The lull before the storm

So things have been quite dull ever since I submitted my applications. I wrote the TOEFL yesterday and it was such a breeze – I actually enjoyed the exam! It’s scheduled to be about 4h 30m long but I finished it in about 3h 15m, following which I got the stink-eye from the remaining test takers. All in all, I think I’m going to manage a respectable score and I’m glad it’s out of the way. I hope the scores are sent to UCLA asap because my application is going to be put “on hold” until they receive my TOEFL score.

I’ve also been featured in this US News article which is pretty cool! When I get into a school of choice (power of positive thinking), I’m definitely going to talk about how I focused on bringing out my strengths as a female candidate. This was actually the main fodder for my essays, particularly Kellogg and UCLA.

The waiting game is still on… I haven’t heard back from any school yet but I’m trying not to read too much into it. The end of this month/the beginning of the next is going to be nuts but I’m excited! Here’s to good things coming all the Round 2’ers way!

All in for Round 2!

I finally submitted all four apps in the past two days and let me tell you, it was exhausting. Here are my thoughts on each application:

  1. Booth: I absolutely loved the Booth application. It gave me enough space to talk about everything (and I mean everything!). The prompts within the app allowed for enough detail and I even used the optional essay to fill in some gaps. I was terrified of the presentation/essay but it turned out to be one of the most rewarding things I’ve made this application season. Everyone who read it seems to have enjoyed it, so I can only hope the adcoms will too. I’d say this was my favourite (and my best).
  2. Kellogg: The application for Kellogg and Booth was actually pretty similar, but I had to be much more succinct in my Kellogg app. There were three essays I had to answer (2 required + 1 for the MMM) and I think I did a pretty decent job at all of them, although some were better than the others. Hopefully, my video essay goes well and I make enough of an impact on the adcom. It would suck if my interview was waived.
  3. Anderson: The Anderson application was painless (just one essay and one recommendation) until I realized that they require a TOEFL score 2 days before the deadline for Round 2. I was this close to breaking something. Luckily, I got in my app before the deadline and put in the date I’m planning to take the damn test but until they get my official scores, my application is going to be “on hold”. Anyone know what this means?
  4. Tepper: Tepper was sort of a last-ditch effort on my part. I was also exhausted from a long night the day before, so I’m not sure how my essays were. I think I did okay, hopefully that’s enough. For the first time ever, my essays were under the word count rather than being a few over. Weird.

Things that changed from Round 1 in Round 2:

  1. I had one solid recommendation in Round 1 and the other, was to put it mildly, just fluff. I know because the recommender (head of volunteers) decided to show it to me once I’d submitted all my Round 1 apps. I’m not even sure how I got invited to interview at Duke with that one. It was a huge wake-up call. This time, my client (from my startup) agreed to be my second recommender and I know he’s going to do a killer job because I did some killer work for him.
  2. I paid a lot more attention to the short answers and little entry fields in the application. Last time, I’d pretty much copy+pasted bullets from my resume into these fields, but this time I made sure to bring up things that had never been mentioned before. My apps this time covered every single aspect of my profile.
  3. I had help every single step of the way from Vandana and NaijaMBAGal (a shoutout to FinanceFurry here as well). I absolutely could not have done it without them. They were my supporters, critics and confidantes throughout this round and their feedback on my essays was always genius. Every time I second-guessed something on my app (which was pretty much all the time), I knew I had these guys on my side. Thank you so much you two!

What lies ahead? I’m going to finish up my Kellogg Video essays, get in a short vacation in Bangkok this weekend, come back and get the TOEFL over with and then just wait! I have a good feeling about Round 2 🙂 I also feel like this time I won’t be so anal about it… some exciting things have been happening at work and I caught myself thinking “Oh crap, if I get into an MBA program, I’m going to miss all this”. Yup, instant realization. MBA this year or no MBA this year, I’m gonna be okay!

GMAT done, dusted and cancelled. 700 (49Q, 38V)

So I guess the title says it all. I knew the Quant section went well, wasn’t too sure about the Verbal but yeah, clearly didn’t go as expected! I’m not too disappointed because I knew this was a long shot. It would have been nice to be applying with a higher GMAT but now that it’s done, I guess I’ll just focus on the other parts of the application! I cancelled the score right away and didn’t report them, so my 710 still stands.

In other news, I’m travelling for about a week! It’s gonna be a welcome break from the GMAT insanity. Hopefully this will give me the time I need to clear my head and kill my essays. After I come back it’s gonna be an avalanche of deadlines so I’ll need all the rest I can get!

Happy holidays everyone!

Congratulations are in order!

This week my feed has been a blur of amazing news. Congratulations to my friends Naija MBA GalTopDogMBAVandana and Finance Furry for getting into some of the best schools in the world! We’re talking INSEAD, Kellogg, Booth, Sloan, Wharton… the list is pretty insane. You guys should be so proud! I couldn’t be happier for you guys, each and every one of you deserved it. I am also jealous that you guys are now done with the stress-fest that is MBA admissions and can now countdown the days till you quit your jobs.

Guys, you are seriously amazing. I am totally inspired and I hope I can re-create even a smidgen of this success for myself. With that said, I’m realizing that I could use all the help I can get, especially since all of you are older, wiser and you’ve clearly done something right! I’m just starting to get really anxious and antsy, plus my confidence is in the pits (I just have a little over a year of work experience, wtf am I doing? Am I kidding myself?) Meh.

If any of you would like to volunteer to have a look at my essays or give me any tips/suggestions, I would be incredibly grateful. I don’t want to put anyone on the spot by directly asking (okay, I might have asked some of you already) 😛 hence this broadcast. Anyway, if you think you have some time to spare, please let me know and I’ll reach out to you. I would owe you a piece of my eternal soul. No, really.

In other news, not that anyone really cares at this point (I wouldn’t either if I got accepted somewhere), my GMAT is 5 days away on the 23rd and I’ve been doing well on the mocks, so fingers crossed.

And again, congrats you guys! It’s time to celebrate 😀 Break out the bubbly!

Final school list for Round 2

So after many, many, many hours of internal debate that resulted in a lot of hair pulling and crabbiness, I have finally  decided on my school list. I think I have been a little wiser in my choices this time around and I think each of them would be a good fit for me. It’s really weird though, when I started out, literally none of these schools were on my radar. This is mostly because I started out thinking I wanted to get into consulting post MBA and now I’ve done a complete u-turn by deciding to stay in the tech industry.

I know that I want to be an entrepreneur in the long term and I thought that consulting would get me there eventually. But when I actually sat down to evaluate the progression of my career, it made more sense to go another route, and that would be Product Management. It’s a pretty newish role in the industry but it’s growing by leaps and bounds each year. It allows me to leverage my experiences so far because I am an engineer, I work in a product development startup, the startup I founded is in the e-commerce space, I have a lot of experience in the technical aspects of developing a product and it just makes logical sense as a career path. So I can definitely say that I have a better handle on my story and how I’m going to market myself.

Weirdly enough, I had this revelation in the middle of writing essays for my R1 apps and my essays did say that I want to become a Product Manager at a leading tech firm, but by then the school choices had already been made and it was too late. Duke is still fine, since a lot of tech companies do recruit from there so my goals must have made some sense, but Yale was a complete washout. I shouldn’t have applied in the first place.

Anyway having cleared that up in my head, I know what kind of schools I should be looking at, especially to achieve my career goals. I want a focus on entrepreneurship, and a school that is welcoming to younger applicants and has great tech firms/startups visiting campus and so, drumroll please.

  1. Chicago Booth
  2. Berkeley Haas Kellogg MMM
  3. UCLA Anderson

Booth is where I really want to be and I think I do actually have a good chance of getting in. I am most doubtful about my chances at Haas since the acceptance rates are ridiculous but I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I didn’t apply but I’m going to have to live with it because I changed my mind and I have Vandana to thank/blame 😉 Okay, I’m lying. I owe her my unborn children because she has been a massive help and I can’t thank her enough. I knew before that the Kellogg MMM program was a great fit, but I couldn’t decide between this and Haas. I mean the MMM program is quite literally customized to fit with my career goals and what maaaaay have factored into the decision was the fact that I’d need to write the TOEFL and three long essays for Haas. Ummm… sue me, I’m lazy. UCLA Anderson is so close to the Valley, as is Haas which makes both at least one of them of no-brainers. If I had the time, I would have thrown Stanford into the mix, because, well Stanford. But hey, if I don’t get in this year, I plan to quit my full time job and scale my startup by about a 100x. Quite a few VCs have been feeling my company out, but I’ve just been dragging my feet because I honestly feel like I need an MBA to plug the holes in my skill set before we open up to investors. That’s actually why I decided I need an MBA sooner rather than later. I guess I’ll come to that when it happens.

My days are so packed, I literally have no time to breathe. GMAT prep, reaching out to current students, drafting my essays, dealing with work. It’s like I can’t catch a break. I am desperately waiting for the weekend.

Onwards and upwards

It’s been raining invites on all my friends out here – congratulations to Naija MBA Gal, TopDogMBA, hugoness, Vandana and Grant Me Admission!! Having had the privilege to blog alongside such incredibly smart and nice people, I have no doubt that they deserve admits at the schools of their dreams. I am counting down the days to hear some more good news.

In the meantime, I’m back on the horse again, this time for Round 2 applications. My school choices are up in the air for the moment, because I cannot for the life of me identify where I would have a competitive chance. I don’t want to apply to schools just because I know I’ll have better chances there, but on the other hand, I don’t want to apply to schools where I have no chance either. It’s a tough call. I’ll keep you guys posted when I finalise my schools and possibly the rationale that went behind picking. One thing is for sure though, I am not going to get emotionally attached to any of them. I’ll do my research and I’ll talk to students, but this is going to be the equivalent of a friends with benefits situation. No emotions, no commitment.

I’ve started with GMAT prep, I think it’s going well. I remember most of it, which is something of a feat considering it’s been over two years. I’m trying to get on the upper levels of both Quant and Verbal, which means a lot of targeted studying. It helps that I enjoy it though.

I literally can’t wait for March now where my fate will be decided either way.

P.S: A really weird observation. My blog got maximum hits on the day I announced my ding from Duke. People love tragedy!

Now that the sting has worn off…

I’m considering a very difficult decision. Insanity maybe? I don’t know. I’m thinking about retaking the GMAT before Round 2 deadlines with a goal of scoring at least a 750 this time. I know my weakness: I’m a very young applicant. I have a great GPA, great extracurriculars, great work experience (quality wise) but my GMAT as a consultant told me is “average”.

I’m pretty decent at taking standardised tests and I’m sure that with proper preparation I can beat the 710 I have. But I am worried about how I’m going to manage this with work, my startup, my volunteering work and actual applications. On the flip-side, having a really strong GMAT score could make me stand out and offset the damage I do to their admission statistics with my paltry work experience by increasing the average GMAT score.

Now, another sign that I’m losing my mind is that I am considering applying to Booth in Round 2. Yep. You heard me right. A school that is ranked way above Duke and practically up there with H/S/W. Why you ask? Primarily because this: Chicago Booth Early Career Candidates

…the Admissions Committee will bear in mind the applicant’s proximity to the college experience when considering factors such as leadership, supervision experience, and academic success.

I found myself checking off everything on that list. BUT, and this is a huge but, the average age is still about 28 though with 4.5 years of work experience. Does that mean I’m reading too much into this whole pitch they have for early career candidates? Well apart from this, I like the fact that the program is extremely analytical and personalized, and they have a great focus on entrepreneurship and non-conformity. I am still debating this internally, but I must admit a 750 would make me feel a little better about applying here. NaijaMBAGal, any insights? 😛

Other than that, I’m still deliberating my list. Cornell Johnson is definitely in there and I’m debating between Ross and maybe UCLA (didn’t think I’d want to be on the West Coast, but oh well). So if not this year, then what? I’m going to rethink my job situation and work towards getting into a top 10 school next year. Until then, decisions decisions.

UPDATE: A few hours after I wrote this post, thanks to some helpful feedback from gnpth and mbablackgirl, I decided what the heck and booked my date for the GMAT. 23rd December it is. It will be my third attempt (630, 710 and ?). I did absolutely no extra preparation between attempt 1 and attempt 2 so I have no idea how I managed that. Worst case, I get a score lower than 710 and I cancel it. Best case I get a 750+. Seems quite low risk to me so I took the plunge. Is it weird that I’m excited about taking the test?

The result is in…

And I’m definitely not admitted to Fuqua. It was horrible waiting for a phone call that never came, but I’ve had a while for it to sink in and I’m okay. Slightly heart broken because everyone who’s read even part of this blog knows how much I loved Duke – but I’m still hopeful for better things to come. I’m not sure if I’ve been dinged completely or wait listed (they haven’t updated the web portal yet) but I want to move on. Part of me isn’t sure if I should you know? This decision has me wondering if I even have a shot of getting in anywhere that I actually want to get in. Hearing absolutely nothing from Yale hasn’t helped things either. I just don’t know anymore!

UPDATE: Dinged. Oh well.

Tick tock

As the nifty little countdown calendar to the right says, I have to wait for two more days to hear from Duke. I actually thought I’d be much more of a nervous wreck but surprisingly I’ve been pretty calm through all this. I think I was more stressed out during the whole interview invite waiting period. I guess with the practice that came from that, I’ve gotten much better at the waiting game.

It’s actually scary to think that a decision made by an admissions committee comprising of 10-15 (I imagine) individuals can change lives, for better or for worse. Getting accepted to Duke would open up a whole new world of possibilities, but a rejection could mean that much better things lie ahead. I can imagine my life both ways! I’ve always believed that things happen for a reason.

Having achieved a state of mental nirvana, I’m blissfully not thinking about the whole application process, at least until Wednesday. Depending on the outcome of that, I’ll have to get back to the grind of essay writing and form filling – and just for that reason alone, I sure as hell hope I get in. I don’t know how everyone applying to 7 or 8 schools does it. You guys have my undying respect.

Fuqua Interview Report

So I finished my interview yesterday and it went better than I thought it would! I had to fly in to a different city so I flew in on the 14th, spent the night, woke up well rested and headed for the interview which was scheduled comfortably at 10.15 a.m on the 15th. I was actually a full 25 minutes early, but it worked out great since my interviewer showed up early too! He was a young-ish guy, about mid to late 30s if I had to guess. After a few minutes of small talk, he jumped right in. Questions asked included:

  • Tell me about yourself
  • Tell me about your current role at work
  • Why MBA
  • Why Duke
  • Tell me about some constructive feedback that you received
  • Tell me about the time you showed your leadership skills (in and out of work)
  • What do you think makes a team successful
  • What is your role in a team
  • Tell me about a time you handled a conflict in a team
  • What kind of a leader are you
  • What are your career goals
  • Why do you think this is the right time for an MBA
  • Which other schools have you applied to

The interview lasted about 40-45 minutes, including the questions I asked him at the end. Initially, I didn’t think he was very responsive but as I found my groove, I saw him nodding and agreeing with stuff I said. I didn’t have any issues coming up with stories and I was very well prepared with my answers to why Duke and why an MBA. He opened up when I started asking him questions about the Duke experience and by then, we had a good rapport. He even told me to call him if I ever needed any help regarding Duke or even otherwise.

Overall, a nice friendly chat with a chilled out vibe. No curve balls and no unexpected questions. I was kind of flipping out right before because some guy (interviewing in the same city as I was) was asked a case question and grilled for 1.5 hours, so I guess I got lucky. I think I did my  best and there isn’t much I would change about the interview. I guess only time will tell now! Good luck to everyone else interviewing at Fuqua!