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.