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!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Round 1: DONE

Quite the load off my chest. All 5 R1 apps submitted. Each school has something different I can get really excited about, and just given statistics I'll be 'lucky' to get into one (of course, I like to make my own luck!) so if I get the option of choosing between multiple top-10 schools, it will truly be an honor.

Anyhow. This has been an amazing period of my life, and I'm glad to focus on the work I have to do between now and February. If I'm not accepted at a school by then, I'll turn my attention to finding a position doing what I love and submit the R2 Wharton just in case they admit me - although unfortunately they are not terribly strong in any of the areas I'm interested in.

It's been a trip. Other than a confidence post when I get time, expect my posting frequency to go down for a while! Thanks, readers!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Interview War Wounds

I had my Kellogg interview yesterday, and I made a classic, classic mistake.

I've owned a comfortable pair of shoes for about five years that I use for work, and resoled them twice. They are a bit scuffed, but extremely serviceable and molded to my feet. Two years ago, I bought a 'replacement' set of shoes (never worn) that are new and shiny, and of course decided to interview in the new and shiny shoes rather than the scuffed standby's.

My interview was at 8am about 25 minutes from my house by public transportation, and 5 minutes after leaving my house I was in severe pain. The left shoe, which fit wonderfully at the store two years ago, was tearing up the back of my ankle. Given the severity of the situation (I would never recommend being late to a b-school interview!) I soldiered on. I hobbled all over Arlington, and since I beat my interviewer there I tried stuffing some napkins down the back of the shoe so I wouldn't be limping as I stood to greet him and followed him to a seat.

As a result, this morning I have a blister about the size of a quarter on the back of my ankle, and it stings. The interview itself was quite pleasant, and while I felt like I had a good connection with my interviewer I'm not certain of anything. I can name two pitfalls I fell into that were my misreading his intent (neither seemed to end badly), and he asked me several times if I wanted to know anything further about the school. Since I have two former teammates there and researched all my schools fairly extensively, I didn't really have anything to ask... but in retrospect, I should probably have figured out something new to ask ahead of time, or just asked something I knew the answer to to indulge him. It's people brownie points, after all; people like feeling helpful! My only clear negative was that several times I touched on other schools (after researching so many schools, it's all fresh in my head!) and I probably should have eschewed those stories or parallels unless specifically asked about them and kept the interview focused on Kellogg.

That said, there were no clear disaster moments, and it was a pleasant experience. While I hope I get more than one interview, Kellogg's was very relaxed and enjoyable and a great one to start with! Time to limp off and find some breakfast.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Zap! Pow! Hasselhoff!

Schools Submitted R1: 3/5
Schools Submitted R2: 0/1
(Wharton E2 & redbull)

... I think I stole the title from a Buffy episode? (ed: definitely a Sluggy Freelance strip.) I'm excited, 3 down, 3 to go, and the last two R1 schools are the apps I started first - they're good to go as is, but a little review doesn't hurt!

I don't have a lot to update about, really. I'm extremely glad I did the majority of my app work this summer, because it's been a busy fall. Most of my effort around school submissions has been 10-15 hours of final essay revisions 3-4 days before the deadline, then upload them and final review, then click 'submit'.

Work wise, I've had some fun high priority requests thrown my way (audit, legal, everyone likes me lately! Oh, and HR wants me to be in a video!) and in my free time when I'm not facing a deadline, I've tried to relax. After all, I haven't really had a break since May or so... nice to chill out! Soon I might try having a life again and making good on my promises to various partners to go salsa dancing.

Anyhow - I'm sure everyone's in cram mode right now, and I hope you all did the lion's share early! As promised I've started composing a post on Confidence, but I want to take the time to communicate my thoughts clearly. Sometime in the future, though! Good luck, B-schoolers.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Pulling the Trigger, and interview prep.

Schools Submitted: 1/6 (Schools ready: ~4/5)

The past week has been eventful: I wrote a final essay from scratch, submitted my first application, went blind, traveled for three days for work, and decided to not force Wharton R1.

Last Thursday, I slept perhaps 2 hours working to finalizing HBS and Wharton. The next night, I rewrote a HBS essay from scratch after rereading the question and deciding I hadn't addressed it properly. I wrote final notes on all essays, submitted and saved the PDF file and reviewed it in its entirety*, and the next day I pulled the trigger on the application well ahead of the deadline.

Friday night, I also managed to over-indulge in redbull. After sitting for over 10 hours in the dark, with a bright screen on my right and a dim one on the left (monitor/laptop), I 'went blind' at 4am. One pupil was calibrated to darkness, the other to light, and neither was dilating. This meant that in the light, my left eye couldn't see my hand in front of my face, in the dark, my right eye couldn't. Etc. Scary stuff, although some quick googling revealed the issue. I took much of Saturday just to lie in bed with cold compresses and recover/relax, but I did submit HBS. I might wish I'd tweaked my 4th essay one way or another, but I'd dithered too long on the topic.

I didn't get cranking on Sunday partly due to eyes/exhaustion and partly because my Mon-Thur schedule was brutal and I knew I needed to be rested. Up at 5AM Monday to travel, gave a presentation at 10AM, and spent the next few days at a hotel with plenty of work to do and pretty much 9-5 meetings Mon-Thu on top. All in all, I couldn't get fired up to finish and submit Wharton R1 by Thursday. I admit, Wharton was the last school I considered, and ironically the one least finished albeit with the earliest deadline. My recommenders had submitted on time, so the only excuses I have for not finishing off W R1 is my illness over the weekend and my distaste for Wharton Essay #2. At this point, my story is that to adapt, I changed my company around me. It's true, but not exactly what they are asking for. Although my mother commented when I complained about the topic, "Why would they want people that were forced to adapt? Aren't they looking for leaders?" I don't get W's questions either and as an elite school they can ask whatever they want... but I struggle to think of anything I had to adapt to that requires more than 250 words to convey.

Interview prep: I am applying to Kellogg R1, and therefore I will automatically get at least one interview. Time to tighten up my Kellogg and Stanford apps and pull the trigger on them as well! Have a great weekend, folks.

Interview resources: There are some fantastic resources out there, and I'm sure there are more than I have listed; if you got 'em, post 'em!
  1. ClearAdmit Wiki Interviews

    h/t Linda Abraham:
  2.'s MBA Interview Feedback Database
  3.'s MBA interview prep mini-email course
  4.'s "MBA IV" : Instantly downloadable ebook containing tips and sample questions organized by school. The first two are free.

* - I recommend this as a best-practice. Get all your info up there (even some fake essays) and 'submit' - it gives you the option to review your PDF. SAVE THIS FILE AND REVIEW IT. This is what the adcoms are looking at! (Disclaimer: This works great at the schools I've tried thusfar, but I don't know if it works at all the schools)