An Affair of Character

A blog by Meg Schhneider

Stay in Your Own Lane

Virtually every day, I end up walking on Rice’s 3 mile trail. Although a lot of the joggers don’t necessarily go any faster than me, I have to admit that I am a little bit different with my casual flats and ginormous purse. I also am usually not wearing

Now, the important thing to visualize for this is that the trail itself is relatively large and can easily fit 2 large men or 3 small-sized women. There’s also a bit of less smooth trail on either side that can fit 1 person. So, we are talking about a relatively large area.

One thing that always gets me is that there is a huge range of attitudes of people running this trail. Invariably, I will have someone snarling or making a comment at me (“EXCUSE ME!”)…rarely does someone actively smile or say good morning. A “Good morning” is a little thing but it does help the ~mile I have to walk go by a lot quicker.

Do I think that the person saying “Good morning” is having an easier or better time on the trail than the one who snarls? At the same time of day and with the same track, it’s hard to see how the two experiences should realistically differ. The only difference is the attitude of the people approaching the trail.

I have been actively trying to incorporate a more positive attitude in my life, so that I can be more like the “Good morning” people than the “EXCUSE ME!” type. If I think a top is cute, I don’t hold that compliment in. I make sure to say it as soon as I can to that person. If I think of someone going through a tough time, I make sure to text them and send them good vibes. I also try to “shake off” any bad attitudes I have before talking to other people—if I am having a bad day, I might have to consciously think about other, happier topics.

I can’t say that doing all this will fix the world, or even make an appreciable difference, but I think it might be a better way to approach this trail we’re all on. Even if the track and the weather conditions are a little bit different for all of us.

How to Show a Guest Your City

If you have moved cities for your MBA, you will soon realize how many of your friends and family want to visit. Here are a few things that help take their experience from “good” to “amazing!!! let’s do it again!!”

Ask them about their favorite snacks before they arrive. Right before you go to the grocery store, give them a quick call or text and ask if they have any favorite drinks or snacks. Also, be sure to ask about any food allergies and preferences. You don’t need to go crazy, but having a 6 pack of their favorite Lacroix seltzer and a sleeve of their favorite cookies can go a long way after a long flight.

Be upfront about your own routine. Remember how it always feels like you are underfoot at someone else’s apartment? Be sure to mention when the critical parts of your day are: maybe you always want to have the last 10 minutes before you walk out the door to be very quiet and peaceful. If you don’t mention that to your guest beforehand, they may be put off when you rush a quick goodbye out the door after 10 minutes of silence.

Give a few restaurant, coffeeshop, and tourist-y options around your apartment. Even if they never go there, it will still help your guest feel less trapped! Make sure to mention the type of cuisine and what you normally order for restaurants. 

Ask them what they want to do! This may sound basic, but I think it’s easy to assume that your guest will mention what they want to do during their trip. Is their goal to see your city? see you as much as humanely possible? check out job opportunities? Knowing someone’s goals for the weekend will be very helpful in terms of planning your activities.

Print out their boarding pass. Yes, we live in the age of mobile boarding passes and airport food…but it’s so much nicer for someone to check you in and hand you that boarding pass. It’s a really easy gesture on your end that will mean a lot to that other person.

Overall, think about how you can make their time as a guest better. What did you love in other peoples homes when you stayed? Can you replicate that in your own home?

On Campus Recruiting with Friends

It’s hard to believe it’s only been a year since I started my MBA. In some respects, it’s a positive as I’ve gained new skills, confidence, and friends. I have also lost two close family members and moved cross country in that same 12-month period. To say the least, it hasn’t been easy.

Going back to school is also different as we are all separated. Last year, I spent 10-12 hours with the same ~60 or so people at least 5 days a week. Even the “days off’ were filled with networking events, treks, and group projects with my class. Now, everyone is more or less knows what they want and is going in their own direction.

This can be great–classes in specific topics can go to a deeper level and you are around “your people” who also like those subjects for most of the day. That said, if you are recruiting on campus, it’s likely you will be facing the same people for the same jobs you want. Here are some things I learned from the past year:

-Protect your heart. You don’t need to be shady about what you’re applying to, but you also don’t need to tell everyone the status of each application you submit as it happens. Even with the best of intentions, your classmates may ask you about the interview call you never got, or the follow up round email that never existed. Try as much as possible to keep your own counsel. Remember: it’s not over until the fat lady sings (or you have a written letter signed and accepted).

-Practice interview questions (and cases) with either BFF+ friends or near-strangers. These are literally the only two scenarios I’ve seen work out well for interviewing. A true best friend can give it you straight about exactly what you are doing wrong, and a near stranger also doesn’t feel awkward about giving constructive feedback. Unfortunately, the other 95% of people who are ready to help you on cases are not likely to be super helpful. If you are on four group projects with someone, a person is unlikely to tell you anything that will upset you.

Be gracious about opportunities you don’t want. If you find out from an interview that the job would be a poor fit, still show up and do your best to represent your school well. If you get an offer for a job you don’t want, also try not to criticize it. Every job has drawbacks. Frame it as an opportunity that didn’t work for your life or (even better) keep it to yourself. Would you want to hear that another classmate had rejected your prized job offer? Probably not. Seems basic but it bears repeating.

Finally, know when to listen and when to help. If someone is complaining about the 10th application of the day, they may just want to blow off steam…rather than hear about your amazing cover letter and autofill form technique. Keep the conversation positive and switch to a new topic!

 

Food Delivery App Comparisons

Food delivery apps are kind of like that “Expectations/Reality” scene from 500 Days of Summer. Theoretically, you are getting a fresh, delicious and healthy meal within 15-20 minutes. The reality is a bit different. I figured I would start by explaining the commonalities and then the best food delivery apps for each type of person.

For all food delivery apps:

1. Be sure to work the promo codes! If you don’t already get a “first meal free” or equivalent $ credit, look on twitter and search “_app name_ promo” or “_app name_ free”. You’ve helped that person get a free meal, too, so it’s win-win.  There are also usually deals around holidays (ex. I got two free mochas from Starbucks from Postmates for Christmas and buffalo wings from Ubereats for the Superbowl)

2. Watch the app once the driver has been dispatched, and call if you need. I’ve had food come earlier and later–the only constant is that the “delivery estimate” is always wrong.

3. If you have severe food allergies or diet restrictions, I’d suggest against these apps completely. A lot of these services aren’t necessarily hitting every pitch out of the park, so your food may be drastically different than what you ordered.

Delivery Service Roundup

If you like healthy food: The best healthy food has to be from Radish. The menu may be uninspired (ex. spaghetti and meatballs, broccoli) and the portions may be small (think small Lean Cuisine size for $15), but it tastes really good. I will still remember that charred broccoli for a while. The other big downside is that their app is horrendous. My best tip is to uninstall and then reinstall app right before your order. Continue reading

The Relaunch

I’m excited for the relaunch of An Affair of Character. Although I have been blogging for a few years now, I’ve changed a lot personally (college grad–>first job–>business owner—>MBA student–>?) and I really want to make this blog as interesting as I can for you.

 

One of the things that hasn’t changed: An Affair of Character. It comes from a quote by SW Strauss: “Thrift is not an affair of the pocket, but an affair of character” I love thrift shopping designer items, using coupon codes and sales on high-end makeup, and hitting the trigger on airplane tickets at the exact right time. To me, the quote is also about using your time on this Earth as wisely as possible (so…hitting up Taco Bell as much as possible wherever you are).

Let’s do this!