Monday, October 22, 2012

Oh, the Places You'll Go! - One Student's MBA Journey So Far

Bharathwaj Natarajan, MBA '13

I decided to come back to graduate school and get my MBA degree for 2 reasons: First, I wanted to further my career opportunities towards a management position in a large corporation. Second, I wanted to make the transition from being a technology consultant (I was previously working as a software developer and technology consultant at Oracle Corporation) to a business consultant and realized that getting a business degree would be the way to go.

As an international student, I started my preparation for the GMAT well in advance. I was targeting a Fall 2011 admission and was also doing my research on business schools. I wanted to get into a program with a small class size, great alumni network, and one that offered good opportunities for both personal and professional development. I had applied to a couple of schools and when I got a letter of acceptance from Terry (along with a Graduate Assistantship) I jumped at the opportunity.

As an international student in the US, I was excited at the prospect of not only interacting with American students but also with students from other parts of the world. Initial challenges were related to cultural differences, food preferences and climatic changes (I come from a city where the average year-round temperature is well in excess of 90 degrees Fahrenheit). But my classmates and the staff at UGA (and Terry) made me feel welcome and I quickly acclimatized to the different environment.

The first semester in the MBA program was both challenging and exciting. Coming from a non-business background, I had to put in extra effort to get up to speed on Accounting and Marketing; I was extremely comfortable with quantitative courses like Finance and Business Statistics. But I also managed to find time for other activities including club events and our weekly Happy Hour. Within the first month in the US, I had already visited 4 different states and completed a rafting trip in the Great Smoky Mountains.

I completed a summer internship in Atlanta with a startup healthcare consulting firm – Jvion - and the interesting part was I did not have any exposure to healthcare prior to that. I was looking at a general consulting internship and networked with a lot of individuals from different consulting firms. During the spring of 2012, I was part of a Terry ‘Innovate For Healthcare’ business challenge team that competed against other top business schools to use technology to improve healthcare outcomes. We competed against the likes of Harvard, Stanford and Carnegie Mellon and finished 2nd among 26 teams competing from all around the country. We traveled to Washington, D.C. to deliver our final presentation and also managed to go around town and visit the various national monuments and other tourist places.

My participation in this Healthcare Business challenge caught the eye of one of the recruiters at Jvion and I interviewed with them, subsequently getting an offer. During my internship, I had an opportunity to work with a multitude of healthcare providers around the country and assisted them with a financial risk impact analysis associated with upcoming federal compliance regulations. I worked closely with senior executives at my firm and that of my clients and also got a chance to apply some of the concepts I learnt during the course of my MBA Program at my workplace. There was a mini-SEC conference in our workplace with people from Auburn, Mississippi State and Georgia and we often argued over which the best SEC team was. I did miss Athens in the summer and managed to come back to Athens every fortnight.

The last 16 months have passed by pretty quickly and I can’t believe that I just have 7 more months until graduation. I intend to make the best use of my remaining time at Terry. It has been one exciting ride so far.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Summer Internship with Heinz - Michael Betts, '13

This past summer, I accepted an opportunity to intern at H.J. Heinz in its brand marketing function, which is based in Pittsburgh.  This was a great opportunity for me and exactly what I had hoped to achieve when I went back to school to get my MBA.
The first thing that struck me about Pittsburgh the first time I drove in was the spectacular view.  This was a surprise to me as I am sure it is to you if you are unfamiliar with the city.  I had just spent 10 hours driving from Athens, up through the Carolinas, across Virginia, crossing deep through West Virginia and into Pennsylvania.  My driving directions were telling me that I was getting very close to the city and, yet, I couldn’t see it.

Finally, I entered a tunnel through a small green mountain and as I emerged, the city and the three rivers burst across my vision full of shiny high rises and curving bridges.  It was a fantastic thing to see and, I felt, boded well for my summer.

Heinz was putting me up in a downtown apartment directly across the river from PNC Park, where the Pirates play baseball.  Next to the baseball stadium is Heinz Field where the Steelers play football.  And I could walk to the office.  Not bad.

The North American headquarters for Heinz are in a building called the Heinz 57 Center, directly across the street from a Gothic-looking church that has a hot dog shop in its basement and right next door to someplace called the Duquesne Club.  It is one of those places I will likely never be invited into.  Mitt Romney actually held a dinner there during my stay with a full allotment of dueling protest groups outside.

They had a small welcome breakfast for the intern class, I met my boss, and before I knew it I was seated at my desk with 95 emails waiting for my attention and a shared drive full of research to read through.  Someone had been expecting me.

So the work started in a hurry but it was good work.  My boss was awesome and I started learning a lot, fast.  The whole summer pretty much flew by and I never felt that my time was being wasted or that the people at Heinz weren’t very excited to have me there.  Before I knew it, it all culminated in my final presentation to my brand team and a gallery full of interested observers.  Everyone really set me up for success and it went well.

The summer had been fantastic.  I had had a chance to visit a ketchup plant, tour Heinz Field, attend some concerts and Pirates games, help out the children’s hospital, play in a kickball tournament, and get acquainted with the city of Pittsburgh.  It was actually a little tough to leave to head back to school but I had a lot of work to do for Terry, too, and it was nice to get back to Athens.

So that was my summer with Heinz in a very small nutshell.