Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Holidays!!

The day of Christ is here and the long-awaited holiday season finally begins!! :) I know I speak for all my fellow applicants when I say that this has been an eventful year and hopefully for all of us applicants, the fun is only beginning!! With a few admits in the bag and one more to look forward too, I cant wait for 2009 to begin!!

Though it seems a little too early for me to be preparing my thank-you speech but in this season of giving, it seems perfect that I give thanks to all the people who have had faith in me and supported me in my decisions...THANK YOU! (you know who you are! ;) Also a big shout-out to all my virtual friends aka blog readers, MBAlmighty, Matt, Mbamission, Ahembeea and others who have been vocal supporters along my MBA journey... Thank you and All the best!

I hope this holiday season and the new year bring a lot of cheer and success to your lives... God bless!

Friday, December 19, 2008

3 down... 1 to go!

Got a wake-up call from the Yale Adcomm today morning.... It was 'good news to share'-time again!! It was completely unexpected... not the results (I was optimistic of an admit after my interview) but the timing... I was not expecting to hear back from Yale or Ross before the holidays and yet here I am... with an Yale admit! If only Ross-Claus decides to come early too :D

But now that the realization that I would indeed be matriculating in 2009 (destination remains undecided) has sunk in, I am beginning to get worried... again! Arranging the finances is the MAJOR task ahead but also questions like -
  • when do I quit job? (right now on an H1-B)
  • how does the H1-B to F-1 transfer work?
  • where do I even begin looking for arranging the finances?
  • Yale or Johnson? rankings-wise they are nearly in the same bracket... they both have great general management/strategy focus.... Johnson is offering me scholarship... no news yet from Yale
Its a weird sense of deja vu as I begin to feel over-whelmed all over again by the amount of work left to do before I pick up those books and sit in that class-room again! But as I got through the daunting phase of applications, I would get through this too... one baby-step at a time!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

2 down... 2 to go!

Current status - sitting pretty with two admits, Johnson and Goizueta with scholarships (every bit helps!)

The acceptance mail from Goizueta came in early last week followed by a call from the Admissions committee a few days later and though I was thrilled to have my first admit, I felt suprisingly composed and in-control!! It was relieving to know that I wasn't the only one betting on me :) Life was good and as the decision deadline for Johnson came closer, I got lured into the 'check-BW-forums-every-five-minutes' passtime and spent one very tense evening and apprehensive morning waiting for that call from 'unknown'...

And finally when I was gobbling down my lunch, my cell rings and I see 'Unknown'... Never have I felt happier :D It was Johnson Adcomm member, the same person with whom I had interviewed calling up to 'share some good news'.... Yipeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!

To-be status - enjoy Christmas and New Year's (2008 was just purrrfect!); wait for Ross and Yale to shower their love too... and no! I am not going to begin worrying about loans just yet! I feel I have earned my days of doing nothing... worrying about nothing... Hakuna Matata!!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Just a note

After having put in some thought, I decided not to apply to ISB... I do not know whether it was the right thing to do but the decision was a combination of my lack-of-will, workload at office and the current interview invites...

I might regret this decision in the near future but then again, I might not :) I just did not feel strongly enough about the ISB program and hence the decision...

So with this my application Round 1 is officially over... Lets see how it plays out!

Johnson interview - Analysis

The interview was with a member of the AdComm and once I dialed in, she came on-line almost immediately. After intimating me about not having gone through my application and that the interview would last 40-45 minutes and would be conversational, she jumped straight into it! (No breaking of ice... no casual chit-chat... quite a change from my previous experiences!)

The questions followed a similar pattern and thanks to ClearAdmit, I was prepared -

· short term? long term? why now?
· why Johnson?
· why specific immersion? how will it help in meeting your career goals?
· which other schools? on west coast?
· specific example where you faced a challenge and how did you overcome it?
· specific example where you worked with a team-member who was not performing and helped him?
· specific example of leading a team/your leadership style?
· any weaknesses that you see in your application? strengths?
· any questions you have?
· anything more that you want Johnson to consider as part of your application?

It is so close to the other Johnson interview experiences I have read about that it almost seems that they follow a script and the way she asked the questions, this experience was the closest to an 'official' interview that I had so far... and frankly, I am not delighted with the outcome! (I probably should be more careful what I wish for :( ) I feel, my responses to the specific example questions came of as long-winded and garbled... not as succint and incisive as I would have liked. Also the barrage of questions gave me no time to think and that put me on the back-foot and not being face-to-face with the interviewer made me extra-conscious of my voice. I also could not judge her reactions to my responses (they are normally very inscrutable but it helps!) and over the phone I felt that she was really quite unimpressed :(

Overall, I am glad that I did not opt for telephonic interviews for any other school and as much as I would have liked to travel to Ithaca, this time I really had no option! I just have to keep my fingers crossed till Dec 17th... Wish me luck!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Yale interview - Analysis

Had my interview at Panera Bread with a Yale alum and this was totally unlike the Ross interview... conversational and casual but with a more structured question-answer format. I was even dressed in business formals and so was he... on a Sunday!

He started with reiterating that he only had my resume (I slipped in my updated resume across the table at this time) and would like to know more about my background, motivations etc etc and he would not 'grill' me.... Standard enough start and I relaxed :)
The questions hence on went something like below -
  • how did you choose your undergrad school and area of specialisation?
  • how did you choose your first job?
  • why MBA? why Yale?
  • how will you uniquely contribute to Yale?
  • explain in non-technical terms, what is that you do?
  • any questions you have?

All the while I spoke, he scribbled furiously on my resume... At the end when I glanced down, the sheet had notes all over. I only hope they had good things to say! I believe that I did a pretty good job about answering the why? when? where? questions and also about not sounding too technical... The interview lasted for 35-40 minutes and I feel that I did do a good job of covering all the important points and hopefully making a good impression.

The alum was quite forthcoming in discussing about his life in New Haven - the small town syndrome and its pros and cons... Since it was on my mind too, it was nice to hear a frank opinion from someone who has been there. I also asked him about the alumni connections and he shared his experiences about networking with the alumni and also how it has been effective in his post-MBA job hunt.

I know Yale is super-selective program and its not in top-20 as per the latest BW rankings, but there is something about the program that really appeals to me and I really would love to get into Yale... now that the interview is over, I am just a lil worried if there is something more I should be doing to strengthen my application... As I try to settle into the nerve-wracking waiting period, I can only hope those months of head-scratching, idea-hunting, self-analysing, essay-writing pay dividends...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Birthday...

... to me! :)

What a year it has been! Last birthday I had just got to San Diego and this time around I am here in Los Angeles... If someone had asked me two years ago where I would be celebrating my birthday two years from now, I am sure I would not have guessed this! Frankly, I don't know where I will celebrate my next birthday (I hope its Ann Arbor :D)

Am in a contemplative mood right now so forgive me if I begin to ramble... It truly has been an eventful year this 2008... traveling, learning, meeting, cooking, holidaying, applying, interviewing, living and I loved every moment of it! I truly am a changed person... I know myself better, I know my limitations and more importantly, I know my strengths... Today as I look forward to a new year (calendar too) I feel optimistic and confident about what the future has in store for me... It might be misplaced (or maybe its all that chocolate in the chocolate cake glazed with semi-sweet chocolate ganache talking ;) but the last couple of weeks, it almost seemed like I could do no wrong... small everyday incidents but lucky coincidences nonetheless!!

Being in a new place on your birthday does have its drawbacks though... no friends who come over at 12 in the night to perform the 'cake facial' routine, no family to pamper you... I do miss them all a lot but I am not exactly sad... far from it! I feel I am at such a juncture in life right now when something good, something big is going to happen and the anticipation is a wonderful feeling :)

I have read the saying 'Enjoy the journey' often... and through the process of b-school application, I have realized that the journey has always been more exciting, more energizing than the destination itself for me... Once I reach what I had set out for, its time to set another goal, target another milestone and make a dash for it!

This last year I set my goals, I ran my race and now as I wait for the results, I pray for success and plan for next steps...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Ross interview - Analysis

Just back from an interview/conversation/informal chat with a Ross alumni at a coffee shop and in spite of trying to analyze it, I still don't know what to make of it!

I was interviewing with an alum and her 'dress casual' comment in one of the mails we exchanged had given me the hint that this is going to be a conversational interview but it turned out to be more of a chat... lasting almost 1-1/2 hours!! Frankly I don't think she even asked me any specific MBA interview questions other than the 'why MBA? why now? why Ross?' One thing just led to another...

In hindsight, I do realize now that I did talk about my motivations, my background, my international experience, my present company and its MBA-related policies, my recommenders and what they thought about me... pretty much everything but I don't really remember any standard questions being asked of me! I am beginning to think she really is very good at interviewing :)

What was also exciting was that she was willing to share as much of her experiences as she wanted to know about me... and with more than 25 years of experience she sure had many interesting anecdotes to share - about her Ross experience, life after Ross, the other interviews she had conducted, the firms she had built and even a little about her personal life! It was truly a very constructive conversation...

But it wasn't a conversation now, was it? It was my interview... the interview that can push me off the fence into the admit pool (or otherwise)!! And with an experience like this one, it is sooo hard to judge how I did! Did I answer well? Did I impress enough? How is she to judge me compared to other applicants when what we spoke about was so specific to me?? What is the common denominator going to be??? Frankly, I don't know whether to be happy or not with today's 'interview' as I really don't know how I did! Why can't we just go back to the days where questions had one right answer and you either got it right or not?!!

I know this process is not about right/wrong, it never was and will never be... and I can do nothing but hope I displayed what she was looking for and the adcomm is convinced that I have what it takes to 'go blue'!! But if only.... Oh! this process is nerve-wracking....

Monday, November 17, 2008

Yale comes calling!!

I have been invited to interview for Yale... the news came in over the weekend and with this it is a 3/3, interview-wise... absolutely overjoyed! I hope the trend continues for the admits too :)

Meanwhile, I am having some trouble setting up an alumni interview for Ross... there seems to be some confusion regarding the alumni and already I feel I am too late in scheduling the interview... I hope the confusion/delay isn't held against me... really nothing I could do to avoid it!

Task for this week - Setting up the three interviews and hopefully completing atleast one...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Atlanta - MBA perspective

Goizueta Adcomm - 11/14 - 1015 hrs EST

Let me begin with a warning - When traveling from PST zone to EST zone to attend an interview, REMEMBER to reset your alarm clocks!!

As you must have guessed, I didn't and instead of waking up at 6:30 AM, allowing me enough time to get dressed and navigate the multitude of 'peach'tree streets of Atlanta, I was still in bed as the clock struck 9:00 and just managed to rush out of the house at 10:00 for a 10:15 interview at Emory campus with Libby Livingston! Driving down to the campus, a good 45-min drive away. I fortunately did not get lost (or booked for speeding :) and reached the admissions office without further drama but 45 minutes late nonetheless :(

I had called in earlier and explained my predicament and was relieved to know that the previous interview was also delayed and as I waited in the reception area, I finally relaxed for the first time that morning. But not for long as soon Libby walked out and accompanied me into her office. She was extremely amiable and she began by explaining that she had NOT gone through my essays or any other part of my application on file and I should feel free to share my experiences, even reiterate my essays material, if necessary.

After the initial cold-feet phase where I almost choked over, the interview proceeded smoothly - the tone was conversational, the questions standard -
  • Walk me through your resume.
  • Why MBA now? Why goizueta?
  • How do you find coming to US?
  • What are the three things that your colleagues say about you?
  • What is the best part of the job for you?
  • What are your hobbies?
  • Any questions for me?

20-22 minutes later, it was over. We discussed about things to do and places to visit in/around Atlanta and also about meeting up with current students as I had signed up for the lunch and tour event too... She offered to patch me through to some current 2-year MBA students in case I missed the event due to the initial delay... We shook hands and the interview was over!

Fortunately, the student ambassadors were still around and I joined them (1-yr students) for a discussion over lunch and then a tour of the building frequented by the MBA grads... The students were extremely friendly and seemed to truly enjoy their time at Goizueta... It being a Friday, there weren't too many students around but it was fun to get a feel of how/where a typical day in the life of a Goizueta MBA grad is spent!

Taking leave from the students, I wandered around the campus for a little while enjoying the sights and sounds of Emory and finally the joy/relief of making it through my first MBA admissions interview sunk in and grinning, I reached for my car keys...

The wait begins....

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Second call of the season - Johnson!!

The long-awaited invite is finally here... My first two submits have both translated to interview calls and I am thrilled to bits... yippeeeeee! :)

With the Round 1 deadline fast approaching, I was wondering if Johnson is going to turn out to be a DWI for me!! I wasn't losing sleep yet but it was worrying me and I really have my worry-plate full right now... but today my gmail account had a gift in store for me - the Johnson School invite!!
'Congratulations! The Admissions Committee would like to schedule an interview with you as soon as possible....'
I have to now call the admissions committee and schedule an interview... hopefully they too will have alumni in the LA area...

I am leaving tomorrow for my Goizueta interview and have the Ross interview coming up next... and now I have Johnson in the picture too... With a new project, new location, I have some juggling to do but I am not complaining :)

Let the invites pour in....

Monday, November 3, 2008

SD to LA

Today was my first day at the new client in LA and it was quite eventful! Here's how -

I drove up to LA in a rented car (Kia Spectra) in about 2 hours and it took me another 15 minutes to figure out which building exactly I had to enter... the campus is huge! Once I got in (after the customary delays at the security for the badges) I was glad to see a normal office with spacious cubicles awaiting me... standard in today's IT world, you say? well not if you knew where I was coming from at my previous client location! :)

After I settled down, the rounds of introductions began and soon I was getting all muddled up with the names and faces... frankly even now, at the end of the day, I am not quite sure who I am sharing my cubicle with! I met the managers I had been interacting with the past couple of days and also the others on the various teams... All strategy & change guys so it should be fun to pick their brains... there also is a recent USC MBA grad student on the team... she seems nice enough, should remember to pick her brain too!

As the day wound down, I accompanied my team to the cafeteria and it was lovely too... there were stalls for different cuisines from round the world... I even spotted my ever fav - chicken quesdilla - on one of the menus but for today I opted for Chinese food - chowmein and orange chicken - instead... yummm! Lunch over, I headed back to the desk to do some more online hotel and apartment hunting but soon I felt my eyelids beginning to get heavier.... the effects of the daylight saving time shift, the early morning wakeup, the long drive was finally starting to kick in...

A colleague came over to rescue me from the state of certain stupor that I was beginning to enter into and she showed me around the campus... the corporate headquaters building was beautiful! I fell in love with the shiny black Lexus in the lobby... it was soo plush... ooooohh! After the long walk and chat, I headed back to my desk and soon it was time to start packing up... I was wondering about dinner when someone mentioned a team dinner! My ears perked up and after some debate, the venue was decided - Addi's Tandoor.

My sense of direction being what it is I was confident of getting lost and so I drove all the way to the restaurant almost stuck to the rear bumper of my colleague's car in front :) even almost jumped a light! Finally when everyone got in, there are were a few awkward moments when no one knew what to say but slowly everyone got into the groove and it turned out to be a fun dinner... One gentleman (colleague, i should say) had such a great sense of humor that I was glad the food had finally arrived coz my jaw had begun to hurt laughing! The food was not bad but I truly believe that Indian food should be had in India by Indians... nowhere else can they even come close! On the way back too I again used my 'stick to bumper' routine and reached the Doubletree hotel uneventfully... checked in... freshened up.... called home... switched on my laptop... and here I am!

Day 1 - finito... and here's to the coming days of work, shopping (just opp to the hotel is the second largest shopping mall in US), interviewing (Atlanta, LA and hopefully more), essay-writing (ISB still remains... the last bastion) and hopefully some more fun on the way!

Monday, October 27, 2008

First Interview call - Ross

Just read the mail from Ross admissions committee -
'After reviewing your application, we would like to formally invite you to interview for admission to the MBA program at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business. We utilize the interview as a complement to your application materials, to learn more about you, and to provide you an opportunity to further assess the program’s fit with your personal and professional goals.'

I am undoubtedly thrilled - Ross is my top choice and I am really excited about the program. After the first 15 minutes of absolute joy, my mind did an absolute about-turn and images from my previous XLRI interview flitted across... despite a great score and a confident interview last year I am still in the MBA race... obviously my interview didn't exactly do the trick :( That is one experience I do NOT want repeated.... ever!!

I know I have a lot of work to do before I cross this final hurdle and this time I am going to give it my best shot... there are things that my previous unsuccessful attempt has taught me and there is more to learn... For now, I am treasuring the feeling of joy and achievement and gearing up for the next and more difficult (personally) stage... Wish me luck!

PS: Calling all you bloggers reading my post to pitch in with your experiences/tips/do's and dont's... will truly appreciate it! Cheers...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Rollercoaster ride

So much has happened over the last couple of months that thinking back on it makes my head reel.... sleepless nights over the essays, the extremely hectic trip to India in September, the wedding, the submissions (got 3 done in Round 1), the tension over the project, the transcript 'late pahochega lekin pahochega zaroor' saga.... and finally my last day at work!

The essays had been bothering me for ever... it seemed that I never got anything right, lots of thoughts going around in my head but such a jumble when put on paper... sometimes I did not what to write and when I did, I did not know what words to use, how to express and when the words too came to me, I did not know how to fit it all in 300/500/1-page/2-page entries... Rough drafts in my bag, head swarming I got on the plane to Mumbai....

The flight actually did me a lot of good... unable to sleep even though all the seats in my row were empty... I did do a lot of brain-storming over the tiny flight reading light!! A 21-hour flight and many torn pages later, I was just starting to get into the groove of essay writing when I was thrust into the cauldron of madness called 'the big, tiring Indian wedding'!!

First all the shopping for clothes (designer ones!), the jewelery, the shoes, the purses, the makeup... and that's just for me! We even had to shop for my parents, my brother, my to-be sister-in-law, her mother, her mother's sister-in-law and everyone in between... Shopping done we move onto the main event.... the wedding! I knew it was going to be big but never expected it to be sooooo much of... everything :) Relatives, good food, dressing up, gifts, laughter, ceremonies and the 'wonderful' Calcutta rains and (in)famous traffic jams!! After the Calcutta chapter was over, we moved onto Pune for the next session... One more event there, some more wining and dining and I was about ready to catch my flight back to the US of A....

Getting back, I was looking to settle back into some kind of rhythm but that was not to be.... One one hand, I was waaaaay behind on my application materials and with the deadlines approaching, I had no option but to get into overdrive.... and on the other hand, the world around us had collapsed, well, at least the financial world... When I had left, Wall St was still what it had been for the past 50 years, inconspicuously going about making more money, and when I came back the money was gone, the banks were gone, even Wall St, as we knew it, was gone!! The tightening of purse strings touched my life too and my projects at work were indefinitely delayed (euphemism for cancelled)...

With the applications top on my head, the last thing I wanted was uncertainty at my workplace and decided to take up their 2-week notice... today is the last day of that notice period! I have another project lined up but there has been a delay as a result of which, I get to enjoy two days of vacation... time enough to take stock of my current situation and plan ahead... It has been a challenging period but then again I ask myself, isn't this what I wanted? the answer is a resounding 'YES'!!

Hakuna Matata!!!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Lessons Monopoly taught us

Remember Monopoly? The game we used to have so much fun with, part of our family time with no TVs drowning out the sound, no kids glued to the internet behing locked doors... the time when I was a kid (which wasnt so long ago really!)? Well, I came across this really wonderful article on BusinessPundit on the business lessons that the game of Monopoly taught us. The lessons are listed below -
1. You have to ask for what you want
2. Niceness matters
3. Its not rocket science
4. Take risks
5. Business can be boring
6. Luck counts for a lot
7. Dont expect others to support your strategy
Want to read more? Just follow the link...

And once you have done that, take out that dusty old Monopoly board, get your family together (atleast, you can try) and enjoy a few rounds of putting your competitors 'out of business' :)

Who said Business (and life) can't be all fun and games?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Recommenders, Editors and Contacts.... Ahoy!

Essays are the most important factor...
You have got to concentrate on your essays...
Essays take up 80-90% of your app time...
Essays this and Essays that... so much has been said and written about it that one tends to marginalize the other factors of the application (I know I did!) and then when you actually get down to filling up all those other blanks the enormity of the 'small' tasks strike you!

I have been having an especially bad time with it all (that's not to say that my essay-writing is going great guns but facing trouble when you expected a cake-walk can be very stressful). Over the last couple of weeks, I have talking with my recommender #1, prepping him and feeling quite confident after the experience I was ready to approach recommender #2 when I get the mail that he would be on vacation the next week!! Woah! I did not see that coming.... now its nothing to be overly worried about, you say, but considering I would be going on a vacation soon after I had planned everything such that I have all my recos worked out long before then... and now I would have to re-plan, 1 week delay equals less time for me to prep him equals less time for him to put his words of praise equals less impressive reco :(

On the essay front, I have been working on 4 essays at the same time (working on one essay for more than a day gives me a severe case of mental block) for almost 2 weeks now but I am no where near submitting them... I dont feel confident enuf, hell, I dont feel like reading them myself (but that's probably because thats all the reading I have been doing lately... ) Nyways, I think I desperately neeed some editors - a couple atleast - but people who know me don't know the Bschool app process and because of my technical background, I don't know any Bschool grads! Another thing being, the essays bring out so much personal stuff about you that it is really difficult to just hand it over to someone for review... Its not just the essay they are judging, its ME! (probably a good thing from the adcom perspective but not so good when looking for editors)

That brings me to another issue that is causing me some headache... no Bschool contacts! Be it current students or past alumni... I just cant seem to be able to get in touch wid any... probably I haven't tried hard enuf, probably I havent tried all my sources, probably I am just not doing it right! Watever be the case, I know that making some contacts is imperative and that is what I will be concentrating on over the next coupla weeks, apart from the essays, the recos, the forms, the editor-hunt, the research...

All this before I go on my eagerly-awaited vacation! Adios...

Monday, August 4, 2008

First ding of the season!!

Exactly 15 days after my first submit came in the very first 'ding'... hopefully the last too!
The Reliance Stanford full-ride scholarship (almost too good to be true) results were declared last Friday and I was not one of the finalists...

Takeaways from this experience -
1. there are 50 other Indians who are more smarter, poorer, more in love with India than I am and that they are now all super-excited.. I wish them all the best
Corollary - that only 1 in 5 of these aforementioned Indians would finally make it in.
2. essay writing, even if it is just one, takes more time than you think. Even though you might be thinking about it every waking moment, the progress is slow until you just get down to it
Corollary - stop procastinating
3. writing a short essay requires more work, more vocabulary, more thought and more precision. It requires even more re-drafts since your first attempt would probably have been 3 times the word limit
Corollary - less is indeed more!
4. Stanford is super-achieving, super-diverse, super-brand, super-selective and super-expensive and I am super-sure now that it isnt the one for me... a case of sour grapes, you say? Be that as it may, I think I was just chasing a dream and it was great while it lasted...
Corollary - Stanford is out

What have my other fellow dinged applicants learnt? I would love to know... And all you finalists out there in the blogosphere, please stand up! You deserve the applause :)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

first 'submit' of the season

Can someone be relieved and tensed at the exact same moment? Ask an MBA applicant and he/she would say 'Yes!!' and that moment would be when the cursor is hovering around the 'submit application' button and the mind is wondering whether everything has been taken care of!

And once you have submitted it, one part of you feels relieved that the task is now complete and the other part is already tensed about the outcome! And that is exactly how I felt when today morning I finally did submit the Stanford Reliance fellowship application... Now we wait and watch! Thankfully it is going to be a short wait... 15 days to Aug 1, 2008!

I know this is just the first of many more 'submits', many more sleepless nights spent in self-doubt, many more moments of immense satisfaction at getting an essay 'just right'... Let the party begin!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

aspiration causing consternation!

Well, what can I say?! I have been thinking and dreaming and wondering and sighing a lot lately... not surprising considering its India's future that I am pondering over!

The Reliance Dhirubhai scholarship for Stanford GSB was very welcome news, nothing like getting a chance at a top school with full scholarship plus being able to test yourself amongst your peers even before the actual application (the scholarship will select only the top 50 applicants)! It was certainly exciting but that was before I saw the essay question - 'How do you aspire to shape India's future?' - who me? shape India's future?? Here I was thinking about how I would like to shape my own future all this while and suddenly this comes out of nowhere!

After long hours of staring blankly at the screen and going through some 10-12 drafts I believe I finally have it the way I want. Initially it was difficult for me to even comprehend what was required - was the essay looking for our vision for India as in how do I wish to see India 10-15 years down the line? or was it looking for how do I wish to contribute to India's growth in the future? I have come to the conclusion that it is a mixture of both - where do you want to go and how do you intend to get there? Come to think of it, arent all B-school essays looking for the same thing?!

Now with the context issue resloved, I was faced with the other challenge of putting it all in 250 words. Initially I didnt know what to write, like a sputtering vehicle it was stop-and-go all the way but then as I got a little more comfortable, I started chuggin along until I had written enough to compile into a novella!! How to Say Nothing in 500 Words was an eye-opener and I realised that a lot of it was reiteration and exclamation and rhetoric that can (and should) be done away with and though I am now down to 350+ words, 250 still seems like a huge task :(

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Grand indeed!

Grand Canyon - the two words that invoke images of incomparable desolation and beauty at the same time... the barren rocky landscape wrought about by years of erosion and tectonic movements turns into God's own canvas painted with a melange of colors as the sun sets over the horizon!We also had a lot of fun setting up the tents and cooking and camping out...
All in all it was a memorable and thoroughly enjoyable trip!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Race against time...

Will it? or wont it? I reallllly hope it does...

What am I talking about, you wonder? Well, its the new camera that I ordered on Amazon after months of search and contemplation and now the situation stands thus that on Friday evening, we are driving out to Grand Canyon (the perfect photo-op) and Amazon estimates the delivery date to be Saturday!!!

Now my experience so far leads me to believe (and hope) that the parcel will make it to me by Friday but what if it does not?! I cannot imagine missing such a perfect opportunity to test my new camera - Panasonic Lumix TZ5 - but all I can do is wait and hope that USPS does its magic and delivers it on time...

The race is on!

[Edited on 06/19/2008 : We have a winner! The camera was delivered today... a good two days before scheduled date :) God Bless USPS!]

Monday, June 9, 2008

School Decision

Here is my (tentative) final list of schools -

1. Stanford School of Business -
This is my dream school and I love everything about it, right from its campus to its proximity to Silicon Valley, from its general management courses to its GMIX course, from its clubs to its Indian student fellowship program. Though it requires 3 recommenders and 4 essays, I will be applying in the first round which ends on 22nd October.

2. Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth -
The general management focus of this school and its close-knit community won me over. There are several interesting second year courses and also the Tuck Global Consultancy program has its advantages. This will be a first round application too, to be submitted by 10th October.

3. Goizueta School of Business - Emory University -
Though not very highly ranked, Goizueta appealed to me from the very beginning. The small class size, the GMSC program, the LEAD weeks and the core strength ideology set this school apart. The scholarships offered are very generous and it also attracts the top consultancies to its campus every year. This is a definite first round application - 1st November.

4. Johnson School of Business - Cornell University -
Johnson was a last minute entry into the list, primarily because it is a technically oriented business school and also the brand management and strategy focussed courses it offers. The financial aid scene is not encouraging and neither is the community focus predominant. Yet its immersion program and short essays help it get to into the top 5.

5. Indian School of Business -
This school is a default. It has the obvious advantages of being in India, being a one year course and being cheap comparatively. All in all, great ROI. But it also has the disadvantage of not being AICTE approved and not being that well-known outside Asia. But not applying to ISB would be a mistake I don't want to make but it will be only in the second round so as to see how events play out.

There are a couple of other schools that I am researching like Ross, Columbia, Marshall and I am not ready to laminate the list yet...

Sunday, June 8, 2008


The last one month has been quite eventful with parents arriving in US on the 6th of April, trip to Chicago on the occasion of bro's convocation on the 11th followed by another trip to New York, New Jersey and finally my moving to a new apartment and visit to Dana Point...

Bro's convocation was wonderful and coming on the weekend of Mother's Day, it was also the perfect gift for all mothers! It was also the first time parents were meeting my bhabhi so there was a lot of excitement in the air. I also met up with my friend in Chicago when we went on a downtown exploration trip - the highlight of the trip had to be the beautiful Millennium Park and the walk down the Magnificent Mile.

Later parents went on to Canada as Dada and I returned to San Diego only for me to fly back to New York a week later :) It was a sudden plan but that was a wonderful way to spend the Memorial Day weekend! I visited a lot of my relatives for the first time and went on a complete NY tour though even two full days of sight-seeing in Manhattan didn't seem enough. We visited Statue of Liberty, Central Park, Empire State Building, Wall Street, Times Square and much more and by the I got back to San Diego I felt I have had enough of cities to last me a lifetime!!

Due to my apartment woes, had to move in with my bro for a week and I rented a car and traveled up and down (30-35 miles two-way) on a daily basis. This was the first time I was driving on the freeway alone and so regularly but it was a lot of fun. We drove down to Dana Point on Sunday after a hectic Saturday (morning spent at office and moving in in the evening).

Driving a long distance proved to be therapeutic for me and we had a great time at Dana Point. We spent some time there and then visited the nearby Pines Park and went down a little further to San Clemente Pier. It was very beautiful and the weather, though a little chilly, was perfect.

All in all it was a weekend well-spent but one that went by too quickly, as usual! And I am putting in this post as I count down the final few minutes left....

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Journey begins....

Today is a Red-Letter day in my admissions calendar as I embark on the journey to the school of my dreams by working on the very first draft of my 'Why MBA?' essay :)

I have been wondering about the right way to go about it for a long time now - should I read sample essays first, form an idea and then begin with my own? or should I first just list out the main points I want to cover for each essay? or should I pick a school, pick an essay of that school and target it and nothing else? - and then I realised that I had again fallen into the traps of my age-old vice of procrastination so I said to myself - NO MORE!

And here I am... its 12:50 am on a chilly Wednesday night in April and I am trying to get my thoughts down on paper... well, computer screen actually! First thing I realized that I have waaaay too many thought-streams and no logical flow in what I am putting down but since this is my first draft, I have decided to just let it flow and will then get down to structuring it later....

Thats all for now! gotta get back to the other window now where my essay waits....

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Oh Camera! where art thou?

21st February?!! Wow, has it really been that long since my last post! I need to get back to this blog more frequently but truth be told, there hasn't been much to write about anyways this past month... I took an unscheduled break from the whole MBA-researching, career-planning and future-worrying thingie for the month of March but now I am back!!

As April came, it brought with it the 'keeda' of buying a new digital camera and what began as a simple task of ordering a heavily discounted SONY model (DSC-H9, to be precise) at a employee sale soon turned into something infinitely more time-consuming and confusing when I thought... DSLR, why not? Thus began the saga of long hours spent staring at the computer screen trying to make sense of ISO, sensitivity, 35 mm equivalent, noise, stabilization, EVF, telephoto lens etc etc, checking out one model after another from Nikon, Canon, Sony and Olympus - Nikon D40, Canon EOS 400D, Nikon D400, Olympus E-510, Canon 30D, Sony A100... the list was endless! There were so many options and so little to differentiate between...

But now after spending a lot of time and learning a lot about how a DSLR works and what its advantages/disadvantages are I think I would be better served by going back to my previous decision of getting a compact high-zoom (if I can find one, that is!).

The one reason why I had first thought of getting a DSLR was because I was looking for a super-zoom camera (zoom in the range of 10+) . The cameras got very SLR-like as the zoom range increased so much so that they almost felt like one (size and weight wise) and I thought if I am going to be carrying such a big camera with me, why not go the whole distance and get a DSLR instead? But now I know that for a amateur photographer like me, a DSLR would be an overkill especially because all that I am truly looking for is a super-zoom stable camera that produces great pics and is easy to carry around.

So now that I have sorted that out, there still is a long way to go till I finally decide on the model I will buy but the following criteria are an absolute must (in order of priority) -
1. super zoom
2. sleek design, no SLR look-alike for me
3. not too pricey
4. not older than early 2007
5. does not have outright negative reviews
6. video feature

So the hunt for the perfect camera continues....

Thursday, February 21, 2008

I am now a proud holder of California License!!

My behind-the-wheel test appointment was on Tuesday, the 19th, and I passed it with flying colors (just 4 mistakes out of the allowed 15) in my very first attempt :)

Feels great as everything worked out to plan - no rain (50% chance was predicted), not-too-strict lady inspector, good idea of the test routes around the DMV (thanks to my driving instructor) and fairly quick service at Escondido office! I must admit I was quite scared before the test (measured by the cold hands that I developed waiting for the inspector) but an almost-perfect driving coming after a perfect 100% on the writing test means that I am all ready to hit the roads of California with a vengeance! :D

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The search continues...

I have been researching schools over the last couple of weeks, primarily going through the information on the websites to check out the 'FIT'! I believe I finally understand what fit means... atleast I get a feeling of when something in a program/school excites me and makes me want to know more about it!

My primary aim is to narrow down to a group of 10-12 schools from which I can pick and choose the final 5-6, could be lesser but surely not more! And the deadline is March after which I concentrate only on those schools and dig deeper, setup contacts and talk to my would-be recommenders, read up on essay-writing, resume-building and the like...

The other thing that I am really interested in is the Corporate Service Corps initiative... It not only would be a great experience if I am selected, it would also make for a very good story for my applications! Since I fulfill all the criteria there is only a form to be filled and submitted but the catch is that I have to first talk to my people manager and get his approval which might be difficult considering its a 3-month in-house work followed by 1-month in-country work! If the project were to wind up by May, it would be perfect timing but till Feb 15, nothing can be said for sure.... But Feb 15 also happens to be the last date for submission so I have to talk to him and convince him to approve my registration... I have a chat scheduled with Claudia sometime this weekend, soon after that I plan to talk to Ajit and get it out in the open.

With so many things, big and small, happening all around me, time seems to fly by.... its hard to believe that 2008 is already a month old!!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Who moved MY cheese?

Today, I had a learning experience today thanks to the world-famous 'Who moved my cheese?'
Now I had already read the book and so when I heard that Anant Bull-winkle(thats not his surname really but I like calling it that!) wanted to hold an audio session with the team on it, I wasn't exactly thrilled.... I mean, I had already read the book and in this day and age of videos and 3D and 4D, plain simple audio would be soooo boring!

And as the session got underway, my opinion was only reaffirmed but then as I tried to make a genuine effort to pay attention, I realized that the book (or rather the audio) did indeed have many lessons to share. Anybody who has read the book would know that it talks about change and how different people are impacted by it and how they react to it. It also tells us that change is inevitable , not good or bad... what makes it so is how we face it. Change, most of the times, is actually a harbinger of opportunities and more change, like right now! There is a major change in progress at work and though nothing is clear as yet, I feel it in the air. I just have this feeling that it is all going to end well for me :)

Speaking of change, there is one another thing that came out repeatedly in the story and that is - the power of dreams, of wishes! Everytime Haw felt scared, depressed he imagined himself reaching his goal - the next cheese station - and it made him feel good, gave him the courage and energy to carry on. Don't we all feel great when we imagine ourselves achieving the goal we have set, living the dream we have dreamt? I sure do.... these days I often dream of my graduation day, actually :D I am actually feeling quite good about myself these days.... I know the road is long and the destination distant but I am on my way and I will get there!

Like a wise man once said - 'God did not give you a wish without giving you the power to fulfill it. You would have to work for it, though.'

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Common phrases on Bschool websites

1. Its not what experiences you had, but what you made of the experiences you had
2. Rather than focus on specific categories of work experiences, applicants should focus on their roles, responsibilities, and what they have learned from the types of work experiences that they have been involved in.
3. Experential learning
4. We are one of the few schools that are constantly innovating to confront the changing business scenario and prepare world-class leaders who are ready for all challenges
5. diversity of thought, experiences and true appreciation of others' opinions
6. Achieving personal mastery through self-awareness and self-development

Setting SMART goals

I have recently been reading about goal-setting, time management and decision making and there was something interesting that I came across on Mindtools about setting smart goals. Now haven't we all heard of that before but they had an interesting twist to it -

Quite 'smart', isn't it?
Also realized that Pareto's principle (80:20 rule) does influence my daily productivity significantly! What exactly is the 80:20 rule as applied here? - 80% of unfocused effort produces only 20% of the results desired.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Resolutions to keep!

This new year I will begin and keep an exercise routine was one of the resolutions I had made for myself alongwith learning to dance :) Dont know about dancing but I have started implementing the exercise routine thingie!
Started last week with surya namaskar, easy to do and quite beneficial! Last week was more of a start-stop week with me oversleeping on a number of days but next week on I am going to be more rigid with the routine. Aerobics is also one form that I always wanted to try out and so am reading up on it... is it safe enough to try out alone? what are the requirements, if any, for practicing it? where do I get videos and aerobic music? etc etc. I found this one video routine that I really liked - Latino Macarena
I have also begun (or should I say, re-begun) my school hunt and I am making slow but methodical progress and hope to be done with it by March. Self-analysis and introspection is also in progress and with the loss of contract, I have to do it on more than one level so taking it nice and slow for now.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Isnt this what surviving is all about?!

The inimitable Calvin!!

the Big Blue gets dinged!

What does one feel when something that was so expected to happen a certain way that it was almost taken for granted does not happen that way? Shocked? Stunned? Bamboozled??!! Ok ok i guess all of them mean the same thing but you get my drift, right? Thats pretty much what I was feeling this Monday morning. Why, you ask? Now thats a long story....
The Big Blue has many clients for which it provides IT services, one of which is the makers of the acclaimed PS2 which also happens to be the client I am working for. The client, with intention of keeping costs low and also competition and thus performance high, had engaged multiple vendors for handling its IT services in the US. Now BB (for Big Blue) got the grand idea that if all the vendors were to be shunted out and a single vendor was to get the consolidated project, wouldn't it be wonderful? And thus began the 'CONSOLIDATION' saga.... It all began when I was in India with constant upper level meetings and and the little news that trickled down to us kept us on our toes! Later when I got to the client location, things got hotter.
Going into the year-end holidays, everyone was on tenterhooks! There was one meeting that I clearly remember where my boss's boss's boss came over to talk to us and reassure us by talking about how confident they were of landing the deal. There even was talk about how when (there was never an 'if', always a 'when') we do land the deal, there will be a greater business opportunity when BB would try to leverage this deal for proposing other ideas like PS3 with BB chips, Vaios with BB software pre-loaded etc etc!! Man, were we excited by the prospects!! Reassured, everyone went into the holidays with a smile...
One week back into the office and one Monday morning, the bomb is dropped! BB (suddenly less of the Big Blue and seeming more like a Bombed Bimbette) has lost the bid and also all the chances of landing the multi-billion dollar 5-year deal!!!
So what does all this mean for me? Is it back to India? Another project? in US? No idea, frankly! We are still in an uncertain phase regarding the future plan and for now, I am taking one day at a time and concentrating on my 'other' plan. I was quite scared and worried but now I know that there is not much I can do until the picture becomes clearer, which probably would be later this week or the next... and until then I am keeping my peace. We will see what the future holds!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Vroom! Vroom! Vrooooooooom!!

I rented a car over the weekend on an impulse after spending the whole of Friday debating over whether I should or not, especially after the flash flood warning that was issued for the whole of California! But then i just went ahead and did it...
Picked up the car from the enterprise rentals at Iberia place around 9:30 on Saturday, a royal blue 2007 Nissan Sentra (license: 5ZTS423)! my first rental car :)
Took it for a spin and then got back home for lunch only to leave immediately afterwards for Target and Kohls! Did a fair bit of driving and since most of the while i was lost, i ended up driving around a lot towards the evening! Finally managed to reach home after doing my own shopping in my own car! Great feeling :D
The next day, my roomie and I decided to revisit Kohls for some shopping and also drop in at Walmart/Vons on the way back. We had hardly turned a corner when one of the car drivers alerted us about a flat tire! My first day at driving and I alreay had a flat!! Well, then we got back to our apartment, called up the rental office and arranged for the tire to be changed. The spare tire in the bonnet was the 50-50 tire (good for only 50 miles that too at a speed not greater than 50) so that ruled out any freeway driving for us! Anyways, we set out once again and after getting the air pressure checked at a nearby gasd-station we were on our way to Kohls...
I ended up shopping a lot unnecessarily and have now resolved to abstain from all kinds of shopping till the monthend, atleast! That done, we also dropped in at Walmart and Vons to pick up some groceries and then we were on our way back.
I was planning to go around a lil bit in the evening but i guess I have had enough driving in the two days ( i wonder, how many miles?) so now I will be returning the car tomorrow morning but before that I have to fill up the tank and also take a picture of my FIRST rental car!!

Friday, January 4, 2008

New Year Resolutions and Mishaps

The New year did begin quite well with me coming right after the wonderful road trip and all of the fun and enjoyment reminded me of the major task i have ahead of me this new year - the MBA process! Yes, it begins again...
I have a couple of resolutions made up for it and I intend to stick to it. The one thing that staying alone has taught me is 'no sin bigger than procastination' so I am already getting started (just hope i dont lose the fizz midway!)
But the new year also did bring some minor mishaps like my laptop getting conked off which resulted in my losing all the tons of photographs from the trip, though I had shared quite a few before the crash and others do have lots of pics of their own, losing my lot is very distressing :( I also had so many other photographs right from the time i got here in SD but nyways no point in crying over spilled milk! I have to now be content with the photos that are there and depend for the rest on my memory...

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Road trip - Winter 2007

I am back in the blogosphere after a long hiatus and there is so much to update, especially the road trip that I went on with a few friends and friends' friends!
It was a time of many many firsts - first time on a domestic flight (made all the possible security breaches that were possible!), first time on any kind of road-trip that lasted for almost 11 days, first time experience of snow (3 days of snow and i was ready to get back to Sunny San Diego), first time going out with a group of almost complete strangers and having so much fun!!
The trip took us straight upto Oregon state to the Redwood national park and Crater lake as our first stop and then we slowly travelled back down right upto San Diego downtown with stops at Mount Shasta, Lava Beds, klamath Falls, Redding, San Fransisco, Golden Gate Bridge, Los Angeles, Hollywood, San Diego National Park, Point Loma, Santa Monica, Carmel, Fisherman's Wharf and finally ending with the New Year's party at an Indian joint in downtown San Diego.... It was one helluva ride!
Looking forward to many such trips as i already have a list of dream destinations ready for the new year :)