Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Another life skill achieved!

This weekend I had a driving test of sorts.  Over the summer and fall I'd been learning to drive stick on someone else's car, mostly in large, empty parking lots and back-roads.  Last Friday, though, I picked up my final GM rental vehicle - a white, manual Sonic LS.  While this vehicle didn't have the 40k+ price tag that my other rentals have, I think the Sonic looks great and has been a perfect opportunity to prove my stick driving skills.

Nice, don't you think?
The LS is the base model sonic and runs $14,200.  It does not have cruise control or a power windows; it's got a smaller engine, but it has a CD player, AUX port and back seats that folded down for quite a bit of cargo space.  I also have a personal soft spot for hatchbacks.  Sonic is also made in a sedan version, but if I were to get one it would be a hatch for sure.

The wheel, dash and...gearshift!
Friday afternoon was the first time I went on the highway for an extended period of time with a manual, which should be fantastic if you can get up to cruising speed and stay there, but is a much more challenging experience in heavy traffic.  I made it home though with no stalls, no honks at me and both the Sonic and me intact.  I drove around for other errands - going to Trader Joe's, getting takeout - and so was able to add things like maneuvering in parking lots to my list of accomplished stick driving tasks.  In case you can't tell, I was super pleased with myself for being persistent in learning and finally driving a manual transmission car... in real life... by myself.  Yay!

Other things - the cider mill this weekend was good, though cider prices (except it seems at Trader Joe's) have skyrocketed.  The cider at the mill, made from only Michigan apples, was >$12 a gallon!  Darn dry, odd summer weather.  This week, I returned the Sonic with no problems and yesterday took my regular car to Dearborn (Ford territory!) to where MIT Sloan was having a Sloan on the Road (SOTR) event.  SOTR is an admissions outreach event, so people can learn more about the school before applying without having to travel to campus.  While a campus visit is definitely worth it to help seal the deal, I can understand people not wanting to pay for flights and take time off during the week at this early stage.  I was able to provide a current student perspective and got to meet two alums I had not run into before on our Q&A panel.  Cool!  One other thing that was nice was that a MIT undergrad I had met at GM's summer Jumpstart events was there and he remembered me, so we did a bit more catching up.

Last night, I listened to some of the debate on the radio, checked in on the Tigers game on the internet (take that Yankees!), but overall ended up having a relaxed evening when I came back home.  That was nice.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Making the most of it!

Last night, I met up with Grace (LFM/LGO '08) at her place right near the University of Michigan.  I write LFM/LGO because, prior to being called Leaders for Global Operations, LGO was Leaders for Manufacturing (LFM).  We had dinner with her kids and husband, and then the two of us went to a U of M Hockey Game at Yost Arena.  I was excited to my hockey fix since the NHL is still under lockout ::sigh:: the Red Wings' home opener would have been tonight...  Anyway, although U of M ended up losing to RIT last night, it was a great chance to talk to Grace more in depth - both about her experiences while in the program and her experience working at GM.
Front facing phone camera photos are grainy, but they also make sure your heads show up in the picture :-)
Grace, other LGO alumni, Sloan alumni and MIT alumni that I have run into here have all been great.  I had lunch with four MIT folks at the building here in Pontiac where I work (one now always says hi if he sees me around the buildings), Mike Peterson (LFM/LGO '94) came by for lunch and I have had meetings with Kurt Wiese (Sloan Exec MBA alum, now executive director of vehicle body at GM).  I even reconnected with a Sloan alum here who I met at a Sloan on the Road event when I was applying!  Finally, I have scheduled some time to talk with Diana Tremblay (also Sloan Exec MBA alum).  Diana is the person who makes sure LGO internships at GM get funded and she came to our future of manufacturing conference in May.  A huge thank you will be going out to her.

Other both literally and figuratively cool things that have been happening since I got back are:

It's gotten much more fall like - had one morning this week where I scraped off frost on my car
Nevertheless this yellow convertible corvette owner was still making the most of it (even though the cloth top was definitely up)
Saw this Asian badged Chevy in the parking lot
The left half of the car says Sail and the right half is a bunch of Chinese characters -  hopefully meaning something like  you should drive this lucky awesome car.  Perhaps though, it just means sail, plus some other trim or feature information...
And, on Tuesday the 9th, we had a visit and presentation from Chevrolet's team of Indy Car drivers.  I wasn't able to be there for the whole thing (or for the poster signing), but having them show up and talk was still pretty cool.  I have not watched car racing by myself/for myself, but, due to living for almost two years with people who did, I was familiar with a number of the driver's names due to those previous trips through the living room while races were on.  No joke - one driver's name is Will Power.  I'm sure his parents loved choosing that one.

Since the Red Sox are on beyond out of contention in baseball this year, I'm rooting for my local "home" team.  I'm excited that the Tigers have advanced to the ALCS and also that their next opponent will be from the eastern time zone, because watching them play a three hour+ game in California starting at 9:30 PM EST when you need to wake up early is just kind of miserable.

Headed to a Cider Mill this weekend to celebrate fall!  Yay!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Sights and sounds of Cambridge

This past week, I went back to MIT for mid-stream. I left Michigan on Friday evening, flew direct on Delta (be warned, they’re the only ones who go non-stop between Detroit and Boston), stayed with my parents for part of the weekend, then stayed with two sets of friends during the week (one set are the people I stayed with when I applied to LGO and the other are my roommates from my first year of LGO), then wrapped things up by staying with my folks again. The people I stayed with when I applied to LGO had gone apple picking before I showed up and so I was treated to some pie.

It has been both fun and strange to be walking so much again. While out and about in Cambridge I saw this distinctive vehicle:

Yes, this is a car covered in floppy disks - both the 3 and 5 inch kinds
Even though the license plate 'DISKDRV' showed that the car was from Washington State, it still felt very appropriate for Cambridge and I ended up seeing it around twice during my visit.  I suppose I might see other cars more than once on a trip, but this car was, of course, way more obvious.

At first I thought it might be strange getting reacquainted with everyone, after seeing no LGO's for three months (there are no other LGO interns at GM or even within a few hundred miles), but it actually felt great and like very little time had passed. Many people remarked about how nice to was to be back together with everyone and there have been subsequent notes repeating that sentiment now that we’re back at work again.

While on campus, I made the most of my time at MIT – LGO had mandatory sessions about graduation and thesis requirements, facts about job hunting and recruiting; I gave my mid-stream presentation, met with my academic advisers, went out to dinner with my supervisor from GM, went to company presentations, had a mock interview, got my flu shot, had dinner with a partner company and another awesome dinner with the ‘13s in the Eastgate penthouse. Phew! A couple of the days that week, I left where I was staying between 8 and 9 AM and did not get back until after 10 PM. Life is good.

Today, I am back in Michigan and sitting here, in the office, now wearing three layers. This seems to be a symptom of corporate America – ridiculously cold offices – and so is a reason why I need to find a job where I can be up and down and active at least part of the time...or one where they don’t cool too much in the summer, but heat like crazy in the winter..OR I should be awesome, earn my own office and thus control the thermostat that way, ha HA!

Yesterday morning I tested out the Grand Prix’s remote start for the first time. I did not realize remote starts usually had a shut off timer, but even though it had timed out by the time I was ready to go, the windshield had defrosted and the inside of the vehicle was not chilly. Yay! Between that and heated seats, I am set. This morning was 39 instead of yesterday's 35 and so the frost type stuff on the windshield came off just with the application of wiper fluid.  Fall is definitely here.

See you again soon MIT - I'll be back in a few weeks for recruiting!
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