A foreigner's MBA (and related) adventures in the "Big Apple"

Friday, August 08, 2008


Today is a very sad day. A few minutes ago my dad has told me that “Mus”, my dear dog, has just passed away. I am crying like a baby. I can’t help it. Many people do not understand that you can really love your dog. It is because they never had one. Or because they never loved them.

Yesterday I watched “The unberable lightness of being”. I had read the book a few years ago. Those of you who have read it probably remember the chapter “Karenin’s smile”. I did cry when I read it and I cried again yesterday when I watched the movie. The “Karenin” on the movie reminded me of “Mus”, they were both a simiar kind of shepherd dog: loyal, joyful, full of life, their facial expression was alike. I could even tell, as Tomas and Teresa did, when “Mus” smiled too.

Mus, I am gonna miss your cheerful home welcomings, your funny laziness, your always being there without complain, our walks on the beach, our walks in the snow, the throwing of stones and sticks, how much you hated being on pictures, your sitting down waiting for a cookie, the look in your eyes.

You were a great dog. I will miss you and I will always take in you in my heart.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Thinking of home

One month since the last post. In the meantime three of my friends have become dad or mom, three of them have got married, some classmates have come back to their countries for good and I have changed apartments. One damn month is a lot.

I am feeling tired and unwilling to do nothing but doing nothing. It is a curious thing that I am in NY, one of the best cities in the world, if not the best, without much to do and that I spend most of the time at home. As a friend was telling me today is a kind of Catch-22 situation: so many things to do and that I wanna do but no income that allows me to enjoy them. But if I was making working and making money I would not appreciate all those things to the same extent and they would not be available to me on a daily basis. It is frustrating.

As I was saying I am feeling lazy and a little bit tired of mostly everything. I am even tired of looking for a job. I am still into it, it is not that I have surrendered or so but my thoughts are a little unclear now. A tough time now.

I have active job leads now, a few of them. I really feel like this set of leads is the definitive one. I do not see many more coming and, if something pops up (or not) it will be thank to the current leads. I may be wrong but that is my perception. But the more I think about these diverse leads, the more confused I am. The thing is that as of today I may end up working in San Francisco for an internet start up focused on online video, a sports marketing agency in the L.A. area, a media conglomerate in NY… Does this make sense? My life may take one of these very diverse paths. All of them seem to be fine but I do not really know which one I would take if I had all of them within my reach.

And then it is home. I may be going through an awkward moment but the idea of eventually coming back home is growing stronger inside. In the last couple of weeks I feel nostalgic when my friends from my country tell me about the stories that are going on, the summer plans, the usual and typical jokes and so forth. I have also briefly talked to my dad about the possibility of joining him at the family business (something that has always been present in the back of my head, althugh never as a primary motivation). All this stuff already existed when I decided to come to the US two years ago and yet I came over for my MBA. All that also existed a few months ago when I was determined to stay in the US. What’s changed? Is it that I am somewhat fed up with what I am going through or is it really that I want to come back? I have not figured it out but nothing has changed that much to justify the different mindset…

Anyway, just some random thoughts that I needed to jot down. The next couple of weeks are gonna be critical. The leads/interviews will die or will turn into something tangible. And by then it will be almost the end of July and I will have to decide what comes next.

Will keep you all posted.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Stabbed in the back

Stabbed. That is the way I am feeling today. It’s been some time since the last post and I was actually waiting to bring this blog to an end with the perfect post, the one that would summarize how perfect everything was: job offer, acceptance and, ultimately, the renewal of my NY adventure. But nothing farther from reality.

Everything was ok until today. As you all know I had been interviewing with several companies and so forth. I had decided to accept an offer and, in fact, I had actually accepted it verbally. Cool job, something I was really looking for. The downside: rather bad paycheck, although I was ready to take the hit and make a bet on a future career. In other words, invest and harvest in the mid to long term. As I was saying, everything was fine until earlier today… why? The company just rescinded the offer it had extended to me three weeks ago based on two grounds: my supossed lack of passion and their fear that I could leave the job as soon as something that pay better came along.

It is amazing because it’s been a few weeks since the offer was extended and we were just negotiating (that is what I thought!) a few – but important, though – issues such as salary and start date (although I had already verbally accepted the offer regardless the final outcome). Two days ago I was even given green light to come back to my country to have my visa renewed on the basis that the company would be providing me with all the necessary documentation. I bought my flights and so forth. And two days later, earlier today, I have been told that the “recruiting process for the position has been reopened”. Unbeliavable.

It is difficult to affirm that somebody lacks the passion for something when, for instance, she has taken an unpaid internship in the field to build up her resume. It is even harder if such person is willing to take a job that pays roughly one third of what the market pays to people with his or her education. It is even more difficult to justify that three, two, one week ago…three days ago… you had the passion and that then, out of the blue, you do not have it any more. Well, some people still look at you in the eye and affirm that you indeed lack the passion.

From a corporate perspective I understand that a company may fear that some of its human capital may leave to look for greener grass. But if a company really values the talent it is recruiting, it should do something to prevent it from leaving. And if any given company is not ready to do that “something” then it should not recruit such talent and, even less, it should not extend offers (to rescind them afterwards). You go for some specific talent or you do not. There is no middle ground here. It is perfectly acceptable that a company looks for its own interest but that should not be done at the cost of screwing your potential employees.

I had lately commented with some friends that I am a little naïve when it comes to dealing with corporations. Maybe it is because, thank god, in my worklife before b-school I had been lucky to deal with serious, competent and professional people. As I said, that has resulted in my being a little naïve. I just felt like I should not screw any given company, I felt like I had to look for the best common interest. I had been warned that such mindset did not match real life and, unfortunately, I have just experienced that it is true. One has to look after himself and think in a selfish way. I have realized that corporations will screw you if they need to. It is sad but that is the way it is. Where is the good faith? Where is the value of one’s word? I am still looking for them.

The funny thing is that maybe I want to be idealistic, maybe I want to believe that business can be done on such grounds I am now trying to find again. I don’t wanna change, I don’t wanna do things wrong just because some people do them wrong. It’s been a good lesson and I am probably on my way to losing some of the innocence. But again, I do not wanna go to the dark side. I do not believe in it.

I have promised myself that I am not gonna let this take me down. I am not gonna be complaining about it. I am not gonna feel miserable. I am gonna stand up and try even harder. I am gonna find something better.

All in all, there will be some other posts coming. The time to close this down has not come yet. As some people have told me today, there must be a reson why this has happened…

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Up in the sky

I am several thousands feet above the sea level. It is the very first time I am using a computer in an aircraft. It sems like in the last 10 days I have evolved several hundred years from a tech standpoint. Damn, Thievery Corporation in my ears, some blogging, maybe a little bit of Jack Bauer after this. When you have 6 hours before hitting the Bay Area you can a lot of things if you have the right tools!

I am a little bit tired since I have only slept five hours today. Yesterday I had dinner with some school friends in Soho and after that we bounced to Pravda and then Stanton Social in the LES. It was a fun night, full of margaritas on the rocks, actually. I have been jittery and hangovered all day and I have even lost the $15 train ticket from Penn Station to Newark, so I have had to buy an extra one. I hate coming to Newark, it is a pain in the ass…

I have not still assumed that I now have a real oportunity to stay in New York, which is something I have been working on for two years. Yesterday I ran into a couple of friends who are still looking and I was talking as if I had nothing. At some point one of them told me “dude, you have one offer already”. I’ve been for so long in the dark side that I am not very conscious yet about my new “status”.

Anyways, I am heading back to San Francisco again, after a couple of months. It is gonna be my second time in the city after last Spring Break trip. You all know the reason for this trip (if you don’t remember, check the posts from Spring Break!). I am somewhat surprised about my being on this plane right now. I have never done these kinds of things but, what the hell, I have said to myself, carpe diem. There is nothing to lose, right? Should be fun and, if it is not… well, I guess that’s life, then!

This coming week is gonna be critical, I believe. I am gonna have to pretty much decide what the future brings to me in the short term. It will definitely be my choice but I just hope that those companies I am waiting final responses from will be coming back to me so I have all the elements to decide.

I am gonna switch now to 24. I have been willing to watch from episode 17 onwards of the 6th season for months (my older laptop was too slow to play the episodes I purchased!) so now is the time. Is you and me now, Jack!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

First offer

A day to remember. May 22, 2008. Today. They day when I got my first full-time offer in the U.S. I was actually ding my weekly laundry when I got a call from an HR person. She told me that she had been “authorized” to extend me an offer. After two long months and 6 or 7 interviews, after providing past professional references and after some uncertainty, I got it.

It is funny but I am not super excited. On the one hand I am proud of this accomplishment, it’s been a lot of work to get this and now I look back and I am struck by the amount of networking, interning and so forth invested so far in this. But on the other hand it is hard to take that the sports industry pays this bad. It is something I already knew and expected, but still…

Anyway, I am better off than two hours ago, when I had nothing yet. I have not accepted the offer straight away and I have asked for just a few days to make up my mind and to perform some calculations as to whether I can afford to take a job that would be a lot of fun and that I am sure that I would enjoy, but that pays so badly. At the same time, I am waiting for some final responses from a couple of companies I am interviewing with, in particular one of the TV sector where I am close to the finish line (actually it is just me or one other candidate). It would be a great opportunity in terms of career development and well paid.

I was talking to a couple of friends a while ago and they had very different views about taking or not the job I have been offered: (a) do not take it, the pay is too low and you should not move in at that price after completing the MBA; (b) take it and keep looking in the meantime. If something better comes along you can always take it. I am not sure about any of them.
I feel like I am being to innocent. I somehow tell myself not to take a job if I know that there is a decent chance that I will be leaving in a few months. I wanna be true to whatever company hires me. At the same time, it is obvious that companies look after themselves and they do nt hesitate when it comes to keeping salaries low, firing people and so forth. People in the US are not as change-averse as we are in my country. Here people behave like companies: do whatever you have to do at any single point in time. Maybe I should follow this since I am in the US. If at some point I am willing to leave for somewhere else whatever company may always try to retain me, right? I gotta think about this thoroughly…

By the way, today I also got my authorization (called OPT) to work in the US for an extra year. It is a formality since MBAs almost always get it but I was scared of not having met all of the application requirements. It’s an extra step, an important one.

Now it all comes down to deciding about jobs. Damn, let’s go out celebrate that, for the first time in this process, I can choose!!!!!

Friday, May 16, 2008

I'm a masters

It’s over two years are finally gone. It happened yesterday, at the Radio City Music Hall. 400+ full-time colleagues and a bunch of part timers – as well as our families – got together to celebrate the graduation of the Stern’s Class of 2008. It was a perfect venue and a not-so-perfect commencement ceremony (I can’t believe that we did not throw our caps in the air at the very end… what about all those American movies!?) that included a speech (mostly about the current credit crunch???????) by Bank of America’s CEO.

But it will always be an unforgettable day to me. Seeing how my dad’s face filled with pride and joy, having a bottle of champagne with my folks after the ceremony, taking dozens of pics with my classmates… standing up there over-viewing all the crowd right before shaking the dean’s hand as my name was aired through the speakers. Two years are gone. End of the story, end of one of the most amazing chapters of my life.

It’s been around three years since I started the whole process of coming to business school, it was the spring of 2005. GMAT, TOEFL, applications, letters, the stress of not knowing what was gonna happen…what a pain. It seems like it’s been 10 years since then! But now I look back and I could not be happier. It’s been the best thing I’ve done in my entire life, an amazing experience and I will do the same thing again if I was standing in my own shoes three years ago.

I have had an amazing time, I have made great friends, I have learnt quite a lot, I have made true that dream of mine from 6 years ago (that first visit to the Big Apple) of living in the best city of the world, I have traveled around the US and abroad, I have made great connections…and I have definitely build the foundations to allow myself a career change outside of the law ring, which was the primary reason to start this adventure. It has not materialized yet but I am confident that it may happen in the next couple of weeks…

Time to finish this morning post. I have my folks in town and it is time to go for a walk in this rainy day in my beloved NY.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Two days to go

Time goes by quickly. Two days to go. I have delivered today a presentation with my brand strategy group, I will deliver an individual one tomorrow for business coaching and on Wednesday I will take the final new venture financing exam. And that will be it, I will be graduating in 8 days from today. Unbelievable. I will have time to write down my impressions in the coming days.

On the job front there are no news. I am starting to feel like a couple of options that I had opened are vanishing now. It’s been a week since the last interviews and I have had no news at all. Bad sign. Let’s not lose hope, anyway.

Gotta go to sleep now. Second to last academic day tomorrow.