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 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, " 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 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!