By Gina Garcia
This morning I read the following post on Facebook by Kaplan GMAT Prep:
“Subtract twice the last digit from the number formed by the remaining digits. If that difference is a multiple of 7, the original number is a multiple of 7.”
I was quickly reminded of the two years I spent studying for a test that caused me to have panic attacks; working through endless questions which were twisty, mind-boggling and downright frustrating. Ugh!
Then I felt a great deal of relief; I no longer had to worry about the GMAT as I was finally in B-School. (Picture someone doing a cartwheel!) It took a long time to get here…
I typically get asked a lot of questions regarding this decision:
• Why do you want an MBA?
• What do you plan on doing with an MBA?
• What are your intentions of being in an MBA program?
• What is an MBA going to do for you?
• If you hated the GMAT, why are you interested in a program that is primarily analytical and quantitative?
• I thought you wanted to write. Why aren’t you looking into an MFA in Writing?
Sometimes this probing makes me feel like pulling my hair out, but only because I am asked so often, which I find surprising. A person’s decision to obtain an advanced academic degree varies. My decision happens to be simple; I chose the MBA route in the hopes of becoming a well-rounded, intelligent woman. To challenge myself in areas I felt were weak; to fill in the scholastic gaps. And nothing jumpstarts me more than when my motives are questioned. True; math has never held any general interest, but mostly because I’m not very good at it. Quite frankly math terrifies me. But how could I allow this fear hold me back from accomplishing a goal? Instead of being afraid, I started to feel empowered. And let’s be honest, there is nothing sexier than a woman who knows her numbers!
The first person who comes to mind is Danica McKellar (aka Winnie Cooper) who is not only an “internationally-recognized mathematician, but also a three-time New York Times bestselling author and advocate for math education”, primarily for young girls. The books she has written, “Math Doesn’t Suck”, “Kiss My Math”, “Hot X: Algebra Exposed” and her latest, “Girls Get Curves: Geometry Takes Shape” are geared at creating relatable examples in an effort to make math easier to understand; all while building self-esteem. Heck, even I got a boost from reading the excerpts! To provide an example of what I mean, the following is taken from her latest book:
“Not only is math changing and developing, but as young women, so are we. Our bodies go through some pretty massive changes, bringing all sorts of curves . . . and a whole new kind of power. This can be thrilling and scary at the same time.” “Believe it or not, all of these challenges can be made easier when we get good at geometry. Having logic at our fingertips keeps our energy and desires focused, which is crucially important not only for keeping a healthy self-image, but also for transforming our passions into success of all types.”
To say that I am a huge fan of Danica McKeller, her books and the message she is sending would be an understatement. She is truly taking what has always been considered the “black sheep” of school subjects and making it relatable, cool and inspirational. Get your math on, girls!
There is also the negative side of math, for instance the controversy Forever 21 sparked in 2011 when the retailer began selling t-shirts with the words, “Allergic to Algebra” printed on the front. This drew a lot of criticism for its “seemingly anti-education message for girls and teenagers.” My thought was that Forever 21 should have known better. A comment posted under the website Reddit.com is below:
“It’s a big deal because there is still this childish perception — among females AND males – that girls can’t do math.”
A damaging focus put on the subject in general allows for it to be accepted when someone says, “I hate math”. This perception needs to change. I never thought I would become such a huge advocate for creating “math empowerment” but I am incredibly motivated to spread awareness that there isn’t anything “wrong” with being the girl who happens to favor integers. (Long live Cady and the Mathletes!)
An interesting thing started happening to me once I was in an MBA program. I started to heavily attract people who dealt with numbers for a living, which I found incredibly ironic. When struggling through my financial accounting class last semester, I was constantly meeting CPAs…it was like an assembly line; one after the other. It seemed like a sick joke at the time but looking back, it makes me laugh; a class that gave me SO much pain I have a new found appreciation for. Recently starting a new job, the first thing I did was pull up the company’s annual report and I actually understood what I was reading. Who knew I would be the type of gal who would find this information interesting? That’s not to say I want to have a career in accounting…no way! But I am totally inspired and amazed by those who have gone this route; it is a massive amount of hard-work and dedication. Here, here!
I didn’t expect to enjoy being an MBA student this much. But it is definitely not all rainbows and unicorns; there are times I am driven to mad tears, incredibly frustrated, lonely… To be honest, I have never been more uncomfortable, exhausted or confused, ever! But, you make it work. I believe that being pushed to your limit is what allows you to grow and grad school is a crazy-winding road. With that in mind, it is important to have an immensely strong support system; especially if you also have a full-time job while in school. It is far too easy to burn the candle at both ends without even realizing it. My advice; don’t feel guilty if you have to be selfish with your time.
Being in the Mills environment has been a true gift. I am challenged to be confident when I don’t feel like being vulnerable, encouraged to flourish when I feel like giving up and I am surrounded by selfless individuals who lift you up simply because they genuinely want you to be all that you can be; women helping women, pay it forward, “Lean In”; right on!
I believe this was the best choice I could have made for myself, as it was truly the “missing piece”. I realize this statement may sound corny, but education is personal; something that can’t ever be taken away from you and the journey getting to this point was simply the starting line.
“Take your passion and make it happen.” Irene Cara
It was 3 am and I was up watching the Television series of 24 where actor Kiefer Sutherland, who played Jack Bauer, was insanely captivating. Despite the fact that I had so much work to do: research to conduct, people to email, and reports to finish, I continued to stay up late and watched 6 seasons in just 4 days. Now, I was on my winter break from school, but for someone who watches zero to one hour of TV per month, this was a lot!
Truth of the matter was, I felt run-down from work, demotivated, and disconnected from what I was doing. I was not working in my strengths and I ended up getting sick during the winter break (These emotions certainly did not help with the interview I had coming up). I had so much on my plate, it turned into un-motivation. I did not want to do anything for anybody.
After listening to other MBA students share how burnt out they were from their semesters and how many of them got sick, I realized how much this pattern takes ahold of students and working professionals. We spend so much time working extremely hard on the job, neglecting relationships, leisure activities, and then getting stressed out. Some people feel the effects immediately and want out, while it takes others 10 years to realize they’ve wasted half of their career by neglecting their values.
I’ve had the opportunity to provide marketing services to an employee wellness company, Renew, where through them; I learned the terrible affects fatigue and stress can have on a person’s life.
Fatigue and stress can come from over doing things and over committing. Have you ever said “yes” to something, only to kick yourself later wishing you had said “no”? Then, you ended up stressing out and getting overwhelmed later because you had too much on your plate. You may say things to make yourself feel better such as, “well, I did not expect this opportunity to come up”, “it’s just for a little while longer”, or “I have to work twice as hard, so this is a great opportunity to prove myself”. While these phrases may occasionally be true, most times, we use them to make ourselves feel better. This happens over and over and may lead us to say yes, when we should have said no.
As a coach & wellness at work advocate, someone’s work I admire is Tony Schwartz, Founder of the Energy Project and author of “The Way We’re Working isn’t’ Working”. As I was in the middle of writing this blog, I discovered one of Tony Schwartz’s article “Relax! You’ll be more Productive” in the New York Times. His article talks about energy and taking uninterrupted 90-minute sessions in order to maximize productivity. It brought the often forgot thought to my head, “more hours does not mean more productive”. We need to know when and how we work best to reach our goals. Schwartz’s “How to Be Mindful in an ‘Unmanageable’ World” is another good read.
So, how can we stop that “run-down and “burnt-out” feeling of fatigue? How can we stay energized and at our best game as we go through life?
There are two simple methods that I’ve applied to my own life over the last few months that I’d like to recommend:
1) Use Your “Energy Givers”
Energy Givers are pretty simple: It’s doing what gives you energy, not what drains it!
Some of these include: spending time with positive people, eating healthy food, enhancing your spiritual development, not comparing yourself with everyone else, taking mini-vacations, working in your strengths, etc.
If you stop that negative self-talk and spending all your time with people who are unwilling to go for their dreams and play it safe, I am sure the quality of your life will skyrocket!
2) Say No
So simple, yet so hard, right!? You cannot be everywhere and do everything for everybody. Concerts, seminars, group study, dinner with friends, hiking, consulting projects, and the list goes on.
What’s your priority? You can’t give your all with too much on your plate because the quality of your activities matters versus the quantity.
As Marie Forelo always states, “the world needs that special gift that ONLY YOU have to give”. If you don’t take time to find out what that is or develop it, you’ll be missing out big time! When we have too much on our plate we do not have the time to focus on our special gifts. Over committing does not allow us to focus on our talents.
Next time something comes your way, examine your priorities, what you’re currently doing, and the pros & the cons of saying yes. The good news is: Saying “no” now, does not mean you cannot say “yes” later.
More times than not, you’re going to have to get used to saying “no” so you can say “yes” to what you Really need to help you get to the next level and reach your goals!
By Jennifer Lin
Conflict is something many of us want to avoid yet, when working on teams or even with just one other person it can and does arise especially under deadlines and stressful situations. It’s unpleasant and yet a fact of life that conflict will happen. Learning more skillful ways to handle these situations or preventing them from escalating are necessary skills for anyone in the fast moving work environment of today.
At its most simplistic, conflict is usually a sign of one or more of our core values being violated and not feeling seen or heard. And yes, it’s hurtful when that happens to us which is why so many of us would prefer to avoid it. Unfortunately, when we choose to take that road, we aren’t communicating. Instead, we harbor feelings of anger, resentment, and even pain. These emotions cause our bodies to produce cortisol–a stress hormone. It activates our fight or flight sympathetic nervous system. Physiologically speaking, we’re seriously damaging ourselves when too much cortisol is produced especially on a repeated basis.
As a career coach and business consultant, I often talk about our fight or flight and how it affects and limits us from being our best. I’ve been able to come up with techniques and tools for leaders and organizations to achieve effective results to manage our inner critic. It’s crucial in today’s environment where teams are being asked to work faster, harder, and longer than ever before. This workshop on March 13, 2013 at Mills GSB, will help attendees gain some insight on how to begin to meet such challenges.
About Jennifer Lin:
An award winning coach, Jenn’s coaching style draws from her extensive training at Coaches Training Institute, Dale Carnegie, Effective Influence T-group, and Buddhist teachings. She specializes in 1:1 career and business consulting for women and minorities. Her 10 Things U Dream Of Doing! workshops are taught throughout the Bay Area to help people overcome their inner critic as she believes that 80-90% of why people don’t succeed is because of themselves.
She received her BS and MA degrees in Design and Architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and her MBA from Mills College. Before becoming a coach, Jenn was a successful interior designer in the architecture industry. She had to give up her career when she became permanently injured from overuse of computers. To reinvent herself, Jenn made a list of 10 things she wanted to do in life. She is currently on her third list of “10 Things.” www.10ThingsUdream.com
By Kula Addy,
We had a nice trip. See you next fall? Or spring? Yes, that’s right. The MBA/MA Huddle skipped TSA and Customs through three continents in ninety minutes, and you missed it. How? Well, keep reading.
The idea of global citizenship is the foundation for efforts to bring more international and comparative education opportunities to the joint degree program. In defining this unique, yet ubiquitous type of citizenship, attendees at the first discussion on February 14th, were presented with a tangible pathway to secure it; a new course set for the spring of 2014.
The discussion in the Lorry I. Lokey Graduate School of Business at Mills College, was host to not one, but two deans: Dean Deborah Merrill-Sands, Ph.D, of the Graduate School of Business and Dean Kathy Schultz, Ph. D, of the School of Education. A true ode to the dedication Mills has to the interests of their students, we were given a direct line to voice our opinions, and leadership answered—on the first ring. The deans shared their international history in their respective fields, and even ping-ponged plans for coursework from one experience to another:
Dean Schultz described how her partnership with the International Rescue Committee led her to teacher training initiatives in Southeast Asia and curriculum development in Lebanon. Here, collaboration with the existing culture was paramount. Each party contributed to the group’s learning and development. Dean Merrill-Sands also commented on the importance of the “deep dive”; practical and principled immersion into another culture to help understand your own. As an agricultural scientist who dove in Mayan villages to countries in West Africa, the dean emphasized leading by inquiry and participatory action.
Both narratives echoed sentiments of a complete reframing of how they work in the world today. With the addition of this international course, the deliverables will be the same. It will encourage the same transformative and constant critique on how we work in relation to others. Positing: is what I contribute collaborative, and most of all enduring?
Comparatively, guest international student, Morgane Bradley explained her appreciation for global angles allowed in US education. She recalled how the absence of an international twist could have completely changed her current career path and what she values as important in society today.
She had a nice trip too.
Now tell me honestly, what comes to mind when you think of international education? If you were absent, you might be the general audience to whom the concept’s versatility should be stressed. International and comparative education encompasses a wide variety of points in not only education and humanities, but especially in business. Our deans model this well. It is neither limited to studying abroad, nor confined to exchange. It should be synonymous with one of our favorite phrases at Mills, “multiple perspectives”. You might very well be thinking, “…this isn’t what I want to do in the long term”. The benefits however, lie in plain and simple exposure. Participation in international discourse enhances soft and hard skills that promote you in any career field. And oh, the places you’ll go. Specifically for MBA/MA students, many of these educational entities are looking for astute financiers and program managers to strategically advance their global mission.
The course will include anthropological insight, case studies on key issues (foreign and domestic), and perhaps a January trip for field experience. The latter garnered applause from members in the audience eager about the prospects. This new course matched with others currently offered in the GSB, like Multinational Business Strategies and International Finance, could ultimately become a concentration in International Education or Relations–yet to be discussed.
Keep reading, final destination, coming soon.
During the huddle, we started with a definition. Of the many, have another:
“A person entitled to the rights and privileges of a free man, loyal to the state or nation to which he was born.”
A citizen. In recent exposure (or indecent, you pick) to Michael Foucault’s ruminations on power, I fell upon his description of a “free man” or, the state in which one is free. Freedom, he says, is a “field of possibilities in which several ways of behaving, several reactions…may be realized.” Foucault sees freedom and power in mutual existence, that where possibilities abound, action does too. Now think of where you live. If you’re like me, think of where you have lived and where you would like to live. Did you consider yourself a citizen of your home address, or of a city in the Bay Area of California? Did you consider yourself an entitled free (wo)man who had a field of possibilities to behave in a way that was loyal to herself, as well as her larger zip code? Did you consider yourself an actual tool in a box of Pandora proportions, where the way you ate your cereal and the way you drove your car directly affected the way your next door neighbor drank water or checked his email? Today, we find that we are increasingly interconnected and must address different realities in the world around us. We are free women and men engaged in power relations that require us—out of the several possible ways—to talk, think, and act with multiple perspectives, global perspectives in mind. To build bridges and fill gaps across national borders, creating a more culturally-competent, socially just, and economically equitable world. To be global citizens. The seemingly cursory term, yet has true meaning to current students here at Mills. We plan to take that meaning around the world and back. Join our class in the spring of 2014 and stay tuned for more updates on our efforts!
Are you a global citizen? Tell us more about your citizenship here:
The MBA/MA Huddle is a graduate group that offers a platform for action-oriented exploration of the intersection of business management and education, with a focus on innovation and reform.
I just began my final semester at the Lorry I. Lokey Graduate School of Business at Mills College. I am already having sentimental feelings. But, I won’t get mushy because… I’m excited!
The first group activity took place in the Management Information Systems class taught by David Meader, the inspiration (well, and class requirement last semester) for this blog. We were grouped randomly to work on a project with Legos. We were told to build a product, write a corresponding brochure, and prepare a two minute sales pitch. There was one gentleman in the group and there were some interesting conversations about “boys versus girls” and their ability to work with Legos, but I digress. Actually, I am proud to say that it did not distract me from the task at hand.
I remember thinking to myself, “well, I’m not efficient with Legos so what I can I contribute?” And, it dawned on me, the discussion of the “transportation” product was consistently vague and given the time limit, I knew we needed some direction. So, I ventured, “what about if we ask ourselves, what’s on the horizon or what’s generating buzz to such an extent that it would make for good marketing?” And, in all the “waterfall” of responses, our group feeding off of one another’s contributions, health and fitness came up. As the group members’ ideas continued to generate, we gravitated toward a transportation and fitness product in one, and now we have The Runabout!
It’s like a cross trainer/elliptical machine on wheels that is powered by your fitness, for all those super moms out there who have to get to the grocery store AND work out all in a short amount of time!
Ultimately, the take away from the project had to do with Project Management theories and processes- Waterfall vs. Agile and this issue of scope. My personal take away has to do with my ability to transition into a new career, away from education and into business. I am concerned that my future in business will reveal many moments when I feel like I do not have the expertise or the know how to contribute, but then again, maybe it’s just about providing inspiration and shaping the scope of the project. And then I remembered a few other moments in the last three semesters when I felt that moment of confidence, when my contribution made a difference. I’ll have to remember that I’ve been practicing the Five Habits of a Disruptive Innovator as an educator and leader and didn’t even know it!
This blog was originally posted at http://intra-preneurship.com/
By Gina Garcia,
I’m convinced that jobs are the equivalent of relationships; interviewing like dating. The majority of us are looking for the job of our dreams, “love of our lives” and somehow on the way to happily ever after, we wind up kissing a lot of frogs. During the course of my career I’ve had my fair share of “relationships”. Some were short-term, long-term, fun, boring, loving, perplexing, emotionally draining, dysfunctional, challenging, exciting, and even just downright weird. Yes, I’ve worked for a long time and have been in a number of different environments, which has allowed me the unique opportunity to really understand who I am as an employee and what I bring to a company. But it didn’t happen overnight.
In the early days of my career, there was a time where I bounced around from workplace to workplace simply because “everyone was doing it.” It wasn’t until I decided it was finally time to settle down that a funny thing happened; I fell head over heels for a company that I remained committed to for seven years. It was a phenomenal partnership, filled with highs, lows, good times and bad times. I learned a lot about myself in the process and really came into my own. But with all great unions, sometimes you just grow apart. I knew that I wanted out, but was afraid to leave and I came up with every excuse to stay. What I found was the love turned into complacency and I remained far longer than I should have until the decision to separate wasn’t my own. Even though I was experiencing “heartbreak”, a part of me felt as though I had been set free; like someone getting out of their first real adult relationship. Suddenly there was this whole new world in front of me. I could do whatever I wanted. I was no longer tied down. I wasn’t disappointing anyone and I no longer had to worry about the pressure to be something that I wasn’t. It was liberating.
After a month of not working, reality set in; the reality that I was “alone” and the fear that I may remain “alone” forever. I started to question, “What is wrong with me?” You start to get so far into your head that it creates a downward spiral. That’s when I realized I could sit around and mope, or I could dust myself off, put on a fabulous pair of heels and get back into the “dating” pool. You are incredibly vulnerable during the interview process and I hadn’t been in the game for seven years; I had no clue how to act. It reminds me of a scene from the movie Sleepless in Seattle when Rob Reiner is trying to explain to Tom Hanks what dating is like after so many years of marriage; how so much had changed. There’s also a saying that “dating is like job interviews just with cocktails” and it couldn’t be more true. The comparison is that you are putting yourself out there and it is uncomfortable. How do you set yourself apart and how do you stand out amongst the competition? And let’s be honest, you are potentially setting yourself up to be rejected and who wants that? But I’ve learned over the years that rejection is all part of the game, and the only way to learn how to play the game and play it well is to keep at it. Fall down, get back up, repeat. It can be exhausting, but to put a positive spin on interviewing, I look at it like this; it is the best way to network as you meet a plethora of people.(I also happen to view the real act of dating as a great way to network. Simply bring up in conversation you are looking to switch jobs and see what happens. I got an interview this way once.)
Of course there came a point where I started to get incredibly burnt-out on interviewing. I was just ready to commit again and without giving it a ton of thought, I took the first position that felt the most comfortable. Ah, the rebound relationship begins! At the time of starting this new position, I had no idea I was rebounding. Typically when you get into a new relationship (job) after months of dating, (interviewing) you have that elated feeling that you so missed; the feeling of being in love when you haven’t had it in so long. “Your mind subconsciously wants to experience love again, and even if you want to avoid dating for a while, you can’t help but fall into the trap of love almost immediately.” It’s like you grasp at the first thing that seems appealing simply to fill a gap. You’re having a blast getting to know one another, there’s a connection, and you’re having fun. And then suddenly you have your first fight, but you turn a blind eye. Then things start to get uncomfortable and you start to question why you decided to get involved in the first place. Disappointment and frustration set in and what use to be love and laughter is now uncomfortable silence during a meal. Basically, it’s time to move on, but how do you leave without hurting the other person? All I know is the last thing you want is to be dumped by your rebound that you weren’t even really into in the first place!
The point of all of this is as follows: history repeats itself for a reason. Sometimes you need to ask yourself why you continue to attract the same situation. If you remain on the path with what you’re constantly comfortable with, you’ll never realize your worth. Often times when interviewing we are nervous; hung up on how we are representing ourselves and caught up on making sure we answer the interviewer’s questions effectively or am I wearing the right outfit. We do whatever it takes to impress the interviewer and what ends up happening is we sell ourselves short by not taking the time to really learn about the company or to ask the right questions. An interviewer will sell the heck out of a position and why shouldn’t they? In some instances, there are interviewers who aren’t very friendly, which can truly catch you off guard. So as with relationships, knowing who you are, what you want, what you bring to the table, what you are looking for, not selling yourself short, not taking the first thing that comes along, and certainly refusing to settle are things to consider when on the search for that career match made in heaven.
“Follow your passion, follow your heart and the things you need will come.” –Elizabeth Taylor