Apr 8, 2015

Thoughts from State: 2015

Well, the number one thought from State is that I really should have written this AT the SLC. Sigh. Maybe someday I'll learn.

Here we go with the 2015 Dallas version of TFS. (If you're unfamiliar with this, go read the others here and here).

  • State really is always cold. I flew up to Dallas in jeans, a comfy sweater shirt, and my business heeled boots. That was great - until I actually got to Dallas. It had snowed the night before, so I was navigating the DART bus/train system in heels and with a suitcase... through snow and slush. Not fun. All in all, it wasn't terrible. 
  • The DART was great leaving the airport. I paid $5.00 for a day pass - and in hindsight, I could have gotten away with a $2.50 2-hour ticket (I thought I would leave the hotel again...) - and it got me from the airport to about a minute away from my hotel. 
  • I really need to plan better for leaving the conference. This year's trip was littered with cancelled flights and last minute plans... It was a mess. Don't ask. 
  • The Dallas Love Field airport has a Jason's Deli on the secure side. If I ever fly through or to there again, I need to check out their gluten-free options... even if I have to go get my bag from baggage claim. I'll have time. (I didn't this time, and regretted it later.) 
  • On that same note, I should just take a sandwich with me when I fly. 
  • I still never leave the hotel once I get there. Even with the DART system as an option. 
  • I would really like to visit downtown Dallas in the summer. Or whenever it's not freezing cold. 
  • Always check delivery times in the morning. I waited too late one night, and Pizza Hut wasn't delivering anymore. 
  • Both room service and delivery take at least 30 minutes... give yourself an hour wait time. 
  • Never order milk (for cereal) from room service. Put your cereal in a cup and go downstairs. The conference has milk for coffee. Use that. 
  • Eating cereal out of a starbucks cup will get you some weird looks. It's a great plan regardless. 
  • If you're working behind the curtain, make sure you have a snack. Once you get there, you don't leave. 
  • The same goes for a phone charger. 

This year, I tried on my business outfits before I left and made sure that I packed things that worked together. It was great. It saved so much time in the mornings, and I knew FOR SURE that what I had would work. 

I also helped two teams prepare for prelims. Here's what I have to say about that: 
  • Financial Analyst Team: Your reports better be damn good. Not only does your technical score determine if you make it to finals (and get to present), but it also plays a role in your final score. If you have the lowest tech score at finals, you probably won't make it. Mathematically, it doesn't work. Trust me. We tried to send a team to NLC, but their tech score was so much lower than another teams that we had no choice but to send the other team and make them 3rd. 
  • If you make it to finals, bring a copy of your report to the judges. 9 times out of 10, they didn't get a copy of your report. If you're the first group to present, be aware that the judges might not even have the prompt. Be careful about asking, but don't be surprised if they ask you what's going on. 
  • I've said it before and I'll say it again - don't believe that your judges don't know what they're talking about. I have a BBA in Finance and Accounting, and I asked more than one group if Earnings Per Share was what the investor got back for investing in the company. (Note: it's not.) I also asked if the current ratio should be high, because "higher is better, right?" I also asked how "that stuff" worked. The point here is that if you don't know the answer to that, don't just blindly agree. We don't always try to trick you, but in finals, it's a matter of sending the best team to finals. (And a note: the team that won first place knew that the CR shouldn't always be higher. There's a range, and they knew it.) 
  • A note that doesn't come from judging - if you have an issue that makes presenting unfair, go to headquarters and tell them right away. In this case, it was an issue of people in the hallway being loud and playing music, which distracted from the student's presentation. After hers, the judges made them quiet down. By the time she told her advisor and the advisor told us, there was nothing we could do. If she had told us right away, we could have let her present again under the quiet (non-distracting) circumstances. 
  • Use the WSAP. Seriously. Look at the grading rubric's and follow them. That's what the judges get. 

I'm sure I'm leaving things off - I always do. If you have questions, feel free to ask me! Whether it's now or next year or whenever - ask, and I'll either know the answer or find out. 

The 2016 SLC is in Corpus Christi, so let me know if you'll be there! I will :p 

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