Monday, December 5, 2011

Keeping it real…

Q2 will be wrapping up in about a week and then we have another set of exams.

So far, Q1 and Q2 have been a whirlwind of case competitions, networking, classes, mock interviews, finance assignments, speaker series, dodgeball, class debates, Second Cup (is it just me or is the line getting longer?), job postings, study tour applications, resume reviews, class presentations, statistics projects, i-clickers, team feedback and much much more. People often wonder how everything gets done. In my opinion, it takes lots of planning, compromise and sometimes even some spontaneity with your team members and peers. And it’s a lot of work, but it can all be done. It’s a wonder how most people keep their sanity with this constant stream of items on our “to-do” lists.

This past weekend, all the first-year students had 29 hours to work on a strategy case analysis project, which involves coming up with recommendations for the company under study (don’t worry, I will have a lot more to say about this later on!) So as a tribute to the project, I have come up with my own three strategic recommendations for keeping your sanity amidst the hectic life of a Rotmanite.

Recommendation #1: Make it known what your “non-negotiables” are. A non-negotiable is anything that you partake in that you are committed to and are not willing to give up. For me, my number one non-negotiable is playing soccer on Tuesday evenings. For others, it may be getting home before 9:00pm, or exercising during the lunch hour, or eating dinner at home. Whatever it may be, make sure your teammates and others that you work with are well aware of what these are.

Recommendation #2: Don’t let anyone derail you from your path. This was especially difficult for me. As a member of the RFA, I am surrounded by a lot of people who are interested in investment banking. Even though I came to Rotman with a very clear idea of what I want to do when I graduate (private wealth management), I couldn’t help but wonder if that’s what I should be doing. Once I accepted that I don’t have to pursue a career in investment banking just because everyone else is, I was better able to spend my time doing things that were going to be valuable to me.

Recommendation #3: Be positive. This is hard to do when you have a number of things on your plate and not a lot of time to work on it all. It's even harder when things don't seem to be going your way. And there are two things that will make it worse: a) not getting a lot of sleep and b) being pessimistic. Nobody expects that anybody here is getting 8 hours of sleep every night – it’s inevitable that you will have more than a few late nights. What you can control is your attitude and the people you spend time with, and a good attitude can make an immense difference.

I could go on: be realistic, set priorities, acknowledge your strengths and weakness, get involved, participate, and find a group of classmates who are supportive of your goals (this one is actually quite important.) You will receive lots of advice no matter where you go to school, but these three realizations specifically helped me maintain my sanity so far.

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