Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Travel Junkies 
This is really what second semester second year is all about: trips.  Jie and I will hardly be in town this semester, it seems, as just about every other weekend we’ll be flying off somewhere.  This weekend we head to Colorado for four days of snow skiing, if we can get a good deal on last minute fares we’ll go to Texas for President’s Day weekend, a week later we’ll be in D.C. for a four day weekend, and we’re spending Spring Break in China.  Two more trips are in the initial planning stages, as we’ll be heading out to Chicago a couple of times to look around for housing.

Today I’m sending off my written job acceptance and my preference on how to receive my signing bonus, so hopefully I’ll get that check soon enough to pay for this new jet-setter lifestyle we’ve acquired.  Oh, and I also selected a start date in September.  Now we just have to get cracking on our summer travel plans!

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Procrastination Works! 
It’s been a while since I’ve talked about recruiting, except to say that I was having a lot of trouble making a decision.  Here’s a brief rundown of what happened just to get everyone up to speed: I interviewed with several consulting firms and one operations firm, received a few offers in consulting, but didn’t get an offer from the promising operations job or with my first choice in consulting.

I’ve been waffling back and forth since mid-December between two consulting offers, one in Houston and the other in Chicago.  The deadline for one offer was yesterday, so Jie and I had finally made a decision and I was ready to pull the trigger.  I decided I was going to work on my field study in the afternoon, confirm my decision with Jie, and then call the firm that afternoon to accept.

A funny thing happened before I could make that call.  I was contacted early in the afternoon by the firm that originally rejected me two months ago.  They wanted to let me know that they unexpectedly had a spot open up and they were going to offer it to me, pending Partner approval.  Three hours later, at about the time I originally planned to accept another position, I had a new job offer in hand.  Jie and I talked about it briefly and lo and behold, I’m going to Chicago with my original first choice firm.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Straight Out of Undergrad MBA Students 
There are strong sentiments among some MBA students, both at HBS and elsewhere, that applicants straight out of undergrad have little to add to the program and thus shouldn’t be accepted.  The HBS Class of 07 has somewhere between 10-20 such students, which equates to about 1-2 per section.  Not anything to get upset about, in my opinion, but some people still do.  Here’s a snippet from another blog that I feel is representative: “As I stated previously I am a first year HBS student. I am in my late 20's like many of my classmates, though we do have a few straight-out-of-college people (I don't like them, I'll probably post on that later).”

I thought it worth mentioning that two-thirds of the winning team of this year’s BCG Case Competition at HBS are students straight out of undergrad.  I view that as proof-positive that someone without traditional full-time work experience can be a valuable addition to a section, seeing as case discussions rely heavily on prior experience and an understanding of the competitive dynamics of industries and firms.  Of course, not all straight out of undergrad students are going to be as capable and add as much to the MBA experience, but in my opinion there is an equally wide disparity in students with plenty of full-time experience.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Courses and jobs 
Course add/drop for the Winter term was completed on Saturday, so my schedule is now set and courses are really starting to get going (one tip for future HBS second years: if you aren’t “shopping” for courses you can skip the first two days of class each term of your second year).  Here is my course load:
I wasn’t able to get into one course in particular that I really wanted (Corporate Strategy), but instead I am doing what I think will be a really interesting Field Study with a very good friend of mine, so it’s alright.  I do have the benefit of three great professors and one very good professor, so it should be a good semester.

On the job front I still haven’t made a definite decision, though with a Friday deadline I’m going to have to make a choice soon.  There are numerous issues involved, including location, compensation, overseas opportunities, and work/life balance.  The differences between the two firms on most of those criteria are small, but cumulatively they may lead to a decision one way or the other.  Location is the 800-pound gorilla, so it will be interesting to see where we end up on that.

This wrap-up of our California trip is woefully overdue, so I’ll be brief just to get it over with.  Over our last 4 days in California we spent time in Carmel, drove to Napa, spent a day in Napa, and then spent our last day in San Francisco.  Here are the highlights:

Point Lobos – We went hiking in Point Lobos and took lots of really nice scenery shots.  Unfortunately, we started our hike in a less scenic portion of the park so we didn’t spend a lot of time in the really nice areas.

Monterrey Bay Aquarium – The Monterrey Bay Aquarium was recommended to us by a lot of people and I think it was definitely worth visiting.  I’m not usually big on touristy stuff, but the aquarium had a lot of cool hands-on exhibits.  Jie and I were so inspired that we went on a search for fish tacos afterwards, which we found at Turtle Bay Taqueria, a local chain of restaurants I would highly recommend.

Napa Valley – As part of the Section G Charity Auction last spring Jie and I won a personal tour of Napa Valley with one of my sectionmates.  He’s an employee of Gallo, so we had the opportunity to purchase wine at a discount in addition to being chauffeured around Napa and treated to lunch.  We visited Cakebread, Beringer, Louis Martini, and Grgich Hills.  Cakebread and Beringer both had cool tours (Cakebread was better), Martini was for drinking (it’s a Gallo winery, so unlimited tastings), and Grgich was mainly to buy a few bottles to bring home.  In fact, I think we’ll be breaking out the Grgich dessert wine tomorrow to celebrate our 3 year wedding anniversary.

San Francisco – We spent the day in SF tooling around Union Square and then having dinner in Chinatown (at King Tin Restaurant, which was pretty good).  One notable event occurred at the Golden Gate Perk korean bbq restaurant/coffee shop with free wi-fi, where I broke one of their Ikea-like chairs.  It bore an uneasy resemblance to that scene in Shallow Hal, though in my defense the chairs were really crappy.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Congratulations to all those who were accepted to the HBS Class of 2008!!!

Sunday, January 15, 2006

California Day 5 
We woke up on Day 5 in Pismo Beach and drove up the coast, stopping briefly in Morro Bay to check out the Morro Rock and then continuing on to Hearst Castle.  We didn’t actually do the tour, though, as we didn’t really have time if we wanted to get to Carmel before sunset.  Instead of the tour we wandered around the exhibit at the base and looked at all the history behind the estate.

After the castle we drove a short way up the coast and stopped at Piedras Blancas, off 1 just north of Hearst Castle, to look at the elephant seals.  There were probably 50-60 of them, including males, females, and newborns.  I took a ton of pictures while we watched them lay around, covering themselves with sand to stay cool and generally just being really fat.

After checking out the seals for a while we drove the rest of the way up the coast to our hotel in Carmel, the Highlands Inn.  That was supposed to be our splurge hotel for the trip, though after paying less than half as much for the Kon Tiki Inn in Pismo Beach we were honestly a little disappointed with the hotel in Carmel.  Our twin benchmarks were the Park Hyatt in Chicago and the Kon Tiki, and while the rooms were not as nice as the Park Hyatt the view was not as good as the view from the Kon Tiki.  That’s not to say that it wasn’t a great hotel, but I think I would have preferred to be closer to the water rather than across 1 and a few houses.  In fact, I think their website is pretty misleading, as they really make it seem like the hotel is right there on the edge of a cliff overlooking the water.

Anyway, we met up with Ari and Charlotte, a sectionmate of mine and his new wife who were also in Carmel at the same time, and had drinks at the California Market restaurant at the hotel while watching the sunset.  After that we went out to Passionfish restaurant in Carmel where we had a great meal.  I had the crab and avocado salad and the beef short ribs, which were both fantastic.  I highly recommend visiting Passionfish on your next trip to Carmel.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

California Trip - Day 3 and 4 
So, after waking up and recovering from our Japanese beer night Jie and I hit the road and drove up through Malibu and had brunch at Coogie’s restaurant, a place I found through a random google search.  The food was actually really good, and I’m pretty sure we spotted Reggie Miller, formerly of the Indianapolis Pacers, eating lunch there.

After Coogie’s we drove up 101 through Santa Barbara, where we stopped at the Mission.  The Mission was ok and Santa Barbara was pretty, but given what we have since experienced in San Luis Obispo and Carmel it wasn’t really that great.  Of course, we probably missed the nice parts of town to visit, as we pulled off at the last second on a whim.

We drove up 1 whenever possible, so we took 1 instead of 101 from Gaviota to Pismo Beach.  This was probably a mistake, as you can make much better time on 101 and 1 isn’t very pretty between Gaviota and Pismo.  We stayed at the Kon Tiki Inn in Pismo Beach, which was a really neat hotel/motel in an otherwise forgettable town.  Pismo seems kind of like the poor man’s Carmel, but the Kon Tiki had really friendly service and a great view of the ocean.  I would highly recommend it to anyone doing the LA to SF drive who is looking for a moderately inexpensive place to stay a night or two.

We started Day 4 of the trip with a morning jog along the beach in Pismo.  Unfortunately, Jie wasn’t feeling well after the exercise and so we decided to have a pretty relaxing day.  We drove up to San Luis Obispo (SLO to those in the know) and spent a few hours walking around the town.  That was a lot of fun, so we hung around and had a late lunch at Pepe Delgado’s, a Mexican food place in town.  I had the beached whale burrito, which was awesome (and as big as my face, see smugmug for a photo).  It was so big I ate half of it for lunch and the other half for dinner.  Jie and I just hung out at the Kon Tiki that night and watched a little football.  I’ll have Day 5 action coming up soon.

See smugmug for pictures through today!

Friday, January 06, 2006

Cali Trip Day 2 
The morning after watching the greatest football game I’ve ever seen Jie and I slept in and then watched the entire morning after press conference on ESPN2. It was really neat to see VY and Mack so relaxed and really enjoying the post-championship questions, a far cry from the kind of questions Mack usually gets. I really hope that Vince comes back next year (for selfish reasons), but I would completely understand if he decides to go pro.

Anyway, after watching the press conference we finally got out of bed and headed up to Hollywood in the car. I found a nice place for brunch in a hotel magazine, and we had a pretty good meal at Off Vine before doing the tourist thing. Hollywood was fun, but there was less there than I thought there would be so I guess in the end it was a little underwhelming. After Hollywood we got back in the car and drove down Sunset Boulevard through Beverly Hills, Brentwood, Bel Air, and the Pacific Palisades. We wound up on Route 1 and took it back down into Santa Monica, where we parked the car and watched the sunset from the beach.

After all that activity we were finally starting to get hungry again after our monster brunch so we headed back to the hotel and walked to Sushi Gen, which was right around the corner. The service, ambiance, and food at Sushi Gen were all incredible, it was possibly the best sushi we’d ever had, and definitely the best experience. Feeling good after a good meal, we stopped at the Japanese grocery store on the way back and picked up a half-liter Sapporo and one-liter Asahi for the hotel room. See smugmug for a fun pic of me with our beers.

Ok, I’ve uploaded pics through today but I’m not going to get into today’s activities until tomorrow…

National Champs!!! 
We started out our trip on JetBlue, an airline that always impresses me.  We flew into Long Beach airport, which was actually really nice and convenient despite its small size.  I picked up our rental and we headed to Miyako Hotel Los Angeles in downtown, which I booked through priceline.  This is actually a funny story, as I idiotically bid $100 and wound up getting a hotel that we probably could have had for $90/night through their website.  Oh well, what the hell…

After checking in at the hotel we headed straight for Pasadena for the Rose Bowl.  Although we couldn’t get into the game, we had a great time in the parking lot watching the game on TV with the hundreds of other Texas fans who went to the game expecting to be able to buy tickets.  And oh my, what a game.  Vince Young is something else.  That’s about all I can say about it.

I still can’t believe we won another National Championship.  Jie and I slept in this morning and watched the day-after press conference all the way through on ESPN2.  I just can’t believe I didn’t tape the game.  Ah well, I’ll buy the DVD.

Hook ‘em Horns!!!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The Granddaddy of 'em All 
After a week of doing almost nothing but watch football (including an absolutely awesome January 2nd where I watched Notre Dame get thrashed and Georgia upset), it’s finally time for Jie and me to head out to California.  We’ll be in Pasadena tomorrow to hopefully get in the Rose Bowl and then we’ll spend the next 8 days exploring coastal California from L.A. to Napa.  I’ll be posting pictures throughout the trip as we have time and internet access.

Next stop: A 6:40am Jetblue flight out of Boston tomorrow morning.

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