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Applying the MBA to real life

31 May

It will be two years this September to the MBA and I must say that I have been applying the MBA to my post-MBA life rather often; both consciously and sub-consciously. The application has been in terms of all kinds of knowledge garnered during that amazing year – both in terms of core, hard courses and “soft” skills.

In my job as a purchaser / product manager, the most useful core courses that I have been frequently applying are Marketing, Consumer Behavior and Supply chain operations. Courses like Decision Analysis, I used a lot more in the in-between time post the MBA and before starting the new job.

Then there are the courses like Organizational Behavior, Change management and negotiation and the soft-skill courses like Team-work, inter-cultural management and the like (focusing on people skills). These have been invaluable ever since I learnt about them. I definitely would consider honing my skills in these three areas over the coming years. They are extremely practical and IMHO, a must-have in every person’s kit.

And finally, I have always felt that whoever termed “Soft” skills as being “soft „certainly did a huge disservice to them. These skills are anything but “soft”. Internalizing them takes longer than one would think. So you know Kotter’s 8-step change management model. However, perfecting it is an art in itself and definitely one that needs practice every single day. It’s what one of my favorite professors always said – “Real application of soft-skills is like The difference between ‘ savoir-faire’ (know-how) and ‘savoir-être’ (application of the knowledge appropriately).”

In other news, I am looking forward to the Summer-party in MBS in July. I really do hope that the weather gets better by then, but either ways it promises to be a great evening at the good ol’ EO! 🙂 Looking forward to catching up with my friends from my batch and hearing everyone’s stories.

I also hope to run into some of you from the current class. Good luck with running the last mile and make the most of Term4. In less than 4 months, you will enter the world of alumni – unbelievable how soon time flies!

And finally, I wish those of you currently in the application stages, all the very best!

Have a great weekend!

Best regards,

Anita (Class of 2011)

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https://blog.mannheim-mba.com/ – Now a group-blog!

3 Nov

So, the class of 2013 started their MBA-journey a few weeks back. I am sure that they are working hard and hopefully partying  harder. <*slight twinge of jealousy*>

As for me, I am looking forward to the annual alumni homecoming event, later in the month. It is quite unbelievable that its been more than a year to the MBA and that I would be attending the second homecoming event already. I cannot wait to meet everybody, catch up on old times and party at the old hangouts. 🙂

Also, starting this month, Bikram Shrestha, a student from the Mannheim full-time MBA class of 2013 will be blogging his thoughts and experiences related to his 365 days at Mannheim Business School. Stay tuned to obtain yet another perspective on the MBA-journey at Mannheim. Welcome aboard, Bikram and happy blogging!

And finally, all the very best to those of you currently applying to Mannheim Business School. Perhaps we will bump into each other next year at the castle!

Have a great weekend.

Best regards,
Anita

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The Class of 2011 graduation ceremony

9 Sep

The Class of 2011 graduation ceremony

This day, last year 🙂

When nostalgia strikes.

4 Sep

So today, I was trying to sort out my photo albums and came across tonnes of footage (if I may call it that) from the MBA year. That sent me down memory lane, nostalgically wishing for the amazing MBA days to come back.

This day, last year, most of us from the Class of 2011 were furiously trying to complete our Master thesis presentations. The luckier ones amongst us were already done and were lazing by the Rhein. However, all of us were having mixed feelings about the end of term in less than 5 days, 9th Sept 2011; excitement, anticipation, sheer joy.

Sure, I was looking forward to new beginnings post the MBA. But every once in a while, it would hit me ‘Dear Lord, the real world is only 5 days away!’ And I wasn’t yet completely prepared to bid farewell to my friends, to no longer plan sudden parties, to no longer have something new to learn every day, to no longer be a part of the vibrant, international, fun family, that is MBS.

So, I made up my mind that I would attend every single event possible post the MBA and make sure that I continue to annoy everyone even after the MBA, haha. And am I glad to say that I have managed to do so! I attended the homecoming in Nov 2011, the Spring reunion in April 2012 and the summer party in July 2012. I now look forward to the homecoming in November to reconnect with my friends and make new friends.

So here’s a word of advice; the best part of the MBA is the people you meet, the friends you make, the relationships you build. Make sure you get top grades in this area.

-Anita

https://blog.mannheim-mba.com/ – 2011 in review

22 Feb

I hope the year has been treating you all well so far. I haven”t been updating the blog as much, so if you came by and found nothing new, it will change soon. There are a couple of topics that I am writing on and you will get to read them soon.

Till then, here’s something that I found rather interesting from wordpress – The blog statistics for 2011. I would like to thank each and every one of you who dropped by; accidentally or on purpose :), read my posts, commented on them and spread the word around. Its really been encouraging to see those statistics of visits made, most popular posts, etc. and helped me keep the momentum. So I simply had to share the blog statistics with you too.

Thank you once again!!

Till next time then,

Anita

P.S.  We’ve also made it easier for you to connect with us in the social space. We have integrated the MBS Twitter and Facebook-page feeds on the blog, so that you can stay updated with all that’s relevant to you, at all time.

P.P.S. And yes, if you have any feedback or there are specific topics that you’d like to read about, please do leave your suggestions via a comment. Thank you.

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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 8,400 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

About career fairs, ringing out the old and ringing in the new…

31 Dec

Career fairs are huge in Germany. Having attended a few this past year, I feel qualified enough to draw up my Top-10 list to get the most out of career fairs. So, in descending order, here they are:

Number 10 is the most crucial one; its the start and probably the toughest part.

10. Selection of career fairs- At Number 10, find out which career fairs are held at which times of the year and which ones interest you. Planning for a fair is a task in itself if you want to make the most of your time visiting the fair. One could easily get overwhelmed by the detailed information for about at least 50 fairs a year. Some career-fairs are clearly targeted at specific audiences; like a career-fair for law graduates or natural sciences enthusiasts. Still others are a lot more broad-based and focus on multiple industries. To make sure you choose the right fairs, adopt the two-pronged approach of first knowing the career-fair’s focus and second, the details of the companies participating in the fair. You should quickly scan as many of the companies, ideally all of them if the first filter is successful; good sources are the short overview that most career-fair sites provide, the internet sites of the companies, and people in your network who work at these companies. The second filter is most important for generic fairs with a focus on multiple industries. It could be the case that the fair seems appealing but you already are in talks with several of the companies at the fair. Then again, the fair may seem not very interesting but sometimes there are hidden champions, which at first glance may not seem that obvious.  

 A good place to start -> Job sites that publish the calendar of upcoming career fairs.

 Tip: attend a career fair that’s small and more niche initially to get a feel of the process, even if it’s got just about 2 or 3 firms that you are interested in. This will help you get over the awkwardness of approaching firms at the stands. Overall, attend at least 3-4 career fairs, when you are actively looking for a job. It adds a lot of momentum to the job-search. Plus there are at least 2 – 3 employers who are interested in you and that hugely increases one’s confidence.

Numbers 9 and 8 pertain to registration and preparation for the event, in terms of the companies, content of the fairs and your CV/ Covering letter.

9.  Registration for the fair and for Interviews – At number 9 is the actual registration for the fair. Most fairs offer early bird bonuses by way of reduced registration fees/ benefits of group registration. So ask your friends, the more the merrier; you might as well make an event of it. Even more importantly, several of them facilitate interviews on the day of the career fair (In some cases, you need to apply to the jobs posted via the career fair website), so the sooner you register for the fair and apply for the jobs the higher your chances of getting called for an interview, all other things being a great fit.

 8. Preparation for the fair and interviews – Number 8 is a very important stage, where you need to make sure that you use your time wisely and research in detail about the companies that you are interested in. Most fairs last a day or two at the most. Depending on the size of the fair, let’s say you have shortlisted 20 companies that you think would be a good fit for you. You need to research in detail about these companies, the open positions on their website, anything in the news that could be relevant to open a discussion, awards the companies won, the Facebook/ twitter pages etc. Also think of specific questions for the companies, along with a set of general questions to fall back upon. The more specific and relevant your questions, the more informed you come across. A typical question, especially from hidden champions and also from career-fair regulars (as an ice-breaker) would be ‘What do you know about our firm?’ You really don’t want to give an ‘Hmmm, yea, I saw your poster on the highway’ kind of answer.

Important to-do –  Start preparing your application packages; i.e the tailored covering letter and CV for specific positions or in the form of an Unsolicited Application.

Numbers 7, 6 and 5 are more logistic and administrative in nature but will pretty much decide how much you benefit from the career fair.

7. Preparation of your schedule for the day of the fair-   A good starting point is the career fair websites that usually provide a detailed schedule of events; including company presentations, open forums on career-related topics, lectures, etc.  Make sure you short list what you are most interested in and have a rough schedule ready with enough time to talk to the companies at the stands and attend the most interesting presentations/ lectures. Trust me; there is a wealth of insight to be obtained if you plan right. A good way to feel more comfortable before approaching a company is to attend the company presentation and break the ice by thanking the speaker for the presentation at the stand. Or if you are visiting the stand, before the presentation, make it a point to know that the company is in fact presenting later in the day.

6. A few days before the career-fair- Make sure your complete Application packet is ready for each company that you choose to visit. A lot of the better organized fairs are serious recruiters and there is a high probability that they ask you for your CV. Having it all prepared and stored in a file ready to be given when asked makes for a good impression. So print those individual covering letters, tailored CVs and make photo copies of your academies and work experience certificates a few days before the career fair. You really don’t want to be burning the copier a day before and putting everything together in the train on the way to the fair; it’s just too stressful. Make sure you have tried out your formal outfit for the day of the fair; if it makes sense invest in a feel-good suit and make sure you wear flat-shoes (this is more for the women). Trust me, I have attended a fair in formal shoes with heels and I was a wreck two hours into the fair. It made sense previously to me since I thought it was all about the formal look, I forgot to be comfortable. Also carry an extra outfit along; you could spill a coffee if Murphy’s Law is determined to work. You could beat Murphy by being better prepared. And if a fair is spread out over two days, try and stay overnight in the city; and don’t cram all the companies in one day. It seems to work better plus usually by day2 you feel like a pro.

5. Freebies at the career fair- several career fairs have hidden freebies, or maybe not so obvious freebies, like a subscription to a magazine or a free photo-shoot or  a free CV check. These things are usually listed in the fair-guide and are time-bound. Make sure you add them to your schedule (point 4), so you don’t feel bad about missing out on some real good freebies.  

Numbers 4, 3 and 2 on the list pertain to the career-fair day itself.

4. On the day of the career-fair – Talk to the companies that are the highest on your list immediately in the first half on the day of the fair. You are fresher, more alert and are more interested and so are the companies. Sometimes we think that we will talk to THE company later but it may not work out for the best. Of course, you may feel a little out of sorts initially, hence refer back to point 1. The more often you do this, the easier it gets. Another tip is to talk not only to your shortlisted companies but also keep an eye open for interesting companies/ interesting speakers. And make sure you visit some stalls in industries not entirely up your alley just to get a broader perspective. You never know what it may lead to! And do make sure you are drinking enough water and eating right to keep yourself going throughout the long day.

3. Have a conversation with the firm – The best way to communicate your interest in the company and demonstrate that you are a great fit is by asking the right questions. A sure way to make the company lose interest in you is to ask them ‘So, what jobs do you have for my profile?’ They have at least 3-4 other candidates waiting to talk to them; they need to know that you have done your homework. What works best is a short introduction; leading, open questions about specific jobs/ roles in the company (refer back to step3), questions about the career path/ application process/ things that make an application stand out/ what kind of person they are looking for, etc. Make sure you smile and are relaxed, it’s only a conversation and you are getting to know the company. No stress please.  And please do not bombard the company representative with a barrage of questions; the idea is to obtain a flavour of the firm, provide a flavour of you and find a fit. If it does fit, you may leave them with a positive impression and they may hand out their visiting card. But the visiting card need not be the be-all-and-end-all of the conversation. If you impressed them and made them feel comfortable, they’ll remember you all right!

2. Taking notes during the fair – You definitely need to make notes about your discussion with the company immediately after the visit. Trust me, 5 hours down the line and it’s all a blur of conversations, suits and names. Make notes on the person you spoke to, the content of your conversation, and follow-up messages to yourself (email Ms. XYZ or Call up Mr. ABC or visit the Facebook page of company BCD). Whatever it may be, write it down, even if you are the reigning champion at all things memory.

Finally, point number 1 is the second-most crucial point on my list; the Numero Uno of making the most of a career fair.

1. After the career-fair – This is the most important one. You need to follow-up as soon as possible with the companies you met at the career fair. When I say follow up, it could be either an online application or just a thank you email or even an immediate response to the email from the company. Some companies make it a point to email the prospective candidates well within a week of the fair. Make sure you respond immediately. Memories are short; memories that met at least 200 students are shorter still. Plus it’s all about momentum; use the post career-fair-high to its fullest.

Good luck and I hope that some of these tips work for you.

In other news, it is the 31st of December and well, I have to say it, like every year; I can’t believe the year has gone by so soon! Its been such a marvelous year and it all feels like a dream; the MBA, my amazing classmates and friends, my school, my new city that feels a lot like home, my favorite coffee place, my favorite pub, my corner in the park, all the experiences; old, new and renewed that have made me so much more than I was in 2010; my 365 days  in 2011 have been just the right mix of everything! 🙂

Now I cannot wait for tomorrow to ring in 2012. I look forward to new things to do, new places to visit and new friends to make, along with old things that will make me feel regular, old places where I will feel at home and old friendships that will keep me steady.

I wish all of you a very Happy New Year! May 2012 ring in all that’s bright and beautiful, all that’s wise and wonderful, and all that’s fun and cheerful all year long. 🙂 

Till next year then,

Cheers,

Anita

The Alumni homecoming weekend, windy Mannheim and other things

7 Dec

So, the weekend of 26th November was the weekend of the Alumni homecoming and was it grand!

Its just super-amazing to have a party in the castle; a hanker-back to the good ol’ times. As I walked up the steps of the grand castle to the ‘Knights Hall’, I felt rather grand and the welcoming sounds reminded me of a Christmas Market; only this one was in formals. Honestly, I barely made it beyond the initial entrance of the foyer, since all my friends from class were clustered right there! It was really great to hear about all that we had been up to, the vacation, the job-search, the job, the new city, etc. ; although  in today’s online world, most of us are regularly in touch but nothing can beat a hug and good ol’ face-to-face conversation now, can it? The evening was amazing; the champagne reception, the Welcome and Keynote speeches, the food, the music, the dancing, the people! Sigh! I really do wish I had had more time to talk with the alumni from other classes too, so here’s some lobbying for an Alumni weekend event 😀

Besides, for me, its also been a month of interviewing, attending career fairs, chasing those good leads and getting a clearer picture of the process of finding that dream job. Here’s looking forward to living the dream! Also, friends have been moving to new cities and countries; its all kinda bitter-sweet, coz  although they are happy celebrations, they are also farewells and I am not the best when it comes to dealing with this. So yea, like a friend from class says, ‘I won’t say goodbye, just see you later!’.

Its also been amazing to meet several of the students from the Class of 2012; they are well-settled by now am sure, what with Term1 almost ending! Amazing how time flies; just feels like yesterday that our Term1 was ending!  In other news, Mannheim has been ridiculously foggy/ windy/ rainy for a large portion of November and the same continues into December. Usually, I can see the Rhine flowing lazily most days and it does have an amazing effect in both good times and not-so-good times. The fog, however throws this blanket of mystery over everything and it makes me want to go by the river and get spooked. Now today its ridiculously windy and rainy and the wind is howling away like no one’s business! Last year, this time, it was already snowing and everything was sooo pretty. So here’s sending the weather-Gods a quick prayer to send the sun and/or snow and soon!

Till later,

Anita

I’ve sure had the time of my life…

10 Sep

13.09.2010 – 58 of us trooped into the Castle; a mixture of excitement and anticipation looking forward to the MBA year.

09.09.2011 – 58 of us had our graduation ceremony at the very same Castle; a mixture of excitement and anticipation, this time looking forward to the countless doors that the year had opened up and the opportunities that awaited us beyond the walls of the castle. There was also this extra-something in the air; a very strong sense of accomplishment coupled with disbelief that the year had gone by so quickly.

In between, we’ve had the best time of our lives; with lots of learning, work, fun, meeting new people, making new friends, becoming a part of MBS, learning a lot about our own selves, moments of self-doubt and clarity and a strong sense of purpose.

The graduation ceremony on 9th Sept. was absolutely lovely and was really an amazing trip down memory lane. We couldn’t believe that we had achieved so much in just one year.  The dinner and after-party were simply out of the world; everything worked like clockwork, well almost; a little leeway has to be made for delirious graduates ;). Everything was as perfect as one could have imagined; the food, the music, the events hosted by the students, the awesome support of the MBS staff and Program Management and finally, the participation and support from the family and friends of us graduates.

I would like to thank all my classmates and friends from the Mannheim MBA Class of 2011, the Program Management, the Career Services , IT and Almuni teams, the professors and faculty from MBS and the visiting faculty, the exchange students from all over the world, the support services at the Mannheim University, the Mensa and the EO, the restaurants, bars and stores in Mannheim and finally my family and friends for their unshakable support, faith and confidence.

I wish that the incoming class of 2012 has an even more amazing time, though it’d be hard to top our year. 😉 Jokes apart, the Mannheim MBA is going from strength to strength and I am sure that the current and future cohorts will benefit tremendously from the Mannheim MBA experience. The 58 of us; we look forward to actively contributing to MBS as alumni and continuing to be a part of the MBS family.

Finally, I would like to end my final post on this blog with the lines from Green Day’s ‘Time of your life’, which is the song with which we will remember the year gone by:

It’s something unpredictable but in the end it’s right

I hope you’ve had the time of your life.

We sure did!

Cheers,

Anita

Are we really done?

6 Sep

Y E S. W e A r e D o n e! 🙂 

After 8 weeks of hard work, late nights, early mornings, brainstorming, creative blocks, creative surges, a zillion words, multiple drafts and a lotttt of fun, we handed in our Master thesis last Friday. And, yesterday was the grand finale- the final presentation of my MCT. We are really pleased with our final output and couldn’t be happier with how things turned out. I can’t even begin to describe the unbelievable feeling when we finally reached the final question of our presentation; I SO wish I could have bottled that feeling somehow. 

Anyways,  so, last evening was an awesome celebration with my MCT buddies. Quite a bit of bar hopping later, it finally sunk in – We ARE really DONE! 🙂 

A big thank you to the most special people ever; you know who you are… I already miss you!

Cheers,
Anita

Countdown to the end of Term4!

17 Aug

and the MBA! I can’t reiterate enough how surreal it all is; I remember with vivid clarity our first day;  13.09.2010. And to think that we are already done with writing half our Thesis and are in the process of reviewing it and reworking it ==> Its like Buzz Lightyear on steroids, lol. Anyways, for now, we are all completely immersed in understanding customer requirements, company needs, research needs and putting them all together.

And besides work, we had our final social event for the year last Friday.  This time, we decided to combine a fun-rowing session, MCT Olympics with some fun-games and a BBQ at the Bootshaus, Mannheim.  The weather that morning threatened to play spoil-sport but thankfully did not! 4 p.m. arrived with the right hint of blue in the sky, the right amount of green in the BBQ area and the perfect amount of enthusiasm 🙂

Between 4 and 5.30, around 10 of us went rowing along the Neckar. It was refreshing to be paddling downstream. Post the rowing session, we could not wait to get started on the BBQ. The others from the class had already started grilling meats and vegetables on the barbeque. To be honest, I suspect that the amazing aromas wafting through the late afternoon breeze made us row that much faster. The barbeque was a veritable treat to the eyes and the taste-buds;  there were sausages, several salads, pasta, crisps, beer, wine, soft-drinks and chocolate crumble.

Around 6.30 we started with the MCT Olympics. We divided the attendees into groups of 1 or more MCTs. A special mention must be made for MCT5, which was the only MCT that showed up in full strength. We began with the beer drinking game- Teams of 4 had to run a relay of 50 mt. and drink a glass of beer/ cola before passing the baton to their next team member. A lot of fun this one was!  Next, we played ‘The Chase game’ where,  we had two large teams of 11 people on either side and we had a referee holding a towel in the centre. The referee would call any number from 1-11 (pre-assigned internally in the teams) and the called number from each team had to come in the centre. The aim of the game is to pull the hanky and return to your side without getting tagged by the opposition. This was a real surprise, where no one wanted to stop playing. We played until 15 points. Finally we ended with the ‘Frisbee Golf’ and the ‘Mummy wrap’ games.  Of course, we took several  BBQ breaks,  to refresh our tired muscles, haha

The best part of this event was that everyone was involved in organizing it, in setting things up, participating sportingly and having fun! Thanks a ton to everyone for making the final social event of the Class of 2011 amongst the most memorable events!