The Most Disgusting Day in Boston

Permit me a rant, if you will, for I have just drudged through icy, wet, sloshy, disgusting, half snow, half water all the way from Harvard Square back to campus. My so-called waterproof boots -- soaked. My jeans and socks -- as wet as if I just removed them from the wash machine. My hair? Stuck to my head, stuck in my lip gloss and full of knots. I am a mess. It is a mess outside. And for that reason, I plan to stay in my warm dorm room until mother nature takes care of this sloppy, disgustingness. That is all.

Second Semester in Full Swing and I'm Feeling Fine

It's amazing how much more relaxed I am this semester. And I think my good attitude and the fact that I keep repeating this mantra to everyone who asks is helping perpetuate it. I could very easily stress out this semester what with six intense courses, an internship search in progress...okay, I'm stopping here because I am feeling my heart race and this goes against my relaxed state so it's time for a subject change.

Classes are so good so far. I do definitely miss certain professors and aspects of last semester, but I also feel really stimulated by these new courses. Right now we have Business, Government and the International Economy (aka BGIE -- pronounced Big E); Leadership and Corporate Accountability; Finance 2; and Strategy. I absolutely L-O-V-E strategy. It's like marketing on steroids. Seriously though, we talk about all aspects of a company's strategic moves and how they impact production, marketing, operations, finance, etc. BGIE is also really interesting (plus we have a great professor who is the course head for the subject -- he seems so incredibly smart!) although the 20+ page cases are killing me. Finance is hard (as usual) and LCA is pretty good so far, although we haven't had too many classes yet so it's hard to tell where we will go in that course. In two weeks we pick up a fifth class, The Entrepreneurial Manager and then later in the semester we get Negotiation.

Outside of classes, I am busy as ever. I'm auditioning for the HBS Show (a student written and run musical comedy) on Thursday and I'm also in the process of planning the Entertainment & Media Club Conference, which is March 19 (and to any Bostonians reading this, the conference is open to the public, so message me for more information!). I'm also trying to squeeze in extra personal training sessions, physical therapy and chiropractics for my neck, my remaining anti-stress massage therapy appointments, traveling here, there and everywhere...

Speaking of traveling, I am leaving this Friday to spend a week and a day in sunny south Florida with my family. Next week is what RCs call Hell Week, aka on-campus internship recruiting dedicated week. We are off from classes the whole week to accommodate interview scheduling. Since I am doing a completely networked search, I am not interviewing on campus at all (a little risky, I must say, but life wouldn't be fun without risk, right?) and I thought rather than lay around all day feeling stressed out by a million suits walking around, I should spend it in the warm Florida sun with my puppies and loved ones. I'm so excited because I plan to totally relax -- something I didn't actually get to do much of during winter break.

I'll try to blog some more while I'm home, since there is so much exciting news to share, but for now I need to read tomorrow's finance case -- something about the WACC of Marriott hotels...blech!

L.A. adventures (for Tausha)

So in my previous posts, I forgot to mention details about my trip to LA on the HBS Entertainment and Media Club's Hollywood Trek. I headed out there a day after I got back from Israel and was there for 3.5 days. In those three days, the Trek met with eight different entertainment companies (Paramount, Fox, Mandate Pictures, Film Department, Activision, Disney, CAA and Sony). Unfortunately, due to an unforeseen medical condition, I would up missing the activities during the day Mandate Pictures, Film Dept and Activision were visited, but wasn't too upset since they are smaller companies that don't currently pique my interest anyhow.

We stayed at the Best Western Sunset Plaza on Sunset Boulevard and I was lucky enough to get a huge, gorgeous room for a super cheap price! The beds had the softest pillows and a so-cushy-you-sink-right-in mattress. The bathroom had marble countertops and amazing amenities, our room had a separate sitting area with a couch, desk and flat screen TV, and there was a second flat screen TV in the bedroom portion. I was amazed since you don't think of the most amazing accommodations when you hear Best Western.

On the first full day of the trek we visited Paramount and Fox, had lot tours at each and met with representatives from different divisions of the company. The Paramount lot tour was really cool and our tour guide pointed out places where Spiderman 3 was filmed, and where Breakfast at Tiffany's was filmed, in addition to other memorable movies. I was also fairly impressed with the presentations as they had a marketing SVP speak to us and he mentioned how he made a career for himself combining creative and business, which is exactly my goal. Paramount also has an internship program, but it's not specific to MBAs, so I'm still unclear as to how the responsibilities (and compensation!) would differ between an undergrad and MBA intern. They do have a few marketing positions posted already though, so I definitely plan to apply. Fox I was less impressed with, although their facilities are huge and truly gorgeous. My attitude may be partially due to the fact that we had presentations from the Business Development and Digital Media groups, both of whom made it clear that creativity plays almost no part in their roles (at that I checked out, and then I checked out again when the BizDev guy started insulting my precious Disney. Personally, I think that if you have to resort to knocking down other businesses to make yourself look good, it's not the best of signs!).

At Fox

The next day was my "sick," day so I'll fast forward to that evening when we went to an HBS alumni panel with five entertainment big-wigs (two from Disney, two from Fox, one from Summit, the production company that did Twilight). It was a little boring, I have to admit, but I did get to meet one of the Disney folk that I was attempting to network with. Face to face meets are always helpful!

The following (and final) day was my favorite day. We began the morning with a visit to Disney. I swear, I felt so at home! The campus is gorgeous -- one of the main buildings has the seven dwarfs "holding up" the roof, signifying how the success of Disney's first full-length animated feature Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs held up the foundation for the company's future success. After a quick tour of the lot, we had a presentation and panel, both of which were really interesting (but again, I think I'm biased due to my true passion for the company). We had some time for networking before leaving for Sony, which also had a beautiful lot. The lobby was filled with props and costumes from many of their films -- it was cool to see the dress Natalie Portman wore in The Other Boleyn Girl and some of the props from The Producers (I'm a junkie for all of this stuff). Unfortunately, their internship program is essentially non-existent. The recruiter told me that they generally take just two interns a summer, and almost exclusively in the BizDev dept (which is highly quantitative and not my cup of tea). What was cool was the fact that they brought the company's CEO out to speak to us (he was an HBS grad, but still!).

Our final stop of the trek was to CAA, Creative Artists Agency. They represent a lot of the big-wigs in Hollywood -- Tom Cruise, Salma Hayek, Julia Roberts, George Clooney, etc. They talked to us both about opportunities to become an agent, and more business-y opportunities in their corporate marketing division and finance areas. I definitely plan to follow up on the corporate marketing opportunities, although I think this is something I'll keep more in my back pocket when it comes to full-time job searching next year.

Overall, the trek was worth the time and money, if for nothing else than to experience the gorgeous LA weather and get a sense for what companies I could see myself working at. I can't say that I made as much progress on securing an internship as I had hoped (I'm still putting all my eggs in the proverbial "Disney basket") but I do feel like I have a better idea of the LA scene and how to focus my full-time search when that time comes.

(P-S: I thought I'd mention why we didn't visit the other two big studios in LA, Warner Bros and Universal -- WB is recruiting on campus and we're visiting NBC Universal on our NYC trek next month!)

Term 1 Grades

I am proud to announce that I did NOT flunk out of HBS!

Term 1 grades were released today and I got a 2 in everything except Finance (got a 3 there, as expected). And for the final exam grades, I got a 1 for LEAD (yay!), a 2 in Marketing and FRC and a 4 (lowest grade possible) in Finance and TOM. The only thing that surprises me is the 4 final exam grade for TOM because I thought I did really well! I must have messed something up big time that I didn't realize!

Anyhow I am completely ecstatic because this means I am not on academic probation as I feared I might be and it should be MUCH smoother sailing this term. Yippeee!

Winter Break: Florida, New York, Israel, California and back!

It feels so weird being back in Boston -- it almost seems like I've been gone a year, not just 23 days. I returned to a snow-covered landscape and with suitcases much heavier than when I left. My brain is full of glorious memories and my body is ready for another vacation to recover from my vacation (why is it always the case that relaxation eludes you on most vacations and you come back to reality just as, if not more, exhausted than when you left?).
It is hard to put into words just how great this break has been. It began with a (too short) stint in Florida where I got to see my mom and grandparents, spend time with my adorable puppies and see some friends. Then it was off to NYC for a couple of days with my friend Amanda before departing for Israel.
I don't have the time to delve into complete detail about my trip to Israel (nor do I think I'd be able to sustain your interest with 10-days worth of rambling), so I thought instead I'd cover the highlights and lowlights of the trip:

Favorite city we visited: Tzfat

Tzfat is the city in which Jewish mysticism, known as Kabbalah, was founded. It's a tiny city on top of a mountain characterized by light-colored cobblestone walkways where colorful street vendors mix seamlessly with quaint synagogues. In Tzfat we met an Israeli artist named Avraham who introduced us to Kabbalah and the paintings he creates surrounding its teachings. We also had time in the market to shop, and I purchased a beautiful Star of David with cubic zirconia on a long silver chain for 100 shekels (about $25) and a handmade pink scarf with gold thread accents (20 shekels of $5). I also bought a piece of Avraham's artwork (it is the multi-colored circle shown in the right column, on the top, in the picture below -- in English, it translates to "There is Only G-d.").

Least favorite moment: Alitalia losing the entire flight's luggage

When we landed in Tel Aviv we were greeted by Oranim staff with a hearty "Welcome Home," and boy we were excited to finally be off the plane and get out of our dirty clothes. Unfortuntately, this thought proved to be impossible as we soon noticed that none of our luggage was coming off the baggage carousel. A warning to all travelers: If you care about your luggage, do not fly Alitalia! It turns out that no luggage was put onto our plane that flew from Rome to Tel Aviv. I am not sure exactly how this happened as I know there must be a person or two responsible for this, but needless to say we were without luggage for several days, which put a damper on our initial time in Israel.

Most emotional moment: Praying at the Wailing Wall
(aka the Kotel aka the Western Wall)

Prior to coming to Israel, I was barely hanging onto the strings of my Judaism. Having not been raised with any religion, I know nothing about the holidays, prayers or teachings of the Torah. It surprised me so much then, that I felt a huge surge of emotion the day we visited the Old City of Jerusalem and the Wailing Wall. As I approached the wall arm-in-arm with my best friend Aynsley, my entire body was tingling and even after I said my prayers and placed my notes in the wall's cracks, something kept drawing me to the spot in which I was standing. I just could not stop staring and I felt like a force was commanding me to stay and reflect. If they would have let me, I could have stayed all day. It was one of the first times in my life that I felt I was Jewish down to the core.

Best weight loss strategy: Eating the same exact food over 10 days

Halfway through the trip we were informed by the Israeli soldiers that joined our group that the food we were eating was not typical of an Israeli family, and thank goodness, because what we were served for 10 days straight became repulsive after a while. Initially it wasn't bad, but when you are served cottage cheese, hard boiled eggs and some cereal masquerading as corn flakes every single morning, followed by friend chicken cutlets, hummus, white bread, fish filled with bones, etc. every night for dinner you soon swear off these foods forever. Luckily, Israel has some great chocolate and candy, so I was able to counteract the weight loss with sugar intake (like a visit to the original Max Brenner in Tel Aviv -- delicious chocolate concoctions!). :)

Other exciting moments...Riding camels at the Mamshit (in Hebrew is it pronounced Mom-sheet, so not as dirty) Camel Ranch, climbing a mountain in the desert to watch the sun set, hiking through the En Gedi nature preserve, floating in the Dead Sea, strolling through a craft festival in Tel Aviv, visiting the military cemetery at Mt. Herzl, getting to know six amazing Israeli soldiers (shout outs to Idit, Micky, Idan, Tom, Or and Matan!) and finding my love for Israel. Prior to visiting the country I was ashamed to admit I was Jewish -- I wouldn't dear wear my Star of David and would only admit my upbringing when asked directly. After this trip, I have made a vow never to be ashamed again. I am who I am and I have been welcomed by the Israelis into the Jewish community as family. I cannot turn my back on them ever again.

That's it for now! Classes at HBS start up again on Tuesday and I've got a lot to do before then. I'll update soon!