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April 2010 Archives

Every year in mid-April Carlson celebrates Business Week.  As Kathleen mentioned, it is meant as a celebration of the year's efforts (which does mean a lot of free food!).

The highlight of my Business Week experience this year was the Price is Right event where I won the grand showcase which was a Asis Eee notebook computer.  I was surprised considering I am generally not very lucky in these types of events and have only watched the television show a couple of times. Nevertheless, the notebook computer will be very useful when I am flying next year for work and don't want to carry a larger laptop. 

Business Week was a very fun and exciting week this year as it was a great chance to interact with others outside of the classroom.

The second thing I would like to take a moment to highlight are the case competitions.  Every year, Carlson hosts a number of case competitions which give students the chance to put their class work into practice and present to corporate leaders.  I have had the opportunity to participate in a number of these competitions in my time here at Carlson.

Typically, participants are given the case 24 hours in advance of when they need to present.  This presents a significant time constraint making teamwork and time management of vital importance. The case is generally a real company that is facing a business decision or has a problem that needs to be solved.  For instance, a company could be looking to build a new investment facility.  The case teams would need to assess the financial and business strategies behind this decision. 

I participated in the senior case competition this past fall.  The results of this competition provided me the opportunity to go on and represent Carlson at the Big Ten competition where my team placed 2nd. 

Our team also won the opportunity to represent the Carlson school at an international case competition in Maastricht, Netherlands!  However, the recent volcanic ash prevented our case team from making the trip! 

I would encourage any prospective students to participate in case competitions in business school as it provides great real life experience and is a great resume builder! 


Happy BWeek!

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Happy BWeek everyone! BWeek, or Business Week, is one of my favorite weeks of the year at Carlson. It is a week full of food, games, friends, food, socializing, and food. (Did I mention there's lots of free food?)

Each day of BWeek, Carlson students receive a free catered breakfast or lunch from favorite restaurants around campus, including Bruegger's Bagels, Perkin's, Lucky Dragon Chinese, Raising Cane's fried chicken, and Buffalo Wild Wings. All Carlson students also receive free Business Week t-shirts, as well as goody bags from several of our corporate sponsors.

BWeek is full of activities and festivities for everyone. There is a Supply Chain case competition, basketball and volleyball tournaments, and an alumni event. The week starts off with the Carlson community gathering to play our special Carlson version of The Price is Right. The week also includes an Etiquette Dinner where students learn which forks and spoons to use, and how to make pleasant table talk--great skills to have for the business dinners we will surely be attending in the next few years!

One of my favorite events is the Entrepreneurship Club's BizPitch, an event where Carlson students give a 90-second elevator pitch of their business idea to a panel of current entrepreneurs and Carlson alums and professors. Students this year had great ideas, including tracking devices for archery arrows, audio sampling services, and a rentable napping pod for air travelers. The panel gives constructive and encouraging feedback to all participants and a good, and educational, time is had by all!

This year, the Carlson student organization Women in Business introduced a new Carlson event, Mr. CSOM. Carlson students nominated some of their male friends to participate in a comical "pageant-style" competition, involving a choreographed dance, hula hoops, and high-heels. You can imagine the hilarity of the event, which created quite the spectacle in the Carlson Atrium!  

The week concludes with the Business Week Dinner. Students, faculty, and staff gather for a dinner and awards ceremony at the McNamara Center. At the dinner, students are awarded Outstanding Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, Senior, and Student of the Year. A professor and staff member are also each recognized for their contribution to the Carlson community. One of my friends (and Carlson Ambassador!) Eric, was awarded Freshman of the Year!

I'm off to grab some Duffy's Pizza in the Atrium--yum! Life during BWeek is sure good!

Carlson Advising

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Last week I met with my advisor to finalize my schedule for this coming fall semester, as well as my following three semesters at the U. The relationship I have developed with my advisor during my two years at the U is invaluable. She has become not just a resource for academic guidance and career coaching, but also a mentor and support system for my four years at the U.

All students meet their advisors at orientation the summer before starting their freshman year. Students keep the same advisor for all four years at the U. Advisors also specialize in departments, meaning that the Carson advisors only advise Carlson students. This means the advisors have a deep understanding of Carlson's curriculum, student life, professors, and student organizations and activities. Because our advisors have advised so many Carlson students, they have heard almost every question, comment, and concern students have at least once, giving them a great understanding and appreciation for the college experience of Carlson students.

My favorite thing about advising appointments is that they always start off with a conversation about my life. When Kris, my advisor, asks me how things are going, I know the question applies to more than just the classroom. We talk about the activities I am involved in, how I am enjoying my classes and professors, the friends I am making, and how I am adjusting to life at college. From there, we discuss study skills for my current classes and plan for my future classes. Kris is always available to answer questions I have about nearly anything at the U. We meet in person two to three times a semester, which is slightly more than the required one meeting each semester. I also email her frequently, asking questions about the importance of different seminars on campus, activities to get involved in, and any other ideas I may be thinking about to add to my four-year plan at the U.

It is because I have such a comfortable and trusting relationship with Kris that I am able to make such wise decisions about how I am going to spend my four years the U. She has gotten to know me so well as a person that she can easily recommend courses, professors, and activities that I would enjoy. I know she has my best interest in mind, so she is one of the first people I go to for advice about my academic experience, campus life, and post-college plans. If you ask me, students are very lucky to have such a great resource and relationship so readily available on campus! 
Internships are an excellent way to supplement the classroom education that students receive at the Carlson School of Management and prepare students for their careers.  The school does an excellent job of preparing students to get and succeed in those internships.  I have had three internship experiences in my time as an undergrad.

The most valuable of these experiences was at Carlson Wagonlit Travel in Minnetonka; I interned in the travel consulting group for two summers and also worked part time during the school year.  I obtained the position through the on campus recruiting process during the Spring of my sophomore year.  As an intern, I had the opportunity to gain experience to create data driven recommendations and present these recommendations to corporate clients.  These recommendations were based on optimizing the contracts with airlines and changing corporate travel patterns.  I took a number of concrete skills away from this internship experience that will directly benefit me in my career after college, including:

  1. Communication Skills - I cannot emphasize enough the importance of clearly communicate ideas.  Presenting to clients and working with internal team members allowed me to drastically improve in this area.
  2. Data Management Skills - Business decisions need to be based on data.  I greatly improved on my Microsoft Excel skills and my ability to "tell a story" out of a large amount of data.
  3. Time Management - I became better at managing my time by taking classes and working part time to meet client deadlines.

My other internships were at UBS Financial Services and State Farm Insurance.  I cannot stress enough the importance of networking.  I obtained both of these internships through personal contacts.  The Carlson Mentorship Program is a great way to start establishing these personal contacts. 

Overall, the Carlson Undergraduate Career center goes to great lengths and bounds to ensure that students are prepared to get and complete internships.  From preparing students how to write a resume, to helping them with practice interviews, to automating the job application process, the career center is second to none!  Additionally, numerous Fortune 500 companies are located right in the Twin Cities area and actively come on campus to find students to complete internships. 

My one piece of advice is to get started early!  Many companies are already looking for interns a full 9 months before they start!