Friday, March 21, 2008


For those curious (read: myself and no one else), here's a lil background info on my profile, motivations, and preferences as they relate to the b-school app process.

Academically, I should be pretty competitive. I graduated in 2005 from Georgetown undergrad where I studied Psychology with minors in Economics and Cognitive Science (yea yea, I know no one cares about minors). I had a good GPA and even graduated with honors. Perhaps it wouldn't be a great idea to give out my exact stats so I'll borrow a line from AxeChick (anyone know who I'm referring to?) and say that "I won't be lowering the average at any of the top schools." Ditto for the GMAT, in which I fall in the highly competitive range with an even distribution between verbal and quant.

Professionally, I've held a lot of research assistant jobs during undergrad. The most notable experience was probably an NIH-funded diabetes study that I did for several semesters and collaborated on a poster for the annual APA convention. This is cuz I was convinced that I wanted to get my doctorate and eventually practice as a full-blown psychologist. Following graduation though, I changed my mind as I didn't want to commit myself to all those years of schooling and low starting salary without trying some real work experience first. My first real job was as a sales associate for an executive gifts company. I sold (or tried to sell) "tombstones" or "deal toys" to investment bankers. I sucked and got fired in a month cuz my personality didn't fit, which was very true. I networked into an assistant bond trader position for a very small retail desk at Refco Securities, which was the world's largest commodities broker at the time. Refco had a $500 million accounting scandal and went bankrupt 3 months later. So I took a temp-to-perm trading assistant position at Deutsche Bank. I became perm and worked on Deutsche's Emerging Markets trading floor as a lackey for almost 2 years when I decided that I wasn't going to do middle-office operations the rest of my life. I decided to try consulting and networked into a tech consultant position at Booz Allen Hamilton where I currently advise the U.S. Postal Service on security issues. A fun and storied career thus far, I know I know :P

Why do I need an MBA? Well, I realized right away (in the first two months) that consulting wasn't for me. I mean, it's a good enough job and all, but it wasn't very challenging (probably because it's public sector rather than private) and it didn't excite me. The weird thing is that finance kept pulling me back even though I thought I didn't like it any more. I started following the markets on my own (even losing a few grand thru personal investing) and have now come to the realization that I need to get serious and pursue my passion. Since professoinal basketball probably isn't a viable career move for me, I've decided to pursuer real estate development. I've loved real estate ever since I was fortunate enough to get my first condo two years ago. Actually being a homeowner made me really interested in the housing markets (and consequently other financial markets) and New York's housing market in particular. When I moved to DC, I became a de facto landlord as I'm currently renting my NYC apartment out to three wonderful tenants. Since I miss the market but don't want to be a banker or trader, I think real estate devlopment would be perfect for me as it's the intersection of finance and real estate, which I love. It'd be great to contribute to NY's skyline and it's also a lucrative career (which is still important) so it's my dream job... for now :) Also, I think it's a great blend of utilizing my analyical skills and tapping into my actual interests. I also happen to be a minority owner in a tiny family-owned real estate holding company but I don't have any active role in it (my father used to develop really small-scale apartments in Queens when I was younger).

So that's my story. Demographically, I'm 24 which I know seems young but I have a late birthday. By the time I apply later this year, I'll have a little over three years of work experience but I will have over four years of w.e. by enrollment so it's all good. I hear many programs are trying to snatch up younger applicants nowadays. I'm a guy and I'm also Asian American so those two over-represented demographics probably don't help my case. I was born in Taiwan though and do have dual citizenship so maybe that helps? Whatever. My family lives in Long Island and I recently moved to DC (Arlington, Virginia actually) several months ago.

Who knows how my essays and recs will turn out but I plan on spending a lot of time on my essays. And I've started the schmoozing process for recs already. I figure my essays will be competitive to highly competitive whereas my recs will probably be average (you never know). I'm also a good interviewer in my humble opinion but that's getting ahead or ourselves.

There aren't that many top MBA programs with real estate concentrations (focuses, majors, whatever they wanna call them) and I'm not willing to venture outside the Top 15 really. Another sticking point is that I really need to live in a city, preferrably New York City since that's where I would want to work and live the rest of my life hehe :) My top choice by far is Columbia Business School which I will be applying for early decision (probably in late August). After that is some combination of NYU Stern, Berkeley, Yale, and perhaps Wharton. All have real estate majors (or at least inordinately strong in finance, which is a huge component of real estate development) and are located in livable cities (I'm being generous with Philly and New Haven). Wish me luck!


Torch said...

Interesting, I was a psych major, and am a dual citizen (UK), and I hope to be at b-school fall 08! Being a psych major must confuse all of us.

one thing I must say is that you must be one hell of a networker to land all those jobs you got!

Good luck!


TienyChesney said...

Hey Torch,

Sorry for the late reply. I'm actually looking at Fall 2009 but good luck with your 2008 matriculation. I agree that studying psychology makes one crazy. I've always maintained that the more you know, the more confused and crazier you become. That's why the children of psychologists have the highest rates of mental illness (so I've been told). Ah, the bliss of living in ignorance :P And btw, I'm actually a horrendous networker. Don't enjoy it too much. But I coincidentally did a good job of networking into Refco (prior to Deutsche Bank which got my foot in the door of Wall Street) and Booz Allen (which is pretty easy to get a job at anwyay).