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Author Archives: Ellie

About Ellie

Talkative, verbose, foodie, seeker of experiences, closet conservative, open liberal, slightly judgmental, and vastly enthusiastic.

Guess who’s back?

im_back4 Apps – 2 Campus Visits – 1 Product Launch – 1 Job Offer/Promotion later, I am back. I am hoping that this gives everyone a bit of a flavor of what has kept me occupied in the last few months. I actually had to take a crash course in prioritizing and start axing things that I honestly couldn’t do full justice to. Sadly, “updating my blog” came right after “going to the gym”, which is always the first item on my “Not to do” list :D.

So which school made my list this time around, you ask?

  • Fuqua – Early Action
  • Kenan Flagler – Early Action
  • Ross – Round 1
  • Tepper – Round 1
  • McCombs – Round 1  Had to cut this off my Round 1 list eventually.

Both, Ross and Kenan Flagler are schools that I have reapplied to. This time around, I took a trip down to Ann Arbor as one of the prospective MBA women applicant invited to attend the Women in Leadership Conference. To anyone lurking around the blog and looking to apply in 2014/2015, I would say – Please sign up to attend these if you can! As an applicant last year, I had no idea when these conferences happened and whenever I’d read of those it would be always a bit too late (plus I had my GMAT drama going on for the better part of the year!). But, I applied to Ross’ event this time around and I can say that it was the best 2-days I have had in the MBA journey so far. Most business schools that host these events invite prospective candidates to apply by submitting a resume and a small essay asking why you are interested. Once selected, the schools then begin their wooing process :). Ross put about 25-30 girls coming in from all parts of US/Canada at the Sheraton and wined and dined us for over two days. You get the chance to not only experience a very high quality conference but also forge relationships with current students, admissions team members, and other prospective students, who could be joining you at a different school too!

Both with Ross and Fuqua, I ended up going to the campus just about 3 days before the submission deadline. Now, its not like I didn’t have my essays all prepared then (after all that’s a perk of reapplying and doing the whole MBA she-bang for over a year!). But after each visit, I had so much more to say that was specific to my day spent at the campus, that I ended up scrapping almost half of my old essays in favor of including new material. This was particularly true of the cover letter that Ross needs and for the Why Fuqua essay. However, here I am today, finally done with all my apps. After my gentle reminder today, hopefully my recommenders will submit their Kenan Flagler links by 17th October and we’ll be all done.

But, I wish life was that simple and waiting for interview, invites and decisions was all I had to worry about! Through these last few weeks, I got the opportunity to lead a go-to-market effort for a new product at my company. This was the first project to create a new product after my company acquired another company earlier this year. Now, we have been on an acquisition spree for a few years now but sadly, most integration projects haven’t been successful. So, this product launch was, to put it mildly, a big deal for the CEO. Thankfully, not only I got the launch done, but actually ended up exceeding goal by 120% bringing in some marquee clients in the process. Great stuff for essay fodder, is what you are all thinking right?? 😀 I milked this for sure!

But, here is the kicker. Now, my company wants to promote me to be an Associate Director and relocate to SFO to manage a bigger team there. This stretch opportunity comes with a leadership tag, increased pay, and other perks but, one caveat – I need to give my answer by November 1st week and commit to not leaving for at least one year. 😐 Not a written agreement that is binding but a good faith commitment given to my boss, who is my recommender and has been instrumental in helping me get many opportunities. So I can’t even think of burning bridges.

I have no idea what to do as of today. Since I got this offer, one day I am looking for apartments in SFO and the other day in Raleigh/Durham/Ann Arbor! What would you pick?

 
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Posted by on October 16, 2014 in Future, Life, MBA, Musings, Recap

 

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Recap: Kelley Small Group Dinner

And it has been more than two weeks since I went to one. But, given the lack of information I got online, I did want to pay it forward. I signed up for this dinner way back in December, and glad I did because it filled out pretty quickly. The venue was Old Ebbit’s Grill, a known DC landmark, though not one of my favorite places to grab dinner. On the upside, it is close to the metro.

A day prior to the dinner, Brad Rosenwinkel, Associate Director of Admissions emailed to confirm the RSVP and we were set. I reached about 5 mins early to the gig and was one of the first few to arrive. It filled up pretty quickly within the next 15 mins though, but I used the opportunity to chat with Prof, Matthew Billet for quite some time and discuss the talent issues in finance world. There was an open bar available to everyone, so once people picked up their drinks, we also mingled with other applicants, alumni, applicants for Fall 2015 (yep! quite early of the mark :)). Surprisingly, while I turned up in a formal dress, many people were in jeans, and other attire that can be categorized as casual. It didn’t particularly raise any eyebrows.

Brad opened the event formally to introduce himself and Prof Billet, once we were all seated at our dinner tables (around 6:40). Each table had at least one alumni available to all participants to chat. All of them were really down to earth and nice people, easy to chat with and spoke very fondly of their time at Kelley. Our table included a New Yorker, who claimed to be really surprised at the great quality of life at Bloomington! Fact: Bloomington has the second highest density of ethnic restaurants in all of United States!

We had a three course dinner and my wine glass kept refilling itself, by magic! But, I blame that on the interesting conversation, rather than my lack of attention. The alumni on my table had taken the same path after MBA that I plan to take, so it was great to get his perspective. He warned us about the Core (I think its common to all schools!) but what was revealing is how he said he coped with it. When asked, what helped him get by through the core, he said, “Trusting and leaning on other people. If you are a person, who wants to go to school, then come back to your room to sit and study by yourself, then you’ll find the Core really overwhelming. You have to work with your team through these few months and figure a way out to help each other get through it.” He mentioned that one of the people in their class actually left business school because he/she couldn’t cope up with working in this group system. Scary.

Overall, I had a great time, great conversations and found everyone from Kelley smart and personable. They are excited about what they are doing and if your aim to spend two years trying to become a better professional, better person, then Kelley School of Business is definitely a school that can help you get there.

 
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Posted by on February 6, 2014 in Experiences, MBA

 

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On and beyond Super Tuesday

Hope everyone stayed warm during the polar vortex here in the US! Quite fittingly, once my apps for Ross, Kelley, and Kellogg were submitted on “Super Tuesday” of MBA Apps, work exploded, leaving very little spare time to come back here often. In a way, that has been a small mercy. In my not-so-infrequent visit to the forum, I can see that quite a few of us, who are in the same boat, are waiting quite anxiously to hear back. The next step for me was to open my GMAT books (I never managed to put them away), get my Kellogg interview booked, and start preparing for the Kenan-Flagler interview coming at the end of the month, all the while refreshing GMATClub and Gmail to hear the latest about Ross or Kelley.

One other thing that I also came to appreciate during this time was how amazing my recommenders were! Despite reading one too many horror stories about having chase recommenders or worse, them not submitting in time for the deadline, my recommendation writers completed all their end of the work right after Christmas. Not only that, they have been super supportive. One of them actually wrote this to me – “If you don’t get into one of these schools, I will personally go to them and slap someone.” 😀

Tomorrow, I am attending the Kelley Small Group Dinner in DC. I haven’t been able to find a lot of online information or much in terms of how the experience has been for other people in the past. So I do plan to debrief here on my blog, how the dinner goes. My interaction with Kelley Chair of Full time MBA program, Prof.Jonlee Andrews was wonderful. In fact, it was one of the main reasons that motivated me to apply to the school. So, I am pretty excited about the Dinner tomorrow, to meet more people from Kelley and understand about their program better. I won’t also say no to an ‘actual’ interview invite in a few days ;-).

And till then…everyone keep your peckers up! 🙂

 
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Posted by on January 16, 2014 in Future, MBA

 

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Getting back into the game

Thanks everyone for your support – those who stopped by and those who I spoke to in person, and the biggest thanks to TH, who is being an absolutely rock, as I decide to take this plunge. So the last few days, once I decided to put the GMAT behind, have been crazy. Absolute, non-stop, madness. While in the last few months of this journey, I had been gathering the ammunition for my essays, itching to start writing them, I truly did not appreciate how difficult it would be to sound half as convincing as I sound in my head, on paper.

In addition to the above, a part of the journey that you fellow comrades have already covered, I also have been busy putting together the material I should be sending my recommendation writers. I sent them their links this week, but am still giving final touches to the note and material that should help them start writing. I don’t believe they will be doing this any time before Thanksgiving, no thanks to the Q4 madness that hits our world at this time.

Here is my final shortlist for the application season. I did want to point out that all the schools below have been top 3 in my original list since I started this process. It was heartening to know, and very strongly so, that despite my GMAT setback, I still felt that among all the other schools I was considering, these schools will probably not reject me right away, as others might. If that isn’t a fit, I don’t know what is :D. It was almost close to realizing that your boyfriend/husband will not dump you because you gained 50 pounds in 4 months :P.

  1. Ross – This school is why I started this process and why I don’t want to give up. I strongly relate to their idea of leadership and through summer and fall I met their ambassadors, alumni, researched about their program and was quite impressed with everything I found. I write their essays next and am already turning quite Blue :p.
  2. Kenan-Flagler – You remember that guy, who started out as this funny, nice friend and as you got to know him, you couldn’t just help but fall in love? May be because this is how my love story began ;), and the eerie similarity with how my attachment to Kenan Flagler has grown, I can relate to this analogy. There was finally no turning back, when for their MBA Ambassador Event in Washington DC, they sent everyone a powerpoint with guidelines to structure resume, designed and used by the career services for current Tar Heels! I knew I was smitten.
  3. Kelley – I am not being dramatic when I say that during the Forte event, I welled up a bit during my conversation with Prof. Jonlee Andrews. She was talking about Talent, Humility and Tenacity – the three things that make a Kelley student and that message struck a chord. The reason I was at her desk because Kelley is known to be a feeder school for one of my dream companies but I came away more attached to the idea of business leaders they want to create.

I also wish I could apply to Tuck and Yale. Although am not sure about their reaction to low GMAT scores, but I do really like their programs. Among the things I considered while making the above selection, in addition to the program, cost of education etc., was the proximity to a well-connected airport. Why, you ask? I know I can’t go through this journey without TH very close by keeping me sane. However, given his consulting lifestyle, we just have Fri-Sun together and I cannot sacrifice that at the altar of an MBA. Having tested our relationship through a 7 year long international long distance dating, I honestly have no patience for it anymore.

And finally, I am still on the fence about Kellogg. One big question is if they would want someone like me instead of the usual Indian IIT Engineer (most Indians in Kellogg I know are from IIT). The plus on the other hand is, unlike all the above schools, they will definitely give me chance to make my case in person. I will be talking to a colleague who joined Kellogg this year soon, maybe he can help me decide.

For now, back to the drafts, notes, et al.

 
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Posted by on November 15, 2013 in MBA

 

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Luck and chance, those wreckers of all but the best laid plans

Fall is here! One of my favorite seasons in this country and one that I am currently loathe to be missing, as I sit here at home or office, running behind all that I was supposed to have completed by this time, per the original plan. When the thought of MBA finally crystallized early in spring here is the plan in my head as it looked like then.

  1. March – Memorial Day – Complete the pro-bono project that I was leading and build the pipeline of clients that would feed my annuals goals
  2. June – July – Prep for GMAT and give the exam on 3rd August, before a week long team offsite that was scheduled for August 1st Week.
  3. August – September – Either prep for a re-test (assuming that’d be about 20-30 points off my target score) or start the essay process for 2 of my target schools. Enjoy fall and hit my Q4 goals by end of Q3 (work).
  4. October – November – Prep for interview, R2 essays, application, shopping for India trip, celebrate the numerous Indian festivals of the season, sneak out a visit to Maine.
  5. November end –mid December – India trip and break from work, essays, application!
  6. mid- December to Jan first week – Final application R2.

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Yep, that’s what happened to the plan. Here is where it stands now:

  1. June – July – Work, lethargy took over and come July mid, I realized I wasn’t ready yet. Pushed GMAT to August mid. Q2 goal at work, thankfully was beaten to pulp. Boo-yah!
  2. August – September – Dismal GMAT score, no where close to my target schools’ ranges. Q3 clients disappearing over summer in Europe and US and creating a faux panic mode at work about hitting annual goals. Hit the reset button on GMAT prep and began from scratch.
  3. October – November – GMAT, Hit Q4 goal. Apply for CompassDC for the next year’s projects. Pick two festivals that I will spend time celebrating (sucks :(). No Maine or Fall weather jaunts.
  4. November end –mid December – India trip and break from work. But work on essays, application because yes, all my apps are going to be R2.
  5. mid- December to Jan first week – Final application R2. Cross fingers, toes.

So, with that big apologies to Bschool Admit – Aparna for not having taken up the tag for the Leibster Award. I promise, I will get to it and make sure I finally honor the first ever tag I got :). Promise.

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2013 in Life, MBA, Recap, To - do

 

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Hindsight 20/20

I have hit the reset button on GMAT prep. And this time around I think I know better and can see why it bombed the first time. And in the spirit of being positive about the re-test, I also feel that it is not quite a bad thing. If I think back about it, all my life, my preparation for exams has been really bad. 😐 A combination of procrastination, too much prep-material gathering, and then over-confidence that a common sense understanding of the theory instead a thorough understanding of the application, will be enough to help sail through flying colors. It was always very late in the game that I did realize that I need to nail the application and thereby actually get the marks.

Unlike the other exams that I have given so far, GMAT at least gives me an opportunity to go back and re-do everything and hopefully write for myself an alternate ending that is more to my liking? Glass half full anyone? Indeed!

In the last five years, once most of my friends had exhausted themselves trying to scratch at the CAT pole they turned towards GMAT to fulfill their MBA dreams. (FYI – CAT is an Indian equivalent to GMAT that you need to ace to get into the top Indian B-schools who only invite to interview the top percentile applications in the exam i.e imagine only the 750+ GMATers equivalent) As this process began, each year starting in September and ending about December, I’d sit and review the MBA essays for my friends applying to different b-schools. Initially, it was more around language support – making sure there were no grammatical mistakes, redundancies, ideas flowed seamlessly etc. Over the last few years though, I started looking at it more critically about being able to convey the core of the question and making suggestions to strengthen responses.

This year, as the season began, and also as I haven’t yet shared with most of my friends that I am going to be applying too, I started getting the heads up emails. Finally yesterday, the first set of essays also turned up and my first thought was – why is it much easier for me to review these essays and point out grammatical flaws and meaning-based errors in these sentences than in GMAT ! 😦

I am sure that the irony will not be lost on anyone if my verbal score tank again! So Long…

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2013 in Musings, Self-deprecation

 

Fear of failure…and here we go again!

My thinking on the GMAT…is that…pretty good measure[s] of what a standardized test can measure which is not your intelligence but your ability to commit to do well on a standardized test. Nobody walks into the GMAT cold. People prepare for these tests.”

Deidre Leopold, Managing Director of Admissions & Financial Aid, HBS

I think the famous HBS director has quite the right idea of it and it is the very reason I am hyperventilating. A poor GMAT score, which is a frightening, but a fairly probable outcome of the last few months of slogging for me, will likely not be indicative of me being dumb. But it would certainly be a damning indictment of my ability to buckle down and focus to get through a standardized test that needs preparation and a high degree of perseverance.

I moved my GMAT date to two weeks later to make sense of my abysmal test scores. That Math is not my main problem here is probably what has me baffled the most. Verbal, seriously? This whole exercise, if nothing else, will be such a ego bruiser the way my Verbal scores are moving. 😐 I think ego is also what is keeping my scores from going up and errors from going down. So clearly a loop that I better break out of and fast. I am practicing, analyzing, re-analyzing, trolling GMATClub for tips, tricks, answer key to the actual test that would turn up in front of me…anything that can work to turn this around. Hopefully it will…right?

In a moment of desperation, I submitted my profile for evaluation with EssaySnark on GMATClub. And for better or worse, they gave me a good chance of getting into my dream school subject to a 690-720 range GMAT score. And while this came with usual disclaimers of essays being on the mark, the earth being at certain angle, and other things within and beyond my control, it also is going to make it feel worse if my GMAT bombs. I appear to have worked hard enough professionally to become a good candidate but it is my ability to get this one standardized test wrapped up with a respectable score which will decide whether I should even both doling out the moolah for the apps that will follow.

 
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Posted by on July 31, 2013 in Future, MBA, Rant, To - do

 

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