Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Quarter 1, Almost Done

Can you believe it? My first quarter is almost nearing its finish? Turkey Day is right around the corner and as luck would have it, I have a financial accounting exam to look forward to....tomorrow! Eeek!

Thus far, this quarter has flown by faster than I can slurp a bowl of soup--literally and I mean it!  Every other week, it's either a case study, midterm or paper and the ever-much-needed late night happy hours with the social bunch of us.  So, how do I feel, you wonder? Actually, pretty darn productive. At first, it was hectic because I have to travel a lot for my job, but then I also got really good at managing my time.  Needless to say, however, I have not seen the interior of my gym any more times than I can count on my hands (although, today I did manage to sneak in for a spurt of endorphins with ab works and pilates).  Honestly, I don't know exactly where I find the time to study, but let's just say I've become BFF with the Panera and Barnes & Noble down the street--not to mention the late night jolts of espresso.

Regardless, being in a part-time MBA program does have its perks.  First and foremost, my classmates and I are extremely efficient.  The first month of classes, we had group assignments practically every week and I was amazed at how productive we were in meeting up, setting priorities, assigning tasks and pretty much just getting whatever we needed to do accomplished.  It was a bit of an adjustment getting acclimated with everyone's working style, but that's expected from any group work.  Organizational behavior is hands down the star of the quarter for me--which makes me understand exactly why UC Davis is ranked #2 in the world for our expertise in this particular field.  The main takeaway for me is understanding how (in)effective managers lead and how they are directly responsible for the outcomes of their organization.  It made me realize why I left my previous employers and understand the reasons I became disillusioned with my work.  But more importantly, OB is giving me a new perspective on own leadership style and how organizational culture can significantly impact my personal & professional happiness within a company.

As for financial accounting, it has been amazingly challenging, but remarkably worthwhile.  Of course, as expected from any ranked MBA program, our focus is on financial analysis of accounting methods.  Pretty much, it's understanding what critical questions to ask when examining a company's financial statements so that as an executive, you can manage your books and as a shareholder, you can be wiser about which investment decisions you ultimately undertake.  And that's about all of accounting I can sum up right now as it has seriously been the only thing I've been looking at for the past few days after I spent 3 hours of my life writing like a mad fool for an OB exam I just took on a Friday night! 

And oh yes, how can I forget. I just got done registering for winter classes: Markets and the Firm (MicroEcon) & Data Analysis for Managers (Stat).  I'm psyched for econ because of the professor, Victor Stango.  His lectures, I've heard, are great and more recently, he left Darmouth's Tuck School of Business to teach at the GSM (previously he was also at Booth and Haas). I'm quite impressed:) As you can see, the faculty at UC Davis are nothing short of amazing when it comes to their credentials--just one of the reasons why I decided to enroll. (Note to those considering part-time MBA programs: check to make sure you're getting the same quality education from the faculty as their full-time cohort.  You're paying a hefty pricetag, so don't sacrifice the quality)

So, did I ONLY study during quarter 1? Of course! I did not! Among other things going on in my life, I was happily elected (along with 3 other amazing folks) to represent my class on the Dean's Student Advisory Council as the Director of Communications.  Yup, yours truly.  I'm excited for the opportunity and I hope that I can create a greater sense of community among my peers as we continue together these next few years.  I also (true to my word) applied for a leadership role with my Net Impact chapter, so we'll see how things traspire for me.  Until then, I'm off for a late night date with accounting!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Images from Cornell

Some images from the 2009 Net Impact Conference at Cornell from my friend and 2nd year daytime MBA student, Jackie.  Thank you for your amazing pictures---love it!

Net Impact Conference 2009 Update

I won't begin with a ritual apology as to why I've been lagging on my posts, but I will let you know that MBA plus a full-time gig is not an easy feat at all. Having said that, it is not impossible to do it all.

I got back a week ago from the 2009 Net Impact Conference at Cornell. Was it worth it? Yes, and shall I quantify it for you? Not right now. The GSM had a pretty large contingency in Ithaca---there were 27 of us total. I, along with another guy, were the only 2 working professional students present and the rest were from our full-time cohort. By the way, both of the UC Davis (Daytime & WP) chapters for Net Impact received the Gold and Silver distinction, respectively, in recognition of our commitment to CSR.

I had never been to Cornell up until the conference and I must attest to the beauty of the campus--it was simply gorgeous. The detailed architecture befitting of an ivy league campus sure beats the cookie-cutter boxes that spring up on many of the west-coast campuses I've visited. But that's besides the point. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Cornell, although there were some sessions  I could have easily skipped and missed nothing because the speakers just weren't as prepared as they should have been. Oh, and a special shout-out to fellow blogger, Andrew, from USC as I finally got a chance to meet him:) Don't forget to wander to his blog (I have it in my sidebar--to your right). Okay, where was I? Oh yeah, back to Net Impact. Here's a partial list of notable sessions I attended:

1. "Transforming Education: How to Use Your Business Skills to Make a Difference"

2. "Applied Learning: Enhancing Students’ Knowledge through Corporate and Nonprofit Partnership"

3. "More than Money with Mark Albion" (I have his book--which I forgot in my hotel room and he didn't get to sign it after all--bummer)

and my favorite:
4. "How to Generate Business Value through CSR"

As you can see, my focus is on creating value for the public sector. Although, I must mention that there were a huge variety of sessions that covered topics from consulting in the development sector, global social entrepreneurship, micro-finance, socially responsible investing, green energy/clean technology, among others that I could have easily chosen as well.  Some notable speakers included the CEO of GE, the founder of Honest Tea, Seth Goldman and one of the men who wrote the original business plan for Ben & Jerry's ice cream (and thankfully, we also got to taste much of it at a reception on our last night).  Nonetheless, my track in session 4 was my favorite for a couple of great reasons:

1) The speaker was my personal career coach who I had selected as part of the FREE session that Net Impact offered to all conference attendees. Spaces were limited, but lucky for me, I made my reservation online and got to speak with Jason Saul, the CEO of Mission Measurement, a leading Chicago-based social impact/managment consulting firm! I really thought I was going to be more nervous, but he was so down-to-earth and friendly, we ended up having a casual conversation over my career aspirations in the middle of the courtyard rather than in a confined room (where all the other coaching sessions were taking place).  I'm taking an organizational behavior class this quarter and in my book, I think this speaks profoundly on the type of leadership style he embraces and welcomes. 

2) Jason's presentation was by far the most captivating of the entire conference. Basically, the focus was on how to quantify social value by generating tangible metrics for evaluating performance and effort. In other words, companies shouldn't just be donating $$ to charities and consider that their only contribution to society. Companies can still maintain their bottom line by being socially responsible and telling their story in a way that connects people to their products/mission.

Our schedule for the conference was jam-packed with sessions, networking, cocktails, a career expo and more networking. I was pretty much pooped by 3pm each day and had to wind down with some hops and barley:) and oh yeah, sake bombs in downtown Ithaca. What did you expect from a bunch of MBAs all nestled in a college town for a weekend? I'm definitely looking forward to the 2010 Conferece at U of Michigan's Ross School of Business--yep, you heard it here first!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Making the Most of Year 1

Two more days until the official start of class (why do quarter systems begin sooo late in the game?) and I wanted to offer my two cents on making the most of my first year. In creating this blog, I noticed that the vast majority of bloggers are full-time MBA students--so, where are the peeps who are doing this part-time? Working, I suspect, and leading super busy lives. Well, I'm no exception, but hopefully, I can encourage others to realize that yes, getting your MBA is important, but don't let it get in the way of your education.

As a working professional MBA candidate, I understand that time is a precious gift---with school, work and family obligations, I can already anticipate the craziness of this juggling act. However, I'm one of the crazies out there who wants to relish in the opportunities that an MBA presents with it. How does one accomplish this? Well, my friend...it's all about networking (or as some like to refer to as "schmoozing").

Case in point: From the moment you begin to think about b-school, reach out to the current students via the school's student clubs. Most schools don't post the current student contact info on their site, but once you browse the student clubs/activities pages, you'll notice a list of emails of their leadership team. I started this process a year ago and I've already befriended a few of the 2nd years. They are a great wealth of knowledge and advice. In fact, they are the ones who introduced me to the Women in Leadership & Net Impact clubs at Davis.

I'd also recommend attending the school's networking receptions. As a prospective and incoming student, I was really able to get a feel for the vibe of my future classmates by attending a good number of these events. Davis really stood out to me as having one of the most chill and down-to-earth group of MBAs who you could really start a good conversation with without having to fake the funk. I'm sure you've been to one of those events where the atmosphere is so uptight that you feel so suffocated and out of your element---the whole time wondering why the heck you signed up to be there when you honestly couldn't picture yourself befriending any of the folks you meet that night. Well, Davis was not like that for me, so I naturally gravitated to this group. In fact, I was just at the Dean's Welcome Reception earlier this week in San Francisco and meet a lot of new faces as well as bumping into a college buddy of mine who is also in same program---what a small world!

The choice to come to b-school was more than just getting the nice 3 letters after my name, but it had much to do with me hoping to enhance my personal and intellectual growth. Being out of school for 5 years sometimes made me question whether my brain cells were dead or alive. It's so easy to become complacent in our everyday lives and quite honestly, (and I might sound like a major dork for saying this but) I missed the critical thinking component that intrinsically comes with being immersed in academia.

Many moons ago, I blogged about my desire to attend a certain conference this year. Two hours ago, I just finished registering for the Net Impact 2009 Conference . Comprised of the top 30 MBA schools (yes, UC Davis is in the top 30 for CSR!), the conference is possibly the largest gathering for MBA students interested in issues pertaining to corporate social responsibility, sustainability, microfinance, social entrepreneurship and all that other good stuff. This year's theme is centered on advancing sustainable global enterprise. I have no idea what to expect, but from what I've gathered from the 2nd year students, it's a great networking and learning opportunity---so I'm down for anything. And just in case you're wondering, it's also being hosted by the Johnson School of Business at Cornell.

3. GET INVOLVED (somehow)
I know this can be much more difficult to do if you're in a part-time MBA program like myself, but your MBA is what you make of it. If you asked me to look back at my college years and tell you what distinctly stood out in my mind, I would not recount the chemical formula for a periodic element or tell you how to derive the standard deviation for a data set. I would, however, point out the handful of student organizations that elevated my social and political consciousness to help me understand and analyze my own personal and global views. I would point out the thousands of under-resourced public school students I worked with to ensure greater access to higher education and who (I might add) are now becoming the first ones in their families to finish college and also apply to graduate schools. These are the experiences that remain vivid in my mind and I can confidently assure you that the people and experiences I'll embrace in my MBA program will also be the lasting memories I'll have years from now. So, however you choose to get involved, I would encourage folks to really think about how they can make the most of their own MBAs because after all, for many of us, this may be our final foray into academia (at least for a while, right?)

BTW: For those of you who are applying to b-schools, good luck!!!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Oh my Word...Where Has the Time Gone?

It's gone to summer, that's where. I guess the nature of my blog is quality versus quantity, so since the first year of my MBA is nearly here, I'll definitely TRY to be more frequent with my posts---after all, it's also my intention to chronicle this important and exciting new chapter of my life with the hopes that it'll help both prospective and current MBA students on their journeys.

First off, I got some great advice from the 2nd year students in my program to 1) take it easy and go on vacation OR 2) get some preparation to make my fall quarter easier. Although I would have chosen the former option, after checking with the bank of Ms. Piggy, I realized she'd have to be saved up for my student fees. Oh, the sacrifices for this 3 year investment continues. I ended up taking a financial accounting course at the local community college and braced myself for a world loaded with statements of cash flows, income and balance sheets galore. Honestly, I felt like dropping the class my first week b/c I was SOO not motivated to take a class just for sh$%! and giggles (and I could probably dream up better things to do with my summer), but then I realized how helpful it would be for me once I started my courses in the fall and chugged on like the fool that I am. In hindsight, I'm actually really glad that I did since I learned a boatload of new concepts and even more surprising was that I LIKED it! I know, I'm wondering how that happened as well, but it was actually refreshing to be exposed to something I never thought I'd have the faintest interest in whatsoever. I also befriended some characters in class and even a fellow Cal alum. Go Bears! Overall, the course did equip with a new-found confidence in accounting especially since I was a social science major in college.

And as much as I would like to say that I finished the books on my summer reading list, I know very well that I'd be spitting out a big, fat lie, so I'll just be honest and tell you guys that it is seriously on my list of books to read SOON! But they are in my possession since I was very fortunate to receive the majority of them for my birthday---thanks to my hubby and sis for checking out my blog:) I guess blogging does have its perks, eh?

Fast forward to a couple days ago, and I just finished my MBA orientation. It was funny that I met a few of my classmates who recognized me from my blog (although I have no pictures of me on here). I read a while back that some first year MBAs felt a bit uneasy about so-called strangers coming up to them and chatting up about their blogs, but did we forget that our sites are public and anybody can view what we write? I personally didn't feel the least bit awkward, but it's nice to know that your blog is being read by folks who actually think what you have to say is valid. I sure as H#$% wouldn't be checking out blogs that are full of crap. I do, however, just have to be conscious of what I do post since it can always come back and nip me in the butt. For the time being, this blog has and will be a continuation of my journey. I know that when I was going through the MBA process, it was such a breath of fresh air to know that others where either going through or had been through the trenches before me and that ultimately gave me the motivation to keep on chuggin along. If this blog can do that for others, then consider me a happy blogger.

In the meantime, classes start Sept 29 for me and I'm taking financial accounting & organizational behavior this quarter. I expect that I'll love OB and continue to fine tune my skills in FA. So far, I am psyched for my professors (they are both women at the top of their game!). I'm also headed to meet up with my a GSM alum tomorrow and then a welcome reception with the Dean...will keep you posted on what transpires, so check back!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

GSM News & Summer Reading

Earlier today, I received a nice shout-out from the assistant director of the Davis GSM asking to feature my blog in their newsletter. Of course, I adamantly refused! Haha..j/k. It's pretty awesome to know that what started out as my attempt to re-invigorate my writing skills (while potentially awakening a few dormant brain cells) and chronicle my b-school journey has generated much interest from both prospective and newly admitted MBA students. As I continue this trek, I hope to shed a much more vibrant light on the GSM and highlight the amazing opportunities I'll have along the way. Remember that whether you choose a full-time or part-time program, your MBA experience is truly what you make of it. Getting an MBA is great, but relishing in the experience is priceless! I, for one, intend to take full advantage of most of what's being offered and then some.

On a related note, I am excited that the GSM will welcome our new Dean, Steven Currall, who hails from the prestigious London Business School and University College London. He also packs an impressive background in entrepreneurship and innovation. But I do have to confess that I'm going to miss our current Dean Nicole Woolsey Biggart for a couple good reasons. Firstly, I'm not too familiar with female deans, so whoo hoo! for amazing female business leaders. And secondly, she also has a sociology background, which I find so refreshing to the b-school environment. Last year, she was honored by the Aspen Institute with a Faculty Pioneer Award (dubbed as the Oscars for the business world) for her exceptional commitment to incorporating social and environmental issues into academic research & management education. She even donated her honorarium to Davis' Net Impact. This just goes to show how committed the GSM is to ensuring that corporate social responsibility is not just a fad, but an integral pillar in business education and that the school is also dedicated to educating socially-minded business leaders who will use their MBA to meet the challenges of a strained and vastly interconnected globalized economy.

Nonetheless, I'm hopeful that under Dean Currall's leadership, the GSM will receive a tremendous boost in elevating its global appeal. Already, the UC Davis GSM is the youngest and one of the smallest programs to be globally ranked in the Top 50 for 14 consecutive years by U.S. News & World Report and we're also 25th among public universities! And, according to the Financial Times, we're ranked #2 in the world for Organizational Behavior. However, in my book, the most significant attribute of the GSM is its ongoing commitment to remaining small and intimate. I attended a very large undergraduate institution and I knew that I really didn't want the lecture-style set-up in a b-school; I guess I finally figured out my learning style and the conditions under which I thrive...I know, it's about time!

Another great thing the GSM sent me was their summer reading list. No, it's not mandatory, but purely a compilation of recommendations from the GSM community. In this spirit, I also came up with my own summer reads that I hope to pick up very soon!

1. More than Money by Mark Albion

2. Uncharitable by Dan Pallotta

3. How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas by David Bornstein

4. Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits by Leslie Crutchfield & Heather McLeod Grant

Monday, May 11, 2009

WiLPower at UC Davis

Excited to quench my insatiable appetite for getting involved with the UC Davis MBA community, I couldn't help but commit to attending the 2009 Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Sacramento with the Women in Leadership (WiL) team at Davis. I met the president of WiL at the campus' Preview Day event months earlier prior to my acceptance and she was super cool. As such, I was invited to join their Team WiLPower on the day before Mother's Day to walk/run for a great cause. Of course, how could I refuse such an invitation, right?

Here's a picture of those of us who bravely woke up bright and early on a Saturday morning to join thousands of others in the fight for a cure against breast cancer. Many thanks to Jackie (WiL's co-pres) for bringing her camera along to document our smiley faces.
It was such an awesome event! I had a great time and it was quite touching to witness all the honorees and survivors walking/running alongside me. Surprisingly, there were plenty of men amidst the massive sea of pink and they couldn't be more proud. Afterwards, I wandered through the race expo and even got a chance to get my free body fat testing completed. I'm also happy to report I'm in the normal range, so whoo hoo! for that.

It's pretty neat to be immersed in a team environment again. Since all of Team WiLPower were finishing up the 1st year of their MBA, they were more than happy to shower me with really helpful advice on making the most of my experience and still maintaining my academic rigor. I guess it all boils down to finding a balance--much like everything else in life.

I was also excited to speak with one of the students who had attended the Net Impact Conference at Wharton last year and he encouraged me to put that on my calendar for 2009 since it's happening at Cornell's Johnson School (little does he know I've already beat him to the punch!). I've got a meeting lined up tomorrow with the president of the working professional Net Impact chapter at UCD to strategize our community involvement plans for next year. I'm thrilled she's given me the opportunity to really help build this fledgling chapter of NI since this kind of thing is right up my alley. Earlier in the week, I saw Wicked in San Francisco and conveniently used the night to also network with some non-profit gurus in the bay..how's that for efficiency?! (BTW: If you are in the bay, go see Wicked...it's just wickedly addictive!)

Right before drafting this post, I also stumbled upon Andrew Choi's top 10 advice for incoming MBA students. I'm happy to note that I'll probably be checking off 4 of those from my own list. So, thanks Andrew for thinking of us who are still on the brink of embarking on our MBA goals. I know you can expect plenty more from my side, so stay tuned:)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A special gift

My sister came over today and surprised me with a little token of her elation on my MBA news. So, what does she get for me? Hmm...the gift was flat, so I think it's a book. I'm not sure I mentioned this in my other posts, but I LOVE books. I think there's a name for people who have this passion (NO, it's not DORK), but it slips me mind at this time. Ever since I graduated college, I've really made an effort to read at least one book each month and believe it or not, I've gone back and started seeking out more children's literature, especially my own childhood favorites. I recently finished Mildred D. Taylor's award-winning books including my all-time favorite: Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry along with other books from her series. It's an inspirational, heartfelt and politically & socially charged piece of historical fiction that chronicles the racial and social injustices faced by an African American family in the rural south of the 1930s. It's amazing that as I was reading the book, this country also elected its first colored president--it all seems so surreal.

Anyhow, back to the initial reason for this post. After meticulously disassembling her lovely wrapping, I gave her a fat hug when I saw this: Fancy Nancy!

I'm such a sucker for colorful illustrations and smart little girls. It's so ironic (and silly) that I get into an MBA program and my sister gives me a children's book (maybe it's because she teaches 3rd graders for a living). Hahaha, but I love it and she knows me so well. I think we all need to smile and relive the inner child in us; it makes for a much happier me and I'll take that any day!

Monday, April 13, 2009

"Just not that into me" paves way for new beginnings

After a restful weekend in Hawaii basking under the golden sun and soaking up the Aloha attitude, I think I'm ready to reveal the final decision for my MBA journey. So, Stanfuuurd, Harvard and NYU were "just not that into me" and I am totally fine with that. Sometimes, things just don't work out and although I was wooed, unfortunately, I was never courted. But every new beginning is some other beginning's end (hmm..I think those were the lyrics to some song).

Even without a decision from Columbia, I am excited that the next 3 years of my life will be at the UC Davis Graduate School of Management with their working professional program (I've already started brainstorming all the opportunities that I want to become a part of (Net Impact, Consulting Corps, Int'l Study Practicum...) After much heartfelt conversations with my hubby and my close friends, Davis really makes me happy. I know I hadn't blogged about it before, but I did attend it's annual Peer to Pier networking event in San Francisco last month and by far, the students & alumni at the GSM are solid, intelligent and extremely down to earth. My ideal post-MBA location to work is the bay area and the GSM boosts its largest alumni contingency in this local, so for me, this is a win-win situation. Besides that, my initial foray into my MBA dreams began with Davis about a year ago after realizing that I needed much more from my current profession. I longed for professional development opportunities, enhanced career prospects and an intense desire to work in teams (something that I considerably thrive under and strive for), all of which, I've found at the GSM.

So, as my run for an MBA nears an end in its initial chapter, I wanted to offer a piece of advice for my readers who are merely at the beginning of their own journeys.
I noticed on the blogosphere that many folks are blogging about other top-ranked b-schools, and I have to admit that made me a bit intimidated at first. But then I realized, how many of us are simply choosing schools based on rankings? I've met so many successful people in my lifetime who have accomplished significant things, but who didn't all attend the top 10 programs in the country. I hope my journey encourages others who are thinking about b-schools to also open their minds and realize that attending a top b-school is not an automatic guarantor for success. Ultimately, it's up to YOU and YOU alone to ensure that success happens. Take the douchebags of Enron and GM Motors who graduated from HBS only to make a complete financial fiasco. The rhetoric and oratory skills of our former president also didn't improve with a polished ivy-league b-school degree. With this in mind, I hope that others will see that an MBA is not an end in and of itself, but actually, a means to an end. Whichever means you choose, I hope you choose wisely and are ultimately happy with your decision. Good luck to all of those who are embarking on your MBA dreams, but before I go, I'll leave you with some cool facts I stumbled upon regarding the UC Davis GSM:

1. Lam Research CEO (HBS alumnus) Gives $1.5 Million to Foster New Business Leaders:
Underscoring the importance of leadership in business education at the Graduate School of Management at the University of California, Davis, Stephen G. Newberry and his wife, Shelley, have pledged $1 million to endow a faculty chair in leadership, as well as $500,000 to create a fellowship that will support MBA students who have great potential as business leaders.

2. The Brass Tacks among the 10 Most Innovative MBA Teams in the World: A team of four UC Davis MBA students advanced to the final round of the 2008 Innovation Challenge, the world’s largest academic competition of its kind produced by consulting firm Idea Crossing and hosted by The Batten Institute at the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business.

3. Net Impact Trailblazers: In 2008, UC Davis' Net Impact won 'Gold' designation, the highest awarded given to a Net Impact chapter. In 2007, the Davis chapter received the Trailblazer Chapter of the Year and the 2006 Small School Chapter of the Year award. Davis Net Impact is ranked among the top 30 MBA programs in the world for integrating issues of social and environmental stewardship into curricula and research by The Aspen Institute's Center for Business Education.

4. Among others, the GSM is also pioneering programs on green technology and will be offering a concentration in public health to prepare MBA students to lead hospitals, government agencies and other organizations.

BTW: I just found out I was nominated for Clear Admit's Best of Blogging for 2008-09..cool beans! Thanks Clear Admit...you guys are clearly awesome! I am quite flattered..I hope this blog has been helpful for you as it has (and will continue to be) for me.

Monday, March 30, 2009

My First Admit

Bright and early at 10am PST, I received a call from an unknown number which I conveniently sent to voicemail. Little did I realize that it was the Admissions Director of the UC Davis MBA program. With a hopeful smile on my face and good thoughts racing through I head, I immediately called back and sure enough, she extended her personal congratulations on my acceptance into their program. Yay! It is such a huge relief to know that my future is filled with much more hope and optimism now. I know an MBA is only a means to an end and wherever that end will be, I'll be equipped with the resources to make it happen! Only last week I was blogging about the wait and now, I have one of my questions answered; it feels amazing, albeit quite surreal, and even as I type this, I don't think it's completely registered in my mind yet. But of course, it will sink in soon enough:)

UPDATE: I received my nifty admit package in the mail on Friday..yay! It's for reals!!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Wait

I've been slacking on my posts b/c apparently, this waiting game has been excrutiatingly painful. I had my interview with UC Davis a week ago and so far, nothing. Haven't heard back from any of my other schools either, so I'm fearful of not-so-great news coming my way next week--eek! Anyhow, the only thing that's been updated thus far is the HBS director's blog which reads

"Something for Everyone!
Date: March 24, 2009
This is the time of year when we have all three rounds in play, so here is some news for everyone:

Round One Waitlist - We will be extending offers of admission to about 40 round one waitlisters shortly after April 2. We will continue to maintain a waitlist and Eileen Chang will send out an update in early April.

Round Two Notification - April 2 is the notification date. All decisions will be released online - you will receive an email instructing you to check your status. We won't be making any congratulatory phone calls in advance of April 2!"

One can only cling on to whatever hope is left in this bschool journey, but geesh..let's just get the pain over with and tell us, already!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

2009 MBA Scholarship: Apply now!

I wish someone had told me about this when I started my process for bschool, so in keeping with my promise to give back, I'm going to encourage all of you who are embarking on your MBA dreams to apply for this awesome opportunity to save LOADS of your own money with the 2009 Beat the GMAT Scholarship. Any of the prizes would be worth it for me b/c you still receive a free Manhattan GMAT prep course, which I highly recommend to anybody preparing for their GMAT. I blogged about MGMAT in my earlier posts in 2008, so browse my archive. BTW: I should add that the contest is open to both U.S. & international students. Anyhow, here's the cool prizes they're offering:

* First Prize ($5490 total value)
o $500 Cash
o One full Manhattan GMAT course
o 1 School Comprehensive Package with Stacy Blackman Consulting

* Second Prize ($2310 total value)
o $500 Cash
o One full Manhattan GMAT course
o 2500-word Editing Service with Stacy Blackman Consulting

* Third Prize ($2210 total value)
o $500 Cash
o One full Manhattan GMAT course
o 1000-word Editing Service with Stacy Blackman Consulting

* Fourth Prize ($2020 total value)
o $500 Cash
o One full Manhattan GMAT course
o Copy of MBA Application Roadmap by Stacy Blackman

* Fifth Prize ($1990 total value)
o $500 Cash
o One full Manhattan GMAT course

The final day to apply is May 8, so get started! What are you waiting for? Besides, it's a great way to jumpstart your application process and be ahead of the game.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The MBA: To do or not to do in this economy

It's been on a mind for quite some time now and at first, I hesitated to post anything about the inevitable shadows of doubt that linger in my head regarding my MBA in the midst of a horrid economic downturn, but today, I just couldn't resist after reading Stacy Blackman's post on BNET regarding the arrogance of MBA degree holders and questionable viability of the three letters during this moment in time. The post hit close to home and I had to share my ponderings with you. The other week, I calculated my monetary investments (thus far) in my quest for an MBA and here's what I came up with:

1. MGMAT Prep Course: $1390
2. Estimated Travel Expense to MGMAT/Info Sessions: $475
3. GMAT Exam: $250
4. Bschool Application Fees: $1075

GRAND Total: $3190...yowsers!

I guess this is why most of my friends are not getting MBAs anytime in the near future. Already, the financial investment towards an MBA is a huge hurdle for many of us who work in the education/nonprofit sector, and this is not even calculating the mental fatigue of sleepless nights, stressing, worrying before, during and after the application process. If accepted, I have to submit a deposit and so forth. The potential MBA bill is scary to say the least but even as I type this post, I know that investing in myself is the best and most secure financial decision I will ever make in my life. I hope that once I achieve my own dreams, I can enable those of others who find themselves in a similar situation. I can't help but wonder how many people whose dreams are stunted because of the immense financial obligations they must take care of (mortgage, flood insurance (just got my letter to renew), car payments, food, the list goes on). I am fortunate that somehow my hubby and I have managed to weather the storm and stay afloat even as friends around us are facing foreclosures and bankruptcies (I know, crazy, right?).

Even more, I am thankful that I am chronicling my journey in this blog. Many moons from now when I look back, it will be meaningful to remember all the little steps I had to take (and countless sacrifices my hubby has had to make) for me to realize my MBA aspirations. So, I say: Yes, the dismal economy does take its toll on me, but does it deter me from my original goals? No way, dude! It only makes me that much more determined to go after them. I believe that it is especially during moments such as these, there is so much room for MBAs to do great things with their knowledge and resources. I can't wait to be one of them.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Seattle Here I Come!

As promised, I've signed up to run the inaugural Seattle half marathon in June..yay! I'm so psyched! This is going to be my fourth one and hopefully, I can focus more on increasing my pace this time around. It is yet another reason for me to keep my fitness goals alive and well as I kick off the beginning of 2009. I know this year will bring many more new beginnings for me and I can't tell you how juiced I am about all of it. If you had asked me two years ago where I saw myself, I certainly wouldn't have been trying to complete my fourth half. BTW, if any of you considering joining me in Seattle, I do have a coupon code to get $10 off the current reg fee of $85. Just leave a message and I'll send it your way!

Whoo hoo! I can't wait to sink my teeth and my soles into the likes of Seattle. I've always been enamored with the birthplace of Starbucks and the home of the Space Needle...now I get to experience it myself. I'll have to catch some Foodnetwork and Travel channel shows to find the best places to dine on the freshest seafood--wowie! I can't wait! This is certainly going to keep me nice and occupied as I wait in limbo to hear back from my prospective Bschools...thank goodness!

Friday, February 13, 2009

My First Interview Invite...yay!

After feeling the post-MBA application blues for a few weeks, I was met with some great news in my inbox today at exactly 10:59AM PST...my very first interview invitation from the UC Davis GSM. I have to admit it caught be my surprise seeing that Davis was the last application I submitted, but I was elated nonetheless. I read the invite at around noon and when I tried to sign up for an interview, I was surprised to see that over half of the slots were already filled...geesh...aspiring MBAs are on top of their S3*! Anyhow, I signed up for mine a month from today, so it'll give me ample time to prepare. The cool thing is that they let you do a 5-7 min presentation on any topic you want, so for me, that's really nice...more room to shine!

I'm particularly drawn to the UC Davis MBA for a few good reasons. One being that a very good friend of mine has already gone through it and loved her experience. Secondly, the program prides itself on its intimate and collaborative team environment..both wonderful attributes of any great program. After I attended their Preview Day, I received a freshly signed letter from the Director..yep, it was real ink! I'm not sure how many people actually sign their own letters nowadays, but to me, it's a sign that people care about their prospective students and that earns extra brownie points in my book;) Thirdly, the GSM offers the program of study that I wish to pursue, Social Entrepreneurship...I looked it up and they have professors who actually teach the subject matter and are renowned experts in the field. Other reasons why I know the GSM would be a great fit for me is that I can do it part-time, thereby relinquishing my fear that a volatile economic downturn may leave me worried should I need to quit my job--I would be able to have my cake and eat it too (and I love cake)! And on a final note, Forbes did rank the part-time program as 16th in the nation, which is pretty awesome since I think since there's so many random ones out there these days. I get a whole slew of internet MBA thingies in the mail which I simply think is a bunch of crap. It seems that ever since I took the GMAT, I've been getting a ton of 'em. Oh wells..options are always nice I suppose. In the meantime, I'll continue to cross my fingers for more good news and grab some nice gifts for my wonderful recommenders.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The agony of waiting + other ramblings

Earlier this week, I submitted my Columbia application...finally! Since Columbia is the only bschool with rolling deadlines, I figured I can apply to it last and still find out of my admission status in April. I have to admit that it does get easier to click the 'submit' button the 4th time around, but the waiting game has me on pins and needles. I wake up each morning and before even jumping out of bed, I roll over and grab my iphone to check my email, each time hoping I can stumble on some good news.

I checked out the HBS Director's blog and found out they'll be releasing interview invites starting February 9, so I am keeping my toes and fingers crossed for the best of luck. Yesterday, I popped in a Season 2 episode of 'Ghost Whisperer' and there was a scene in which Melinda Gordon's new friend, the professor, was talking about how envisioning what you really want will coerce it to come true. Wishful thinking, I suppose, but I couldn't help but imagine checking my email on Feb 9 and seeing that one of them was from the HBS adcom.

I feel like I'm a high school senior all over again...ugh! But to help keep my worries at bay, I've gotten back into my normal fitness routine: spinning, kickboxing and body pump (intense weight lifting) classes..yay! I feel so powerful after working up a sweat for 2 hours. Last weekend, I went running along the San Francisco marina and the experience totally reinvigorated my fitness ambitions. I can't tell you how much i love the ocean. It is honestly the cheapest and most fulfilling form of therapy you can ever get. I don't get why people pay mad bucks just to sit in a confined space with a shrink dissecting your innermost thoughts. If you want to get in touch with your inner self and seek some kind of meaning to your chaotic lifestyle, just wander to the ocean..the tranquility of this space encapsulates and transports your mind and body to a place of total relaxation. Wow..did I just sound like an infomercial or what?

Haha..anyways, I also found myself craving oysters for some reason. My hubby and I plus a couple awesome friends found ourselves at the Hog Island Oyster Farm in the midst of pouring rain. It was so funny because during the entire drive to the farm, we were getting so hot b/c it the sun was beaming down on us. By the time we got to the Tomales Bay area, the dark brooding clouds were looming overhead and we were pelted by giant rain drops once we got to the oysters. But we were troopers who came prepared with 2 jumbo-sized umbrellas and we started a bbq pit right there in the middle of the rain! I was impressed! I was shucking away left and right, while gorging myself with nature's mother of pearls: Kumamotos and Hog Island's best, extra small Sweetwaters. If you haven't had fresh oysters, you haven't lived! It tastes just like the ocean; that's when you know it's the good stuff and with just a sprinkle of Tabasco sauce and fresh lemon..Yum--heaven on a half shell! You should also never eat oysters that smell fishy or look murky, even if the waiter tells you that's the way they eat them. I had this experience happen during a visit to South Beach last year and I wasn't having it. You can't mask funky oysters. In any case, I told myself that should I find my happy butt in Canada some day, I'm visiting Prince Edward Island to get my hands on them juicy Canadian cup oysters and oh-so-slobberlicious mussels they got up there. As you can probably tell, I'm a foodie in every sense of the word. What can I say...I live to eat!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Welcoming our 44th President: Barack Obama..how great art thee

Barack Obama Is Sworn In As 44th President Of The United States

Tokens of inspiration I collected from Obama's Inaugural Speech:

"...a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous."

"With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations."

Monday, January 12, 2009

Halfway Mark Reflection

I have now submitted 3 of my anticipated 6 bschool applications, and since I can't sleep tonight, I'll take some time out to reflect since I think it may help others who either will be submitting their apps or plan to apply in the future.

First off, hats off to Clear Admit for their insightful essay analyses. I highly recommend pasting them into your word doc for each school you're applying to and then doing a complete outline of your answer to each question segment. It's very important to make sure that you answer EVERY portion that is being asked.

Secondly, free write and try not to worry about the word count just yet. Although I did find that one of the most challenging parts when condensing my large essays. However, take it as a bschool lesson in the art of effective, yet concise communication skills.

All in all, I am happy to report that as I clicked the 'submit' button for each school, I was really content with my work. I believe it is an honest portrait of who I am and the values that I hold dear. I poured my heart into them and I know that whatever happens, I can honestly say I was genuine in my responses and if that's not good enough, then there is something else out there for me. Dreaming the dream for bschool was great, but actually going through the process has shown me that I do have the courage of conviction to make my dreams happen. It has been an amazing journey thus far and although I have 3 more apps to conquer, I am confident that 'it's gonna be all good!'

It's all about the L word..yup, leadership! And luckily for me, it has been my defining feature. As I reflected on my life experiences, I realized the unifying thread for me has been the element of leadership, which is why I chose to apply to HBS. I don't believe it's about the number of people you supervise, but the lessons that you learned from those experiences are what you should reflect on.

I had a lot of fun writing Essay 1 on my accomplishments because it really made me think long and hard about what gave meaning to my life. From there, I was able to settle upon 3 of the ones that I believe really impacted me. However, this was not the case for Essay 2 on making a mistake. I often found myself stepping away from my computer and then wake up in the middle of the night with my 'A-HA! moment where I'd have to put a note in my iphone about what sparked my train of thought just so I wouldn't forget it when I woke up. In the end, I did end up with what I feel is an honest mistake example and what I did to strengthen myself as a result of it.

Stanford GSB:
First of all, read the director's insights on how to write an effective essay. It really helped me articulate my thoughts as if I were speaking with a good friend rather than an adcom. I absolutely HEART the Essay 1 on speaking about my values. I think it was the easiest essay to write because it was really personal and the word limit was pretty generous at 750. The best approach to this is jot down several things that are important to you. From there, find the linkage between each one by writing down key words/phrases that define those experiences. It's like connecting the dots. You should see a pattern and yes, my friend, that pattern is your set of values. I know everyone has one, and I sincerely believe that if you live life guided by these principles, you will have no problem relaying this info to the Stanford adcom.

NYU Stern:
Halfway through my essays, I had second thoughts about what really made Stern stand out in my mind besides the fact that it was in NYC. Obviously, everyone is going to write about the NY advantage. In any case, Essay 2 was be far the most difficult because the question subsets initially seem so unrelated. I had already completed 3/4 of my essays when I realized I needed to take a mental break and step back to see what really made Stern click in my mind. I had hoped to submit my essay on the Saturday and then start packing for my cruise but then I realized I didn't have my best essays yet. When I read my Essay 2, it seemed so fake...ugh! I hated it! Why did I try to sound like somebody else? I thought it was weird, especially since I had already completed 2 applications before Stern. What makes Stern unique is the question it poses. Stern wants to know why exactly you want Stern and this made me realize why I had such a hard time. Well, I remember vividly a particular interview experience at a school that will not unnamed when the interviewer specifically asked me exactly what about me made me right for the job. Seems simple enough, right, but I realized that at that moment, I honestly didn't know. Yes, this is so not the best way to go into an interview. Needless to say I didn't get the job and I know my response to that question had a lot to do with it. If I don't know why I want Stern, why the hell would Stern want me right?

So, the time is ticking away and I just told myself I'll sleep on it and take my work with me on the cruise, but hopefully the answer would come overnight and I wouldn't need to. I think Somebody heard me up there and I woke up from my nap re-energized to tackle the question once more. This time, my thoughts flowed effortlessly through my fingertips onto my laptop. Before I knew it, I had the application completed and ready to be submitted. It was a true moment of revelation and elation. Now, off to Mexico baby! Adios!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

More than Money...indeed!

Just thought I'd share a little bit about my journey so far. I was able to submit my Harvard & Stanford apps and am feverishly completing my Stern app as we speak, but it's been an incredibly amazing experience to say the least. I've learned so much about myself than I had originally imagined and I know that wherever my lucky stars take me, I am living life with a sense of purpose.

Today, I was able to wake up bright and early to attend the MBA Preview Day at the UC Davis GSM. Some of you are probably wondering why I've decided to consider this particular bschool, but first up, I was inspired by a special somebody who went through the program and had such awesome things to say about it that I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to indulge my curiosity. As it happens, they have a small, but wonderfully active Net Impact org whose members are so down to earth and genuine. I was fortunate to meet both of the co-presidents today during my time on campus and they were very supportive of my decision. So, I'm not sure how many of you bloggers out there know, but Net Impact is this national network of bschool students who have the passion to use their MBA to create social value. Yes, MBAs do have a moral code of ethics, contrary to what the incidents on Wall Street may lead you to believe. In any case, last week, the founder of Net Impact, Mark Albion, came to the Davis GSM to speak to their students and I thought, "WOW...how cool is that!" Every year, top bschools from around the U.S. send their best and brightest to attend the Net Impact Conference; this year, it was held at Wharton and next year will be at Cornell! If I should be so lucky, I would like to count myself in the group of attendees. We'll just have to wait and see. In any case, Albion also wrote a really neat book, More than Money, and from what I hear, it's going to be on my books to read for 2009 list for sure!

I think that regardless of where your MBA dreams will take you, it's important to nurture your values and incorporate them in your path to success. If it's anything we learned from Wall Street's plummet it is this: There are always going to be difficult choices you'll have to make and unfortunately, those of us who are not guided by our own moral compass will make poor decisions that will ultimately cost us in the end. For the rest of you who know why you want an MBA and what you hope to do with it, I hope that you do it with a sense of compassion and humanity and that you won't become the dreaded 'one of them' because if that's what really what your life is all about, then my friend, you have some serious rethinking to do. Maybe this is why I love Essays 1 for Stanford so much: What do you value and WHY? As I penned my words, I realized that I am quite fortunate to be doing a job that speaks deeply to my values. I cannot tell you how many times I've heard people complain about their jobs and how they hate it. What does this mean essentially? In my book, this means you need to start thinking about who you are and what matters to you. If you can find the answer, then start living your life to reflect those ideals.

So, check out the video and let me know if what Albion says resonates with you...it already has for me.

Monday, January 5, 2009

My First Bschool Submission

Wow..I did it! After pulling an all-nighter, I laid down 235 hard-earned smackers and finally (and nervously, but anxiously) hit the 'submit' button, relinquishing my fate to the hands of the HBS adcoms at exactly 10:22:22 AM E.S.T. I just thought I'd document this moment before I take a nap and then return to Stanford apps. So, 1 down and 2 more to go for this week, 1 for next and 2 more for a month out before I'll be officially done and crossing my fingers to score an interview. Whew!