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.

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Things I want to do in Ithaca

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Camo pant suits: The Next Big Thing

My trip to Ithaca to interview for admission to Johnson is coming up fast. I’m suddenly being faced with a lot of new questions, like:

  • My one pair of winter gloves are now 8 years old and have a big hole in the thumb. It’s basically a thumb-less mitten. Should I buy a new pair just for this trip? Is it worth it? My hands won’t get that cold, right? Right?
  • What kind of business clothes do women wear in 12 degree weather? Pumps and skirts are out of the question…does someone make all-terrain business wear? Should I start a company that specializes in that? Camo pantsuits…hmm. Damn, Stephen Colbert and Brooks Brothers already beat me to it. There goes my million dollar idea.
  • Are farmers markets held in winter in Ithaca? (The answer is yes).
  • Is there a way I can see waterfalls and gorges in January without freezing my ass off? (The answer to this one is also “yes”–TripAdvisor says I can view Ithaca Falls from the safety of my car.)
  • Will my cheap hotel room be haunted by a ghost? Just kidding, I don’t believe in ghosts. Or do I…

Aside from visiting the Ithaca farmers market and waterfalls (which I’m told are an absolute must), a few other items I’m thinking about doing are:

  • Explore the Cornell campus as much as possible (I’ve never been, but I’ve always heard that it’s crazy beautiful)
  • The Johnson Museum of Art has also been strongly suggested to me. I’m not a big museum person, but if I can’t take the cold I might find myself wandering through here to relax and recuperate (free admission!)
  • Eat somewhere in the Commons (Moosewood, maybe?).

In the end, though, I might just be too anxious about my interview and/or too wussy to brave the cold to get these things done. I won’t be there for very long, so we’ll see what I’ll be able to fit in!

I’ve been contacting Johnson student ambassadors to learn more about the program, and, hands down, they have given me the best impression all around compared to student ambassadors I’ve spoken with at other schools. First of all, they all responded to me (and promptly), and second, they all gave me very thoughtful, thorough and honest responses. And by “honest” responses, I mean their messages did not solely consist of, “Johnson is the BEST! It’s perfect for you! Whatever your desires are, Johnson can fulfill them better than all the other business schools out there!” I mean, I completely understand why they sound like this (they are ambassadors, after all), but it was actually nice to hear a student share some challenges s/he was facing. Paradoxically, it made me feel better about Cornell.

UCLA Anderson admit packet + Ross interview invite

photo (1)I received my admit packet in the mail from UCLA Anderson a couple days ago. I had completely forgotten about the whole snail mail aspect of admissions, and it was surprisingly gratifying to hold something solid in my hands that said “Congratulations!” on it. I love digital, but there’s still a lot to miss about print.

The letter included a short handwritten note from Assistant Dean Alex Lawrence that referenced content in my application essay, which was  a very nice personal touch. And check out that awesome smiley face–I’m a fan of smileys 🙂

I’ve also received congratulatory messages from current students and have been set up with my first year buddy, who I will be speaking with soon. Altogether I’ve been feeling very welcomed and supported by Anderson, which is great. Preview Day for admits is at the end of February, and I will definitely be in attendance.

In other (exciting) news, I received an interview invite from Ross and have already scheduled my off-campus interview with an alum in my city. I’ve heard a bit about the group exercise Ross does for interviews, but since I’ll be doing mine off campus I won’t be participating. It’s going to be a very busy upcoming 3-4 weeks!

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.

Yale SOM Interview Recap

Stress-Relief1My Yale SOM interview did not start out well. Not well at all.

First off, I had been battling the start of some kind of stomach bug for a couple days beforehand, so I was all around tired, sore and worn out. I also had the beginning of a painful eye infection in one eye, and the lower lid of my OTHER eye was twitching nonstop (I heard this can happen when you’re overtired or stressed. It was driving me nuts! And it was actually visible to others–I probably looked like some kind of twitchy madwoman). Oh, and I also had a big canker sore going on on my lip, ya know, just to round out the whole picture.

To add to that, I left for my interview super early, but traffic STILL killed me. It was like every possible thing that could go wrong went wrong. Construction shut down a major street to just one lane, car accidents, random backups for no reason…it was all there. So despite my leaving with a ton of time to spare (I was planning on getting there at least 30 minutes early to review my notes beforehand), I ended up DASHING into my interview at the EXACT start time that was scheduled for me. My brain was fried from the last 1.5 hours of built up stress and clock-checking in the car, and I was simply not mentally ready for an interview at that point.

That was my big mistake. I’m a punctual person (especially when I’m meeting someone else; I hate to hold people up), but I really should have just sat and decompressed for 2-3 minutes and been late by 2-3 minutes. It probably would have helped me out a lot. So, note to others: Don’t run into your interview all hyped up like I was!

So we started with a regular resume walk-through-type question, and I tripped over my words and incoherently said…things…or at least I think I did. By the time that one was over, I had calmed down a bit, and the rest of the interview went okay (I think). But altogether, I left feeling very disappointed in myself. I think I could have hit that one out of the park, but I set a poor image right at the beginning that probably affected my interviewer’s perception of the rest of my performance. (Oh, by the way, I interviewed with an adcom member in Los Angeles.)

I’ve been posting all the questions I can remember from interviews I’ve had with other schools, but I haven’t been for Yale. And I think that’s because I have the distinct impression that the school does *not* want us to share these things with others. In fact, the person I interviewed with basically said so…she acknowledged the fact that everyone can find past questions online, so Yale really goes through the effort to formulate questions that applicants have not seen before. Knowing that makes me believe a couple things about Yale SOM: 1) They might weigh the interview more compared to other schools, and 2) Maybe they’re less into collaboration (??) I’m not sure. These are complete guesses. But, either way, their attitude about the whole thing makes the competitive side of me flare up (I also just don’t want to do something that they are explicitly trying to avoid). So I’m not going to share the specific questions I received, but I can say that they were DEFINITELY BEHAVIORAL. Actually, I’m not even sure if “behavioral” is the right word…when I think of “behavioral,” I think, “Tell me about a time when…”. And while there were a couple questions that followed that pattern, some questions were more about belief systems and relationships. They definitely favor people who are introspective and people-oriented.

Anyway, that wraps up all the interviews I have lined up so far. Still no word from Stanford or Berkeley. I’m assuming Stanford is a ding (I’ll know for sure next Tuesday), which isn’t a surprise. I would have been surprised if I *had* been invited for an interview, but I had to apply anyway. Though I wish I could get my $275 application fee back. Theirs was the highest fee I’ve had to pay, and it was painful. No one talks about application fees, but they hurt. A lot.

I still have hopes for an invite from Haas, though. I would love-love-love to hear from them!!

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.

Clear Admit’s Yale SOM Interview Guide [REVIEW]

Clear Admit Interview GuideClear Admit was kind enough to offer me their Yale SOM interview guide for free in exchange for a review on this blog. My interview with Yale is coming up in about a week, so I was more than happy to take a look.

Clear Admit’s 30-page guide helpfully points out how Yale’s interview model recently changed from resume-based to behavior-based (“Tell me about a time when…”). I think this will pose a challenge for me; I tend to feel that behavioral questions can be “trick” questions. With resume-based questions, I have single straightforward answers. I’m not the kind of person who just finds herself in situations; I always have a reason behind each choice I make. So it’s easy for me to explain my professional history, my career trajectory and my goals. But with behavioral questions, I have to grasp for one example among many from my past and choose one on the spot, and I sometimes regret the choice I made afterward (“Shoot, I should have talked about THAT leadership example, not THIS one!”). So I have a lot of preparation ahead of me in terms of pre-determining  answers to typical behavioral questions.

And I’m in luck, because Clear Admit’s guide supplies almost 50 questions that Yale has consistently asked applicants in recent years. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get through all of them, but they do give me a solid sense of what to expect. And, for me, personally, knowing what to expect is invaluable because it really eases my nerves and increases my confidence . The guide also gives helpful tips on how to prepare yourself along with in-depth analyses of very common questions (“Why MBA?”, “Why Yale?”).

Their guide also highlights the benefits of interviewing on campus in New Haven. I am definitely sad that I’m unable to be there in person for this interview, but I’ve decided to believe Yale adcom members when they say an on-campus interview does not give you a better chance for admission than on off-campus one. But, really, I don’t have much choice in this matter. I just bought plane tickets to see family for Christmas, and that set me back almost $700! That might not be a large sum for some, but it is for me. I’ve decided to do as many interviews locally as I can, and see if I can possibly visit campuses after I’ve received decisions.

Altogether, the guide is a great summary of what to expect and how to prepare for an interview with Yale SOM. I definitely learned information that I did not know, despite my Google-fu. I’ve been able to compile past Yale SOM interview questions myself from various forums and boards, but having them all in one place is a HUGE time saver (and I haven’t been able to compile even close to the number of questions the guide has). If you have $20 to spare, and ESPECIALLY if you’re short on time, I’d say the guide is totally worth it. You can purchase the guide online at Clear Admit’s website for $19.99.