Sunday, May 29, 2005

Winding things down at work...

Only a few more weeks of work left...I have mixed feelings about leaving. I love my job/coworkers/company, which is partly why it's taken me so long to apply to b-school...I owe much of my professional/personal growth to working alongside some amazing people for the past 4.5 yrs, and I'm so grateful to them. On the other hand, I'm excited to get out of Seattle (I've spent my entire life here) and embark on my new adventure. Work is quite relaxing nowadays..I've been transitioned off all major projects, and our group has started interviewing candidates to fill my position.

In the next few weeks, I plan to start reviewing some of the recommended materials before schools starts...it's been ages since I last saw any sort of accounting/finance textbook. :]

I'm pretty much set to go on the moving front...I sold my condo last week, so all that's left is to ship my car/clothes to Ithaca. I was in Ithaca in mid-April for the prospective students' open house, and I managed to find a place to live...it'll be a big change moving from a condo to a tiny studio, but hey it's only 21 months so I'm ready to live like a student. :)

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Stats Whores

You know who you are!!! :)

Typical SW post on our beloved Businessweek Forums:

"Hi all, I'm wondering if you can tell me my chances at H/S/W? Here are my stats:
Male, 26, 765 GMAT (should I take it over again??), 5yrs WE in PE/VC, 4.0 Ivy UG, 3.92 Ivy Grad, exc. extras: founded 3 animal shelters, saved woman (pregnant) from burning building, can bench 315lbs."

Okay okay maybe the post above is a -bit- extravagent, but there are tons of these types of posts on the bweek forums. I kid you not...go check it out!

Anyway I'm just ranting.. I enjoy reading these posts on the forums though..don't know why. Maybe it's the same reason I watch Jerry Springer and Jackass.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

The application process (aka the b-school lottery)

Yes, you need a solid GMAT/GPA along w/ an interesting story and believable aspirations, but really when it comes down to it the Adcom holds your MBA future in their hands. It's this subjectivity that leads me to believe that tons of qualified candidates are dinged every year...yes I know this sucks and it's a part of life. My point is that you have to learn to play the b-school application game...play your cards right, and hopefully you'll wind up with a handful of admits.

My b-school aspirations started in January 2004...I stored away the xbox (yes, I'm a geek) and studied for the GMAT for 3 months straight (used the Official GMAT review guide and the Kaplan guide and did every question at least once..)..took the test once and received a solid score. Then it was on to figuring out which schools to apply to (I looked at career/culture fit, and then location) and crafting the dreaded essays. I ended up only applying to MIT and Cornell (both RD 1)...I was wary of using the "shotgun" approach because I didn't want my essays to come across as the vague "cut-and-paste" type. Looking back, I realize my approach was too narrow; if I had to do it over again (which I'm not), I would've applied to Cornell, Kellogg, Chicago and Tuck.

Anyway, I spent ~3 months working hard on my essays...I would highly recommend having an objective friend and/or family member read, and most importantly, -critique- your essays...gotta give props to my brother for really providing some great advice. A second set of eyes goes a long way in helping to clarify your points and making your essays more concise (this is especially important for schools like Johnson that have 400 word limits). After submitting my two apps online, the wait for interview invites began.

The stress factor is worse than waiting for your GMAT score to pop-up on the screen, because your fate is essentially in somebody else's hands. In retrospect, I should have been using this waiting time to prep for potential interviews, but I couldn't bring myself to set myself up for disaster (i.e. prep for interviews but not get any invites)...so I nervously passed the time trying to keep busy w/ non-bschool stuff (working out alot, hanging out w/ friends, etc.). I was pleasantly surprised (read: elated) to get interview invites from both schools. I chose to take the opportunity to visit each campus, and I'm glad I did. MIT's b-school buildings need a nice powerwashing, as does the rest of the campus (Harvard is stunning, btw). While Sloan was underwhelming, the JGSM was impressive (Sage Hall, the b-school building, was renovated in 1998 and includes niceties like wireless networking and private study areas for MBAs). I prepped for the interviews differently...MIT's is a non-blind behavioral interview, while Cornell's is blind and resume-based. I came up with ~20 examples total of success, failure, meaningful stuff, hardships, why an mba, why Cornell/MIT, etc. I thought both interviews went well...both were very conversational in nature. I was leaning slightly towards Cornell b/c I felt it was a much better culture fit. That said, I was hoping for two admits so that I could revisit the schools and attend some classes (I visited both schools during finals week..)

Waiting for the school decisions was the most stressful part of the application process (for me, at least)...not so much b/c I couldn't take the dings, but because the possibility of having to repeat the essay/interview/waiting process again next year was quite daunting. My plan was to possibly apply R2/R3 for some other schools, but more than likely I would've waited another year (I didn't want to rush any apps..why put myself through the stress if I'm making a half-ass attempt?). Also, it's not like I'm unhappy with my job/current situation...I'm very happy and complacent, which is why it's taken me so long to apply to b-school. I guess I figure it's now or never...I'm single and I have some doubts about my long-term career, so personally/professionally it's the perfect time for a MBA.

Alright back to the app process...after receiving the MIT ding, I started to worry because I didn't want to go through the damn b-school lottery AGAIN next year. I realized that applying to only 2 schools was probably a dumb idea, b/c now I only had one shot left. This sounds dumb, but getting the Cornell admit was probably one of the highlights of my young life. I got the call at 7pm PST on Sunday, January 30th 2005 the day before the RD1 decision deadline. I had pretty much given up hope because that Friday (1/28) I had seen posts on the Businessweek forums from fellow RD1 JGSM applicants who had already received the congratulatory call that afternoon; so the entire weekend I waited....and waited....and waited some more. No call on my cell phone, even though I was willing it to ring every hour. I was actually getting pissed when my friends/family would call my cell, b/c I was waiting for a "more important" call. Anyway 7pm PST rolls around, and I was kinda upset b/c I figured it was 10pm EST and the Johnson Adcom was fast asleep. Lo and behold I get a call from "Unknown" and my heart started racing**; the first thing I hear is "Hi, this is Natalie from the JGSM Adcom and I wanted to welcome you etc. etc.". I must have thanked her 5 or 6 times before I realized how dumb I sounded. :) Anyway since then I've been on Cloud 9; I'm very excited and looking forward to meeting my fellow classmates this August!

**I received a call from "Unknown" on my cell on the MIT decision date as well...it ended up being someone who had dialed the wrong number. You cannot imagine how pissed/heartbroken I was. Ok you probably can imagine it, but it was worse. It was like getting punk'd -really really- bad. :]

First post...

I'm creating this blog to document my trek towards obtaining a MBA degree from the JGSM.

About myself
I'm a Round 1 Johnson admit (class of 2007), applied to 2 MBA programs, IT background, 30 yrs old, not sure what I want to focus on yet. I'm pondering a career outside of IT, however I'm worried that the transition will be difficult. I'm leaning towards Strategic Management or Management Consulting, but I need to do more research before making a decision.

I love my company/job, however I'd like to explore other opportunities...I don't wanna be pigeonholed into a technical IT position...this is my main reason for heading back to b-school. I also wonder about the stability of IT...outsourcing has been a hot topic for the past few years, and a recent re-org at my company made me think twice.

I was notified of my admit about 2 months ago...since then I've been spending most of my time figuring out the logistics of moving to Ithaca and doing some prep work (I'm reviewing some Accounting and Finance books that were recommended by a current Johnson 2nd year). I've always lived on the West Coast, so Ithaca will be different (cold...yes. nice...?). My brother is in Chicago doing his residency, so hopefully I'll be able to hangout with him more.

I'm heading out to Ithaca in mid-April for Destination Johnson (open house for ED/R1/R2 admits), and I'm hoping to sign an apartment lease at that time. Looking forward to meeting the other admits too...if my interview/visit in mid-December was any indication of the Johnson students, I'm in for a fun time. :) I'm kinda bummed about having to miss the JOE (Johnson Outdoor Experience aka 1st-years going out camping in the woods to bond) since my little sis is getting hitched the same weekend...I guess I'll have to hear all the crazy stories on the first day of class.