Friday, September 28, 2012

Not just internships anymore

Even though most of the LGOs are still on internship and so off-campus for fall semester, we have begun to feel an increased workload in the days following labor day.  Assignments for leadership and preparation for our mid-stream review have started coming due AND the job hunt has begun.

While we have partner company recruiting at the end of October, the Sloan Career Development Office (CDO) has begun posting jobs from other companies participating regular MBA on-campus recruiting.  We've also had workshops from the CDO on writing cover letters, to review our resumes and there are more sessions, like mock-interviews on the horizon.  Given all this thinking about jobs, many of us have started looking at companies that are not coming to MIT in addition to partner companies and on-campus recruiters to fill out our portfolio of options for full-time.  I have no idea how many jobs I will end up applying to, but my goal is to have multiple offers!

This is a time at roughly the middle of our internships (for us it's next week), when all the LGOs come back to campus (Take me back to Tech!) and spend a few days filling each other and our advisers and company supervisors on what we've been up to.  For fun, the video below is the MIT Logarhythms singing Take Me Back to Tech with alumni from 1949-1999 for their 50th anniversary celebration.  I'll have to post, at a minimum, the lyrics to the alma mater before graduation if I can't find a recording.

Internships on different topics like supply chain management, process improvement and project management (that would be me) are grouped together within the presentation sessions so that the audience can stay in a similar frame of mind.  It works pretty well.  Along with our presentations, there will be sessions with the Career Development Office, Alumni and partner companies as we begin the dance toward recruitment.

Even though I knew we had our own separate recruiting sessions with partner companies, I realized recently, that I didn't know how that system worked.  To give a preview to the '14s, jobs will be posted on the intranet site the week after mid-stream or so and you sign up for which ones you'd like to interview for.  Cover letters are optional (but, as always, recommended) for these sessions.  I've heard that there will be a cap on the # of people a company will interview for a position, but that's more of a scheduling thing and that usually if there is more demand than slots, the LGO staff and the company will try and work something out.

LGO recruiting is in addition to the on-campus recruiting through the CDO and the two can overlap.  So, hopefully, when October 29 - Nov 2 rolls around, we'll be busy with all kinds of interviews.  We've been given advice to maybe stick around the following week for other interviews and second rounds, so I'm probably going to do that.

Since recruiting is over Halloween this year, I will be on campus for the annual Pumpkin Drop.  It's about like what the title implies - around midnight, students drop a bunch of pumpkins off of the tallest building on campus and round-orange-squash-carnage ensues.  I've got my fingers crossed for good weather and lots of pumpkins.

In the meantime, work is now proceeding on parallel paths - internship stuff and job applications.  Wish me luck on both!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Outreach and Reaching Out

This weekend, I spent an afternoon with GM working as a volunteer at a Ride and Drive as part of their Vehicle Advocate Program.  We coordinated visiting GM employees and their guests by matching them up with the vehicles they wanted to drive, explaining more about the vehicles if they had questions and, yes, calling OnStar when they sometimes locked the keys in the car (yep, it happened and yes, if you can prove you're the actual owner and not stealing the car, OnStar can send a signal to unlock your vehicle - how cool?!?).  Since this time I was volunteering, the only driving I did was to help put the vehicles away at the end of the day (I worked the afternoon shift, ~4 hours).  We had a good turn out despite it being overcast and chilly on Saturday.

Sunday, I slept in and then drove about an hour to Ypsilanti, MI (a neighbor of Ann Arbor) for a MIT Alumni Club of Southeast Michigan event.  It was fun seeing a bunch of people who I had met back in 2009 again at another alumni event and I cannot recommend the alumni network highly enough. Ypsilanti annually hosts an orphaned car show (cars whose brand or make is no longer made and hasn't been for a certain minimum period of time - Oldsmobile just qualified, it will be another while before Pontiac, et. al. are included).  In conjunction with that, about 25 of us gathered at a nearby restaurant, noshed and chatted a bit and then listened to a quick talk from Csaba Csere, an editor-in-chief emeritus of Car and Driver magazine.
Csaba Csere: enthusiasm, notes and a wealth of experience
Csaba spoke about the electrification of vehicles currently, what drives it (much more CAFE regulations than the consumer), what the different varieties of hybrids are available now and where things might be heading.  He's a great speaker and was happy fielding questions from the audience.  His job is now freelancing and while he still works in much the same way, he said he's no longer first to drive the vehicles, unlike when he was with the magazine.  His recent rides, though, have still included the Camaro ZL1 (top of the line Camaro) and the Tesla S.  Not too shabby.

On an unrelated note, here's an awesome example of simple but effective design I encountered today.
What you see is that the tag on the teabag has a pre-cut slot in it, so that you can wedge the tag on the edge of your mug and not have the bag fall in if the mug is too deep.  This concept uses less material than the original design and yet is so much more functional.  Hats off to whoever thought of that one.

Monday, September 17, 2012

PA Bound

At the end of last week, I joined about 50 others from Powertrain and other GM groups in participating in a service activity for GM's Week of Caring.  We spent time boxing and sorting food items at the Eastern Michigan Food Bank in Flint, MI.  When the morning started, the warehouse wall was full of palettes to be sorted and, surprisingly quickly, our two assembly line teams broke the wall down into all the individual items and re-packed them into smaller, sorted boxes.  Random fun fact: during this event I met the Dad of the guy who founded both and (Hipmunk is an awesome travel site by the way) - he works at GM and was stationed right next to me!

This weekend was the second time I drove the eight or so hours down to Pennsylvania.  I did so in my fourth of five rental vehicles for GM (two for being an intern and one per quarter per the regular employee policy).  This one was the most ridiculous one I will have of the bunch - a 2011 Grand Sport Corvette.

In keeping with most of the other vehicles I have received from GM, it was silver (random, but true), and it was an automatic (I know, car purists, go ahead and sigh).  That model goes from 0 to 60 in just over 4 seconds (the 2013 Grand Sport, for reference, is now just under 4 sec for 0 to 60 MPH) and the Grand Sport is in the middle of the pack as far as Corvette offerings go.

Push button start on the left, Navigation and Audio system in the middle
On Saturday, since it was sunny and cool, we took the roof off of the Corvette (it's not a convertible but the panel over the seats is removable) and headed off for a few hours into the hilly, curvy roads of PA.

The roof off shot
Our path included turns tight enough to be marked 15 MPH and multiple 10% hill grades.  This is, approximately, the route we took.
So many winding roads!
Could not ask for a more gorgeous day for a drive
To get back to all you car purists, even though I had this fantastic Corvette this weekend, I did take some time to drive (or try to drive, or work at learning to drive) a manual VW Golf GTI.  I can proudly say that after some tribulations earlier in the weekend, I finished my visit to PA having driven that car under my own power on both back roads and highways.  I'll still be somewhat stressed to get behind the wheel of my final GM reservation (a manual Sonic in the middle of October), but I feel much more prepared now.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Another visitor to Michigan

Besides my parents, one of my roommates from my first year LGO apartment came out to visit me here in Michigan.  I picked her up after work three Fridays ago and we made broccoli cheddar soup and some brownies together and then hung out catching up.  Saturday, we had two outings - one to an open house at GM's proving grounds which included a ride and drive (no banked turns unfortunately), but where we could drive around part of their facilities in our own car.  She test drove the Chevy Equinox and Traverse (bot LTZ versions) and I test drove the GMC Acadia and the Chevy Malibu.  She liked the Traverse more than the Equinox and I found the Acadia seats to be super comfy (buttery leather).  On the whole I'm not a big SUV/Crossover person, but those seats were awesome (I joked that I'd pry them out of the Acadia and try and install them in a different car that was more my style).

From the Open House, we went to the Meadowbook Wine and Food Festival right by my house.  I expected the wine and food to be roughly 50:50, but there was much more wine than food (which could be good or bad, depending on how you look at it).  Either way, after two back-to-back events outside in 90F heat, we headed for a restaurant nearby to get more lunch of nice cold salad and WATER.  It tasted so good.  Once we got enough lunch, we came home and crashed.  It's wonderful how things like nap time are possible on Saturdays.

After we awoke, we got back to cooking, making 'Mediterranean Baked Feta with Tomatoes' from the blog Smitten Kitchen and roasting a chicken.  Those two with some crusty bread and wine were excellent.

One of the fruits of out labor
On Sunday, we went to the Detroit Zoo, a place even I had never been to before.  It was fun and we got to see a bunch of animals (In a zoo?  Go figure!).
Polar bear swimming in the distance
Lady lion just lazing around
The cutest tiniest turtle I have ever seen
Sunday night we cooked more, plus ate more tasty leftovers and got our fill of trashy TV.  NICE.  I didn't expect to have many visitors out here, so having another weekend to share Michigan with someone was pretty cool.  While GM put me in a two bedroom in case there were other female grad students working in the area (they usually put two grad students in a 2-bed apt), I have continued to be roommate-less through the summer (looking that way for fall, too).  In the meantime, I have been enjoying the flexibility having a spare bedroom has allowed.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Guitar master weekend

This labor day weekend was full of driving and music.  Driving, because I went to Pennsylvania again (only took 7 to 7.5 hours each way this time, rather than 8), and music because I went to not one but two concerts.

The first concert was in Ann Arbor, before I left.  Bill Kirchen, named "Titan of the Telecaster" by Guitar Player Magazine (a Telecaster is a type of electric guitar), performed .  Even if you have heard of him before, one thing I'm pretty sure you didn't know is that he is my cousin once removed (my Dad's first cousin).  In addition to getting to enjoy the show, meeting him (and his sister) for the first time ever was pretty cool.  I got  hugs!

Bill originally became famous from the song Hot Rod Lincoln when he was part of the band 'Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen' (begun in Ann Arbor, MI).  According to Wikipedia, Hot Rod Lincoln was "voted a Legendary Michigan Song in 2008" and "the following year [the band was] inducted into the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Hall of Fame."

For his show there was no opener, just a short break in between two halves of the almost three hours that he played.  His accompaniment was two guys - one on electric bass and one on a small drum kit.  A second electric guitar player, whose name eludes me, joined them for the second half of the show.  The sound was great and Bill was pretty funny even just talking to the audience.

After his show, I went home, finished packing and was up again at 7AM on Saturday to drive to Pennsylvania.  While the drive down there is long, it is not hard.  There are about three "turns" - I-75 to I-280 to I-80 then exit at the right town in PA.  The drive was smooth and fast and uneventful.

Saturday, we had an early dinner and then headed to a local pay to ride amusement park about a half hour away called Knoebels.  One of their claims to fame is having the #2 wooden coaster in the world.  We spent a couple of hours there: rode their two coasters, enjoyed a simpler but still really fun ride called the flyer (which you kind of controlled yourself) and then capped it off with a Ferris wheel ride.  While the Ferris wheel spun much faster than we expected, it was still nice.

After sleeping in on Sunday, we decided to drive the two hours to the Chameleon Club in Lancaster, PA to go to a different concert - a show by Steve Vai.  While the focal instrument for both of them is electric guitar, Steve Vai and Bill Kirchen do not have much else in common (other than I suppose, both also being recognized by Guitar Player magazine).
The guy loves wacky outfits, in addition to being an amazing guitar player.  The blue sign in front of him and amps behind him have his logo/name on them.
While Bill is a Titan, Steve has been described as a virtuoso and before he went solo, he played with a veritable who's who of 80s rock groups.  He's a master of the instrument and is always looking for new off-beat sounds and so, on this tour for example, had an electric harp as part of the band (you can see the harpist, who's from MA actually, on the right of the photo above).  Not sure how else to describe this guy and his band other than impressive.
So for this part of the set he's got a light-up suit thing
But wait, he's also got lasers on his guitar and on a glove to highlight his fingers (the diagonal rays coming away from the guitar in the photo)
All in all, the weekend was really good and like many really good weekends, much too short.  At least there's another one right around the corner.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Even more cars

Classic - sea foam green, while wall tires...
So, two weeks ago now, my parents drove from MA out to see me.  For those of you who don't know, before LGO, even though I'm originally from Massachusetts, I had lived in Michigan for three years.  So, having this internship was actually coming back to a different "home".

When I lived here before, my parents came out a few times, but most of our sightseeing then had been around the rest of the state.  We drove to Traverse City, drove up the middle of the state, over the Mackinaw Bridge to the Upper Peninsula (aka the U-P (you say each letter)).  We actually drove all around Lake Michigan, seeing bits of Wisconsin, Chicago and we also took a detour to finally see White Bear Lake, MN (just outside of St. Paul), where my Dad grew up.  The trip was great.

This time, I thought, it would be appropriate to fill in some gaps of their Michigan experience and have them see more of metro Detroit.  Their visit was shorter than the week+ we had before and coincided with a now 17 year old tradition called the Woodward Dream Cruise.  This trip would be filled with cars, rather than lakes and wilderness.

Woodward Avenue, "America's First Highway" runs diagonally out of Detroit, cutting through the grid of the mile roads.  It actually ends in Pontiac, the town I work in.  In 1995 they started a car show which has since grown into a yearly phenomenon of sorts with thousands of cars participating.  With my parents in town, I finally got a chance to see it and took them along for the ride.  Below are some highlights:

A shag carpet lined VW bus in the background
Most awesome paint job ever - sparkly blue-and purple
Red Wings pride!
Finally, even though we were no longer on Woodward, on the way home to my apartment, we drove behind this:

Besides being amused by the blue sparkle paint job (detecting a pattern?), I had no idea what it was.  After some research, I found that it's a Porsche 917 race car from the 1970s (either that or a high end replica).  Read about the crazy specs and history of the 917 here.

In addition to checking out all the cool vehicles on and around Woodward, we went to the farmer's market in Farmington Hills for the best peaches ever (no joke, just bought some on my trip to Ohio this week which were so disappointing), and had dinner at a restaurant 70 stories up in the Renaissance Center in Detroit (where GM has it's headquarters).  It's right on the Detroit river and from there you could see for miles.  If you're on the proper side of the building, on a good day you can see almost back to where I live which is about 30 miles away.  We sat on a side with a view of Canada, had an early birthday celebration for my mom and enjoyed watching the land turn colors as the sun set.  We kicked ourselves later that we didn't take any pictures from up there!

All in all, it was wonderful to have them come out and see my new place and drive by where I worked and spend time in Michigan again.  The weather was fantastic (dry and not too hot) and the company superb.  We blended going out and seeing things with just relaxing really well and the weekend felt nice and long.

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