Archive for August, 2010

First Day Of Orientation at Kellogg

Do you remember the last time you had a first day at school? To be fair, you probably shouldn’t. Most people have their last first day as freshmen at their undergraduate universities. But for those going to graduate school, you get one last hurrah. One more chance to soak up the excitement of starting all over again. And if you go to business school, you get that experience much later in life, which can be pretty interesting. Well just yesterday, I joined 600 of my classmates in our first day of orientation at Kellogg.

Incoming Kellogg students have been waiting weeks for this moment. They’ve been meeting up all over Evanston, getting to know their classmates on KWEST trips, organizing get-togethers all over the city, and forming Facebook groups to get more organized. But just yesterday, we finally all came together on campus, in the building that Kellogg calls Jacobs. And the entire day was jam packed with fun and excitement, as we kicked out our Complete Immersion in Management (CIM) experience.

CIM is part of Kellogg’s Pre-Term and is an orientation program that was launched in 1969, and it’s since been a part of an effort to introduce first-year students to each other and to Kellogg’s collaborative culture. “CIM Week was a fun and critical part of my Kellogg experience” one of the CIM executive leaders said. So everyone was pretty excited when they arrived. And after an hour long “breakfast” which was really nothing more than a meet and greet, we all met in the auditorium to finally get the day started.

The new Dean Sally Blount kicked off the day with remarks. As part of her overall speech, she mentioned that Kellogg has been on the cutting edge the past few decades and the first business school to hire non traditional Deans. The former Dean (Dipak Jain) from a small town in India, and the current Dean – Sally herself – a woman. The entire crowd clapped at the last point.

Among other things she told us that to get the most out of business school, we needed to do three things. Her first piece of advice was to get to know our classmates.  This is a no-brainer in business school, right? Well, she acknowledged that, but she also put a lot of context around it. Not only did she tell us to meet our classmates but also to get to know people we might not otherwise meet and also engage in discussions with professions and administration. She also said to get to know them both in academic and personal settings.

Her second piece of advice was to be sure to engage academically. After all we were spending more than $100K to attend Kellogg over the next two years. She advised those with less quantitative backgrounds to be sure to hone their analytical skills. Similarly, she suggested that the quants and engineers take as many soft skills classes as possible.  And Dean Blount was speaking from experience. And although she was trained as an engineer before business school, she ended up  coming to Kellogg and eventually getting PhD in Organizational Behavior (i.e. called Management and Organizations at Kellogg).

Dean Blount’s final piece of advice was to make time for self-reflection. To think not only about school and jobs but also about who we are at the core and to think about what that means for our careers and our lives in the longer term. She also reminded us to engage in self discovery and eventually find a career that lets us be who we are. Because in the end, we’ll be happier and better off.  The Dean reiterated this message when she visited our section and gave a quick 15 minute talk and answered a few questions. It was good to have her out on the first day.

In addition to these formal sessions, we also met with our Kellogg sections, and prepared cheers for the annual section cheer competition. My section was the Poets, composed of 100 people, which is bigger than all the other sections at Kellogg, because we have half of the MBA-MMM students. We practiced for two or so hours, coming up with a unique cheers, and headed to the auditorium for the two hour cheering competition, which was a blast.

Describing it here won’t do the cheers much justice, but in sum each section came up with chants and cheers mainly to promote its own section, but also to support its sister section (i.e. our was the Big Dawgs) and to defeat its rival section (i.e. ours was the Highlanders). It’s funny how everyone engaged so quickly in the activity and also how creative everyone was right off the bad.  The two hour competition flew by, and my section, the Poets, somehow emerged from the organized chaos of the competition victorious, coming in first place across the eight sections. But there’s a lot of competitions left this week and I suspect the teams will shift around quite a bit when it’s all said and done.

But perhaps more interesting than the cheers and the outlandish competition itself is the way that blatantly silly and non-business oriented activities could bring everyone together so quickly and inspire more teamwork, energy, and collaboration than the idea of school itself.  And for a second we all forgot about the high paying jobs we left and future education and careers ahead of us and instead engaged in creative planning and relationship building. From working together in our sections to come up with songs and chants, to executing them in the auditorium, to teams waking up hours early today to practice for “the name game”, this unconventional teamwork was effective at helping form bonds and building connections with classmates.

Personally, I was also in awe at how we could have so many people really contribute and be leaders in the competition. Whether as the creative designer who came up with props, the artist or “poet” that came up with a chant for the group, the student with a good idea for organizing the format, or the energetic person who wanted to galvanize the crowd, there was room for all types of leaders, including unconventional ones. And it was a pleasure to watch that play out in a section of 100 people, and in the overall group of 600 people.

But this is just the first day, and I suspect that the week will even get better after this, especially as we continue getting to know more of our classmates and as we start engaging in more of these fun and interesting activities. I look forward to seeing how the rest of the week will play out, though unfortunately, I’ll have to skip one or two of the sessions today to go downtown and take my final accounting exam. It’ll be nice to finally wrap up my summer classes tonight and spend all my time engaging in the FT Kellogg program after it’s over.

Thanks Kellogg for a great first day. And stay tuned everyone, for more updates on orientation.

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010 Business School 1 Comment

Kellogg Orientation Starts Tomorrow for the Class Of 2012

There are a lot of theories out there about how to get off to a good start, whether starting at a new job, joining a new organization, or beginning in a new graduate school program.  A lot of these theories focus on finding the right information to succeed. Others talk about being part of the right network and knowing the right people. And another set of theories talk more subjectively about understanding and navigating the culture effectively. Well whatever the right approach is, it is going to be important tomorrow.  Because tomorrow marks the first day of orientation at Kellogg for the class of 2012.

Fortunately, I’ve gotten to know Kellogg and a lot of the students pretty well, so I suspect that I’ll have a nice and easy transition. Similarly, as a JD-MBA I’ve already been in the school mode for the past year, so getting in the habit of doing work again shouldn’t be too difficult. Instead, it should be a nice change after being in the highly demanding academic environment of law school for the past year.

In fact, just yesterday I was thinking about my first day at law school last year, which was preceded by my first day of orientation. I remember them pretty distinctly, namely because the work ended up being pretty rigorous, the exams were difficult, and competition felt more fierce.  But despite that, I enjoyed the year quite a bit, and I enjoyed writing about the experience.

Like last year, I look forward to writing about my experience here at Kellogg, and in fact, I even plan to pick up the pace a little by posting more often.  At the same time, I also plan to keep answering questions from my readers. I also look forward to uncovering answers to some of my own questions here at Kellogg.

Some of the questions on my mind now are things like will the class of 2012 be diverse? Who will be Outliers and other interesting people in my section? How will the networking process at Kellogg compare to the law school? And will the students’ motivations at Kellogg will be similar to those in law school? I’m also wondering how some of the conferences I went to last year will go this year. (See my post on the 2009 NBMBAA conference) I look forward to uncovering many of the answers as I go through the year.

In the process, I plan to discuss this information in addition to sharing information about Kellogg and the JD-MBA program. As part of that I’ll also be discuss various career alternatives here at Kellogg,  discuss leadership experiences both professionally and personally, and then relate that back to the state of our workforce, which in my view is one of the most important issues of our time.

In the meantime, feel free to send me your comments and questions. I also strongly encourage you to post as many comments as you like here on the site.

Stay tuned!

Sunday, August 29th, 2010 Business School 1 Comment

2010 Kellogg KWEST Mystery Trip Revealed

Just about everyone agrees that the relationships you build are one of the most important parts of business school. Whether you build those relationships in the classroom or in outside activities, it’s often the case that many of your classmates will eventually become close friends and sometimes your colleagues.  One of the best ways to do that at Kellogg is on the pre-orientation KWEST trip, where in my case I went on Mystery Trip (click here for my previous post on Mystery Trip). And just this past Saturday after weeks of waiting in suspense, 24 classmates and I finally reached our Mystery Destination.  

At long last, more than three months after applying for the trip and six weeks after finding out that I would be part of the Mystery Trip, I finally embarked on my KWEST journey last Saturday.  Along with about twenty of my classmates from the class of 2012, five second year Kellogg students took us across the globe to the country of Jordan

And what a fabulous experience!  We traveled to the Mediterranean basin to float  in the Dead Sea.  We hiked through the rich archaeological remains of Petra.  We did community service on the beaches and snorkled in the Red Sea.  And we spent the night in the desert right outside of the city of Amman where we rode camels and went on jeep tours of the mountains.

But perhaps more important than the once in a lifetime cultural and social activities we engaged in, we also began the process of making friends with 25 future classmates, many of which will be in our sections and could become our best friends over the next two years.   It’s a great feeling to to know that our Mystery Team has that before ever taking a step on Kellogg’s campus for class. 

In my view, this notion of teamwork is incredibly important and is an essential part of our experience at Kellogg.  That’s because more often than not, teams, whether in the business or legal world, tend to have enormous potential and can lay the foundation to tackle the world’s biggest problems. So I suspect activities like this will be the norm at Kellogg, where the concept of teamwork was originated, and where today it is still more important than anything else. 

However, although the trip has been an absolute blast,  in just a day or two, I’ll have to switch gears pretty quickly. Tonight, I still need to finish packing for my flight that leaves in about six hours. Monday is the first day of orientation at Kellogg.  And tomorrow I need to start studying on the plane ride home since I have my Accounting 430 final exam on the second day after I return from the trip.  

But I plan to write more detail about the actual tactivities, so check back over the next few days for more detailed information.   I also look forward to writing regularly about orientation once the activities begin on Monday.  

Stay tuned!

Friday, August 27th, 2010 Business School 13 Comments

Final Exams … Again?

After nine months of intense studying as a 1L, I thought I’d be finished worrying about final exams for a while. But boy was I wrong.  As it turns out, the JD-MBAs at Northwestern take classes over the summer, both at the law school and business school. Most of the group takes classes full-time, so they are able to spread the workload throughout the summer. And a smaller portion of the group, including me, work and take classes, so spend more time studying and catching up at the end. But no matter which route you choose, in mid August, all JD-MBAs have a pretty tough schedule. Even though we all saw it coming a few months ago, most of us never understood how tough it would actually be until now, where we not only have to get ready to start classes at Kellogg, move, and go through recruiting, but we also have to take final exams for our summer classes.

Don’t get me wrong, the summer has been great so far. Work was great. Classes have been interesting. And Chicago is a fun place to spend the summer.  But over the past couple of weeks, the pace of everything has started to pick up.  Professors are teaching us more new concepts, giving us more assignments, and really starting to push us harder. While under normal circumstances, this would be manageable, it gets a bit tricky for rising seconds years in the JD-MBA program.  Because not only do we have final exams, but we also have to move from Chicago to Evanston, complete final projects for other classes, go through on campus recruiting at Northwestern Law School, prepare for our pre-orientation trip called KWEST, complete a few online seminars that Kellogg requires in advance of coming to campus, and fulfill journal obligations, among other things. As if the exams themselves were not hard enough.

In the immediate future, I have  final project I have to finish for my DECS 434 class and a final exam in Accounting 430. Both the project and the exam are proving to be very tough.  For the project, it’s been tough working around everyone’s schedules, and we also have to turn the project in early because of our KWEST trip, something the non-JD-MBAs don’t have to do.  Similarly, in accounting, many of the JD-MBAs are taking the exam early, on Friday before KWEST. And others are taking it the Tuesday after our trip but during orientation, which is also not ideal because it will be nearly impossible to study during our KWEST trips, and attendance at orientation is mandatory, so there is no real extra time advantage to waiting.

Fortunately, exams are water under the bridge for 1Js, since we’ve been in class all year as 1Ls.  So after spending much of last year terrified by 1L final exams, this summer feels a little bit easier.  For one, I’ve gotten used to the fact that exam performance can be pretty variable sometimes depending on the class, the other students taking the course, and how well you perform on any given day. Second, at Kellogg grades aren’t as important as they are at the law school, at least not typically.  And third, JD-MBAs go through this every year, and most of them end up doing quite well professionally. So in the end, my nervousness is tempered with a bit of ease.

On the other hand, most JD-MBAs here are starting to get a little tired, especially those that are also taking part in legal recruiting and traveling back and forth between Chicago and Evanston.  My DECS group was up last night until the wee hours of the morning, and had to be up early this morning for interviews downtown about 5 or 6 hours later. The same thing will probably happen tonight. And then on Saturday morning we’ll all wake up, pack, and head to the airport to head out on our KWEST trips.

It’s definitely a hard period for those in the program, but we all have so much to look forward to over the next few weeks.  Those going through recruiting will get law firm offers.  After a year of working really hard through 1L, we’ll finally be able to go to KWEST, and we’ll be starting at Kellogg in just a few weeks, the reason why many of the JD-MBAs came to the program.

It should be fun to see how everything here ultimately plays out. Stay tuned to hear more about our transition to Kellogg.

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010 Business School, Careers, Law School 1 Comment

Law School Recruiting Has Officially Begun

As incoming 1Ls, most students didn’t know much about the world of law firms. They didn’t know which type of law they were interested in, weren’t sure which firms they’d ultimately like to work at, and couldn’t tell you what specific geography they’d end up targeting. Law schools know that, so during 1L year they do a good job at bringing firms to campus, sending out mass emails about career options, providing students with networking events, and giving us lots of resources to learn things on our own. Well, after doing that for the past few months as 1Ls, the students here are finally putting that work into action. And just last week, interviews finally began, marking the beginning of OCI at Northwestern Law.

At long last, OCI  is finally under way. It’s the thing most law students wait for, especially after working so hard and at times struggling through the first year core curriculum.  So for two or three weeks, over 175 firms and offices come to campus to do initial round interviews based on the student’s selections, before the callback process begins. And this year is shaping up to be pretty big as compared to years past, at least according to the estimates that firms and our career center have given me.

In terms of the interviewers, many of the lawyers are coming to campus from Chicago, but there are also lawyers from NY, the Bay, DC, LA, and other parts of the country too. Likewise, most of the interviews are conducted by partners but a number are also conducted by senior level associates, and others are conducted by two attorneys where one is very senior and the other may be a more recent alum.  Another thing that’s nice is that most of the lawyers are also alum Northwestern Law, which is great because the alum understand some of the nuances of our program which can really help form faster connections during the actual interviews.

In terms of logistics, just about all of these interviews are held at a building named Weibolt, which is just next door to the law school. Weibolt is a building that is part of Kellogg’s downtown campus, and has lots of small conference rooms that are perfect to conduct the on campus interviews.  The set up always seems a little funny to the part time students who are here for class, but after a few days of seeing our setup, I suspect most of them get used to it.

In addition to the actual interviews, there are also “Hospitality Suites” that some firms have. Usually two or three firms each day will purchase a suite in addition to their interview rooms. Students go to the suite to meet attorneys, though usually not the interviewing attorneys, and grab a bite to eat or a refreshment as they wait in between interviews. It’s a great chance to meet attorneys at a firm you might like and also a wait to submit a resume if you didn’t get a chance to interview with that firm on campus.

In general, the OCI season is a great time now to take advantage of all the events we had last year – the career fairs and mixers and various chats with attorneys – where many of the same firms were available to share information about the legal industry.  In general, NU Law does a really good job at this programming and the career center is always rated one of the best in the country. I hope that fact means that the students here will also do really well, as they have also done in years past.

For JD-MBAs, the interviewing season is especially busy. Not only do we have interviews, but we also have final exams and projects for our summer classes which are coming to an end, we are moving up to Evanston to start at business school, and we have a pre-orientation trip next week, followed by orientation and class at business school after that. A herculean set of tasks if you ask me. But I guess that’s the sacrifice of doing an accelerated dual degree program here. Besides, in my book, busy usually means fun, because it’s a good opportunity to gain multiple interesting experiences.  And in the end, the JD-MBAs always tend to end up with really cool jobs, so I suspect that everyone will end doing up okay.

Personally, I just moved to the Park Evanston yesterday which is a hot spot for many of the Kellogg students. I also have two final exams this upcoming week and a final project on Friday. In the meantime I also have a few upcoming interviews this week for OCI, a few callbacks on the horizon, and my pre-orientation trip that I discussed in a recent post on Saturday (Click here for my recent post).

Fortunately, my OCI schedule is a bit lighter than most people’s as I only signed up to recruit with a few firms. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Vedder Price this past summer so am being selective about interviewing for this next summer.  I’m mostly targeting a couple of firms here in Chicago, but stay tuned to see how things shape up.

Best of luck everyone with your interviews!

Sunday, August 15th, 2010 Careers, Law School 4 Comments

Guest Post: Writing A Cover Letter, “Avoiding Biz Buzzwords: When in Doubt, Strike it Out” by Alvina Lopez

Writing a cover letter can be a daunting task. In law school, cover letters often take a back seat to other parts of an application given the perception that firms are more interested in your academic performance than anything else. So students often don’t invest the time to put their best work forward which can be detrimental to a job search. In business school, a good cover letter can often make the difference between a job interview and a “ding” email.  So students spend a lot of time crafting their stories, sometimes at the expense of writing cover letters effectively.  My view is that in this economy, cover letters for any job can be critical, and that time and strategy can both play an important role in the final product.

It’s that time of the year again, where students are really starting to think about applying to new jobs. In law school, OCI begins in August so students all around the country are gearing up for interviews and sending out final applications to law firms (click here for my recent post on OCI). In business school, MBAs all over the country are just getting started, so students are gearing up for coffee chats and other recruiting events, so cover letters are starting to come to the forefront of their minds.

Given that this is true, I thought it’d be a great time to talk about cover letters here on my website. And the good news is that I recently received an email from a writer, who wanted to write an article on how to write an effective cover letter. The article below was written by a guest writer named Alvina Lopez who approached me a couple of weeks ago about contributing an entry to the site. Her own website is focused on online education, but she’s interested in a wide range of topics and has put out a variety of articles already. Given the relevance of this one, I thought it’d be a great piece to post here on the site.

The premise of her article is that an effective cover letter explains the reasons you are interested in a job and a specific organization, and it also identifies your most relevant skills or experiences. But in the end, a lot of people overuse buzz words, don’t get personal enough, and miss the chance to show how they had impact.

See below for her article on cover letters.

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Title: Avoiding Biz Buzzwords: When in Doubt, Strike it Out
Author: Alvina Lopez

So you’ve finished writing what you consider a solid cover letter and resume. You’ve painstakingly checked for grammar errors, you’ve made sure that all your accomplishments are highlighted accurately, and you can’t really think of anything else to make either better. But wait one minute–unfortunately, you can pretty much always make anything better, especially when it comes to something as important as your resume and cover letter.

One disease from which many job seekers suffer is buzzword/phrase overload. It’s only natural. After all, phrases like “strong [communication/leadership] skills” or “team player” convey positive qualities that employers are indeed looking for. The only problem is that hiring managers have seen these words so often that they virtually mean nothing now. So instead of using what are equivalent to horrendously cheesy pick-up lines in your resume and cover letter, why not go for something a little more individual? Here are some to avoid:

“Regarding a position”:

Many job seekers will begin their cover letters with “I would like to meet with you regarding a position with your company” or some such variant. What’s a suitable replacement? Spell out the position you’re seeking, and never say “your company”. Avoid vagueness as much as possible, especially in the first couple of sentences. If your opening paragraph is boring and cliche-ridden, then you’ve slowed yourself down before even starting.

“I am [passionate, hard-working, detail-oriented, etc.]”:

Using adjectives to describe yourself is almost always a bad idea. Adjectives in general are a bad idea, as they usually just take up space without really saying all that much. A good rule of thumb is to cross out every adjective you see and replace with a sentence that hinges on an action verb. It’s better to have your resume and cover letter answer the question, “What did you do?” and not “Who are you?” This is because what you’ve done is often a more effective, substantive manner of conveying the type of person you are. As the old platitude goes, “Show, don’t tell.”

“Responsibility”

Like “leadership”, responsibility is one of those Big Idea Nouns that have all but lost their meaning. Avoid like the plague, or use once tops. Like “leadership”, “responsibility” is best conveyed through tangible demonstration.

“Organizational skills”

While organizational skills are certainly an asset that every employer wants, every potential employee should be organized as a matter of course. If you have this quality listed, strike it out. Don’t even try to replace it either. That is, unless, you are applying for a secretarial position in which organizational ability is the position’s cornerstone.

There are legions more resume-speak phrases that will be sure to make hiring managers cringe. If you’re careful, you’ll be able to identify them easily, too. All you have to do is pour over and question every single word you’ve written. If a word or a phrase doesn’t specifically describe your work history, and how, precisely, you can convert this history into tangible benefit for the company, then it’s probably filler. Hiring managers aren’t reading resumes and cover letters for their own sake. They’re going through the stack to find a truly unique individual who can stand out and get the job done. You know you can get the job done. Now all you have to do is find a way to stand out and prove it.

By-line:

This guest post is contributed by Alvina Lopez, who writes on the topics Accredited Online Colleges.  She welcomes your comments at her email Id: alvina.lopez @gmail.com.

Monday, August 9th, 2010 Careers, Guest Posts 2 Comments

Kellogg Pre-Orientation Trip: KWEST Mystery Trip

One of the most important things about going to business school is getting to know your classmates. That not only means meetings as many people as possible but it also means getting to know them well. That means being with them in an atmosphere for extended periods, sharing meaningful experiences together, and where not just talking about professional experiences, but instead getting to know what they are interested in personally.  Most top business schools do a good job at facilitating those relationships. And at Kellogg, the first way we do that is on our pre-orientation trip with students, called KWEST.

In two weeks, on August 21, most of the incoming students at Kellogg will take off to different places all over the world with classmates and some significant others to experience what’s called KWEST (Kellogg Worldwide Experiences and Service Trips). KWEST is one of the most popular activities at Kellogg, and all KWEST trips happen during the week just before orientation, and they are organized and executed entirely by students, as most things are at Kellogg.

“Ask almost any Kellogg student about KWEST and you’ll hear the same thing. That KWEST was one of the best experiences of at Kellogg. In sum, each trip offers an amazing outdoor adventure, a chance to contribute to communities by community service,  and the opportunity to bond with other incoming students. That might happen while hiking in Norway, scuba diving in Belize, lounging by the pool in the Caribbean or going “who knows where” on the Mystery Trip.”

Numerically speaking, I was one of the lucky ones, and I’ll personally headed on the Mystery Trip for the week. In years past, the Mystery Trip has gone to Malaysia, New Zealand, and Dubai, but this year, like in years past, the students don’t have much of an idea where we will end up before we actually go.

In addition to being a great way to see the world and meet a few dozen classmates, these trips are also a way that Kellogg showcases its teamwork orientation. After all, consider the size of the group and roster of activities each of the trips have.  You travel with interesting and diverse group of classmates, who have never met before and who are from different geographies, have work experience in different fields, and have a  unique set of talents. There will certainly be moments where you learn from each other, help each other, and probably maybe even disagree on things.  It will definitely be interesting to see who ends up on my trip.

The only thing more interesting than that will be finally uncovering the location of the mystery trip, and seeing which part of the world we end up in.

Stay tuned to figure out our Mystery destination.

Sunday, August 8th, 2010 Business School 10 Comments

Law School Recruiting Begins Next Week

Despite many of the public interest goals applicants write about in personal statements, most students at top law schools usually end up spending a few years at a big law firm. One reason is because law firm salaries are high and help students to pay down their loans. Another reason is that students gain a measurable skill set that employers value, both in the legal and business worlds. So for months, students read cases, outline, take exams, and aim for the best grades possible before eventually going through the recruiting process and interviewing at law firms all around the country. Well, that time has finally come for Northwestern’s class of 2012. And next week officially marks the beginning of law school OCI.

At long last, twelve months after moving to Chicago and embarking on the long and difficult journey of 1L, law school students at Northwestern will finally start to go through the OCI (on campus interview) recruiting process in just a few days. Unlike business school, where recruiting officially begins in January after students have a chance to get settled in, meet a larger variety of employers, and prep with classmates for case-based interviews, in law school, on-campus interviews officially begin in mid August before students ever step foot on campus.  In times past, this was probably ideal for students, because it allowed them more time to prep for interviews in the summer before the hustle and bustle of classes started taking up more time. But now, even as the economy continues to improve, there is still a lot of uncertainty regarding recruiting, so there is not really an ideal time.

The good news for the class of 2012 is that schools and employers are projecting an increase in the number of summer associate positions available next summer as compared to last year, but nothing can be said for certain.  First, the projections are based on the assumption that the economy continues to improve and doesn’t take a quick turn for the worse. It also assumes that the attrition rates continue at a normal pace and that firms haven’t decided to use more slots than normal on laterals or 3Ls looking for jobs.

Still, it’s likely that the recruiting numbers will increase this year given the number of employers who are coming to Northwestern and going to other campuses.  After all, the number have increased dramatically, despite the fact that firms are being extremely conservative with their hiring decisions these days.

My 1L firm Vedder Price looks forward to hosting a summer class in the summer of 2011, and I look forward to seeing if anyone from Northwestern will join the firm.  For the summer of 2010, the firm did not have an official class, but that was mostly because the firm wanted to focus on current employees and ensure that everyone in the class of 2009 had a spot at the firm upon graduation. And fortunately for graduates, the firm delivered on its promise, and everyone from the previous year ended up having a chance to go back to the firm.

But for a lot of other firms, there’s still the “elephant in the room” as students may wonder what happened to the employees who were recently deferred, laid off, or not given offers, just one year ago, before firms started increasing hiring again.  But I suspect this is a question that likely won’t come up, which in my view may be for the best given that it’s hard to point fingers at anyone given the economic times that we’ve seen over the past two years.  In fact, things were so bad that even many of the best-managed businesses and law firms couldn’t foresee the economic crisis coming, a fact which is supported by leading economists and recent supreme court opinions (Click here for the In re Citigroup legal opinion)

Fortunately, times are better now, and law firms and students are experiencing the best employment prospects that they’ve seen in a couple of years.  This is great news for the class of 2012 and hopefully good news for those in the class of 2011 that are looking for new opportunities this year.  It will be interesting to see how some of the numbers play out over the next few weeks during OCI.

Best of luck everyone with your interviews.

And stay tuned for more careers and recruiting details and news over the next few weeks.

Saturday, August 7th, 2010 Careers, Labor Economics, Law School 1 Comment

Good Article: Important Skills For Leaders Of Tomorrow

Being the top executive today in any organization is a demanding job.  In times past, most organizations were based on the hierarchical business model.  At the helm of the ship were the managers with the most tenure that made all the decisions, and at the bottom were employees who sat behind and did what they were asked to do.  But today’s leaders have a more nuanced task. Today, organizations are flatter than ever before, job titles are broader, and the lines of authority have become blurred, especially in professional services firms.  Similarly, the ability to scale technology and capacity to work with a diverse team is critical. So the question is, what skills do you need to maneuver all those factors and lead your organization to success in the future.

Leading in today’s environment is difficult but not impossible. And many people have given opinions on how to do that most effectively.  Experts like Marshall Goldsmith, Beth Kanter and Robin Sharma have done substantial research on the topic. Similarly, organizations like the Washington Post, the Harvard Kennedy School, and the Harvard Business Review put out dozens of articles about the issue.  And in a recent video post on the Harvard Business Review, a panel of experts discussed the same topic, and each person on the panel answered the question: What are the crucial skills for tomorrow’s leaders?

With a panel of experts ranging from HBS professors to former colonels of the U.S. Army to a company CEO, the videos gives various opinions on what skills it takes to lead in the modern era.  See below for the link to the video article and below that for the panelists.

Title: The Crucial Skill For Tomorrow’s Leader
Source: Harvard Business Review
URL: http://blogs.hbr.org/video/2010/08/the-crucial-skill-for-tomorrow.html

Summary
“Through Imagining the Future of Leadership, a symposium at the Harvard Business School and accompanying blog series, expert thinkers gathered to investigate what is necessary today to develop the leaders we need for tomorrow. ”

Angel Cabrera President, Thunderbird School of Management
Bill George Professor, Harvard Business School and former Chairman and CEO of Medtronic
Daisy Wademan Dowling Executive Director, Leadership Development at Morgan Stanley
Andy Zelleke Lecturer in Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School
Batia Mishan Wiesenfeld Professor, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, NYU
Evan Wittenberg Head of Global Leadership Development, Google, Inc.
Dr. Ellen Langer Professor, Harvard University
Scott Snook Associate Professor, Harvard Business School and retired Colonel, US Army Corps of Engineers

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010 Careers, Leadership No Comments

Kirkland & Ellis Career Paths in the Law Reception

A couple of weeks ago, law students and summer interns in Chicago gathered after work to attend a networking event downtown at Kirkland and Ellis.  Kirkland has hosted a number of events this summer, in the new building they moved into along with Boston Consulting Group about a year ago.  These events have not only been a great way to socialize with a wide range of people in the legal industry but also a way to get to know some of the various attorneys and recruiters who work at Kirkland.

This particular reception attracted summers, associates, and partners from the firm, in addition to law students from the broader legal community.  It also gave us the opportunity to chat with fellow law school classmates, meet new friends from other schools, and get insight from those who had made it through the law school recruiting process in years past.

First up on the agenda was a mini-reception, which was upstairs on the sixth floor. This is where a lot of K&E mixers take place, and as usual there was an open bar and some appetizers.  A couple of partners from the corporate and litigation groups were there, including a partner I’ve been in touch with from the antitrust practice.  I also had the opportunity to chat with a Northwestern JD-MBA who is working in their corporate group this summer, an accelerated JD from Northwestern that is working in litigation this summer, and with a couple of friends I’ve made who work full time in the corporate group. I specifically ended up chatting for a while with a K&E corporate attorney from the east coast that I met a few weeks earlier at a similar event, along with one of my favorite and smartest section-mates from law school.

After about 30 to 45 minutes of mingling, K&E announced it was time to move to a new room for the highlight of the event which was a panel session. So a few of the recruiters escorted us to a mini-conference room around the corner where there was a panel was composed of former K&E attorneys, a judge from Indiana, a former litigation attorney who now works at a Fortune 1000 corporation, the Executive Director of Public Interest Law Initiative (i.e. PILI), and a current attorney in the IP department.

I sat next to one of the superstar 1Ls from my section last year during the session, and we listened closely as the panel members gave their opinions on the legal industry and the recruiting process.  The panel discussed things such as the impact of the current economic environment, different career paths to consider in the legal industry, and what skill sets are important to develop.  In the process, they also stressed the ability to write quickly and concisely, the importance of networking and getting involved in civic organizations, and the value that comes with working at a big firm, as opposed to starting off in alternative career paths. After all, we were at a K&E sponsored event.

After the panel session was over, the event ended with a bit of informal networking with the panelists and with some of the members of K&E.  In my view, this is often the best part of these events, because it provides the attendees with a unique opportunity to mingle with peers and follow-up on the some of the remarks from the panelists sessions.  In this case, I stayed behind to catch up with a few people I wanted to touch base with and I spoke at length with the former litigation attorney that now works as Counsel at a local Fortune company.  I could tell during the session that he had an interesting professional background and that we a number of similar views on networking and volunteering.  It was definitely a nice connection to make at the end.

We also talked a little bit about OCI.  I mentioned that I am personally excited for OCI, because from a 30,000 foot view, I’m interested to see how the overall numbers will play out as compared to last year and how that will ultimately reshape the legal field.  Based on dozens of talks I’ve had with firms and recruiters, it sounds like the numbers will be a bit better.  But only time will tell, and most students are still a bit nervous since everything is so uncertain.  And understandably so.

Kirkland has had a number of similar events this summer, including an event co-hosted with the Chicago Committee On Minorities In Large Law Firms the following week, which I attended with a few people from my firm, including our head of recruiting, Bo Kim, with my summer mentor from Vedder Price, and also with a firm partner I’ve worked pretty closely with this summer.

Once again, the turnout at the event was good. I suspect that’s because these events have become more important for up-and-coming professionals in today’s economy.  For one, law school recruiting takes place in about two weeks, so students have begun flocking to meet as many attorneys as possible. Second, is because younger professionals are also looking to network more and become even better connected to firms, which may have future opportunities down the line.  In fact, at the event I chatted extensively with a Northwestern alum that I met at another networking reception a few months before.  As it turns out. he had recently moved to a new firm.

This raises an important point. That getting out and meeting people in your industry is important. These events are a great way to start the process.   Not just because you’re looking for a job through OCI or because the economy may be slumping and you want to have future jobs lined up but more importantly because over time people tend to move around a lot, and the legal and business communities in any location are small.  And so it’s good to get to know the people in your field, to share information about trends and emerging issues, and sometimes simply enjoy the success you’ve achieved together.

In the end, this reception was a great opportunity to get to know the local legal community and also attorneys at K&E.  For all those interested in either, it might make sense to attend a similar  future event.

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010 Careers, Networking 2 Comments

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Jeremy C Wilson is a JD-MBA alumni using his site to share information on education, the social enterprise revolution, entrepreneurship, and doing things differently. Feel free to send along questions or comments as you read.

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