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A year to be thankful for!

I have been back since last week from a wonderful, albeit short (yes, 3 weeks with a family you don’t get to see all year feels short!) visit home. We packed in a lot of travel, met a lot of family and friends, including my grandma, who I hadn’t met in 8 years :-/ and got my sis married off in true Indian fashion. This trip was unfortunately a bit disappointing on food experience side, despite the two weddings that we attended, but well that’s never stopped me from putting on weight. 😀

So, I am back to a cold, a bit dreary, and a practically “friend-free” Washington DC. Most of our friends are either on their annual trips to India or are taking advantage of the Christmas holiday travelling, while TH and I guard the doors at our respective offices. There isn’t much work, except the occasional email, and that’s great because, I desperately need to make up for the lost time in finishing my apps for Ross, Kelley, and Kellogg.

I have now got the process down to a science and every single day, I send up a prayer for being married to a guy who is as committed to this whole process of application as I am. He has been able help me distill my many, many words and thoughts into clear, concise, and articulate goals. If I do make it through to the interviews, it’ll be all for his support.

This year has been great in many ways – professionally and personally. I think I have been less afraid to fail, failed and still not given up, in all ways grown and matured more than ever before. In the same spirit, once I am done with applications, I plan on taking the last shot at GMAT again. Less to support my application story but more to get even with it. During the next month, I’ll also be preparing for my Kenan-Flagler interview and the Kellogg interview, and hoping and praying very, very hard that Ross and Kelley both like my application story and call me for interview.

To everyone here who has made it in R1 (Hamm0, TimBobPoeticQuant, ExpectingMBA, and MBAGirlJourney) – many congratulations! To fellow travellers still on this journey in R2 – May the new year bring us closer to our dreams 🙂 HAPPY NEW YEAR!

happy-new-year-fireworks

 
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Posted by on December 31, 2013 in Experiences, Life, MBA, Recap

 

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Leaving on a jet plane

I just wanted to post a quick update before I head to India in the next few minutes for my sister’s wedding. The next 10 days are going to fly pretty quickly with the ceremonies, some last minute shopping, meeting family, and also, not to forget, submitting my apps for Kenan Flagler on 9th Dec.

My essays are almost final, with only some finishing touches still left. But I did go ahead and book my interview slot for January because that’s the one interview I could do it for :-p.

And here’s the final call for boarding….:-) See ya all!

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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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Is this the end?

So attempt two at GMAT happened today. And after deceptively increasing scores in the mock and admittedly a better understanding of the exam, I bombed again. The shock and utter disbelief gave away to despair as I called TH to tell him that I let him down yet again. While in the first round, I refused to accept the message that the mock scores were giving me, for this attempt, my mock scores ranged at least 60-100 points from the last time around. I thought that was a good sign.

So now, is this the end of the MBA road for me? This one exam/score can possibly nullify the rest of my application. I am below the median scores for all schools that I want to apply to. But as I was thinking these justifications out in my head, I also realized, that this is it. These are all the objections that I have/can get for my application.

On the other hand, do I believe that getting a low GMAT score will stop me being who I am or what I do at work? Did not having a GMAT score stop any of the opportunities that I have had so far or will stop me from going out for any in the future? Sure, for that matter, even if I don’t apply, will I stop pursuing and building a profile in shaping strategy for a company? Is everything that I have done in school, college, and work so far, have no value without this GMAT score to confirm it?

To these many questions, my answer was no. GMAT failure doesn’t and hasn’t changed any of these things and likely has little impact on anything except my application and the number of schools that I had originally wanted to apply to. The reason why I want to do an MBA is still the same. The reason why I want to apply to certain schools is also the same. The onus is on me, as it always was, to convince the admissions committees of these schools that I am still the right candidate, with one less data point to support their decision-making process – the GMAT score. A typical candidate would have their college acads+GMAT to quantify her mental chops along with professional and extra curricular aspects. In my case, since my GMAT is now down the drain, I just have one less point than everyone else to make the same case.

I could potentially give this whole thing up with the pathetic GMAT score. But 5-10-15 years down the line, an older, probably wiser me, would definitely question, how I expected anyone else to have faith in my dreams and aspirations, if I didn’t have the conviction enough to follow them through their logical end. From the day I started this journey, I knew that I won’t be an MBA because of my GMAT, but inspite of it. Well now, let me start this journey in earnest with the GMAT behind me.

Some dreams stay with you forever,
drag you around but bring you back to where you were,
Some dreams keep on gettin better,
gotta keep believin’ if you wanna know for sure
plan-b

 

At the end of this, I may not be successful, but I’ll at least know for sure.

 
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Posted by on October 30, 2013 in Future, MBA

 

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GMAT ennui continues…

I have been with the books. That is to put it mildly with no exaggeration. My days and thoughts have now broken into the following neat pieces

  1. Studying
  2. Thinking of studying and what to study
  3. Thinking of life once I am done studying

My struggles with both Quant and Verbal continue and all past sins of my school days when my cocky self thought I could skate by the theory has come back to bite me (yes, you know where). That said, my quant studies have me feeling amused on some days and tearing my hair out for habits I cannot outgrow, on others. Now, somewhere between 6th grade and 8th grade, my love for math went down from a certain amount X to 0.000X and by the 10th grade it was tending to 0. There were many factors. My teacher sucked and I was able to compensate my dwindling math score by increased interest in other sciences and humanities. Of course, that I could ever, in my wildest dreams, want to be an engineer (like my Dad? No way!) or do an MBA/MS (uh what?!), was a possibility that didn’t come into play.

DoYourMath

But I did know that given the Indian education system, a less than 80% score in Math was equal to flunking. Most people I knew actually considered anything less than 95-99% akin to failing, so 80 was like my safety net to just save face. On the other hand, I knew that CBSE (Board of Education that conducted our exams) had some absurd ways of giving us some points for being a sport and attempting questions in the paper. Some of the things that I remember and which helped me through school were:

  • Writing “hence proved” or “QED” at the end of theorems or LHS = RHS, that you proved got you 0.5
  • Writing the equation and the first line of simplification such as remove parenthesis/apply BODMAS (PEMDAS) rule got you 0.5-1 depending on the question
  • A text explanation of the next step e.g. “when we combine the above, we get” etc. got you 0.5

As I read through my current notes and the few pages where my “100 marks” and “Q51” scoring TH has scribbled on the pad, I can’t help but notice the number of complete sentences that I use to solve (not just explain to myself) math vs the crisp numbers and symbols that show TH’s process.

ch910528

If only this story writing in Quant helped my Verbal scores, life would be perfect eh? 😐

Among other things, less than 3 weeks to go for this part of the process to end. Who’s pumped?! 😀

 
 

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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.

250px-Voldemortwallpaper

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