Thursday, May 29, 2008

I H8te My Job

Work sucks. I recently wrote about my increased responsibility here though they did not give me the title of Management & Operations Lead. Essentially I'm doing everything except for the financials which I am not allowed to do according to company guidelines because I am not an Associate. So I asked my project manager if he could still give me the title and he said no. He said he wanted all the Leads to be on the Leadership Team which he felt like I wasn't ready for, mostly due to my communication style. For those of you who don't know, I'm rather blunt at work because I have no patience for the idiots that pretend to work here. Idiots comprise about 95% of the company now that the strategy/private-sector group has split off as Booz & Company. Anyway, the caliber of people that I work with are so low-level that they need to be reminded a million times to do their jobs. Things that they should be doing on their own anyway! It's really frustrating to work with chimps. But I am still nice about it. I never yell or curse at them like I did back when I worked on Wall Street. But apparently my style is still too blunt. Blah. I told my manager that I have no interest in babying or hand-holding these losers but he says that it has to be done because that's how the company culture is. Basically, this joke of a company is not for me.

So I left that meeting in low spirits because it's just so obvious that there's no future at this place for me (or anyone else with a semblance of a brain). I haven't been able to do work all day. I have plenty of things to do now but I'm not interested in doing any of it. This place kills me. I spent the day looking for a hotel (settled on the Wyndham) in Chicago for next Thursday as I visit the Windy City for a day before my buddy's wedding. If anyone has any suggestions on places to see or do in Chicago, I'm all ears!

Maybe I'll start plotting out my next Columbia essay soon. Or updating my resume again. I need to get out of this place. In happier thoughts, is it stupid to hope to find love at b-school? I know some people do it. Maybe it won't be another business school student but certainly some cute brunette studying philosophy or dance or journalism will cross my path right? Pfft, I probably shouldn't be thinking about this on my blog... don't wanna lose credibility :P

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I Suck at Networking

My worst soft skill is probably my networking ability. I am a likeable enough of a guy and I'm also sociable enough. I'm not that awkward when meeting new people, especially after a drink or two ;) But I suck at networking because I hate putting on a phony face. I understand the importance of it and understand that I don't have to be a charlatan to do it, but it just takes so much energy out of me sometimes that I'd just rather be myself (even if I am occasionally introverted and would rather go to the gym than go out). Also, it doesn't help that I get red after one drink (it's in the genes!) which makes me self-conscious since everyone thinks that signifies that I'm drunk even though I'm not even buzzed. GrRrrrRr! hehe, so most people are shocked to learn that I got 3 of my 4 jobs through networking (my initial sales position that I had for a month, my internship at Refco before its accounting scandal, and my current Booz Allen job). In fact, you could also say my Deutsche Bank job was obtained in a similar fashion since I used a headhunter/recruiter.

So today I got a call from my old project manager who quit 2 weeks ago to go to a rival firm. He said that he is going to Beijing (and I already told him that I could solicit hotel recommendations from my parents since they go there all the time). He said that he wants to get his visa really soon but needs a "sponsor"... basically someone to say that they are hosting him while he is in the country even though he wouldn't really be living there. He would actually be staying with his wife instead at the Embassy though he cannot put that info on the visa application. So! That's the nature of his requested favor. This is easy enough... I just need to get my sister to get me the phone number in Beijing and convince my mom which I should be able to do. I expect that she won't have to do anything except provide her address anyway. So the funny thing is that he left me a voicemail and was telling me how grateful he'd be and that he would "owe me big time, maybe even help get me a job at _____ (his new firm)." Then he followed that with "just kidding haha, well, actually I'm not, but anyway, I'd really appreciate it so give me a call." !!! Insane stuff huh? I'm such a bad networker but I guess I'll settle for being lucky huh? :P

I don't need the job... after all, I hate this federal tech consulting stuff. It's mind-numbing almost. But if his firm has something real estate-related (which it doesn't) then I'd take that! Plus, I wouldn't be able to leave before getting accepted by Columbia (cross your fingers) anyway since I don't want to alter my story. But I WILL use him for a backup recommendation in case my current project manager isn't down. That'll be enough for me :)

Hmm, what else... oh yes, I am tremendously encouraged when I get hits on my blog. Makes me want to write more. Curious where the hits come from though. I know it's not from BusinessWeek any more so it's probably all from that Hella site. But the crazy thing is I get a lot of hits the day after I post... but how do people know that I've just updated my site?!

In other news, work is surprisingly busy now that I am the lead of Management & Operations. I am trying to train the junior consultant too. Almost no time to goof off nowadays while at work hehe. Also, I'll be getting my PMP certification (Project Management Professional) on June 27th by taking some stupid week-long course and then an exam. Should be easy stuff if my co-workers can do it haha.

And in happy news, good ole high school friend is having a wedding in 2 weeks in South Bend, Indiana. I like weddings but don't get to go to many. In fact, he's my first good friend to get married. I'll be in Chicago for one day prior too, just to check out the city a lil (no Chicago GSB for me though). Looking forward to it.

Resume Updated

So I've been working on my first Columbia essay, the typical "Why MBA? Why now? Why Columbia?" essay, and it's really quite frustrating. I've always been notoriously terrible at word limits. This year's essays haven't been released yet but historically, this essay has always had 750 or 1,000 word limit recommendations. Last year it was 750 :( I don't really understand why they keep fluctating back and forth between the two limits but I am working under the assumption that 750 is this year's limit as well. My first draft had over 1,600 words! I've been able to get it down to 1,400 and then 1,200 but it's a struggle. I keep hearing that 10% overage is standard and acceptable which means that I need to get it down to 825 max. I will probably wind up settling for 850ish though.

My obnoxious admissions consultant insists that I shouldn't worry about the word limit and that 1,000 for a 750 word limit is fine! I am not taking that risk but I can't say that to him cuz he'll just yell at me. Looking back on it, I don't know if I made the right choice with this guy. We'll see. There are still at least 3 other essays to work on after this so maybe he'll provide some keen insights but in the early going, he pretty much just berates me via email about my "juvenile and breathy" writing style. Sigh. I don't mind the abuse if it gets me in but sometimes he says things are good or bad without explaining why, and I'm too reluctant to just take his word on everything. He's not God, even if his reputation is such in the admissions realm.

I'm intent on getting my first essay done before the application is released (probably mid-July) so that I can concentrate on getting the latter 3 done by the opening of the review period (mid-August). I decided to revisit my resume today and update it for Columbia's standards. I had previously found some student resumes on the Columbia Real Estate program's website so I decided to mimic their format to an extent. Not surprisingly, our formats were already alarmingly similar as mine was already using a standard Finance layout. I'm satisfied with my resume for now but think some of the diction and descriptions under my work experience could be better chosen. Not bad for now though.

We're now at the 2 and a half month mark until the opening of the Early Decision review period... I bet I'm the only loser keeping track of that stuff. But this means I should probably ask my recommenders in the next two weeks since I think it's best to notify them 2 months in advance of their due date. One of my recommenders (my old manager from Deutsche Bank whom I have a great relationship with) is in NY so I will want to make a trip up there to take him out to lunch and then spring it on him. But it will suck if he's busy and cancels lunch on me, which basically will waste my entire trip/weekend. I guess I can just call him to catch up and then ask him? I'm very confident he'll say yes but I'm such a worrier. The other recommendation from my current manager will be a much tougher card to play. I want to ask my current project manager because he is a fan of my work but he is a stickler who will say both positive and negative. I can't risk that. My co-worker who is applying to part-time programs said that she already talked to him though, and apparently he said that he understands the need to "soup up" the recommendations so maybe it'll be cool. But the other issue is letting him know that I'm thinking about leaving the company already, even though I only joined 7 months ago! In fact, he was one of the people I interviewed with. I think I'll wind up asking him anyway but it'll have to be at the most opportune moment. I might have to get him drunk, j/k! I just need to ask him when he's not stressed and in a good mood (most of the time) and when we're alone.

I met an old college friend for dinner and billiards yesterday evening and she's currently enrolled at Cornell for their Master's in Public Policy program. Funny thing is that she's here in DC for an unpaid internship and she can't afford rent! I know money is not the be-all and end-all but it seems kinda impractical to me to get jobs that don't pay the bills. I totally dig doing something that you're passionate about but maybe it should be a side project or hobby if it means you can't even afford $800 a month for a crappy apartment in Virginia. Or maybe I'm just a narrow-minded idiot :P Oh well, Memorial Day weekend is over and tomorrow I must return to the mines...

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Blahs

Wow I miss basketball. It's been 6 or 7 weeks since I've played now. Actually, that's a lie. I played half-court the other day but that doesn't count and I played without using my left hand at all. I've been going to the gym anyway to do some running and light working out (emphasis on light). I also started dribbling with my left hand to see if I could put pressure on it, which I can a little bit. It's amazing how much better my handle is now than it was even a couple years ago.

Today my company had a huge picnic to celebrate Memorial Day weekend. I have no plans this weekend other than seeing my old college friend who moved down here for the summer. I need more things to do. Oh well. I'm starting to meet random people in my company that work on real estate-related projects but so far no offers to bring me aboard. At least I'm on the right track though it's going painfully slowly. I'm also going to get my PMP (project management professional) certification in late June by taking a crash course. It should be easy and at least project management is somewhat related to real estate development right?

I wish Columbia would release their darn essays already so I can obsess over them. I've started drafting my "Why MBA? Why now? Why Columbia?" essay. I need to learn to be more concise. As you can see from my blog, being concise is not my strong suit. Need to learn from the other bloggers out there. Also, you may have heard that my company Booz Allen Hamilton split in two. I don't really care. Though I wish we were still one unit so that other people might be fooled into thinking I work for the more prestigious commercial side haha :) Lord knows I fit in better there anyway.

Okay, so that's it. Just some minor blabbing. I think I'll go gag myself with a spoon now. Or I guess I can get a headstart and refine my resume now that I've been "promoted" on my project.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Busy Busy Everything

It's raining on a sunday and I can finally catch my breath... I've been pretty busy at work (which is highly atypical) and thus haven't been focusing on school stuff much. Probably a good thing.

Last weekend I was back in NY for a day and a half for Mother's Day. It was great. My sister and I took her to a huge plant nursery since she loves plants and flowers and that kinda stuff. We wound up buying some flower that I don't even remember. My sister also picked up a Starbucks card and two dozen roses. That evening we had dinner at my Mom's fav Japanese place where we presented her with sapphire and garnet earings. I know she really enjoyed the weekend, not because of the gifts, but I think she was glad that the three of us spent some time together. Even when I come home, my sister's usually off doing her own thing so I think my mom enjoyed the company. That night we played mah-jongg.

In less happy news, our Pomeranian doggie, Bushy, had surgery. It turns out that she was in pretty bad shape with some rotten teeth and two hernias of the lower intestine. That's crazy news. The teeth is inexcusable because we just never took her for regular check-ups since everything seemed fine to us. I guess that's why she has bad breath :( So some of her teeth got pulled and they also sutured her hernias up. Man, poor Bushy!! We also learned she has an enlarged heart which takes up 2/3 of her ribcage and is the reason she coughs a lot. The enlarged heart and hernias are actually common genetic problems for Pomeranians according to the doctor and my sister. Bushie is 12 years old too. She wouldn't move the day after surgery but she was walking around again the 2nd day after. Poor poor doggy!

Oops, didn't mean to sidetrack from the MBA stuff. I know nobody cares about my personal life. So the work week was busy cuz I'm in charge of revamping the entire project's master schedule (600+ tasks). A bit stressful because some of the people who are supposed to provide inputs for the schedule are dragging their feet. Aarrgghhh. Also, my project manager resigned and we had 2 happy hours on Monday and Tuesday, meaning those were late nights. Thursday I was the project coordinator for a volunteer event where we hang out with some elderly at the Washington Home. Then I had another happy hour on friday with some college buddies. Saturday I tried finding a suit for my high school buddy's upcoming wedding but that's a disaster thus far. His bridezilla is demanding a certain type of suit which I think is just hideous. They want 2-button, black, center vent, with pleated pants. Gross. I hate 2-buttons (even if they are in right now) and who the hell wears black suits any more? It's such a hard, extreme color. I understand it's formal for a wedding but still, pleated pants? I'm neither fat nor an octogenarian so that's just hideous. The suggested suit is some discount number for $159.99! Hahaha, I would never wear that thing again. But it doesn't matter, they don't even carry my size. In fact, next to nobody carries my size. I'm a 38Long which is just too lanky for most sizes. And Bridezilla is having all the ladies wear different dresses! What!?!? It doesn't make sense that the guys are being pigeon-holed into one (ugly) suit when the girls aren't going to match except for color. I don't know what's going to happen. The suits that I do have are from Charles Tyrwhitt who carries 38L... most American brands cater to fatter people hehe. Tyrwhitt doesn't have black suits though (and rightfully so). Last night I met up with my old roommate and painted the town red.

Also, a funny thing at work. I might be getting more responsibility due to my project manager's leaving. The deputy project manager will now become the project manager and the guy whom I report to within the Management & Operations area, is going to be the new deputy project manager. Our new project manager informed me on friday that he wants me to manage the entire Management & Operations area even though I won't have the title. I will, however, have one junior-level person (person not yet decided) reporting under me. I'm wondering if I can ask for the title, something like Management & Operations Lead or something like that. I know that titles are meaningless since its your actual work function that's important, but it'd be nice to have. I kind of feel like they're just thrusting more work onto me without giving me anything though... maybe I can put in for a compensation adjustment hehe.

In other news, I called my co-worker's best friend who used to be Miss India and is a former model too. She gave me some advice and basically told me that if I were to do high-fashion, there's no way to do it part-time and I'd have to essentially move to NY. Fine by me! But she said that I gotta get 3-5 photos and start submitting them both online and in open calls. Exciting stuff. So my co-worker is going to be taking the shots in 2 weeks. I will use these 2 weeks to sculpt my abs (just kidding... no, but seriously) and eat nothing but salad. Haha, I'm crazy. I'm kidding. But am I? I know there's only like a 1% chance of this ever happening but I figure I should give it a try. Nothing to lose but some energy right? Hopefully it won't dilute my Columbia efforts. Yikes!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Networking Pays Dividends

Okay, anyone who knows me knows that I hate to network. To me, it's just exhausting because I feel like I need to constantly put on a face. I don't enjoy it under typical corporate scenarios. I mean, the idea of pretending to enjoy socializing with people who I don't want to hang out with is just painful. I know this probably sounds stupid especially considering I've gotten 3 out of my 4 jobs from referrals... anyway...

As I've written before, my project manager is leaving the firm. So today we had a happy hour to bid him a farewell (we'll actually have one tomorrow too). I went because appearances are important and there was free food and drink. And Lord knows I need a drink after some of the drudgery I had to perform today. But at the end of it all, I also wanted to show my support because he is truly a nice guy. It's quite alarming when you meet genuine nice guys in the corporate world because they're so rare.... but he is. And so I went. Anyways, he knows of my MBA aspirations and started asking me 1-on-1 about it... I didn't lie. I told him that I was aiming for Fall 2009 and asked him his opinion on whether I should keep my mouth shut to the current managers on the team, a tricky situation considering I may need them for a recommendation though I don't want to alienate them considering I'll need to approach them for the rec nearly a year before even leaving. I don't want to give the unnecessary impression that I'm plotting my escape from them ya know? So he said "I'll write it" without my provacation or insinuation! Amazing. Even though he'll be 3 months removed from being my project manager, he said he would have no problem doing it. So that's a great relief.

Another great piece of news is that the project manager that's taking over for him is an option too... the problem is that he's a stickler for rules and goes by the straight and narrow. He seems like he'd be unwilling to paint a super rosey picture of me... he seems like he'd be brutally honest even if it meant mentioning negatives which is something that's not ideal for a rec. So I didn't think I could use him. However, I learned today from my wonderful co-worker, that she talked to him today and that he was indeed willing to write her a rec. She also clarified that she'd need the rec to "be souped up" and show her at her very best and he said he totally understood. So great!! Now it appears I have two viable options. I guess networking does pay off.

In the words of Happy Bunny, "Me likey!"

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Alternative Career? Ha.

I'm writing from a bus. I'm currently on the Boltbus up to New York to spend Mother's Day in Long Island. No Columbia visit this time. I'm bored and figured that I'd write about an interesting alternative career idea that my co-worker brought up today. This is the same co-worker who I am tight with and is applying to a part-time MBA program (that I wrote a rec for) in Fall 2008 hopefully.

She asked me if I ever considered modeling part-time. Now before you laugh or dismiss me as a fool, here me out. Her suggestion isn't as crazy as one might think. I'm tall, thin, have defined facial features, and a lot of hair to work with. Unfortunately, I'm not particularly attractive nor muscular ha! So I guess what I'm trying to say is that I may have some of the raw tools but not the total package. She suggested high fashion modeling which is probably the only type (and fortunately for me, the type that I'm most interested in) that I would even have a remote chance at. I have a lot of interest but c'mon, I don't consider it realistic. She was all excited and trying to get me to go to a hair stylist and take photos for that preliminary card that aspiring models need. I don't think this is very realistic, even in a part-time capacity, but it'd be exciting as heck if it happened. Coincidentally, her best friend is a former Miss India so maybe she knows what' she's talking about? Ha. Regardless, nobody else has ever suggested such a thing and I'm sure most would laugh in my face (rather rudely might I add) if such an idea was put forth. But obviously a hidden part of me would love for this to come to some sort of fruition. Ay. Doubtful though. I mean, I'm not really a mack daddy in the first place and models need to be confident. But I guess being a high fashion model means I could do the emaciated, sullen motif instead hehe. I will do my due diligence and see what it takes to get started. My co-worker is going to ask her former Miss India friend for pointeres too. Wish me luck! haha.

The more interesting thing that has to do with my MBA journey is that if such a crazy thing ever happened (that is, become a full-time model), I would definitely shelf my MBA plans for the time being. Well, maybe I shouldn't say definitely. How good I was at my new job would likely be the primary determinant. But isn't it crazy how I would give up this MBA journey for that completely unrelated job? Well actually, maybe it's not that crazy. We all have dream jobs...

By the way, I am starving. I cannot wait to have some real New York pizza. Yum! In bad news, our family dog, Bushy, just had surgery today to suture two hernias of the lower intestine and to remove rotted teeth that we never noticed! Horrible stuff. I can't believe she's been living with this the entire time and we never noticed... I guess that just goes to show that check-ups are indeed valuable. Hopefully Bushy is feeling better now and I will see her tonight. Aw, it looks like my blog is starting to get personal. Okay, back to b-school stuff!

I'm also starting to think about what if? What if Columbia rejects me? Should I wait to re-apply next year or should I apply to other programs and matriculate at whereever wants me that I like the most? The potential list is Berkeley, Yale, Wharton, and Stern for those keeping track. I keep going back and forth with whether I’d wait or if I’d take one of those other schools. Ah well. No point in really analyzing it further cuz I’ll probably just change my mind tomorrow.
I hope this post didn’t completely turn off everyone (all 3 of you) who actually read my blog :P

Monday, May 5, 2008

Servathon and Tidbits

I figured that I might as well keep bloggin as I'm in the right mood now.

This past saturday was Servathon, the largest single day of service each year in the DC area. Greater DC Cares, a non-profit (duh), organizes a couple thousand volunteers to refurbish and beautify nearly 50 area public schools. The event is huge and only once a year so I figured this would be a good opportunity to try being a leader. I don't get too many opportunities to lead in my job so I seized this and volunteered as a Project Manager for a site. Each school has 1 (or 2) project managers (I was the only one at my site) and 3 to 5 project leaders. The PM is in charge of the entire school site. The PL's report to the PM and are responsible for individual tasks (e.g. landscaping, painting, etc.). Anyway, it was super stressful in the morning when we had to get there early for set up. I was really rather nervous and stressed, especially when the lady at the front desk of the school started giving me attitude because I needed supplies. It didn't help my cause when I spilled paint in the hallway and the janitor had to clean it up. The back of my volunteer shirt says "event staff" and the janitor was exclaiming "you're the event staff because you create events!" Not the best start to my day but I was so busy that I shrugged it off.

In the end, it was a smashing success. 34 of 35 volunteers showed up! It was a beautiful, warm, sunny day and we luckily had no manual labor tasks (except transporting some supplies). We only had 2 tasks, painting the blacktop (with a U.S. map, boxball, hopscotch) and painting a huge mural. The mural was beautiful and designed by a local artist who was there to help implement it. It was great. Most people had fun too. I sent out 2 emails to about 60 co-workers to ge them to participate but to no avail. I guess my company doesn't believe in community service even though it's the company's Spirit of Service Month! haha, what a funny coincidence. There was even an after-party that was fun. I met someone who plays basketball with me at the Georgetown gym too... we watched the Hornets beat the Spurs in Game 1 of the NBA playoffs later that evening too. Good times.

What did the above volunteer event have to do with MBA? Well, being a socially-conscious and responsible human being has a lot to do with being a corporate leader :) Also, big news! Rumors on the street say that my project manager (whom I wanted to get a rec from) is leaving for Deloitte! This is 99% confirmed though it hasn't been formally announced. Oh well. I'll ask him if he'll write one anyway. If not, then I'll just use two old supervisors and write the optional essay explaining that the manager that knew me best had already left. I don't think there's anyone else at my current company who I would feel comfortable receiving a rec from.

I also just wrote a rec yesterday for my co-worker who is applying to a local part-time program. It came out pretty well and I know she was really pumped to get it so I'm happy I could help. She's a really good teammate to have (and coincidentally was the person who leaked my project manager's resignation to me).

Separate note: I have NOT been completely addicted to the BW forums in the past two weeks. Merely scan the posts every now and then. I believe this to be a good thing.

Also, the most recent CBS Follies videos are now online at Youtube... if you can't find them, ask me (I no longer have the link readily available). In general, they're just okay... nothing hilarious except there is a long-awaited follow-up to the "Every Breath Bernanke Takes" video. This time it's a parody on the hit "On Bended Knee" by Boyz II Men. Decent stuff.

Let's hope my doctor's follow-up x-rays on Thursday yield good news so I can start typing more efficiently again.

Columbia Visit #2 - Part 2 of 2

Sorry for the huge delay in posting the second half of my second Columbia visit. The broken hand didn't help things. Anyway, here it is...

When class ended I left without chatting up the blonde cuz she started talking to her friends. I walked across Amsterdam to Warren for a 12:30 class on Leadership with Professor Iyengar. Not 10 seconds after I had taken a seat did the TA accost me and ask if I wanted to introduce myself to the professor. I said of course and did so. There was enough room in the class so I didn’t crowd anyone and sat by myself in the seat closest to the door. I was hoping someone would wind up sitting down next to me but alas, it wasn’t to happen. There were only about 40 students when the class started and capacity was probably around 60. The class was on Motivation and was just okay. There was a video on the software company, SAS, which was entertaining and the professor asked students for a lot of participation (mostly soliciting examples of job characteristics they loved/hated and the like). Maybe it’s because so much of the topics touched on stuff I already knew from my extensive studies in psychology but I started getting bored and actually nodded off without realizing it. I startled myself awake when a little drool hit my shirt! I think the girl 2 seats to my left may have noticed but oh well. And to think, my admissions consultant specifically told me not to be an @$$hole on my visit. I waited out the last 15 minutes of class (twas semi-painful) then adjourned and grabbed a slice of cheese pizza for 2.95 at Camille’s right next to Warren. It was 2pm and the pizza clearly was not fresh but I was hungry. I wouldn’t recommend it, especially being in NY. I should’ve gone to Hamilton Deli instead.

I ate my pizza on a bench on the main campus lawn and people-watched. It was beautiful out. The improved, sunny weather made the campus look quite pretty. I love how Columbia and NY in general attracts indie artsy students. I’ll need that since I’ll be surrounded by sterile, corporate business people like myself :P I can really envision being a student there. Instead of going to a third class, I decided to visit the Paul Milstein Center for Real Estate. But first, I went to the admissions office to sign in, just in case they keep track of that sort of demonstrated interest from applicants hehe. Lo and behold, it was the same guy sitting at the desk as during my first visit! I wasn’t too fond of him as he wasn’t a particularly happy or helpful dude. In fact, he made me feel quite awkward though I think that was mostly my fault haha. Anyway, I tried to be as nice as possible since I doubt he remembered me. I asked if I could sign-in and visit classes and signed in for the Real Estate Finance class. Since I’m writing this 2 weeks later, I forget why I didn’t like him again but he definitely struck me as someone who wasn’t too happy with his job. I noted his name plate. I won’t reveal his identity but I did see that his title was “admissions counselor” or something to that effect. It definitely was not admissions officer or anything else. Perhaps he was part-time or student staff? Whatever. I headed to the 3rd floor to check out the Paul Milstein Center for Real Estate.

Boy was I surprised. I was expecting a large center room with various small meeting rooms attached. Instead, the Milstein Center was one of the small rooms! The Center was a tiny office, about the size of a closet, maybe 50-60 square feet. The lady I met was very, very friendly and helpful though. Cheryl is the Associate Director of the Center and she provided a lot of helpful info on the program. None of it was new as I had researched their website extensively prior to my visit but she did remind me of a few interesting points. She was really personable and friendly and even noted that her daughter is applying to Georgetown for undergrad. Of course, I offered to answer any questions for them if needed. I really wanted to learn more about immediate positions available to MBAs in real estate but she had to deflect those questions as she had only been with Columbia since last august. She did say that their executive-in-residence would be more helpful in that regard. Unfortunately, I cannot contact the exec-in-residence directly as that is a resource for current students only. She was definitely impressed by my knowledge of their program though, especially when I pointed out that the room number of the center on their website is wrong. She blushed and said they had just moved a month ago.

I asked about whether the Manhattanville move would allow current students an opportunity to get involved but she said that was doubtful. She also got me excited for their unique Masters Classes which are basically seminars/practicums. Really interesting stuff. All in all, it was a good visit. Though the center was ridiculously tiny, Cheryl was immensely nice and even gave me a nice little stat that I think I’ll stash away for one of my admissions essays. We probably chatted for a bit over half an hour as it was time for me to jet and catch my bus back to DC. Beforehand, I ran over to the University Bookstore to see if there were any more sales on t-shirts. Alas, no. J

Sooo, I guess that means Columbia remains my first choice. J/k, it definitely is my first choice. In the meantime, I’ve started drafting the typical “why MBA? Why now?” essay and I gotta say it’s really hard! The hardest part is probably the word limits. The recommended length is 750 words but I had 1,640 for my first draft. For my completely overhauled second draft I had 1,460. I know I can get it down to about 1,200 (I just tried yesterday) but getting it to 750 may prove near impossible. I’ve done some surveying on the BW forums and it seems like 10% overage is the standard acceptable amount to go over. This means I need 825 words max. I’ll settle for 850-900 to be honest, especially since I called Columbia (that same guy that I don’t like picked up too! I recognized his voice) and they informed me that the word limit is only a recommended guideline so it’s not like the reviewer will stop reading the essay. He did reiterate that it’s okay to go over the limit, but quickly added “but don’t go over by too much.” Yikes. And Sigh.