October 31, 2014

Preparing for Winter in CLE

Al DiFranco, director of student experience at Weatherhead, is a native Clevelander. In his free time, this foodie and avid sports fan can be found at one of the many unique local restaurants or cheering on the Cleveland Browns as a season ticket holder. Email Al

Those of you who are new to winter, especially Cleveland winter, have heard all the stories. Cold, wind, clouds, snow…all of it is on the horizon!

Having lived in Cleveland for most of my life, I can tell you winter here is really not that bad. You just need to be prepared for it and make the best of it. 

Here are a few tips:

1. Shop for the right gear

Here is a quick list of things everyone needs:
  • Winter coat – don’t rely on layering, make sure you get a coat that covers you to at least mid-thigh.
  • Waterproof boots – CWRU grounds crew does a pretty good job of clearing the sidewalks, but sometimes it is hard to keep up when we are experiencing a winter storm. Make sure you buy a pair of good waterproof boots.
  • Gloves – your hands can get really cold and dry in the winter, so invest in a good pair of gloves.
  • Scarf – a good scarf can be great in helping keep your neck area warm where some coats don’t quite reach, and they usually come in great colors and patterns.
  • Hat – you lose a large amount of warmth through your head if left unprotected from the cold, so make sure you purchase a winter hat, beanie, or balaclava that will cover at least your head and ears.

2. Equip your car properly

For those of you who drive, it is imperative that you prepare for the possibility of sliding off the road or becoming stuck in the middle of a snowstorm. Here are some things I suggest having in your car if you are going to drive this winter:
  • A good car brush with an attached scraper to clean off snow and ice
  • Small snow shovel
  • Road flares
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Car charger for your cell phone
  • A blanket
3. Get outside and enjoy some winter activities

Okay, enough doom and gloom, don’t-forget-your-booties-‘cause-it’s-cold-out-there preparations – let’s have some fun! Here are a couple ideas for outdoor fun in CLE during the winter:
  • Ice skating at the Wade Oval Rink – a great way to stay outdoors and have fun in the University Circle area, and admission is just $2/person (skate rental is $3/person if you need skates). The rink is scheduled to be open from November 28-March 8, Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and some Wednesdays in December. The Holiday CircleFest on Sunday, December 7, offers FREE skating and there are also some skating lessons on Saturdays in January and February. For more information, check out University Circle's website.
  • Hike around Cuyahoga Valley National Park – CVNP features some of our area’s most beautiful scenery and offers novice to serious hikers some great trails. There are more than 33,000 acres in the park! You can go cross country skiing, downhill skiing, snow tubing, ice fishing, snowshoeing and sledding. For more, visit CVNP's website

I hope this information gets you ready for winter in Cleveland, whether or not it is your first. You can’t avoid it, so you might as well enjoy it!

October 24, 2014

My first 50 days as a full-time MBA student

Jaclyn Agui is a first-year MBA candidate in the Weatherhead School of Management.
For someone who used to be a full-time worker, it may seem daunting to transition back to being a student. I definitely had my reservations and concerns that my transition would be difficult. Fortunately, it was quite the opposite.

Buddy Program

First-year MBA students in New York City
Before classes and even orientation, day one for me began when I met my second-year buddy. A “Buddy Program” is an integral part of the Weatherhead program, where first-year MBA students are paired up with current second-year MBA students. My buddy was my first connection to the MBA program. She gave me tips for how to prepare for the coming semester, offered to give me some of the books she used during her first year, and introduced me to other first- and second- year students. By the start of orientation, I already felt like I was a part of the Weatherhead community.


Orientation is a weeklong event where the Weatherhead Student Experience Office pulls out all the stops to make students feel at home and part of one big family. They fed us very well, gave us cool t-shirts, introduced us to faculty, and even provided a few happy hour events.

The most memorable experience during orientation was the Ropes Course event. The entire cohort boarded a bus that drove to an outside camp facility. Here we grouped up with our assigned teams and underwent a number of trust exercises using the ropes courses. This experience was extremely valuable for me to get to know my team members better, specifically their personalities and how well we worked together as a team. The exercises broke the ice for everyone, and at the end of the day when the whole cohort came back together in a large circle, there was an immediate sense of belonging and community.

First week of classes!

As most know, the Peter B. Lewis Building is extremely unique in its architecture and layout. So for most students, including myself, the first week of classes provided an opportunity to find my way around. Fifty days in and I am still finding new rooms in this building! In the first week, I quickly got acquainted with faculty and the Career Management Office. It was also a priority of mine to get to know my cohort and second-year MBA classmates better.

Internship search and getting involved

I believe that my internship/career search and getting involved in the Case Western Reserve community are just as important as class performance. Weatherhead has provided many opportunities for networking and meeting professionals outside of my existing network. The first career event I attended was the New York Trek. I traveled to New York City to tour the NYSE and network with Weatherhead alumni. The exchanges I had at this event have greatly influenced the direction of my internship search. I also had the opportunity to attend the Women’s national MBA career fair, where I participated in workshop sessions, networked with businesswomen and delivered my pitch to dozens of employers. In general, I have found the Weatherhead alumni base to be very supportive in reaching out and providing feedback for students.

Getting involved at Weatherhead is easy. Our graduate student body provided a club fair for all entering students to learn more about the student organizations that exist in the school and their upcoming events. I joined the Marketing Club, Net Impact, and Women in Business. I also was able to participate in Flourish & Prosper: The Global Forum for Business as an Agent of World Benefit as a volunteer.

Overall my first 50 days have been a whirlwind of experiences. Although at first a bit overwhelming with classes, career search, and involvement, once I got into a routine and set my priorities, it became a lot more manageable. I am now preparing for my midterms…Wish me good luck!

October 17, 2014

Despair not! Tips for your summer internship search

Kara Oldford, MBA '15

Kara Oldford is a second-year MBA student who plans to graduate in the spring of 2015. She currently holds an internship position at Lubrizol Corporation.

It is no secret that one of the biggest goals of the first year of your MBA program is to land an internship that will hopefully lead to a full-time position. Before your pre-MBA summer even ends, the seed has already been planted to be on the lookout for that coveted summer internship. Although it may seem premature, it certainly pays off to begin the search sooner rather than later!

I started my internship search process thinking I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I quickly learned that a job might not be tailored exactly to what I had in mind. Even though I started looking in August, I learned that I was already behind for a lot of the bigger companies who were finishing up first rounds of interviews. Fast forward to November and it seemed that all of the marketing internships in the entire country were already filled, but that was far from the truth!

Despite the internship search being a trying and often frustrating process, there were a lot of resources to help me out along the way. One of the best things I did was reach out to alumni to learn about their current positions and their past internships and how they landed either one. It helped to give me a better idea of where other Weatherhead MBA graduates ended up.

The biggest help for me was definitely the Weatherhead Career Fair and the CWRU Career Fair. Although career fairs can be overwhelming, I scored three job offers from connections that stemmed at these career fairs. However, it took more than just showing up to make it happen! I spent more hours than I would like to admit scouring the web for posted positions within companies that would be attending the fairs. I prioritized those companies, but I also wanted to be sure I spoke to other businesses I was interested in despite their current postings. My spring semester internship was the result of a conversation from the Weatherhead Fall Career Fair, and I knew very little about the company or any job prospect before then. I received the initial call for what would become my summer internship after my resume was passed along through a connection made at the Weatherhead Spring Career Fair.

There are certainly some things I wish I had known at the beginning of the search that I had to learn for myself. Even though it seemed that all of the jobs were taken by November, the truth was that many Cleveland companies didn't start interviewing until March. I wasted countless hours scouring job search boards where I received very few responses to submitted resumes. While I found it was important to be aware of the current job postings, my time was definitely best spent connecting with alumni.

Looking back at the internship search journey, I can remember the feelings of despair, excitement and relief when it was over. Although the process took seven months, I was able to secure my ideal summer marketing internship with Lubrizol Corporationand I'm still there!

October 10, 2014

My internship journey

With the semester in full swing, we share with you the journey of current student Jagadish Kumar Ananda Murthy, MBA '15, from Bangalore, India, as he navigates the world of internship searching with the help of Weatherhead's Career Management Office.

I came to the U.S. for higher education to gain a holistic perspective over the business world, acquire
Jagadish Kumar Ananda Murthy, MBA'15
new skills and knowledge, and build a strong professional network. Since day one of my MBA program at Weatherhead, starting with orientation, I heard a lot of conversations about job opportunities, the Cleveland business market, networking, etc., all aimed at securing a bright future, for which an internship in a reputed firm in the field of your interest, was the key. Fortunately, I realized this very early into the first semester and started networking actively through LinkedIn and other avenues provided by the Career Management Office (CMO), such as City Treks to Chicago and New York, Coffee Connections program and mock interviews, to name a few. 

Before I started my internship search, I took some time to decide on what I actually want to do post-MBA and where I would like to see myself five years down the line. This helped me to narrow my options and target specific opportunities/contacts, which saved me a lot of time and effort. Considering my hectic coursework, this was very crucial. Once I was clear that I wanted to leverage my three years of consulting experience with Deloitte, I started to network with professionals from the consulting fraternity—alumni , former colleagues, LinkedIn contacts and others. Though it was easy to connect with various professionals, it was very hard to maintain those contacts and convert them into useful relationships and eventually into job referrals. I concentrated hard on this and treated my internship search as an additional course in my MBA program, thereby dedicating time for it regularly.

My first offer came through CMO’s Coffee Connections program. My advisor was Rohit Reddy, director at AIG, New York. After a couple of interactions, he offered to assist with my internship search. Though he wasn’t aware of any opportunities available in his company, based on my interests, he connected me to his client EXL Services, a technology consulting firm in New York. I managed to convert this referral into an offer after a few rounds of interviews in November 2013. Though the offer was not promising, it gave me immense confidence in approaching new contacts and facing interviews to come.

I met Mark Wipper, a senior official from Kelvin Smith Library, during a city trek in Chicago. This was a very casual encounter but proved to be an important factor in my overall success. Upon constant follow-ups, Mark introduced me to several of his contacts on LinkedIn and almost all of them were in a very high position in their careers. Initially it was intimidating to start a conversation with such contacts but once I spoke with a few of them, my confidence sky rocketed and from then on, I was not hesitant in approaching senior professionals—a very important factor in performing well in the interviews.
My second offer was from Briteskies, a local consulting firm present at the Weatherhead Career fair. After some interviews I got an offer for the position of business analyst. All along, I was mentored by alumni Amogh Garg, Vaibhav Pawar and Akshay Altekar (MBA 2012), Bhargab Banerjee (MBA 2013), Jathin Shetty and many others form the MBA class of 2014. They constantly motivated me, helped me in making critical decisions and ensure I was heading in the right direction. This also helped in keeping me up to date on happenings in the business world.

Bhargab referred me for an interview with PwC, New York, in its ARCA practice. This was a dream opportunity for me as it was one of my target companies and I wanted to make the most out of it. I spoke with a couple of individuals working in this team and learned a lot about the practice in general, which helped me better prepare for my interview. After a telephonic interview, I was invited to the New York office for the final three rounds of interviews. I was able to perform well in the interviews and I got an offer that day, which was a pleasant surprise.

Through my former manager, Yasim Kolathayil, I got an opportunity to interview with Deloitte, but I wasn’t successful in the final interview, which was very disappointing as it was an ideal role for me and it would have been much easier to go back to the firm I came from. I learned a lot from this failure and concentrated on my next interview with Ernst & Young (EY). With experience and confidence gained thus far, I was best prepared for this interview and felt it was one of the easiest among all. This position offered me all I was looking for in an internship and I immediately accepted the offer, which brought my internship search to an end.

During my internship at EY, I had the wonderful opportunity to work for a major automobile company based out of Atlanta, Georgia. I efficiently managed assets worth $10 million and helped reduce taxes by adopting appropriate tax depreciation strategies. I was able to quickly adapt within the team, managed a long standing project and completed it successfully, which was critical in gaining the trust of the client and retaining their business. Two months of persistent efforts paid off as I was offered a full-time position to join post-MBA and selected to represent the team at EY’s International Interns Leadership Conference in Orlando, Florida.

A few things I learned during this journey were:
  • Start your internship search early. Getting an internship you desire is a result of constant effort toward your goal.
  • Discover your strengths/weaknesses and work on them throughout.
  • While networking, do not under-estimate any contact; every individual could have something in them that you may benefit from.
  • Follow up, follow up, follow up! Developing meaningful relationships is more important than building your contacts.
  • Applying through a referral is a million times better than applying online.
  • Use resources available—CMO Library and other CMO resources, workshops, mock interviews, Coffee Connections , Employer Information SessionsCareer Fairs and other events
  •  Do not pigeonhole yourself—be on the lookout for multiple sources/opportunities.
  • Once you have an interview lined up, do the best you can to learn more about the position and the firm, talk to professionals in that industry, read related articles and better prepare.
Overall, I had a very satisfactory internship search, with four offers in as many months—two from Big4 consulting firms and two from local technology consulting firms—a perfect end to my first MBA year at Weatherhead. Very special thanks to Meenakshi Sharma, Deborah Bibb, Radhika Ramamurthi, Albert DiFranco, Roderick Ingram, Simon Peck, Michele Murphy and many others for constant support throughout my journey at Weatherhead.