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!