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!

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