I cannot believe that the third quarter is already over and I am less than two months shy of the halfway mark in my two-year MBA journey.
It still seems like it was just last week that 18 fellow Rotman MBA students and I flew to Edmonton, Alberta, to represent Rotman at the 2007 Canadian MBA games.
While we did not bring home any awards, it was a wonderful opportunity to meet other MBA students from all over Canada. This was the weekend before school started and I can surely say that the feelings of confidence and euphoria I had then have been replaced with a sense of humility and an even greater respect for my classmates.
“So how do you value a company? Please walk me through your approach and thinking.”
This question has quite possibly been burned into the back of my mind, as well as the minds of some of my classmates also pursuing careers in finance. This quarter was all about finding a summer internship and, true to the words of warning I had received from some MBA forebears, it was the most stressful and humbling quarter so far.
The first week was a blitz of information sessions from a myriad of consulting firms and investment banks gingerly accompanied by our very interactive three and a half days of managerial negotiations classes.
By the following week, these information sessions were mixed with first round interviews as applications became due and firms started making their first round choices.
Most companies used our grades as a primary filter, but a couple of companies chose to use the information sessions as auditions for potential summer interns.
Try imagining a roomful of 50-plus students vying to get the attention of five or six company recruiters over the span of an hour.
Sometimes it was chaotic, and there were raised tensions amongst my classmates as some perceived others to be hogging the recruiters’ attention.
Even as the information sessions and interviews rolled by, all the other activities that were part of our MBA experience continued.
A number of competitions were held during the quarter, most notably the Venture Capital Investment Competition that attracted top Canadian and US business schools.
We continued to see a distinguished roster of speakers, including our resident credit derivatives guru, Professor John Hull.
That truly is one of the things I have enjoyed about my journey through Rotman: the exposure to such brilliant minds. Even after a semester with my classmates and professors, I am still amazed by the calibre of people I am surrounded by and it continues to motivate me even when I find myself in the doldrums of the programme.
With the new semester also came new team assignments. I was sad to let go of my first semester team to be assigned a brand new team because we had worked so well. It seemed such a shame to “fix it when it wasn’t broken”, but one of the goals in the programme is to meet and develop relationships with our classmates and for that reason I was looking forward to the new team assignments. Considering some of the team horror stories I had heard about, I have to say that my luck is running pretty good so far since my new team is also a really cool bunch.
Our first major activity together was a team building exercise in the form of a scavenger hunt round the City of Toronto. Biting cold aside, it was very exciting and a lot of fun, especially since I had never been on a scavenger hunt.
This new order of things initially seemed unsettling for me. I had grown used to my frantic running round like a headless chicken during the first two quarters as I tried to do everything.
This had now been replaced by a more focused and deliberate “I have three things to do” approach, which seemed to make the quarter somewhat more manageable.
Additionally, my classmates and I are starting to come to terms with the fact that our journey through business school is not just about what we know, but who we know. With the realisation that we are all likely to be competing for the same jobs some, like myself, have opted to look beyond the school’s resources and try to leverage our previous existing networks, and possibly build new ones. This approach definitely alleviated some of the stress I was feeling as a result of the job search and believe me, during the third quarter in this programme, there is a lot of it.
Even with all the hysteria about securing summer positions there were still ongoing extracurricular activities, like our Tipsy Tuesday and Thirsty Thursday events that were once again meant to get us together for socialising and networking.
There was the election for the head of the 2007 Orientation Committee, which, as a result of our positive experience with our orientation events, was quite spirited. This election is a prelude to the upcoming fourth quarter elections to be held for our Graduate Business Council, which promises to be even more exciting and spirited judging by the ambitions and capabilities of my classmates.
My added humility in the third quarter fills me with a sense of accomplishment. I was able to learn a lot even as I continued to build on my relationships in class and in the industry. To the extent that now, when the question about valuing companies comes up, I can smile knowingly before launching into my answer.
I can only imagine what the next set of quarters at Rotman has in store for me, but I am looking forward to them.