Dreaming of Picasso

Monday, July 24, 2006

Exploding Laptops, Parties and Networking

I was researching some laptops and I came across this article about a Dell Laptop exploding. It seems that this problem may not be an isolated one, so Dell is clearly off my list.

Apart from researching laptops, I have also spent some time socializing and networking with Haas classmates. So far, I have attended about 5 different events. They have ranged from events like Happy hours to small house parties hosted by classmates. While I have not utilized my networking skills like Marina to actually facilitate a smart career move, I do feel that my ability to meet new people and start of new conversations have improved significantly.

Recently, I was on a coast-to-coast flight, and I used my improved skills to strike with my neighbor. Turned out she was a executive at a major high tech firm. She was in coach because all the business class seats were sold out. We ended up having a fairly interesting conversation about managing change in companies - from product development dues to emerging trends, to changes introduced by mergers. It was truly an insightful conversation, and I felt better about my own abilities to start and carry out conversations with strangers. Ofcourse, I need to thank ChunkyPitbull, who had written up some great advice on networking about two years back.

My Statistics transcripts are finally in at Haas, so my final obstacle to matriculation is over. Classes start August 19th.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Making the most of the information sessions

Very soon, the flurry of information sessions will hit the road, and applicants will get to hear from adcom members, current students and even alumni in some cases. When I started last year, I attended several information sessions, fair and special events. Initially, I would just attend these sessions and think that information was similar to what was found in the brochures. But as time went by, I picked up some tactics to get additional information that actually helped me understand the schools a lot better.

Before I get into the actual learning about information sessions, I would like to describe the different types of information sessions that I saw last year.
- Single School - The presenters are from a single school. They usually bring along students and alumni.
- Collection of Schools/ MBA Fairs - The presenters are adcom members from different schools. There may be some alumni.
- Diversity Events - The presenters are adcom members from usually from single schools. There are usually alumni/current students but the participants are usually from a particular demographic.

So here are my learning for from last year :

Read the Website:
To make the most of any information session, I would highly recommend reading the school's website. This does two things, one lets you know what information is readily available and lets you ask more pointed questions instead of asking something like - I have a 680 will I get in?

Listen Actively:
I found that once I read the websites, I was able to see which of the points were brought out the most . In the beginning, I was not very good, so I would make a list of keywords and try to keep track of the different examples that were used to describe them - both by adcom and students. This helped me get a better sense about the core values of the school, and helped me cull out the crux out of the giant marketing fud.

Targeted questioning:
Information about basic admission statistics are easy to find, but good stats are often insufficient. MBA application consists of other important ingredients, like the application itself, essays, recommendation letters, additional information . For example, questions on information about what recommender should focus on , or the type of recommending preferred. After asking these questions, I realized that I needed to shuffle around some of my recommending.

Leverage the students and alumni:
Of course asking questions is the first step, but the biggest challenge I found is that in many cases, there were several applicants and although I wanted to ask some detailed questions, it simply could not be done. I usually asked for the contact information and most students/alumni were very forthcoming. I followed up with Thank you notes and specific questions about student clubs, career opportunities etc. I either got an answer or I was referred to someone else . This allowed me to build a relationship and leverage it later in the admissions cycle especially during the interview phase. These answers also allowed me to get gauge of my potential "fit" and also helped me in crafting my essays.

Each of these tips can be applied to any of the different types of information sessions. Personally, I found the diversity events to be the most productive because the number of people attending were a lot fewer and this gave me an opportunity to ask more questions. The MBA fair was a nice way to find out different programs but I truly did not get to much from it mainly because of the volume of the applicants. That being said I do know of people who felt that the MBA fair did get them additional insights.

Best of luck 2007 applicants and enjoy the information sessions.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Accelerating the MBA program

I got a comment on my last post about why I have included 2008 as my graduating year considering that the Haas EWMBA program is a 3 year program (Class of 2009). The Haas EWMBA program allows students to accelerate the program.

For the MBA degree, one needs to complete 42 credits. Here is my distribution of classes.

Fall 2006 : 8 Credits (4 Core Courses)
Spring 2007 : 8 Credits (4 Core Courses)
Summer 2007 : 2 Credits (1 Elective)
Fall 2007 : 7 Credits (2 Electives and 1 Special Topic)
Winter 2007 : 2 Credits (Mid Program Academic Retreat)
Spring 2008 : 6 Credits (2 Electives)
Summer 2008 : 2 Credits (1 Elective)
Fall 2008 : 7 Credits (2 Electives and 1 Special Topic)
Total : 42 Credits

Haas provides the various details about this option and this post is not intended to be a substitute for this incredibly comprehensive information.

In a subsequent post, I plan to outline some of the electives that interest me. Of course, my final selection will be a result of the bidding process and new insights that I hopefully will gain as I go through the program.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

A Balancing Act

Last year about this time, I was deep into GMAT preparation. The thought of writing essays seemed like a formidable mountain. Now after getting admitted into the Haas EWMBA program some of the realities of getting back into a hybrid student life are setting in. Thankfully, I am not alone. The Businessweek forums have a discussion titled- "How to make the best of PT program?" that echoes some of the same concerns.

These concerns being
- How best to balance personal life, work and school
- How much time should I allocate for studying
- How will I apply what I learn into my professional life
- How to make the most of the networking events
and several others...

Incidentally, these concerns are not really new, and I was full aware of these when I made the decision to go apply for a part time program. The time management issues will require some serious prioritization from my side. I got a first hand sense of this as I was taking my Accounting and Statistics classes. Although, things seemed to be a bit chaotic in my life in the beginning, as the quarter progressed, I become more comfortable.

But apart from the time related issues, there are the concerns about making the most from the program. I am still trying to figure them out. Once I figure this out, I will post some pointers as to what worked and what did not work for me.

May be I should be enjoying and making the most of time now, since in a few short weeks, things will change for good ( or atleast the next 3 years).