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Interviews, Internships; and Emotions?

Posted by: Gayathrisai
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The ongoing search for internships/jobs, the required interview preparations and the emotional investment going into all this is clearly palpable. It is so much of hard work and dedication, almost involving perspiration. Networking is so critical, especially in cases of career shifts. The last four months were the most intense in terms of balancing coffee chats with group assignments, company presentations, CV reviews, one on one counselling with career services, core subject exams, Christmas & New Year break!!!

Opportunities are minimum given the subdued markets, while competition is intense. Obviously the scenario can’t get any more challenging than this. From a school of 500+ students, around 100 may end up with internships. Does it mean that the remaining 400+ are any less smart? Of course not!!! It’s just peer pressure that might make us feel this way. A job or an internship is certainly not the only parameter that determines the success of a person. Honestly I’m sure everyone is working on their plan B and/or C.

Entrepreneurship emerges from incredible passion. Many a times it is born out of turbulence. I’m sure such trying times end up planting the seed of entrepreneurship in the hearts of those that dare to think beyond jobs and internships. I’m sure it is possible to make any business a success by just harnessing the LBS network. True, not everyone responds favorably to mails or calls, but surely a handful do. These few are sufficient to help lay a solid foundation. I wish to see entrepreneurs blossom all around me, hopefully I will be one someday! Go LBS go, let’s make the market!

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Can accounting relate to something other than journal entries, trial balance and final accounts? Can it ever not relate to a share capital a/c, a goodwill a/c, a sinking fund reserve a/c, a redemption reserve a/c or the saving grace, a ‘suspense a/c’? Well, Financial Accounting and Analysis at London Business School made me see accounting in a new light!

We had a case study every class and only case studies for exams. These case studies highlighted the critical role of accounting policies of companies as well as their considerable impact on the financials and consequently on the valuation metrics. A close watch on the revenue recognition, depreciation and expensing policies of the company coupled with one-time items which claim to construe exceptional earnings distortion, would certainly go a long way in assessing the sustainability of current operations of the firm and also, in forecasting its future earnings potential.

When Prof. Ahmed Tahoun proposed the format of the exam, we were actually quite certain that he was joking. He also added that we would enjoy writing the exam and that the questions would make us smile. True to his promise, the questions did make us smile, though the paper was quite long making our tired muscles scream and complain towards the end of the three-hour exam! It was a refreshing new perspective on an age-old subject!

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There are three types of people – those who are focused, those who think they are focused and those who are open to options from the start. Though it’s commendable to have focus, it’s no way a crime to be open to options or to change orientation along the way. Those under the second category are the ones who are more likely to be prone to peer pressure. These are the more talented ones too as they are aware that they are capable of performing well in more than one area, and hence the option of considering alternatives.

The broad areas in finance are investment banking, asset management, private equity and venture capital. Starting with one of these and ending up in another one is quite common. What matters is whether you are equally or more passionate about the area that the reorientation lands you in.

A reorientation based on untiring research and unimaginable efforts at networking with alumni from relevant sectors lays a solid foundation for career progression in the chosen area. While reorientation is natural, it would bear fruits only when combined with a renewed drive. As you will soon realize, most people around you will fall under the second and third categories while only a handful fall under the first. Hence it is absolutely acceptable to change orientation in career goals along the way!

Well, about me? Honestly, I thought I knew what I wanted! Currently I’m exploring my options and weighing pros and cons but I’m nearly where I should be!!!

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Momentary insanity made me register for the Dartmoor Vale Half 2012 at Devon, a good 5 hours by bus from London, saving grace being a classmate of mine, Pritish Ray, for company. What I expected was a half marathon like any other. What I expected was a place like London, though smaller in size. What I expected was a good break. What I expected was to be able to handsomely handle the whole trip! But the trip turned out to be all that was unexpected!

As I stepped out of the bus, upon reaching Devon, I felt cold wind caress my face. As we walked around I realized that it was a beautiful, hilly and peaceful locality. Within seconds I knew it was going to be colder than London. What also struck me as I looked around was that the upcoming half marathon in Devon was going to have a similar terrain if not a more challenging one!!! Oooops said my heart, all is well said my mind.

On Sunday morning as we stood at the start line, my only concern was to finish the marathon at a decent time. My personal best is 02:10 hrs. I would have been happy with 02:15 hrs. The first couple of miles were good, then came the never ending uphill. While all the marathoners took to a comfortable pace for the uphill, in my quest to be done with the uphill run, I sped past the others. Soon I was to realize that the uphill lasted for around 3 miles. Boy, was it a tough trail?! If I thought uphill was difficult then obviously I hadn’t a clue about what was to come. Absolutely steep downhill for 3 miles. This is where my knees decided I am not its well-wisher! At 13 Kms my knees gave way, I couldn’t take another step forward running without doing a collapsing act. But I refused to give up, if I had, I couldn’t have lived with myself. I dragged myself to the finish line at 02:32 hrs walking the last 8 odd Kms, which was actually decent timing considering I walked almost half the race. I was badly limping around. I was forced to remain painfully mobile. What gave me a deep sense of satisfaction was the fact that the first full marathoner finished ten minutes after I did!

Ever since this marathon I’ve been unable to run for more than five to ten minutes. This incident brought home harsh realities – my weak core and my badly hurt knees requiring months to heal, ensuring I can’t get back to running immediately! This has also seen me withdraw into my shell with respect to fitness. Usually, I fight back. Maybe it is time to take to swimming, strengthen my core and then have a strong comeback with respect to running. I know there is anxiety somewhere deep down, I just hope it burns me into doing something about my fitness ASAP!

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Diwali is an Indian festival of lights and is one that is celebrated across the nation with unwavering spirits. Last Saturday was the Diwali party hosted by the India club. It was grander than any that I’ve attended so far – mouth watering food, incredible crowd, non stop entertainment, packed dance floor, sweat drenched dancers and happy faces! A laude of applause to all the ladies and gentlemen out there who took the efforts to come dressed in Indian attire – you made the day very colorful and interesting. I must admit, LBS is full of gorgeous  women and reasonably good looking men ;) To those who are single and ready to mingle, there is a whole world out there, just keep your eyes wide open! The event was a spectacular success and can be summed up in two words INCREDIBLE FUN!

Mere presence at the party was enough to have fun. But I decided to participate in the cultural program for the evening to expand the horizon of my ‘fun’. This year MiFs had two teams giving a dance performance as part of the cultural program –  one performed on Bollywood numbers while the other danced to a medley on Kollywood (Tamil) and Bollywood numbers. The performance of course rocked. It was thrilling to witness the energy from a mesmerized audience, those four minutes on stage seemed like a few seconds, magical moments. There were 13 teams dancing and it lasted for an hour. In my opinion MiFs were the best, though the MiMs won. Following are the links to dance performances of the MiFs.

Group A: http://youtu.be/uB_Jat6ej64

Group B: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=romJseT__hA&feature=g-upl

Following the cultural program, the dance floor was made open to all. I danced continuously for three hours till the end. Some of my classmates were surprised to see this side to me, so was I! The songs were doing rounds in my head long after and I woke up with a smile the next day. My mind, body and soul couldn’t get enough.

London Business School does not just promise cultural diversity, it delivers it with style. It makes you feel the spirit of every culture. Open your arms to embrace such mind blowing experiences!!!

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Accounting as a subject causes undue distress to mostly those without a background, while those with one know it’s more common sense than a carefully engineered complication!

We’d already had a prep course of 6 sessions prior to the commencement of our regular accounting class. We’d heard that our Prof was new to LBS and the anxiety of being the chosen ‘guinea pigs’ got to us! It was our first class; soon after the Prof walked in we were all mesmerized by the effort he took to go over each of our names individually, repeating it after us to check whether he’d got it right. The first few sessions were exciting & interactive with a judicious mix of concepts & its practical implications, neatly intertwined with his amazing sense of humor.  Then started the case studies, at which stage the class got progressively more interactive, with greater participation forthcoming from students. The myriad perspectives that kept cropping up took the class on an enjoyable roller coaster ride.

Students are encouraged to make presentations to showcase interesting observations and conclusions. This got the class intensely involved and is the one subject where most people stick to their streams and timings!

Oh yeah, those coming to class late after the break got locked out!!! I found myself locked out only once, though. Surprising, yet true; the number that got locked out has been significantly diminishing in the last few sessions. In Financial Accounting, there is constantly something to keep the mind occupied and as a result most of the class pays rapt attention to what’s being said. If the class seems silent even for a few minutes, it gets our Prof restless. He is immediately on the job cracking a joke or doing something to get our attention back – his efforts are a magnificent success. The class is LOUD and its difficult for the mind to wander off aimlessly! In accounting class with Ahmed Tahoun as the Prof, it’s either the class bursting into laughter or being deeply engrossed in discussions on a case/concept.

We have only 2 classes left and it’s sad that we are nearing the end of the course. We will surely miss him. While the MiFs are special to him being his first ever class at LBS, the MiFs have found his class most engaging. The instant bonding between the MiFs and Prof Ahmed Tahoun is here to stay!!!

 

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A Study Group after my own Heart

Posted by: Gayathrisai
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For all the core courses at LBS the class is split into groups of six (depending on the class/stream strength) and no two individuals are from the same nationality. The flavor of “diversity” that the school specializes in offering, permeates to such a micro level!

My study group consists of Turlan, Ben, Alexi, Alex and Daniel from Kazakhstan, Germany, UK and South Korea respectively. The first time I spotted Turlan ever in my life was when he was standing by himself beside the door at S1 lounge during the first MiF meet and greet session. Self-assured and totally relaxed, with a wine glass in his hand, he seemed very approachable. Little did I know the camaraderie built over that meeting was soon to bloom  into a long lasting friendship! When I was given the names of my study group members, I was glad to leave it to Turlan to get the rest of the team together. I hadn’t a clue about the others!

However, today, I know that each of them is an intellectual capital I look up to.  Alexi – plans his work well, Alex – starts early and keeps going till he is done, Ben – he is always in the library buried in books (well, doesn’t mean he is all work no play), Daniel – travels from far away and still makes it to all team meetings on time! For inspiration, I just look up to them, nowhere beyond! They have all become quite dear to me.

The team exhibits incredible levels of commitment and discipline, culminating into interesting perspectives time and again. We work in total sync. There wasn’t much time last couple of months to do anything fun as we were all busy finding our footing amidst the course and it’s demands. Since our first team dinner was at an Indian Restaurant at Brick Lane which everyone thoroughly enjoyed, my heart melted at the realization that I could invite the team over to my place for home cooked Indian food as a gesture of appreciation. However, to invite someone over, ‘cooking’ needs to be done. As critical as I’ve gotten in the past about food, I’ve only ever eaten, never cooked!!! I took it up as a challenge and decided on a fancy menu – paneer butter masala, channa & green peas masala and vegetable pulav with raitha! My initial attempt at mass fancy cooking proved to be a success – most of what I cooked soon vanished and I’m sure these guys weren’t trying to be nice to me! What makes me call my study group, one after my own heart is the fact that after dinner was done and we were generally chatting around, suddenly Turlan pops up and says can I have Indian masala tea?! While cooking is more like a new adventure sport for me, making masala tea is my forte. I’m addicted and can’t live without it! Soon after, the whole team wanted tea. Gladly, I served them my favorite!

Being in this team makes me feel at home. They let me be while they also push me beyond my boundaries to rediscover myself. Once the core courses are over, i will miss them loads but this team will always stay close to my heart!

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A Heaven of Opportunities

Posted by: Gayathrisai
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There are innumerable opportunities to contribute to the student’s community at LBS. This realization hit me not when I nominated myself for the post of the Academic Rep of my class, but after I lost the elections for the same!

Clubs: There are around 80 clubs that are active in sending out invites for various events to either the student community at large or to its members in particular which are in need of officers for its Executive Committee (EC). The selection process to become an EC member of a club is quite competitive. There are myriad roles to be played as part of the EC and donning one of them is a sure way to send the right signals to your recruiters!

Student Association: The SA has various positions for which it holds elections. Students contending for these positions represent the needs of the student community at large.

Taking part in club activities apart from volunteering to be nominated and being successful in the selection process to form part of the Executive Committee of the various clubs are ways of meeting students from different programs. ‘Networking’ is the thrust at London Business School and it also includes knowing as many students as possible – there is a wealth of knowledge to be gained from the student community!

Program Ambassadors: There is also the program office that is on the lookout for student ambassadors for the respective programs. This is indeed an invaluable way to attract talent and connect with prospective students.

The School offers to its students, adequate means  to showcase their enthusiasm and spirit. ‘Willingness’ is always rewarded with ‘Opportunity’ as well as ‘Recognition’. Who would have thought that between academics, company information sessions, networking events and job search, being part of the Executive Committee of two sought-after clubs of the School and a MiF Ambassador would leave me with absolutely no time to even think twice about anything?! However, this madness is my sanity check and I thoroughly enjoy it!

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MiF Go Karting

Posted by: Gayathrisai
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Have you ever been with a bunch of crazy drivers? Have you ever felt the vibrations of a speeding vehicle make you almost lose ground? Have you ever wondered why it is that despite leaving adequate space for overtaking on your left, you almost get bumped off on your right, every single time?! Have you ever been consumed by the thrill of speed that it drives you dizzy with the intensity?

If your answers are in the affirmative then I’m sure you’ll agree that the excitement and fun increases exponentially when you’re in a group of 40. On the other hand if the answer is a no then I’m sure the curiosity to experience the dizziness gets the better of you. It sure did for me! It was my first time in five years. Wearing the helmet did make me get a bit claustrophobic initially though I coaxed myself to move forward. What is life without taking a plunge?! Once on the race track, the meandering course got addictive and I was on it for almost half hour. Subsequently when it was my turn to get back on the race track, it was mere ‘empathy’ for the eccentric drivers of my class (guys, it is meant to be a compliment, please don’t kill me) that made me quit, for I was unbearably slow while they were ridiculously fast.

The one hour just whizzed past, every single face was bright and joyous – I’m not quite sure whether getting done with the investments exams did the trick or whether it was the insane speeds at which they completed their laps (a reasonable guess would be a bit of both)! Some of them took great pride in claiming that they were shown the black flag thrice in a row (black flag is synonymous with incorrigible behavior on the race track) and I appreciate their spirit.

The top three teams got their medals and pictures of their beaming faces were captured forever. Our social rep did an incredible job of organizing this event and everyone thoroughly enjoyed it. Kirill & his wife, the awesome twosome and the MiF Photographers were at the camera capturing the stints of their speeding classmates. Every single person present, made it special for me. This one is safely tucked away in my memory forever!

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My journey to LBS

Posted by: Gayathrisai

There comes a stage in our career where familiarity breeds strategy! It was precisely at this stage that I recognized the need to enhance my technical skills, to make a geography shift and to gain global exposure. Soon began my search for the right course and school. London had always fascinated me since the first time I heard about the city during my mom’s visit in 1989. Everything about London points to its diversity – right from its people to its architecture. It’s one of the financial centres of the world. According to me, so is LBS! In the coming year, I look forward to a truly global experience, lifetime associations, loads of fun, wonderful memories and of course, hard work!

My journey to LBS is one of nostalgia, founded on the cornerstone of foresight with pillars of toil. My preparation for GMAT and the application process were clearly sandwiched between the crazy 70 hour work weeks, not to mention handling social and family calls. While getting admitted to LBS is a milestone, successful course completion is like scaling a mountain peak, though the discipline that got me here is sure to see me through!

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