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Life during OCR

Posted by: Carolina

The start of the year signals the beginning of the On Campus Recruiting (‘OCR’) period for MBA summer internships. We returned from the year-end break to face Corporate Partners week – a week fuelled with companies’ presentations, mostly in investment banking and consultancy.

The agenda was hectic and pretty soon completing application forms by the tight deadlines seemed overwhelming for some. But submitting applications was nothing in comparison to the interviewing. The favourite (and sometimes only) topic of conversation in and out of campus during January and February was interviews: how many have you got? What company? What did they ask you? Have you heard back?

It was like a collective obsession that took over us.

We are in mid February now and the interview pipeline has started to dry up for those in banking and consulting. By now, some of us have already accepted offers and stopped interviewing; others are still in the search. For all of us, life in campus has started to feel more normal.

So after attending almost all presentations, filling many application forms and doing my round of interviews, this is my advice:
- Start preparing early. You might think it’s a cliché… Seriously, just do it! Things like cover letters can be drafted in advance and refined after attending the company’s presentation. Same goes for online application forms in which you can start filling in your details.
- Do as many mock interviews as you can, but do leave sometime between sessions to take in the advice you are given and polish your technique.
- Ask the second years because they have been through OCR before and are extremely helpful, especially in sharing tips.
- Don’t forget that your CV is your most powerful tool. But if you are a career switcher you will need to do more networking than someone who already has experience in the area.
- Don’t panic! There’s always that technical question that you didn’t know and that fit question in which you could have used a stronger example. Yes, perhaps you could have done better but don’t despair. Learn from the experience and move on.

It was a tough month for me – more like an emotional roller-coaster, but my hard work paid off, and now OCR seems like a distant memory of a time in which I learnt a lot about myself and my classmates. The challenge doesn’t end here… bring the summer internship on!

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On Competitions

Posted by: Carolina

Is London Business School a very competitive place? With the non-disclosure policy on grades, we may not be as competitive with our classmates as other schools may be. But this is all on academics, and by now we all know that London Business School is not only about academics.

The biggest thrills I had during the autumn term were related to competitions. As an ex-banker, I gravitate towards finance, and when the first PE competition ever launched at school was announced, I quickly formed a team with other three classmates. We were Megatron Capital Partners and our task was to advise the “board” on a potential LBO. We did well. We managed to get through the final but didn’t make the top three. The team that won represented London Business School at the European PE Competition in Rotterdam and placed first.

Then there was the IPO Challenge organised by Chicago Booth. The qualifying round was held during a weekend in October. We, together with students at the top business schools in the world, got to advise the “board” on the IPO of a fictional company. We had to turn over our presentation in 24 hours. This was supposed to be a simulation of a day in the life of an associate in investment banking. We were disappointed when we learnt that Megatron Capital Partners didn’t make it to the final in Chicago, but were happy to hear that three London Business School’s teams qualified. One of those teams finished second in the global event in Chicago.

My high came from the Alpha Challenge though. This is an annual stock picking competition run by UNC Kenan Flager in Chapel Hill, NC. All the American top schools attend, and London Business School is the only European school invited. On the morning of my birthday I received the invitation to represent school in this competition with two other students, Chris and Allen (fellow blogger).
A week later we received a list of around 60 global food and beverage stocks and had to pick a buy and a sell to present in Chapel Hill one week later. Trust me; it was more difficult that it sounds… Add that we had a day long strategy exam the day after we got the list and that we lost one day flying.

We were gutted we didn’t make it through the final round but felt content because just the experience was all worthy. We got to meet amazing students from the American schools and also networked with recruiters from the top asset management firms.

So I have told you about the finance-related competitions. But there are also competitions to cater all tastes. Consulting, entrepreneurship, marketing, social ventures… everything! So if competition is one of your things, be prepared to have a blast.

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We’ve just started the autumn term, and so far we’ve been totally busy. We’ve lost hours of sleep, our study groups have been tested but we’re so loving it!

For many of us, London is a new city and the only people we know is from the school community. But for some of us, including me, London has been home for a while. So here’s where it gets challenging: how can you have a life outside school when you spend around 60 hrs a week in campus?

When you work, you usually hear about work/life balance. In my case, I’m looking for MBA/life balance. I’ve resorted to “consolidation”. This means inviting my non-MBA friends to school parties, or just to visit me in campus. So far, so good.

I’ve heard of other solutions. For example, Monday-Friday dedicated to school and school related activities, Saturday only for non-school friends and family, and Sunday allocated on a first come, first serve basis.

What works best? I don’t know but I’ll tell you when I find out.

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End of Week Two

Posted by: Carolina

At the time I write this entry, we have just finished our official second week as the MBA class 2012. I can honestly say that so far I have had an amazing time.

Week One was Orientation Week. On a Monday morning we all arrived to campus and went to the lecture theatre assigned to our stream. A mysterious white envelope was waiting for me at the entrance of the theatre. I opened it and found out probably the thing I was more anxious about: my study group!

Try to picture this: 82 people sat in the classroom, in what looked like the United Nations. I don’t recall the number of different nationalities in our stream, but I think it was close to 40. We got a briefing from our lovely Stream Manager and then each study group was called one by one.

“A5,” the Stream Manager said.

I stood up, so did five other people: a Spanish management consultant, a Philippine fund manager, a Dutch lawyer, an American photographer, an English consultant (er, Mark –who is a fellow blogger) and a Venezuelan investment banker (aka me!). This is study group A5. These are the people that will become some of the most important people in my life for the next year.

After taking a class picture in the front lawn, we headed to The Brewery, a fancy venue in the City. We got there on vintage red double-decked buses, also known as routemasters, which the school arranged for the whole class. It was definitely a very nice touch.

The rest of the day and Tuesday involved an enjoyable series of speeches and talks, plus breaks and food for us to socialise. But the highlight of the week was Away Day, a kind of boot camp where we got to do things I thought non-athletic me would never do: climbing a 10m pole? Are you kidding me? Well, I did it and also walked on ropes. By the way, Away Day wasn’t about testing out fitness levels but about team building. And we welcomed the 7th member in our team: a Chinese business developer.

Over the weekend I had my first touch rugby training… ever! Can you imagine around 30 girls, most of them clueless about rugby, chasing a ball in Regent’s Park? We certainly caught lots of attention. After the workout, we hit the pub with the guys of the Rugby Club.

Week Two began. It was the official start of the September term. I took waivers for some courses, so my timetable was less packed than the one of my classmates. Still I think that most of us felt a bit overwhelmed. Don’t get me wrong. It’s is fantastic to be back to school but we just have to get adjusted. Moreover, I have never seen so many people eager to participate in class discussions.

On the social side, there was a thing to do every day! Birthday parties, stream parties, any excuse parties, pub after classes, etc. I also had dinner with my study group –a perfect way to start bonding over tacos and beer. Oh! Clubs have started their kickoff meetings, which will keep for the rest of the month.

After five sessions of Understanding General Management, two Career Services related sessions, two briefings, a couple of assignments and lots of fun, Week Two is over.

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