Me draw pretty one day

DeathtoStock_Desk4

Remember that one time I woke up and decided to go to grad school? Well let’s just consider this the sequel.

No, I’m not going back to school for a PH’D, but I AM going back to school – kind of: I decided to self-teach myself graphic design.

What started as a passing thought (so passing that I even Googled “Do you have to know how to draw to be a graphic designer?”) quickly caught my imagination. Originally I had thought about learning how to code and do web design but after talking to the hubby, decided to focus on graphic design. I know it seems like a pretty radical turn but it’s not. I’ve always appreciated good design, especially logos and packaging (as evidenced by my crazy attention to details Christmas gift packages and pretty much every party I’ve hosted and the wedding). As of now, I had been hacking away making magic with nothing more than Microsoft Word and PowerPoint (and borrowed designs) but I don’t want to be a hack anymore. I want to actually know what I’m doing! I used Photoshop to design all the signage and stationery for the wedding and I really enjoyed doing that so much so that I entertained the idea of opening an Etsy shop for invitations and other designs (like only a million other people). Basically, I was officially hooked and it only makes sense to develop the rudimentary skills I do have into something more substantial.

I had been looking around at design courses at some extension programs at Berkeley and SFSU but I just couldn’t stomach the cost of another several thousands dollars on top if my current loans. I even looked into courses at the local junior college but even that came with a hefty price tag. The hubby recommended checking out Lynda.com and I even looked at a few other online design courses before settling on SkillShare. While they both don’t offer a structured graphic design course, SkillShare was a lot more affordable for me ($10/month versus a minimum of $25/month for Lynda.com – more if I want access to the project files that the instructors use).

I’ve been using SkillShare for about a month now and so far I have really enjoyed myself. I’ve completed I’ve learned a few cool tricks already (like  masking layers) and I’m excited to learn more. I do plan on creating a sort of portfolio here to document my progress and give me an opportunity to practice explaining what I’ve done. I’m not the best at explaining things since I’m usually so focused on following the directions that I can’t really explain why I did something outside of “that’s what they told me to do.”  Plus I want to show off my pretty pictures. No lie. So be prepared for the occasional “This is what I did in school today” posts and don’t forget to ooh and ahh.

And if that isn’t enough, I do still plan on learning web design. The hubby found a promotion that got me a free membership to Treehouse for a year so I can start learning how to code as well. I haven’t started those classes yet but when I do, I’ll let you know how those are going as well.

If you’re interested in learning more about SkillShare or just want to try it out for free for a month, sign up through my referral link!

Crossing the finish line

My commencement ceremony from St. Mary’s was held at the end of May and I was geared up for it. I know several of my classmates opted out of participating in the ceremony but I don’t understand why you would. This is a day when you can bask in the glow of your achievement plus, do you know the loads of attention and well-wishes you get? It’s quite addicting to the attention whores, which I will admit I have a tendency of being. There was no way I was going to miss out on all of the pomp and circumstance.

There, I said it: I like being the center of attention.

Anywho, I was really excited to participate in my final academic commencement ceremony [because, let's face it: I'm REALLY done with school now], especially since I would be wearing the coveted Master’s hood along with my cap and gown. Extra ornamentation? Score! I had wanted one since I first laid eyes on them at my undergraduate commencement at Michigan. And now, I was finally getting my own. I worked hard for that hood and I was going to enjoy wearing it.

The day of my ceremony was a bit hectic since I headed up to the campus directly after church but once we got there, it was pretty smooth sailing. Until I thought my gown was broken.

What’s that you say? A broken gown? How is that possible? Well, when I went to put on my gown, I was confused when my arm wouldn’t go through what I thought was the sleeve. The bf made fun of me and my apparent lack of preparation [no, I didn't put on my gown when I received it. I was too busy running around with my Master's hood] and I slightly panicked before suggesting we hit up the library to see if they had a pair of scissors. Thankfully, as I studied the stitching to see where I could make a cut, it dawned on me that those were NOT the sleeves but just the part of extra fabric that hangs down for comedic effect [because seriously, what are those thingies and their purpose? A place for snacks?]. I will admit that I felt pretty foolish [especially since I was there...to get my Master's degree...that I apparently somehow managed to earn considering I couldn't get my stupid gown to work] until I saw several other people making the same mistake I did. Ahh, the comfort of stupidity in numbers.

 

We had arrived on campus about a couple hours before the ceremony was supposed to start so we took our time ambling around before meeting up with some friends of mine. I was really glad the bf was able to come watch me graduate because his support through my program was tremendous and it really wouldn’t have been the same without him. Plus, I love how I now have pictures from both of our graduations:

University of Michigan: Class of 2007

Saint Mary’s College of California, MBA: Class of 2011


We can be kind of silly

A partial group of my cohorts

Our class was the first time the school had produced one single commencement ceremony with all three graduate programs, so no one knew what to expect [we also found out that no one knew how we were supposed to wear those darn hoods either. I swear I saw a different way of wearing it on every person there. We assumed the staff would help us out but nope, they just let us do whatever]. The ceremony moved at a pretty nice pace. After failing to herd all of us  into our lines in alphabetical order [as soon as our handlers got us in place, we'd wander off to chat with friends] before we began our processional into the stadium, we entered and found our seats [they had water bottles waiting for all of us!]. The keynote speaker wasn’t very good – her speech was disjointed and strange, but before we knew it, we were being led onto the stage.

The Business School was the first to graduate and because the two people before me did not attend, I was the very first person to walk across the stage. The combination of hearing my name being called, shaking the dean’s hand and seeing my family cheering for me may have went to my head a bit:

Excited much?

I later found this picture had made the commencement slideshow featured on the school’s website. Would you believe I was the ONLY person who reacted this way? I didn’t mind; the professors who were on stage certainly got a kick out of my reaction, as many of them chuckled and cheered themselves, telling me that since I worked hard for that degree and I should definitely celebrate just like that. I think I did something similar when I got my Bachelor’s so this is just my character.

This was a very memorable day for me and I enjoyed every moment of it. I’m a little sad that there will be no more graduations for me but I will look back on this one with a lot of joy. I still can’t believe those two years are over. I really doesn’t feel like it was that long ago when I randomly decided to go back to school to get my MBA, struggled through studying for the GMAT, getting my butt handed to me by the GMAT, then studied some more and somehow managed to get one really good shove in, worried about getting in and finally getting my acceptance to St. Mary’s.

A lot has happened in those two years I was in school. I did a lot of work, made some good friends, learned way more than I ever thought I would about Genentech, experienced some life changes but in the end, I walked away with my MBA. All in all, it was the best way to spend those two years. What a way to close the Legally Blonde Chronicles and my academic career eh?

Fin.

Looking good on paper

I got the most wonderfullest things in the mail a couple of weeks ago: my MBA.

OMG y’all: I’m a Master of Business Administration.

How wonky does THAT sound?

But it’s true, I have the degree to prove it; all framed and awesome looking. I had my bachelor’s degree for almost 8 years before I finally framed it and it was only because I felt weird about framing my MBA first [which I had for two, count them TWO days]. Yes, I did really frame the bachelor’s first.

I know its just a piece of paper with a name on it, but it’s a piece of paper with MY name on it!

Honestly, I can’t believe its been two years. At times it went by quickly while simultaneously going by so slowly, but isn’t that always the case? I felt that way during undergrad; I couldn’t wait to be done but when I was, I couldn’t believe it had happened so fast. It felt like I had just started and now it’s over. But with that sad wistful feeling comes the realization that I won’t have to pretend to have read the readings and worry about writing papers and doing group projects. And that, my friends, is an intoxicating realization.

I had a great two and a quarter years at St. Mary’s. I met some really fabulous people and I had a ton of laughs. Of course I learned stuff, which is the whole reason why you go to grad school, most of which has actually stuck with me [which is probably more than what I can say about high school and undergrad!]. But like with high school and undergrad, sometimes its more about what you learned outside of the classroom. Things like how to civilly express your displeasure with someone without having to roll your neck and get loud [this method makes you appear even scarier and is a lot more effective]. That one will come in handy in the board room.

My last quarter in school was quite possibly one of my favorites. Not because the classes were absolutely stellar [one was, the other...not so much] but because I adored the people in my class and the professor. They made sitting in class for nearly four hours bearable and actually fun. My Ethics class was really enjoyable and I don’t think I’ve been involved in such enlightening and interesting discussions in the entire two years I was there. We actually had a strong chemistry that made the discussions so much fun, plus the professor was just a load of awesome sauce. Seriously. I honestly looked forward to this class every week. I couldn’t really say that about most of my classes.

As my grad school adventure comes to a close, I think back about all I went through to get this piece of paper with my name on it and I’m glad I did go back to school. This is not a path for everyone and while I didn’t have a clear vision on why I was really going back to school, I’m so so glad I did. Earning my Masters is a great accomplishment that I am incredibly proud of. I worked hard for this degree [well, mostly hard]; I did the work, wrote the papers, took the exams, kind of did the readings, I showed up for class. I really put in the time and effort and it resulted in a beautiful MBA.

An MBA with my name on it.

No, really, it’s in the mail!

I’m back in school for the spring quarter and it couldn’t have come at a better time. With everything going on following the funeral, I was really looking forward to having something keeping me busy during the day, to go back to some kind of normalcy that I was used to before my dad passed. And I tend to use school and/or work as a coping mechanism so not having either one was slightly stressing for me.

Adding to the stress of dealing with life was the fact that our spring break is only 2 weeks, the second shortest we have, and I was running out of time to purchase my books. I finally was able to buy my books after everything started to settle but that only left me a week before classes started so I was cutting it really close. This coming from the girl who usually purchases her books the first day of break.

Yeah, I’m an overachiever.

Anywho, I purchased my books from two separate stores, Amazon and through a seller in Alibris. The Alibris book was estimated to arrive the day before my class so I was seriously operating with no margin for error [and that was with expedited shipping!]. My Amazon book arrived later that week and I received a notice that my Alibris book shipped the Monday before classes started via USPS Priority Mail so I’m thinking it’ll show up by Friday since Alibris has been ensuring me that only a small percentage of shipments don’t arrive by the estimated date.

Friday came and went with no book. Now I’m worried and seriously hoping that they are right and the book would show up on Monday. Monday rolls around and still no book. And now I’m stressing out because if it doesn’t show up the next day, I’ll be stuck showing up to class unprepared. I never show up to class unprepared! Think Rory Gilmore and her insane need to be prepared. That’s me. Except I’m not as wonderfully verbose. The thought of showing up without my book freaked me out, to say the least. I held onto hope that it would magically appear.

This is the part of the story where I tell you that it did and all was well once again in the world. But you obviously are smart people so I won’t go further.

There I am, in class, sans book and feeling so incredibly horrible. I had to ask the professor if we had homework due for the next class and then tell him that I didn’t have my book. He had this look in his eyes that made my crazy mind go off into the inner recesses of my usually well-kept neurosis and suddenly I’m that girl who doesn’t have her book. And the entire time I’m screaming in my head, “BUT I’M USUALLY NOT THIS UNPREPARED! I USUALLY HAVE MY BOOK! I WOULD HAVE HAD IT IF IT WEREN’T FOR THAT MEDDLING ALIBRIS! IT’S NOT MY FAULT. I SWEAR!!” That was not the first impression I wanted to make.

Top that off, I didn’t even have my pencil and calculator. How on earth do I show up to a MATH-BASED class without a pencil and calculator? I have no idea where my mind was at but it certainly wasn’t where I needed it to be. And can I tell you one more thing? I mean, how much more of a poor schmuck can I manage to look on the first day of class? I don’t have a group for the group project.

I don’t know how it happened but I somehow became the last kid picked for dodgeball. And I rock at dodgeball. It’s two weeks in and I STILL don’t have a group. So there I was, first day of class, I have no book, no pencil or calculator and no group.

I felt like a winner.

But the story is thankfully far from over. My book finally decided to show up on Thursday, the same day my back up book from Amazon showed up [I ended up buying a second book in case my first one didn't show up in time for me to do my homework - I did get my shipping refunded for the trouble] and my pencil and calculator are permanently in my backpack, even though we pretty much use Excel for most of the calculations. I still don’t have an official group and I’m really not sure where I’m going to end up. I feel bad because the other groups have already started working on their projects.

I’m determined not to let the early set backs affect me in the end. I’m actually really enjoying this class and I’m totally understanding the calculations. I did an amortization table and I calculated everything correctly! I can probably create my own table for my future new car loan [more on that later]. Now if that’s not an ego boost, I don’t know what is. Go me.

The one where I make it up as I go along

I’m supposed to be working on my term projects for class and I thought, it has been a while since my last “Legally Blonde Chronicles” post and since I just watched that movie the other night and I’m allegedly working on one of my term projects at the moment, this would be a fantastic time to update. I mean procrastinate. Wait…crap.

Actually this entire quarter has been an exercise in procrastination. I’m taking Industry Analysis and Strategic Marketing with a couple of my favorite professors. They are my favorite for vastly opposite reasons. The first is pretty intimidating at first brush and while the lectures have the tendency to be pretty dry, I definitely come out feeling like I just learned a whole lot. Plus his exams are killer. Okay, not really killer, but he expects a lot of information and whenever you get a good grade on it, you just know you deserved the heck out of it. I always moan and complain about teachers and classes like that but deep down I love and savor the challenge. He was a lot like Dr. George, my favorite professor at Michigan, in that way.

This was the same professor as the Economics class I took last summer so I was well aware of his teaching styles. My crowning achievement this semester is pulling an A- in my midterm without reading from the main source book.  Ha, take that Michael Porter! Sure you get the last laugh because you still get royalties from your book but still. I don’t care. Though, completing the exam without having to read his book was quite the feat but I was so proud of myself when I managed it. I remain astounded by the lengths I will go through to avoid reading something.

But now I’m stuck writing an industry analysis on Major League Baseball. We have three weeks left in the quarter, including this week, and I barely made a dent. Seriously, I probably only have two good paragraphs so far. I am not looking forward to settling down to figure that out in the next two weeks but it’ll get done.

My marketing class is with my other favorite professor. He’s awesome because he’s so laid back and let’s class out an hour early every week. He’s definitely endeared himself with the students. But I also feel like I learn stuff while I’m in class, probably because he’s able to elicit such great discussion from EVERYONE in class. When was the last time you were in a class where everyone wanted to participate? That doesn’t happen very often. But we always have a good time and there are times when we’re just laughing about one thing or another.

I’ve got another term project for this class: constructing a situation analysis and three-year marketing plan. I picked Hulu…not exactly sure why but I did. Thanks to having to present our situational analysis, I was able to create the basic skeleton for that first part which has made completing it somewhat easier. I have completed the full write up and am now onto tackling the marketing plan portion but I’ll probably save that for tomorrow. It’s late and I know I don’t intend on summoning the strength necessary to focus on reading. But considering I’m schedule to present next week…this thing is getting done this week. I need next week to write up my industry analysis!

Deadlines are the best motivator, for real.

I am looking forward to the end of the quarter. I really need the time to focus on my job search. I need to be doing something with my time during the day. Plus, I’d like to relive the feeling of wasting an entire day guilt-free. Man, those were the days.

So glad the books don’t hit back

Considering that I’m getting ready to take my final exam and final class presentation this week, I should catch you up on my classes this quarter. Yay?

It’s been a busy quarter for sure. I didn’t make the best decision to take Managerial Accounting and Marketing Research at the same time. There was just so much work to do every week. Well, that was more for the research class than anything else. Managerial accounting only felt like it was a lot of work because it was soooo drrrrrryyyyyyy.

The accounting professor is interesting, to say the least. He’s a new professor at the school and is still adjusting to the reality of teaching us. We are well aware of his difficulties with the first class and have been warned accordingly. It’s not like he’s a bad professor. He is very knowledgeable on the subject and does make sure we understand the material; it’s just that he doesn’t have the best awareness of time or time management. We went over constantly, at break AND at the end of class. If he were more conscious of time, he’d be well on his way to being a pretty good professor.

My marketing research class has been a beast though. The professor warned us at the beginning of the quarter that this was going to be a labor intensive class but we could not begin to imagine what that would entail. We have a quarter long group project where we needed to conduct a full-fledged marketing research program on a product or service of our choosing, complete with focus groups and data analysis. And this wasn’t something we could even procrastinate on because we had a deliverable due EVERY WEEK on top of weekly homework. No wonder she told us to make sure we didn’t have a lot of other things going on in our lives while taking this class.

I came into this class thinking I liked marketing research, and while I do still like it, I like implementing programs more than analyzing the data. Granted, it’s not like we have to do the numbers by hand, thank you SPSS, but going through and making sense of the numbers? I don’t have the patience for that unfortunately. I think I can do it; I know I can with more practice, it’s just not my absolute favorite thing to do. I’d prefer to  just know what the numbers mean and make my decisions from there but it’s always a good thing to know how the numbers actually came to be.

But what is the most exciting is that I’m now on track to finish the program next December! That’s a whole quarter earlier than I anticipated, provided the class schedule continues to work in my favor. I am so stoked. Granted, I’ll still have to wait until May to walk in the commencement ceremony but still. I will be DONE. In two years. TAKE THAT BERKELEY HAAS SCHOOL OF BUSINESS.

Ahem.

My bitter may be showing.

Books, books and cereal

So classes started this week. I know what you’re thinking: has it really been a week? Where did the time go? What have I been doing with my life?

Well, I can’t really help you out on that last one but yeah, that time. Whoa nelly, it goes by quick. Next thing you know it’ll be two weeks from now!

But anywho, so classes this week. Wow. I am in it to for something this quarter. I couldn’t have picked a better combination of classes. Two labor-intensive classes in the same quarter? On back-to-back days? Are you sure I’m qualified for this Master’s program because apparently my decision making skills are suspect. HIGHLY suspect.

The first up is my accounting class. Yes the one with the Spartan and the girl that reminds me of Trichelle from Real World: Las Vegas  [looks only! I don’t think she is a “Trichelle” if you know what I’m saying]. The professor had a bit of a rough start his first go around so he’s being extra cautious this quarter with us. Hopefully that will work to our favor. But in the mean time, I have to contend with weekly quizzes, a term project, and a midterm and comprehensive final that might be open notes. Might. As in maybe, possible but if I want to be real mean about it, it won’t be. Sigh. I hate memorizing formulas. Why would I need to memorize an accounting formula? I would have access to the formula in my work anyway!  

Now the weekly quizzes are annoying only because I’ll have to stay on my grind and you know how much I don’t really like doing that. That said, I know there’s a ton I can gain from this course so I should just shut up and deal.

But the professor is intent on using every single minute of the four hours we’re in class. Seriously. He didn’t even go for a shorten break coupled with early dismissal. So I’m stuck in class until the bitter end AND I have to wait 15 minutes longer that usual to finally get something to eat! I mean, come on! By the time I get to class, it’s already been four hours since my lunch so by the time our break finally rolls around I’m famished. And irritable.

You know how the Hulk gets when he gets angry? Well, let’s just say you don’t want to make me hungry.

My next labor-intensive class is Marketing Research. I walked in a little late yesterday to pandemonium. Seriously. There were people wandering around, lots of talking, people in the corner taking pictures. I’m serious. I had to take a head shot. I think it’s for our online portion of the class but I really wish I had known it was going to be picture day. I would have totally worn a better shirt!

We have a fairly intensive research project that’s worth 45% of our grade. Yes, you read that right. But considering we don’t have any exams I’ll take that. My group has a very interesting idea to work with so I’m excited about that.

Since I’m now a year into my program, there are many familiar faces in my classes, even if I don’t remember everyone’s name. The group has been separated though, though a few of us are on campus on the same days so we were able to meet up during our break. Also, since a lot of us has been in class together before, we’re all really comfortable with each other and if you’re not careful, we’ll totally derail the class and highjack the discussion, as the professor learned herself. We were discussing the changes made to the Tropicana containers and half an hour later we’re STILL talking about packaging and consumer psychology and why I don’t buy Cookie Crisps cereal anymore.

Exactly.