It was hard to understand what their desired results were, what they wanted to accomplish because of their varied statements: "Free Tibet!" to "Shut down Guantanamo Bay!" to "Stop your Spending!" (um, you're saying that to the girl who is carrying 4 shopping bags and has already tried to hide her credit cards?) and perhaps if they had a united message and with the proper spin and "marketing", they could have gotten more people to identify with their cause. Of course, using iPhones and smart phones to share their message, bundling up in cozy Patagonia jackets and using the Starbucks and Mcdonalds restrooms might have also worked again their credibility...
|Ugh. Probably the most pretentious Ad Campaign ever, courtesy of Patagonia on Black Friday|
A lot has happened in my life since I scratched out my last posting including:
- A spectacular trip to Singapore & Indonesia for work and a magical weekend in Bali spent biking through rice paddies, riding (and falling off of) motorbikes, snorkeling, spas and delicious food and chasing sunsets.
- Initiated, planned and hosted a fairly successful Happy Hour for the Educational Foundation I am a part of through my company...hardest part was that I was in Asia for the weeks leading up to the event, but luckily I had some amazing team mates that helped get everything in order.
- Room mate announcing that she is moving to South Lake Tahoe to unofficially become a snowboarding bum, which will result in me moving back home by the end of month... I'll be too caught up with apps to figure out where else to live, so I'll be at home for the time being.
- My personal life had gotten kind of um, complicated, which in retrospect detracted from my original plans of focusing on the B-School applications during the home stretch. Well, no longer, and I'm feeling pretty good about moving forward!
|Kellogg: The cute Midwestern guy|
On paper, they were both, um, very handsome specimens :) Kellogg I considered to be friendly, social, and down to earth, but also cold (literally – right outside of Chicago the Windy City) and err… large? (student body was pretty big - how would I fit in?) and perhaps not the best looking (had heard from a Northwestern friend that the campus was um, homely). Regardless, it exuded that Midwestern, down-to-earth charm where you’d feel very comfortable being yourself.
|Columbia: The Sexy NYC stud|
Wanting to keep an open mind, I first decided to attend the info session. On the way there, I ran into a friend from undergrad and we were both very surprised to see each other. After catching up briefly before the session, he offered to answer any question I had. This was a good sign – mutual friends! During the session though, I was continually waiting for all my reservations I had about the school to be assuaged (living in an expensive city, finding housing, a close-knit community of students, strengths in areas outside of finance) and the answers did little to convince me in the other direction. It’s like when you ask your date if he still smokes (after marking “Trying to Quit” on their profile) and he mentions he wouldn’t in front of you. Yes, you find some comfort in that answer, but the bottom line is, no matter how they word it, the fact still remains.
At times, I also question the intention that many of these schools have for seeking so many applicants - that's $250 per person they rope into applying! Are they giving you false hope, and just want you to apply so that the application rates will rise and they will look more selective by comparison? Are they sugarcoating their answers on the tough questions, and will they think of you differently for even asking?
Driving up to the campus, I started to feel butterflies building in my stomach. It was the complete opposite of Columbia in that the buildings were modern, not as beautiful, but the sun was shining, the leaves were turning and students were walking and chatting. The day-long date just kept getting better, and I could tell the school had put out its best foot for prospective students. The class visit that I sat in on was phenomenal and blew my mind. The teacher had won numerous awards and was funny, knowledgeable, engaging and quirky: everything I desired in a professor, and especially in a first year class.
They had assigned student ambassadors to show us around, so I really appreciated the personal gesture, but the highlight of the visit culminated in individual time with the admissions director. Instead of doing a formal presentation, she gathered myself and 3 other prospective students in her office and just opened us up to ask questions to have a heart-to-heart dialogue. It was without pretense, she spoke genuinely and honestly, and the entire experience put me at ease – everything that you’d want in a school visit AND a first date :)
When I left Kellogg, I could feel my heart beating rapidly. This school was so right for me – down to the close interaction between the students, classroom dynamics, strengths, and that indescribable feeling that I could really see myself there for two years. I knew that I was going to apply and felt very strongly about the school – the only question was, would they feel the same way about me?
So this brings me to my list of four schools, in no particular order:
- Harvard Business School ~ January 10th
- Stanford GSB (joint program with MBA & Masters of Education) ~ January 11th
- Kellogg School of Management ~ January 11th
- Haas School of Business ~ January 18th
I had initially spoken with another partner in the firm who was fully supportive and agreed enthusiastically to write one of the letters but also gave me some foreshadowing about the more tepid response from my direct boss and the company president. There were all these times earlier I had planned on asking my boss when he was in the office a month ago (the same time we were doing some "company reorganization") or right before Thanksgiving Break (his birthday and he broke his leg) but they all just happened to be horrible timing so I felt it best to wait.
Come Monday morning, he's in our office for our Firm-Wide Team Meetings this week and he asks to meet with me. Turns out, the partner had given him a head's up over the weekend. In our conversation, he expressed his surprise of my decision and as expected, tried to talk me into staying by offering additional opportunities and growth.
As he spoke of his own graduate school experience, how he wished he would have waited, the burdensome student loans, I could feel doubts creep in. But reality snapped in as I realized, that after a year of indecision, slogging through the GMAT, visiting and falling in love with different schools, and starting the application journey, I was not about to give in. "I appreciate everything that this company has offered...but I'm still very determined to go to business school and put forth the strongest application possible." (Or something along those lines) While I think he certainly understands where I'm coming from, it will be hard to transition my portfolio as a small company...and I'm starting to dread the conversation with the president, who I will also be meeting with. Especially considering our huge office holiday bash will be this Friday *GULP*
Keep on Rockin' (around the Christmas tree)
PS - Check out my interview with Accepted.com!!
|Bali Sunset @ Nusa Lembogan Island, Jungut Batu Beach *SIGH*|