Monday, June 26, 2006

Sleepless in Seattle

I got my sleep! All that late night partying and trivial pursuit plus a 6am flight to Seattle from New York was definitely tiring- so I took the whole of Sunday just to sleep.

I am just impressed with what Microsoft have provided so far... Firstly, I must thank them for relocating me from New York which allowed to me to take a break to visit some new and old friends as well as my sister.
But then to arrive to some amazing accommodation right in the centre of Seattle is just plain spoiling me! Yes, the Harbor steps Apartment complex, scores top marks in my books. Amazing view of the harbor, great location, all the amenities one could ask for- a nice touch. It may sound trivial, but I know lots of my classmates who were struggling to sort out accommodation for their internships, particularly those in New York. I arrive in Seattle and everything is taken care of- just had to simply unpack my stuff (after sleeping of course!) and I'm ready to take in the sights and prepare for my role at Redmond. Only downside is the 40 minute or so trek to Redmond I'll have to put in every morning- although I plan to carpool with my room-mate and use the public transport when schedules don't align- sounds familiar to my UK days...

Haven't hooked up with the hordes of other MBAs who are on the complex, including those working at Amazon, but it should be fun to be in another community of like minded people during the next 10 weeks. Also looking to hike on Mt. Rainier and Mt. Hood over the summer with a bunch of the interns.

So at this point in time, the value of the MBA has come into focus a little more, I had a furious argument with a friend in the UK on MSN messenger about the value of the MBA- she dared call me a "manufactured leader"- what? Of course she had no idea what she was talking about, and after a a series of fast and furious arguments attacking her, she backed off... But I have to say, it has got me thinking, can I really add value to a mega-corporation of over 70,000 people in 10 weeks? I pondered this with my room-mate who is also interning at Microsoft. Working at a Start-up one can clearly make an impact on a variety of levels, but what about an established company who in effect know everything they need to know about their own business?
Then I remember speaking to one of my new friends who used to work as a gallery director for a niche area of the art industry and being able to apply the MBA thinking and getting a clear sense of how attractive an industry it was. Question is can anyone else also see that? Is having MBA really worth it when one could come to the same conclusion without one?
I learnt a lot- but most of it I could have got reading management texts. Then again, some skills just need to be practiced- one can't simply read up and learn regression to really understand its value. Then there are all the Organizational Behavior classes such as the infamous "touchy feely", "paths to power" and "organizational change", the quality of these classes are highly dependent on the quality of students and their experiences. Some of these are invaluable classes with lessons and concepts that I can certainly apply in my next 10 weeks here at Microsoft.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Coming to you from the nation's capital...

Ha! I missed blogging in May, oops and sorry.
Yes, I admit it, this blog is beginning to suck. Time for a revival.
So I am now in Washington DC visiting my sister who happens to be on a month long legal training course here at the International Law Institute. I conveniently set up my 10 day break in the east coast before starting my summer internship at Microsoft to coincide with my sister's visit. It's the first time I've seen a family member for 10 months, even in the UK I could guarantee seeing my brother or at least my dad every 3 months or so. Suppose it comes with being an international student in the states these days. So I've been catching up on events in Tanzania, from the recent intense power rationing that his been crippling businesses and ordinary citizens alike, to the performance of the newly installed president.
DC is nice, particularly the lively Georgetown, but I've become very snobbish about the weather these days. I know I was complaining in my last blog post about California weather, but soon after it was more than made up with a continuous 3-4 week spells of clear sunshine and blue skies. Although it's currently in the 90 degrees Fahrenheit now in DC, it's way too humid and muggy! I miss California... If I'm now complaining about the heat in the east coast, how will I ever go back to the grey and rainy UK?
So the first year has come to an end, and how fast its gone indeed. The summer quarter can be characterized by projects, time set aside for travel and lots and lots of parties and events. I really enjoyed the group project in which we wrote a paper on the emerging entrepreneurial space industry. It gave me a chance to apply some of the lessons learnt this year from human resources to non-markets to an industry I’m familiar. I also put on the brakes on campus involvement and ventured out more on the travel side, I finally made it down to San Diego in South California with a visiting friend from the UK.
My venturing out also made me come full circle back to business, I came across a Palo Alto Start-up called Meetro, a location based (geo-tagging) instant messaging platform, that I do believe is going places. Having hung around the Meetro team on and off for the last couple of months, I have been getting my fix on internet start-ups and the web 2.0 vibe... Again, its what I came to Stanford for… Out here and having recently been in New York City last week, the stark difference in the culture for entrepreneurship is now very apparent. But then again, the liveliness of New York City and the historical Georgetown area remind me of what I have been missing in the last year.