5 Tips for Making The Most of B-School

Another year has begun and we are back in the MBA saddle. Read on to learn about five tips to maximize your time in b-school:

coffee-cup-bed-bedroomWake Up Early

This might sound ridiculous, I mean, you have the next 40 years of your life to wake up early. And let’s be clear, I’m not suggesting you start waking up at 5am, but I have become acutely aware of just how important morning hours can be. When classes don’t start until 10, or even noon, it’s really easy to just lie in bed and watch Netflix, but if you’re like me, these are actually the most productive hours of your day. Do some homework, fit in a workout, and then when you get home from school late at night, you won’t have to tackle the same tasks when you are much more tired.

Grad school can be a constant game of procrastination, if you let it. I firmly believe you will get more out of your day and be happier if you set a time each morning that you will get up and get working.

Build Your Network

I’ve mentioned this previously on my blog, but it’s so much more important than I initially thought. Networking is such a buzzword that I’m often fatigued at its mention. But really, it’s the key to everything in business. You know that professor who is famous for those articles he published? Ask to be his TA. Did you hear that one of the career center advisors used to work for P&G? Set up an appointment. Even your peers will be invaluable because they are all going to be high-powered business folk down the road.

Complete a Practicum

This is the only coursework I fully remember from my first year in grad school. Sitting in class, taking tests, all of that was in one ear and out the other. The practicum, however, will stick with me for some time. I had to work on a real business problem for a client, and I got to see the impact of my work. Yes, practicums are time consuming, but it was the best preparation I had for my internship.

Take Classes that Interest You

Apparently I have an internal guilt thermometer that rages red-hot when I deviate from the norm. I decided to drop a class that aligned with my marketing emphasis (gasp!). This class was not required, it was boring, and the professor was awful. Still, because the word “marketing” was in the course title, I felt compelled to take the course. Thankfully, good sense was able to trump the emotions of the guilt thermometer, and I dropped the course and decided to take an elective that proved to be much more valuable and enjoyable.

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You can relive your prom glory days at the MBA formal!

Attend (at least a few) Parties

I am not a partier. I went through that phase in college, and I’m pleased to have come out the other side in one piece. Still, there are a few MBA parties you’d be sad to miss. You will never again have the chance to drink free/cheap alcohol in a sexy cowboy Halloween costume with the people you spend every day with (if you do, I’m curious about where you work!). Also, what’re the odds you will have the opportunity to attend another formal once you graduate? Have some fun this year and get the last of the partying out of your system before you have to attend grown-up things at your company such as dry holiday parties and silent auctions.

Anyone have other tips to make our next year in b-school magical?

Affordable Yoga Pants Review: Which Brand Wins?

When I started yoga way back in January, I knew I needed to buy my first pair of leggings/spandex. I had avoided these revealing pants in the past A) because I had no real use for them and B) they are a bit more scandalous that I’m used to.

Since January I have become a leggings enthusiast. Although I don’t wear them in the general public, they are my go-to yoga wear.

I didn’t invest in expensive brands largely because I’m a poor graduate student, but also because at the time I didn’t know of many yoga brands (aside from Lululemon, but I choose not to buy clothes there for other reasons).

For the last eight months I’ve been practicing yoga with these pants in my arsenal:

Old Navy: Compression Leggings
Old Navy: Go-Dry Cool Compression Crops 
Target: C9 Champion Women’s Legging 

Fabletics: Salar Legging
 

Read on for detailed descriptions of how each pant has worked for me. 

IMG_8071Old Navy: Compression Leggings
Five/Five Stars
Best Uses: Ashtanga/Power/Hot Yoga

These are my absolute favorite. I got them for $20 in the after-Christmas sale, and they are my go-to for any sweaty yoga class. First, they are very lightweight and they don’t show any sweat. They are breathable so I don’t feel like I’m suffocating even in a heated class. Although they are compression pants, they don’t feel restricting. I’m curious if this line is now called “Go-Dry”, but it was just traditional compression when I purchased them.

IMG_8072Old Navy: Go-Dry Cool Compression Crops
Four/Five Stars
Best Uses: Vinyasa/Hatha Yoga

These pants are pretty darn solid. Even though they are called “Go-Dry Cool” the material is slightly heavier than the plain Old Navy Compression leggings. They also don’t show sweat, but they do feel a little swampy in a hot yoga class. I like these for mid-level sweatiness.

IMG_8069Target: C9 Champion Women’s Legging
Four/Five Stars
Best Uses: Restorative/Yin Yoga

If I had to recommend these for a hot yoga class they would probably get two/five stars, but for the restorative/yin classes I attend they are perfect. They are extraordinarily soft and stretchy. I have these in a dark color, but I’m positive that if they were a lighter color they would show sweat. These pants are perfect for non-sweaty days.

IMG_8070Fabletics: Salar Legging
Three/Five Stars
Best Uses: Running/Jumping

These are without a doubt the most compression-y of all of my pants which makes it a little more difficult to get into poses while wearing them. Also, I have them in a purple color that shows sweat (which makes me less likely to wear them running). If I were to repurchase in black, I think the rating would go up to four/five, but I would most likely still not wear them during yoga, and wear them during activities such as interval training.

Anyone tried any of these pants? Did you have similar or different experiences?

Are there some other affordable pants I should try?

Are there any “fancy pants” that are so amazing it would be worth spending more money?

MBA Internship Wrap-Up: I Got the Offer!

Yesterday, after 12 weeks as a marketing intern at a CPG company, I was offered a full-time position as an Associate Brand Manager!

The job would start next summer, once I have my b-school diploma. I have to say, I’m extremely relieved because the last 12 weeks haven’t exactly been low stress. Read on to hear some details about my summer:

The Worst Moment

Approximately one month before my final presentation, I met with a sales strategist and found out that some of the recommendations I was building were already in the pipeline. I think the guy felt horrible because my jaw dropped and my eyes got huge and I had a few minutes of freak out. First, I didn’t understand why no one else had told me this, and second, I felt like I needed to build a new recommendation (which would’ve been impossible in the last third of the summer).

Thankfully, the Brand Manager and the Senior Brand Manager met with me and told me this was fine. They also found it interesting to see that I was recommending what they were hoping to do. In the end I was able to provide data and rationale for their decisions.

celebrateThe Best Moment

Uhhh. Getting the offer. But if that doesn’t count, then maybe a community service day we had with one of the brand teams. Although I do enjoy community service, the real reason that day was awesome was because I befriended the director of a top brand in the company, and he was my advocate for the rest of the summer!

The Most Awkward Moment

Without giving away too much information on where I was working, let’s just say there are some “intimate” products in this company’s portfolio. On my very first day the director of one of these intimate brands asked me if I used the product, and what I preferred. In front of about 10 people. And I had to answer. Now I think I’m a little too comfortable talking about these private items.

The Most Valuable Thing I Learned

It’s all about your network. I’ll probably dedicate a full post to this in the future, but you will get hired based on whether or not people like you and can relate to you. Obviously you have to be capable of completing your project, but good companies only recruit people that are capable of doing it (unless you are just an excellent schmoozer). You will set yourself apart based on how you work with others, and how many influential people you can get in your court.

What My Plans Are

Relax! Kidding (kind of). I realize I am so fortunate to be heading into year two of b-school with an offer in my pocket. Because I did like it here, I doubt I will shop around to different CPG companies to try and pit offers against each other. I suppose there is a slim chance I will look for jobs where my family lives or where my boyfriend lives, but neither one of those cities have big CPG companies, so I wouldn’t be able to go into brand management. If I had to guess, I think there’s about an 80% chance I will be back here next summer!

Best of luck to those of you wrapping up internships and starting school!

Anyone else get offers this summer?

Does anyone have any questions about applying for internships?

Or about working in marketing for CPG companies?

Yoga at the Studio vs. Yoga at Home

As long as I have a good teacher, I am a big proponent of yoga at the studio – especially for new yogis. But I have to admit, there are benefits to both. Read on to determine which type of practice fits you best:

Benefits of Yoga at Home:

  • It’s free. Let’s be honest, studios are not cheap.
  • You can go at your own pace, press pause when you need to, and rewind when something feels so good you want to do it twice.
  • No judgment. Although if you are attending a studio where there is judgment, you should start looking for a new one, because that’s lame.
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Home yoga, studio yoga, how about some backyard yoga?

Benefits of Yoga at a Studio

  • An instructor. As long as you have a good one, this is super valuable. He/she can verbally or physically adjust you to make sure you are maximizing each position and not doing anything dangerous.
  • A community. Meeting your fellow yogis can help keep you motivated to work hard and inspire you to try new things.
  • Accountability. If you’re like me, paying for something helps you commit to going. When I have no official commitment, it’s easier to put off until tomorrow/never.

 Is there anything I left out?

Where do you like to practice, and why?

Grad School Loans Part II: Budgeting for an MBA

Let’s dive into my grad school financials. If you first want an overview of my grad school loans check out Part I. Note that this budget does not account for the amount of tuition I paid at the beginning of the semester with my loans. It does account for things like books and parking passes.

7027596629_70d7540363_oI’ve always been a financial planner, so I had a well-developed budget heading into grad school. I made some tweaks based on my life as a student, and this is the budget I decided I would need for my two years in school:

Monthly Grad School Budget
Groceries  $        70.00
Eating Out  $        70.00
Personal Care  $        80.00
Entertainment  $        20.00
General Shopping  $     100.00
Gas  $        60.00
Misc.  $        50.00
Travel  $     100.00
Gifts for Others  $     150.00
Electric/Internet  $        60.00
Rent  $     700.00
Roth IRA  $     100.00
Car Insurance  $        80.00
Grad School Expenses  $     200.00
TOTAL Cost/Month  $  1,840.00

I also wasn’t completely rigid with the money buckets. For example, around the holidays I would shift much more money into the “gifts for others” section at the expense of “general shopping”. Often when I wasn’t spending money on “travel”, I’d shift that money over to my general shopping fund (the amount of money I spent there is a conversation for another day).

Based on this budget, I was able to take out the loans I needed to feel comfortable. It was rare that I spent the full budget each month, but I decided it would be better to have a bit of excess than not enough.

I also came into some unexpected money during the year that made me wish I’d taken out a couple thousand less. The first money influx was from winning the case competition, and the second was a tax refund. I did my own taxes for the first time and was able to find several ways to get money back.

Heading into this next year I’m taking out fewer loans in the fall (thanks to savings from my internship) and extra in the spring (because I hope to do a study abroad over spring break and then travel once I graduate).

Do you have any questions about my budget?

How did you budget for school?

Did you so something differently that was very successful?

Grad School Loans Part I: The High Costs of an MBA

I am very anti-loan. I took out $4,400 total in unsubsidized loans in undergrad (specifically to study abroad because I wouldn’t be able to have a job overseas), and I paid it off in full before it had time to gain any interest.

8231672492_88aaedaa0f_oWhen it came time to build credit after undergrad, I reluctantly took out a car loan and made payments just long enough that it would positively impact my credit (two years), and then I paid it off in full.

My grad school experience has been a wee bit different, and by the end of my two years I will have approximately $70,000 in loans. Yikes.

There are a few reasons as to why this round of education has been so much more expensive:

A) I’m going to a private school. This means not only do I pay a gazillion more dollars than I would at a public school (like my undergrad), but I can’t get tuition waivers for things like TA-ing, and I don’t get tax-free pay for on-campus jobs.

I’ve wrestled with my decision to attend this school, but frankly, once I was accepted I felt like it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. I was also slightly blinded by the fact that I received a $60,000 scholarship for my two years. But when tuition is around $100,000, you still need room and board, you have to buy books/gas/parking, and you want to do things like attend the intercession study abroad, $60,000 is less than half of what you will need.

B) I didn’t have great savings heading into this. Remember, I was a teacher prior to b-school, so I was raking in less than $40,000/year. I had also just completed my first master’s degree in education. Thankfully, I received grants for that and I was working full-time, so I didn’t have any debt. Still, it contributed to my lack of savings.

C) I don’t want to deny myself life experiences. This is a personal choice. I am determined not to let money hold me back from amazing adventures, so I made the choice to go to Colorado, Seattle and Alaska last year. I don’t regret it!

This has left me with $70,000 to pay off starting about a year from now. That’s nearly $900/month. And because I’m a grad student, the interest is already starting to pile on.

My school promises me that I will be able to get a job post-grad that will provide me with enough income to pay it off, but I’ll keep you posted. For details on my budget check out Part II.

Does anyone else out there have mountains of loans?

Did anyone change their lifestyle to take out fewer loans?

Does anyone have problems paying for their loans?