Surviving CIM

6 09 2009

Despite every Kellogg student I ever met telling me about the grueling schedule of the first week of CIM, I still found myself pretty unprepared for exactly how tough it would be.  I am completely and utterly exhausted (and fighting a mild case of CIM SARS).  But since we’re off today, I wanted to write down my thoughts on my first 2 weeks of being a Kellogg student while the memories are still fresh in my head.  So…


One word: wow.  I was one of the lucky few who managed to register for the KWEST Mystery Trip.  On the bus to the airport, our trip leaders gave a short history of the Mystery Trip at Kellogg before revealing that our mysterious destination was Malaysia.  But that was all they revealed, our itinerary was kept a mystery, with the leaders just telling us what we should wear when we met each morning.  Some highlights I remember:

  • The first night we got to our hotel in Kuala Lumpur about 11pm, and were told to meet in the leaders’ room in 30 minutes with our duty-free booze and whatever mixers we could find.  Once there, they introduced us to something called ‘the envelope game’, where each person pulls a question out of an envelope and has to answer it.  It was a great ice breaker, and the stories that were told definitely got the group completely comfortable with each other and set a great tone for the rest of the trip.
  • After 2 fun days (and even more fun nights) in KL, our trip leaders surprised us again by announcing we were on our way to the airport and would be flying to an island just off the Malaysian coast called Langkawi.  After a very short flight and bus ride, we found ourselves pulling into a beautiful seaside resort where we’d be spending the last 3 days of our trip.
  • Our first full day in Langkawi provided what was for me the highlight of the trip: a day on a sailboat sailing around the many tiny islands off the Malaysian coast.  After sailing for a bit, the crew lowered a cargo net into the water along the boat and let us jump into the water and swim a bit.  Well, not really swim, more like hold onto the cargo net in the face of some of the strongest currents I’ve ever felt.  Even without the boat moving, the current was strong enough to pull you the full length of the boat (probably about 40 feet) in a matter of seconds. Nevertheless, it was a lot of fun having my entire group relaxing on a cargo net in the ocean.  After lunch, the boat dropped us off on a deserted island beach (which definitely produced more than a couple Lost jokes) for a little while, then took us home in time for dinner.
  • Our last day in Langkawi involved a hike through a rainforest, KWEST Olympics, and finally the big reveal where I finally learned about the backgrounds of my fellow Mystery Trippers.  While there were some people I had figured out already, there were a few that were complete surprises.  I really liked that we got to know each other without the normal “where are you from, what do you do” conversations.  I definitely think it helped us know each other at a much more personal level.

Overall, KWEST was absolutely amazing.  I would highly recommend any person who comes to Kellogg to do a KWEST trip.  It was great walking into the first day of CIM with 19 people in my class that I was already very close with.  I could very easily see my fellow Mystery Trippers being some of my closest friends here.  Even with the crazy schedule of CIM, we’ve managed to find time every day to hang out, even if only for a few minutes.


After 2 days off to recover partially from KWEST, our full class got together for the first time for CIM – Kellogg’s orientation/pre-term.  We were all organized into sections of about 70 people (I am a proud member of the Bullfrogs), with whom we would spent most of our time during CIM, as well as our core business strategy class in the fall quarter.


The first few days of CIM definitely had a summer camp feel to them.  There were a succession of speakers from the Dean’s office and various administrative departments welcoming us to Kellogg, there was time with our sections where we got our official section t-shirt (which then became required attire for the entire week) and started to meet our new section mates, there were all sorts of competitions between sections, and of course there were many, many late nights out drinking and socializing with classmates.  Towards the end of the week, our pre-term class started, but that didn’t dial back any of the other activities.  It just meant that on top of all the summer camp stuff, we now had homework to deal with too.  It definitely was a good preview of the kind of time management – and endurance – that will be required in the next 2 years.  The capstone of CIM was CIM Olympics, which was held yesterday.  This was a full day of section competition in such events as dizzy bat races, golf ball tossing, and tug of war.  While there were certainly elements of this week that I didn’t like or that I thought could be done away with, overall I think it was pretty effective.  In the course of 6 days, I went from sitting in my section room with 70 strangers to, at a minimum, knowing each person’s name and, in many cases, being friends with them.  Now we have 2 days off to recover from the madness.  People joke around about CIM SARS because of the number of people who end up sick by the end of the week.  It’s easy to see why people get sick, between the lack of sleep, the amount of alcohol consumed, and the fact that you’re in close proximity to so many people for so many hours.  I actually consider myself lucky I only have a cold.  Two of my sectionmates are out with strep throat, and one of my KWEST group also had to go to the doctor for an illness.  The good news is that the pace slows down slightly from here.  While there’s another 2 weeks of CIM, the schedule becomes a lot more manageable, with organized activities only scheduled from 10am – 5pm, rather than from 8am to midnight.


I’m still alive

2 09 2009

It has been a real long time since I updated, but it’s not for lack of things to write about.  Things have just been a complete whirlwind and I just have not have had any time at all.  KWEST was an absolutely incredible experience.  I got to spend a week in Malaysia with 24 of the most awesome people I have ever met in my life.  CIM has been non-stop of meeting my new sectionmates and classmates, community service, drinking at the Keg, team bonding exercises, information sessions, meetups with my KWEST tripmates, drinking at the Keg…well you get the idea.  Tonight I’m leaving in a few minutes for a small group dinner with some sectionmates, then back to Jacobs for time for my section to prepare our section skit that we need to perform on Friday night.  We’ve tentatively planned to wrap up tonight before midnight, and thankfully after 2 days of 8am starts we don’t need to be back on campus tomorrow until 10am, so I should be able to catch up on some much needed sleep tonight.

I’ll be back this weekend with a more detailed review of KWEST and CIM.

3 weeks to go

12 06 2009

It’s hard to believe that I only have another 3 weeks at work.  As much as I’ve been looking forward to resigning and starting school, now that it’s getting close it’s also starting to feel a little weird.  The last time I was unemployed was September 2001 – the summer after I graduated college.  For the last 8 years, a large portion of the time I’ve been awake has been spent working.  It’s the only company I’ve ever had a real adult job at, so I’m sure it’ll be a little weird leaving the office for the last time, knowing that this part of my life and career is behind me.  Looking back, there were some definite highs and lows, as I think all jobs have, but overall I wouldn’t change anything.  I’ve learned a lot, worked with some really incredibly talented and fun people, and gotten to experience things I’d have never imagined.  I will definitely miss my colleagues – many of whom I now count as friends – and really hope to keep in touch in the future.

My school to-do list is getting shorter by the day.  I’ve finished all the pre-enrollment courses, submitted my 360 degree self-assessment and sent out requests for others to assess me, accepted financial aid and started the loan application process, figured out plans for my drive to Evanston and made hotel reservations for my mid-way overnight stop (yay Toledo!) and this weekend am going to my doctor to deal with the medical records.  I’ve been procrastinating a bit on this one.  The last few weekends have been so nice I could think of many better things to do than sit in a doctor’s waiting room.  One other bit of good news: I may be close to reaching a deal on selling my condo!  I say “may” because I haven’t actually received the offer yet, but my realtor tells me it should come today.  It’ll be real nice to have that monkey off my back.  KWEST trips were also announced and I got one of my top choices!  I’m very excited, and very much looking forward to it.  I’m sure the way time has been going by that before I know it I’ll be on the way to O’Hare with 20 new friends .

Well that was anticlimatic

20 05 2009

After doing one last check through KWEST options this morning, I logged into the registration site promptly at 11am EDT. All told, it took about 5 minutes to walk through the registration and provide all the needed information. I ended up putting Egypt ahead of Morocco, so my top 5 were: Mystery, Egypt, Morocco, Italy and Playa del Carmen. Now it’s back to waiting until we find out which trip we’re actually selected for. I have no idea how long this takes, but saw that Samantha wrote on her blog that it takes over a month. I really hope it doesn’t take that long, I prefer immediate feedback to waiting.

Finished the math course yesterday. Nothing really new there, but helpful to refresh myself on things like logs and standard deviation, which I only vaguely remember. I think I’ll do the math exam and economics course today since I’ve got a pretty light schedule at work.

One day until KWEST selection

19 05 2009

So KWEST registration is tomorrow morning at 11am EDT. I’ve got the time blocked off on my calendar so I know I’ll be able to be at my desk, ready to register as soon as the link becomes available. I’ve known for a while now that my first choice will be the Mystery Trip, but since the popularity of that trip causes registration to fill up very quickly, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to my second choice. Although several of the Carribean trips and the trip to Mexico look incredible, I decided to focus instead on trips that are a little harder to do from the US. I quickly focused on Morocco and Egypt as looking like incredible trips, only problem is I can’t decide which to put as #2 and which to put as #3. I think for the past few days, I’ve been flipping them back and forth. It’s going to come down to the wire, and I may just end up flipping a coin.

In other MBA-related news, I’ve started the pre-enrollment courses. So far I’ve breezed through the accounting course in about 10 minutes, and am about halfway through the math course. Still to go are economics and statistics. At least it gives me something to do when I get bored at work.

So many KWEST trips, so little time

8 05 2009

A little while ago, Kellogg posted the list of KWEST trips on the website, and announced that signups would be May 20. From the KWEST fair at DAK, I had an idea of a few trips that I could be interested in. Now since the trips went up on the web I’ve been spending time going through all the descriptions and that list got even longer. For signups, we have to rank our top 10 choices and while I’ve been able to pick my top 10, ranking them has been hard. I think I’ve gotten at least my top 5 picked out of the top 10, but the order changes almost every day. Right now I’m focused on Egypt or Morocco, but some of the trips to Mexico and the Carribean look incredible too. In talking with other admitted students, they’re also having a hard time picking trips. In the end, I know that any of the trips would be an incredible time, but I’ll have to give some more thought over these next two weeks.

In hockey news, my team had its second game last night and this time we won 5-4 in overtime, after giving up the tying goal in the last minute of the game. I got an assist for my first point of the season, and it felt good to contribute on the scoreboard. It’s a shame this will be my only season since I move to Evanston shortly after the season ends.