Back and trying to get over the first year hangover…

It’s officially autumn and we’re already a month into the fall term for the 2nd/3rd years. And I thought 1st year flew by 🙂

I am a 2nd year student, used to be a Gold (Tue/Thu) last year although this year I have a combination of evening and weekend electives. Part of the reason for my switch is that work has become more hectic and I can’t take off early as often. I work with a South Bay based Hi Tech company as an engineer/technical manager. Another factor for this transition was that during the 1st year I found myself missing more than a few events during the weekdays. I am hoping to alleviate this with my weekend classes this fall.

Taking 4 classes in the fall, although it’s still a net of 6 credits. The good part is that the classes are staggered so that at no point of time I have to manage all four simultaneously. In fact I’ve only been balancing managerial accounting past few weeks. M&A and Risk Management start next weekend while Designing Financial Models won’t start for another 4 weeks.

I have also been involved in a few extra-curricular activities at Haas since my first year. I am a co-chair of the EWMBAA communications committee and am one of the editors of the eZine, the EWMBA newsletter. While I was apprehensive about whether I’d be able to manage this additional involvement during 1st year, in hindsight it was great to be a part of the thriving EWMBA student government. Folks involved in this effort work hard to make our experience as EWMBA students better. My colleagues find time from their busy lives and drive initiatives to improve our experience as Haas students, whether it’s academic or social or technological or …you get my drift. EWMBAA elections are around the corner and my suggestion to the first years is to try and get involved. At the very least, see if you can volunteer for one of the committees.

In one of my previous posts I promised to compile my top-n experiences from the 1st year. Here’s my top5 aha moments from the 1st year, in no particular order.

  • Communications Class: Experience of a life-time! This two-Sunday class was an ice-breaker and helped our cohort really connect with each other. Prof Rittenberg and his GSI’s were great.
  • Workshops: Haas Career Services organizes more than a hundred workshops over the course of an academic year. Some of these are soft-skill workshops (work-life balance) while others are hard-core quant/excel domain workshops like “Training the Street” focused on financial modeling for valuation/LBO/M&A etc.
  • Parties/Henrys/Jupiter/Bennigans: Our cohort had an end-of-the-year party in the city. Good old-fashioned bar-hopping/clubbing through the night. At various times we sneaked out to Henrys during the class break. Or shared a laugh after class in the South Bay shuttle and finally ended up at Bennigans at 11 in the night after a long day. Work hard, play very hard!
  • Course Projects: Almost half of my first year courses had group projects. Good opportunity to work with a diverse set of smart people. We accomplished a lot but more importantly built long lasting relationships.
  • Not just surviving, but smelling the roses: Work, school(academics+extracurriculars), partying, family(first-baby!), I’m glad to have not just survived, but enjoyed every moment of it.

    …until later,


Evening vs Weekend and the Life-Saver: Shuttle

Every year, the EWMBA Association arranges for student ambassadors from the 2nd/3rd years’ at Haas to connect with the incoming first year before the start of the term. This effort is completely run by the student body (driven by the EWMBA association’s Admissions Committee with the support of the Haas Admissions Office). As a volunteer for this effort I’ve had the pleasure of welcoming a few incoming students from the class of 2012. I must say the level of energy and excitement I’ve found is very Haas-like 🙂

During our conversations I’ve been asked a lot of questions and I’d like to use this space to address the two most common queries I’ve come across. The disclaimer here is these reflect my opinion as an Evening Cohort student and may not address all viewpoints.

Evening or Weekend, what did I prefer and why?

a) I travel minimally for my day job and as such expected less disruptions to the evening schedule. In fact, the couple of times I had to travel, I made a video-tape request for the classes I missed and it worked out fine. If you are commuting from a non-drivable distance (some of the weekend folks in the class of 2011 flew in from SoCal, Seattle, and so on…) then weekend is probably the way to go. Incidentally, I did have at least one person in my cohort who commuted from Sacramento.

b) I am in the South Bay and the shuttle to Berkeley was very convenient. The bus left at 415pm and my employer was fine with this schedule. Note that the weekend cohorts do not have a shuttle to Berkeley. On the plus side, almost 50% of the weekend classes were held in Santa Clara (if you live in the South Bay or the Peninsula). (More on the shuttle later)

c) Taking classes in the evening allowed me to the luxury of an “occasional” weekend to myself! The thought that almost all Saturdays (and likely Sundays due to assignments/projects) would be booked for foreseeable future was daunting for me!

d) Scheduling group meetings/projects with my classmates became a bit easier due to availability of weekends. Again, this depends on the schedule of your team-mates but in hindsight, this worked out fine for me.

e) Some of the evening CORE classes have sections over the weekend. (Sat or Sun, depending on the GSI/Instructor). Gave me time to actually review the class material before I showed up for the section. For the weekend folks, some of the sections were held after class on Sat or Sunday. I didn’t want to have back to back classes.

f) Weekend classes are scheduled such that they finish earlier than the weekday cohorts pretty much all quarters/semesters and you get a longer break at the end of the year.

g) A lot of conferences, guest speakers and networking events happen during weekdays. I missed a few of these due to conflicts with my academic schedule.

h) Weekend classes IMHO were more conducive to networking even with the cohort. For instance an after class happy hour or some such… For my evening class, by the time we took the shuttle back it was almost 1045pm and people were usually beat (except for right after the exams 🙂 )

Is the Shuttle helpful?

I live/work in the South Bay and took the South Bay shuttle to Berkeley during the first year.

IMO, it was a lifesaver. I had to drive a few times outside of my class schedule as well and if you’ve commuted to Berkeley during peak hrs you’d know that the car ride was a huge pain (especially if you couldn’t carpool during commute, since 880N is a bottleneck). Here are some highlights:

a) The bus is decent sized/air-conditioned and there are enough seats. (Btw, the 2nd/3rd years only show up a few weeks after the first years’ due to the late start of elective courses)

b) The shuttle is a great opportunity to sleep, get work done, or network.

c) The internet access on the shuttle is up most days. (There were occasional technical issues but they got resolved pretty quickly) So if you’d like to connect to work, that works out as well.

d) Parking in Berkeley is a huge problem, so from that perspective too, the shuttle alleviates the pain.

e) We even had a few (unofficial) happy hours and a couple of baby-showers on the shuttle.

f) I fell behind on my readings more than a few times and shuttle was the best time to catch up before the class. And people would usually discuss cases and that was pretty helpful.

There are some cons as well. I missed out on a few after class networking opportunities. Also, the shuttle reaches Berkeley typically around 530pm, so you could potentially have another 30 min each way if you carpool (again, assuming parking goes smoothly)

Hopefully these provide additional data points for those of you still deliberating on E vs W and Shuttle vs No-Shuttle…


Love is in the Air

So I know I’m a little early. Valentine’s Day is a week away, but it’s good to remind everyone with a SO that it’s time to start planning if you haven’t already.

I thought I would share about some of the happenings in our cohort besides the regular school work. Right around finals last term, two of my classmates had their first kid (or I should say their respective wives had a baby while each new dad was trying to schedule test taking around the birth). It is possible for the mom to be in the program as well, as one of the weekenders had her baby during the middle of the semester. Caring peers will help you get back up to speed and you can have class videotaped if you’re away too.

A lot of my classmates seem to be getting engaged. Many were engaged when the program started and continue final planning for summer weddings in 2008. However, at least two of my current cohort buddies got engaged recently. I think it has something to do with securing your future spouse before the chaos of managing school, work, and home life affect your relationship. There’s no time like the present. And with all of our new learnings in finance, maybe you can use your newly learned skills to help manage your wedding budget.

And for the single folks, well, there’s a lot of skills and tips that B-school provides for singles too. For example, one networking seminar I attended reminded networkers – it’s not a good idea to try to get a date and a job from the same person at a networking event. Good advice to remember.

Last but not least, for those of you who are celebrating, Happy Chinese New Year – Gung Hay Fat Choy! This is the year of the rat and for many, today sets the tone for the rest of the year. Considering the beautiful weather in the Bay Area today and this week, it looks like an awesome year ahead.