November 2015

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I am writing this blog during our Thanksgiving break in 2015. Feels like it was just yesterday that we completed our internships and started our 2nd year but it is hard to believe that it has actually been 3 months since we started this semester. Now when I look back at the year gone by, it actually amazes me and makes me realize that everyone in my class is a changed person. Everyone has evolved both personally and professionally. Compared to the first year, the second year has been relatively much easier. By this time almost everyone is pretty certain about his or her career paths. This means that everyone knows what concentrations they will take and accordingly what classes are the best ones for them. Our schedules are not quite as rigorous as they were in the first year. Nonetheless, time really flies and looking ahead, I see that I only have 10 more days of school left before the winter break and one last semester to go before I graduate.


Most of the 2nd years returned from their summer internships with full time job offers. This means we have so much more time on our hands to actually do the things we like. Also, the class schedule is much more flexible as all the classes in the 2nd year are electives and you just take the classes that interest you or the classes that count towards your choice of concentration. We also get the choice of making our own teams. This means we can team up with other students who are more compatible with us. This year we also played mentoring roles for the incoming batch of first year students. It has been a rewarding and a satisfying experience. Similar to the last year, this year also included its fair share of activities and festivities. We have celebrated Diwali and Thanksgiving had many other fun activities such as a football game between the 1st and 2nd years.


Looking back at the time passed so far in the MBA program, I realize that I have learned so much, made so many new friends and most importantly identified and worked upon the weaknesses that I never knew I had. It has been a long journey but it has also been a satisfying one and the more I look back, I feel that it was just yesterday when it all started and think about the days to come. However, we still have a long way to go.


Rahul Ramteke
Class of 2016


Thanksgiving Dinner 2015

In b-school, I find myself fluctuating between various ups and downs. You have to catch up when you fall behind on your homework; keep up in class as the professor teaches a new concept and you may look up to those who have gone before you. There are also downs. We take down time each week, we down our lunches quickly to get to the next assignment, and don’t worry about anyone looking down on us after completing this rigorous program. So how do we keep track of it all and balance the ups with the downs?


One great way to prevent the need to catch up is by keeping up. In the MBA program the one thing we all wish we had was more time. Alas, time is finite. We all run out of it at the same pace day in and day out. Nothing can stop it. The best way to deal with this is by keeping a schedule. Whether you keep a printed day planner or a digital calendar make sure all of your waking hours are accounted for. In fact, it’s probably a good idea to track your resting hours as well. By scheduling everything you need to accomplish, from breakfast to bedtime, you can allocate the right amount of time for each task.


In the MBA program I constantly find myself making trades. I will trade breakfast for a little more sleep in the morning, or trade study time for career research, and I often find myself trading homework for family time. All in all, it’s about trading up to ensure the time is optimally spent. This system of trading can lead to the best or worst results. Because I was hoping to capitalize on the best results, I decided to find a way to keep up.


In order to keep up so I don’t have to catch up, I track my progress through a master assignment spreadsheet (see below). Each column represents a course. The assignments along with their due dates are listed in chronological order. If I need to mark something important, I highlight it. When something is finished, I check it off the list and move on to the next assignment based on the corresponding due date. See schedule below.


There are obviously many other methods that may work for you, but the important thing is to keep track of everything so you don’t get behind. By keeping up you can have more down time and much less stress. Stress is a down-er, don’t let it ruin your MBA experience. Keep your Ups and Downs balanced.


Henry O’Connor, MBA Class of 2017



(Adapted from a template posted by Matthew Kuo on

Diwali for Yufei's BlogOnce the new semester begins, so does the festival season! The first two festivals are very exotic. In September, we had the Mid-Autumn festival which is celebrated by the Chinese, followed by Diwali which is celebrated by the Indians.

Chinese people value family reunions. In many Chinese festivals, children go back to their parents’ home and celebrate the holiday together, like the spring festival. The Mid-Autumn festival is another such festival shared with family and it normally takes place in the middle of September, August 15th in the Luna Calendar. Chinese people believe, and also supported by science, the moon is the roundest and biggest on that day in a year. “Round” also means reunion in Chinese. It’s such a sweet and warm holiday! In the Mid-Autumn festival, Chinese people also eat “Moon Cake”, a round and sweet pancake made of flour, sugar and five kinds of nuts. Although they are not at home, the Chinese Smeal MBAs celebrate the holiday together. They bought Moon Cakes from a local Chinese grocery store and enjoyed the moonlight during the night. This year, the moon was even bigger than before!

Diwali means the festival of the lights. In India, people light millions of lights and fires to celebrate the holiday. At Smeal, each year, a party is hosted by the Indian MBAs and all students will contribute and join. This year, the party was in the Hub. It started with traditional Indian appetizers. We all enjoined the delicious and flavorful food so much! Then the Indian cultural program started. There were dances, songs and a fashion show. The Indian students are so good at dancing and singing. They dressed in traditional Indian clothes and accessories. All Smeal MBA students joined in on the dancing and the fashion show. During the show, we also enjoyed an Indian buffet catered by local Indian restaurants. For our second year MBAs, this was our last Diwali festival which we will ever celebrate with our classmates. We will miss it so much!

Soon after Diwali, we celebrated Halloween, in which we’ll have the best costume of the year award. Soon we will be celebrating Thanksgiving and then Christmas. This is the best season in a year! Most importantly, we enjoy the season with our classmates and these memories are so precious to us.

Yufei Han, Class of 2016

The second year of the MBA program, I feel, is more fun than the first year of the program. The start of the year is exciting as we get to reunite with our classmates, whom we did not see during the summer internship. We also get to meet a bunch of new program candidates. The classes in the second year are more focused towards each student’s area of interest so the courses are more interesting.

We just completed our negotiation immersion between the modules five and six. It is a one week (four days) course that provides more insights into negotiation. This course was more of a preview to the elective course “Complex Negotiation” offered in module six. During the course, we had very interesting discussions about several aspects of negotiation. Before coming to Smeal, while working within the procurement function of my company, I had negotiated various business issues with external stakeholders. However during the course I learned several new techniques through which the negotiations could be made more effective. During this short course, we got to undergo several practical exercises on negotiations with our other class members through which we could apply some of the newly acquired knowledge in negotiations.

Courses in the strategic leadership concentration helped me learn more about the finer aspects of organizational behavior which are essential to master in order to be successful as a business leader. The subject matter is also very difficult to learn quickly outside of the business school. I would highly recommend that all the aspiring candidates dive deep into this concentration while in an MBA program.

Varun Tiwari
Class of 2016