Take Two Bskool

Making history... one application season at at time.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

The Stages of Post-Traumatic Rejection Response

Stage One: sorrow, defeat, shock.

Stage Two: drinking.

Stage Three: more drinking.

Stage Four: hangover.

Stage Five: dread for possible third attempt; research into upcoming R3 deadlines.

Stage Six: tentative decision to move forward with third and final attempt for R1 2006.

Stage Seven: realization: sh*t, only four months left until schools post essay questions.

Well, friends, I wish my second journey through MBA apps had ended in a redemptive and glorious victory over the nation's elite business schools. Such is not the reality. The cloud of last week's rejection letters has lingered over my weekend. My decision to move forward with a third attempt is based on the following:
  1. I feel that my candidacy was strong (Haas interview invitations represented the top 20% of the school's 2700 applications -- not a bad achievement.)
  2. I didn't apply to enough schools and should have included schools lower part of the top 25 that would still have positioned my to achieve my goals;
  3. I knew that my applications had several small weaknesses that likely had an aggregated effect on my decision, i.e. below avg. undergrad GPA at state school; 'avg.' overall GMAT score; less than 80% Q score; a couple of relevant points that my essays should have made/clarified; 'avg.' extracurriculars; perhaps not clear proof of desire to really do BM/CPG, i.e. could have joined/gotten involved with certain marketing/BM professional organizations.

I am confident that I can make the appropriate steps (starting tomorrow) to address these weak areas. I am not concerned about possible delay of my longer-term goals... I turn 28 this June and I have another 30 years to pursue those goals. For many reasons, mostly professional, but some very personal, securing entry into a top-tier MBA program is a very important goal for me.

I know that the year ahead will be a very difficult one, and that I risk an identical outcome. However, if I don't give this process one more attempt, I know that I will always regret not having tried. If the process does not work out, I can move forward knowing that I gave it my absolute best shot.

|| PupStar78, 4:00 PM || link || (45) comments |

Friday, March 17, 2006

PAR FOR COURSE

dinged at haas.

have no idea what went wrong w/ my apps this year.
|| PupStar78, 3:59 PM || link || (17) comments |

A dose of humility

More than anything, the rollercoaster ride of the last two weeks has been a dose of humility. Confident by nature, and a veteran of a prior application season, I was definitely surprised by the incoming rejection letters. I definitely anticipated more choices at this stage of the process, and there is a very real possibility that my only choice will be to apply again, if Haas doesn't come through. (C'mon, Haas, make sure you accept me! Would it help if I ditched old loyalties and cheered for Cal in the NCAA Tourney?)

A friend yesterday helped me realize that I am indeed NOT 'trapped,' and that life and my career are what I make of each. This, along with a good night's rest, has helped me to bounce out of my funk. Last night I made a tentative timeline for a possible third and final attempt to enroll in a top-tier MBA program. Barring any MBA dreams ever coming to fruition, I will begin to execute on a major longer-term goal and skip the middle step of an MBA and several years at a CPG.

That's it for now. Thanks again for all your comments and support over the last couple of weeks!
|| PupStar78, 8:47 AM || link || (1) comments |

Thursday, March 16, 2006

What a day

1 ding, 2 hours of sleep and 3 times the workload! I'm exhausted. The reality of this morning's ding dong has set in. I wonder if the R2 timing of my application impacted the competitiveness of my candidacy?

I wanted to clarify a comment in my earlier post -- some folks at work know about my MBA aspirations, but they are peer-level, trusted friends as well as my two recommenders. I think my 'cat out of the bag' comment painted a more bleak picture. Rather, I simply wasn't looking forward to swallowing my pride and letting friends know that ding #2 had arrived.

Wow, so I did NOT expect to be in quite this position at this point in the game, but I still feel great about Haas, a program that I consider an excellent fit. Thanks to everyone for your encouraging comments... I hope to have some good news to share with you all soon.

P.S. Brownoski -- I'm gonna sweep your March Madness pool ;)
|| PupStar78, 4:39 PM || link || (4) comments |

Zero for Two

Dinged at Wharton. Not sure where to go from here. Hoping Haas comes through in next couple of days. Monday is D-day, but could hear back before.

Pretty bummed out. It's a competitive year... not sure how I could have improved my Wharton app except better GPA and a slightly higher GMAT. Makes me wonder who I'm competing against here... I mean, I thought I was competing against humans... people that are more or less accomplished leaders.

In any case, this is gonna suck at work as the cat's out of the bag on my MBA apps. Gonna get dozens of questions today.

This really sucks.
|| PupStar78, 6:44 AM || link || (17) comments |

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

"Calm" before Wharton Storm

"Calm" is the last adjective in the English language that could even remotely describe my current state. Haas decisions are coming out anytime before or on Monday, and Wharton decisions begin to be released tomorrow morning.

I never knew that I could achieve this level of anxiety. I wish it was happy hour.
|| PupStar78, 12:15 PM || link || (9) comments |

Monday, March 13, 2006

Submitting follow-up materials

Although each institution has just 2-3 days left to review my candidacy, I've decided to submit follow-up materials to both Haas and Wharton. To demonstrate my intellectual prowess, I will send:

To stretch the adcom's heartstrings to the maximum distance, the package also includes:

|| PupStar78, 11:07 PM || link || (7) comments |

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Haas Interview & Super Saturday Recap

I had my Haas interview -- also see the Wiki post -- yesterday during the school's 'Super Saturday' event for Round 2 applicants. Comprised of the interview, student & career panels, lunch, a tour and welcome/closing remarks by the admissions directors, the event was a 6 hour affair. Fortunately, my interview took place during the first two hours of the day, allowing me to enjoy the rest of the event free of pre-interview nerves.

A first year student conducted my interview. After some initial chit-chat, we got down to business. Her questions ran like this:

1. Walk me through your resume.

2. The admissions committee told me to ask you this: Why have your career goals changed? (I am a Haas reapplicant)

3. Discuss your leadership style. How do you lead?

4. Discuss a time when you were part of a group of peers and you failed to meet your objective. How did you deal with this?

5. What is it about Haas, specifically, that makes you want to attend this program?

6. If you are admitted to Haas, what attributes will you bring to the program? How will you contribute?

7. Do you have any questions for me?

Overall, I think this was my strongest interview of the application season. Prior to my interview, I reminded myself to be confident, but modest, and to take more time when responding to questions (both from the perpspective of taking a moment to choose an answer and from the perspective of speaking at a slightly slower pace.) The most challenging question was #4 -- I struggled to recall a good example, but came up with a fairly general example that I think sufficed.

Number 2 was somewhat of a surprise, given that I explained this change in my application (and that this was a blind interview). I assumed that the adcom wanted to ensure my interview response was consistent with my essays, so I kept the response as such, while providing additional detail about the broader 12-month process I had undertaken in determining the post-MBA field that 1.) I was most attracted to/passionate about, and 2.) would ideally leverage my existing experience.

However, I remain slightly worried. Although I've put a tremendous amount of research into my career goals in the last year, speaking with dozens of brand management MBA students/alums, talking to current CPG brand managers, and studying/analyzing the elements of each MBA program that will ideally position me for this career path, I still have a nervous feeling that schools who have seen my my previous applications think I'm this crazy nutter who wanted to do one thing last year and a new thing this year.

After 30 minutes of providing answers, I had 15 minutes to ask my interviewer some questions of my own. This was great, because there were definitely some elements of the Haas program that I wanted to hear more about. Given the program's small size, I asked a several questions and follow-up questions about the process of on-campus recruiting vs. the process of working through the career center to pursue an employer not recruiting on-campus. I also inquired about academics, clubs and I asked my interviewer about her own goals and how she was structuring the Haas program to help her achieve these goals.

In parting, I should add that the depth of the Super Saturday program helped answer a lot of lingering questions I had about the program, especially in regards to career services and recruitment.
|| PupStar78, 9:05 AM || link || (15) comments |

Friday, March 10, 2006

On Safety Nets

I've gotten many questions from friends & family regarding the lack of 'safety net' schools in my target program mix. I briefly touched on the safety school topic in early November, but I never quite explained my target school choices.

Most importantly, I wanted to select target schools that, if accepted to any, I would be absolutely thrilled to attend. Ideally my target mix would have included 4 schools, but my September GMAT date coupled with increased responsibilities at work had me against a tight timeline. I chose Wharton, Haas and Kellogg for the following reasons (among others):

-- general management focus at each school
-- strong track records of post-MBA placement in brand management positions
-- healthy, student-run marketing clubs
-- reputation for accepting and producing bright, motivated and driven professionals
-- my academic focus on marketing would not mean sacrificing a strong base of cross-functional knowledge in core & non-core classes
-- national and international alumni networks (though Haas has strong West Coast reputation, it has a great brand name and many alumns working across the country and world)
-- excellent email, phone and in-person conversations with students from all three schools and a general comfort/fit with each school's cultures

I chose not to include a safety school(s) because I simply cannot justify the the expense of a degree that could possibly fail to position me to achieve my own goals. I learned this lesson the hard way -- there simply wasn't the recruiting at my mid-tier undergraduate institution that my six-figure investment warranted. This lesson was near and dear to my heart when choosing target schools at which I would make an even larger six-figure investment (most of which will be loans) into a graduate institution.

This strategy, of course, is a risky one. Take Two Bskool could easily become Take Three Bskool if my bet doesn't pan out. I'm just that insane. ;) Let's hope Take Two is the final take!
|| PupStar78, 3:14 PM || link || (7) comments |

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Big Thanks to All -- and Updates

All -- thanks so much for all of your comments and emails over the last 36 hours. The last two days have been more stressful for me than the entire MBA apps process ever was. The good news is that my girlfriend is doing better and she should be home soon. We are hoping she is allowed to return home from the hospital tomorrow, and if so, I may take a couple of more days off (or do the work from home thing) to keep an eye on her.

As I wrote last night, the Kellogg ding hurt, especially given the rotten timing. I had little time to think on it, though, given the larger circumstances. My girlfriend and I chatted about it a bit today, and we agreed that the reason for my denial is likely something outside of my reasonable scope of control -- something perhaps that I overlooked and that I still would have overlooked if I had to do the application over again; perhaps my essays just failed to resonate with the particular reader(s). Who knows. The good thing is that I now know I won't be attending Kellogg this fall, and in many ways, knowing is better than not.

More good news: I sat down 20 minutes ago to check my email and lo and behold: an invitation to interview at Haas this Saturday! I am very excited at the opportunity and hopeful for my prospects.

I want to thank everyone again for all the thoughtful and supportive comments on my last blog post... reading your thoughts and remarks were tremendously helpful.
|| PupStar78, 9:56 PM || link || (9) comments |

Monday, March 06, 2006

The horrible, no good, very bad day

Today was not a good day. Although everything is fine at present, I spent 12 hours at the emergency room at UCSF, followed by another 3 hours at UCSF's Mt. Zion hosptial, arriving home only a short time ago. My girlfriend, it turns out, had complications from treatment for a stress fracture and had a blood clot in both her leg and lung. It was a very, very emotional day, but I am happy to report that everything is ok with my girlfriend and that she will be fine, although she is still in the hospital at present (at least for a couple of days).

I know that after a day like today, nothing else should matter. Unfortunately, I arrived home to a bitterly crushing denial email from Kellogg. After taking massive lengthts to improve my candidacy and put last year's waitlist & eventual rejection behind me, I don't know how else to describe my reaction except to say I was shocked and upset. The day's events coupled with the rejection email is absolutely and totally overwhelming.
|| PupStar78, 10:04 PM || link || (16) comments |

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Warm Fuzzy to MBA Bloggers

I sat down at my laptop this morning to conduct my usual neurotic read-through of all things MBA. First, I checked my own blog and its 'comments' section... replying to most of the comments, or taking a mental note to reply at a later date. Next, I clicked on several MBA blog links listed to the right, leaving my own comments here and there. Following that, I perused Hella's list of updated blogs. Finally (and as Sorebrek would say) I nuzzled 'gainst the dark one's teat: the BusinessWeek boards.

This morning, though, I also updated my own blog with new links from additional MBA blogs that I have taken to reading regularly. As I added each blog, I suddenly realized just how quickly the MBA blogging community has grown, and how much larger the community seems this application season compared to last. I know that those in professional situations similar to mine would agree that this online community is an amazing resource, from both an informational perspective and from a 'mutual support' perspective. Without the presence of the MBA blogging community, I have little doubt that I would be far less informed and far more isolated.

Thus, I send a big *WARM FUZZY* to the MBA blogging community. You all are great, and I appreciate all the comments & support you've given to my own blog and my own MBA ambitions!
|| PupStar78, 11:16 AM || link || (9) comments |

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Wharton Interview Recap and Philadelphia Experience

The Flight: My brother was kind enough to drop off my arse for a 7:10 a.m. flight Sunday morning out of beautiful Oakland International, home of Southwest’s Bay Area hub. This airport slightly resembles the drive-up theater of our parents’ yesteryore.

The Arrival: Ah, Philadelphia. I had no idea what to expect. One of my bosses hails from Long Island (he could have a neurotic Seinfeld character modeled after him), and his description of our nation’s former capital was: “definitely a second city… definitely.” I digested his opinion with a grain of salt… I figured the city was probably typical Northeastern: a mish-mash of cultures/peoples, New England architecture and cold winter weather.

I was right about the weather. Temperature upon my arrival at 3:00 p.m. EST was 27 degrees Fahrenheit, but 12 degrees with the wind chill. I checked into my room at Club Quarters on 16th/Chestnut. Great little part of town, and as I found out later, an area where many Wharton students reside. Lots of restaurants and shopping.

I showered and booked it down to Old City, ‘round 5th and Chestnut. It was essentially what I expected… I breathed the American history in… then I booked it back to my hotel. It was just too dang cold to be outside for longer than an hour.

The Interview Prep: I called my girlfriend that evening to run through some interview questions. For some reason, I was nervous as crap. I was extraordinarily worried about the points I needed to make, rather than just letting the conversation flow.

Pissed, I got of the phone and conducted a personal pep talk. I went to the mirror and recited over and over again: “You can do it. This is easy. You can do it. This is easy. I can do it. This is easy.” I did some deep breathing. I sat down at my desk. I asked myself, “Pupstar, why do you REALLY want to go to Wharton?” I ignored my previously constructed talking points and answered myself from a common sense perspective. Finally, I was flowing. Of course I knew why I wanted to attend Wharton… after all, wasn’t it little old Pupstar that had done a tremendous amount of research into the school? Wasn’t it me who emailed and called current students and alumni? Wasn’t it me who knew the marketing curriculum inside and out? Wasn’t it big bad Pupstar who knew each of the prominent marketing faculty and what noteworthy research they had conducted?

Damn right it was me. I ran through another 40 minutes of self-practice, then got ready for bed. Still on west coast time, I purchased a movie and stayed up til midnight, even though I had an early 6 a.m. wake time. (The movie was “Just Friends,” not that great, but I do have a tiny crush on Amy Smart).

Campus Visit and Interview: I arrived on campus around 8:30, then attended a Marketing Strategy course for second year students. The case study topic in class was Pfizer and its product Viagra. As you can imagine, the discussion was interupted with multiple stifled and not-so-stifled *chortles* and *giggles* from the students.

Following class, I took a walk around Penn’s campus. It reminded me of Chicago GSB, a campus I visited last year. Overall, I thought the campus was quite nice.

I walked back to Admissions for my Noon interview. The admissions office was a hot box of prospectives & visitors. After 35 minutes of waiting, my interviewer called my name. I wasn’t too nervous, until I arrived in the tiny room from which the interview was to be conducted. The room was SMALL. My interviewer was a very nice and polite second year student that had just secured a brand management job in the bay area. This was perfect… given my focus on BM, I knew that I wouldn’t have to do a tremendous amount of explanation for my career goals.

The questions ran like this:

1. Walk me through your resume, explaining how you got to your current point, and then explain how this ties into your MBA and post-MBA goals;

2. Tell me about something you have done at work that you are particularly proud of;

3. Tell me about a time at work when you had to make a decision without having all of the facts;

4. What would your managers say is your greatest strength;

5. What would your managers say is your greatest weakness, and would you agree with them?

6. Discuss a weak point in your application;

7. Do you have any questions for me?

The conversation lasted about 40 minutes. I started off fine, but for some reason I got extremely nervous during the first portion of my resume walk-through, stuttering over a couple of points and sounding very unconfident in myself. I think it was the small room and just a case of normal nerves. After this initial nervousness, I was able to recover quickly and take control of the conversation and the points I wanted to cover. From then on out, I was essentially on-fire. A bullet train. An MBA force to be reckoned with!

Overall I give myself an A minus grade. I could have framed a couple of responses a bit better, and I should have been less nervous at the beginning... but this was a big new experience for me and I can’t give myself too much crap for having a very brief case of the nerves.

Following the interview, I did the formal campus tour. The facilities are truly exceptional… probably the best I have seen and very comparable to Chicago GSB.

The departure: Right before departing campus, I did a little networking with the other prospectives and met a potential client for my PR agency. Then, I hailed a cab back to my hotel. I changed out of my suit and sought out the nearest bar… which happened to be Ruby Tuesdays. Now, I’ve heard of Ruby Tuesdays, but it is one chain restaurant that I have never been to. Finally, I can mark the Ruby notch on my chain restaurant belt, right next to Chevy’s, Applebees and Olive Garden.

Several cocktails later I was asleep on my plane back to Oakland.

|| PupStar78, 12:46 AM || link || (11) comments |