Wednesday, March 31, 2010

MBA app road comes to an end

So I've been on Kellogg's waitlist until today, where I was dinged. It was a bittersweet moment: Getting in would have been amazing, but the opportunity cost was nerve-wracking and being on the waitlist resulted in having to pass up on several career opportunities. Finally having that unknown answered brought peace of mind and energized me, so best of luck to the class of 2012!

I can honestly say the MBA application experience was worth going through even though I went 0/5. It teaches you a lot about yourself, and if you get the opportunity to work with other people (especially complete strangers!) on essays I highly recommend it. While I'd probably approach one or two general themes for my applications differently were I to do it all over again, I knew from the outset that applying to any top school was a long shot just due to acceptance rates, let alone my profile ... thus the pseudonym "LSMBA" ... for "Long Shot MBA" ;)

For the stat-aholics: White, male, 30 @ matric, 740 gmat off a week of study, 3.0 undergrad from private top-100, significant leadership experience in non-traditional extra-curriculars, enacted fairly large change at my fortune 500 company from a very junior level over 4 years as a voluntary side job, and good at my day job - enough for a pair of promotions in those 4 years based purely on my day work and not my additional side work for the company. Also have ~3 years of WE before the current job which were intermingled with school. I applied to HBS, Stanford, Kellogg, Sloan, and Haas. In each program I applied to I talked to current students, researched the program thoroughly, and found programs or professors that fit my particular interests - I never submitted my 95% complete Wharton app despite being a double-legacy because I couldn't find enough at the school to get passionate about besides the brand name.

I'm not really interested in trying again next year, although perhaps I'll look into an EMBA in a few years. Something like a third of a million dollars in opportunity cost for essentially what amounts to a brand name and connections is somewhat difficult to swallow even though it is an incredibly rare opportunity, and as such it makes far more sense to get it done early in your career.

I've got my next step and the steps beyond that planned out, so I'm off to tackle them. Good luck to all MBA candidates!


Sunday, December 13, 2009

My, time flies.

So it's Dec 13th. I'll know within a few days about Harvard and Stanford. I just got to responding to requests for essay review - my apologies, work/health issues the end of last week.

So I got surprisingly little response to my conundrum below: What would you do if you had a three month window where you're waiting on schools, while many career opportunities are popping up? Pursue them to have more options, or is that unethical?

I'm interested in feedback! I also am happy to review essays (create a gmatclub account and pm me) if anyone else is interested.

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 7, 2009

I will review essays! (Also, mentor/life update)

I've fallen off the wagon blogging a bit (or thinking about b-school, actually!) ... to mitigate "TL;DR" I'll put this up front:

  • If I have time, I am very happy to give folks feedback on essays. I've done quite a bit of it for friends in the process. I am not a professional.
  • If you want me to look over any part of your app, create an account on the GMAT Club site and send me a PM (my account is 'lsmba', quel surprise!) and we'll go from there.


I had forgotten all about B-school honestly - the month of November was busy. I got a Haas email reminder today saying that the process has started. No interview invites from anywhere as of yet. I think the best way not to stress about your chances is ... to be busy!

Of course, that's a little bit of a challenge when your next real move is a career change, and you're waiting on the Y/N from schools. I talked at length with one of my mentors about it - I have a lot of passion and could see myself in one or two existing roles internally, or they might create one or two roles for things we don't yet do that I think we should. On the flipside, I've had some opportunities come up through professional networking that I haven't been able to bite at... yet!

Indecision is difficult. Not knowing how many birds are in any given bush is really frustrating when you have none in the hand - and I don't think it's ethical to apply for a position then leave six months later because you got into B-school. My mentor disagrees, and says that I should try to give myself as many options as possible. I honestly am rather torn. I don't even know what direction to go in! One of the other problems is that if I remain internal, they need to backfill my current role, and there's a big shortage of people who can do so. This would delay my transition and eventual performance&promotions by 1-6 months, depending. (6 is very unlikely)

Anyhow. So I've been indecisive, but on the upside I'd honestly forgotten to stress about b-school until I checked my gmail for the first time today (@11pm!) and saw the Haas email... which turned out to be a "Hi, just so you know, we have started sending invites!" communication.

In closing - I hope everyone has fantastic plans for Dec & Jan! I was originally going to Vegas with friends (turns out a lot of MBA's I know are heading to Brazil for New Year's - from different schools, too, random!) but instead I'm just taking 2 weeks to hang mostly with the fam.

Happy Holidays!

PS: Essay review offered at the top is contingent on me having time, but I really enjoy reviewing folks essays, so I will try to make time.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Woo, feedback!

Got a surprising amount of feedback to my last post, thank you all! Also updated my 'about me' to disclose a bit more.

Just to set the record straight, my heart is not set solely on bschool; pinning your hopes on such a statistically low chance when you're an 'old' and 'below-average GPA' prospect seems silly. However, an MBA from a top-10 seems by far and away the best route to a director or VP level position (ed. or CEO, depends on what company we're talking about!) where I can enact organizational improvement from a true leadership position, rather than having to do everything behind the scenes! The application process helped clarify goals, as well - it is as valuable as the adcom reps say it is!

To that end, I've got a number of routes to where I want to be, and while Bschool is the most attractive (connections, classwork, exposure to other companies through case studies, lectures, visits, projects, and of course the alumni networks!) it is not the only route. In the last week I've had some leads on opportunities I'd love to pursue, but I've had to hold off since I won't know my status until Feb.

Responding to comments:
  • Not looking outside the top schools simply because brand name, opportunities, and alumni network are very important to me. As several (successful entrepreneur/biz leader) friends have said, "Why get an MBA? Pick up MBA for dummies, you don't need to spend so much money!" and I concur. The opportunity cost for an MBA is very, very high (lost salary/promotions/business opportunities + spending $$$$ for an MBA) and to justify it, I'd want to come out with a degree backed by a stellar reputation and a solid network of alumni.
  • Not looking at Round 2 (except perhaps to finish one Wharton essay and submit, but Wharton's program really lacks in the places I'm interested in) because I can't put my career on hold indefinitely... time is a pretty limited asset!
  • On 'holistic process' - Think statistics. Bschools are happy to brag about their incoming classes, and you won't see many bschools saying their average GPA and GMAT scores went down with this year's class ;) While there is certainly involved work by the adcoms to diversify their classes, they do care about their stats. I suggested that the adcom might use that particular method because you do want to make sure your final stats improve your school's brand - so identifying candidates that will tilt numbers in the upward direction is an easy first step.
Thanks for the feedback! I'm not feeling down about my lack of invites thusfar (it's out of my hands, so I just do my best not to fret) but I am moderately down that I can't take advantage of some opportunities, because B-School is a better opportunity at this time and worth waiting for. Only a few months till I know for sure!

Thanks again for the discussion, have a great weekend!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

No news, no time, but hope?

Perhaps a misleading title!

I've had no word (ie: interview invites) from the 5 schools I've applied to. Given my low GPA, I'm not entirely surprised - my guestimate as to the methodology would be that:

  1. Remembering the desire to round out the class and ensure diversity,
  2. Early invites would go to the easy-win, 'fill the box' candidates (3.5+ GPA, 730+ GMAT, stellar school & institution)
  3. Later invites would go to the more interesting but non-traditional candidates (I figure I fit here)
That said, I'm not banking on an invite or acceptance from any school. I'm back from two weeks of whirlwind and frantically trying to catch up at work; writing up a report for a presentation tomorrow that I'll give after four hours of special session with another division, while simultaneously politicking a new technology usage across my company at some very high levels. I have a pretty packed schedule until January, come to think of it...

So, do I have hope for getting into bschool? I applied to five top-tier schools, round 1, with a poor academic profile, good-to-great work experience at great companies (4-7Y depending on how you view it), great recommendations, and what I hope were great essays. Based on averages alone, my GPA is likely outside the bottom of the 80% for each school (above 3.0, but barely) while my GMAT is well above most schools' averages (740) but not above their 80th percentile. (That's what I get for only taking a week to study?)

Honestly, I don't know if there's hope. I've long since decided I won't look at other schools in R2... I can't make myself justify the opportunity cost to look outside a premier brand. I'm also not exactly pinning my life on it... gotta write up this report so I can get back to properly phrasing and targeting my next barrage of internal politicking... I see opportunity for the company, but given we're large and conservative I need to first socialize the idea widely in certain circles, then sell it to the right target after the prework is done. Work in progress, but I've been through it before; hopefully this idea will be at least as successful as my last one... which was the topic of many of my bschool essays, come to think of it!

By Feb I'll know my results and be moving onto the next steps of whichever of my plans makes sense, but in the meantime I've got work to do! Hope everyone else's apps/waiting is going well!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Life is a whirlwind...

Is it possible to forget you've applied to b-school? Probably not, but the last week I went to a party hosted by a Sloan professor and was in San Fran within shouting distance of Haas and Stanford and my apps hardly crossed my mind.

Spent the week in San Fran for a conference, did a lot of networking and met a lot of great people. Also hung out with high school friends and the college roomate before/after the conference. Managed to not get sick despite travel and partying, adjusted to the time zone effortlessly both ways, and didn't make a fool of myself at any of the sponsored soirees. Of course, something HAD to go wrong, and that was my airline reservations (long, painful story) but it was an amazing trip.

After getting back late (and missing a meeting!) yesterday, I laid low today and hung out with a friend who was in town. Gunna keep the weekend low key, as I need to figure out how to get to NYC on Wednesday for a Daily Show taping (friend has a spare ticket!) as I have the day off, then get back to Richmond by 8am Thursday to teach class. Also have a ton of work to do, and new internal political shift that developed while I was in CA to figure out how to leverage. Life is definitely not boring!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What NOT to do while waiting...

It has been my good fortune that everything I've been asked for at work this week has been very easy to turn around. As a result, I had some free time today and I made the mistake of visiting the BSW and Gmatclub boards and browsing the interview & profile threads.

While I like the GMATClub boards quite a lot, and wish I'd spent more time on them during the app process, the BSW boards were riveting in the way a ten car pileup is - terrible, but you can't look away. I speak in particular about the 'DID YOU GET AN INTERVIEW? WHAT'S YOUR PROFILE? OH @#%#% HARVARD IS ONLY ACCEPTING X! I'M DOOOOOOMED" thread.

I'm more than a little surprised at the hysteria, insecurity, emotions, etc etc etc. I have not received an interview invite anywhere, but I'm not going to fret crazily about something beyond my control. I already know that by the end of February or so, I'll either be getting ready to attend, or moving on to my plan B. I found out this morning that a new consulting firm in my specific field just got created, so I'll be sure to network with the founder at an industry conference we're both attending in two weeks to inquire about their planned work.

I want to fast-forward this week, because my next three weeks are jam-packed. To kill the next two days, I could head up another self-started investigation and present on it to increase our extended organization's efficiency/knowledge in an area (already ran the idea by my manager) but I'm evaluating my level of enthusiasm, the time it would take, and the logical followups (most likely an official project not run by me) and as I've had no real break since May, I'm not *that* inspired to go back to running at 150%. Not just yet! ;) On the flipside, if my alternative becomes compulsively reading the hysteria threads... well, lets just say I've decided to keep myself productive for the rest of the week ;)

Best of luck to folks still going hard at their apps!