I’ve been nominated for a BoB!

Wow–I am honored to be nominated for Clear Admit’s Best of Blogging 2013-2014! 

I’ve really enjoyed writing here over the past several months, and it’s always wonderful to hear from any of you through comments and emails. I hope my experiences have helped your own journeys. I love how the bschool blogosphere and online community feels small even though people from all over the world are active participants. You can help me turn my nom into the real thing by voting for my blog and two more of your favorites.

BoB Nominee

And a shoutout to all my fellow nominees below! I think you should also vote for hamm0 over at Boots to Suits. Cuz, you know, Johnson <3 all the way.

Finding the perfect bag for business school

I’ve been spending way too much time shopping lately. And I don’t even like shopping…it’s mostly a chore to me. One of the drawbacks of Ithaca is that there isn’t easy access to clothes options there, so I’m trying to get all that done before I get to Cornell. For me, that’s involved buying suits from Banana Republic during their “40% off everything in store” days and hopping into DSW for black heels. And then dropping everything off at a nearby tailor to get all the pants hemmed to the height of my new shoes. Being a short woman is expensive.

But I’ve spent most of my shopping efforts on finding a school bag. I don’t like backpacks, so I’ve been looking for totes. I have a black nylon tote from Gap (that I realized was basically a Longchamp Pliage knockoff many years later) that I’ve used for the past….13 years. Yup. I used it every day in college and for traveling afterward. Needless to say, it’s falling apart and pretty gross looking now. But I can’t argue with the value! Those $20 were well spent.

When I first started my search, my first thought went to getting the real Longchamp Pliage tote. But then I couldn’t stand the idea of spending $150 on something I spent $20 on previously, even if it wasn’t really the same thing. Plus the Pliage is literally a sack with zero side pockets or anything. My bag would be a purse replacement, so I need nooks and crannies for keys, phone, wallet, etc. I’d also need something big enough to fit my 15″ Macbook Pro.

Here were the contenders:

Cole Haan Parker Shopper, $178


This bag met all my requirements except one: Price. Too expensive for my taste. But pretty much great all around! A great buy if you have the cash.

kate spade new york Via Limoni Francis Shoulder Handbag, $138 on sale

A really cute bag with a decent sale price. Something about how the vinyl gave it a bowl-like shape didn’t agree with me, though. But if I see you with this bag, I will definitely tell you how much I love it.

Jess Tote, Banana Republic, $165 full price, $99 or lower on sale


I actually bought this tote during a major sale for $80 thinking it would be the winner, but once I received it I saw that the leather was not the best quality. It also has a feel to it that made me think that it wouldn’t last very long. And after my 13 years with my last black tote, I’m spoiled. I returned this one.

Tumi Voyageur Q-Tote, $225 full price


I came across the Tumi Q-Tote early in my search and loved it. It was perfect: I liked that it was made of indestructible nylon, had lots of little pockets and thin, flat straps (round ones always roll off my shoulders) all while looking somewhat classy. But $225?! No way, no siree bob. Then I hopped into Marshall’s one day and dug around the purse section a bit and found buried treasure. A single, dark blue Q-tote behind a stack of other bags marked down to $125. After a bit of mulling (“Am I really going to spend over a hundred bucks on a nylon bag??”), I bought it. I’m still kind of horrified that I spent that much money on it (I mean, come on…how much did it actually cost to create this thing? Ten bucks?), but I’m hoping that it will beat out my last 13-year streak.

Business book bites: “How to Win Friends and Influence People”

41+7Y+I2kTL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie

This is one of those classic books that you can’t regret spending the time consuming even if you don’t think it’s that helpful. It’s a cultural phenomenon!

The book doesn’t have any earth-shattering information in it (maybe it did when it came out back in 1937?). It goes through many basic points about garnering people’s favor and supports those points with anecdotes that sounded pretty hokey to my ears. It’s an easy read (or listen). It had a lot of good reminders, though, including:

  • Don’t criticize others; praise often
  • Listen to others and be genuinely interested in them; ask them about things they want to talk about, not you
  • Smile (if you don’t feel like smiling, do it anyway)
  • Make others feel important
  • And above all, empathize with those around you

Check out the Wikipedia entry for all the bullet points. I use the “ask people questions about themselves” technique a lot. As an introvert, I find it easier when others do most of the talking, and getting people to talk about themselves is the best way to do it.

I have to say that reading the book was kind of depressing, though. It makes it sound like we’re all self-centered, compliment-guzzling, insecure children who are desperately seeking attention from any source. But I guess it’s basically true!

My favorite part of the book was probably this one:

Why not study the technique of the greatest winner of friends the world has ever known? Who is he? You may meet him tomorrow coming down the street. When you get within ten feet of him, he will begin to wag his tail. If you stop and pat him, he will almost jump out of his skin to show you how much he likes you. And you know that behind this show on affection on his part, there are no ulterior motives: He doesn’t want to sell you any real estate and he doesn’t want to marry you.

Dogs are wonderful.

READ IT. I’m glad I listened to this one and checked it off my list.

The horror that is the “Personal” section of the MBA resume

Woman taking cherry pie from ovenI just finished drafting my resume in the Johnson format. Besides the utter torture it was to format it in 11 pt Times New Roman in a Word doc using tables (I work on the side as a freelance graphic designer; I haven’t had my resume in Word since 2003), the worst part, by far, was figuring out what to put in that dreaded “Personal” section at the bottom.

I know everyone says to not stress out about this section. But then the next moment I hear that it’s the first part of the resume recruiters look at. And how am I not supposed to worry about this section, exactly??

I’ve never, ever had a “Personal” section on my resume. I always thought it was irrelevant, and I’d much rather use that space to talk about my professional qualifications than what I do outside of work. Plus, it’s no one’s business what I do with my free time, right? The last thing I’d want is for a recruiter to make unfair assumptions about me due to the content of that kind of section. I’d really rather avoid it, but it’s apparently expected. So I’m stuck.

I first looked for guidance in the form of other MBA resumes. I was not encouraged with what I found. They included items such as:

  • Avid golfer; current 8 handicap
  • FAA-certified pilot
  • Equestrian competitor
  • Ran [insert big city here] Marathon
  • Snowboarded in eight different countries

OK…I don’t know about all of you, but I don’t do these things. I don’t run, period. I also don’t ski or snowboard or play basketball, soccer, golf, cricket or any other sport. The closest thing I do to physical activity is hiking, and that’s the LA definition, which means walking lazily along a smooth and wide dirt path for a mile or so before you start to feel a little hot and then turn around to go back to your air conditioned car.

So I started to think hard about what I do with my free time. And, honestly, I spend a lot of my free time reading. And no, I’m not reading Victorian poetry or amazing pieces of literature. I’m reading…The New York Times. Slate. Mental_Floss. The New Yorker. A bunch of local SoCal blogs and a huge slew of tech blogs. The thing is, putting “reading” down on your list of personal interests is probably the most boring non-informational thing you could share, even if my reading goes beyond leisure.

I thought about including something like “animal rescue” or “animal advocacy” on my list. But I am completely paranoid of someone reading that and assuming that I am some kind of PETA militant or someone who lives with 20 cats.

Then I considered adding “cooking” or “baking”. I’ve done a lot of cooking in my life and am pretty much a foodie. But that also sounds bland and generic nowadays; it’s closer to “reading” than anything. “Baking” could possibly be more interesting, but once again, I’m worried that it will sound like I’m a woman who wears an apron and bakes cookies for her children in her 1950s kitchen. I do bake a lot, though. Let me know if you need any cookie recipes–I’ve tested out a lot on my officemates.

Frankly, the other stuff I do just sounds weird. I like to write, of course, and have written a good amount of poetry and fiction. But that seems…I don’t know…too “heavy” to include on a resume. Like maybe I’d actually really rather be a novelist but I’m looking for a regular job to pay the bills (which is not true). I also like to find/play indie/offbeat video games, which totally sounds weird. And it also sounds like I’m a gamer or something, which I’m not. Real gamers would kick me out of that club very quickly.

SIGH. I wish I did something relatively common and relatable, like photography or painting. That would be pretty safe.

Business book bites: “The McKinsey Mind”

I mentioned earlier that I love audiobooks. I’ve decided to spend all of my listening time from now on on various business-related books, which is a huge change for me. I really prefer fiction, especially sci-fi, horror and YA (I was making my way through a ton of Stephen King before making this switch). Anyway, I thought I’d jot down some pseudo reviews and thoughts on what I’ve been listening to lately on this blog.

ImageThe McKinsey Mind, by Ethan Rasiel

This book is apparently a follow-up book to The McKinsey Way. The only reason I listened to this one instead of the original was because The McKinsey Mind was available on audible and The McKinsey Way wasn’t.

From the back cover:

Structured around interviews and frontline anecdotes from former McKinsey consultants ­­as well as the authors, themselves McKinsey alumni­­, The McKinsey Mind explores how McKinsey tools and techniques can be applied to virtually any business problem in any setting. Immensely valuable in today’s crisis-a-minute workplace, it discusses:

  • Techniques for framing problems and designing analyses
  • Methods for interpreting results and presenting solutions
  • Keys for managing teams, managing clients, and managing yourself

[...] Let The McKinsey Mind show you how to approach and solve problems with the skill of a McKinsey consultant and obtain the positive results that have been delivered to McKinsey clients for over a century.

Those are some big promises, huh? But honestly, this book was downright terrible. I couldn’t even finish listening to it; I got about 80% of the way through before giving up. Maybe I shouldn’t judge it because I never finished it. But I never stop listening to books mid-way; I’ve only done that with one other of the hundreds I’ve listened to (That book was Game of Thrones. I know so many people out there love it, but I just wasn’t happening for me.)

The McKinsey Mind is full of lame unhelpful platitudes like “Don’t boil the ocean.” It also offers gems like, “Give your clients advice tailored to their business.” Wow, really? You mean I shouldn’t treat a small business and and multi-million dollar international conglomerate the same way? Thanks for the tip.

The book completely lacks in applicable, practical methods or analyses, which is weird, because that’s exactly what the book promises to deliver. One reviewer on Amazon wrote, “If this were a book on picking stocks, the equivalent would be ‘buy low, sell high.’” I don’t think I can capture it any better than that!

SKIP IT. Maybe The McKinsey Way is better? I won’t be attempting it, though. Let me know if you do.


Coming up next: How to Win Friends and Influence People and The 2-Hour Job Search

In from Yale SOM’s waitlist [admit #4]


I started out last fall with my heart set on Yale SOM. When I first started exploring business schools, SOM called out to me…even before I found out that it was “the” bschool for nonprofit folks. And once I discovered that fact, I felt like my mind was all made up. I didn’t know what kind of chances I had at admission, but if Yale let me in, I would GO. I was that sure that SOM was The School for Me.

Then I found out I was waitlisted. It was the first bschool decision I received of all my apps (well, except for GSB, but that didn’t ever really register with me), and I was crushed. I thought that if I had a chance anywhere, it would be SOM…and even they weren’t sure if they wanted me. I started to think I had little to no chance of admission at all my other schools.

But then things started looking up. Way up. Not only did I receive admission from Anderson, I also received a scholarship. I was floored. I started out this process thinking mayyyybe I’d have a shot at scholarship money, but in no way did I expect it. But I got some, and suddenly my expectations shot upward. I started to need more than an admit to consider enrollment.

In the meanwhile, I was learning more and more about Johnson, my dark horse candidate. And I liked what I learned. I liked it a lot. SOM started to look very far away, and Johnson looked more and more within reach.

And that’s what brings me to where I am today. I found a little over a week ago that I was admitted with all the other round 2 admits at SOM. I was really happy, of course, but I also did not receive any funding from them. And even though Yale has an outstanding loan forgiveness program…I’m sticking with Johnson. For all those of you who have been going following the SOM saga with me (machichi, AG, tinkered, everyone else out there), I have truly appreciated swapping stories and going through all of it with you, and I’m sad we won’t be classmates next year. But I’m sure you’re all destined for greatness, and I’ll always have a special place in my heart for SOM :)

And that, ladies and gentlemen, concludes my bschool application drama. I hope you enjoyed the show!

I’ll still be blogging when inspiration hits me, probably mostly complaint-filled posts about the relocation process. (Did I mention I hate moving? Yes, I think I did, but I’ll say it again. I hate moving.) No promises once the fall semester starts at Johnson, though. From what I hear, I’ll barely have time to breathe, much less blog…though I do love blogging.

I want to thank all of you out there who have been reading my posts and virtually traveling the bschool application journey with me. This blog is well on its way toward its 30,000th view since my first post this past September! I’ve tried to be as transparent as possible, and I hope you guys have gleaned something from it all, whether it was a smile, a nod or a muttered “god I hate her she is so annoying.” I’ll take it all.

For those of you asking, “How did you get off the Yale waitlist?“, I honestly don’t think I did anything special. I was kind of lazy about the whole thing because I was hedging my bets. I didn’t visit campus or reach out to more students/alumni. I’m pretty sure my case was “Pretty good, but not awesome. Let’s put her off until round 2 and reevaluate her within the context of that group.” And maybe yield was lower than they expected for round 1. But here’s what I did:

  • Asked for feedback: SOM will give you feedback on your application if you ask for it (other schools won’t). I asked, and their feedback was that they had no specific feedback, so that didn’t really help me much. But they might give you something actionable that you could work on.
  • Demonstrated interest: When I received an offer from another school, I let SOM know about it and said that I’d still pick them if they let me in.
  • Submitted another rec: I had another previous supervisor submit a character-driven rec for me. I never saw the rec, so I don’t know what it really said. Maybe it was crazy fantastic and that’s what got me in (?) But I also hear recs from current students and alumni can help a lot.

I also submitted a two-sentence update saying that I had completed a pre-MBA math course and received an A+ in it, but I doubt this had anything to do with my admission. I don’t think quant was a real concern on my app.

I’ve heard stories of people putting together pages and pages of supporting content and sending it to admissions. I didn’t do any of that. I probably sent SOM three or four short (3-4 sentences each) emails total during the four-month waiting period. And I didn’t really get a response to the messages I sent, so I don’t even know if they read them, really. I actually wonder if what I contributed had any influence at all on my admission. I mean, it was probably better than staying completely silent, but in and of itself I don’t believe the content was that compelling.

10 ways you know you’re a bschool applicant, buzzfeed-style

1. You simultaneously cannot survive with or without the GMATClub and other MBA forums.



2. You inexplicably start the process of recruiting for post-MBA jobs before you even start your first day of school.



3. Suddenly, the numbers between 700 and 800 take on a kind of heavenly aura to them.



4. Every day, you tell someone a detailed plan of your short- and long-term goals, but inside you are screaming I DON’T KNOW WHAT I WANT TO DO WITH MY LIFE!!!



5. You spend an inordinate amount of time calculating odds and computing your chances of admission knowing full well that your numbers are completely meaningless.



6. You suddenly start meeting so many awesome people with so many different backgrounds that you create a stalker-ish list in Excel to keep track of everyone.



7. You become an expert on area codes.


734: Ann Arbor!! And sometimes even area codes that aren’t provided. “Unknown” caller ID?: Ithaca!! One more loss for you, Yellow Pages.


8. You go through a Jekyll-and-Hyde mental process that goes something like this:”That guy isn’t that great, and he got into Wharton. I’m totally gonna get in!!…”that person owns her own multi-million dollar company, founded a nonprofit on the side and spends three months a year feeding starving children in Africa. I’M SCREWED!”



9. You pick up an uncanny skill to transform every weakness you have into a strength.



10. Every time you receive an email blast from the admissions office, your heart skips a beat and you wonder…is this specifically directed toward me? What does this mean???