Ross interview recap

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I recently completed my interview with a really fantastic Ross alumnus in my city. We met at a local coffee house and the interview was very relaxed and conversational without any odd-ball questions. I lucked out big time because the person I was randomly matched with actually wanted to do nonprofit work with her MBA…and she is currently working in the sector! I was itching to get the interview-y part of the meeting done because I had a ton of questions I wanted to ask. We had a really great conversation and I learned a LOT, including summer internship possibilities.

One of the notable things she told me about Ross was that the people there are pretty open minded and I wouldn’t be considered too much of an outlier. That stood out to me because I now understand that (what is being perceived as) the weak aspect of my application is my career goals, and it’s considered “weak” because some admissions committees just…don’t get it. And although animals and MBAs might not be the first two things one would pair together, I’ve been slightly disappointed with how some schools are resisting the idea. Marketing management jobs everywhere–even in the nonprofit, animal welfare sector–prefer MBAs, and it’s frustrating to have to convince admissions committees members of this fact. (The Best Friends Animal Society is currently hiring a Communications Manager. The first line of the job description says, “MBA with concentration in Marketing/Communications is desired.”)

Anyway, back to the topic at hand. No matter where I actually end up enrolling for business school, I have a feeling I’ll be crossing paths with my Ross interviewer again in the future. It’s amazing how the bschool application process is already offering me great networking contacts for my career even though I’m not even a student yet! I also now fully realize why people advise applicants to apply for your dream schools last–I think with this final interview, I finally hit my resume walk through out of the park. I’m a future-oriented person, not past-oriented. I don’t spend much of my time lingering on what’s already happened and thinking about what I might have done right or wrong in the past, so I’m just not personally inclined to do a great job at a resume walk through. But after doing four interviews, I can finally say that I think I figured out what my interviewers wanted to hear from me and that it all made sense.

What impresses me most about Ross’ nonprofit support is their Domestic Corps program. Domestic Corps is a fully funded and fleshed out summer internship placement program for opportunities in the nonprofit sector. TheNonprofit and Public Management Center at Michigan gathers together a few nonprofit summer internships and organizes the application process for them–if you decide to apply, the Center reviews all Ross applicants first, then passes on their chosen candidates to the organizations themselves to do final interviewing/selection. Each internship is paid $10,000 for 10 weeks of work, and the opportunities cover a good range of functional areas. The summer internship has been kind of a black hole to me when I think about doing nonprofit work with my MBA–sure, I can understand doing the job search on my own, but the internship aspect seems a bit daunting. Although nonprofits want MBAs, very few have internship programs for bschool students. Domestic Corps is pretty awesome in that it offers specific support in that area.

In other news, I was not invited to interview at Fuqua. I have to admit that I was somewhat surprised. I’ve been invited to interview at all the schools I applied to except GSB and Haas, whose selectivity and competitiveness are in a league of their own. I didn’t think Fuqua was in that same category, but who knows what they are thinking? Not being invited to interview is not technically a ding–I guess applicants in the past have been invited to interview in the subsequent round and ultimately admitted–but it’s certainly not a good sign. But I’m also pretty distracted right now and will be through the rest of this week, at least. I’m still waiting to find out if I will get any financial support from Johnson, which will play a huge role in my MBA future.

Johnson interview invite

Bill Nye the Science Guy, '77 Cornell alum (ok, engineering, not business, but still! It's Bill!)

Bill Nye the Science Guy, ’77 Cornell alum (ok, engineering, not business, but still! It’s Bill!)

I’ve been invited to interview at Cornell! And I’ve decided to fly to Ithaca to do the interview in person. I haven’t flown anywhere yet to interview on campus for business school, but I decided to do so for Johnson for a few reasons:

Skype = Blech

The only alternative to interviewing on campus was interviewing via Skype. So far, I’ve been able to do all my off-campus interviews in person with an adcom member or alum in my city, so I haven’t had to face the prospect of interviewing on my computer, which is pretty unappealing. So, in my back of my mind, I knew that if this situation ever came up, I’d look into flying out.

It’s actually affordable

I looked up flights with the full expectation of seeing a $500+ price tag and was shocked to find a flight from California to Syracuse, NY for $250. $250!! And this was with less than two weeks until the flight! When I saw that, I knew that I needed to take that option.

Things are different

I’m in a different position now compared to when I started this whole application process last fall. I have one solid admit under my belt (Anderson), but I want more options, and those options have greatly dwindled. Johnson, Fuqua and Ross are all I have left–literally. There’s no round 3 or reapplication for me. For round 1 apps,I was blundering around and really unsure of my chances at various schools. I was basically taking stabs in the dark. But now I have a much better understanding of my candidacy, so my path is much clearer and I can make more distinct decisions.

I need $$

Since I have a good scholarship offer from UCLA, I’d really need a fellowship offer from another school for me to be fully able to consider taking it. I know Cornell especially wants applicants to come to campus (I think it might be similar to Tuck’s stance–since they’re a small community in the middle of nowhere, they want people to know what they’re getting themselves into, perhaps?) and I really need to make as strong a showing as I can, not just for admission, but for scholarship consideration.

Ithaca: I need to know!

This trip has added value for me for reasons unrelated to business school. I picture myself living in the New England area for the long term. I’ve always been attracted to cities like Ithaca and other spots including Burlington (Vermont), Portland (Maine) and Providence (Rhode Island). But I actually know very little about them, and it’s time I started finding out. I’m sure I’ll be stressed out about my interview during my short time in Ithaca, but I’m going to do my best to get to know what I can of the town while I’m there.

McDonald’s is planning on purchasing sustainable beef in 2016

McDonald's Big MacColor me impressed. Very impressed!

Sure, 2016 is kind of far away, and McDonald’s is only going to “start” purchasing sustainable beef then, but this is huge! I’m sure there’s a lot of technicalities here that people who know more than me can legitimately complain about…like what exactly counts as “sustainable”…and if it’s even possible for beef to BE “sustainable”…but still.

You see, I’m not a true idealist…I’m a realistic idealist. I am well aware that compromises must be made, and if we refuse to bend and be flexible, we won’t be able to get anywhere. And although I admire those purists who advocate for and passionately pursue their beliefs, I think we need to get there in steps. Baby steps.

I also believe that making change via corporate practice is where the most impact can be made. And although some would call me a sellout or a cynic, I still believe that someone like Michele Banik-Rake (Director of Sustainability at McDonald’s) has more ability to make a substantive change to better the world than many nonprofit organizations in their entirety. By the way, did you know that McDonald’s has an “Animal Health & Welfare Team” that includes Temple Grandin? Who knew?

I’m going to change the name of this blog to “How to get waitlisted for bschool” [Kellogg waitlist]

ImageIf any of you participate in any bschool forums, you probably know that I have more updates than this, but lots of things have happened in the past couple days and I’m just going to go through them one by one.

Kellogg released round 1 decisions a couple days ago. I eyed my phone all day and watched my fellow applicants share their great news when they were admitted. As the hours passed, I felt the same slow sense of doom creep up on me I had the day Yale released decisions. I also fully came to terms with the fact that I ABSOLUTELY had to add more apps to round 2…and complete them in the next two weeks.

It turned out I was waitlisted. Again. I wasn’t even surprised when I logged in to discover that decision. I kind of think I’m a prime candidate for waitlisting. I can clearly imagine what’s going on in adcom members’ minds as they review my file: “Wow, interesting profile. Qualifying stats. Admirable career goals to help…animals…I’m sure she’d be an asset to bschool…somewhere…”

As the waitlist letters say, the schools are “interested” in me. I’m trying to do something that probably hasn’t been done before, so that’s “interesting.” But…it also makes me risky. So I think the schools are kind of throwing me a bone–“Good for her!”–but don’t fully believe in the real potential of my case, which I can understand.

I was pretty disappointed. I was 0 for 3–one ding and two waitlist decisions. And I had always loved Northwestern. But I decided to add Ross and Fuqua to my list for round 2 (and thanks to all of you who gave me your input on my last post!). I’m attracted to both of those schools for various reasons that I’ll cover in a future post.

Pondering more schools for round 2 [A penny for your thoughts?]

urlI’ve been thinking about adding one or two schools to my list for round 2, and I’m feeling a bit lost. Help?

I first considered Tuck because it seems to be the exact environment I want to be in (even for the long term): Rural and beautiful with a small tight-knit community. Their Center for Business & Society seems awesome. But after poking around a bit, I don’t think I will apply purely because I don’t think I have a good (or any) chance of admission. That’s further emphasized by the fact that I cannot make the visit out there to interview on campus, which Tuck seems to all but say out loud is a requirement for admission. I’m sure there’s exceptions for international folks or other standouts, but I doubt they’d think I had a good excuse. If I even did have a chance, my lack of interviewing on campus would be the final nail in the coffin, I think.

I’ve also been considering Fuqua and Ross. I also thought about adding UC Davis because their strong agricultural/veterinary programs seemed to have potential to partner with for animal-related causes. I could possibly see McDonough…it seems like a lot of the paths I’m attracted to end up dealing with policy, so being in DC could be helpful.

Does anyone have any ideas? I’d love to hear them!

Animal stewardship, religion and academia

cow-farmingI’ve been so occupied with the drama of decisions and apps that I’ve barely spent any time on this blog talking about the issue that brought me here: Animals.

There was a fascinating article in the New York Times the other day titled, “Scholars Explore Christian Perspectives on Animal Rights.” I’m not a scholar and I’m not Christian, so I was surprised with how some of the ideas shared in the piece resonated with me.

In “For Love of Animals,” Dr. Camosy … [argues] that the Catholic ethics of respect for life and care for the vulnerable should make us reconsider how we treat animals. The Catholic catechism permits meat eating, he told me, “but with two qualifications: we owe animals kindness, and it’s wrong to cause them to suffer needlessly.”

The clear implication, he said, is that except for the poor who can’t get food other ways, everyone has a duty at least to avoid eating factory-farmed animals.

I totally agree with Camosy’s idea. I’m a fan of the whole slow food movement and eating locally and supporting local farmers and everything. But…my major problem with the entire thing is that to participate in these behaviors, you need money.  I currently don’t spend the extra money on free-range or grass-fed meat products, but I think that I should and that I eventually will…once I reach a certain income level. I’m definitely not poor right now, but Whole Foods isn’t nicknamed Whole Paycheck for nothing. Currently, I think avoiding eating factory-farmed animals and similar behaviors are generally an indulgence for those of higher socioeconomic status. And having money shouldn’t be a requirement in order to behave responsibly. That’s why my favorite part of the quote is the “except for the poor who can’t get food other ways” part.  But, unlike Camosy, I don’t think there is anything specifically wrong with consuming animals. But I do think we need to figure out an environmentally friendly and scaleable way to support the food industry as a whole.

My second favorite part of that quote is when Camosy says that “we owe animals kindness.” Owing kindness is a very gentle and general way to describe the responsibility we have. It kind of reminds me of the phrase “animal stewardship.” I love the word stewardship (Say it with me: The dictionary defines stewardship as “the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care.”).  I think stewardship also implies a certain level of distance. We do what we can to support these creatures, but hopefully not in an overly invasive way. Of course, there’s lots to debate about that, but it’s an idea I like to keep in mind.

Animals might not be the first thing you think of in conjunction with business school, but I’m realizing that there are a lot more intersections than I once thought. The food industry, of course. Social entrepreneurship. The booming pet industry. International government issues like animal trafficking and smuggling. Nonprofit work. That’s why an MBA is really valuable–you can apply it almost anywhere and in any sector.

More thoughts on Johnson [on to round 2]

keep-calm-and-omg-ponies-22 I have two schools lined up for round 2, and I just submitted my Johnson app today, which is also the last day to submit (definitely pushed this one right to the edge)! The TOC essay question was really tough. One of my majors in college was creative writing, and usually I’d just go crazy and have a lot of fun with this kind of funky format. I was initially thinking about following a comic strip-type template for it (all dialogue: setup – question – punchline), but 300 words was too limiting. Plus it made my snarky/ironic side come out, and I don’t think adcom members are too drawn to that kind of tone.

I previously mentioned that Johnson is my dark horse. Cornell’s MBA program continues to impress me, and it’s hard to pinpoint exactly how. The few Johnson adcom members I’ve communicated with struck me as very genuine whereas others seemed like they were reciting lines from a book and a couple even seemed cold and arrogant. But, maybe more importantly, I can envision the rest of my life playing out in the long term with Cornell as my base. Like I said before, I know a lot of people don’t consider applying to Cornell because of its location, but Ithaca is actually why I DID apply to Cornell. I’ve lived in huge cities in the US my whole life, and I’ve always wanted out. I think I’m somewhat of a country girl at heart. But I also don’t know what I’m talking about, because I’ve only lived an urban life! But I *think* my dream life would involve a home surrounded by natural beauty that’s semi-agricultural. I’d like to grow things. And, yes, take care of animals. Chickens, at least. Maybe a goat. Or…OMG PONIES!

It’s a long ways off, I know. I’m probably thinking more about retired life or something like that. But Cornell (and Ithaca) seem like a small step in the right direction. It would give me a taste of the kind of area that I supposedly want to live in. Whenever I talk about this, my friends and family say that I would die without having immediate access to pho or Korean BBQ or great Mexican food or Asian grocery stores and that the lack of diversity would drive me crazy. I could definitely see that being a problem. But enough to be a deal breaker? I’m not sure. I need to find out.

I also wrote an essay for the Park Leadership Fellowship Program, of course. It would be a miracle if I was awarded a FULL RIDE for bschool. Chances are mighty slim, but once again–I can’t not try.

I can’t believe I’ll hear the yea/nay from Yale in less than a week. I will definitely be eyeing my phone all day on Monday. And I will be very sad if I don’t get a call. I’m definitely a huge SOM fan. According to what I’ve been able to glean from forums, round 1 decisions from Yale will all be released on Monday (phone calls for admits, online notification for denies); congratulatory calls from Kellogg will probably begin on Monday, December 16 with all decisions officially released on December 18; and UCLA Anderson may release some decisions on Friday, December 20th, if past patterns hold true (the true notification date for Anderson is January 28). I’ve got an exciting 2-3 weeks coming up!