You know what the best thing about my internship is

Afb0007It’s not the fact that I love what I do, that the people I work with are friendly and knowledgable and willing to share their knowledge, that I’m learning buckloads, that my place of work is close to some really nice shops….no, I mused on the Tube on my way back today, it’s the fact that I can go to work in jeans, t-shirt and trainers! No unnecessary dressing up, no uncomfortable high heels, no tights with runs in them. Bliss :-D

PS Pic top left was taken in the Tube on my journey back from work today. Ahum ;-)

(Finding) work is hard work!

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Three days into my internship and I like it more every day. I’m so glad I stuck to my guns and got exactly what I’d been dreaming of (although for the longest time I seriously wondered if I was going to get any job!). I don’t want to be too specific about the company I work for (I don’t know what their blogging policy is), but it is on the strategic side of marketing and it’s a consultancy, both of which I like. I’ll be working til the end of August, til just before I fly over to New York.

So what are my top tips for finding an internship in Industry (LBS speak for not-banking-not-consulting)?
* Figure out what you want to do. Talk to lots of people, classmates, Career Services, go to lots of presentations of speakers coming to campus, take all the tests offered to you, read widely (and pay attention to the stuff you read without anyone prompting you, that will tell you where your interest lies). There are plenty of resources to help you with this process. Don’t expect to figure it out in a week though. It took me 4 months to figure out that what I wanted to do, other people call ‘marketing’.
* Once you know what you want to do, figure out how to get experience in the area you’re interested in, who to talk to, what press to read, etc. Prepare well. Especially if you have no experience, you need to show that you know what’s going on in the industry you’re interested in. If you can, take electives in your field (although I have to warn you against taking too many in the first year…it makes life hard) or organise an event on campus that has something to do with your industry.
* Tell everyone you meet what you’re looking for. They might not have a job, but they might know someone that does.
* Good karma counts. Help out your classmates in their search, maybe by reading their cover letters, or talking to them about your industry. Trust me, good karma is like a boomerang: it’ll come back to you in some way shape or form (I think I would’ve lost my mind if I couldn’t have shared my worries about the internship hunt with my friends, I’m very grateful for them allowing me to be the drama queen that I am).
* Don’t be swayed too soon to pick any old job that comes along. Hold out for something good. But don’t hold out too long… it’s a fine balance, follow your heart. It’s like getting married (not that I have much experience in that): you want to pick the one you love, not necessarily the first that asks you ;-)

Just scheduled my visa appointment with the US embassy. Apparently, because they take your fingerprints, you can’t have a blister or wound on your fingertips… not that I ever have any, but now I’m beginning to worry about cutting myself…

On the tourist trail

Afb0005In the midst of what unexpectedly turned out to be quite a busy week, I left everything what it was and went on the tourist trail. One of my dearest friends is a schoolteacher in a secondary school in the Netherlands and she was in London with two of her classes yesterday and I tagged along for the latter part of the afternoon. Sixty 14-year olds descended on London, for many of them the first time (if I remember correctly, I was 14 too when I first went to London). It was so interesting seeing my own city through their eyes. Made me all excited all over again living here!
Some more pictures (as usual, taken with my phone so the quality isn’t perfect), the weather was absolutely perfect yesterday:

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My name is Suzy and I’m a math idiot

Images27There’s no hiding it now. My name is Suzy and I’m an idiot when it comes to math. The first symptoms started to show in secondary school. I did do my exam in Math, but for the life of me can’t remember how I passed it. And then I avoided math like the plague, until the GMAT came knocking. I spent 5 days working solely on math problems and didn’t even look at the verbal (and yet scored better on verbal ;-). Math and me are just not a happy marriage. I don’t instinctively get it and I struggle hard. Last week after the MA final it seemed that everyone but me understood that for one of the questions you had to do a linear equation. I just stared at my paper and felt like crying cause I had no idea where to start or what to do. The thought of linear equation didn’t even enter my mind. You know how some people seem to just naturally be good at languages? I’m one of those (a blessing I’m very grateful for). But when it comes to math, my heart sinks in my shoes and I struggle. Is there such a thing as being math-dyslectic? I might have that (although the stupid thing is that I used to be fairly good at all the analytical stuff at work, I have no idea how or why. Maybe because there were never ever linear equations involved!). Someone please invent a cure!

OK. Enough ranting. Back to the macro econ take home exam. I’m an intelligent person. I should be able to nail this production function question. I think.

[edit Just got back my Marketing core course grade. A+. My first one (ha, and probably my only one too ;-). Not in the least due to a fabulous Markstrat result by my team. Pretty happy!]

About as much fun as you can have with your clothes on

Afb0063Today I went to the Taste of London, right next door in Regent’s Park. According to the website it’s a fair where
" 40 of London’s most prestigious restaurants gather in Regent’s Park to prepare and serve a stunning selection of signature dishes" and d**n it was good!!! I reckon this is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on! The sun was out in full force, the samples plentiful and the food lusciously, mouthwateringly good. The way it works is: you buy entrance for the afternoon or evening session (£15 this year) and then you buy Crowns (50p each), which you use to pay for your food. It’s a great way to taste some great food for relatively cheap.

Afb0004Some of London’s most celebrated chefs were there and we ate from Michel Roux Jr’s Le Gavroche (chef himself was there and he had the most friendly and smiley face), Georgio Locatelli’s Refettorio (very yummy spaghetti, served by a guy whose smile lit up my day), Angela Hartnett at the Connaught, Marcus Wareing at the Savoy Grill and Tom Aikens and Hush. And boy, was it good… I nearly nibbled my fingers off with the food! The picture top left of this post is Marcus Wareing’s ‘Trifle with a mini Madeleine’ (ever since I went to Paris I have a soft spot for Madeleines, they are so yummy). I forgot to take pictures of Angela Hartnett’s Vanilla Mille Feuille with Roasted Peaches cause it was just so good I ate it before I realised I forgot to take a picture. Same for the Mars Bar cheesecake with cinnamon creme fraiche that Hush served, I’m a sucker for cheesecake, and although I couldn’t really taste the Mars, it was a really nice cheesecake, dense and moist and rich.

Afb0094We popped into the tent where the World Cheese Awards were held (see picture left), which had more cheese than I’ve ever seen in one place. One of my favourite parts was strolling round the terrain to have a look at the different exhibitors (roughly 50 of those were there), my favourites included Rachel’s Organic (where I couldn’t resist and stocked up on some yummy yoghurt), Melt Chocolates and Ear to Ear popcorn (I tasted a couple, and liked the caramel best, with Bombay spice in second place and Cheddar in third. Can you tell I’m taking this food thing quite seriously ;-)? ). I can’t wait to be earning money again so I can try a full meal at the restaurants that were featured!

Dreams and memories

Afb112_1The first year is almost over. One more take home exam (Macro Econ), one more project (Advanced Marketing Strategy), figure out who I’m going to shadow for my shadowing project (any volunteers?), and then I’m done. I just finished reading Thomas Friedman’s ‘The World is Flat’ (thanks Joel for the tip!), and he talks about how some countries live on memories of the past and some live on dreams of the future. And those who dream of the future seem to do better. So whilst I want to jot down some memories of my first year (which I’ll do in a separate post), this post is more about looking ahead to my second year and dreaming.

As some of you might remember from my earlier jumping up and down, I’m off to New York to do my exchange at Stern. I have to report for duty on September 1st, and this week I’ve signed up for my elective credits. The courses I’ll be taking are: Entrepreneurial Finance, Collaboration Conflict & Negotiation, Managing Growing Companies, Advertising Management and New Product Marketing (no points for guessing where my interest lies…;-). I’m very excited about all of these courses, and I can’t wait. Second thing on the exchange-to-do list is finding a place to live. I’m lucky that at the same time I’m going, a very good friend at LBS is going to, so we’re thinking about getting a place together (anyone know of a nice two bed apartment close to NYU for less than a fortune?).

No news yet on the summer internship, I have another interview tomorrow, and another offer in hand, plus some maybe’s/possible’s that I’m really excited about and this week will be decision-time about what I’ll do. I’ll keep you guys posted. The one thing that I am already working on is my part-time project: I’m working with a musician to write a business plan, marketing strategy and financial plan for his fledgling new business. And it’s so much fun! It combines a number of my classes and a bunch of common sense, and I’m loving working on it.

More shameless plugging: new LBS MBA blog

London_blogging_schoolWe are now truly the pre-eminent global blogging school: London Business School has its own blog (a first for a b-school, Wharton has something like it, but no combo of students/adcom). There’s a bunch of current students, an alumn and adcom writing and putting videos up. It looks fab, I’m looking forward to the stuff going on.

Link: mbablog.london.edu

[edit: Thanks Patxi for the icon, I’m shamelessly copying it]

Shameless plug

Afb0411One of my closest friends on the MBA program, Al, is head of the Summer Ball committee (he also did the Winter Ball, which was magnificent)(and he’s going to LOVE me for posting this picture of him….). The theme this year is Venetian Masquerade, and last night they went out at Sundowners to promote the ball. He looked so handsome and broadshouldered in his period outfit! Unfortunately, I’m not sure if I’m going, since no job = no money = no ticket :-(
Check out their excellent website too.

[yes, this was a shameless plug for the summer ball. Unprompted though. But shameless advertising nonetheless. And an excellent way to procrastinate. Now it’s back to studying for my final final this year: Management Accounting.]

Interesting visitors

Afb1461_1The last week of my first year. Wow. Time flies when you’re busy, working hard and playing hard. I’ll do a round up of the first year-post in a short while, but first I want to mention two visitors that came to School in the last week.

In last week’s Understanding Entrepreneurial Management class, we had Prof. Tom Byers from Stanford come in and talk to us. He was a visiting prof here last year, where I saw him moderate the Craigslist talk. He’s such a passionate teacher and it was great having him teach us. He talked about the 10 enduring success factors of high-tech
entrepreneurship, which according to him are:
1. know the difference between an idea and a business opportunity
2. ventures require dynamic (able to change with changing circumstances) leaders
3. the role context (everything that happens outside your company that has an impact on your company) plays in high tech venturing
4. market positioning and why it’s so important
5. the purpose of a business plan
6. cash flow is vital (literal quote ‘cash flow is more important than my cat!’)
7. the essentials of the venture finance process
8. high-tech entrepreneurship as a team-sport
9. the importance of sales and business development skills
10. the role of ethics in entrepreneurship
For more information on Prof Byers, check out his faculty website, a pdf of the presentation above (which has references to sources of interest), or the Stanford Educator’s Corner (lots of great freebies there).

Last night, the LBS Media Club hosted Dany Levy, the founder and chairwoman of Daily Candy. This daily what’s-hot-in-your-town email service now has 1.3 million subscribers and is very profitable. Dany told us about how she got started (doing it as a sideline next to her journalism work), how the business was funded (mostly self-funded until 2003 when she got VC funding, the company is now valued north of $100 million), how much people pay to be featured in the Daily Candy emails (nothing), how much control she still has over the business (she has a CEO, but still reads most of the outgoing editions) and much more (damn, I wish I took notes so I would remember more. It was a looooong day yesterday, and I was too lazy). Daily Candy is one of those ideas that made me wish I thought of them: cool, not rocket science and very very profitable.

Serendipity out the window

Afb036Random thought I had just now (in Managment Accounting, honestly, I don’t know why, cause this has little to do with MA). With all this content nowadays you can pull in, and can tailor to your own needs, does that give us a lack of serendipity? You know, you pick up a magazine, flick through it, and all of a sudden you find an article that is talking about exactly your problem. But you weren’t actively looking for it. Serendipity. You run into a person in the hallway, who then turns out to know someone that needs an intern and you turn out to get the job. Serendipity. Are we losing it? With increased efficiency, with more and more pull models of getting content, are we losing our capacity for letting serendipity happen? If you just read the RSS feeds that you subscribe to, are you losing out on accidentally finding information you could use? Or is accidental finding of information out of date anyway?

Businessweek has put together a special report on Web2.0 for CEO’s. So if you’re wondering what all the 2.0 hoo-ha is, this is the place to go (a part I really liked was the interview with a VC, you can find it here).

All good things come to an end

Afb0251The LBS community has a very special new blogger on the block, check out Thomas’s blog here. Welcome, Thomas, I hope your stay at LBS is very enjoyable!

This is the last week of my first year. Seven more lectures, one more exam, one take-home exam, one final feasibility study and presentation, plus marketing audit and I’m done (I’m taking Advanced Marketing Strategy this term, and thus technically this not my last week, I’ve got two more days of lectures on June 16th and 30th).

I’ve been a bit lax in posting lately, and will try and make up in this post (so apologies in advance for the length).

Afb037Last night, the social clubs at LBS that hail from Asia got together to organize the Asia Night. The weather was fabulous, so we were lucky to enjoy tasty Chinese, Japanese, Philipino and Korean food outside as we were watching the martial arts demonstrations and the sumo-wrestling. 16 of the most intrepid students had signed up to be hauled into giant plastic sumo-suits and battle it out. It was hilarious, I can’t remember when I laughed this much recently.

Today I worked amongst others on my electives (something I touched on in my previous post). Topics I’m interested in learning more about are Negotiation (I’m notoriously bad at this), Entrepreneurship (esp. writing business plans) and Marketing (brand management and marketing strategy). My shortlist of courses at Stern includes Negotiation, Entrepreneurial Selling (no such course exists at LBS), Innovation and Design and Advertising Management. At LBS the shortlist includes:
* Brand Management. Mark Ritson, the professor who teaches this course, is a living legend.
* Creativity and Personal Mastery, more on that below.
* Product Innovation. Prof George Day flies in from Wharton to teach this course
* Implementing Marketing Strategies, for the practical implementation of the course I’m currently taking (Advanced Marketing Strategy)
* New Venture Development. Prof Bates is the entrepreneurship-guru, and he’ll teach me how to write an ace businessplan.
* Strategic Innovation. Prof Markides is one of the star-faculty, and I’d love to take his course, but I’m running out of credits :-( Maybe I can audit this one.
Other courses I would love to take include Managing the Growing Business, The Unstoppable Growth of Branding (Wally Olins is teaching), Managing Corporate Turnarounds and Marketing Communication. Maybe in a next life…

Futureguru has written an interesting post on the CPM course, and I am definitely applying for this course. Talking to alumns, they all said they wished they’d taken more "soft" courses, and I reckon this course could be the ride of a lifetime. In order to get into the course, you have to write 7 essays, which I’m working on now.

No tidings on an internship yet. I had two interviews last week, and one more tomorrow morning. One of my interviews last week has resulted in a very interesting part-time project over the summer, writing a business plan and marketing strategy for a creative venture. I’m so excited, ’cause this is exactly what I went to b-school for!