I’d like to thank the Academy (aka Clear Admit)

17 04 2009

I’ve been nominated for Clear Admit’s Best of Blogging award! I really should check the email account linked to this blog more often, since the email came almost a week ago. Congratulations to all the other nominees – I’m up against some pretty impressive competition so it’s an honor just to be included in the same list.

In school news, I’ve signed my lease on an apartment in Evanston, so that’s all set. I’ll be at 1500 Chicago next year, which is a pretty popular building among Kellogg students. The building is in a great location – just across the street from a small park and a few blocks from all the downtown bars and restaurants. Kellogg will be about a 15-20 minute walk. I’m pretty excited to get out there. A few other admitted students I know are moving at the start of August, and it’ll be great to be able to enjoy Evanston/Chicago without any work or school to worry about. Unfortunately still no progress on selling my current condo.

I also ordered and received my new laptop (I’m assuming my work will want their laptop back when I resign). I decided not to go with the Kellogg Laptop Program. While the prospect of having Kellogg IT repair any potential problem or replace the laptop was attractive, I just didn’t like the laptop model they were offering (a Lenovo ThinkPad T500). I’m sure it’s a great laptop, but it’s a full-size model so it’s kinda big and heavy. In the end, I chose a Lenovo ThinkPad X200, which is smaller and about 60% of the weight of the KLP laptop. I did spring for a 3 year onsite warranty and laptop protection plan (covers just about any damage that can occur, even drops and spilling liquid on the laptop) to replace the KLP repair service. I had a few ThinkPads at work, and they held up very well despite the abuse of a heavy travel schedule, so I don’t think repairs will be much of an issue though. So far, I love the X200. It feels very light and while it’s a compact laptop, the screen is still a good size and the keyboard is comfortable to use.


Reflections on the past 2 application seasons

15 04 2009

As my preparations to move to Evanston and start school move into full swing, I started to think about the difference a year could make. Last year at this time, I was still stinging from the 3 rejections I had received, and was questioning whether to reapply this year. Now, I’m heading to a great MBA program at a school that I love, and am very excited about this next step in my life. So it got me thinking: what exactly made this year that much more successful? So for anyone interested, here’s what I think.

Last year I applied to Booth, HBS and Stanford, and got 0 admits. This year I applied to 5 schools (Kellogg, Duke, Booth, HBS, Columbia), with 2 admits (Kellogg and Duke), 2 rejections (Booth and HBS) and withdrew from CBS before the RD review period started. I think there were a few things that helped me be a lot more successful this year than last:

1) Choice of schools. I completely underestimated last year the importance of fit. I applied to HBS, Stanford and Booth primarily because of their ranking and reputation, then tried to back into why those schools were good matches with me and my career goals. Obviously it didn’t work. This year, I spent a lot more time researching schools and thinking about which schools were the best match for my career goals. I also paid a lot more attention to culture, and thought about which school cultures fit best with my personality. I think that this year, the schools I applied to were a much better fit.
2) Better essays. After decisions were released last year I showed my essays to pretty much anyone willing to give me feedback on them – a much bigger group than the reviewers I used. A lot of the feedback came back that my essays were not specific enough..they just barely scratched the surface of what my goals were, why I wanted an MBA, and what I had accomplished at work. In short, they were kind of bland and didn’t really paint a dynamic picture of me. In the time I had before this year’s application season, I spent a lot of time thinking through the deeper why’s and how’s of my career goals, why I wanted the MBA and why I specifically wanted each school I was applying to. This year, I was able to be a lot more detailed in my essays, to provide that next deeper layer of the onion, and I think this had a great impact on my applications this year.
3) New work & EC experience. In the year between applications, I also took on a lot more project leader roles at work and in one of my extracurricular activities. There were 3 projects in particular that were pretty high profile, and had easily quantifiable benefits as outcomes. This also helped me in writing better essays and gave me better examples to use in interviews.

I think those 3 things were the main difference makers. For anyone out there with 0 admits, keep your heads up. I know in March last year, after having just gone 0 for 3, I was ready to give up on my MBA plans. I felt like a complete failure, and couldn’t imagine going through the admissions process again. After a month or so, after the initial shock and hurt passed, I realized that an MBA still was the best path for me, and started thinking about how I would be more successful the next year. I’ll also say that for me the feeling of the admissions process the second time through is different. The waiting certainly isn’t any easier, but overall I felt a lot less stressed by the process this year than I was last year because I went into it knowing what to expect.

Rainy day update

11 04 2009

I’m in sort of a lazy mood today, and the gray rainy weather isn’t helping anything. It’s a good thing I don’t have much to do other than some laundry and grocery shopping. On the business school front, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what recruiting will hold in store for me and others in the class of 2011. There’s been a pretty steady stream of bad news on MBA employment lately (see here and here as examples). But at the same time most of the students I talk to say that while recruiting is definitely harder than in the past, and some industries, especially finance, are especially hard hit, most of their classmates are still successfully finding internships and full-time offers, many having more than one offer to choose from. So I don’t know what to think. I’m hopeful that the employment market will improve somewhat next year, and think that the sorts of healthcare jobs I’m interest in are still available, but guess I won’t know for certain until recruiting starts this fall.

I talked to my future landlord, and he said my credit checks and everything were ok so he’s putting a lease in the mail for me to sign. I’m pretty excited, I liked this building the most of the ones I saw in Evanston, and it’ll be good to get this off the to-do list. I was talking with a few other R1 Kellogg admits the other day and they all had signed leases already in a building just down the street. I had thought I was getting housing done very early, but I guess not.