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Session 11 Assmt: Peer Forum

April 2, 2009

mentors-and-networks

4. Provide online feedback: Peer forum-Maria & Evelina

Act as a peer mentor / forum member / personal board. Read the following two cases and provide advice to each on this post as a comment before the next class. See GUIDELINES at bottom.

Maria

Evelina

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REMINDER TO ALL WEL STUDENTS:

1. Place the words “Student case” before your tagline (http://www.HotMommasProject.org. Login and go to “my cases” and click “edit” if you have not done this. The tagline can be changed in step 3.)

2. If you do not want this case to come up in a search engine, or for other priacy reasons, REMOVE YOUR LAST NAME FROM YOUR CASE. This is up to you, but, please know this case is out there just like a blog.

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GUIDELINES FOR COMMENTING:

- If you have advice: Use “I” statements. Share experience, not advice. Your feedback should share similar experiences and what you did, not “you should” advice for the case protagonist. Share what you feel comfortable sharing.

- If you have comments in praise or how the case impacted you – feel free to share.

- Place the protagonist first name prior to your answer

- Type “WEL” in front of your first name in the name section of the comments form

- Give it some mental real estate

Peer cases for this week (recommendation – LOG IN FIRST):

Find on www.HotMommasProject.org case library or click on names below:
You can sort by “title” in the library which will order by author’s first name.

You will need to log in to see the entire case and benefit from the full features (appendix, discussion questions, Facebook links, etc.)

GW WEL Students: Type “WEL” followed by your first name in the name form. NOTE: If any information is confidential, let Prof Frey know and we will create a separate confidential blog.

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TO DO: PRESENTERS (i.e., Your case is being read/presented)

AFTER CLASS ON THURSDAY (all comments in), PLEASE REVIEW THE RESPONSES AND PREPARE A “PRESENTER SUMMARY” which is the following:

FORMAT: Title it “WEL – PRESENTER SUMMARY – YOUR FIRST NAME” All caps.

1. How did the forum’s (class) comments help you?

2. Any specific takeaways that stand-out?

3. Any action steps you will be taking as a result.?

Again, post it after class to ensure you are the LAST post.

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24 comments

  1. […] Entrepreneurial Leadership Class Blog Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership « Session 11 Assmt: Peer Forum Session 11: SUMMARY April 2, 2009 […]


  2. Maria,
    Your case is very unique. How ambitious you must be as a person to make the decision to leave your beloved family in Brazil to go abroad to study. It says a lot about you that you came to America alone without a support network. You seem to maintain a very positive attitude in class. You should feel very proud of yourself; I could not even go abroad for one semester to a foreign country without a small support network of friends. My family means the world to me, as well. I truly hope that your plan works out and you can go home and spend time with your family at the end of your studies here. As for finding a cosigner, maybe there is a group of GW students who have been through the same thing that you are going through now who may be able to offer you some advice. The study abroad office might be an off the beaten path place to look; they have a huge list of contacts in different countries and have been helpful. Best of luck to you!

    Evelina,
    I am extremely impressed with how established you are in a career field at such an early age. 7 days a week! You truly are working very, very hard. Since you are still young, the opportunity to join this team sounds fantastic. It will give you a taste of something different, and if you do not like it, you can most likely go back to being an independent agent (I believe…). Being a part of a time also may give you the time to spend more time with your boyfriend and friend, and also start to decide if you want to take your relationship further. I interned at a real estate firm last summer, and all of the brokers were a part of a team yet all would tell me that a huge perk of being a broker on a team is that they could more or less choose their own hours. Brokers were constantly coming in and out of the office. Good luck to you with your future endeavors!


  3. Maria, it must have taken an enormous amount of strength to make the decision stay in the U.S. because it seems like you are very close with your family. Starting your college career all over again must have been pretty tough as well. I am actually graduating a semester early so that I can finish up sooner rather than later, so I can only imagine how difficult it would be to stay in school for almost twice that amount of time. On the plus side, you must be pretty well educated by now and that can only help you in the long run. I have a close family friend that grew up and got her physical therapy degree in Bulgaria. When she decided to relocate her family to America for better opportunity, she had to go through graduate school all over again (all of her training and years practicing as a physical therapist were worth nothing when she got here). It took her several years to earn her degree because she had to work to help support her family and go to school part time. She is now one of the best physical therapists in our area though! She knows so much from having to go through the whole process twice that it makes her even better at her job now. It also makes her a stronger person for making it through such a tough time in her life. I hope this story helps you see the brighter side of the situation, best wishes.

    Evelina, it sounds like each alternative has some pros and cons. It’s good that you have identified what these are. Whenever I am making a tough decision like this one, I try and prioritize the pros and cons to see which items are most important to me and that helps to make one alternative stand out over the other. At the end of the day, its also nice to consider trying one decision on and leaving yourself an exit plan just in case it doesn’t end up going exactly how you thought it would. Perhaps you could do a trial run with the team leaving yourself 8-12 months to see how things go. I hope this helps, best of luck with your decision!


  4. Evelina – wow! You go to school in dc and are a real state agent in Kansas City at the same time? I wonder how that works… Maybe you do real state over the summer? Anyways, I think it is very brave of you to endeavor such a demanding career during school. You are very courageous, congratulations! I have never worked on commission before, so I can’t imagine how much pressure you go through! Maybe working with a team would be less stressful because you could divide the work, etc… I am very controlling and I like to have things done myself to make sure that they are well done, but sometimes we need to let go. My thoughts are that we should always take the opportunities because sometimes they only come once. If you join the team, and you didn’t like it, could you go back and do what you are doing now? If yes, I would give the team a shot if I were you because you would have nothing to loose. Good luck! I hope you can find the best fit for you!


  5. Maria- Even though we talked for hours the other day while volunteering at the world bank, your case study gave me so many new insights on you! I totally feel your pain with the student loans and trying to pay for school. It can be frustrating and scary not knowing if you’re going to be able to afford to keep learning. I really hope you can find a cosigner so you get your last loan for next semester! After talking with you the other day, I wasn’t surprised to to see the last line of your case about how you wanted to get married soon- I hope he proposes soon! :-)

    Evelina- I’m assuming Mary Jane is you- and it sounds as if you’re working super hard! Congrats on getting the opportunity to be a buyers agent. It is a hard decision to make though, especially with the pay checks are going to be sporadic. I think the best way to decide is to look at if you can actually afford to do this. It seems from your personal life that you’re already stressed and might be needing a break. Could you support yourself on this salary without getting a second job? I hope the decision you make turns out well! Good luck!


  6. Maria, your hectic schedule is hardly unique. I can certainly attest to that. My life, too, has been pretty busy this semester. Going to the gym in the early morning, working in the mornings, attending classes in the afternoon, and studying in the evening/night has taken a good chunk of my time. On top of that, I have been setting up plenty of informational interviews and must attend meetings for student groups that I am a part of. When times get hectic, I find it helpful to focus, re-assure myself that everything will get done, and think about the positive outcome of it all. I try very hard to avoid negative thinking, because when I don’t, I even got more discouraged and frantic. I give you a lot of credit for leaving your family and coming to the US to study. That must take plenty of courage and commitment. I could imagine how difficult it could be going to school so far away from the people who are so close to you.

    Evelina, from experience, I have learned that working with teams has its pros and cons. Some of the concerns you expressed are some of the concerns I, too, have when working with groups on school assignments. The great aspect of group work is the diffusion of group responsibility and tasks. When a group is cooperative, tasks can be performed quickly. Personally, I do not mind working in groups, especially when I am able to choose who becomes a part of my group. However, in most cases, we do not choose. When I find myself in a difficult decision-making situation, I find it very helpful to mentally think about what is most important to me in the current situation, think about the pros and cons of each action I could possibly choose, and see which side the important aspect(s) falls under. It helps me to figure out which course of action I should take.


  7. Maria
    I can definitely say I understand when you say that you feel isolated in the United States, all of my family still lives back in Hong Kong, and I had spent 18 ½ years of my life there. I’ve still only been in the states for a little under 2 years now! I’m really glad to hear though that you were able to stay here as long as you’ve liked so far, and it really sounds like you’re doing very well with your studies across the states. In terms of finding a new cosigner to help you afford the GW tuition, I’m more than sure that you’ll be able to find help. There are also plenty of other scholarships you could apply for that are directed to international students, women, and anybody with a GPA as high as yours! I really wish you luck, and even though I love studying here in the states I can’t wait to get home either so I can spend time with my family too!
    Evelina
    I really think that joining the team could really help with the real estate career. You were right when you said that people seem to feel more comfortable just knowing that their real estate agent is part of a well-known team, and this could get you more money in the long run. If you’re not entirely happy with the idea of having to give up control on when you get paid, how much you get paid, the hours you have to put in, the people you have to work with and so on, well then you don’t have to stay with the team job; I do think though that if you were with them for a bit, you could learn to trust others, which will help you delegate in the future, and possibly even in your own real estate centre. You could build up a name for yourself and then go into the private sector and make even more money than either positions, and still regain that control over your time that you wanted!


  8. Maria- You should be very proud of your accomplishments so far in both your academic endeavors and your personal life. Deciding to leave behind your family and the familiarity of home must have been a huge decision, but it seems you have adjusted. I studied abroad in Rome last year for a semester, so I can understand your situation. At first, I missed my family, friends, and support system I had in place. For you it must be that much harder, since I had some familiar faces of GW students and a few friends from home. Even though I had a great time and it was an amazing experience, by the time my four months was over I was definitely ready to return home. I admire your determination to stick it out for over two years in another country, especially with all that you left behind in terms of your family issues. It seems like you have a lot to look forward to though in the future- going home, potentially starting a new life with your boyfriend, and getting a job. Good luck with everything!

    Evelina- Its great that you have found a job you enjoy that you have succeeded in. It must have been an honor to be offered that position after putting so much hard work into your career. You are faced with a difficult decision right now, and in my experience it helps me if I write out a pro/con list to help figure it out. Also, I always try to remind myself that the decision is most likely not set in stone, and if I am unhappy I can always reevaluate the situation. The new job seems like it may give you more time with family and friends, and could provide a better work/life balance, which may be something important to consider. Best of luck with your decision.


  9. Maria – I can’t even imagine how hard it must be to be in the U.S. without any family and friends. The fact that you are here by yourself and studying in a second language makes all of your accomplishments seem that much more impressive. You were able to come to a foreign country and excel in building your academic and professional life – this says a lot about how strong you are as a person. Additionally, despite the hardships of not having your family with you and the anxiety of finding a cosigner, you have been able to maintain a positive attitude and outlook on life. I did not go abroad, and I find myself regretting that decision almost daily. I definitely admire your drive and everything that you have been able to overcome on your own. No doubt, your family in Brazil is very proud of your accomplishments as well.

    Evelina – Your hardwork and rise to success is definitely impressive. However, I can understand the dilemma – by taking the job as part of a team, you gain the possibility of added commission but at the cost of the control that you love so much. While I have not accomplished that much in my professional life, I would be compelled to join the team. By joining the team, you would have more time to spend working on your relationship and pursuing other interests, while making more money. If your increase in salary didn’t outweigh the loss of control, I’m sure you could always go back to working independently. It is definitely a personal decision. I can relate to wanting to be in control of every aspect of my career – however, I think I would be more likely to relinquish some of that control if it meant a higher pay and a better balance in my life. From the sound of your case, you will succeed no matter which career path you choose. Good luck!


  10. Maria: I was really moved by your case. I can’t imagine how hard it must be feeling alone and afraid that you won’t be able to finish after six years of going through all of this. I do think that if you know in your heart (which it seems like you do!) that finishing school here is the right thing for you in the long run, you can make it happen. I am so impressed by your dedication, hard work, and your ability to work through the challenges to provide opportunities for yourself. If you can’t think of anything else, I would definitely suggest that this is the most entrepreneurial thing a person can do! I never had the chance to study abroad and I have wondered from time to time if I should have taken advantage of those opportunities when I could have. It’s great to see someone working so hard to get what they want and deserve out of life. I’m sure your family is very proud of you, even with the cost of not seeing you on a regular basis. Time moves quickly and I’m sure you will be home before you know it.

    Evelina: It sounds like you work very hard! I have been in your position — working seven days a week with very little support — and it ended up being just too much for me. I think you really have to weigh the pros and cons and prioritize. The question for me was whether time with my family and friends was worth the amount of money that I was going to lose by taking another job (or in your case, working with a team). I think it’s actually quite scary to go from having the freedom and independence of setting your own schedule and working with who you want to working as part of a new team without those freedoms. In the end, I ended up making the decision that the money itself didn’t make enough of a difference to me to continue in that situation. However, I think it really depends more on how long you can see yourself doing that kind of job as opposed to not doing it at all.


  11. Maria: First, I’d like to say good for you! You have overcome intense challenges to be here and I commend your for your efforts and I congratulate you on your success. You have come so far and you can definitely make it through- You are crafty, intelligent, and charming! I think sometimes when there are so many factors coming at you it is so easy to be swept up in the storm that becomes a tornado spinning you round and overwhelming your life. Sometimes I find myself trying to compartmentalize and prioritize; that is my way of dealing. Then I make lists and calendars to make the priorities happen. I wish you the best of luck and hope all that you wish for comes to you!

    Evelina: Congrats on establishing yourself at such an early age! You have put so much effort into your business and you should be so proud! So often I find myself wishing, I had gone with my gut. I feel like this could be the best idea for you- what do you believe would allow you the most happiness? What would make you happy? Sometimes I get so caught up in all the other factors, in what other people want- especially recently in my job search. I have gotten so used to thinking, what would my mother say or what would my mother do, and often this is a good thing but in deciding my future I need to take control- I need to listen to myself. I hope you figure out what it is that you want and follow it with the same steadfast dedication that helped you be so successful thus far.


  12. Maria – Thank you for sharing your story. I can definitely relate to you. Although I am an American citizen and I only live 3 hours away from my imitate family I too miss them dearly. My grandfather passed away unexpectedly two years ago last week and I hadn’t seen him since the prior Christmas. He was the rock of our family and I still regret not getting home to visit him more. I too am worried about getting a job to help pay of my student loans. I think it is amazing that you have traveled so far from home to chase your dreams and ambitions. I wish you the best of luck in getting back to your family. I think family is the most important part of a person’s life and the closest to their heart.

    Evelina – Thank you for sharing your story. I am assuming that you are Mary Jane in this case. It does seem that you were in quite a predicament. I have always found it hard to balance my professional career and my personal career. As I mentioned to Maria, I live away from my family and I am always yearning to visit with them. It seems that if you took the team offering you would be able to spend more time with those who are closest with you, however, you would also be letting go of some professional control. I have found it better to stick with family and friends and the professional aspect will work things out over time. Good Luck!


  13. Maria – I have lived in Italy on my own once but that was for only 3 months! I can’t imagine what it has been like for you being in the states for over five years. Was it hard to move away from Brazil at the age of 20? What are some things that you have learned about yourself through this experience in your life? Would you ever take it back or has it been worth it by looking at the big picture? What are some things that you resort to when you are feeling alone or frustrated from not seeing your family and being in a foreign country over a long period of time? I am just curious because sometimes I contemplate working abroad.

    Evelina – I agree that it is hard to let go of control. It is satisfying knowing what is happening in all aspects of your business, however there also seems to be more responsibility attached to running things alone. At this point, I think I’d like to work with a team that is a part of a bigger organization so that I can gain experience. However, in the long-run I think I will miss having complete control over the entire operation of my business. I hope to keep the knowledge from this class which has taught me how to think like an entrepreneur.


  14. Maria,

    All I can say is, 6 years must feel like forever. I spent two years apart from a loved one and hated every minute of it. It was very brave of you to leave your country and start school over. The most I would leave the US during my undergrad time was for a 4 week study abroad. I love to travel and go new places to learn, but I am always more than ready to get home. I know how happy I’ve been everytime to go home and see my family, and for my loved one to come home after two years. You have a lot to look forward to!

    Evelina,
    From my experience, when put into similar situations, I tend to look towards the future and what these two options may turn into down the road. If one opens me up to more people in my field and give me more opportunities to learn and expand my network, I go for it even if it means doing a little more of the leg work and less of the fun stuff. However, I always try to be realistic about what my financial situation is and whether or not I can handle sporadic payment. Good luck to you!


  15. Evelina,
    Thank you for sharing your story. From the looks of it, you have a real predicament. Losing control can be a hard thing to do and the satisfaction of knowing that you worked hard on a project and seen it through will vanish. But a team can free up your time to spend with your loved ones and have a decent living. In this situation, I would work with a team, gain the experience and network. Then in a few years, start your own again. By this time you would have all you need to be successful. Good Luck!!

    Maria-
    AWW I almost cried when I read your case. This touched me because of your will and power to do something you want to do and get it done. I too was in the same situation, by myself, in GW (expensive), and funding my own education and having no idea how I was going to pay. I would sit up crying and even started packing once because I could not take it! But instead of crying and waiting for something to happen, I took action. I wrote EVERYONE in GW who would listen about my situation hoping for the best. In the end it worked!! I am in my third year here and have not worried about money for school yet. My best advice is to not panic and use all of your options. You have made it this far, there is no way that you won’t graduate. Good luck with everything…I’ll keep you in my prayers!


  16. Maria- It takes a great deal of courage to move somewhere new, especially somewhere so far from your home. I’m sure that all of your hard work will pay off and that you will continue to be glad that you experienced going to school in a different country. I know that a lot of people, including myself, are struggling with financial issues now. Hopefully it will work out and you will be able to find others who may be able to lead you in the right direction to find a co-signer.

    Evelina- It is great to be offered a new opportunity. In my experience, I like to think very carefully about the team I will be working with and what their dynamic is, because that can make a big difference in how happy you may be in a new position. I think that most opportunities have pros and cons but whichever you are drawn to is usually the best decision.


  17. Maria: I admire your courage, I honestly don’t know if I could do what you are doing. But there is no doubt in my mind that your six years here in America will pay off for you in the future. Being homesick is one of the two reasons I didn’t go abroad during college (the other reason being that I didn’t want to be away from my boyfriend). At times I do regret it because it would have given me the chance to broaden my horizons and view the world from a different perspective. And althought I am very independent, feeling alone in your environment and being far away from loved ones is something that I would find extremely difficult to do. Right now it may be hard to see the light at the end of your tunnel but it’s there! Don’t lose hope, I wish you the best of luck.

    Evelina: I have just recently started to be a believer of taking advantage of opportunities as they come. I do believe that everything happens for a reason and thus every opportunity that comes your way is important to consider. It sounds like your personal dilemma that a lot of people often face in their professional lives. No matter what you decide, at first you will feel as though you made the wrong decisions. But as time goes on, you will start to adapt to your new lifestyle and it will start to feel like the right fit. In your case, it seems the decision is whether to stay who you are or give up a part of yourself. I think it’s important to weigh your options and think critically about where you see yourself after taking into consideration each path. It seems no matter what you do, you will make it work, I wish you luck on your decision.


  18. Maria: I am totally in accordance with the busy schedule! Recently, I made a conscious decision to reduce stress in my life. I’ve found that it helps tremendously to think abut the way you label and think about your schedule. I now find new ways to describe my activities so I don’t feel overwhelmed and I think of the benefits of everything I am doing instead of what I might rather be doing. I mean, its seems like you’re playing mind game with yourself, but its been helping me! I think it is great that you have accomplished so much since you’ve come as an exchange student, even though yuo are missing your family and support system. I also hope you find a cosigner and that things go well with your boyfriend!

    Evelina: I totally understand the issue of being a control freak about your work. This class has made me realize that I’m going to have to start learning to be okay with relinquishing a little bit of stuff and find a great person to delegate to tasks to *sigh*. I tried to put myself in your shoes about the work dilemma and I think that I would probably take that step and join the team, because if it doesn’t work out, I could go back to my old business. Hope the decision went/goes well!


  19. Evelina,
    What a tough decision to make. It sounds like you are in a good position though! You’ve successfully built up your real estate business, been recognized for your achievements, and have a new opportunity. You mentioned that you are a control freak. Based on our WEL classes, I think this is a good trait and it will help you develop your “brand” and career path. There are pros and cons for your new opportunity. The pros I see are you’ll learn new skills and develop mentors and relationships. The cons are losing flexibility and getting more work/stress. This is obviously a tough decision to make! From my personal experience, I suspect that you’ll learn something new and beneficial in whatever position you decide to pursue. Good luck and try to have fun!

    Maria,
    Wow, what an amazing story. I know that being away from family is really difficult. My entire family lived overseas for the last 5 years and during that time we could only visit each other in person once a year. It’s a tough, emotional struggle, I know! My parents recently moved back to the U.S. and now I value their presence more than ever. That said, I bet you’ve learned A LOT about yourself. It’s obviously that you are mature and very responsible. You’ve accomplished a tremendous amount and should be very proud to have pushed yourself outside your comfort zone. Good luck with your money issues. I believe that you’ll find a solution – especially since you’re so close to the finish line! Congratulations on graduating soon and enjoy your family!


  20. Maria-
    After having several classes with you, it was refreshing to learn more about who you are. I am incredibly impressed by your strength and drive! Being so far away from home is clearly hard on you, but I am confident that your decision to try something unique will pay off. Unfortunately, I have no insights to offer in terms of paying off loans, but there is something that helps me feel closer to my family when I’m away at school. My entire family is constantly on Skype, and even if we can’t talk, we often leave the camera on while we’re at our computers, so that we can look at each other and feel connected. Best of luck finishing your studies!

    Evelina-
    I think it’s really appropriate that we read your case the same week that we did an exercise related to work/life balance. Making a decision that throws off your preexisting balance can be really tough, so I understand your hesitation in joining the new team. When I face situations like this, my first step is usually to figure out if I physically have time to take on the commitment. Then, I try and predict the amount of happiness the new commitment will give me. If I don’t get favorable responses to both of these aspects, I don’t take on the new task. It seems like you’ve already done the analysis, so it’s just time to think about what will make you personally happy. I’d be interested to hear what you actually did!


  21. Maria- You’re definitely very strong to have come so far from home and deal with so many issues. When I studied abroad last year for just five months I got extremely homesick so I can’t even imagine being away from home for years. Being away from family and friends can be so tough so I made sure to build a strong group of friends that really supported me while I was abroad. It was great to lean on them and we all got close very quickly because of the circumstances of all being alone in a foreign country. In terms of the financial situation you’re in–i think every student at GW can somewhat relate. I think we’re all going to be paying off loans for quite a while. Hopefully at some point in our lives we’ll realize how truly valuable this education was regardless of cost!

    Evelina- You’re definitely at a difficult crossroads in your life right now but seem to be weighing out all the pros and cons quite well. I don’t know very much about real estate but in my personal life I always try to take leaps and try new things that I feel may be advantageous to myself. When I stopped working nights and weekends at a restaurant and had so much more time to spend with my friends and boyfriend I was definitely a lot happier–but working at an internship ended up paying a lot less so it was quite the cut to my funds. In the end I think the most important thing is to just do what you think will make you the most happy! Good luck with your decision and congrats on actually having job possibilities right now haha I’m so jealous!


  22. I just want to clear up that this case is not about me but a hybrid of some people I knew at the office.


  23. Maria,
    Wow, many people in your situation would not last as long as you have or be willing to at that. I can relate to this very much because I too came from a foreign country at an early age of 10 and also have moved many times since then. I applaud your courage and your ambition to complete college in America especially with a GPA higher than 3.74. I believe that your time here will be well worth it in the future and you will look back on it with mostly gratitude and eagerness rather than remorse. I’m very sorry for your lose back in Brazil and I hope everything works out for you in the end.


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