Around the (Marketing) World in 72 Hours

Oh what a week. If ever there was a week when I wish I did not have class, this would be it. I love what I do, but I would be lying if I said every moment is cupcakes and rainbows. To spend the day in essentially a state of controlled chaos and then go directly to class is not a schedule that I would like to become my regular. That’s not to say that I did not enjoy my time in class, because exactly the opposite it true. You know a class is good when it can hold the attention of a student who has spent nearly twelve hours bouncing between meetings, trainings, and data sheets for an additional three hours. Further, my professor did this not once this week, but twice! International Marketing is shaping up to be a class that is worth the stress of a condensed four-week schedule.

To start, Dr. Yaprak is a personable guy who is incredibly passionate about what he does. The excitement that he brings to his discussions is hard to brush aside. He also demands students’ full attention and engagement in the class, which makes for a much more interesting three hours than those filled with a monologue lecture and a PowerPoint presentation. Dr. Yaprak has no illusions that his MBA students would rather sit in class after work than relax at home, but his approach is that if you are going to sit in class, you should get something out of it. While I was completely exhausted when I walked into class both days this week, I can honestly say that my time spent in class was worthwhile. Before class started I knew that I was interested in the material that we would be discussing and that the next four weeks could be advantageous as I advance in my field. However, after the first two classes I can see that not only am I interested, but I am kind of excited to dig in. I will be the first to admit that I am a bit of a nerd, especially when it comes to my industry. I’ve spent a good portion of my career in marketing research and am continually intrigued by what can be discovered in consumer and research data. A large portion of this class will rely on research and research methodology, topics that Dr. Yaprak is quite knowledgeable about given his research and publication history. While I work with a great team who know their stuff on daily basis in my career, it is fun to be able to “nerd out” about data and research in a non work environment.

All of that said, this class will be a lot of work. We have multiple cases to critically review, plenty of class readings, and a comprehensive group research project. In an eleven-week semester those items represent a fairly typical class work load, but this class’ shortened time frame means that my group and I will be cranking our level of effort up for the next few weeks.

Hopefully this work load will mot impede my goal of getting back into regularly posting, but if it does, I apologize in advance.

 

Best,

Katherine

Advertisements
balance in grad school

Midterms and Mayhem

There are a lot of things that make grad school hard. Lack of sleep, not enough hours in the day, and of course the actual class material. I think the hardest thing about grad school though, is that through all of the stress and headaches, you still need to deal with real life. It doesn’t matter that it is midterms week  or you have a big paper due, when your dog gets sick or a family emergency comes up, you can’t lock yourself away. Even if you can put off dealing with the issue, it is generally still in the back of your mind, messing with your focus. This isn’t to say that this issue didn’t exist in undergrad, it did. The difference is that with age comes more responsibility, and thus a more daunting reality of real life outside of school. This is particularly true if you are working while in school. Balancing career and life can be challenging enough; throwing school into the mix makes for days where you wonder if you can get caffeine in an IV or Valium in a  PEZ dispenser.

So how do you keep that balance? How do you keep your focus as the world spins and crashes around you. I don’t have a solid answer for that. I have my experience that says a strong support system helps, that having someone to talk to when you feel like nothing is going well can be a saving grace. I also know that as hard as it is to face, there will be days that just suck. They can stem from school, from work, or from family and friends, but they will inevitably come. That may seem pessimistic, especially coming from an optimist like me, but in some ways acknowledging that those days exist is good. No one wants to be blindsided, and while dealing with them can cause everything from headaches, to anxiety, to heartache, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Not just the light of the end of school, but the light of the good days. The days where you stop and remember what makes it all worth it.

I have had my fair share of stressful days over the past year. I’ve had the days where I felt like nothing I learned in class was sticking and the weeks where there did not seem to be enough hours to get everything done. Yet here I stand. I’m tired, I have a few new bruises, but I’m here, and I have done well despite the bumps. More rough days will come, but so will good ones, and those are the ones I’m counting on.

To anyone who is having a rough day, a rough week, or a longer struggle, keep your head up. You are stronger than you think.

Best,

Katherine

 

First Day of School

First Day of School

Remember when the first day of school was exciting?  In elementary it meant shopping for new school supplies and clothes and seeing your friends. In high school it meant figuring out who was in your classes and seeing your crush. In college it was moving back to campus and living with your friends. First year of grad school was the start of a new adventure. First day of my second year? “Crap, we’re back to this.”

Perhaps it is because I’ve only had two weeks to recover from twelve weeks of jam packed class time, but as I prepped for my first day of Corporate Finance, there was not a shred of first day excitement in me. Today starts the countdown of weeks until I am done with this class. That may seem pessimistic, but even my optimistic spirit hates Finance. The upside is that this is the last class that my interest in the topic does nothing to mitigate the stress and headaches associated with completing the class material. 11 weeks and I will be done with Finance classes. I may not enjoy the class time for the next 11 weeks, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

In the meantime, I have one class and three days of work standing between me and Labor Day weekend. My plans kick off with a deep tissue massage on Friday night. I plan on feeling like a new woman on Saturday morning.

What are you plans for the last big summer hurrah?

 

Best,

Katherine

 

Wednesday Highlights

Sleep: 8 Hours

Work: 8.5 Hours

Study: 2 Hours plus 3 Hour class

Workout: Walk with Tucker

Soundtrack: Mambo #5

Surviving Grad School Tips

You Know You’re In Grad School When…

  1. Healthy meals become a challenge. “Time to cook? I barely have time to eat!”
  2. 7 hours of sleep is heaven.
  3. Working through lunch has a new definition: lunch break-> study time.
  4. First Saturday off after classes finish, do you party? No, you’re in bed watching TV at 9pm, asleep by 11pm.
  5. It takes super human control to not roll your eyes at friends complaining about being tired.
  6. You’re half asleep during workouts (if you have time to workout).
  7. Periods of only having to worry about work become a luxury.
  8. The university log in becomes a permanent fixture on your browser.
  9. Weekend plans now include homework.
  10. You lose motivation to do things you enjoy because you’re too tired from work and school.

Now that I have totally bummed you out about grad school…

It’s Friday, go enjoy the weekend! I am heading to a wedding this weekend. It’s my last weekend of freedom before fall classes!

 

Best,

Katherine

It’s Not All Sunshine

As a general rule, I try to stay positive even when my days are roller coasters or just plain bad. In this blog I’ve tried to convey that same mindset, avoiding ending a blog on a sad note and instead finding the positive or rallying motivation to push through. With all of that said, I have to admit that there are days and times that just suck. I seem to be in the midst of one of those times; several days worth of two steps forward, one step back, putting out one fire only to have 3 more pop up.  To say I am tired is an understatement. One good night’s sleep this week has done nothing to counteract the exhaustion that preceded it nor sustain me through the long days and lack of sleep that followed it. I have reached the point where I want to curl up in a ball and do nothing. I want to be done with class, I don’t want to think about doing papers or taking tests. I have a hard time focusing and even light days at work feel endless. Frankly, I don’t even want to think about writing articles and blog posts, things that I generally enjoy. I feel cranky and sore and am losing the fight against the headache threatening to ruin my day.

For all of the positive quotes and the motivation Mondays, this is still a reality of grad school and in particular grad school while working. There is no sugar coating the fact that it is hard and there are times that I really wish I had not put myself in this position. I recognize the feeling of being overwhelmed and I can feel myself becoming irritated over little things that I shouldn’t, a repercussion of stress and exhaustion. As much as I want to put on the strong face and find the positive spin, that might not be an option today. Today might be one of the few days where I collapse on the couch with a glass of wine and say “this sucks.” I can go back to positivity and the mindset of “this is worth it” tomorrow, but right now I need a few hours to take the easier metal route of wallowing. Whether it will make me feel any better is uncertain, but at least for a few hours there will be one less draw on my mental fortitude and energy.

 

Best,

Katherine

 

 

Thursday Highlights

Sleep: 6 Hours

Work: 8 Hours

Study: 1 Hour Case Study

Workout: Some crazy soccer inspired circuit

Soundtrack: Clare De Lune

 

 

 

 

#StruggleBus

What I wouldn’t give for a day to sleep in and do nothing. That unfortunately, will not be a reality for me until at least the middle of August, and even then, the window is small. Starting my newest class, Global Automotive Marketing, I was excited. The topic is of interest to me and I enjoyed my first class with this professor. Two weeks in, I am still enjoying the class, but not the condensed time frame in which I have to complete the material. Having class two times per week means that I am responsible for 2-5 readings from which I need to pull thoughtful discussion points in addition to the knowledge base on which I will be tested on. In addition, there are multiple case studies within the coursework which require several hours worth of analysis, composition, and revisions. The first case is due next Monday, and as I will be spending the weekend at a campground, I began writing my case study this past weekend. In the past several days I have spent approximately 5-6 hours reading and evaluating the case and composing my answers to the five questions posed by my professor. As this is a grad class, the expectation is that students utilize class materials, professional experience, and outside knowledge sources to give a complete evaluation of the case. This is not a paper that can be completed in one 1 hour session. On top of my Global Marketing class, I have recently become aware of the large amount of work that is required prior to my weekend seminar that takes place in early August. Before August 1st I am required to complete two writing assignments, one of which is a partner project with another student, watch a 35 minute video, read “The Book on Writing,”and read 25 articles. Luckily, the first of the writing assignment is rather simple and I was able to complete my initial draft fairly quickly. I still need to reach out to my partner for the second writing assignment. Many of the articles are also short, but the issue of time remains. To add to the mix, I will be transitioning into a new job in the next few weeks. This means that I will be busy training my successors at mu current job and eventually adapting to a new position and new team. To say that the next few weeks will be a roller coaster is probably an understatement. In choosing to take on the weekend seminar, I may have underestimated the amount of work that would be required. I assumed that there would be some pre-work, but I also thought that the two weekends were going to include the bulk of the work. By spreading the material out over the weeks preceding the seminar, the professor is lessening the stress of the weekend, which is nice. However, given that I am in the midst of another class and a period of major transition, not having the extra work in these next few weeks would have preferable. That is the reality of grad school though; you do not get to choose when you class demands pick up. You can choose classes based on expectations, but there are never any guarantees that those expectations will match the reality.

The frustrating part is that even with careful planning and time management, it still feels a bit overwhelming, at times to the point that it can be difficult to enjoy the activities that are supposed to be leisurely. Camping this weekend for instance, should be something to look forward to (perhaps with a little hesitancy as it involves sleeping in a tent), and yet this week I have stressed over the fact that I need to have my case study done before Friday and that I have a test the following Wednesday. That stress can make me feel like I don’t even want to go camping. On the flip side, I know that locking myself away for all hours to study is not a healthy alternative, for mind or body. I have said it before and will say it again, you need balance. Whether you are tackling grad school or life in general, all work and no play is not a happy way to live and in the long run, it can end up hurting your productivity and level of success.

So this weekend I will pack up my gear and head for the lake, prepared to let the stresses of school and work slide away for a few days. When I come back, I will have a lot to do, but I have planned out all of my tasks for next week and established a time table for when I will complete the requirements for my seminar. I think I can make it.

 

Wish me luck!

 

Best,

Katherine

 

Wednesday Highlights:

Sleep: 6.5 hours

Work: 8 Hours

Study: 5 hours

Workout: Blogilates HIIT workouts

Soundtrack: Lindsey Stirling

Class Act

Oh the joys of grad school, among them, choosing and scheduling classes. After choosing my summer and fall classes back in February I thought that this was something that I wouldn’t have to worry about until November. Alas, that was not the case. I was scheduled to take one of my core classes, Managing Organizational Behavior, starting in May, which made me eligible to take a seminar hosted by a professor that I have heard really good things about in August. She also hosted the seminar on persuasion that I wanted to take back in January but couldn’t. I had to get permission to register for the seminar since my transcript didn’t show the prerequisite core class I was taking in May, but the grad office worked with me and I was all set. Fast forward to this past Tuesday. I received my final grade for Accounting (yay 4.0!) and went to check the materials for my class that starts next week. First glance at the syllabus, man this class will be a pain. Not hard from a materials standpoint, but very heavy on reading and requiring class debates via Blackboard. At first, this seemed fine, but as I read through and thought about the structure of the class, I realized that this was really not a class I wanted to take online. Now what? If I drop the class there are limited classes that still have openings and not taking that class technically made me ineligible for the August seminar. I scheduled a call with the advising office but I also wanted an opinion from someone closer to the class. I decided to email the professor from the seminar since my biggest hang up about dropping the class was the fact that I wouldn’t be able to take her class. Much to my excitement, she contacted the head of the program to get permission for me to remain in the seminar even if I dropped the Organizational Behavior class. Success! Cue happy dance. I realize that being that excited about being able to take a Management seminar makes me a nerd, but it’s a two weekend class with a good professor  and an interesting topic that gets me a full 3 credits. As a MBA student, I think that is worth geeking out about. So, now to find a new class to keep me on schedule with class progress. Several of my required classes aren’t offered in the summer and others I am already registered for in the fall. I remember reading though, that my Consumer Behavior professor from last fall is teaching a class on Global Automotive Marketing. Perfect. I enjoyed her as a teacher and I know she is knowledgable and experienced in the industry. Registered, check. Now I have a break until the end of June. Except, there is aProject Management class I can get into that I had considered that starts next week. Taking that would put me slightly ahead of schedule while only taking one class at a time. It would also mean that by the end of summer all of my elective requirements would be fulfilled. Great from a scheduling standpoint, but it means I couldn’t study abroad for credit. It also means I owe WSU tuition for an additional class as I had only paid for the original two I was scheduled to take. This is where the headaches of grad school scheduling lays. There are both benefits and drawbacks to having a variety of choices and the freedom to design your program. You have the ability to choose classes that most interest you, but you also have to balance meeting requirements, narrowing down your choices, and making sure your school/work/life balance is maintained. For me, I could get into Project Mangement and drop the Marketing class, stay in Marketing, or take both. Taking both meant fulfilling my electives but paying more tuition earlier than planned, but only taking one passed up an opportunity to take classes I knew I was interested in. Taking both also meant passing up study abroad. After some hmming and hawing and a close look at my financials, I decided that the extra class is the right choice. I am at a point in my career where balancing work and school is tough but not impossible and I cannot guarantee that that will remain true over the next year. As for study abroad, as much as I want to go I know my motivation stems more from my desire to travel than the curriculum included in the trip. I still plan to travel and I plan on making it to Italy (the WSU program I was interested in), but I will do it as a vacation instead of for school.

The lesson from this week is this; even when you think you have everything planned, one small thing can completely change your path. In this case, the change was a few classes, but it impacts how the rest of my grad school journey will progress. I am excited for these new classes though. I think they will be interesting, challenging, and valuable to my growth.

Now, onto the fun stuff. I am heading to Duluth this weekend to see my little sister graduate from college! Ahh, I can’t believe she’s done and will be starting law school! Maybe I’ll have her create a law school  version or grad school survival tips. For now, it’s wheels up and peace out Detroit for me.

 

Best,

Katherine

 

Friday Highlights:

Sleep: 2 Hours (ugh 5am wake up)

Work: Not today, Duluth bound

Workout: Rest Day, Pop Pilates stretches

Study: Not until next week

Soundtrack: Lindsey Stirling additions to my iPod

Sunday Shenanigans 2/28/16

Happy Sunday and Happy National Pancake Day! If you haven’t already I hope you are planning on enjoying a flap jack or two. I personally went out to breakfast this morning solely to have pancakes. I had actually been craving them for a couple weeks but had not indulged. This weekend has been full of tasty indulgences (pizza, cupcakes, pop) which is not my normal style, but sometimes you just have to live a little. If you’re going to attend a 6th birthday party you should at least try one of the cupcakes that made up the Teenage Mutant Turtle Cake. It was delicious by the way.

While this weekend has been fairly jammed packed with activities and all I would really like to do is lounge today, I am not that fortunate. Today’s to do list includes: finishing my taxes, completing my FAFSA for financial aid, cleaning the house, going for a run (it’s supposed to be 60 today!), and study for accounting. None of these are as enjoyable as a nap, but all of them need to get done. Maybe I can squeeze in a quick lounge session before my dad gets here to help with taxes…maybe not.

I have to say, every time I fill out the FAFSA I feel like a little piece of my soul dies. Not only do I have to rehash my tax info, which is a pain, but I am also willingly putting myself in debt. I have plans on how I am paying it back, and it is not more than I can handle, but I still hate the feeling of having students loans hanging over me. It only adds to the stress of being back in school. I almost waited on pursuing my MBA because of my hesitancy to take on student loans, but I knew if I waited too long it would be tough to go back as my responsibilities in life continue to increase.  It is a hard choice though, and my advice to anyone who is considering school and taking out loans is to make sure you have a plan; make sure that you are not biting off more than you can chew or putting yourself in a position that could hurt you in the long run. Education is great, and I can see where my MBA will help me in my career already, but it is also a huge commitment and one that should not be taken on without careful consideration.

 

Sunday Highlights

National Pancake Day! Pancake breakfast as Nello’s

Sleep: 8 Hours

Work: 1 Hour

Study/School Probably about 2 Hours plus however long FAFSA takes me

Workout: POP Pilates Booty this morning, run later this afternoon

Taxes: Ugh…

Accounting…

FullSizeRender-1

This my friends, is my current view. Not exactly an inspiring scene, but given the view when I look outside at the disgusting mix of winter and wet, I suppose I could be worse off. The only problem is that this awful weather just makes me want to curl up in a blanket with a good book or a movie. However, neither of those scenarios will help me complete my homework or my workout. It is a bleak scene to be sure. Someone should send me some chocolate and some motivation to get me through these rough times…

Ok, not really, but it is a nice thought.

 

Back to studying!

 

Best,

Katherine

Wednesday Highlights

Sleep: 7 Hours

Work: 7 Hours (8 if you count my awful drive to work this morning)

Study: 2.5 Hours

Workout: 1 Hour Stationary Bike plus POP Pilates February Calendar

School You Fiend

I am in need of some major motivation today. I have decided that I have a love/hate relationship with online classes. This is the first semester I have taken classes online and while I love the freedom of not sitting in class, I can see where it is harder to make myself get the work done, particularly in a class like my current accounting course. Unlike my first online course, where homework was due on specific dates and there were tight deadlines (very tight given the 4 week timeframe), this class is graded only on a midterm and a final. The homework is not submitted or graded and as long as I cover the material before the midterm I am fine. This is great from a flexibility standpoint, but allows a lot of procrastination if wanted to put off the work. I am generally pretty good about holding myself to deadlines and even working ahead of schedule, I was a week ahead in my 4 week coding class. However, for some reason this accounting class seems to be an achilles heel for my motivation. Perhaps it is my limited interest in the subject or the amount of time that I have been dedicating to work recently, but even when I set aside time to complete the reading and homework problems, I have zero motivation to do it. Just looking at the text and problems makes me feel tired and unmotivated. Of course, I have felt this before, it isn’t an uncommon feeling among students. The issue is that I can usually pull myself through it and once I start I feel better. Here, I am able to start but that lack of motivation seems to permeate my entire study session. It hasn’t affected my ability to absorb the material yet, but I wouldn’t count that as an impossibility as the class moves into more difficult material. Accounting is not the toughest class I will have to take, but it is not one that I want to find myself behind in. Looking at my calendar I realize that the midterm will come up quickly and several of my weekends are already at least partially occupied by social engagements. Not only do I not want to slack on homework, but I don’t want to spend the time with my family and friends worrying about a class. Life will be much more enjoyable in the long run if I stick to dedicating a few hours a week to getting through the lectures and homework. I may just have to find a stronger source of caffeine than my current line up of tea. I see a chance of Diet Pepsi creeping onto my radar.

Enjoy the rest of your week!

 

Best,

Katherine

Tuesday Highlights

Sleep: 8 Hours

Work: 9 Hours

Study: 2 Hours

Workout: POP Pilates February calendar, 2 mile run