Watch out, Johnson, here I come! [Johnson 2016]

Johnson-Cornell-Logo_webI’m sure exactly none of you will be surprised to hear that I’ve put my deposit down for Cornell Johnson!

Even though it was painfully obvious from my recent posts that I had fallen hard for Johnson, the decision was not an easy one to make. As I was considering all the pros and cons, I was also reaping the benefits of living close to UCLA and being able to attend every yield event Anderson offered. I had lunch with Dean Rob Weiler and coffee with my first year buddy. I also attended the Anderson Women’s Business Connection conference, a reception for fellowship recipients and Admit Preview Day. I was especially taken with Dean Judy Olian’s comments at the women’s conference. She was very frank about the challenges women face in business and went as far to say that women can have it all–but not at the same time. Basically, she said that a woman can’t be aggressively furthering her career and having kids simultaneously–one or the other has to take priority. She tried to underline this by pointing out that Julia Stewart (the keynote speaker) had her first child at age 42. It was all very intriguing and I admired Dean Olian for speaking a hard truth, even if it was a debatable one.

What I’m trying to say is that my decision was very personal . It was more about cultural fit and long term plans beyond my two years of business school and less about reputation, the quality of career services and trying to determine which school was “better.” I know it gets really old hearing this over and over again throughout the entire bschool application process, but I really tried to determine what was “better” for me than what was objectively “better.” Okay, now the word “better” sounds and looks really weird. I’m going to stop.

I did receive a Forte Fellowship from Johnson, which was FANTASTIC news. I was so excited! I am really looking forward to getting more involved in the Forte Foundation.

I thought applying and waiting for decisions was hard, but now comes the really terrible part: moving. (Moving–how do I loathe thee? Let me count the ways.) I’ve done it many times throughout my years, including a couple cross-country ones, and no matter how much I try to plan and prepare (and, yes, I do a LOT of planning and preparing), it always ends up being an excruciating process. And this time I’m moving with a car, which I’ve never done before. I’ve got about 3-4 months to prep everything, which sounds like enough time, but also seems like not enough at all. Here’s to hoping for a relatively smooth transition to Ithaca!

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Waiting. Painful, painful waiting.

time-warpThe bschool application process is full of starts and stops. One second you’re frantically trying to finish your application the day before it’s due, the next second you’re doing…nothing. Just sitting around and waiting to see if you’ll get an interview invite. When that invite (hopefully) comes, you jump back to life. You schedule your appointment, research the school, look into your interviewer’s background, polish your resume walk-through. Then the interview is over, and it’s back to waiting.

Then it’s the day before decisions are released, and your heart rate increases a little. You sleep poorly the night before. The morning of, you’re suddenly aware of your phone in a way you’ve never experienced before. It’s like you’ve gained a very specific kind of spidey sense–one whose sole purpose is to connect you to your phone. Your phantom vibration syndrome reaches an inhuman level of intensity, and you think, “This is it. I’m officially losing it!”

Now that I’ve submitted all my applications and have completed all the interviews I was invited for, I’ve reached the ultimate phase of waiting. I mean, I’m really waiting now. I thought I was waiting before, but nope. Apparently, there is an even worse kind of waiting, and this is it.

I think things are supposed to get better once you have at least one offer of admission (I’m lucky enough to have two at this point), but I haven’t experienced it that way. It’s true that the playing field has extremely narrowed, but at the same time , it’s also become much more real. And with reality comes expectations. And when there’s expectations, there’s always a possibility of disappointment.

I’m still waiting to hear if Johnson will offer me any scholarship money. I’m also waiting to hear if I will be admitted to Ross. I’m also waiting to see if I will get off the Kellogg and Yale SOM waitlists. And in the meanwhile, deposit deadlines are coming up fast. Cornell’s deposit deadline is in just a couple weeks, and UCLA Anderson’s deposit deadline is a week after that (which is also when I should hear from Ross).

The only real solace I have is that everything could potentially be settled in mid-March, which is actually not that far away. But until then, things feel more up in the air and unpredictable than ever.

I’M DONE WITH APPS! yesssssssssssssss

stick_a_fork_in_heart_im_done_print-rcfce5cff037f4e3ba9cc72b81ec5e9f4_wad_8byvr_512I submitted my Fuqua app last night, which means that I am DONE filling out business school applications and will NEVER EVER FILL OUT ANOTHER ONE AGAIN! Whoooooooooooop! It feels pretty awesome, I must say.

So here’s what I’ve got lined up for the next couple months (I’m laying this out more for my sake than yours):

HAAS:

Berkeley will release final decisions next week (1/15). I wasn’t invited for an interview, so, as I mentioned previously, I’m quite sure this will be a ding. I used to think that I’d be super sad about a ding from Haas, but I’m not feeling it anymore. I think my expectations were pretty off when I began this entire process, so I’ve readjusted.

JOHNSON:

No interview invites have gone out for round 2 yet, but they should start coming very, very soon. After all, decisions are released in about a month (2/5). So if I don’t receive an invite in the next couple weeks, I’d say my chances are very low.

SOM and KELLOGG waitlist statuses:

I’m still figuring out my game plan on how to improve my candidacy at these two schools. Yale gave me their feedback, and their feedback was…that they had no specific feedback. I’m still waiting on feedback from Kellogg. Those sour grapes that I was tasting before? I no longer feel the same way at all. I just want in no matter how it happens, and I wouldn’t feel bad about it one bit!! I need to stew on this a bit more, but I’m aiming to have something put together for both schools by early February. It seems like more people get off the Kellogg waitlist than SOM’s, but SOM still has hold of my heart.

ROSS:

Seems like interview invites for round 2 went out on 1/10 (wow, quick turnaround) and  2/4 last year, so maybe it will repeat this year (?)

FUQUA:

If I don’t receive an interview invite by 2/6, it’ll be a ding for me (I didn’t interview during the open interview period). If I do get an invite, interviews will be held somewhere between 2/10-2/25.

ANDERSON:

Preview Day for admits is on 2/27, and I’ll be there.

Then we get into March, which will be tough. Anderson’s round 1 deposit deadline is on March 12th. On the 13th, Fuqua releases round 2 decisions. On the 14th, Ross releases round 2 decisions. Oh, also, Johnson’s round 2 deposit deadline is March 5th. Everything is crazy up in the air right now, but there seems to be a possibility of losing a deposit, which would suck big time. But I’m guessing that happens way more than people think…

Meanwhile, I’m taking a pre-MBA refresher math class online. Taking the GMAT reminded me how to do long division, but, seriously, I’ve lost all the calculus I ever learned. And I’ve never applied any sophisticated math to business scenarios, so I really need some review. I really don’t want to start business school already behind (I mean, I’ll probably be behind on some level, but I’m going to try to minimize it), so I’m going to try to take as many classes as I can to prepare before fall rolls around.

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.

Kellogg Interview Recap

Northwestern Kellogg

I recently completed my interview for Northwestern Kellogg. I interviewed with a super nice and friendly Kellogg alum in SoCal. The interview was pleasant and casual; my interviewer was even friendly enough to send me an email beforehand to let me know that dressing formally was unnecessary, so I left the full suit at home and wore nice trousers and a sweater.

We met at a coffee house (a chain); it was my pick since my interviewer was new to the area and I knew the lay of the land more. I was initially pretty nervous about picking a spot: Was I supposed to pick a cool/hip place? A quiet/classy spot? Was my pick going to unduly influence my interviewer’s opinion of me? I went with a middle-of-the-road reliable pick, and it turned out to be fine. I was definitely being unnecessarily anxious about the whole thing.

To prepare, I reread my Kellogg essays over and over again. I also formulated basic answers to questions posted by users in Clear Admit’s interview reports. My interviewer only saw my resume before we met; nothing in the rest of my application. But in the end, I really just relied on what I wrote in my essays and all the self-reflection I’ve done so far. I didn’t get any surprise questions or anything out of left field.

Questions I was asked/topics we covered:

  • Why an MBA/Why Kellogg? (of course)
  • Past leadership experiences/leadership style
  • My proudest accomplishment
  • Why I chose to work for the jobs I had/What I learned from each job
  • What I want to do after business school
  • What I will bring to Kellogg
  • A time I experienced a failure
  • What clubs/extracurriculars I’d like to participate in at Kellogg

When it came time for me to ask questions, I asked about how Kellogg organizes recruitment with companies. At an info session awhile ago, I was interested to learn that Haas uses a bidding system so students can secure an interview with a company they’d really like to work for. I found out that Kellogg does a half/half kind of system, where half the slots are reserved for bidding by students and half the slots are filled by companies based on applicants’ resumes. Sadly, the entire process is generally irrelevant to me since nonprofits don’t really go through such formal and seasonal recruiting processes. It’s all still good to know, though.

Overall I had a great experience. The alum I spoke with really emphasized Kellogg’s collaborative and student-centered culture, which sounds fantastic. I would definitely love a chance to attend Kellogg! Round 1 decisions are released on December 18, so here’s hoping.

Profiled by accepted.com/Kellogg+Anderson Interview invites

accepted.comI was so happy to be profiled by Sarah at accepted.com blog last week! I had a great time answering her questions. The most personally helpful thing I get out of blogging is that it prompts me to do a huge amount of self-reflection, and that really helps me solidify my story and reaffirms why I decided to get my MBA in the first place. Check out my full interview here. Thanks, Sarah!

On the application front, I’ve received interview invites from Kellogg and Anderson and have scheduled both for the next few upcoming weeks (yay!). I know that Stanford just began sending out invites today and Berkeley will start sending theirs out on Friday. GSB and Haas are the most competitive schools I’ve applied to, so I’m excited to see what they think of me! Unless they don’t think much. Then I’ll be sad 😦 But, really, I am very curious to see if I get interview invites from either of those schools.

I have been crazy busy with other projects lately and have seriously been neglecting this whole bschool process. I haven’t even begun looking into sample interview questions or things like what to wear and stuff. I’ve got a lot of preparation ahead of me!

The Northwestern Kellogg Video Essay

So–I just completed my Kellogg video essay (like, two minutes ago). I can’t believe what an opposite experience it was from Yale’s.

Unlike Yale’s questions, Kellogg gives you three “chances” to put your best foot forward. Also unlike Yale’s questions, you can review your performance afterward and actually view the video you made. And lastly, from what I could tell, Kellogg’s questions are actually personal, get-to-know-you-type questions that *truly* do not have wrong answers; not job interview-y questions.

All these characteristics were to my advantage and made the entire process much better, and I think I ended up doing a pretty good job. Here’s a rundown of the experience:

1) First, you test your camera/mic/technical stuff. No one sees your test clips, and no questions are asked. You just say “blah blah blah!” to the camera for 10 seconds. Then the video automatically uploads and processes (this can take some time), and you can immediately view it afterward. The video quality was shockingly low (there was some pixelation); it also uses what looks like it uses the old-school 4:3 ratio. I probably could have spent less time trying to gussy myself up because the video is tiny, and you really can’t see much detail. I also once again had flash issues on Chrome, so I used Safari instead.

2) Once your testing is done, you receive a prompt that says “Are you sure you’re ready to do the real thing?” You hit the button that says “Yes, I’m Ready to Submit Myself to Kellogg’s Judgement” button (ok, it doesn’t really say that), then an audio clip plays of someone asking your first question. The audio has the regular play/pause buttons, so you can repeat it if you’d like, but the question is also written on the screen for reference. 90 seconds start ticking down for you to think about and formulate your answer.

From what I could find online, these are real questions that people have received in the past for Kellogg’s video questions:

  • “What is one thing you’ve always wanted to try?” (this one ended up being the first and only question I got)
  • “What is one piece of technology you can’t live without?” (If I had gotten this one, I would have said RSS. I can’t live without my feeds.)
  • “What is the most interesting course you took in university?”
  • “If you could meet anyone (living or dead), who would it be and why?”
  • “What is your most treasured possession and why?”
  • “If you could teach a class on any subject, what would it be and why?”
  • “What is one interesting thing about you that you would want you future Kellogg classmates to know about you?”

I practiced on my own timing myself with Apple’s photo booth function for all of the questions above, and also practiced with some others that I thought were similar.

THE QUESTIONS BELOW ARE NOT REAL KELLOGG QUESTIONS (from what I know, at least. I mean, who knows, they could be!). I just used them for additional practice:

-What is your most cherished memory?

-What is your most favorite place?

-What is your favorite book?

-What person has most influenced you?

3) After the 90 seconds of prep time, recording automatically begins. You get 90 seconds to record your answer, and you have the ability to manually stop the recording  if you finish early. I ended up stopping the recording about 10 seconds short of the full 90.

4) The video automatically uploads and processes. This took a surprisingly long time for me…it looked like it was struggling.

5) The video appears on the screen, and you can view the recording. Some text also appears that says:

You have 2 recording attempt(s) remaining. If absolutely necessary, you may start over. On your reattempt, you will be presented with a random new question.

So I started watching my recording and was actually really happy with how it was looking. Then about a minute in, the screen froze. The audio continued on fine, but for several seconds the screen just stuck. I was on the verge of having a heart attack. Then, the video unfroze for the remainder of the recording.

I had a tough decision to make. Since the audio was fine, my complete answer was accessible. But I was missing 10 seconds of my face talking. And I had no clue what caused the hiccup. I blame their processing software–it seemed like it was having trouble when the video was uploading, and there was no clue that anything was awry during the recording itself. My internet connection is solid, and all was well with my computer. If I took a second question, I wouldn’t even be able to do anything to try to prevent that error from happening again, so it seemed very likely that it *would* happen again. I would also be taking a huge risk of throwing away a good performance for an unknown one with a completely new question. I decided it wasn’t worth the gamble. I’m sticking with my video, even though 10 seconds of it consist of my face stuck in the middle of forming an “ah” sound with my mouth.

I’m planning on submitting both my Berkeley and Northwestern applications this weekend; then I’ll have UCLA due the week after. Then I’ll be done with all my round 1 apps! I can’t wait.