Friday, December 19, 2008

Not thinking about school

Long time no write...

First I gotta congratulate the rest of the blogosphere as they've been raking in the acceptances like nobody's business! D.G., Soni, Samantha (and more I'm sure) are all attending tip-top schools and deservedly so... but obviously MaxWriter made the best decision of all :P hehe, hope to see more admits in the coming days.

As for me, times have been weird. I haven't been thinking about b-school much though I am still officially "researching" careers. It's all up in the air for me. I talked to an old colleague who just got fired from his trader job which is unnerving because absolutely no traders are getting hired now. And just last week I thought I had a revelation that I was going to be a trader! The pro's were overwhelming. For one, I have experience as a trading assistant so I could conceivably get an internship and a full-time offer by the time the economy turns around in 2011 (fingers crossed). Also, the work-life balance is good because they work market hours or slightly more. I'd much rather get in super early and leave around 6 or 7 pm (unless in times of market turmoil) than work late. The salary is obviously good and the money would be good with great upside potential. Plus I would get to follow the markets which I'm really interested in. I really like following the world economies on a macro-level. Plus, I really like the strategy involved in trading. Perfect right? The only con is the exit opportunities. If I flamed out as a trader, there aren't a lot of avenues to pursue. The traders that I knew who blew up millions wound up becoming brokers. That'd be a terrible consolation prize. Some traders could go into sales (becomes salespeople for other traders) but that doesn't sound that appealing. Otherwise, the trading skillset is so specific that I couldn't go into another field. In fact, traders who flame out would be good candidates for an MBA but i obviously couldn't go back a second time. Ugh.

I'm still considering brand management, marketing, and general management but not really doing much to learn more. But in general, I haven't been thinking about much. I've been working (riiight), and then going to the gym religiously for 4 hours a day (to play basketball, not really to work out), then I get home and watch tv and eat. Fun. But the lifestyle gets pretty routine and boring after awhile. The vacations won't start until late January at the earliest. I'm feeling antsy and it kinda bothers me that I'm not thinking more about CBS. Stupid TienyChesney!

I did finish reading Phillip Delves Broughton's book "Ahead of the Curve: Two Years at Harvard Business School" last week. Great book. I don't think it's as negative about HBS as people advertised it to be... instead, I think Phillip was extremely honest about his personal feelings and experience. An opinion can't be wrong! And some of the so-called negatives would be positives for others. For instance, he mentions the ice luge and frat mentality but for some (ahem), two years of party time sounds great. I'd highly recommend this book to anyone who wants a look into HBS or a top b-school in general because you can learn a lot about the culture (a great anthropological report actually) and he does a good job of explaining how some things work (i.e. the recruiting process, what private equity firms actually do, etc.)

Coincidentally, CNBC had an hour-long documentary debut on Tuesday night called "The Money Chase: An Insider Look at Harvard Business School" ... it made the school look really cool (especially with all the interviews with famous alums like Jamie Dimon) but it would've floored me more if I hadn't already visited campus. It's worth a look if you happen to catch the re-run.

What else. Oh, I bought the new Taylor Swift album! It's awesome and most of the tracks are available on YouTube too. It's definitely pop with only a hint of country which disappoints me but the music is so good that I don't care.

Next week I return home to NY for a week to see my family. I'm really dreading this as my dad (estranged relationship) is finally back from being abroad for nearly a year. My mom and sister have already confirmed that it's been weird in the house. Ugh. I gotta discuss b-school plans and financing options too. sjfjjf;lsajf;lkjfasdkfj

Also, mortgage rates are really low right now so if you're like me, you might consider refinancing that mortgage. Could be realllly worth your while. Do any of you know how much higher the rate for an investment property is compared to a primary residence? I know it depends on many things but I was hoping there might be a standard (e.g. 1/8 of a percent). Arrrgh.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Admitted Students Reception

Columbia's Admitted Students Reception was this past Tuesday evening. It took me about 0.04 seconds to decide to make the trip from DC to NY and back for this two-hour event. Of course I was down. In fact, I'm thinking of attending both Open Houses later in February and April.

The event was held in Low Memorial Library. It was nicer than I expected. I hadn't been inside Low since I visited campus for undergraduate admissions so I forgot how majestic the inside was. I had hopped off the bus just 30 minutes prior and walked through the Alex Lerner Center which is this large, transparent student center on Broadway. I had never been inside so I took a quick tour (the parts that I could access at least) and found Citibank ATMs and a bubble tea shop inside- nice! I can't wait to make bubble tea a part of my diet again :)

So I go the reception and I'm happy to learn there's a coat/bag check. I'm 5 minutes early for the reception but there are already around 20 people inside. There are drinks and attendants in the middle of the room and finger food off to the right. I was going to walk right up to the first person I saw but everyone was already in their little clusters. I decided to actually put on the little nametag that they handed out and when I picked my head up, Bob Shea, one of the admissions officers was there in front of me with a current 2nd year student. Pleasant conversation ensues. I then meet and talk to many more current students, incoming students, and admissions officers. Alumni were present too but I didn't speak to any of them by coincidence. In all, there were maybe 250 people in attendance I would guess? Half were 2009 J-Term and half were Fall 2009 full-time. Women were roughly only one-third of the room from my estimation but I'm happy to report that they were all very attractive :) Most everyone was dressed in business or business casual. I'd say that I was dressed in business casual casual though- sweater over a dress shirt with grey chinos and brown boots. I knew that incoming students often dress up for the first few events and then wind up throwing sweatpants on once class begins. I wanted to push the envelope and go casual with jeans (to show how confident and independent I was hehe) but stepped it up right before I left DC. Good thing too because only 1 or 2 people were in jeans that I noticed.

The event passed quickly. It wasn't one of those tiring networking events where I keep glancing at the time. The two hours passed in no time and many people had to be ushered out as the room was closed down. All the incoming students were really nice and pleasant to talk to. I even recognized some from the Facebook group but didn't mention this so as not to creep them out. It was really refreshing to see that so many of them were completely relaxed, normal, fun people. No super duper stars like some of the people I met at HBS. The incoming students I met were bankers, consultants, media people, entrepreneurs, but nothing insanely mind-blowing like Egyptian national team gold medalist in the hammer throw or anything like that. I enjoyed being around them- they were pretty unassuming. I could picture myself being friends with them. I didn't make plans to keep in touch with any of them but it was nice meeting them nonetheless. There will be plenty of other opportunities at Open House. Plus, I found the website for the pre-MBA Tour. It's not an official club but some incoming students will be touring the world over the course of 3 months prior to the start of school. Basically we just meet future classmates and travel together. It's all self-funded. I'm down for much of it- most likely the legs that go through Europe, Latin America, and Japan.

I've compiled a spreadsheet that details my remaining vacation time and my anticipated travel locations. I've really grown to appreciate Excel in the past year. As someone who has traveled minimally in his life, I'm a bit worried that all the travel prior to school might prove exhausting. I need to budget enough recovery time so that I can fully enjoy/appreciate everything.

Oh yeah, there were two speakers at the reception. One guy I don't remember his name or his position at all due to his heavy accent. The other person was Linda Meehan herself! Linda (the Dean of Admissions) was a short but incredibly energetic woman. She did a great job of working the room and I was shocked by how much enthusiasm she had. I joked with her about how I didn't receive a phone call from her yet. She also revealed that they're anticipating total application volume to be around 7,500 this year. They had 5,999 last year so that would be a 25% jump overall. Of course this is just what she said she anticipated from current volumes. She did say that she expects the Regular Decision volume to be even higher than the ED volume due to the amount of prep time it usually takes for those applicants who might've recently been affected by the financial crisis.

I left the reception and actually met Samantha (sorry, i'm too stupid to figure out how to put a link in here so go to the right and click on her Best MBA Blog Ever) at Pinkberry briefly. I promised to keep her anonymity but to you, my readers, I will reveal this: Samantha is not her real name... it is Bruce. Directly afterward, I met another future classmate for a quick dinner (same guy I had brunch with last time in NY) and then called it a night.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy to Be Alive

So Big Bird Day is tomorrow and I usually find this to be one of the more depressing holidays. My family doesn't celebrate it and I don't know how to cook so I was imagining getting myself drunk on cheap wine and watching tv all day :P A few friends were nice enough to invite me to their family shindigs but I politely declined. I will be coordinating a volunteer event tomorrow morning at a senior citizens' home though, so that should be cool.

I just started talking to my folks (they're both abroad right now) about financing my MBA and it looks like they're on-board to help me out which is huge. I won't go into specifics obviously but any help is a godsend.

While skipping around the GMATclub threads last night, I realized that my plan to stop working in early July is actually quite late compared to other peoples' plans. Most people anticipate resigning in April/May! What does one do with so much time? As it is, I would have a month and a half to travel but 3 months sounds like a ton of time- I wouldn't know what to do with myself. But reading the various comments made me realize how lucky I am that my immediate future is relatively stress-free and certain. I was starting to get stressed about hating my consulting job and how our current project is ending... I'm having difficulty finding a new project so I was concerned that I might get laid off. But in reality, it isn't that bad because I hate my job and it would only be a few months early anyway. Plus I think I'd be eligible for unemployment :) Maybe with half a year left, I could just do volunteer work full-time or work retail at J.Crew full-time. Interesting ideas that I would never have the guts to do... but if I got laid off, then they start sounding intriguing ;) Also, one of my roomies just lost her job which is stressing me out because I wonder if she'll be able to make the rent for the next 8 months... she is technically a subletter/resident because I'm the sole person on the lease so I hold all of her risk! Aye carumba. This sucks but even if I get screwed, at least it's only a few thousand bucks... aka a drop in the bucket compared to the upcoming b-school costs.

So all in all, I'm in a weird mood. Kinda down cuz of the holiday season (dreading this Black Friday thing which I feel like I need to check out) but also happy because I realize my problems are relatively trivial in the big scheme of things. I'm starting to look for airfare for my San Francisco trip (late January) and maybe I'll contact my super friend in Sydney to see if I can/should visit Australia in the early Spring. That'd be sweet. And I'd still have London in late Spring/early Summer as well as room for the Columbia pre-MBA tours in July.

Oh yeah, almost forgot. This upcoming Tuesday, December 2nd, CBS is holding an Admitted Students Reception for incoming Jan 2009 and Fall 2009 students. I'm going to take a super-cool bus there on Tuesday afternoon and then take the bus back that very night. The commute will suck but I'm not missing this.

Happy gobbling to you all!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Classmates, Career Services, Bookstore, Bars & Brunch

So I made yet another trip to New York this past weekend and stopped by campus again- I think this is campus visit #4 or 5. I wanted to grab gear from the CBS Bookstore (duh) and also check out Career Services. The first thing I did, however, was meet up with a Hermes student ambassador. He was actually assigned to me by the admissions office and we played phone tag for a little bit before deciding to grab coffee. I met him at 97th and Broadway and we went to Starbuck's a block away. He was very nice, and answered all my questions pretty candidly I think. The most important things I learned were that General Management is interesting in function but you would not be living in NY (a big deal-breaker for me). Instead, you would be working (and living) at the company's headquarters which would more likely be in Minnesota, Pennsylvania, etc. That doesn't sound too appealing any more. But what if I did General Management for luxury retail goods? Does anyone know if the corporate offices of Chanel, Louis Vuitton, etc. are based in NY? In the words of my BFF, Paris Hilton: that would be hot.

He also reinforced the importance of being socially competent and likable when it comes to recruiting, something I'm learning more and more about (and thankfully getting better at). Lastly, we talked about housing and he said that most MBA students live in the 80's through 120th street. I will try to live between 106 and 116th ideally :) He also stressed that internship recruiting hits you about a month after starting the program so it's imperative that we try to narrow down our career choices as much as possible before school starts. I'm basically leaning towards GM for Luxury Retail at this point but obviously I'll change my mind a million times before then. We chatted for about 40 minutes or so and I have to say, he was a genuinely nice guy. After we parted, I walked up Broadway to CBS.

It did feel a bit different being on campus now that I consider myself a student (somewhat). Campus looked prettier hehe. It was almost 5 pm on friday but I decided to see if I could pick up any info/brochures from the Career Services Office. Let me tell you, boy, were they surprised to see me. I was able to snag some informative flyers and brochures though, and they even gave me the Wetfeet Guide to Careers and Industries for MBA (or something like that) which was a $28 value! Looking back on it, I think the student at the desk made a mistake in giving it to me (it was probably intended for people to browse) but I sure appreciate it :) Very informative book.

Afterwards, I went to the bookstore and was pretty disappointed. The t-shirts I liked didn't fit me very well and they were out of stock of the sweatpants that I was clamoring for. My favorite sweatshirt also fit weird and there were no cool shorts that I would wear for basketball. After 40 minutes of intense deliberation, I left with only 1 t-shirt for myself and 2 more for my recommenders. Sadness.

I hopped on the 1 train and jetted down to Wall Street to meet a couple old co-workers from when I used to do the trading assistant thing. I had pizza at Adrienne's (my fav pizza in the world actually) and almost exploded from the 7 slices. We hung around Ulysses (a popular Wall Street bar) for a little bit and I must say, I'm glad I came back because it reminded me of exactly why I exited the financial services industry. Let's just say it wasn't my kinda scene. So Sales & Trading might be out as a career... for now. It was also weird/fun to step back onto my old trading floor. Nostalgia.

The next day, Saturday, I hung out in the city all day with an old friend from my alma mater. We went to my favorite veggie restaurant, Red Bamboo, on West 4th street and saw the movie, "Man on Wire" at the Sunshine (I think it's called) theatre downtown. It was a really interesting movie about the guy who wire-walked between the Twin Towers. Intense footage. We also had some cake and drink at Teany (the Moby-owned tea shop). Nice day.

Saturday night I met up with my co-worker who transferred to NY for dinner and then we met her boyfriend who is an Architecture student at Columbia. I checked out his student housing and it was pretty nice! It was just off 120th street and Broadway and rent was cheap, only $900 per month. He shared it with 2 other guys but the rooms were decent sized and there was a decent sized living room and even a guest room/office/den. Not bad. Then we went to some local Columbia bars. We went to 1020 which seemed like a huge sports bar that was super crowded so we immediately left and went to another place which seemed okay. I want to say it was the Pourhouse but I don't really think so. We ended the night at Havana Central (which oddly enough closes down at 2 am on saturday!?!?) ... I guess late nights will have to be spent downtown. It was relatively low-key and I didn't meet any CBS students.

On sunday, I had brunch with a future classmate that I was introduced to from another friend. I had never met this person but he turned out to be pretty cool. We got Korean food in Korea-Town since it was close to Penn Station. Both food and conversation were great... it turns out that he and I have very similar career backgrounds. Eerily similar actually. BTW, I can't wait for someone to start the Facebook group for our class. After a one hour conversation, I headed back to DC with my stomach full of noodles.

All in all a good trip! Tonight I will be meeting 2 future classmates for dinner/happy hour. I've met both of them before but we're going to celebrate because the 2 of them just got accepted within the last week or so. Fun stuff.

For some reason I feel like I'm no longer that involved in the blogosphere so let me take this moment to send out some positive vibes to Soni, Samantha, D.G., V2B, and of course, the MIA HappyBunny. I hope they're all kicking some admissions tuckus at this very moment!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

MBA Veggie Rankings 2008 (aka Bored at Work)

Wow, I am ridiculously bored at work so I will start posting about trivial updates. I learned yesterday that the co-worker whom I met at the CBS Info Session in DC in september just got admitted! That is great news. We are planning on getting dinner/drinks sometime next week since we work from different client sites (I'm a lousy consultant for those who don't remember). We might also meet up with another admit from DC whom I met through the forums. This will be fun because we'll already have a bond, and then when we get to school next year, we'll hopefully be able to introduce each other to our separate clusters/networks. Speaking of which, HappyBunny has a friend in NY who got admitted insanely early (mid-September) to CBS and I will be grabbing brunch with him on sunday. On a sidenote, I'm sure everyone's noticed that HappyBunny has taken her blog down at least temporarily. She hadn't found much that she wanted to blog about any more and I think she wanted to re-focus herself on the rest of her apps. But whatever the reason, maybe she'll want to do a "guest blog post" on MBA Veggie some day :)

So I am going back to NY this weekend. Taking friday off to do it too! I have a huge list of Columbia gear to purchase from the bookstore and I'll probably stop by the Career Services office too to see what literature I can pick up. Otherwise, I'll be basically meeting some old friends and co-workers (keeping the old work network alive plus I am genuinely excited to see some of my old buddies again). Might go out hard on saturday night. Just a quick 2 day trip.

Work is terribly boring, perhaps even moreso than it used to be which is hard to believe. But I am coping better with it as I've built up some immunity over all this time. Obviously I'm just cruising nowadays. I started thinking about where I will travel before school starts. My only international experiences have been to Taiwan, China, the Carribean, and Australia. I'm thinking maybe I can go back to Australia in January (it's summer there) and London in early Summer. And hopefully San Francisco in mid-spring. Then I can still go on the pre-MBA World Tour with CBS students in July/August :)

So most of you know that BusinessWeek comes out with its MBA Rankings every two years. While I don't think their list is as accurate as U.S. News' list, it's still interesting and garners tons of debate/discussion amongst the aspirant world so I was excited that I heard it was going to be released today. Apparently that is false. I emailed one of the BusinessWeek editors and she said that the magazine hits newstands next thursday, November 13th, and that the list won't be released beforehand. Darn it.

Well I can't wait and I am extremely bored at work, sooo...... I decided to create the first annual MBA Veggie Rankings for 2008 :P This is based on my own biases and extremely subjective "research". Yes, I am a believer in the "M7" and I have no good reasons for some of the ranks I've listed below other than randomly guessing about programs that I do not know enough about (and am too lazy to research). Don't flame me please- this is just for fun!

1. HBS
2. Stanford
3. Wharton
4. Chicago
5. Kellogg
5. MIT Sloan
5. Columbia
8. Tuck
8. Berkeley

10. NYU Stern
11. Darden
11. Duke
11. Yale SOM
14. Ross
14. UCLA
14. Cornell
17. McCombs
17. Tepper
17. Kenan-Flagler

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Internal Job Switch, Ahead of the Curve, etc.

No postings in a week- must be some kinda record for me. I guess I don't have as much to write about now and the stuff that is on my mind I'm afraid would be uninteresting for anyone to read. I guess i'm kinda struggling right now as a blogger- can my readers really relate to me now that we're on different sides of the app process? I don't mean that in a haughty way believe it or not. I just wonder how much people care about my post-app experience since it wasn't the original point of the blog. My site stats have taken a dip recently too... bleh.

I haven't actually ordered Rosetta Stone yet, though I did try the free sample 1st lesson on their sample disc. I was impressed- it was simple, vivid, immersive, and I can see it being effective. But for some strange reason I didn't find myself motivated to go back and try the other lessons (it turns out that I wouldn't even have the option since only the 1st lesson was free). Do I really want to spend a few hundred bucks on it and never use it?

I am such a waste of space right now. I do little to no work at work, and then I play basketball at the gym for 4 hours daily. Literally. Apparently 1st year MBA life doesn't afford time for such luxuries so I'll get in all my playing now :) But seriously, I need some goals or something. I did borrow my co-worker's Financial Accounting textbook though. It's not the one that CBS uses but I just want to grasp some of the concepts so that everything won't be new. I hear accounting is one of the big ass-kickers for 1st years at most programs. And about work... I have the opportunity to switch teams to the economic analysis part of our company's business. It sounds cooler but it isn't... essentially I would be working as a scheduler and using Microsoft Project for 8 hours a day. It sounds terrible! But I would also use Excel a lot more and might improve my Excel skills which is important to me. Should I switch or not? The other option is to stay on my current team which is super easy and unchallenging (I basically do 1 hour of work per day!) and I could try to learn Excel on my own instead. Might be nice to take it easy before school starts but then again, I've been taking it easy for a year now. I have actually been chatting with a fellow admitted CBS student who quit her job the day after she got accepted... guess she's just having fun for the next 9 months!

By the way, I was in Barnes and Noble the other day and read the first 15 pages of Ahead of the Curve, the insider look at 2 years at Harvard Business School. It was a pretty good read, obviously very interesting and relevant since he graduated in 2004. I will probably go back and read it a few more times for free hehe. But that got me thinking: should I write my own insider experience about CBS? I don't mean that in a negative way... I don't expect to smear the school at all... if you haven't noticed, I am very pro-Columbia :) But maybe it would be good for my memoirs and a good fallback if I can't get a high-paying job... then I could just publish a book! haha, maybe I will keep a blog while I'm at school but looking around at other student blogs, it looks like there isn't enough time to post every couple days... once a week if you're lucky. Who knows.

Hopefully I'll have more interesting things to blog about soon. I'll actually be in NY this coming weekend to see a friend or two and take my old manager out to dinner (the one who wrote me a rec)... oh, and I'll be stocking up at the Columbia bookstore ;) On my shopping list are 5 t-shirts (3 for recommenders, 2 for me), sweatpants, and a hoodie. Maybe I will sample Hamilton Deli too.

OH! I cannot believe I almost forgot. Last thursday was a happy hour with co-workers to celebrate my acceptance... it lasted from 6 pm to 12:30 pm! I actually got pretty darn drunk and there was lots of dancing. Stuff that I normally wouldn't do if I still cared hehe.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Core Exemptions, Future Careers, Recruiting Strategy

It looks like there's been a spate of dings recently on the BW and GMATclub forums for CBS. Like everyone else, I don't know why this is the case, especially after they seemed to accept such a high percentage of the early submitters (yes, I consider myself extremely fortunate). My guess is that they may have realized how many people they were accepting and decided to become a lot more stringent and selective, knowing full well that the volume of apps at the very end of the ED cycle and RD cycle would be ridiculously high. I'm sure they've already started seeing signs of this. In an chat with the Dean of Admissions, Linda Abraham, several weeks ago, she revealed that ED apps were up "double digits" in terms of percentage points at that time.

As for me, the euphoria is slowly wearing off but of course I'm deeply appreciative of my situation. Let's just hope I pass the Kroll background check!

Anyway, I've been spending my last couple days researching the Core curriculum. I want to exempt out of either 1 full semester course or 2 half semester courses. That way I can take an elective (or 2) while still spending the bulk of my courses with my Cluster-mates. The electives will allow me to take something interesting or to take a course in preparation for my summer internship. Originally I wanted to exempt out of either Financial Accounting or Corporate Finance, both full-term courses. But after emailing people from the Hermes Society (CBS' student ambassadors), I realize that I should probably take those courses since I have no background in them. Instead, I'll try to place out (via exemption exams) of 2 courses that I am well-versed in, Managerial Economics (aka Micro Econ) and Managerial Statistics. Taking 2 half-semester courses might be even more interesting! Plus this will allow me to meet some 2nd year students which might be helpful for networking.

The great thing about this new plan is that I don't even have to learn a whole new subject. I can just brush up on what I already know a month before the exemption exam and I should be golden. In the meantime, I'm still going to learn some basic Accounting principles. I heard that the course really flies by and I don't want to be caught off-guard. Btw, kinda sux that CBS has grade disclosure.

In other news, thanks to everyone for voting on my poll (on the right side of the page!) ... I'm really surprised how much support General Management has received. This has totally changed my perspective on it and I recently learned that it's more than just managing people; it's also about managing the bottomline and thinking about strategy, marketing, pricing, etc. Sounds realllly interesting. At least that's what Wikipedia's description makes me think hehe. I'm gonna put investment/asset management on the back-burner for now. My primary 2 career paths I think will be Sales & Trading (more trading than sales please) and General Management. For GM though, I'd like to focus on the luxury retail sector- just sounds much more interesting unless it's something else I find interesting such as GM for basketball-related organizations. On the same note, my 2 areas of focus/concentration I anticipate to be Finance & Economics and either Entrepreneurship or Leadership/Management.

Work sucks but it's easy so I can't complain too much. I did learn from one of the Hermes members an important tip though (sidenote here: only 2 of the 4 I emailed actually responded which doesn't seem too good considering that they volunteered to be student ambassadors). She suggested that I have fun and do enjoyable things before b-school starts. She revealed that recruiting is less about what classes you take and what experience you have (since so many people are career-switchers anyway), and more about effort and interpersonal skills. She emphasized that if you want a job, you need to attend all their recruiting events and be a personable person when you meet the recruiter all those times. Basically the recruiter needs to think "this is a person that I'd like to work alongside". That means it's more important to travel and try new, fun things before b-school than it is to learn accounting. Makes sense especially cuz I used to interview candidates when I was a trading assistant at a bulge bracket bank. We basically took whoever we liked the most (aka fun and personable) out of those who met the competency/hard-working threshold.

In other news, the friend whom I've been GMAT-tutoring pro bono just took her exam on Monday. She did okay but didn't get her goal and is incredibly discouraged. We'll whip her back into shape though.

And on a final tangent, I started thinking of names for my future children (please stop reading now if you don't want to be nauseated). I think my top choices for girl names are Avery and Paige. For boy names, I think Penn isn't bad... or maybe TienyChesney Junior! I'm a big fan of naming kids after locations. Maybe one of their middle names will be Morningside :)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

HBS Visit - Part 2

We take a hiatus from my CBS revelry to finish my recounting of my HBS visit which was a full month ago now. When we last left off, I was walking into the Technology and Operations Process Management class (or something like that).

The classroom (forget the building name now) was in the basement. But don't be fooled. The halls and facilities were immaculate. There were students milling about happily and conversing. The hallways were actually quite crowded as class was just about to begin. Everything was clean and comfortable and there were student mailboxes everywhere and free food (I think) on some tables. We entered a classroom and our student host introduced us to the professor who was very welcoming. We took 2 vacant seats near the front (all classes have assigned seats as per the norm at most b-schools I think). At the beginning of class, the professor introduced us to the rest of the class which surprised me. Then even more surprisingly, the entire class applauded! I was astounded by this. It was kinda strange but the unity of it all really made an impression on me. It was a good thing.

The class went on and I was surprised at how much everyone participated. There were probably 90 students in the class and for any given question, maybe 10 to 30 of the students would raise their hand. People really participated! The students were excited to participate and the professor really guided and steered the lesson. He would take the salient points and write them up on some cool chalkboards. I noticed that HBS even used some high-end, really thick chalk hehe. The students applauded whenever a fellow classmate made a good point and they all laughed whenever anyone goofed up or said something funny. Never was anyone condescending. I was really astonished and impressed. The community feel was definitely there. After the class, I would learn that TOP Management was supposed to be the most boring class! Yet I had a blast. I didn't even come close to nodding off (falling asleep) which is something that I've battled at every other class visit I've ever had anywhere else. I think this is attributed to the participative atmosphere and the insightful and sometimes humorous comments made by the students. At the end of class, the professor came directly over to me and my friend to ask us what we thought of the class! Amazing.

The classroom facilities rival those of any school I've visited. They are tiered stadium-seats like any other classroom but super nice and clean and large with great acoustics and tons of chalkboards. Each seat also has a voting panel so that the class can take impromptu votes at any time!

At the end of class, the Cluster held their end-of-week awards which is their way of poking fun at each other. For about 15 minutes, they handed out silly and hilarious awards like "person guilty for having a calculator with the most flair" and it was accompanied by a knee-slapping powerpoint presentation. I laughed my ass off. The class then voted on where to take their October cluster weekend trip. This generated a lot of open debate and almost caused a riot. I thought it was funny but some people were actually getting riled up which kinda put my friend off. It was probably the only negative (slightly) thing I experienced. All in all, the case study method at Harvard is unbelievable. I am a super fan!

Afterwards, our student host had to go meet some people (forget what) so my friend and I went back to Spangler cafeteria. We sat down with some random students for lunch that we recognized from the class and they were obliging. It was a good conversation and they were encouraging me to apply even though I said I thought my chances were slim. They insisted that they were all normal people but that wasn't necessarily true. For instance, 2 of the guys we were sitting with were an energy trader at a hedge fund prior to entering HBS and the other was an Olympic gold medalist on the national ski team. Normal guys huh? I don't remember what the third guy was but he was talking to my friend more while I was talking to the other two. I asked them about the "HBS douchebag" stereotype. They laughed and estimated that maybe 50% were douchebags and that it was probably even a conservative estimate. Then they followed that up by saying that there are all sorts of people in such a large class so you'll still find people you love hanging out with which is true. Afterwards, I told my friend that the "HBS douchebag" stereotype wasn't apparent at all. She said it's funny because she considered the students we sat with as "the douchebags"! Haha, I can see what she means by that but considering my undergrad alma mater, I guess I didn't really notice it (she went to a liberal arts school instead). I guess that means I am more immune to douchebags because I was around them so much already. Then we ran from lunch because we were late for the admissions info session at 2 pm.

We were stressed cuz we were actually 5 minutes late for the info session cuz we got lost. There were about 25 people there and the admissions officer was obviously a rookie. She was visibly nervous and talked extremely fast. No new info here (as usual) but she did mention that HBS was trending younger (in response to someone's question). This is an interesting trend because other schools (Wharton and Columbia are specific examples) who have also stated explicitly that they are seeing and accepting more early-entry candidates. At the end of the session, I lined up to talk to her and ask her real estate-specific questions. Unfortunately, there was a scattered line and three people actually cut in front of me! I was not going to make this an issue obviously but I was kinda staggered by their gall. I guess it is competitive to get into HBS hehe.

I felt bad for the rookie admissions officer because she said she had a meeting in 10 minutes and that she was going to grab a quick lunch from the Spangler cafeteria beforehand. Four other prospectives and I walked alongside her with our questions. I had a nice, brief, 2 or 3 question chat with her and then I let her go. Unfortunately, she stopped right in front of Spangler and the questions kept coming hard and fast from the other prospectives. Wow, these HBS prospectives are really motivated! She was so nice and such a rookie that she took all the questions and Spangler closed behind her and she couldn't even get her lunch. In the end she walked out late to her meeting without any lunch. I kinda felt bad for her that us ravenous aspirants overwhelmed her (not me specifically but you know what I mean).

Seconds later, my friend bumped into her friend who she recognized from high school who was there. He was a 2nd year and apparently turned down a private equity job offer to attend HBS. He was looking to become a portfolio manager for a very specific kind of fund and said that he's been networking like crazy and still hadn't found the job he wanted. He said he was definitely feeling the economic downturn but I have a feeling that he was being super selective. He seemed like a superstar.

Afterwards, we went to the HBS Co-op (aka the bookstore) and it was huge! Harvard Business School has its own bookstore which is the size of most university bookstores! Seriously. I could not believe all the merchandise they had. It seemed to be priced a bit higher than most other school's merchandise too. It was crazy how many shirts and pants and mugs and knick-knacks that they produced, but it made sense. After all, I'm sure all of the students are super proud and buy aparell for all their friends and family.

That was the end of our HBS visit. It completely blew my mind in every way possible. The campus and facilities were definitely top top top. The professor and case study method was unbelievably engaging and stimulating. I was entertained. The caliber of student body was amazing too... everyone seemed incredibly articulate, attractive, bright, and had perfect teeth. They all looked like their clothes were purchased yesterday. I cannot imagine a better b-school. Seriously. I gave serious thought to applying to HBS after the visit but in the end, the extra recommendation (3 instead of 2) and non-transferrable essays (for the most part) made me decide against it. I will say this, however. I would only give up my CBS admit for one other school, and that is HBS. I understand there are plenty of schools that are generally considered "better" such as Stanford, Wharton, etc. But for me, I would only trade CBS for HBS. But I don't have that decision to make and obviously I'm ecstatic about Columbia :)

Afterwards, my friend and I walked through Cambridge. What a nice town, really! Then we rested and met up with a bunch of her friends for dinner, one of whom was an executive for Teach For America. We called it an early night and then took a taxi to his apartment (where we stayed) in the Back Bay area of Boston, which was reallllly nice. Quite impressive. The small but intimate and high-quality apartments reminded me of Manhattan. We had some really good conversation and had a great night's sleep before waking up for brunch and catching a flight back to DC the next day. All in all, HBS rules, every other school drools (except CBS of course hehe) j/k.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Quick Updates

I submitted my deposit the day after I got admitted- never been so happy to spend $6,000 in my life. I mailed my official transcripts today too. There are a million things on the school's to-do-list but that's a good problem to have. Many of the tasks can't be completed until after January 1, 2009 anyway.

I just signed up to be a research participant for Rosetta Stone. Coincidentally, they need participants for Spanish (Latin America) which is precisely the language I am trying to learn. I would also get paid if I am selected! I should find out by Wednesday whether they've selected me. In the meantime, I need to do some self-study. I want to get either a Financial Accounting or Corporate Finance textbook. I will read it myself (no continuing education for me, probably not worth it) and if I'm lucky, I'll be able to text out of a Core class and replace it with an elective. Even if I don't pass, I will have a leg up. Corporate Finance sounds more interesting but we'll see. I'm going to see if I can get the syllabi to learn which textbooks that CBS actually uses.

I've also been thinking about post-MBA jobs and career tracks and all that. It's really quite difficult. I no longer want to do real estate development (though I'm still highly intrigued by it) and recently considered investment management. The problem with that is that I'd start off doing research and I don't know if analyzing securities appeals to me that much. I'd much rathe analyze something on a macro-level; I would rather analyze the market. So I considered a trading career which seems to match up well with my interests. However, I don't get that excited thinking about it, which worries me. It's funny that I used to be a trading assistant and left, and now I might return!? Also, what are the exit strategies? From my personal experience, the traders that flame out wind up being brokers. I don't want to get a top MBA to become a broker eventually. Trading is extremely risky in that you can have massive losses in the short-term and be laid off after a week. I've seen it happen myself.

General management sounds interesting but I feel like that is settling. Plus, aren't middle managers the first people to get fired once hard times arise? Lastly, I've thought about Luxury & Retail Goods. Sounds really interesting, right? But what is it exactly? It seems to me that it is basically upscale brand management (marketing) but a lot more strategic. That's really appealing and of course, everyone likes luxury goods. Is it right for me? I like fashion but don't know if I can represent it. Lotsa research to do.

Anyway, I have a new poll up on the right side. Please vote :) Thank you!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Preparing for B-School

Wow, that was exhilirating. Thank you to everyone who expressed their support throughout this journey and congratulated me recently. I'm still taken aback by the high level of community support and encouragement I've gotten from the blogosphere. The fact that my last post (my shortest one ever) got the most amount of comments is really telling. Ya'll have been wonderful and I'm really glad to share the rest of my adventure. Even if my applicant life is finished (kinda), a new one begins. I'll be sure to keep bloggin though I might change the name of this at some point.

I figured I'd recount what happened on Thursday, Oct. 9th. The "status change" email was sent at 11:41 am EST but I didn't check my email until 11:50 am. I had been checking it obsessively (nearly every ten minutes) that morning becuz I had a feeling that it'd be the day. To be honest, I had felt every day was going to be the day for the past week hehe ;) When I saw the email in my inbox, my heart jumped. I sat back in my chair and accessed the all-too-familiar CBS website to click through the jungle of links that one must navigate before accessing the applicant status page (couldn't they make this more streamlined? hehe). While clicking, I breathed heavily and kept telling myself "NYU is a great program and you'll love going there for 2 years. Are you ready to apply to NYU Stern?" I said that to myself a couple times to brace myself for disappointment if it were the case. Then I clicked onto the final page and the first word was "Congratulations..." and the rest of the line read "on behalf of Dean. Glenn Hubbard and the rest of the Columbia..." and the end of the sentence read "... to offer you a place in the class..." !!! That was it, I stopped reading. I couldn't even read the rest of the three paragraphs that talked about the deposit and next steps. I started shaking my hands in flustered disbelief, grabbed my phone, and walked out of my office building with a ridiculous grin on my face. I probably scared everyone who walked by me. Then I made the obligatory calls to family and a couple friends before I realized that I'd be spending way too much time on the phone (and i'm actually working on a proposal effort right now) so I went back to my desk and emailed some others and updated my blog. Then I went back to work (kinda).

And that's it. That's how it happened. I did go out for just a little bit that thursday night. I'm still not sure which is the greater feeling: 1) being in the Columbia MBA class of 2011, 2) being done and happy with the certainty of my future for the next 10 months, or 3) not having to do any more applications which would be such a huge investment of both time, money, and energy. Oh who am I kidding- I guess number one trumps them all. Yesterday I mailed in my check for the infamous $6,000 deposit. CBS allows 2 weeks for you to mail or wire it. I don't think I've ever been so happy to write such a large check. Later that day, I updated the GMATclub and was delighted to find that some had already known about it from my blog... same with the BW forums. I also went on the CBS online bookstore to pick out t-shirts and sweatpants. Yes, I am that much a tool.

So what do I do now for the next 10 months? Aside from the mountain of virtual forms and to-do-list that CBS gives its admitted students (well over a dozen tasks ranging from health forms, to transcripts, to submitting a deposit, to filling out career development surveys, to housing forms, etc.) and the overwhelming wealth of info on the Admitted Students Page, I want to prepare for b-school. I want to position myself to take advantage of everything. So here's my personal plan in no particular order:

1) Transfer to the economic analysis unit within my company to learn more quantitative work.

2) Beef up my excel skills. This will go hand-in-hand with number one.

3) Learn spanish via Rosetta Stone discs. Seriously. I really like the little spanish I know and CBS has such a large contingent of Latin American speakers that this will prove very worthwhile for me.

4) Take an intro accounting course or corp finance course. Or at least buy and read a textbook gradually. Maybe I can place out of one of the Core courses (just one cuz I'd like to have the other courses with my cluster-mates) and take an elective instead.

5) Learn more about investment management careers, jobs, recruiting, etc. I think I want to go into this (tough I know).

6) Stay abreast of current economic news. Seriously. I don't do a good enough job of this. I need to make CNBC my homepage.

7) Keep checking out the housing market in the UWS and Morningside Heights for ideas/possibilities.

8) Consider taking an unpaid internship at a local investment management firm. It might be worth it because I'm not in dire need of salary right now but the experience could help me a land a good internship which in turn will help me land a good full-time job post-MBA. I might need the leg up as a career switcher if the economy's not rebounding by then.

9) Purchase much Columbia gear (Columbia gear in general, not CBS gear because I hate the branded logo- so ugly!)

10) Help fellow blogger community join Maxwriter and I as classmates. I'm looking at you Soni, HappyBuns, Samantha, and everyone else. For those of you who are Regular Decision, I will persuade you to matriculate upon your acceptance.

Obviously I'll try to attend all the admitted student events. There's one on December 3rd that is still not finalized but I'll definitely make a one-day trip up to NY for that. I can't wait to get involved. I wonder if I should update my facebook to show the Columbia network? But then again, I don't want certain co-workers to know... Okay, it's actually my alma mater's homecoming weekend so I will be getting blasted tonight but maybe I'll play with my resume a lil right now to see how it might look in the future :)

I attended a Wharton presentation on Tuesday but I won't be blogging about it. I'll still finish up my HBS Visit post at some point though. And I'm going to post my own personal guide to combatting (and hopefully conquering) each stage of the admissions process. Maybe it'll prove helpful to a few who are still in the earlier stages. Again, feel free to reach out if I can help in any way.

Thursday, October 9, 2008


My heart is still pounding... got the status email right before noon. Frantically calling friends and family now. Will post more later. AY CARUMBA!~

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

HBS Visit - Part I

I’ve heard that the waiting period after Columbia’s interviewer feedback is submitted (and before a final decision is rendered) is the most torturous wait. Luckily, I haven’t found that to be the case. I was much more anxious on Aug. 13th while waiting for my app to change to “under review”. I’ve been fairly relaxed, checking my inbox for that “status change” email only once every half hour as opposed to every ten minutes. I’m sure that the wait will become much more excruciating as the days drag on and my chances of a ding increase (shudder). I will attempt to pass the next half hour by debriefing ya’ll on my HBS visit from a couple weeks ago.

We stayed at a friend of a friend’s place in the Back Bay part of Boston, which was really nice. Really impressive. The tiny but beautiful apartments reminded me of Manhattan. Boston certainly is cozier/more intimate but still a pretty nice city. It was nice to sleep in a real home as opposed to a post-college den. The friend of a friend is actually one of the execs for Teach For America and he (and his girlfriend) were excellent hosts.

That morning, we wanted to catch the early Finance class (I think at 9:15 or so) but it took us forever (nearly 15 minutes) to catch a taxi in Cambridge (inexcusable) that we were 5 minutes late. The student (another friend of my friend) was already in the class and we didn’t want to disturb it so we walked around campus for the next hour or so. The HBS campus is astonishing. It blew me away in every respect. It is literally its own campus and situated on the Boston side of the Charles River as opposed to the Cambridge side with the rest of Harvard’s schools. HBS is made up of approx. 7 or 8 very nice, modern buildings. They are all connected by underground tunnels so you don’t even have to step foot outside when the weather stinks. I quickly realized that having its own physical campus was a plus, not a minus. I originally thought it would be a disadvantage because I wanted to be able to fraternize with the students from other schools and feel a part of a larger community. But the thing is, HBS is so freaking large (900 students per class) that it is its own community. It is still a bustling and vibrant campus without having all the other schools around. I totally didn’t foresee that.

The first building that we entered was Shad Hall aka the gym. HBS students have their own exclusive gym (other students can’t use it) but HBS students can use the other gyms! Awesome. It was really nice. There were 3 new basketball courts and the weight room and exercise machines were all in these really rich mahogany-walled rooms with crimson carpeting. It looked like somebody accidentally put the exercise machines in the library of a mansion! All the machines looked new. The locker rooms were unbelievable and had tissue boxes and hairdryers in every row. The urinals were weird and super fancy- they were “98% waterless” and used some microbacterial technology that kept it clean. It sounded disgusting but I’m sure it does the job. The gym got me so pumped!

Then we walked into the non-faith-affiliated Chapel which is in the shape of a stout cylinder. When we walked inside, it was really pretty. The stairs into the ground floor of the chapel had its own garden with lush plants surrounding the staircases. There were 2 workers watering the plants. It appeared to me that HBS really had a ton of excess money to spend on such luxuries which I guess shouldn’t have surprised me. The auditorium itself was very nice and basic with several dozen chairs and two pianos (I think) and an alter. Tasteful.

We didn’t have any interest in checking out Baker library so we went to the Arthur Rock Center which is their center for entrepreneurship. I don’t remember much except that there were lots of cabinets and glass cases showcasing all the inventions and products that alumni had created over the years. Sorry, I don’t remember anything of particular note though I’m sure there were plenty of good ideas.

Then we decided to walk into the Admissions Office located in Dillon House which was definitely the most low-key of the buildings, it looked like a small townhouse. There appeared to be only 1 person working there at the time and they were in the back. When we walked in, we were unattended for the first ten minutes. This is probably because class visits and tours don’t start until October and we visited in mid-September. We browsed the various magazines and pictures and I took some candy from the mammoth candy bowl. There was a stack of really cute and innovative fold-out maps of the HBS campus sitting on the receptionist’s desk. It folded out to become a really artsy (it was illustrated) map of the campus. It’s hard to describe but it was really impressive and I could not imagine any other school having the resources to commission such a neat little thing that was unnecessary but so, so nice. When an admissions person (she seemed like staff, not an officer, but I don’t really remember) finally came out, she told us that visits had not started yet but that an info session would be held at 2 pm. She suggested that we walk around campus and maybe grab breakfast in Spangler, the student center and cafeteria.

We opted to grab breakfast at Spangler and wow, was it nice. It was the nicest school cafeteria I had ever seen. The food was prepared by Restaurant Associates, the same firm that did our food at Deutsche Bank’s cafeteria, but it looked better, maybe because it was so spacious and clean. The presentation really matters I guess. I got an egg and cheese croissant while my friend got a smoothie. When we sat down, we were amazed at the furniture. There is typical cafeteria tables but they were much smaller and nicer. The wood looked really rich (maybe just the paint or whatever). There were also a lot of other areas that you could sit since Spangler is the student center as well. Those places you have to check out on the HBS website’s campus tour because there were rugs everywhere and rich leather couches and loveseats. It was the difference between having $200 chairs and $800 chairs (note: those values are wild conjecture). Completely unnecessary but so luxurious to have! There were only a few students there eating breakfast and reading simultaneously. I noticed that the women at HBS are certainly more attractive than any other school I’ve seen. They were on par with the NYU Stern girls except the HBS women had more expensive-looking clothes hehe.

The food was good though. I can totally imagine eating there every day for 2 years (okay, maybe not every single day but still). After eating, we met up with my friend’s friend, Amy, at 11:30 or so to sit in on her next class, Technology and Operations Process Management (TOP Mgmt) or something like that. We met in front of her class's building, Aldrich, which was very state of the art.

I’ll post on that and the rest of my day in Part 2 because I’ve already written 2.5 pages single-spaced. Oy! Oh, and the funny thing was that there wasn't a sign-in sheet at the Admissions Office. My friend and I joked that HBS probably didn't care about keeping track of which applicants were truly interested in the school (in order to manage their yield)- instead, HBS probably just assumed that you would matriculate if accepted! hehe

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Interviewer Feedback Submitted

My interviewer submitted her feedback a few minutes ago so that's great news. Hopefully I will be one of those quick turn-around decision cases. Judging from last year's trends, quick decisiosn tended to be acceptances while long decisions tended to be deferrals or dings (with a couple exceptions of course). So hopefully a decision will be forthcoming quickly :)

For some odd reason, I was starting to lose hope and went through the entire NYU Stern website today for the past 5 hours (yes, I am serious). I was just about to start the application when I got the "status change" email from CBS. I will be visiting home in NY this weekend so it would be sweet to have a decision by friday. One can dream :) If I do get accepted though, rest assured that I will continue blogging and even provide in-depth posts on every single stage of the admissions process, from GMAT prep to managing recs to deciding what tie not to wear during the interview hehe.

Yup, this was a short post for once. I just wanted to keep ya'll in the loop :)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Yale SOM Visit

I visited Yale SOM on my birthday almost a week and a half ago. It was the second school on my New England trip (MIT Sloan was the first and HBS would follow). Apologies for not writing about it sooner but the whole Columbia interview thing sidetracked me.

So on Thursday morning, we woke up early to meet up with HappyBunny (yes, that very one!) and her friend who had kindly offered to drive us from Boston to New Haven for the day. Happy's friend was also a prospective for Fall 2009 so we were all excited to check out SOM. There was some bad traffic for some reason but HappyB was a great sport about it and got us all munchkins!! We got to SOM right at 11:30 am for a welcome from the Student Ambassadors. As soon as I walked into the admissions office, Kathy Frost, one of the staff whom I spoke to on the phone a couple weeks prior, wished me a happy birthday. I was shocked that she remembered me! That was really nice though and caught my friends by surprise as they didn't even know. When I walked into the next room with the student ambassadors, I learned that Dave, my GMAT prep instructor from Veritas (and all-around super cool dude) was one of the ambassadors! He is a 1st year MBA student as well. We caught up for only a minute when the welcome started.

After the ambassadors introduced themselves (there were 5 of them for only 14 prospectives!), we walked over to Donaldson Commons which is the SOM cafeteria. We received free vouchers for lunch which was really nice. The cafeteria was good too. I got a Thai tofu wrap, some pineapple, and an Odwalla shake. Lunch and the smalltalk was nice. The cafeteria was cool and intimate-feeling.

Then we had our choice of classes to visit. I opted for "Careers" since I thought it would give me useful stuff to think about. The classroom, however, was a bit disappointing. The acoustics were not very good (people couldn't hear each other unless they used the mic) and the floor was flat as opposed to raised. This meant that people in the back had their view of the blackboard/projection screen obstructed by the heads of students in the front. I would also say that roughly half of SOM classes are below ground which is kinda unusual. The class was lackluster because it didn't talk about careers at all. Instead, it focused on personal development and Levinson's 8 stages of development (and Piaget's stages too perhaps, I don't remember). I had already learned all that stuff from my extensive psychology coursework during undergrad so I was disappointed. Another prospy I spoke to and a student told me that they didn't think the class was that great either. I was super embarassed when my phone made the largest tone ever when I received a text message. At least half a dozen people turned their heads. Stinks cuz my phone actually was off but then I must've accidentally turned it on again. Ugh.

After class, we had a Q&A with a member of the Adcom which was actually quite boring. I did learn one important piece of info though. She said that we can actually use another school's essay for Yale's "create your own question" option! Seriously! I can't believe she said that but she said that if we created a great story then there's no reason we shouldn't be allowed to use it for Yale's app just becuz another school coincidentally asked for it. I agree- just surprised that she would actually say so! I asked her if the other adcom members felt the same way and she said yes. She also said that the word limits were not strict limits but that a few words over was okay. This is in direct contrast to what Shelley at the Yale Reception (which I wrote about a couple weeks ago) said when she said that the word limits were indeed strict. Oh well.

The Q&A was really boring and monotonous though. I was happy when it was over. Afterwards, we went into downtown New Haven to pick up something from CVS and get HappyB some sandals since she had been wearing heels all day. We then went shopping at J.Crew and the Yale Coop bookstore. I had been super ecstatic about getting myself a Yale t-shirt (not SOM, but just "yale" on the front). When I finally found the perfect one (that fit perfectly too!), I couldn't bring myself to purchase it (even though the price was right). Yale's campus was very nice and the SOM facilities were decent but I wasn't in super love. I would've just been a poser if I bought that shirt I think. Plus I would've had to explain why I was wearing the shirt to people who might ask. So I didn't buy it :(

Dave, one of our student ambassadors and my former GMAT instructor, then told me of a happy hour/bbq that he was hosting on his lawn! That was really cool of him. I said that we'd drop by after dinner because we had dinner plans with some of HappyB and her friend's friends who were also SOM students. We met them for Thai food (don't remember the name of the place) but the food was good enough. It's funny because one of them was actually a co-founder of Google China and the others kept referring to her as "the founding member" which embarrassed her. The SOM students were really warm and friendly though. We had a great time at dinner and we felt very welcomed and included. A part of that might be because we were all Asian though hehe. In fact, everyone could speak Mandarin (including yours truly) and the 3 SOM students were actually international students so maybe that contributed to the bond/kinship. Anyway, we had such a good time at dinner that it was late for Dave's bbq. I still wanted to stop by but unfortunately, HappyB's friend had work the next morning so we drove back to Boston. I did thank Dave for the generous invite though- I really hope he didn't take it the wrong way.

We got back to Boston around 11 pm and we were pretty tired even though we slept in the car hehe. All in all, it was a very enjoyable and fun trip. One of the students was actually looking to do real estate finance so he was a helpful person to talk to as well. Plus, we got to meet "the founding member" haha! A funny thing is that all 3 of the students admitted that HBS was actually their first choice school! Yale's community were definitely very warm and welcoming but the facilities were just okay. The food was good though. I didn't see too much of New Haven but it didn't seem as run-down as I expected. It seemed okay I guess, which is how I would describe SOM overall. I'm sure it'll be amazing once the new building is built but that's not until 2013 or so. I think Stern might have the edge on Yale at this point, not really sure.

I will post about my HBS visit towards the end of the week.... unless I get accepted by CBS in which case I might just say "screw it." My interviewer still hasn't submitted feedback but I'm going to wait til Thursday (1 week) to contact the admissions office and ask them "how long should I wait?" ... don't worry, I won't contact the interviewer directly. A lot of people have commented that I shouldn't have asked the interviewer for feedback on how I did which I now agree with. She was definitely surprised by the question and gave me some generic response about how Columbia looks for people who are very enthusiastic about the program. But the past is the past and I still think I had a great interview (despite that 1 question). So I guess I should stop freaking out :)

Friday, September 26, 2008

CBS Interview Scheduled... and Done!

Thank you to everyone who provided their advice on my interviewer strategy. Seriously. I got a lot of perspectives and good suggestions- I was quite surprised by how many helpful comments and shows of support there were. You guys are so good to me! Anyway, you'll be happy to know that I decided to email 3 additional interviewers. The crazy thing is that I didn't even know much (if anything) about them. I chose them because I didn't like the people who I was able to find info on. In this case, not knowing anything made me think they seemed alright so I emailed them all. I figured their responses might provide me clues (i.e. their signature). Anyway, one person replied only 8 minutes after I sent my email yesterday. She works only 4 blocks from me and said that she could interview me thursday. I waited until thursday morning to confirm with her as I wanted to give my 1st choice interviewer a chance to respond. When I didn't get a response, I confirmed with the super-speedy interviewer (let's call her Sarah).

I confirmed the interview for 3 pm the same day (I had anticipated this and bought hairspray and a leather portfolio to the office hehe). I even got a haircut on wednesday. I logged into the CBS website to confirm out interview time and to upload my resume. Literally 1 minute afterward, my 1st choice emails me back to suggest coffee this weekend! Arrrgh. Oh well, I didn't want to live in regret so I just forgot about it. I spent the next 4 hours of thursday by practicing my answers to common questions and doing 3 mock interviews with co-workers. Their help was invaluable, not only for the repetitions and ideas, but also the confidence it instilled.

Some background on my interviewer: All I knew was that Sarah worked at a Big 4 accounting firm. I figured she was a management consultant given that I am in Washington DC. That's all I knew. I was very business-like in my emails and worried that I wasn't setting a casual enough of a tone for us. But I figurd it was safer to veer on the side of professional than overly casual. N

Now for the debrief.

I arrived at my interviewer's office building 15 minutes early and relaxed myself by calling a friend and getting my tongue and comfort level flowing. Two minutes before 3pm, I went up the elevator to her floor and waited for her by the front receptionist's desk. I made small talk with the receptionist which I will recommend as a great idea. This calmed me down (rather than waiting silently) and got me in a good, jovial mood. The other plus is that when Sarah showed up to interview me, she saw how friendly and casual I was already. This ensured that Sarah and I would take on a more casual tone than business professional tone (though it might have turned out that way anyway judging from the other debriefs I've read). The other potential plus is that Sarah might've gotten the impression that I'm a genuinely nice guy who treats even the support staff with respect. Good stuff all around hehe.

Sarah took me, not to her office and not to a coffeeshop, but to a tiny interview, empty interview room. I didn't like this but as soon as we sat down, it was obvious that it'd be a friendly interview. It wasn't super casual but it was friendly. I tried to sit up straight and watch my posture (one of my flaws) the entire time which made me feel very business-like. But it went GREAT! It turns out that she went to my undergraduate alma mater as well and even walked onto the women's varsity basketball team! This is great because I am a basketball junkie. She asked for suggestions on where to play pickup games and I told her I still play at our alma mater's gym, and she said she has a friend who plays there. It turns out that her friend is actually on my intramural team!! That friend is also on another team that I played for over the summer where we won the championship. Small world huh? I felt great after that.

The interview went very smoothly. There were no questions that gave me a hard time. Everything was expected from the other debriefs that I've read on or the Clear Admit wiki. We basically went through my resume and I told her my goals and career story thus far. We talked about why Columbia and why MBA. She asked me about my thoughts on leadership and the infamous "ethical dilemma" example. I had answers ready for all of these. There were no questions about technical matters or even current events. She asked me about my current job and what I liked about it and what I actually did day-to-day. She asked me about my extra-curriculars and what I want to be involved with while at Columbia. She asked me what I would bring to Columbia that other applicants wouldn't. All easy stuff! If you read the other debriefs online, you'll be ready for the only mildly difficult questions which were "what will you do if you don't get accepted to Columbia?" and "what other schools are you applying to?" ... nothing should catch you off-guard. That was about it- pretty obvious, straight-forward questions. We were done in only 40 minutes which was fine by me. Obviously the longer the better but she revealed that she was going to be in a meeting from 6-9 pm so I knew she was busy (she revealed that when I asked what she was doing the rest of the day). We got through everything I wanted to say (for the most part) and I left the interview feeling great and energized.

She gave me her business card at the beginning and I made sure to send her an email thanking her when I got home from work. Oh, by the way, at the end she asked me if I had any questions for her. I asked her if she had any feedback for me and what she thought about me. I think this caught her slightly off-guard and she didn't really answer the question. She did say, though, that CBS is obsesssed with identifying applicants who are "extremely enthusiastic about the school." This is a well-known fact due to their ED policy and obsession on yield. She reiterated this a couple times in her answer and I took that as a good sign since she knows that I am super enthusaistic (I was great at conveying this) and she even knows that I submitted my application 3 days before the review period cycle. She told me she was surprised to start interviewing so early this year since she's been an alumni interviewer for a while now. I also asked her what the "next steps in the process" were. She replied that she would submit feedback and that I would then receive a decision in probably a week to a month. That's a bummer. I was hoping she would say that she'd submit her feedback that very day or something but oh well. Still a great interview. Definitely won't hurt me and should actually help me a little. But from the sounds of it, I think most people enjoy their CBS alumni interviews so it won't give me much of an edge.

The great thing is that CBS does not view the interview as a final hurdle in the app process. CBS actually uses the interview as just another factor in the applicant's profile- it just so happens that it comes at the end of the process. So it could very well be the case that the adcom thinks the applicant is stellar and plan on admitting him/her unless he/she completely bombs the interview. That is to say, the interview wouldn't matter much for this kind of applicant. But for those applicants who barely made the threshold of receiving an invite, then adding a positive factor to their applicant could definitely help.

So a great interview overall. I couldn't have asked for better though maybe I didn't need to ask the "do you have any feedback for me?" question. I am very happy though. Too bad she is very busy currently and may not submit feedback for a while. I'll call the admissions office and ask them how long is too long once it hits the 1 week mark. I'm sure the adcom will say something like 2 weeks but it doesn't hurt to ask (anonymously that is!) I guess now I play the waiting game. I actually feel pretty comfortable with my chances of admission and I'm going to hold off on my Wharton app for now.

P.S. new poll is up!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Columbia Interview Invite

Okay, so I know I'm supposed to write about my Yale SOM visit and then my HBS visit but there is more important news. Yesterday, at 5:16 pm, I received the long-awaited "status change" email from Columbia. It took me what felt like ten minutes to check my status on the website and what do you know, I finally got an invitation to interview! I am ecstatic. So last night I researched all 9 interviewer names (you don't get anything aside from name and email address) and put together a spreadsheet of their traits and pros and cons. I'm trying to avoid hard-ass types or those who have worked at my current company and thus know what a joke it is or are hardcore finance/real estate types who might grill me on questions that I don't know. I'm being very strategic about this hehe.

There is one interviewer who seems perfect. The problem is that her alumni email address from her undergraduate school is listed (not work email and not even her CBS email!) so I wonder how often she actually checks that. I emailed her last night and hopefully she'll be able to do it soon. I really want to interview asap and then hopefully drop hints for her to submit her feedback asap. Actually, screw the hints. I will just ask her sincerely (in a super nice and casual manner) when she plans to submit her feedback. Once I ask that, she will probably say something like "oh, I'll submit it tonight or this weekend at the latest." The reason I want them to submit quickly is that it can take anywhere from the same day (no chance with my luck) to nearly 2 weeks to get a final decision. Those are valuable days since Wharton's Oct. 9th deadline for Round 1 is fast approaching. But first I have to secure the inteview with her!

6 of the 9 interviewers are finance people who might ask complicated questions and another 2 of the 9 I couldn't find any info on. The last 1 is her, who I really think is ideal for me. Since the interview can be a decently vital part of the application (why risk it? i might as well finish strong), I would rather wait for her schedule to free up than to take a potentially bad interviewer, even if the delay screws me with regards to Wharton's deadline.

I have a bit of a conundrum then. Should I risk interviewing with the 2 people who I couldn't find any info on? (assuming my ideal interviewer is unavailable). If she doesn't respond within, say 48 hours, would it be grossly inappropriate for me to email her on her work email? (this was not provided by Columbia but I was able to find it by researching LinkedIn). That might be able to get her attention but what if she is offended that I disrupted her work? Any advice is appreciated on how I should proceed. It could very well turn out that she is unavailable (unresponsive or maybe on vacation) and will have to go with one of the 2 "no info" interviewers... or even the dreaded hardcore finance guys! :::gulp:::

Saturday, September 20, 2008

MIT Sloan Visit

I'm finally back from my New England trip. Boston is a much nicer city than I realized, as is Cambridge, so I'm pleasantly surprised. I have now updated my favorite American cities list to (in order): NYC, San Fran, Chicago, and Boston. I won't comment on the banking debacle just yet, but I will post my thoughts on Sloan from my thursday visit. I'll post Yale SOM and Harvard Business School in the coming days.

My thursday flight was at 7:30 am so I was tired as heck but arrived in Cambridge around 9 am. We took a taxi to the Sloan campus and it was really quiet with few people milling about. I thought things would pick up later in the day (and it did) but not to the extent that I would've expected. It's not as bustling a campus as I would like. Sloan is also on the northern tip of the larger MIT campus so it's pretty isolated. There isn't a lot of interaction with the other parts of the campus community. There's also a lot of construction going on now which isolated the Sloan buildings even more. The admissions office was kind enough to let us drop our bags off there while we walked around and got breakfast. We came back for an 11:15 info session with the adcom. The adcom were very personable and friendly (even moreso than other schools) and talked about the school for an hour and took questions. I thought it was funny that the adcom mentioned how their students were very bright and down-to-earth. She chose her words very carefully and I expect this is to combat the perception that MIT students are nerds.

Unfortunately, anyone who walks around for half an hour can see that the nerd stereotype is definitely befitting. What shocked me was that everyone refers to the buildings as "E50" and "E27" rather than the name of the building. This stands for East Buliding #50 and so forth. The professors also refer to the courses by their course numbers, not course names, though the students don't practice that convention. I guess they like their numbers. The thing is, MIT students aren't embarassed about being nerdy, rather, they embrace it. This can be seen from the current MIT logo which looks like large computer pixels. It's definitely a different culture.

Oh, another funny thing, the entire group of prospetives in my info session were Asian (including me)- all 11 of us! Some were half-asian, some were east asian, and some were international but you get the point. It's funny because MIT's brand name really is HUGE in Asia.

After the info session, we split into groups to eat lunch with current students. We actually ate lunch with a military guy who confirmed the nerd stereotype. The lunch was boxed, pretty good, and free courtesy of the adcom. I was impressed by this. By the way, there was also a bunch of free food lying around everywhere we walked, whether it was pizza or mediterranean. Apparently the clubs are currently trying to attract members at this time.

After lunch, I attended a finance class with Professor Lo who is supposed to be very, very good. Before class I spoke to a current student in the core class and he was very friendly and not nerdy, but he confirmed the nerd culture. Professor Lo started out talking about the subprime mess and I agree, he was very good, very engaging. I started falling into my food coma when he started talking about formulas though. What I saw of the class was impressive, however. Afterwards, we dropped off our bags at our friend's place in Allston and came back to MIT for a 4pm pro-seminar.

The pro-seminar was supposed to explain the current subprime mess (which Professor Lo presented and did a great job with) as well as explain careers in finance. Apparently the pro-seiminars are a series of talks that get you ready for recruiting. Nice stuff. The event had free food (all gone by the time I arrived) and was packed, standing room only with about 250 people in attendance perhaps. Afterwards, we milled about some more in Harvard Square and got dinner at Grafton Street which is a nice bistro across from Harvard College. Harvard Square was definitely the hot spot. After dinner, we met up with some MPA (Master's in Public Administration) students, many of who were dual degree HBS students actually, and attended a cocktail party at one of their apartments. Everyone was really nice and I liked all the Harvard MPAs (and dual MBAs) a lot. They all exuded a healthy self-confidence but not arrogant at all- I was pleasantly surprised and had a great time talking to several of them. Then it was bed time. I'll write more about my actual HBS visit later.

All in all, my Sloan visit confirmed that I'm not interested in the school. The class and the pro-seminar were great and the facilities were definitely nice. However, I just don't see the fit with the student culture. Before we left Cambridge on Saturday morning, we had breakfast with a friend who is studying at the School of Urban Planning. He said that the Sloan students that he's met are definitely the best adjusted of all MIT students. I was shocked to hear this and then he quickly added "which is to say they are not completely socially awkward." I hope I don't sound like I'm bashing the school because the programs were really good, but these stereotypes were confirmed by at least 3 of the students themselves. And besides, the campus bookstore (called the COOP) even sold t-shirts that said "Nerd Pride" on them. Oi!

Friday, September 12, 2008

CBS Reception & Birth of Networking God

Thursday was the CBS Admissions Reception in DC. I'll try to keep this brief :) They actually started quite late because they accidentally sent out an email with the wrong time. Ugh. The prospectives I would say were roughly of the same caliber as those at the Yale reception and a noticeable notch below HBS. Interesting that there were considerably more minorities than at HBS though. Anyway, it was pretty packed, I would guess maybe 150-160 people.

The presentation was the same one as the one they show for the campus visits so it was all old news to me. The Q&A session was also pretty lengthy and featured some terrible questions (1 or 2 were answered during the presentation already!) ... not a good showing for my future alma mater (hopefully of course). I did get to meet Christina from the BusinessWeek forums though. She was very nice in-person though she seemed a bit new to delivering the presentation. Jennifer, another assistant director of admissions, was there as well. They are both relatively young, mid-20's, and very easygoing to speak with. At the end, there were about 9 alumni who spoke to prospectives. I only spoke to one of them, a graduate from 1966 who works in real estate investment. He was trying to talk to 8 people at once so I couldn't get any specific questions in but I got his business card so I'll hopefully ask him stuff when he gets back from his business trip in October (such a long time, I know).

I did meet a couple other cool prospectives though, and one of them is super knowledgable about real estate. I think I definitely need to pick his brain before I do my Columbia interview because it'll flesh out my career plan much better (my one weakness, though a major one). I already emailed him so hopefully we can meet up for drinks next week. All in all though, this was the most comfortable that I've felt at one of these functions/receptions. I guess practice does help. I actually spoke to several people and made some good contacts, hence the title of my post :P

Speaking of the interview, apparently none went out this week! That's very surprising given the timeline from last year. However, there is one poster on BusinessWeek who said he got an interview on 8/27 and accepted on 9/10. I've got several reasons to believe that it's just a prank so I'll just disregard for now. I'm not going to get super nervous until I find myself empty-handed after seeing a good 3 or 4 interview invites for the super early submitters. Waiting is hard :(

Also, a shocker today. Some of you may know about NYU's Discover Stern weekend for minorities. Anyway, my application for the free weekend just got rejected! Crazy huh? My profile is higher than their averages and there isn't much to the application other than biographic info and a resume (mine isn't too shabby). I'm really surprised that I wasn't accepted to their little discovery program. I'm thinking that it's primarily for under-represented minorities (not just minorities) which is why my over-represented butt got kicked to the curb :( Hopefully this doesn't happen in the actual admissions process hehe.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Yale & HBS Receptions! Wow

On Monday I attended the Yale SOM Diversity Reception. It was at the same place as the MBA Tour on Sunday and Shelley from the Adcom recognized me immediately. I asked some more questions and sent a "thank you" email the next day. She won't be at SOM when I visit next thursday but she at least knows who I am at this point.

The reception went well. I felt comfortable talking to Shelley and there were 4 alumni on hand to talk to about 35 of us. I learned that Yale does have a Real Estate Club even though only one person went into real estate post-MBA last year. Their Investment Management Club also has a fake fund that invests theoretical money rather than a real fund. There were little tapas put out but this was one of those rare situations where most of the people were talking and ignored the food. I talked to one alum who was cool and then left. It was a decent event all in all.

Last night, tuesday, I attended the HBS Reception. It was held at the offices of Ogilvy, the public relations firm, which was pretty cool. As soon as I walked in the lobby, there were 10 guys dressed in sharp suits waiting at the front desk. Let me say this. You could definitely tell the difference in caliber between the HBS and Yale prospectives. The difference was substantial. For the most part, the HBS prospectives appeared like the bankers in American Psycho. They all had tasteful, nicely tailored suits and nice shoes. Many of them were actual leather-soled shoes rather than the rubber-synthetic soles that have become the norm in business these days. They all looked like they shaved and got a haircut that very day or something. They were all attractive and professional. Definitely a cut above every other event's prospectives that I have seen. In general, the women were more attractive as well.

The Harvard Business School event was over-attended. There was seating for maybe 100 people but there were at least 20 people standing too. At Yale, seating was only 50% filled when the event began. At HBS, seating was replete 5 minutes before the start of the event. Here's the thing that impressed me though. A couple of the other prospectives whom I interacted with were pretty cool. I fully expected to have nothing in common with some of them (and perhaps that's true with others) but they were personable and dare I say: charming. When prospectives asked questions after the presentation, they were mostly articulate and you could tell they felt comfortable speaking in front of an audience. Future business leaders of the world indeed. Seriously! Obviously there were plentyof snobby-looking, pretentious people in attendance too but the point is that an alarming majority actually seemed kinda cool. Another difference is the Harvard kids were really bustling and talking up a storm with each other prior to the start of the presentation. These kids really know how to network! This is a stark contrast to the start of other presentations which I have noticed is alarmingly silent.

The presentation was great. It was reallllly inspiring. The admissions officer (forget her name) did a great job representing the school and presenting it as the best and down-to-earth. There was also an alumni panel with 5 really helpful alumni who provided very articulate, helpful, honest answers. It was a model admissions event for other schools to follow. Some notes... the alumni and the adcom used the word "transformative" a couple times each. The presentation had a section on "HBS Differentiators" and the last one was "Network" with an asterik after it. The adcom heavily emphasized that gaining admission to HBS does not provide one with the network. Rather, the network is gained by actually participating and spending time with your classmates and staying involved with the school and community. This was interesting because I'm sure it was a direct response to that new book by the HBS grad who couldn't get a job post-MBA and hated the network there. It was also alarming how many times (3) a cell phone went off during the presentation. Just terrible. The adcom's presentation also had a section on admissions factors and unlike most schools which list academics (GPA, GMAT) first, HBS actually listed it last. I guess they have such academically gifted applicants to choose from that they don't need to stress it.

They also talked about how leadership was very broad and can come from being a visionary leader, a thought leader, a leader by example... not necessarily being a vocal A-Type personality leader. The last thing that struck me was how funny some of the alumni and the adcom were at times. I was truly charmed (and surprised). By the way, for those who don't believe that top MBA programs are trending younger, you better believe it. 41% of the new class had THREE or less years of work experience.

All I can say is "wow." I've talked shit about Harvard in the past but now I am drinking the kool-aid. The presentation really inspired me and the caliber of people there (adcom, alumni, and aspirants) blew me away. Truly world class. I am excited to visit HBS in the flesh next Friday now. I still don't think I'll apply though. Honestly, I just don't think I have much of a shot. I don't think I have the leadership potential they're looking for. But the presentation did convince me to take another look at their essays and reconsider... if even for a moment. I probably won't apply. By the way, thursday is the CBS Reception!!

On a sidenote, the person who I met at the MBA Tour on sunday (the girl from the gym whom I recognized and it went awkwardly) I saw again right before the HBS event. She wasn't going but she recognized me and it turns out we live in the same apartment complex. Small world. The conversation went really smooth this time (I wonder if it's because I looked aka dressed better than I did for the MBA Tour). We chatted on the street for about 5 minutes regarding our MBA searches (an easy topic of convo for me obviously) and then I had to break it off cuz I'd otherwise be late. I hope to see more of her in the future though :)

Sunday, September 7, 2008

MBA Tour in DC

Hey, buddies. Just got back from the MBA Tour in DC. Registration started at 8:30 am (I pre-registered online though) and the Fair doesn't end til 5:00 pm. Long day huh? I actually left at 3:45 pm. It was held at the Grand Hyatt which is a really nice hotel. I was surprised that only about 180-200 people showed up for 29 schools. A good showing of maybe 40-45% of the prospectives were women. Seven top-15ish programs were there though few of the tip-top tier. Funny enough, Georgetown's MBA program had the most prospectives clamoring at the booth. From 9:00 to 9:45 am, there was a panel discussion on the factors that go into the admissions process. After that, there were six sessions of individual school presentations that you could attend. I was only interested in Yale but attended other presentations as well.

The panel was useless to me. Been there, done that. The first presentation I attended was Yale SOM. Shelley Clifford, Deputy Director of Admissions, was in attendance and talked alot about the new curriculum and also some about career services and student life. It was actually quite informative though I knew most of the info. There was also an alum from '91 in attendance (I may have the wrong year) who dressed like a schlep but was pretty enthusiastic and a bit eccentric. He made a couple really good points but looked like such a wreck. Anyway, I need to get over my fear of public speaking quickly!

Then came Cornell's presentation which was really good. The adcom (didn't bother to get his name) sounded really down-to-earth and gave amazing statistics. For instance, everybody got an internship last year and out of approx 100 students he spoke to, all of them got a full-time offer after their internship prior to the start of the 2nd year! That's ridiculously amazing. I think he said everyone who wanted an Investment Banking internship got one too. Some crazy stats. He was a cool dude.

I didn't pay attention at all for the Duke Fuqua presentation. I basically thought of questions to ask the Shelley from Yale. I had asked her a quick question after her presentation but the cat still had my tongue so I decided to visit her again at the actual "Fair" portion after the presentations finished at 3pm. At this point, however, I went to get Potbelly's for lunch.

When I came back, I attended Berkeley's presentation which had Diana Fiji (whom I met last year). I sat in the back and must've nodded off about five or six times. Afterward, I took a break to wake myself up and skipped the next presentation. For the last presentation I saw Chicago. Interesting that it was about 90% men in that presentation though there were 40-45% women at the event! The adcom was helpful but talked at us much more than the other schools. Also, they are trying really hard to dispel the perception that Chicago is 1) competitive, and 2) quantitative. He railed against those misconceptions at least 3 times.

Then the actual MBA Fair portion started with all the boothes set up. I lined up for Yale and snagged a sweet SOM pen! I also talked to Shelley again and she said "I alread talkedy to you" (in a good way) and I asked her some stuff about real estate and finance. It went really well and I told her I'd see her tomorrow since Monday is the Yale Diversity Reception. I know I don't need to attend but I want them to know how much I love them (as my second or third choice hehe). She did reveal that Yale's word limits are strict, hard caps aka no 10% overage rule! I also filled out a card to show that I was in attendance. Apparently Yale has another Admissions Reception on Oct. 2nd with one of their professors too which I am going to register for on their website now.

After that, I walked around the room and saw no other school that I cared to line up for and left. It should be noted that I did learn of the Toigo Foundation that gives fellowships for minorities who work 3+ years in finance after earning a top MBA. They give small a small grant and also alot of mentoring and job placement help. Looked cool and Kia, the representative, was really helpful and cool. I actually may apply (deadline's not until February thank goodness). I also received from her a huge pen. This is the largest pen I've ever had. It's bigger than the Dr. Grip by Pilot! The reason is because you can unscrew the pen and it becomes a 1 gig USB drive! Sweet, I've never had one until now :)

I did bump into a girl who used to go to Georgetown's gym religiously at the MBA fair whom I always thought was attractive but never talked to. I said hello and I think it kinda alarmed her. It was awkward and made even moreso when her friend walked by and started talking to her about something else. Bummer.

I may wait to report on Yale and Harvard's admissions receptions together. But in the meantime, thanks to all the blogger buddies out there that have shown such great support to me in my MBA quest. Ya'll are tight. And ya'll are right when you say my app strategy is super risky. I agree that waiting until I hear more from Columbia before even starting other Round 1 apps is a bad idea. BUTTTTTT here's why it isn't that risky. I'm only applying to 3 other schools. I probably won't get into Wharton if I can't get into Columbia ED so I'm debating even submitting a Wharton app (after all, I may not even have time to visit). Yale's deadline is not until Oct. 22 so I'll still have a month which is plenty of time. And NYU Stern's deadline is not until Nov. 15 which is plenty of time too. Thus I'm only screwed for Wharton which probably wouldn't have mattered anyway. That's the way I rationalize my laziness :P

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Submission Revelation & Risky App Strategy

Remember how I had imposed a 2-week silence on application talk on my blog? Well that time's elapsed and I can now reveal that I've already submitted my Columbia app. I'm sure you all could've guessed that just from my enthusiasm for CBS. Here's the crazy thing. I actually submitted it on Aug. 10! That's right, a full 3 days before the review period started on Aug. 13. I was hell-bent (to say the least) on being at the very top of the pile for their rolling addmissions process. The crappy thing is that, unlike last year, no applications went under review until a day after the review period opened. My app went under review on Aug. 14 and judging from all the BW posters, the same holds true for them. Here's the other mildly annoying tidbit. I got the email saying that my app was under review around 12:30 pm on Aug. 14 whereas someone who submitted on Aug. 13 (three days later than mine) got his email on around 11:00 am on Aug. 14. I know that means nothing and I was probably reviewed first but I wanted that distinction :)

Judging from ChristophW's spreadsheet on last year's ED applicants, the first interview invites should go out either Friday, Sept. 12 or early the week after (if last year's trends hold, which it very well may not since apps have spiked this year). Last year, most of the submitters who went under review on the first possible day got their interview invites around Sept. 10-11 and up to Sept. 15. The crazy thing is that a re-applicant actually got an interview invite last year on Sept. 6. But he was definitely an outlier. I fully expect next friday to start generating some interview invites. Since CBS adcom has stated that they expect a 20% increase in app volume, I think it's logical that they'd be reviewing even faster or more efficiently this year to avoid getting swamped by the volume. That's why I think that last year's timeline will hold. But if the volume is just too great, then maybe they'll be backed up anyway. I think I will ask the adcom when I visit the CBS Admissions Reception Event on thursday next week in DC. Do you think I'll sound like a total tool if I ask such a specific question?

I actually have quite a busy slate of receptions lined up. Tomorrow, sunday, I will be attending the MBA Tour. It's really annoying that they don't reveal who the participating schools are, especially since the event is from 9am to 5pm! I guess I will plan on hanging around there all day. The school's have individual presentations and then an MBA Fair afterwards so I may have to stick around the entire time to get the face time I need. Yale will be there though. No word on NYU Stern or Wharton or Columbia. Then on monday, there is a Yale Diversity reception. Now I'm not an under-represented minority (though I am a a minority) so I doubt they'll care to see me but I want to gather more info and get my name in their heads. Then on tuesday the very next night is the HBS Reception which I probably shouldn't bother attending but it's free and I will get some info so why not? If anything, it's interesting to check out the type of people who apply to top places like HBS. Then wednesday I get the evening to myself and on thursday is the CBS reception. Whew! Too bad Stern doesn't visit for awhile.

I've been thinking again about what happens if I don't get into Columbia. And it seems like if I don't get into Columbia ED, then I probably have little to no shot at Wharton (though I'll probably still try). Thus my secondary choices come down to Yale SOM and NYU Stern. I just looked into the Consortium becuz Yale and Stern both accept applicants thru that program. Too bad I don't really count cuz 1) I'm not under-represented, and 2) my background doesn't show a commitment to the Consortium's mission. Yale just joined the Consortium this year so I feel they'll certainly be saving a decent amount of spots for Consortium applicants.

Want to hear about my risky application strategy? I'm researching the other schools but I'm not actually going to start any apps/essays until I find out if I got an interview from Columbia or not. I expect to know by Sept. 15 or so but the tricky thing is, if you don't get an interview, CBS won't tell you and won't reject you right away. Plus if I wind up not getting an interview, then I will be in a time crunch though Yale's app is not due until Oct. 22 I think. Wharton's app is due on Oct. 9th I believe and Stern's not until Nov. 15th. So that's the risk. But if I do get an interview, then I think I've got a good shot at admission to CBS and I will have saved myself sooo much extra app work. There's a part of me that only wants to apply to CBS and Stern actually. Not the smartest idea but my heart's in New York.

By the way, I am completely dismissing the idea of beoming an investment banker. Before I was intrigued because of the obvious reasons ($) but after reading the "Mergers and Inquisitions" blog (the website is their name plus .com), I realize that I'm kidding myself if I think I'd be happy with 90+ hour weeks. I mean c'mon, seriously. There is also a hilarious video on "The Faceoff" from the "Leveraged Sellout" blog that is a rap battle between consultants and bankers. It's great, right up there with "every breath bernanke takes" though different. I found these on Soni's blog so I'm not going to link them myself. Just go to his site and check out the hilarity (and great info!)

It's a super rainy Saturday here in DC and I'm about to tutor my co-worker/friend on GMAT math. We'll be studying on Georgetown's campus and then I'm going to hop to the gym directly afterward. Hope everyone in bloggerland is staying happy.