My Career: What I’m Up To pt. 2

It’s been a year and a half since my last career update. I had just changed internships within the same company and had a solid 5 months until graduation. Those were the days. I’ll cover some of the major milestones in my life since then with some pictures included. I tend to blog more about business so I figured one big personal update could be a nice change in pace.

Let us begin.

I interviewed and accepted an offer from Accenture as a technology consultant in March 2013. I was featured in the school newspaper for complaining about the Career Fair. In May 2013 I graduated with a degree in Computer Information Systems. Good times. Connie and I moved into Post Gardens in Lenox Park to escape 4 years of being Downtown. As a graduation present my parents took us on a trip to Europe. Paris for 3 days, then a river cruise on the Danube. You can see the pictures HERE. I was the youngest person on the boat including the crew. I also bought a car. Pictures HERE.

I continued at my internship over the summer while I waited for my big boy start date. Come August I was a little bored and decided to leave my internship early and just live off my savings until my job started. What I thought would be two weeks turned into 6 weeks. Oops. Close to pulling my hair out, I got a gym membership and started lifting every day and eating protein like these guys. I put on about 10-15lbs over those few weeks. It doesn’t sound like a lot but over 4 years of college I only gained 15lbs. Then I started my job and got lazy.

Provo

My first and current project is based out of Provo, UT. It’s a Salesforce implementation to replace the companies homegrown CRM. I had just enough Salesforce experience from my internship and working at my parents company to weasel my way onto the project. Also, the project desperately needed a warm body to gather requirements.

My role changed throughout the past 9 months with increasing levels of responsibility as I helped build and design the system. I am currently leading the build of a different business unit into our existing Salesforce instance.

Home

On February 28th, I closed on my first home – a townhouse in Brookhaven, GA and we moved in the week after. Not to brag but I’m kind of an expert in moving. 1 truck, 1 trip. Our new home is a beautiful 3 story town home with hardwoods on the main and a 2 car garage. There’s even a pool but being the youngest in the hood makes it a little awkward come swimsuit season.

I’ve learned a lot about myself over the last 9 months about work and travel. I tried to document some of my “findings” on my blog. HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE. Below are some travel stats I just scrapped together:

Lifetime Stats:

  • Delta: 103,140 miles
  • Marriott: 104 Elite nights
  • Hertz: 23 YTD rentals

Donkey Braves

On May 3rd, Connie and I adopted a handsome miniature schnauzer from Furkids Small Dog Rescue. His name is Donkey Wong, although he has been known to go by the following names: Don Quijote, Donk Man 3000, Donk-a-ronk, and Donkster. Isn’t he adorable? HERE is an album full of his pictures and Tommy and Louie, his uncles.

Old San Juan

In late May, we took a 5 day trip to Puerto Rico over Memorial Day weekend, Friday – Wednesday. We only paid for 1 plane ticket. The rest of the trip was strictly on Delta, Marriott and Hertz points. We even got a free upgrade at the Marriott which put us on the 16th floor with a corner room and ocean view. Puerto Rico has a lot to offer but we only attempted a handful of activities. We soaked up an absurd amount of sun and in return I had an intense sun burn. We also kayaked in Bio Bay, hiked a trail in El Yunque rain forest and walked around in Old San Juan. This was intended to be a relaxing vacation and I think we accomplished that nicely. You can see a few pictures from that trip HERE.
PPP I spent the two weeks before 4th of July outside of Chicago at a work training. It was a really neat experience as the other analysts were from all across the US and all across the world. The group I hung out with had two analysts from NYC, two from Germany and one from Tokyo. One Global Network! HERE are some of the few pictures I took on the trip. It was essentially college but we were paid to be there. Also, a lot of volleyball was played. Pretty sure I’m going to play internationally soon.

So. Yeah. That’s been the past year and a half of my life. Hopefully the pictures helped keep this interesting. At this point I’d like to open it up for any questions.

Side bar: I’ll probably deactivate the picture links in a few weeks/months. No need to have a bunch of randos steal my pics.

Consulting 101: Bag Tags

Full disclosure: I’m Platinum.

If you don’t mind, I’m going to make a generalization about all humans. Humans of all cultures have status symbols. Whether you wear rings around your neck or wear a crown atop of a throne made of games, each culture and civilization has some item that means, “I’m better than you. Nana nana boo boo.” The consulting world is just as primitive as the British Royal family but instead of the family jewels we have bag tags.

At each level of your travel  career you’ll hit milestones. These milestones, coincidentally enough, are based on the miles you’ve traveled AKA Butt-In-Seat miles. Only the truest of road warriors can fully appreciate these crowning achievements.

As I stand in line to board a plane, I take inventory of who’s corralling into the inevitable half circle surrounding the boarding door. I immediately start judging people based on the little luggage tag on their suitcase. That little piece of plastic effortlessly creates a caste system in which my fellow passengers fall in. Vacation travelers think we’re all crazy and spend too much time away from home. But while they’re spending money on vacations, we just spend points.

Below I’ve created a comprehensive table of status vs. reaction to status. HERE is some info on each status level.

Status Reaction
Silver Aw. That’s cute.
Gold I remember when.
Platinum Solid. Keep it up.
Diamond Dang son!

Consulting 101: Taking Notes

Throughout my “formative” years teachers would write notes on the board for students to furiously copy down. We would then be tested on said notes every few weeks. Then in college students were expected to copy down the important pieces of information that spewed for teachers like alcohol from sorority girls on spring break.

Jotting down important notes during lessons was never my strong suit. I got through school by paying attention during lectures and asking questions when I had trouble understanding. I felt I learned more by listening and thinking than by having my nose stuck in a 3-ring during class. I may not have graduated from Harvard or Yale but I did manage to graduate with honors and land a job.

As an entry level analyst, you’re expected to take meeting notes while the big boy/girl consultants ask the questions and do the thinking. This is where I struggle in my current role but thankfully this project is flexible enough for it to be ok. I’ll be honest: my meeting minutes are subpar. It’s not because I’m off checking Facebook or writing blog posts (although…), I’m too intrigued in the conversations and issues of the meeting to get bogged down in taking notes. This is not to say that those who are great note takers don’t care about that topics at hand. I don’t learn that way and it’s a tough.

This is an area that needs improvement. To be able to send out key decisions made and assign follow up tasks after a meeting brings another level of skill and professionalism to the table. It’s little things like this that get you noticed and instill confidence in your team and client that you know what you are doing. As I grow in the working world, taking better notes is a skill I look to command.

What areas are you working to improve?

P.S. When I do take notes, it’s in OneNote. What a dream of an application for consultants.

Hertz Rental Car History

Since last October I’ve been on the road for work on a weekly basis to Provo, UT. Our team has been rather small, so I have the privilege of renting a car every Monday and returning it every Thursday. I thought it might be fun to pull some data on all the cars I’ve rented since October. Due to some unforeseen administrative errors on my part, I can only pull data back to the beginning of December.

The administrative errors are as follows:

My first two weeks on the project I rented from Avis because it was four dollars cheaper than renting Hertz. Avis provides nicer rental car but their points system is lacking compared to Hertz. At Hertz you have to suffer through some low performance cars but you do earn rental points which act similarly to hotel points.

I thought of collecting this data back in April but didn’t have time or the desire to do any leg work until early May. Hertz only keeps rental history receipts on their site for the past rolling six months. By the time I started collecting some information all of November’s history was gone.

My initial goals for this post were much loftier. I wanted data on the color, the year and the make and model of the car. I wanted to get as detailed information as possible. I called up Hertz and the little old lady said all I could get was the information on the receipts. After briefly explaining to her how to run a SQL query, I gave up and did it the old the fashioned way. I downloaded each receipt separately and manually extracted the data into a spread sheet.

Below you’ll find my rental history along with a one worded recommendation per car and a brief comment. Enjoy!

This is a dynamic document and will automatically update as I put more info in. So check back occasionally!

Don’t Point Fingers

That’s what I was taught growing up. It made identifying objects high on shelves difficult but nonetheless it was the rule. It’s also a good rule to bring into the work place, especially during a crisis.

Over the past few weeks my current project had a few bumps in the road. By sitting back and observing how different leadership positions react, I’ve learned a lot. One of the biggest lessons is not to place blame when the house is burning down around you – which is the natural reaction to any crisis. We’re human. It’s in our nature to pass the buck. What instead we should do is figure out how to resolve the issue.

Firefighters don’t show up to a fire and look for someone to blame it on before they pull out their hoses. They show up with hoses out, ready to tackle the flames head on. Once the flames have smoldered then an investigation takes place for the cause and how it can be avoided next time.

That’s what great leaders do. They show up to a crisis with the sole intent to resolve it. After the urgency has faded, and only after, do they start some post-crisis analysis. The last thing you want to do to your people is put them down or kill their motivation when you need them most.

Consulting 101: Flavor Infused Water

You’ve finally made it. You’ve hit consulting puberty and you’re finally a consultant. How do I know, you ask? Because you have an opinion about your favorite flavor infused water. It’s like your voice cracked and mom started buying deodorant hoping you’d get the hint. Congratulations. You are now a consultant. Soon you’ll be taking dinner orders!

I’ve compiled a list of the my top 3 favorites plus 1 word of advice.

Favorites:

  • Apple Cinnamon
  • Cucumber
  • Strawberry

Word of advice:

  • Don’t fill your water bottle with citrus-y flavors before bed. There’s nothing more shocking to your taste buds at 3am than lemon and lime. Bleh. So gross.

What are your favorite flavors? Let me know in the comments below!

Story Time: Get Your Facts Right

Senior year of high school I took Sociology as a filler class. The teacher played baseball at Vanderbilt to become a baseball coach, hence why he taught high school sociology. The class consisted mostly of watching sports movies and discussing the group dynamics. And by discussing I mean, him reading canned lectures in his best monotone voice.

I tell you this to bore you. Success.

The only interesting assignment in the class was a debate between groups. He picked the groups and we drew straws for what topics we would be arguing in favor of. After two weeks spent in a computer lab “researching” we were ready (to not care). My group’s topic was pro-euthanasia having to argue against an anti-euthanasia group. (Here’s the wiki link to Euthanasia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euthanasia) Neither group really had an opinion about the topic so it turned into free time. The debate consisted of both groups reading extremists views found on websites posted in the late 90s. Research in its purist form. At one point during the debate the other group gave this statistic.

“75% of people euthanized regret the decision afterwards.”

And then the debate went on for a few more moments until I called a timeout. I repeated the stat just to make sure I heard it correctly. It made no sense. How do dead people regret something? Where did they get this data from? Is there some sort of SurveyMonkey link you get after you see the white light? Did they not take a second to think about what they were saying? The debate quickly ended after that. I’m not sure who technically won but the sheer fact that I remember this story makes me think my group won.