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!