Spanky is a 28 year-old member of the UCLA Anderson MBA class of 2008. GO BRUINS!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Apartment? Found.

After 3 exhausting days of combing Craigslist, WestsideRentals, and the streets of Santa Monica, I found the place that I'm going to live in next year! It is a 2-bedroom 2-and-1/2-bathroom penthouse apartment in West LA, and I will be sharing it with another incoming Anderson student. While West LA doesn't have the charm of Santa Monica, it also doesn't have the high prices! You get a lot more for your money.

I originally thought that I wanted to live by myself near the beach in Santa Monica, but that proved to be too costly, especially since I will be bringing my dog. It also makes a little bit less sense for my first year of b-school, as it is a pretty long commute to school (~30 minutes), and I will likely be on-campus a lot. My new place will only be a 5-10 minute drive, I hope, and it is also only about a 2 mile bike ride. The only possible problem with living so close (yet not right next to campus) is that it will be harder for me to get a parking pass, as UCLA doles out parking passes based on your zip code. I may have to carpool for a while until I get my hands on one.

Anyway, the place is amazing. It is on the top floor of a 4-story building, and it is located on the southern border of the Veterans Administration, which means we will have a huge grassy expanse right next to the place. We will have very easy access to the 405, which means that I can quite easily shoot down to the airport to pick up Liane when she's in town. We're within walking distance of some decent shops and restaurants, although the area is nowhere near as convenient for stuff like that as are parts of Santa Monica and Westwood. It is bright and open, and, on a clear day, you can see the ocean a few miles away from the patio. We've got 2 subterranean parking spots, heat and A/C, modern appliances, and laundry in the unit. And the owner/landlord seems VERY cool and flexible. He is allowing us to start our lease in the middle of August and end it in the middle of June with the option of extending it month-to-month thereafter.

The kicker with this place is that the owner-landlord has offered to leave any or all of his furniture, dishes, art, etc, that we want! Talk about a money-saver! We've basically got a fully-furnished apartment. Now, I won't necessarily have to retrofit my car with a hitch and drive across country with a U-Haul trailer in tow.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

House? Sold.

Within 3 days of my departure from Durham for Minneapolis, we received an offer on the house, and it was a decent one! After some quick negotiations between my agent and the buyer's agent, we've settled on a final price, and final preparations are underway. The buyer wants to close on July 11, which sounds great to me, as all of the stuff inside the house will be getting moved on June 26.

The lady who is buying the house originally thought she wanted to live in North Raleigh, as Durham's school system leaves a lot to be desired. However, upon reflection, she decided she DID want to live in Durham afterall and just put her daughter into private school. Whatever works for her works for me!

We are very thankful that the house sold so quickly after we left, as we didn't have time to install timers on all of the lights so as to make the house "bright and warm" when potential buyers stopped in for a look.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

What I'll miss about North Carolina

  • The color green

  • Afternoon thunderstorms

  • Ability to drive and park everywhere

  • Cheap rent

  • Pork bbq

  • Hushpuppies

  • Sweet tea

  • Durham Bulls baseball games

  • College basketball fever

  • Running in Duke Forest with my dog

  • My house

  • My friends

Monday, May 22, 2006


The house is almost ready to go on the market -- hopefully, she'll go live on Wednesday. Liane and I have spent the last 2 weeks (at least) fixing her up so that she's nice and fresh. Lots of paint touchups and decluttering. Yesterday, we planted some flowers around the mailbox that look great. Why didn't we do that long ago so that we could enjoy them?

Last weekend, we met up with a couple of couples we met at Blue Devil Weekend for some Hog Heaven BBQ and a couple of drinks at Goldie's. One has already moved here, while the other was just in town looking for a place. Great people, and I'm sad that I won't be a Dookie with them next year. We'll definitely keep in touch nonetheless.

Liane heads up to Minneapolis on June 4. My last day of work in Durham will be June 9, at which time I will drive to Cincinnati, where Liane will have flown to meet up with me and drive the rest of the way over the weekend. Thankfully, my company is allowing me to work remotely for the rest of the summer. Very generous of them!

Friday, April 28, 2006

Why I'm choosing UCLA over Duke

I was fortunate enough to gain acceptance into 3 great programs: UCLA, Duke, and UNC. Early on, by comparing only Duke and UNC, I eliminated the latter from contention, as I would pick Duke over UNC if given only that choice.

For the last month, I have been swaying back and forth between UCLA and Duke. As everyone around me can attest, the decision has been extremely difficult. I could definitely see myself having a great experience at either school, and it seemed like every 30 minutes, my gut was changing its opinion. Duke certainly has some enviable qualities that UCLA doesn't, but, in the end, UCLA trumps Duke, at least for me.

1. On-campus Recruiting Opportunities. This is perhaps what I would term the "deal-maker." Since I am looking to get into a marketing role with a technology, entertainment, or consumer goods company, I would be best served by heading to UCLA. Those types of companies are much more strongly represented on-campus at UCLA than at Duke. I'm not saying that I couldn't get a job at one of these companies coming out of Duke. I'm just saying that it would be much more straightforward to land one coming out of UCLA, especially if Liane and I decide that California is where we want to live.

2. Location. I've been living in Durham for the past 6 years, so it kind of has a been-there-done-that feel. Even though I grew up 2 hours north of LA, I didn't spend much time down there, nor have I really spent any significant amount of time back in California since I shipped off to Cambridge, MA, for college when I was 18. In addition to the newness factor, LA provides easy access to tons of companies that I think I want to work for. Even though it would be easier to stay in Durham and head to Duke, when have I ever done anything the easy way? Also, this change of scenery provides an even greater opportunity to have a truly "transformational" experience at business school.

3. Other. I am interested in some of Anderson's most popular club offerings, such as the Entertainment Management Association, the High Tech Business Association, and the Sports Business Association. These clubs are either underrepresented at Duke, or they simply don't even exist. Plus, I would be lying if I said that the in-state tuition, combined with some scholarship money, didn't play at least a minor role in my decision.

I am proud and excited to be a member of the UCLA Anderson class of 2008! Go Bruins!

Duke waitlisters rejoice!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Blog color change

Since I will be heading to either UCLA (blue and gold) or Duke (blue and white), I figured I'd start getting in the mood by changing my blog colors from a green theme to a blue theme. Once I've made my final decision between the two schools later this week, I will be sure to update the color scheme accordingly.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


UCLA or Duke? Duke or UCLA? Which one is it going to be? By virtue of my $1500 deposit to Duke a while back, I have already secured a spot and some scholarship money there. If I want to keep the UCLA option open, I need to submit a $1000 deposit by May 1. I should probably try to make my final decision by then so as to only occupy an attending admit spot at 1 of the 2 schools.

Now that I've been to Blue Devil Weekend and A-Days, I feel like I should be able to make an informed decision. Unfortunately, neither admit weekend really called out to me as the perfect place to be for me. Both have their imperfections. It is now a matter of prioritizing which qualities mean more and which imperfections mean less.

Both Duke and UCLA have a vibrant, friendly student body. After all, that is why I chose to apply to these 2 particular schools. Whichever school I choose, I will be happy at. It is nice to be in a win-win situation, but, then again, it makes the decision that much tougher. Which of these 2 great choices will be better?

Here is how I perceive each school's distinct "best" qualities:

Why Duke? Awesome teachers. Great brand name.

Why UCLA? Awesome opportunities.

And here is how I perceive each school's distinct weaknesses:

Why not Duke? More of a traditional business school, in the sense that most graduates seem to go to big companies in traditional fields. I'm not one of those guys.

Why not UCLA? Professors seem too focused on research and not that engaging in the classroom setting. Potentially too unstructured learning environment.

UCLA reaches out

Finally, UCLA reached out its big, light-blue-and-gold hand and extended me a pretty generous fellowship offer. That, combined with my qualification for in-state tuition there is very tempting. Now, I know you should really take money out of the equation when picking which shool you want to go to, but when 2 of them are so even otherwise, money can be a factor.

UCLA A-Days: Day 3

Class Visit: Liane and I were assigned to sit in on Professor Bodapati's 2hr 50min One-to-One Marketing class. We lasted about an hour before ditching out to beat the LA traffic on our way back up to Santa Barbara. During that hour, though, some good concepts were presented (albeit at a painfully slow pace). My main gripe with the class, however, was that it was almost exclusively lecture-based. It would have been more beneficial to sit in on a case-based, interactive marketing class, but alas this was the only one available to us.

Final Thoughts: UCLA Anderson has a very laid back vibe to it. The current students and admits that we met were all very friendly people, all of whom I could see myself working and socializing with in the future. I was fairly disappointed by the lack of energy that the faculty showed (at least the ones we saw), as it was clear that they were more concerned with research than with teaching. The most compelling thing for me about UCLA Anderson is its location and the numerous opportunities that LA provides for hands-on learning. After all, the saying goes that it matters not what you know, but what you can do.

UCLA A-Days: Day 2

Opening Session: Two Deans spoke, with the second one (Al Osborne) delivering a standout performance about entrepreneurship at Anderson. After the speeches, the stage opened up for the faculty panel. There were 5 or 6 professors up on stage, and their general attitude left something to be desired. It was clear that they were very focused on their research and on getting published, not so much on actually teaching the students. I was very disappointed that I was getting this feeling, and it made me worry about the other faculty that weren't even hand-picked for this panel. This was in stark contrast to the feeling I got from the Duke faculty, who were outstanding.

Distinctly Anderson: Liane and I headed to the Entrepreneurship and Applied Management Research Project panels. Both were very good. It is evident that an entrepreneurial spirit permeates the UCLA academic culture, which benefits everyone, not just future entrepreneurs. The AMR is a great Anderson distinguisher. Basically, a team of 4-6 students conducts a hands-on, real-world consulting project somewhere in LA during 2 consecutive quarters of their 2nd year. Your team can also choose to do the business creation option of the AMR, which is a great, risk-free way to test out your business idea.

In-N-Out Burger Lunch and UCLA Anderson Club Fair: The In-N-Out Burger truck pulled up next to the Anderson buildings, and we immediately headed over. It looked like they were just handing out a standard burger with lettuce, tomato, and special sauce to everyone. I can't stand the special sauce, so I asked for one without it. Unfortunately, the In-N-Out lady had been instructed to not allow special orders unless the person was allergic. I quickly became allergic to the sauce and got a special order :) Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do to get a burger without pink mayo on it! After lunch, we walked around and talked to various clubs that sounded interesting. The variety and popularity of the clubs I was interested in was a big sales point for me. From the Sports Business Management Club, to the Entrepreneurs Association, to the Media and Entertainment Club, I was thoroughly engaged, especially by the latter. I talked to a girl there who landed an internship at Yahoo Fantasy Sports in Santa Monica, what would seem like a dream job for me! She also suggested looking into General Mills as a potential future employer, as it is located in Minneapolis, where Liane will be for the next 2 years, and it is a great company to work for given its work-life balance and family-oriented nature.

Teamwork At Anderson: While Liane was off on a campus tour with other Sig-O's, they split us into groups of about 18 people, and we headed off to various classrooms for team-building exercises. My group of 18 was then randomly split into 3 groups of 6, and we were tasked to create the tallest free-standing structure possible using only uncooked spaghetti noodles, toothpicks, and gummi bears. It was a nice glimpse into my future at Anderson (if I end up going there), as we basically had to immediately come together as a team and work productively on a crazy task. My team ended up winning the competition, as ours was really the only one that was left standing as time ran out. I immediately hit it off with one fellow in my group, which was reassuring that there would be people with whom I could easily bond at Anderson.

Career Paths: Liane and I chose to head to Technology Management first, but it wasn't that informative. Then we headed over to Sports Management, which was a good eye-opener, as we found out that careers in sports are not only hard to get into, but also they don't pay much if any at all. Maybe I'll just keep that passion as a hobby.

Alumni Panel: After a quick break, we headed back into the large lecture hall for an alumni panel, which ended up being a strong event. It became clear that the UCLA alumni network is VERY useful for getting jobs, especially in California, but really anywhere you want to go. The second-year moderator was a dude who is heading to Minneapolis this summer to start his full-time position with General Mills... someone with whom I will definitely be getting in contact.