Tuesday, November 22, 2011


I'm around three months through my MBA program and I was pretty surprised when I figured that out.  The time has really flown.  I can't believe it's Thanksgiving already and soon enough it will be Christmas and I'll have wrapped almost a quarter of my time here.

Thanksgiving, now that I'm an adult, is probably my favorite holiday of the year.  When I was a kid it involved long road trips to family where invariably someone would get sick in the car and we'd all have to sleep on the floor and smile and eat our vegetables.  Now that I'm an adult I'm looking forward to being home with my immediate family and having a low key couple days of catching up and eating my body weight in sweet potatoes. 

I'm incredibly thankful that I'm able to be with my family this holiday season and that we're all healthy and doing well.  My problems are truly first world problems of what to eat for dinner while traveling to them and if I want to make the crust from scratch when I make my apple pie.  I am so fortunate and I want to hold on to that feeling more often through the highs and lows of business school and life in general.

But back to sweet potatoes.  I found last winter that I'm actually crazy about them.  Dead serious.  So here's my little bit of wisdom on a frugal, healthy dish for thanksgiving and beyond. 
  1. Buy a crap ton of sweet potatoes when they go on sale this week or next.
  2. Wash
  3. Slice into chunks (traditional) or thin disks (will cook faster and great for sandwiches)
  4. Marinate in olive oil, a little salt and vinegar and spices with enough water to keep everything good and wet
    1. Spice option A - rosemary, a little oregano
    2. Spice option B - a little cinnamon,  chili powder
  5.  Roast in the oven at 425 or, if you're fortunate enough to live in a climate that allows, grill (disks work better) until soft.  Basting with marinade occasionally, optional but helpful.
What are your thanksgiving plans and what are you feeling thankful for this week?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sick leave

My SO was home sick last week and we got into a discussion about what companies are trying to control and promote by having sick leave or not.  I've worked for companies that have had unlimited sick leave, a few days of leave and none at all, requiring you to take a personal day. 

We know that companies want you to show up at work as much as possible but showing up when sick just spreads your germs everywhere and results in you taking much longer to get better.  I know that I'm not nearly as productive when I'm sick, plus it's miserable, so I typically minimize all work for a couple days and sleep as much as possible to get over the bug ASAP.  However, without sick leave I've found I'm very reluctant to take this approach and use up personal leave.  Similarly,  I'm reluctant to miss classes here at school since content won't be repeated.   On the flip side I'll admit to taking a mental health day or two at the company I worked at that had unlimited sick leave.  

 So, our debate, and what I want you to weigh in on, is if restricting sick leave or having none at all actually has an economic benefit for companies or if the spreading of germs and longer duration of illness actually results in less productivity.  Do you think those with unlimited leave are suckers?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Recruiting season

Recruiting season is in full swing here for summer internships and it packs a wallop.  I might not have dinner at home all week between company dinners, evening receptions, happy hours and so on.  It's incredible the amount of money companies put into this.  Reserving a space to host, paying fees to the university to do on campus recruiting, promotional materials, wining and dining students PLUS all the productive time they are losing from the people who attend these events. 

Call me cynical but I think there are a few reasons companies do this:
  • Some companies truly want to find the right people for their organization
  • Others want to compete for the most prestigious/smart talent
  • Recruiting at prestigious schools and wining and dining supports your brand - even if a student doesn't want to work at McKinsey they might hire them as consultants later on.  Similarly, you might not want to work for Goldman Sachs or JP Morgan but your peers will tell you about their private banking services.  The networking is not just student to company but company to student.
  • Everybody else is doing it - I imagine some companies fall into this trap just like students do
  • On campus recruiting can be a cattle drive - if you need warm bodies pre-screened for a solid degree of intelligence and drive come to campus and bag 'em early and often.
Although I know people are incredibly important to an organization, I don't know if this level of effort and outreach, particularly in this manner, is effective at reaching and attracting the people these companies actually want.  Surely there is plenty of noise lumped in as well - many people go to information sessions not knowing if that company is right for them, the industry/role is a good fit or even what the company does.  It seems like word of mouth recruiting and referrals from those inside the company would be much more effective.  But I imagine that a system like that doesn't scale well when you're the size of Microsoft or  Exxon or Morgan Stanley.

Tonight I'm going to a dinner hosted by a name brand company I'm not sure I want to work for.  It's at a steakhouse near my home and hosting is costing the company over $125 per head plus alcohol.  While it's nice to be wined and dined I'm sure I'm not going to get $125 of utility from that meal and a seated dinner may not be the best venue for me to learn more about the company and vice versa.  What does it say about that company that they are recruiting this way?  Is it a meaningful data point since this behavior is a cultural norm?

How does hiring work at your organization? Is it effective?

PS - How can I tell if a company will be a really good place to work?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

No More Harvard Debt

Recently re-found and have been reading No More Harvard Debt. It's written by a 2009 HBS alum who's trying to pay down $90k in student loans.  Well written and solid account of being on the other side of graduation with student loans.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Living like a student

I love Jacob's post about living like a student over at ERE.  I too have some fond memories of my college days with activities that were near free but tons of fun.  One of the frustrating things about being in business school is that students here don't act or spend like students a lot of the time.  Most activities involve going out and spending money,  there are plenty of expensive trips abroad each weekend, and BMWs are much more common than hand me down Civics. I actually have more luck engaging in student-like gatherings such as game nights, potlucks, or movie nights with friends outside of business school who are gainfully employed full time.  What gives?

How do you feel about living like a student?  Can't get enough or can't get away fast enough?