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.