Campus Recruiting as a Sport

It’s good to be back at BC, but this semester is going to be hectic in large part due to on campus job recruiting. It’s stressful and eating up a large chunk of my time, but if I’m going to get through it, I have to make it fun don’t I? Therefore, I’m going to compare the job search process to a professional sports season:

  • Training Camp (Career fairs, information sessions): Get you back into shape. Also gives you a chance to make some evaluations and finalize your roster.
  • Pre-Season (Mock interviews, preliminary interviews, phone interviews): Final tuneup before the real thing begins.
  • Regular Season (1st round interviews): First chance to make a lasting impression. Performance in this round will determine whether or not you advance.
  • Post Season (2nd round interviews): Stakes are higher this time as we get closer to the big prize.
  • Championship (Getting an offer): Obviously this is everyone’s ultimate goal. Let’s hope I can win a championship.

As you can probably guess I’ll pretty much be on social media blackout until November or whenever I get a job. I apologize if I’m anti-social and unresponsive until then. Don’t worry, I’ll catch up in the off-season!

Ignorance is Bliss

Well the NCAA Basketball tournament sort of passed me by this year. Not only did I miss most of the games because a lot of the later games started at awkward hours for me, I was in Spain for much of the Sweet 16/Elite 8 rounds. Perhaps it was best because it wasn’t as painful for me to see my bracket disintegrate and I at least have an excuse for getting so many picks wrong. Don’t get me wrong, I have been following some of the story lines and it would’ve been a great story if Butler had won (sorry, rooting for Duke in the championship game is like supporting the beating of puppies and baby seals). However one out of the Final Four is just pathetic. At least I didn’t end up like President Obama, who got all his picks wrong.

As a BC basketball fan, the one story I have been following more closely is the firing of Al Skinner and the subsequent coaching search. It looks like Cornell coach Steve Donahue is going to be our man. Personally I always thought we should’ve played more up tempo with the players we have, and most of our guys didn’t really fit into Skinner’s flex offense. Let ‘s hope this guy can connect with the players especially emerging star Reggie Jackson, who ESPN hinted at in the last line of this article, was a transfer possibility. I don’t know too much about Donahue, but if he can effectively pick up the pace of our offense, draw up a reliable inbounds play, and not kill our future recruiting prospects (wait, what recruiting prospects), I’m a fan. And oh yeah, since you’re coming from the Ivy League I expect you finally have a plan to beat Harvard next season.

Tech in Britain

So last time I talked about how I’ve jumped on the podcast and netbook bandwagon since coming to London. In part two of my series on tech in the UK, I’m going to talk a little about my observations of the tech industry and tech usage in London. In general, I would say consumer adoption of new technologies is at about the same level if not slightly higher than in the U.S. However, institutional or systematic adoption seems to lag behind the States. Here are some examples to illustrate my point:

The mobile industry here is quite possibly better than in the U.S. I can’t speak to 3G coverage here because I don’t have a smartphone, but regular call services are definitely superior to the U.S. First off, there are more carriers than back home so the industry is much more competitive. The major carriers are Vodafone (parent of Verizon), O2 and Orange, but there are also second tier carriers like T-Mobile and 3 and smaller players like Lyca Mobile. Unlike the duopoly that AT&T and Verizon have in the U.S., these carriers all have about equal market share so they all have very strong networks and consumer-friendly deals. I’m currently on a recurring 30 day contract with Vodafone (who, no surprise, have the best coverage here) with 100 minutes and 500 texts per month for just £10 a month ($16). What’s better is that you don’t pay to receive incoming calls and texts. Therefore, I essentially get 200 minutes and 1,000 texts assuming my incoming and outcoming usage are about equal. There also seems to be a greater selection of fancy phones here outside of the iPhone and Blackberry (although most study abroad students just get a cheap basic phone). The iPhone is going to be on multiple carriers soon (Vodafone and Orange are introducing it early next year) and

Android phones seem to be more popular (although that could change with the Droid). Overall, the competitive landscape of the mobile industry here seems to be a big gain for consumers.

Other technologies are on a similar level to the U.S. as well. At LSE, I see an equal amount of PCs and Macs, although Macs are not officially supported by IT services here. TV is a little different because they don’t really have cable here. Everything is either broadcast (which you need to pay a TV license for) or satellite (Sky box, which gets you lots of American shows and even some American sports). There are some things that they don’t have here, namely the Kindle. It’s also annoying that I can’t access things like Hulu or ESPN360 because of broadcast restrictions. A small aside here: I think going subscription is a horrible mistake for Hulu. If my situation right now is any indication, there’s always a way around if content isn’t easily accessible through legal channels. Any sensible businessman would realize that some revenue is better than no revenue.

One interesting site they do have here that’s not in the U.S. is Spotify. I first heard about it on This Week in Tech; it’s basically a legal, ad-supported peer to peer streaming service. It lets you listen to as many songs as you want on your computer and mobile app and then links you to traditional music stores if you want to purchase the song. Right now, its invite only for free use or you can pay for the premium subscription. Unfortunately, Spotify seems just as bad as Google Wave when it comes to giving out invites, as I still have not received mine for either. This thing sounds more innovative from a technical aspect than a consumer aspect. From what I can tell it sounds a lot like any other streaming service.

I also want to comment briefly on Internet here especially in light of the net neutrality debate that’s been going on recently in Congress. Publicly, there are plenty of wi-fi hotspots around London and the ethernet connections (at least at LSE) aren’t bad. However, I don’t think the UK has net neutrality. LSE’s website, for example, actually states that it prioritizes school related content over “social” sites (although Facebook has worked fine). I’m not sure how exactly they differentiate this or how much this is actually implemented, but I’ve definitely experienced more problems with Internet here. For example, for the first few weeks here I couldn’t get CNN or ESPN videos to buffer at any reasonable rate. Then magically they started working fine. Of course this could be because these are American sites and it has nothing to do with net neutrality. However, I’m still a little skeptical of this whole situation.

The disparity in institutional tech adoption is much wider. LSE definitely weaves less tech into its infrastructure than BC. For example, LSE doesn’t have an equivalent of Eaglebucks or any type of electronic currency. Everything in the dining halls is paid for in cash. Also, if you thought class registration at BC was bad, its a lot worse here. Some universities, such as King’s, don’t even have electronic course selection. LSE does let you add/drop online, but I’m pretty sure the actual adding/dropping is done manually by a person because it only updates about once a day. There’s no Laundryview here (although they have a version of it for computers on campus) and the machines are the old models we had at BC which were replaced this year.

There are a few things they do well here as a school. The library has these cool self-checkout kiosks where you can just pop the book on a scanner and it automatically senses what the book is and checks it out for you. The NHS also uses a touchscreen self check-in system for appointments, thus freeing up receptionists to do other things. Believe it or not they actually do some things efficiently. And like a lot of countries I’ve seen around Europe, the credit and debit cards here have a little chip in them so you can stick it into the machine instead of swiping it. I’m not really sure what the advantage of this is because any time you save from the physical motion is negated by the few seconds you have to keep the card in to verify it, but it looks kind of cool.

I’m sure more observations and comments will come up over the next few months. I will also be doing a post on entrepreneurship here so keep an eye out for that. I’ll try to get back to the strictly travel/London related posts too, but I honestly haven’t been anywhere the past few weeks so there’s not much to say.

The OCC of BC Dining

BC Dining has peeved me for a while. First of all, there’s their ridiculous carry-over policy in which the meal plan only carries over from one semester to the next, not year to year. I understand it helps BC’s cash conversion cycle to have the money up front and to not have to worry about it, but it just feels like a rip-off when you don’t give people a say over how much they want to eat.

This summer though I have an even bigger problem with BC Dining. I have around $400 in Residential Dining Bucks that I have accumulated over the last two years. This is the money you use in the Chocolate Bar, vending machines, and football games. It carries over year to year and you get it all back when you graduate, but for some reason BC Dining won’t let me use it during the summer. Instead, I have had to load an extra $300 onto my Eagle Bucks to buy food (hopefully I can get by these next two weeks without adding more on).

Meanwhile, my $400 sits in BC Dining’s account somewhere and it will remain there until September next year since I’ll be abroad all year. Even if I do get it back when I graduate, that money will have depreciated from inflation. There’s more though. Because I won’t need my money until September 2010, I could have invested it in the stock market (can buy 100 shares of Citigroup), treasuries, or at the very least a savings account. However, since I earn no interest by keeping my money with BC Dining, I can’t even cover my opportunity cost of capital. I agree that it’s a fairly small amount and my returns from the market would not have been significant, but the principle still bothers me. Essentially I am losing money thanks to BC Dining.

In a separate financial matter, I want to thank Reslife for clearing out virtually my entire checking account. They finally decided to charge me for my summer housing fees (all at once). And I am going to be living in one of the most expensive cities in the world [London] next semester. Great!

And speaking of London, LSE’s tuition is about 1/2 of BC’s, yet BC makes you pay full BC tuition. Their reasoning? Faculty, administrators, and whatever else your tuition dollars go toward are fixed costs and they need to be covered regardless. I’m sorry but I have a hard time believing that. You’re telling me there’s absolutely no variable portion to BC tuition? Each student’s tuition has a 100% contribution margin? As a non-profit institution, there should be at least a few dollars in variable costs that you can shave off for abroad students.

I love BC, but sometimes you have to wonder about their financial policies.

March Madness: Round 1

Well, the first round is over.  The bracket took some hits, especially on Day 2.  First off, the BC loss was a tough one considering we were up by 4 at halftime without Sanders but looked completely lifeless the second half.  Although we could’ve taken it to the hole more instead of chucking up threes and there were lots of bad calls and no-calls, in retrospect it was a predictable loss.  USC is big and athletic and we have trouble with big and athletic teams (see Wake Forest).

In other games around the tournament, I inexplicably picked Butler over LSU like most of the world and got burned by OT losses by Ohio State and FSU, two teams that can’t win when you want them to.   Missed the other two 8-9 gam

es as well with BYU and Tennessee as my picks.  Like a lot of people, I was also shocked by Dayton over WVU and Western Kentucky over Illinois.

On the bright side, I did pick Maryland over Cal and Michigan over Clemson.  A few teams like Villanova, Marquette, and Gonzaga managed to avoid upsets.  But best of all, I picked Cleveland State over Wake Forest!  Almost makes up for the Ohio State and FSU losses.

I’m tied for 6th in my pool right now, but going forward I’m in pretty good shape.  My round of 32 is a little beat of right now, but all but 2 of my Sweet 16 are still alive and all my Elite Eight and Final Four are still in.  Let the madness continue!

round-1

You’ve Got to Be Kidding Me Eagles

Come on BC. We beat UNC and Duke. We lose to Harvard and now NC State? We had 2 games left against the bottom feeders of the ACC and we could’ve really solidified our seeding going into the tournament by winning out. So we lose to NC State? I didn’t get to watch any of the game but how do you lose to NC State? Even when Tyrese Rice actually passes the ball? Even when we handled them easily earlier in the season?

Although this season is much better than last year, this whole Jeckyl and Hyde thing is extremely frustrating. Please end the season on a high note by beating Georgia Tech on Saturday!