Monday, June 28, 2010

Off the beaten path...

I am just beginning Week 3 of my fellowship with Education Pioneers in Chicago. I definitely wasn’t mentally prepared for the 2 hour commute to and from work even after a month long vacation in India. I am working with Chicago Public Schools in their Office of School Turnaround. If you are like me on Day 1, I had no idea what that meant. The most underperforming schools in the district go through a process called Turnaround. The idea is to reform the school by providing the school with adequate resources, a highly trained staff, infrastructure improvements and community engagement. The staff at OST is unlike what I expected – the culture in the organization is very entrepreneurial and feels like a small company startup. Most people bounce from desk to desk and the open seating in the office makes even the directors of organization seem very approachable. One of my directors took a few interns to visit a school that had recently undergone the turnaround process. The school is located in Englewood, reputed to be one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the country. The staff and students at the school exuded optimism, passion and confidence. I was absolutely blown away by the incredible results they had accomplished despite their challenging circumstances and excited to have the opportunity to contribute and further their success. As part of the fellowship experience, we also have weekly workshops focused on challenges within the educational sector. The other fellows hail from diverse educational backgrounds in education, law and public policy. Although I am the only fellow from Kelley, there are several other MBA’s from prestigious universities like Harvard, Stanford, Booth and Kellogg. Weekly networking and social events keep us really busy - in fact I need to start planning for the Education Pioneers Iron Chef Challenge Appetizer Round! Grand Prize – bragging rights and the honor of cooking in an industrial kitchen for the final competition. Allez Cuisine!

Name: Neha Kale
GradYear: 2011
City: Chicago
State: IL

Friday, June 18, 2010

Internship “JumpStart”

I am writing this blog entry as I near the end of my first full week at Midwest ISO. Headquartered in beautiful Carmel, IN, I am an intern in the Supply Management (purchasing) department. Never heard of Midwest ISO? Then I can bet you are not too familiar with utility companies or the power grid. Midwest ISO manages the grid for 13 states and Manitoba as well as a real-time energy market bringing together buyers and sellers. If that still isn’t clear, just remember that they keep the lights on. Being that the last time I was an intern was the summer of 2004, I wasn’t sure what to expect from an MBA internship. I have to say that I have been extremely impressed with the Midwest ISO internship program so far. Everyone in the company has been welcoming, friendly, and helpful which has made the transition easy. As one of my first tasks, I worked with my manager to outline goals and expectations for the summer. It is very obvious from my interactions with my team that they are committed to developing me and ensuring I learn a lot over the course of the internship – I couldn’t ask for more. Not having previously worked in procurement, I ran out immediately and purchased “The Supply Management Handbook” which has been very helpful. However, I was surprised by how many different things I learned in “the core” and my electives that have already proved useful in the first week alone. From utilizing Wayne Winston’s tricks in excel to my case comp powerpoint skills to Pratt’s accounting ratios and so on, I can already tell it is going to be a great summer!

Name: Aaron Kraft
GradYear: 2011
City: Carmel
State: IN

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

In the Long and Imposing Shadow of the Sombrero

Southern California is a lot like central Indiana, except that there's an ocean and a bunch of mountains here, and the governor has a funny accent. There are 37 million people living in this state, and I had feared that I might get lost in the crowd. A trip to the beach always reassures me otherwise, however. For when I take off my shirt and stroll proudly into the cool, crisp waters of the Pacific, a quick glance at my fellow beach-goers reminds me that I am the whitest person within 300 miles. Thank you, Midwestern winter. Na zdorovie, Polish ancestry!

I am currently four weeks into my summer internship in the Commercial Leadership Program (CLP) at the biotech company Amgen, and life is good. All employees are given unlimited access to the gym on campus, which is the finest workout facility I have ever seen. A host of fitness classes - from yoga to strength training to spinning - are free and scheduled all throughout the day. All of this is a welcome respite from the absolute physical lethargy that marked my first year at Kelley. A buffet of fresh fruits and fruit-infused waters is on offer when you finish, and partaking of this has become my favorite part of the day (see picture...I am easily impressed). Sadly, whatever weight I lose while exercising is regained five-fold in water weight, but such is my plight: the fruity water is the most succulent beverage to ever grace my lips. I believe that running is like mushrooms. By that I mean that many people don't like it, but that you should try it again every few years just to make sure your tastes haven't changed. Fortunately, I have always enjoyed mushrooms, but alas, running still does not suit me. Nevertheless, I have joined the Amgen running club, which offers me the opportunity to sweat profusely and thus drink more of the fruit water when the time is right.

Amgen has treated all of us in the CLP quite well. On the weekends there are a variety of free outings planned. Surfing lessons began last week (I am terrible), and next weekend we are doing an 8-hour ocean kayaking excursion around the Channel Islands. Paintball and paddle boarding are soon to follow. With all of this going on you might be asking, "Ah, but when do you get your work done?" The answer is that I do not, but that is neither here nor there.

In all seriousness, my project is quite good. Not good enough to bore you with the details, of course, but I am working on the marketing team for Enbrel, a biologic agent used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis. My coworkers are all very intelligent, and most hail from the company's core recruiting schools of Northwestern, Harvard, MIT, and Cornell. It would bother me that I am the only Kelley MBA in the department and that they consequently mispelled Kelley (they wrote 'Kelly') in the directory, but then I discovered that my boss's boss's boss is a Kelley MBA, too. This has led to many a forearm smash (a la Mark McGwire and José Canseco) as we pass one another in the hall.

Oh, yes, the sombrero that I mentioned in the title. I was going to stop typing and go to bed, but I'll close with that. My office/cube was absolutely bare when I moved in, and I despaired at the utter lack of character. But then I looked up and spied the sombrero high atop my desk. No one knows where it came from. No matter. It is all I need to give my cube a little flair, and sometimes I don it when I go to the kitchen to make some tea. Good times.

Name: Tom Paprocki
GradYear: 2011
City: Thousand Oaks
State: California

Saturday, June 5, 2010

So much food

My internship at ConAgra began this last Tuesday. It began with a couple days of orientation during which the MBA interns (there are seven of us) were introduced to EVERY level of leadership from our brand managers to directors to VPs to the President of Frozen Foods to the President of Consumer Foods to the CEO himself. I am so impressed by the attention that this company is now putting into its internship program. (And yes, that is a somewhat recent development for ConAgra.) It's also nice to note that my co-workers are sufficiently impressed when I tell them that I'm a Kelley MBA. (There are quite a few of us in this company, apparently). In fact, within my first 48 hours on the job, every single Kelley alum at ConAgra had sent me a personal email welcoming me to the company. So far, I'm thrilled to be a part of this company and this Kelley culture. If that's not a sales pitch, I don't know what is.

Name: John Pawlowski
GradYear: 2011
City: Omaha
State: NE