Dreaming of Picasso

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Stanford is DONE !!

After technical troubles with the Stanford online application system, I finally managed to finish the application. I took the rest of the day off to enjoy some of my remaining vacation time. I will be back at my essay writing tomorrow.I am applying to the Tepper- Flex Mode program and I hope to get the essays done by tomorrow night. That way ,I don't have to tag my laptop along with me to Montana, where I will be spending New Years.

Getting the first draft of the Tepper essays was a lot easier that I had originally anticipated. I was able to reuse essays from Haas, Fuqua and even from Stanford and I really felt good about that. On the flip side, I realized that I did have "additional information" that I should have included in both the Haas and Fuqua applications.

The application train has been moving well for me so far and I am keeping my fingers tightly crossed.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Done but still struggling ...

I am done with my Stanford application BUT I am not able to upload my essays. I was truly hoping to get the Stanford application all complete by today.. But the fact that I cannot upload one of my essays, I will have to try again later, perhaps tomorrow.

The Stanford essays were long and I do feel like I have given my best to this application. It has been a long way since I began the GMAT preparation in July 2005. After Stanford, I will have completed three applications. The Tepper(CMU) application is the next one and I have my first drafts ready. I feel good about the application progress right now. I plan to meet one of the current students from Tepper tomorrow.

CMU students from the bay area are hosting informal Q/A sessions and I think it is really great that the students are taking their own vacation time to meet with prospective students. I am also hoping that I will get some additional insights to help make my essays more powerful.

On the recommendation front, two of my recommender have not submitted their recommendation letters. I don't want to be pesky but I do not want them to wait till Jan 3 and have technical problems like the ones I am having right now.

Friday, December 23, 2005

The Fuqua update

So I get this email titled "The Duke MBA -- application update" and my heart almost sinks. The most horrible thoughts come to my mind. If this was a good decision then why did I not get a call from the adcom. In any case, I tell myself that I still have some more applications to go and I should focus now on getting them on the mark.

I open the email and find that the email is informing that my application is still being considered and that the admissions office will close for the holidays. I heave a sigh of relief that at least it is not the "ding" email.

Shortly thereafter, I get another email from the admissions committee. This time I was not so neurotic because I just found out that my application was still being processed. But I was mistaken. It seems the admissions committee has had some discussions on my applications and they have some "concerns". The email then proceeds to tell me that I do fit the profile of a Fuqua student and they think I am a good fit. Then it says something to the effect of -" ... Please call after the winter break as we would like to share our discussions with you. We also want to let you know that the discussion should be very positive"

My pessimistic side says that this might be the call to put me in a wait list or worst case a "ding with feedback". My optimistic side says that they have some minor concerns that they want me specifically clarify.

I do not think there is any point worrying about this till 2006 so I am trying to put my mind at ease.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

I Sucked...

Recently, I had an interview with Wharton West. The Executive Wharton MBA program suggests that everyone applying should go through the an interview. The good part of this process is that you don't even have to apply formally and could go ahead a schedule an interview - which is exactly what I did.

The interview started off on a fairly positive note for the first couple of minutes and then it turned south. Usually, I have never really problems with interviews..But this time it was different. Since this is an executive MBA program, Wharton requires a formal endorsement from the employer. In my company, the policy for education support is as follows- once you get admitted, you submit a proposal, and a committee will grant the money and time, only time or time and partial money.

As I tried to explain this to my interviewer, somehow the interviewer got the impression that my company was "not" wholeheartedly supporting my MBA endeavors. I personally do not think it is true because my manager is very straightforward person and would not have cared to write even one recommendation letter if she did not fully support my endeavors.

In any case, I learnt some important lessons.
- Starting a interview on a bad note means that you have to explicitly and conciously try and put a more positive spin on the rest of the interview

- I did a stupid thing by bringing up the topic of layoffs. Although I was not the one to be laid off, I felt pretty bad that about 90% of my team was affected and I phrased that as a challenge in building and working with teams.

- Not to enter the interview with any preconceived ideas. I read the accepted.com interviews and based on my interview with Duke, I felt that typical behavioral questions would be asked during the interview. But instead, I ended up on answering how my MBA pursuits matched with my organizations objectives.

When I left the room, I did not get a good feeling about the interview. My answers were not crisp and I did not feel that the interviewer got to see why I would be a valuable attain to their program.

Moral of the story.. I sucked ..but I learned and on the positive note, this was not the Haas interview, which is really my dream school.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Plan B

We all plan for the best to happen. In this case, I am trying to put my best foot forward for each application. So far, I have been satisfied with my effort, but the final application decision is not in my hands. Although, I am applying to part-time/executive MBA programs, the competition is pretty stiff. So I have been thinking about my "plan B".

I want to move into new market and business development especially in international markets. First, I need to start doing some informational interviews. The next thing would be to identify and start networking with individuals who are already in this field . Also, I think that one needs to find mentors who can provide them the guidance to move into new areas.

All of this is easier said than done. I hope to get started on this activity somewhere in January 2006.

If things go as planned and I get an admission offer, this activity would be worthwhile. As I progress through my MBA, it will give me another perspective to apply my MBA into my daily work and allow me to demonstrate other skills necessary to make the transition. I

If things don't go as planned, well...at least I will have a better idea about my future...

Sunday, December 18, 2005

My Christmas tree is finally up...

and my Stanford essay A and B are almost done.The Stanford essays were the hard hitting ones for me. I started these essays the week before thanksgiving, and they finally seem like they are "cooked". I tried to be as introspective as possible and that led to a couple of re-writes. I took the advantage of being in the bay area and visited Stanford for three separate events - class visit, information session, lunch with students. The events were really helpful because I felt that I had developed a better understanding of Stanford. My Stanford visits stirred up more thoughts and that led to some more rewrites. Feedback from my boyfriend also resulted in some more changes. I plan not to look at the essays for a couple of days. I hope that I will be able to wrap them up by Christmas.

The experience of attending informational events has really worked for me and I hope to continue this practice for the Tepper and Wharton applications. I have really found it hard to distinguish schools on the basis on the written material at the website or the booklets. Most of them seem to talk about the same set of things - good networking, good faculty, team oriented environment- however each of my selected schools are different in various ways. I hope that I have atriculated my understanding and my fit appropriately in the essays.

The essays have kept me totally occupied, and of course any free brain cycles were spent checking emails for any response from Haas and Fuqua.Finally, my boyfriend got the tree and we now have it decorated. I am so thrilled because it looks like the holidays have finally arrived.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Haas Interview Call

I just got the call from Haas with an invitation to interview. I was in a meeting at work with passionate arguments over future product roadmaps and the works, when I saw the "510" area code. Quickly, I muted my line, went on hold and got the other call. It was "the" interview request.

I regret to say that my behaviour now matches the description in MBA Cutie's post. Haas is one of the programs that really tocuhed my heart so needless to say and I am happy that I am going to be interviewed :).

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Where are the Vice Presidents and Controllers?

One of the common things that most business schools emphasize is "the network". Recently, I went to a couple of Wharton Information Sessions for the Executive MBA program. The first time was about a month back and although the presentation was slick, I was terribly disappointed with the Alumni/Current Student panel. The reasons for my disappointment are as follows:
  • The panelists were not good communicators- grammatical mistakes apart, they could not clearly articulate the basic questions like "why did you choose Wharton?"
  • Very limited enthusiasm about the program except some generic form of - "this is Wharton and I am happy to be here"

For me, communication abilities and passion are a key component for any leader and to me, the panelists did not exhibit these characteristics. I am positive that the panelists are more than qualified to be in Wharton and perhaps are good leaders in other aspects. But they did not live up to the image of a Wharton MBA. After observing similar traits in other Wharton information sessions- I feel like asking the question - "Where are the Vice Presidents and Controllers?" that the school touts to be part of any Executive MBA class. Moreover, If their networking power is so great then why are they( alumni) are not out there trying to recruit the best candidates?

I am still on the fence for the Wharton application. I know it is a great school, but somehow I am not impressed with current students . I used to read in others blogs about how someone doesn't "feel" a particular school and I need to dig deeper to see if I truly "feel" Wharton for the Executive MBA.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Why pay 150K when you can pay 50K

Every time, I talk to my boss about supporting my part time MBA costs, my manager invariably asks me the following questions/comments
- why do you want to apply to Fuqua or Wharton when you can apply to Santa Clara and get the same education
- It is not about the brand but how much you can learn.

Having worked for about 9 years now, one thing that I can definitely say is that - who you know is as important as ( perhaps more than) what you know. A part of the reason for attempting to try and get into the top schools is to get access to the invaluable network. I personally do not think that just an MBA will help me get out of the technically focused work..I would have to do something else. What else ?- specifically, I still don't know but I do have some semblance of a plan in place. One of the really good things that have happened is that all the introspection for the MBA applications have helped me define a more concrete set of long term and short term goals.

I am hoping that with an MBA, I will be able to broaden my perspective and hopefully will be able to construct more comprehensive plans and also realistically evaluate the risks associated with an idea. One thing is for sure and this is my own observation - the quality of applicants seem to vary with the type of schools. A information session for Wharton/Duke seems to attract a different set of people than the ones I have seen at Santa Clara/Peperdine information session. When I say different, I am talking about the range of experiences and industries. A significant part of the MBA experience is to learn not only from the professors but also from my peers.

Ah well, I am hoping that I will be able to convince my boss and the upper management to shell out as dough as possible for the MBA:)

Related Link:

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Fuqua Campus Visit

Although I have already applied to the Global Executive MBA program at Fuqua, I still wanted to go and see the campus and get a first hand "feel" of what the program is all about.

Fuqua offers four types of MBA
  • Full time
  • Global Executive
  • Weekend
  • Cross Continent

My main objective in getting the MBA is to get a better cross functional understanding of the business. Out of the 4 programs, my choice was narrowed to Global Executive and Cross Continent. One of the interesting aspects about these programs is that it is a mix of face to face classes - at Fuqua and international classroom locations, and virtual classes.

At the information session, that spanned Sunday and Monday, I found myself in the company of prospective students from the US, Mexico, Argentina and Belgium. It gave me a sense of my potential classmates and I was truly impressed that people had made the effort to travel internationally to attend this information session.

The event started with a good overview of the program. The admissions director provided good examples of what Fuqua was all about. This was followed by a alumni/current student panel. My expectations about the effort required for a part time program was confirmed - 35-40 hours a week. I don't know how I am going to wrangle that much of time out but on a more positive note I guess it will equip me with essential multi-tasking skills. One of the things that impressed me was that alumni were able to clearly articulate the courses they had taken and how the courses had positively impacted their jobs - not with the obligatory - "I became a better thinker" answer.

After a quick tour of Fuqua, we were asked to discuss a case study (provided earlier) with a pre determined team. I found this exercise helpful and it gave me a good idea about what a typical classroom experience might be like. The next morning started with a breakfast ( which I missed because I am a late riser in general and all the time difference was not helping me either). The next set of sessions were ok and they touched on various aspects like how to get the admissions process going, the virtual environment. The interesting aspect of the morning was a the case study discussion. Dr.Preyas Desai did an extremely good job in dissecting the case study to bits and it gave me a really good feel about the classroom experience. We were able to meet the graduating class of 2005 and almost everyone seemed gung-ho about the program.

In a nutshell- I am happy I made the trip because I got a sense of what I can expect out of the program. I got most of my concerns addressed expect that I still have to come up with a education proposal for my company to foot this bill.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Do I really want to Blog?

I have been thinking of starting a blog because I am applying to part time MBA programs. As I finish my applications, I have more time on my hand and instead of waiting for my application results I think this will be a better way to purge my mind.
I have been thinking about writing this blog for a while but I have been hesitant because the last time I tried something like this (my personal website); it lasted only about a year. So lets see if I can beat that time.
This blog will initially focus on my application process to MBA programs but I expect that it will change its focus as life moves on.