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Duke Fuqua MBA Admissions & Related Blogs

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How Business Improv at Fuqua Changed My Life  [#permalink]

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New post 06 Nov 2019, 09:00
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FROM Fuqua Student Blogs: How Business Improv at Fuqua Changed My Life
This is my story of why I vowed abstention from public speaking because of Russia, and how a business improv class at Fuqua changed all that while helping me overcome my lifelong fear of performing on stage.

The Origin of My Fear

“Is Russia part of Asia?” I kept wondering to myself, once upon a time in my third-grade geography class. I saw the world map and couldn’t help but ask all these questions as kids do. Only one problem—I was afraid to ask my teacher. She was not mean by any means (pun intended). Asking questions was just not part of a class session where I went to school in Vietnam. You wouldn’t be rewarded for participation, maybe except with a nerdy reputation.

I fought with myself for days. Mind you, I had held a girl’s hand in second grade and that was so much easier than this! Finally, my curiosity won over my fear. I summoned the courage to raise my hand. My teacher, slightly puzzled, allowed me to speak. The whole class turned back to look at me. My heart was racing the entire time. I asked my (fateful) question.

With a laugh, she asked, “What does Russia have anything to do with this class?” My classmates all erupted in laughter. I quickly sat down and didn’t look up the entire time. I just ‘lost face.’ Humiliated, shamed, mortified.

I vowed to never speak up again. What would be the point? I wouldn’t gain anything and I’d surely look stupid in front of everyone.

Then I came to the U.S. to do my undergraduate studies. There was not one syllabus that did not clearly spell out a class participation grade. Professors would even cold call me if I tried to hide. How terrifying!

I tried to speak, but my heart would be racing long before and long after I spoke—if I spoke at all. Every class was a struggle between trying to earn good grades and not having a heart attack. I would feel exhausted every day.

It got worse at Fuqua. My classmates were so articulate and confident. They seemed to even enjoy speaking up?! To make it even more comedic, my professor cold called me on my very first day of class at Fuqua. It was my third-grade geography class all over again.

It was a vicious cycle. I would pressure myself to think of something insightful so that I would sound intelligent when I spoke. Inevitably, I would overthink things and tense up. When it is was my turn to speak, I felt like classmates could tell that I was nervous. Eventually, I would tell myself I can compensate by doing well on the exam instead.

Until I took improv class. It changed my life.

Image
My teammates and I playing the “Good, Bad, Worse” game on stage. We took turns providing good advice, bad advice, and a worse advice to questions asked by the audience.

What is Business Improv at Fuqua?

Workshop in Managerial Improvisation is a week-long class where you practice thinking on your feet and applying the “yes, and” principle. When you “yes, and” you accept your partner’s idea no matter how silly and then expand on it. A simple, yet powerful tool to remove judgment and grow your creativity.

Throughout a series of games and exercises, my classmates and I built trust so that we could think, speak, and act in an extremely supportive environment. There was absolutely no pressure to sound smart or be cool.

You just need to be present. Be in the moment. Carpe diem.

The first day, we broke the ice by carrying each member around the classroom on our shoulders. You had to focus because your classmates were entrusting themselves to you. My turn to be carried came, and it felt strangely reassuring knowing that my new friends had my back. Literally.

It was so liberating, knowing I was not alone. Most of my improv classmates were also international students who shared the same struggle as me. At that moment, I knew I made the right decision to take the class.

The next few days flew by. We had so much fun playing silly games where everyone surprised themselves with their newfound quick-wittedness. Deep down, we unlocked ourselves from fear of judgment. Everyone truly wanted to listen when you talked or watch you reenact a movie scene that you like.

My favorite exercise had us present using premade Powerpoint slides that we had not previously seen. We found ourselves coming up with a go-to-market strategy on the fly for a random combination of a landline phone, sunflower, and cheese. My teammates Hilary, Dvir, and I creatively “yes, anded” the crap out of that presentation. We even improvised a TV commercial for the product.

To “yes, and” is to be present. Focus and listen intensely. You are here, physically and mentally.

The Final Presentation

I felt comfortable speaking to my teammates, but what about the whole improv class? On the last day, we all had to perform on stage in Geneen Auditorium in front of everyone. I signed up as the emcee for our team. I was to facilitate a slightly complicated game called Survivor, which involved audience participation. I needed to not only speaking clearly but also in a way that energized the crowd and got them to participate. So many questions raced through my head as I practiced emceeing.

Finally, our turn to perform came. We ran up to the stage making noises and clapping loudly to pump up the crowd. I couldn’t have asked for a better audience than my improv classmates. They cheered as loudly and enthusiastically as possible.

The
clapping stopped and the spotlight turned to me. All eyes were on me to start
the show. Would it be third grade all over again?

Strangely
enough, I felt no fear. My lifelong fear evaporated, just like that.

I was just focusing on what I was doing. I spoke loudly and clearly to my audience, with excitement as if I had known them for a long time.

Sensing
my confidence, they responded enthusiastically. The audience became more and
more entertained after each round. They broke into a gigantic applause when we
finished and took a bow. What a scene!

As I reflected on the week that was, I still couldn’t believe that my first time on stage was so successful. It was all thanks to improv professor Bob Kulhan and our group instructor, Cesar Jamie. I was so inspired that I joined the Fuqua Improv Club and registered for more management communication courses that involved public speaking.

While fun, many of the improv exercises prepare you for real business situations when you have to present without much practice. In fact, I saw the results of my improv training that same week. I aced an interview and was selected for a mentored study with a local sports technology company, thanks partly to the insights from improv.

Image
Our team celebrating after our final performance, just before leaving the stage

Three Takeaways from the Course

  • Focus, focus, focus. Today’s world is highly distracting, and you need to focus to become a good listener. Only then you can adapt, motivate, and inspire. Before any class or stage performance, our team had a ritual where we got together to warm up and refocus.
  • To “yes, and” is to acknowledge your partner’s point. Too often we only perfunctorily acknowledge something in order to get to our point by saying “yes, but.” Improv instills in you the importance of truly listening by starting with acknowledgment and then expanding on your partner’s idea.
  • Have fun. I enjoyed every moment of this week-long 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. course. If I had a chance to do it again, I would in a heartbeat. I became much closer to my teammates during the experience and am still very grateful for their support.

I came to Fuqua to train myself to be a future leader. Improv set me on the right path to becoming just that—more focused, adaptable, and inspirational. To those who find public speaking terrifying, I hope my story inspires you to face your fear head-on. I conquered my fear. Can you?

The post How Business Improv at Fuqua Changed My Life appeared first on Duke Daytime MBA Student Blog.
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors
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Latin American Student Association Provides Valuable Support  [#permalink]

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New post 22 Nov 2019, 07:35
FROM Fuqua Student Blogs: Latin American Student Association Provides Valuable Support


An MBA is a once in a lifetime opportunity to put yourself out of your comfort zone, especially if you are an international student. Coming from Brazil, I quickly learned that the cultural difference between my home country and the U.S. is greater than I had ever realized. That’s why having support from fellow Latin American students has helped me make the best of my experience.

The Latin American Student Association (LASA) is one of the largest clubs at Fuqua, and it promotes both professional and social events, facilitating a network comprised of its members that include people passionate about our region. Here are four areas where LASA delivers value during the MBA journey.

Admissions

LASA plays an important role in the application process. The club partners with Fuqua’s admissions team to promote local events in Latin America, connecting prospective students to alumni and current students so that they can learn more about our school. LASA also helps newly-admitted students to ‘land’ in Durham, promoting sessions that share information on housing, health care, and daily life in North Carolina prior to the beginning of classes. As a country representative, I’m responsible for connecting with prospective and admitted students from Brazil to answer their questions about Fuqua. If you’re a prospective student, you can contact admissions and ask to be connected with a student from your home country.

Professional Life

Recruiting in the U.S. can be strikingly different from recruiting in Latin America in general. The LASA Career Cabinet strives to bridge this gap by promoting workshop sessions, resume and cover letter reviews, company webinars, and a career conference. The club also offers the LASA Career Fellow program, which consists of matching a first-year student to a second-year with similar professional interests. For me, the program was a major source of help because it provided me important insights on how to recruit in the U.S. Different from the Fuqua Career Management Center’s career fellows, LASA career fellows specifically bring the perspective of someone who has successfully navigated and comprehended the differences in the recruiting processes in U.S.-based and Latin American companies.

Image
LASA students with Duke Latin American undergrads they mentored

External Relations

LASA’s External Relations Cabinet is responsible for helping students to build relationships with Latin American alumni and companies, expanding recruiting opportunities for the LASA community. They also organized the first LASA conference about entrepreneurship in Latin America where I enjoyed hearing from amazing leaders such as Martin Rastellino (founder of Despegar) and Woods Staton (CEO of Arcos Dorados).

Social Life

LASA is known for its amazing social events—from barbecues to Carnival to Día de Los Muertos. The parties are great opportunities to take a well-deserved break from academic life and a chance to share our culture with other students while getting to know more people. At LASA social events, I have met amazing people from all over the world, including a Chilean partner of a student, who is now one of my best friends in Durham, and an Indian who loves to practice his Spanish. Speaking of partners, many Latin students come to Durham with their families who engage in events promoted by the LASA Partners Cabinet.

View this post on Instagram LASA Cabinet 2019-2020 Image! Welcome FY Cabinet ImageImage

A post shared by LASA Fuqua (@lasafuqua) on Oct 1, 2019 at 10:21am PDT

The post Latin American Student Association Provides Valuable Support appeared first on Duke Daytime MBA Student Blog.
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors
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Examples of Our 25 Random Things  [#permalink]

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New post 22 Nov 2019, 07:35
FROM Fuqua Student Blogs: Examples of Our 25 Random Things


If you’re a prospective student reading this blog, chances are you’re already aware of the “25 Random Things” essay that is part of the application. But how should you approach writing it? Here are some examples from our essays that might help spark some of your own ideas.

Maddy Conway

  • My instinct is always to believe the best in people until proven otherwise. Cut me off on the highway? I choose to assume you’re in a rush for a good reason—maybe a sick kid at home, or late for a job interview. I’m an optimistic person, and I believe in the benefit of the doubt. 
  • At age five, when our pet fish died, I’m told that I turned calmly to my mother and asked if we could eat them. While slightly concerning, I take this to mean that my practical streak runs very deep. 
  • One finals period in college, I was introduced to the song “Ocean,” by the John Butler Trio. It’s a 12-minute long instrumental triumph, and I listened to it 116 times over the course of a single weekend (over 23 hours’ worth, if you’re doing the math). To this day, “Ocean” is my most effective tool to combat writer’s block.
  • Instead of buying a ring, my husband and I took an “engagement trip” to the western coast of Newfoundland, where we climbed on metamorphosed mantel rock (#geologynerds), met a moose that we named Muenster, and camped outside in balmy 40-degree Fahrenheit June weather. All our fellow tourists were Canadian retirees. It was the best trip I’ve ever taken.
  • In another life, I would be a radio journalist. I absolutely love NPR.

Yun Hong

  • I decided to pursue my undergrad studies in Japan to learn about the country. Without being able to speak a word of Japanese, I found part-time work as soon as I could. Washing dishes, making beds in hotels, cleaning buses, teaching English, and mowing golf courses, I ended up picking up the language faster than any of my Japanese course classmates and was the first in my class to get Japanese Language Proficiency Test Level 1.
  • I once missed a flight by losing track of time at the Hong Kong History Museum, and without credit card or cash, I ended up spending the entire day asking for help from strangers to get back to Japan. I tried to convince them that I could pay them back once I was back in Japan, and couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t believe me. After 11 hours, I was nowhere closer to getting myself a ticket but had made friends with a middle-aged man from Columbia who was in a similar situation and spoke no English.
  • While trying to decide which business school to go to, I was offered a Fuqua T-shirt by a friend who got into Fuqua 10 years ago but did not enroll. This random hand-me-down became yet another sign for me to apply to Fuqua.
  • In my drawer at work, I always had four or five different prototypes of next-generation vital sign sensing T-shirts and three to four prototypes for wristband sensors. User testing these prototypes was an important part of my routine that helped me communicate effectively with customers and partners.
  • In the next drawer, I had over 20 different products made by various competitors that I also personally tested thoroughly to study and analyze. In one of the largest software solution companies in Asia, I was known as “the hardware guy.”

Sandeep Panda

  • I started photography while I was in France 5 years ago—and like most people who have DSLR cameras, started with simple bokeh photographs. It was the beauty of the Notre Dame cathedral at night that inspired me to venture into night photography and I haven’t looked back ever since. I actively follow this still and post my work on 500px. Most of my viewers are from the U.S., Germany, and the U.K.
  • Interestingly, during my stint at Goldman Sachs, I spoke to people across five continents. However, what made the experience even more global is that I had to interact across seven different time zones—sometimes all in a single day from Australia to Salt Lake City.
  • I love music. I love both modern as well as classical Indian music and love the contemporary takes on them. I am the co-founder of a nonprofit organization, Snehalata Memorial Foundation, focused on the promotion of Indian Classical Music.
  • I have been interested in financial markets since my final year in college and created a portfolio of stocks after due diligence. My ROI is 105% on the initial investment in three years.
  • Hailing from a computer science background, my passion for games was directed into creating alongside playing. I created many small games in college. I also took part in the world game championship challenge to develop a full 3D game and qualified in the top 100. The trailer is here.

Austin Ray

  • When I was younger, I trained dogs in sheep herding and agility. I did not appreciate either experience at the time, but I’m glad that my parents pushed me to try something unconventional. I’m now open to trying anything once.
  • I once made GQ.com’s list of “Best Dressed Readers.” I still don’t know who nominated me.
  • I try to meditate and practice yoga regularly. Throw me in any situation and I’ll always feel at ohm.
  • I will use a bad pun at every opportunity.
  • I moved from California to New York to co-found a non profit when I was 24. I only brought a duffel bag with me. No mattress, no furniture, no kitchen utensils; only enough clothes to get through the first season. I didn’t know if the organization would get off the ground, but five years later and it’s still going strong. Seeing a napkin sketch of a dream transform into reality is still one of my proudest achievements.

Courtney Ridenhour

  • I’m addicted to true crime. I’ll read, watch, or listen to anything related to it.
  • On that note, I think working in the Behavioral Analysis Unit at the FBI would be the coolest thing. A slight obsession with how people think and what makes people tick might be what got me into the world of advertising and marketing.
  • In college, I led backpacking trips for incoming freshmen. Part of our training included a wilderness first aid course. Because of this training, I can now make a splint out of anything. Show me a jacket, a bandana, and two sticks, I see a leg brace. It’s my only party trick.
  • My favorite day in New York is the first Sunday in November—the day of the TCS New York City Marathon. The city shows up. The streets are lined. People are cheering for strangers. There’s a real sense of community. I volunteered for the race a couple of times, and have always made a point to watch and cheer. I finally got to run the marathon last fall. The race was a tough one, but it was one of the coolest experiences. Crossing that finish line is a moment I will never forget.
  • I have a bad binge-watching habit. But I’m super up-to-speed on all things Netflix. I will say, as a small redemption, that this habit pairs well with marathon training.
The post Examples of Our 25 Random Things appeared first on Duke Daytime MBA Student Blog.
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors
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A Record Year for Hiring at Fuqua  [#permalink]

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New post 01 Dec 2019, 11:00
FROM Fuqua Student Blogs: A Record Year for Hiring at Fuqua


I’ve often told people I feel like I have the best job at Fuqua. As associate dean for career management, I have a front-row view of our tremendously talented students seeking jobs plus direct insight from the companies looking to hire them.

It could be tempting to think of our careers team as matchmakers in that process—but our roles are so much more complex and constantly evolving. We are the eyes and ears of the business school in understanding what companies want in the talent they are hiring and how they are hiring it. We are among the first to spot shifts in the skills needed to succeed in the ever-complex landscape of business today.

In 20 years on Fuqua’s career team, I’ve personally witnessed the changing nature of work and the new demands in skills and opportunities that accompany those evolutions. Our faculty is continually updating and tweaking our curriculum to meet the needs of business. That means our students are prepared. It also means they are in demand.

The data in our most recent careers report demonstrates that demand. Three months after the Class of 2019 graduated, 97% had received job offers and 95% had accepted offers. Those are the highest percentages I’ve seen in my 20 years. In addition, median annual base salary rose by 8% from the previous year.

I believe the numbers speak not only to the talent of our students but the recognition by employers that they are being well prepared at Fuqua. Other highlights from the careers report include:

  • For the third
    consecutive year, the West Coast is the top geographic destination for
    our graduates, attracting approximately a quarter of the combined graduating
    and intern classes. I attribute this trend to the popularity of the technology
    and health care industries, along with increased numbers of graduates going to
    work in consulting in the region.
  • By industry, 32% of the class went into
    consulting, 23% into tech and 20% into finance. The number of graduates entering
    finance in 2019 was up four percentage points from the previous year.
  • McKinsey hired the most graduates in 2019,
    followed by Amazon, BCG, Microsoft, Dell, and
    Google. Fifty-nine companies hired three or more grads or interns.

The full careers report can be found here. You can also read more about the trends in this Poets & Quants piece.

I’m proud our data continues to show that Fuqua graduates are able to pursue their career interests in a wide variety of industries, functions, and locations.

Mostly, I’m proud of the stories I hear about the ways our
graduates are impacting companies and their communities. I love hearing
recruiters tell me how a Fuqua graduate brought a team together to solve a
challenge or used their technical expertise plus leadership skills to drive
innovation. Knowing our team helped highly talented people find fulfilling
roles where they can use their skills and passions to help make companies and
the world better is always our best metric of success!

The post A Record Year for Hiring at Fuqua appeared first on Duke Daytime MBA Student Blog.
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors
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A Record Year for Hiring at Fuqua   [#permalink] 01 Dec 2019, 11:00

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