Admitted to Ross [and waitlist #3]

tattly_mike_lowery_yay_burst_web_design_1_grandeSo…although I’ve already put my deposit down at Johnson, the timing of everything is staggered and I’ve still been receiving news from other schools in the meanwhile. A couple days ago, I found out that I was admitted to Ross with a $20k scholarship! Yay!

But, simply put, Ross’ offer isn’t enough to take me away from Johnson. And that’s not because I have anything against Ross. It’s just–timing. I added Ross as a round 2 app late last year; I didn’t know much about the school before that. But everything I’ve learned since then is spectacular, and the school seems like a good fit. I totally loved the alum who interviewed me, and their nonprofit programming is great. But I’ve never set foot on the UMich campus and have never been to Ann Arbor before. Everything I’ve learned about both tells me I’d like both of those places, but I’ve still never actually experienced it. It comes down to this: Although I am pretty sure Ross would be a good fit for me, I am MORE sure that Johnson is a good fit for me. If I had the time, I could explore Ross and make a better informed decision, but I don’t. So I’m sticking with good old Johnson, who I know I love and am very happy with.

In other news, after not being invited to interview at Fuqua, I completely forgot about Duke in general. So I was surprised when I received an email the other day saying that my decision was ready to view online…and I was UNsurprised to find that I was waitlisted. So my final tally is that I was waitlisted at three of the eight schools I applied to. I’d say that’s a pretty high proportion (and I have lots of theories about that, which I may go over in a later post). But I won’t be joining the Fuqua waitlist, anyway. I wouldn’t pick a late admit at Fuqua with no money over Johnson, no siree.

Now that this whole bschool application process is basically over, I can look back and say “Damn, I should have done this and should not have done that.”

Here’s my Coulda-Woulda-Shoulda’s:

  • I should not have bothered applying to GSB. It felt wrong from the very beginning and was a total waste of time and effort. I guess I should say the same about Haas since I was straight up dinged by them, too, but I don’t feel the same way at all about Berkeley. It really seemed like there was a potential for fit between me and Haas, so I decided to try. But I applied to GSB because–I don’t know–it’s GSB? Dumb reasoning.
  • I should have included Ross in my round 1 applications. The only reason I didn’t was because I stuck with familiar entities for my first round, and I hadn’t had any first-hand experience with the University of Michigan. But I wish I had done more research so I could have learned more about Ross while I had the time.
  • Although I heard everyone saying “Get your story down” when I started this process, I didn’t really understand it. I started this journey with a very hard-nosed eye on numerical results, especially when it came to talking about my own work. And that promptly made me discouraged. All my nonprofit-ness didn’t really provide any opportunities for me to boast about multimillion dollar projects and the like. It took me awhile to understand that the story–and by that, I mean the drama–is nearly as important as numerical values. And the nonprofit world is ripe for drama. Every org has a near-impossible to achieve mission, right? Wipe out world hunger. Save every animal. Give every family a home. The drama is basically built in! I wish I caught on to this sooner.

Of course, these thoughts probably take up less than 1% of my brain nowadays. I am truly ecstatic to enroll at Johnson. I also think I am supremely lucky to be in the position I am now. On this day last year, I wasn’t even planning on going to business school at all. Can you believe that?? I can’t believe how much things have changed since then.


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?

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.

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.

Business school, ethics and social responsibility

minimal-desktop-wallpaper-be-goodI want to attend a business school that prioritizes ethics and social responsibility. I knew this was true even before I decided to apply to bschool, really, but now that I’m in the thick of the process, its importance is only increasing. As I start thinking about the possibility of working with large sums of money and pondering marketing segmentation and managerial decision making, the social implications just keep screaming out at me. I want to know that the school I attend and the institution/entity/student body I associate myself with is one of integrity. I  want it to be a given that we’re not functioning in a vacuum and that the decisions we make for our own lives and careers have an affect on the rest of the world, and we need to take responsibility. And I don’t want this just for my education and my future career–I also want to know that whatever school I end up contributing to and supporting is ultimately doing good work and producing grads with nuanced understanding of social issues as it pertains to business. This is probably a crazy high hope, but I have it anyway.

One of the questions I asked at every school’s info session I attended was, “Is some kind of business ethics course mandatory for all students?” Some of the schools I’m applying to said “Yes” to this question, and those that said no sank a bit in my personal ranking list.

Of the schools I’m applying to, the following require all students to complete a business ethics/social responsibility course:

  • Stanford GSB: Ethics in Management (there’s also this)
  • Berkeley Haas: Ethics and Responsibility in Business
  • Yale SOM: It seems like every course at Yale includes the discussion of ethics and social responsibility due to its integrated curriculum. The fact that their website dares to ask, “As a business leader, how should you address severe societal inequities?” is more than enough for me.

These schools do not include an ethics course in their core curriculum, but do offer ethics courses as electives:

  • Northwestern Kellogg: Ethics and Executive Leadership
  • UCLA Anderson: Leadership and Ethics
  • Cornell Johnson: A Leadership & Ethics breadth concentration. The link on their website to their course descriptions is broken, but I hope I can safely assume that a Leadership & Ethics concentration involves the completion of at least one course in ethics.

Not too much:

  • USC Marshall: They do have 2-3 classes that mention ethics in the course description, but that was just a single component of a general management/leadership course. I’m only counting courses that are fully devoted to discussing ethics and their relevance to business here.

The overall breakdown isn’t too surprising just from the schools’ reputations. It’s also not too surprising that Stanford, Berkeley and Yale are currently at the top of my wish list.

How am I a weird bschool applicant? Let me count the ways…

500px-Numbers.svg 1. My nonprofit professional background.

After I graduated from college, I only wanted to do nonprofit work, and that’s all I have been done so far. I hear that there is growing interest from folks in the nonprofit sector to get MBAs, but it’s still nowhere near common. And on top of that, my nonprofit experience is not in education. It seems like the majority of MBA candidates who are from the NP sector are in education…either in administration or people who want to start their own charter schools (or something like that). I didn’t even know that whole phenomenon existed until I went to a Forte Forum and saw that Teach for America was one of its main sponsors. I was pretty confused by that, to be honest. But by now I’ve heard everything about how running a charter school is like running a business, which is interesting, but not what I am looking for.

2. My career goals.

I’m really afraid of coming off like some kind of PETA-ish militant or a softie “omggggg that puppy is sooooo cuuuuuuuuuute,” but I am so not. I eat meat! I’m brains over heart! I’m really pragmatic! I just really think we need to treat animals with decency and not be jerks about it.

3. I am old.

Not that old, but definitely old when compared with the average ages/years of work experience of most bschool student bodies. I never think about this (who’s old??? not ME!), but now that I’m filling out apps and calculating the number of months/years of work experience I’ll have by fall 2014, the numbers looks staggering. I’ll have 96 months of work experience by then. Ninety-six. Yale’s latest class profile has an average of 68 months of experience. Stanford’s average years of work experience for their 2014 class is 4.2. I’m going to have eight. I’ll be 31 years old when most everyone around me will be 27. In my mind, this is all not a big deal since I don’t think my age should be counted against me. And four years ago, I was not ready for business school, so it’s not even like I have something to regret. But I guess all that really matters is what the schools think, and they seem to not like older people.

4. I lean creative and have little to no quantitative work on my applications.

I actually *do* have a lot of quant experience–I lived and breathed math and science from ages 0-18, but the second I got to college and was free of those shackles I dove straight into creative work. I’ve published poetry and have done a lot of visual art. But I also can’t escape my super practical and numbers-focused childhood. Even when I’m writing a poem, I have this nagging question in the back of my head: “What is the purpose of this?? How does this help anyone??” I’m no free spirit.

5. I don’t want money. 

OK–I’m not being literal here. Of course I both want and need money. But wanting  money is definitely NOT one of the reasons why I’m applying for bschool. What I do want, though, is more power. (And although money = power for some people, it doesn’t for me.) I want the power to do the following things:

  • Come up with BIG IDEAS that WILL BE IMPLEMENTED. That kind of reminds me of a recent Dilbert comic strip. I swear I won’t be that bad, though. I actually enjoy implementing a project just as much as coming up with the vision beforehand. I just want the power to make things actually happen. 
  • Be able to provide opportunities to other people. I really like mentoring. The thing is…I barely have anything to offer right now. I rarely hire people. I barely manage one other person as it is. I ‘m basically at the bottom of the ladder, and that doesn’t really lend itself to being able to give chances to other people.
  • I want to work for a well known brand/organization with a wide audience so I can really, truly make a worldwide impact.

I’m sure there are lots more ways that I’m weird than these five reasons, and I’m not saying they are detriments to my applications. Well, of course, I personally don’t believe they are detriments at all…but I guess that’s up to the admissions committees.

Which MBA Programs I’m applying to and why

Here’s my list:

  • Stanford
  • Yale
  • Berkeley
  • Cornell
  • Northwestern
  • UCLA
  • USC
Beautiful Ithaca, NY

Beautiful Ithaca, NY

Yup. Seven schools. Seven. A ton, right? It just goes to show exactly how unsure I am of what schools will admit me. There’s lots of reasons not to admit me. And lots of reasons TO admit me. I just have no idea who will think what of me, because I am a big weirdo…at least when it comes to bschool applicants.

I currently live in SoCal, so deciding to apply to UCLA and USC were no-brainers and a matter of practicality. The other schools I narrowed down to for location and financial reasons…or a combination of both. In some of these locations, I have potential access to housing from family that would save me a ton of money. And I do not want to live in a big city for business school. I know that’s totally illogical and I should be wanting to live in a big city for career opportunities and recruitment fairs and whatnot. But I am just over living in big cities for now (and paying the tons of money on rent and food and everything else that comes along with it). I know these schools are not in the boonies or anything (well, maybe Cornell), but I just did not want to be in NYC, Boston or Philadelphia. After those considerations, I moved on to evaluating the actual programs.

Stanford, Yale, Berkeley and Northwestern all stuck out to me for their well-known nonprofit programs. And, for one reason or another, I have positive associations with all of them from looking into schools for undergrad or taking extra classes/doing summer programs there in the past. Does that have anything to do with the quality of their MBA programs? Probably not much. I just like the schools overall and could picture myself on their campuses.

After talking with alumni, I especially liked how Berkeley and Yale both seemed to pride themselves on admitting nontraditional applicants. A Berkeley alum even told me that the MBAs there tend to be more “granola.” Now, I am quite sure these people are nowhere near hippies, but the mere fact that they are happy to share that fact means something.

And that brings me to Cornell. I first started thinking about applying there because I’ve always heard so much about how Ithaca is so beautiful. And I am nature-starved right now (in case you couldn’t tell), so that sounded really, really appealing. I didn’t know much about their programs until I spoke to a rep at a recent Forte Forum. The rep was from Cornell’s Office of Diversity & Inclusion. I know that schools like to make a big fuss over how diverse they are, but I actually believed Cornell after hearing the rep speak about it. I’m no minority (Well, in the business school sense. Except that I’m a woman, I guess. I can’t believe I have to say that), but I really appreciate the efforts of that office. And even though I don’t have the impression that Cornell has a full and robust nonprofit program, I really liked how the rep went about explaining options to me. Other school reps I’ve spoken with are just clearly uninterested in my nonprofit background and make minimal effort to show how their school can accommodate my interests (I’m looking at you, UCLA), so that’s how Cornell won me over.

Overall, a very scientific process, as you can see! A lot of it was gut instinct, past experiences and what I happen to feel like doing at this point in my life. Stanford, Yale and Berkeley are at the top of my “wish list,” but, honestly, I think I can get what I need out of any of the schools I’m applying to, so here’s hoping to at least one “You’re in!”.