Monday, January 30, 2006

Interviews kick off but wait a minute....

If I don’t say this now, I’ll probably forget to say it in future.

So I had my first interview today- my adrenaline was certainly pumping. I don’t know how I did, but I immediately had a Strategy class to go to about 30 mins after with different section than normal due to this being the only interview conflict I have this week. Whilst it was hard not to think and reflect about my performance which was affecting my concentration in class, something very clear suddenly came to me: “Mbwana, what you’re learning in the class will serve you for a lifetime, wherever you decide to take apply yourself- You were interviewing for a summer position, don’t dwell so much on this one opportunity among many other open to you. Focus on studies”
It was important for me to realize this because the probabilities are really beginning to stack up against me, and I have a confession to make- I have never been rejected for a job once I got to the interview stage. Things may be about to change! I am among some of the brightest and most business savvy young individuals on the planet. If I don’t get a summer job through On Campus Recruiting or whatever, I need to realize that it’s in part because of the intense competition and be thankful that there are other opportunities for me to transition into a business career. As the Strategy class I was in was different to my normal section, I got to see some people who I have never had ANY class with so far in action- and it really drove home not only how smart people are here, but also how amazing and brilliant and how business school at a place at Stanford MUST BE one of the best place to learn- totally worth every tuition dollar… Yes, I have interviews and I know I said it’s probably what I’m here for, but it doesn’t mean academic learning should take a back seat, at that point it became suddenlt very clear what that other great thing about being at Stanford really is- learning from the best professors amongst the best students in the world- and that’s got to be worth more than a summer job… One down, 8 to go (interview count increased to 9 as of this afternoon).

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Must stay calm for the Ultramarathon of interviews

It’s daunting to think that I’ll be doing 8 interviews next week. It seems madness… But this is in part what I came here for, to transform my career from Engineering into a business one. It will be a marathon- or as one of the amazing speakers who came to speak at the GSB, an ULTRA marathon (check out the David Letterman clip)! Dean Karnazes has run over 350 miles continuously! Some key takeaways from his inspiring talk:
• Break things into baby steps- one case interview at a time, and one interview at a time…
• It’s the journey that counts- An experience through life (or through interviews) should leave you thoroughly exhausted at the end with no regrets. So I should put in 110% effort…
• And my favorite, to run a 300 mile race, run a 101 miles to the start of an official 199 mile race, and then the rest of the 199 or so miles to the end… To relate to interviews, I need to feel confident that everything before has prepared me for this week and that the hard work, experience and dedication has got me to this point- now it’s just time to finish the rest of that 199 mile stretch…

Friday, January 20, 2006

Ramping up…

Well done to those who got accepted into Stanford following Round 1, and best of luck to those who have applied during Round 2. I can’t believe it’s been a year already, I can still remember what I was thinking during this period, the prospects of school interviews etc…

I will briefly touch on job interviewing- I attended my last meet the company presentation a few hours ago, and what a journey it has been over the last 5 months. I have selected to go and meet over 15 companies and it has been an amazing learning experience. For me, this was a key part of my first year quarter experience, learning about the different industries and companies that I am to select for my next career choice. Now the closed list interview invitations are starting to come in, which means the time I invested is starting to pay dividends.

I’d like to briefly touch on some of the cool stuff that’s coming up or has happened. Yes, need to remind myself how much fun being here is:

Skiing- There’s a significant commitment among a core group of people in the class to spending every possible free moment in Tahoe. Only 4 hours away, the prospect of learning this sport (or Snowboarding) after putting it off for while is tempting- I shall try and put in at least one or two weekends, and then commit more next year when I have the time. It’s also nice to get away to a nice chalet after being Schwab for a while. I should also note, that even though we are in the middle of Winter, the weather here in Palo Alto for me feels like a Spring in the UK with even more sunny days… But when it rains, it does bucket it down, unlike the constant drizzle in England.

Las Vegas- Vegas FOAM is coming up (a drinks social event that for the one night of the year, occurs in Las Vegas!) I can’t wait for this event in March, it should be awesome! But a lot of people have been going more often, including for the MBA series poker championships held last weekend, which was well attended by some of the classmates.

The rest of California-
I’m continuing to explore the area, spending significant amounts of time in San Francisco and Santa Cruz where I’m building up an outside Stanford friend base, I consider this important as I really want to see how the real local Californians live, they also make excellent tour guides for International Students! Next to visit, Carmel, and of course I have not been to LA yet, but I’m holding this off for the right moment, although I nearly went this past last weekend (a long weekend) with a classmate, but decided I needed to polish off some cover letters and prepare for interviews.

Finally, a word on academics. Taking four classes now instead of the six last quarter has really made a difference for me, I focus more and I have significant time to worry about career issues as well, and the level of tedious problem sets is also slightly less (aside from finance!), with more emphasis on case work. But I love how everything we have learnt previously or are learning in parallel in other classes continues to be fully integrated into the current classroom. And yes, E-commerce is really handy! Classroom participation has ramped up as well, mainly due to proportion of the grade it is now worth, but also since classmates’ experiences are starting out really be valuable in discussions.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Consulting Career prospects strong in 2006...

Sorry to be overbearing with career related talk- I bet I'm starting to sound like all there is to me is "...job hunt, job hunt, job hunt."

2006 should be a very strong year for Management Consultanting, including recruitment activities according to first quarter review following a survey they carried out.

A nice audio summary broadcast and transcript is available at:

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Power up outlook and add that special course

So the Holiday break is nearly over and I can get back to being run by Outlook 2003. Time to start reviewing those course outlines, buy those course readers and books. One course that I’ve decided to take, if required, is a 4 unit one (make that 5-6 units if pursuing multiple career tracks) called:

“On Campus Interviewing with Big Name firms at Big Name School”.

The course is concerned with getting a summer internship in a career field that really interests you and involves a variety of tasks such as researching firms through various reading material & on the web, interacting and communicating with firm representatives (and classmates) and of course culminating in several on campus interviews. On successfully completion of the course, you should have a summer job lined up …

Updated and critiqued Resume specific to each firm/career, Myerrs Briggs Personality Indicator, Career Management Centre (CMC) workshops, mock interviews and whole lot of soul searching for what you want out of an internship.

Required: Vault, Wetfeet guides to the industries, Crack the Case, etc…, Case in Point etc…
Optional: How to Interview like an MBA, The fast track- The Insider’s guide to winning jobs in Management Consulting, Investment Banking & Securities Trading,, Sweaty Palms- the neglected art of being interviewed, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Economist..

Meet the company presentations, career seminars & treks, crack the case workshops, company dinners & drinks.

Tailored Resumes & cover letters to each company (use the resume drop feature online and observe the deadlines-). Of course, “know your stuff”- including case frameworks and financial & business concepts covered in class as well as making sure you come across as confident and intelligent individual won’t hurt. Some areas you could be tested in the interview you may not cover until the 2nd year- doesn’t matter, it’s fair game!

Candidates will display courteous manner to firm representatives- such as wearing appropriate business attire (inc. details such as matching belt). You will also observe the on campus recruiting rules laid down by the school, which include proper offer rejection & acceptance etiquette. Firms should avoid such practices as “exploding offers”, and in general will try to be nice to candidates. The course is not for everyone, and candidates may appear stressful at times- but hey, for some this is a core course and other areas of your life may take a backseat for a while- 110% commitment should lead to favorable results.

You’ll be graded on a variety of aspects, an effectively prepared resume and superior networking should land you closed list positions for interested firms but prudent point bidding on the online system should land you interview slots at firms that were not initially impressed by your one page story of your life you submitted. Anyhow, widely available jobs such as in consulting should require minimal bidding points. However, in the end it is how you perform during the interview (final exam) in areas such as articulating the skills you have gained as a good match to the job requirements, demonstrated research and knowledge of the firm/industry, enthusiasm and general fit within the firm’s culture that will distinguish you from other candidates. For consulting, how effectively you “nail” the case interviews will carry as much as 75% of the overall grade. Those who succeed will progress to further rounds and ultimately secure a 8-12 week summer internship offer and a high chance of securing a $100K (+ significant benefits) full-time job on graduation. There are limited internship slots, and should you not get any offers along the way, firms will try their best to provide feedback, and this should form the basis for improvement in other interviews and put you in good standing for next years full time on campus recruiting.

Networking on your own, job boards, and other MBA online applications with firms that do not participate in this activity- many candidates have gotten jobs this way. In the end over 90% of MBA students will have summer offers- if you fall outside this, just go traveling for 3 months and maybe work on a “summer project”, it’s a perfectly viable, if not a more fun alternative.