many teachers and classes as I can. This means a different teacher or class nearly every time. I’m super excited and grateful for the chance to try out this studio!

Spring Break in Seattle

After more than a week out of commission, I’m finally feeling a little more like myself! Spring break has just about ended, and classes start up on Monday. I’m back home now, and it feels nice to be in my own bed to finish recovering.

IMG_7269My spring break wasn’t all sore throats and runny noses – I spent the first week in Seattle! My boyfriend is on business there, so I went and joined him for my first trip to Washington.

While he was at work I marched all over the city, exploring Capitol Hill, Downtown, Pike Place Market, and several places in between. I got to catch up with old friends who have moved there, and I took a ferry to Bainbridge, went up in the Space Needle, and hiked out at Rattlesnake Ridge. It was a fabulous trip!

IMG_7279As evidenced by this picture, I also made time for a little hotel yoga – definitely not the classiest type of yoga, but it got the job done. I tried to find a studio I could walk to, but the only one in walking distance didn’t offer mat rentals, so I would’ve had to purchase a mat just for the one visit. My grad school budget wasn’t having that.

Now that I’m not feeling as sick, I’m hoping to ease my way back into my practice with some YouTube videos this week. I am suuuuuper eager to start at my new studio, but I’m thinking it would be pretty rude to be the new girl who coughs all through shavasana. I bet I’ll be happier easing myself back in at my own pace anyway!

Yoga When Under the Weather

I am sick. Wheezing, lost my voice, body aches, night sweats, headache, coughing, runny nose, the works. I haven’t touched a yoga mat in four days, and depending on how my doctor appointment goes tomorrow, it will likely be even longer.

unnamedI feel like I have worked very hard with consistency in my yoga practice for the last couple months, and it’s super frustrating to feel helpless (there is no way my body is doing any downward dogs right now).

Sorry for the short entry, but sitting up is quite the task today, and I’m fading fast.

Any tips for weathering the winter illness without giving up all of the progress I have made?

How long can I go without a regular practice before I start to regress?

MBA Midterms and Overachieving

It’s officially official, I have completed my midterms and I am ¾ of the way finished with my first year of b-school! Last week was a flurry of tests and group projects and more tests. By Wednesday I was a zombie, just praying that my accounting skills had magically improved because there weren’t enough hours in the day to study to my satisfaction.

zombie-156055_640
This was me post-midterms.

Fortunately, I made it out of the week alive and I’m now relaxing in a coffee shop, trying to catch up with my blogging and making plans for the last half of the semester. I’m filling out forms to finally accept the prize money from the case competition, I’m trying to decide which professor I want to TA for next year (I’ve been asked by two), and I’m organizing a pro bono consulting project that I’ll be working on with some fellow MBAs (this is a rad opportunity, and I will blog more about this once it’s in full swing).

My last eight weeks at school this spring will be stuffed to the brim, but I’m excited that I’m finally finding some success in my classes and with my activities.

The culture at a top b-school is (obviously) one of overachieving. My experience here wouldn’t be as crazy if I didn’t sign up for so many commitments outside of class, but these commitments are the real benefits of this experience. I’ve already forgotten about the Cournot model from my econ class, and what a pro forma is when it comes to financial statements, but there’s no way I will forget a single detail from working alongside a professor, participating in a big competition, or consulting for a non-profit.

There are a few students here who will leave with the same fancy-schmancy degree as me, but who haven’t decided to get involved outside of their classes. They are truly missing out on the essence of an MBA program. But, for the most part, everyone is up to his or her ears with outside of class involvements.

If you are in b-school, are you involved in activities outside of classes? What types? And how many hours a week do you dedicate to activities compared to classes/homework?

Those of you applying or committed to b-school, did activities/opportunities play a role in where you applied or decided to go? What are you hoping to get involved in on campus?