Saturday, May 5, 2012

Second Wind..

The last time I sat through a full weekend session at Wharton was a year ago. For several reasons I had decided to take a year off. So it was with a good amount of excitement and nervousness that I landed up on campus yesterday. It took a full ten minutes to peel my eyes off of the gorgeous view from the dining area and focus on my new class cohort. Warm welcomes from Doug, Bernie, Len Lodish and others almost made me think I had never taken the break.

It is an interesting and disconcerting experience to take a year off and find yourself on a new campus, with new classmates, new lecture rooms, and new everything else, while the folks running the place are all the same and recognize you. Had to sheepishly get directions several times yesterday from them while I tried to settle into the new campus. Watching my classmates meet and greet each other after a well deserved three-week break brought back faint memories of how relieved class 36 was after Term 3 was done.

In keeping with running analogies, this experience felt like trying to rejoin a marathon race after taking a break halfway due to muscle cramps. You were in your stride, feeling great and just hitting that tempo that would have seen you through to 20 miles when suddenly you had to stop due to cramps. As your breathing slows down and sweat makes your shirt cling to your body, you suddenly start feeling cold and missing the pace of the race. Soon enough you acclimate yourself to the stall and enjoy the beautiful day outside as others run past. When you feel ready to run again, you see the new cohort of runners going past you at a trot, while you huff and puff and try to warm yourself up again and get into rhythm. You wonder how you'd made it that far and whether it was worth it to do the second half or just call it quits.

Nevertheless, I must say that class 37 made me feel a lot better of getting back into another year of a stomach-churningly crazy ride. This term seems to be backloaded for me given my choice of electives, so it was great to ease into it with fewer classes than on an average weekend. We had Strategic Management by Prof. Dyer and New Product Development, which is a mini-Conjoint-Analysis class by Prof. Seenu Srinivasan from Stanford, who was one of the key players behind the research that spawned the amazing field of conjoint analysis based market research. So far it promises to be a lot of work, but looks like it might be worth the work.

Being the start of the second year, all classes have study teams for assignments and these can be formed randomly outside of the learning teams from Year 1, so this gives me a great opportunity to get to know my new classmates. I'm signed up on three non-overlapping teams for three classes - lets see how that goes!

The only downside I've seen so far with the postponement is that for reasons not clear to me, this class seems to have voted out a core marketing elective, because of which no one in the class can major in marketing, unless they fly out to Philly in Term 5 to do the course. It seems a bit heavy handed to me and I'm not sure if the class understood the gravity of their vote. But more on that gripe on my personal blog. To be fair, I did reach out to Prof. Anjani Jain and he tried to give this a second look, but at this point it seems to be too late to make any changes, which is unfortunate - both because I believe that market research is an important class for any person interesting in marketing, and to a lesser extent, the fact that this is a requirement for the major makes it important as well.


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