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Nobody Said It Was Easy

Posted by: Jenny

For
first year students at London Business School, December to June
is internship hunting time. Now halfway through the process, here’s my rather
candid take on what it’s been like:

NOVEMBER: Career
Services keep on talking about preparing for internship applications. We shrug
and think to ourselves summer is too far away. We travel, meet people, go to
parties and of course go to class (not in that order). Meanwhile, our CVs get
slighted, butchered, and then resurrected—all in a good way—by Career Services.
We feel invincible; life is good.

DECEMBER: Applications
for Asian offices of the bulge-bracket firms become due. We hastily write
our Cover Letters and submit 6 applications in a day. We go on our Christmas
vacation and internships are relegated to the back of our minds.

JANUARY: We come back from
vacation all suited-up. At the Corporate Partners Week, we elbow our way to the
side of the bosses from Goldman and McKinsey and ask them intelligent
questions—the same questions we will ask the bosses from Morgan Stanley and
BCG. Meanwhile, we still aren’t sure what we 
really want to do
so we follow the crowd and submit our applications to all the biggest companies
in the market.

FEBRUARY: Companies
start shortlisting interviewees or—to put it another way—they start sending out
rejection letters. At interviews, we proclaim our love for our potential
employers while at the Windsor we proclaim ourselves as the King (or
Queen) of Dings (TM by Mayank & Co.). We start philosophizing the meaning
of rejections in life as Career Services assures us that job offers peak in
April and May so we should not lose hope. Meanwhile, we act on our Plans B and
C (and D) and apply to all job postings in the Portal—much like throwing wet
paper towels onto a wall and seeing (hoping) that at least one would stick.

Now
it’s still February so I have to end my errr….narrative here. Some of us have
been fortunate to land positions—which might be not our first choice, but we’re
grateful nonetheless. Some of us are still riding it out but regardless of the
stage we are in the process, one thing’s for sure: this internship hunt has so
far been exciting, quite stressful and surprisingly self-revealing. (In my
case, I’ve learned that I need to read the FT and the Economist more. That and
that I’m more likely to land a job in finance than in the non-profit sector.
But that’s an entirely different story altogether.) In any case I’m still
hoping that in my next blog I would say something in the lines of, March,
April, May:
 Everyone gets offers for their dream jobs and we all live happily
ever after. Riiiight. I’ll keep you posted on that.

________

Having
said that, there actually IS life beyond internship applications.

One
of the good things about doing your MBA is the many opportunities you get to
meet bigwigs from big companies. The FMCG Summit on the 25
th of
February is a good example. The conference boasts of speakers from established
companies such as Johnson & Johnson and Unilever and other interesting
companies such as Sense Worldwide and Dunnhumby. Alan Moore, author of
Communities Dominate Brands, will come to speak as well. Conferences like this
are good opportunities to network with leaders, alumni and students and you never
know – it might be your lucky day and a conference just might lead to a golden
job offer.

________

And
then there are the exchange programmes. To apply, we have to submit by March 1
st a
500-word essay for each school we’re interested in (maximum of 3) and we have
to convincingly write why Columbia, Chicago, or whichever school we have our
eyes set on, is right for us (it’s like MBA applications all over again). I’ve
been working on my essays and here are my top 7 reasons (7, not 10 because I
can only think of 7 – you probably have more) why I want to go on exchange to Columbia (and
no, these will not go into my essay):

7.
It doesn’t rain as much in New York.

6.
I want to do the cheesy Sex and the City tour.

5.
I need a break from fish and chips.

4.
American TV shows.

3.
They call their tomatoes 
to-may-toes and not to-maa-toes.

2.
They sell kebabs and hotdogs outside the school.

And
the number one reason why I want to go on exchange to Columbia is…

1. If you’re at the TOP there’s
nowhere else to go but down (to the next best thing). Oh yeah. 

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Ready, Set, Rat Race!

Posted by: Jenny

I’m here in the library but I’d like to take a break from midterm cramming – which admittedly is difficult when you still haven’t quite gotten over the Halloween party mode. Let’s talk about internships for a bit. Yesterday I submitted my first application for an internship. Yes. Yes. Oh yes. It’s only November, barely 3 months in and we’ve already started the race for that much coveted investment banking/private equity/consulting summer associate position. Ready, set, rat race!

I have to say that contrary to popular (hopeful) belief, being at LBS does not mean a job will land on our laps like manna from the heavens. This is in no way saying that LBS does not help us at all with finding jobs – because they do – CV, cover letters, interview prep, etc – Career Services will bend their backs for us and we are of course eternally grateful. The trouble however is that we have to know first what we want to do, and then we can go to them and ask for help. Unfortunately there is no surefire formula to have that what-do-I-really-wanna-do-with-my-life epiphany. And no, there is no direct correlation between the number of hours spent at the Windsor pub and the degree of certainty of one’s future. Let’s stop fooling ourselves.

Anyway, I came to LBS two months ago thinking that I would not go back to anything remotely related to banking anymore and go to non-profit instead. Naturally though, with all the company presentations and club infosessions taking over my lunch and dinner schedule, combined with a realization that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to press the restart button in my life – I actually decided to take a peek at what’s out there. And I peeked. And then I clicked the submit button. Sorry, non-profit. Yesterday I applied for a banking position. Yes, I’m a sell-out.

But wait, what’s the thought process here?

Two weekends ago I decided I actually needed to sit down and THINK. So I did. For an entire day. I sat down, made a spreadsheet with different colors and laid out my Plans A, B, C, and Z, and noted the pros and cons and the deadlines and requirements for each. (Yes, I'm that much of a geek.) So the results: PLAN A is UN, World Bank, IFC. PLAN B is Consulting (non-profit sector). PLAN C is my safety jobs (which is still empty at the moment). And PLAN Z – Z being Zee Wildcards – are my much beloved banks. The banks made the cut because – who am I fooling here – Zee money iz good. End of story. Again, yes, I’m a sell-out.

A friend said that it’s ridiculous that my spreadsheet spans all sectors – Finance, Consulting, and Industry. It’s like I’m covering all bases, LOL. I know, it’s crazy. It’ll be tough, but that’s no reason not to do it. No one has ever won a race while sitting in the pits (or something to that effect – hey I do remember something from MOB class!) I tell myself that at least I have a colorful spreadsheet to start with!

Alright, enough with the craziness. Back to midterms.

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I’m back to popping pills again – Flu vs Moi Round 2. I’ve realised that I’m going to be a weakling in this town. Cold weather + Booze + Thinking I’m Superwoman = Softee Jenny. I’ve become a valued customer at Boots.

Oh and right, this is my first blog post here. Hello, uhm, LBS MBA applicants. If you want a blow by blow of what's been happening, I apologise but you won't find it in my blogs.

Yeah it has been darn busy in school, but I’m surviving. Classes, homeworks, study group meetings, club events, parties. Right now I actually should be doing my Corporate Finance homework but I figured a looming 4pm deadline will make me work faster later. I’m all about efficiency. That and I can’t stop watching Californication. After the third successive episode I have resigned to the fact that I am doing a marathon. Talk about escalation of commitment.

I know, I know, I’m in school to learn, but actually I’ve realised that my main goal here is to figure out what I want to do with my life. I know I said in my MBA application that I EXACTLY knew what I wanted to do post-MBA, but seriously, didn’t we all? After meeting 400 amazing people from more than 50 countries, we are bound to re-assess our goals. It’s inevitable.

Now what I didn’t see coming was that LBS would actually tell me two important things about myself so early in the programme: One is that I was bound for derailment once upon a time. Two is that I am an idiot.

Derailment is, I learned from GLAM course, an organisational behaviour term for being a – errr I'm not sure if I'm allowed to use certain words here, so let's say – a "monkey" and not knowing it, thus causing you your promotion or even your job. This is classic for superstars who get promoted early and start thinking that they’re a god. I plead guilty. This was years ago when I was still in Manila and I blamed my boss, my clients and even IFRS for my poor performance after my promotion. Sorry, Boss Who Must Not Be Named, I blamed you for years but I have come to realise that the truth is I wasn’t ready then. And I was a monkey. (Wow, my first public apology. Hallelujah.)

And second point – I’m an idiot. I was told that I was an idiot for not living in the moment. At first I couldn’t wrap my tiny brain around it but the arguments are quite compelling and apparently according to a professor it’s a fad these days. Do whatever you want then think about the consequences later. Trust your gut feel and make quicker, more accurate decisions. Gladwell even wrote a book on it, on how wonderful blinking is, LOL. Years ago I thought I was being an idiot when I was not thinking things through, but now I am thinking things through and still I’m an idiot. Oh how times have changed. Yes, I’m an idiot—planning and thinking and all—but see it landed me here in London and I could see a bright light 5, 10 years from now, so I guess I’m happy with being an idiot… Or am I? [Insert mixed feelings here]. I really don’t know how to end this thought. Nor this paragraph. Nor this blog post. Good thing is I have two years to think about it.

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