When I was new to strategy ten years ago, I made the same mistake described in “Can you say what your strategy is?”: failed to define the objective. The strategy I set for my personal life is to become a better man. However, I confuse my statement of values with strategic objective. Besides spending days and nights in the library, I don’t really have a precise objective to follow. I devote equal time and energy on each courses I took and feel really frustrated. Until some Senior grade students told me there are basically three choices we have when we graduate: find a job, apply for a graduate program in a domestic academy and study abroad. If you want to find a decent job when you graduate, you have to start doing internships in the summer of your sophomore year (or even earlier). Doing internships will help you figure out if you like the working environment, if you like the industry you choose and if there are potential space to grow.
This is like the ideas introduced in “Bringing science to the art of strategy”. First, you list the choices you have and generate mutually exclusive but collectively exhaustive possibilities. Then, you specify conditions, identify barriers, design tests and conduct the tests. In my case, I got an internship in Bain & Company in its Shanghai office. The work there is really challenging but I did like it. I like the result oriented environment. All my co-workers are coming from the top schools in the city. The cases are various in industries. And all what our routine work is about collecting data to support the strategic framework developed by supervisors. This is really a good opportunity to practice logic thinking and becoming a better myself. Working 15 hours a day is a norm and is somewhat a concern. Overall, the internship proves working for a company like Bain is a right choice for me.
Also, I explored the possibility of studying abroad. I took some class to help prepare for the exams like TOFEL and GRE. At there, I met a lot of good friends who share the same value as me. We all have risk-taking personality and want to be out-standing. We like to share with and learn from each other. However, if I had a chance, I would try programs which provide opportunity to experience the American campus life for couple months in summer.
In the end, because of the economic crisis, Bain did not have any opening that year. So, I came to US to continue my persue of becoming a better man. This personal experience teaches me the importance of defining objectives, scope and doing a thorough due diligence.