Friday, October 29, 2004

Two down, three to go

It has been an interesting 24 hours, filled with good things and bad things.

First the good, which is actually MBA related. My Kellogg application is showing up in the system as “complete” (after a minor scare yesterday, when it went from “in process” to “no record found”, a phone call this morning cleared that up). Next update will be “Admit, Waitlist, or Deny”…oh my goodness, it has finally sunk in that this is REAL. Yikes! My Haas application is out the door. Conducted the final proofread yesterday and the super anal "just in case" proofread this morning before dropping the hammer. I feel pretty good about it. Haas is looking for interesting essays and I feel like mine are a good balance of personal and professional. Will they win the Pulitzer? No, but I think they serve their purpose. As I was submitting today, I tried to pay the application fee online. I wish I had tried this a few days ago because it was not working and causing me all kinds of stress. It must be a firewall problem or something along those lines. I dug around the site and realized I could pay by check and as long as it was postmarked today I'd be OK for Round 1. Phew! I caught a lucky break...I wish the same could be said for Aregon, Brit-Chick, and PowerYogi...I feel for you guys, I hope it all works out.

Now the bad, which is more personal. I usually don't get very personal on here but I need to vent. I broke up with my boyfriend last night. Which sucks on a normal day, but even more so when you're temporarily homeless and staying at his place. Called a friend at 11:30 pm and arranged to crash on her couch. Some warning signs had been surfacing as I began to notice some trust and jealousy issues. We were talking about that last night and I asked him to talk to me if there was ever anything bothering him. I was not expecting him to bring up stuff from my past (not “ours”, just mine) and basically reveal himself to be a bigot. He has issues with the fact that I’ve dated outside my race and said some things last night that absolutely disgusted me. It’s amazing how someone’s personality can make them more or less attractive. The attraction is now gone. Tolerance is one of my core values and I cannot fathom allowing this man to pass along his intolerance to our (hypothetical) children. This is not an issue of compromise and there is no point in being in a relationship with someone who doesn’t share your values. I'm sorry he feels that way and I think there are a lot of great things about him, but they were completely negated by the things he said last night. I’m angry, but in a way, because it was a deal-breaker type situation, I’m kinda at peace with it. There is no coulda woulda shoulda. Plus, it’s reduced my stress level for this whole b-school process because I’m free make decisions and only worry about myself. Everything happens for a reason. Except now I have to worry about finding a date for our company holiday party, damn!

Happy Halloween everyone :)

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Leadership Development

Just spotted an interesting article on MSN. I think there's some good advice for MBA applicants in there related to demonstrating leadership potential and how to convey that in an interview and/or on a resume/application, especially those of us who have never had direct reports. Check it out...

Could you be the boss?

Rainy Day

And the wet weather continues! It POURED last night, big puddles on the roads today, lots of accidents and whatnot.

Southern Californians + Automobiles + Rain = Bad Things

My morning commute is usually a piece of cake, except when it rains. The rain has no where to go but puddle and the folks around here aren't too experienced with driving in the rain. Lots of hydroplane action. I was supposed to head up to Irvine tonight for a UCLA information session, but I would rather poke my eyes out than drive 90 miles during the evening commute while it's raining. I could also use the extra time to put the finishing touches on my Haas application, not to mention bag up all of my food & medication so that it does not get contaminated when the fumigation starts tomorrow. I'm headed up to UCLA next week anyway for an interview and a women in business forum so I'll get the info and face time eventually. No worries.

All of my recommendations are now complete and submitted. I just Fed Ex'd all my Texas stuff (since their recos are paper-based) so they will arrive a few days ahead of the Nov 1 recommended deadline. They are rolling admissions so it's not a hard and fast due date, but the sooner the better IMO. My current boss & former boss really came through for me and I ordered their thank you gifts today. Current boss is a wine aficionado so I ordered him two bottles of my favorite Washington state wine from Former boss is back in Virginia and I found this palm bonsai at Red Envelope and I thought it would be a cute way to send him a little slice of California.

I still have no idea what to do for a Halloween costume. I have a great Marilyn Monroe costume, but after two years as Miss Monroe, I'd like to do something else. Although I may not even end up doing anything for Halloween since it's on a Sunday and I could really use the weekend to finish up my UCLA & Texas applications. I'm invited to a house party on Saturday, so we'll see. It makes me feel old that I would rather spend the weekend doing work & chores than going to a party! Plus, I've been invited to go wakeboarding Sunday morning and I haven't been in a few weeks so I'm itching for a fix. It won't be as much fun if I'm hungover. Decisions, decisions.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Back from Chicago

What a whirlwind weekend. Great trip. Here's a recap:

Wednesday...Scrambled to get out of work on time. Gave my boss one final reminder on the due date of the Kellogg reco. The weather in San Diego was pretty nasty. It hadn't rained here in 182 days (which is more than a little bizarre for someone who grew up in the rainy Pacific Northwest). It started raining on Sunday and hadn't let up by Wednesday. Totally reminded me of fall in Seattle. San Diego is one of the toughest landings for planes in the country, apparently, and it's especially bad in rain/clouds/fog and we had all that on Wednesday. From my building downtown, you can see (and hear) the planes that have to pull up and try again because they're coming in too high. Normally there's only one or two of those a day. I counted at least 10 a day this past week. So it was no surprise to get to the airport and be warned that although my flight was currently "on time" it might end up delayed. Fortunately, we left on time and I got into Chicago no problem. I also sat next to a very entertaining young Marine who made the flight time go by quickly. I stayed with two friends from undergrad in their apartment near Wrigley. Cool neighborhood, lots of restaurants, bars, and boutiques, really close to the "el". I could totally see myself living there. It was really good to see J & T, two of my oldest friends from WSU (we lived in the same dorm freshman year). Made it to their place in time to catch the end of Game 7 of the ALCS....YEAH RED SOX! Love it. Not particularly a sox fan, just a yankee hater. Plus, it's an awesome story. Can't imagine what it's like to be in Boston right now.

Thursday...Caught the el up to Evanston, super easy to find and use, and the Jacobs center is literally 2.5 blocks from the stop. Checked in around 9 but my first activity wasn't until 10:30, so I headed down to the atrium to get some coffee and review my essays/resume and get my wits about me for my interview later in the day. I liked that I had total control over my activities for the day and could attend pretty much any class and do whatever I felt I needed to do to get to know Kellogg. Talked to some students about which class to attend that morning and ended up choosing "Research Methods in Marketing" with Angela Lee. The lecture was about questionnaire design and sampling. One of the students I talked to said that this was a pretty typical class, but there have been a lot of guest speakers, often related to the latest case. Lee used humor and personal anecdotes to liven up the class, relating questionnaire design to the art of picking up a girl. She got into some stats with the sample size stuff...she lost about a third of the class and everyone had a good laugh about it. Next up was a tour. Nothing in particular stood out to me, just seemed to have all the typical things you'd expect from a b-school facility. I had lunch with a couple of other Kellogg hopefuls from the tour and we talked application strategy. The atrium was packed for lunch and seating was a challenge. After lunch, we attended an info session. It was led by the same woman who led the San Diego info session. She actually recognized my face, couldn't place a name or a location, but she knew she had seen me at a previous session. Not much new information as expected, but it was nice to hear a little more about LEAP and GIM than at the SD session. I ducked out a little early for my interview with an associate director of admissions. It went OK, I feel kinda neutral about it...I didn't walk out feeling like I nailed it, but I didn't feel like I bombed it either. Everything I read about Kellogg interviews told me that it would be typical questions and that it is mostly about establishing fit and that it's important to show enthusiasm and energy for Kellogg. My interviewer had probably been conducting interviews all day, she seemed tired and less than enthusiastic, kinda low energy. It's a challenge to maintain energy & enthusiasm when it's not being reciprocated, but I did my best and it's out of my hands now. For my fellow Kellogg applicants, here's a recap of the interview:

--walk me through your resume
--tell me about your career goals
--what's your plan B (if you can't get into your industry/function of choice)? (this may be just because my target industry is non-traditional, but who knows)
--how do you receive feedback at work? what are your areas for improvement?
--talk about a time when you had to work with your peers and there were issues/conflict
--what kind of critical feedback would you get from your peers?
--what has been your most significant leadership experience?
--what do you do outside of work?

After the interview, I met up with two co-chairs from the Entertainment Media Club. It was a very casual conversation, we chatted about their classes and internships, what they do for fun, etc. They are both very dynamic people and reaffirmed my interest in Kellogg and confidence that I can break into any industry with a Kellogg MBA and the network. Very cool and friendly student body, great curriculum flexibility, etc. Very impressed. I headed home and bundled up since I would be going with J to watch her flag football game in Lincoln Park. That breeze off the lake is ch-ch-chilly! They won and we hit their sponsoring bar, The Bird's Nest, for wings, beer, and baseball, then we called it a night. One other thing happened...we were going to take J's car to the game but discovered that it wouldn't start. We tried jumping it to no avail and came to the conclusion that it was probably the starter and thus would be out of commission for awhile. THANK GOD we tried to start her car Thursday night because the plan for Friday was that the easiest way for me to get down to U of Chicago/Hyde Park was to drive myself since I had to be there by 8 am. I'm very lucky we discovered this Thursday night and not Friday morning so I could create a back-up plan with the el and Metra to get down there in time.

Friday...Woke up before the crack of dawn to make sure I got downtown in time to catch the 7:35 train. Ended up getting down there with time to spare and was able to grab some breakfast at the GSB cafeteria. U of Chicago is beautiful, the gothic architecture is really interesting, especially with the fall colors. The new GSB building is STUNNING. WOW. It still smells new. The gothic touches like the arches in the winter garden are really cool and tie in the otherwise sleek and modern building to the rest of campus. The facility blew me away. Lots of bathrooms (apparently a problem in the old building), very high tech classrooms, group study areas that have plasma screen TVs to review presentations! First item on the agenda was a class visit. There were 5 visitors (2 women, 3 men) for the first class and 2 current students (one woman, one man). The guy was heading to new venture strategy and the gal was heading to business policy (aka existing org strategy) and funny enough, the guys went with the guy, the gals went with the gal. Not sure what that says about us :) Business Policy was taught by John Gould (former dean of the GSB, come to find out). He kicked off the class with a metaphor (I guess he assigns a weekly metaphor to his students). The metaphor the student used was the Red Sox...overcoming incredible odds, overthrowing the evil empire, rewriting history, etc. This class discussed the various business applications of this metaphor, then they talked about some of their readings. Next he divided the class into two teams of ~10 and gave them alternate situations for a previously discussed case, kinda a "case on the fly." Apparently he likes to do this, keep the students on their toes and keep the 3 hour Friday morning class interesting. He also showed the results of a recent assignment in strategic analysis: draw a company as a person or character (in a group) and give the corporation human characteristics, the process of telling a story with a picture as a way to get a more diverse set of contributors, the idea being that a visual reference in picture format allows you to convey an idea in a non-linear form, resulting in a livelier write-up. There was definitely a lot of moaning and groan from the students about this assignment and the results were pretty funny (ever try to draw a picture by committee? LOL). The students I talked to gave mixed reviews of the class--some liked it, some were totally bored. We cut out of the class at the break and I met up with the chair of the entertainment management student group. He was really candid about his experience at the GSB, talked about his summer internship, networking, classes, social life, etc. He was actually the only person I've had tell me "if you're serious about entertainment, go to Anderson"... flat out. Interesting because everyone else I've talked to has said go wherever because you're going to face the same challenges no matter what, even at Anderson. Something to think about, but that's neither here nor there at this point, I need to get admitted somewhere before that even becomes an issue. I caught back up with the group at the info session and I have to say, I was unimpressed (for the first and only time that day, but still...). I don't think Chicago put it's best foot forward with the student leading the session. She seemed a bit immature and was "not sure" about too many things to be in that position. Just not the best person to be in a marketing position, IMO (and the opinion of a couple of my fellow visitors). After that we had lunch with current students and we were supposed to attend another class but no one came to pick us up and at that point I had reached critical mass for information I was at the perfect time to catch a train and get back downtown before rush hour and meet up with my friend. Kinda sucked though because it meant I missed out on meeting up with Byron (a fellow blogger...sorry, B! I was bummed). Impressions of Chicago GSB: AWESOME facilities, cool but fairly independent students, incredibly flexible curriculum, amazing faculty. I found it interesting that most other schools put a lot of effort into creating the sections and study groups with evenly distributed talent/experience, but that is left up to the students at Chicago (yet our visitor day was very structured...hmmm). Very libertarian/free market surprise from a Milton Friedman school. It was a very nice gesture that they gave us a $7 voucher for lunch. Big props for that :) Made up for the shortage of tables in the cafeteria and the fact that we had lunch outside in the cold! When I got back downtown, I had some time to walk around and get a little sightseeing done before meeting up with my friend. Later that night, we went out for dinner & drinks at a couple of establishments in their neighborhood. Laughed so hard I cried at some of their stories, had one too many Jack & Diet Cokes, then went home. It was a long day and my dogs were barking from all the walking.

Saturday...Slept in, then ordered some fantastic deep dish pizza and watched college football for awhile before heading downtown for some shopping. We also went up to the Signature Room on the 95th floor of the Hancock Building...amazing view of the city. Witnessed a proposal (she said yes). I really like Chicago. It is a cool town. So much to see and do, so easy to get around via public transportation, great restaurants and's only the winter that scares me. We watched game 1 of the World Series at a bar (great game), more laughter (this time at T's stories from her time working for Jerry Springer), then went dancing. Didn't make it a very late night since I had to be up early to catch my flight.

Back home to beautiful San Diego this afternoon. Got caught up on my email and blog reading. Confirmed that my boss submitted my Kellogg & Anderson recos on Thursday...whew! Anxiously awaiting Wharton/Columbia/HBS news on behalf of my fellow bloggers. This week: finish up my Haas, Anderson, & McCombs essays. Start on Chicago essays. Get kicked out my apartment to get rid of the bugs. Figure out a Halloween costume. See my boyfriend, I miss him!

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

New shoes

Followed the lead of FMG, I bought new shoes today at DSW. I don't know if there's any validity to her theory, but it's worth a shot :)

Kellogg application submitted

As of 10:58 AM PDT, I have officially become a Kellogg applicant. My mom and I had one final proofreading conference call this morning and I decided my application was ready to be sent off into the wild blue yonder. The past few nights have been late ones, making final adjustments to my essays, trimming them down as much as possible to make sure I stay within the guidelines. Reading through my application as one package, I feel I highlighted my strengths, addressed my weaknesses, laid out my career progression and future goals, answered the questions asked and allowed my personality to come through. I sincerely hope the admissions committee feels the same way.

My Kellogg application is not quite complete. I will submit my transcript during my visit on Thursday. Also, my boss has not yet submitted my recommendation. I'm getting kinda frustrated with him. The first recommendation he started working on was UCLA, which isn't due until Nov 3. He says he wants to finish that one before he starts the others so he doesn't have to generate everything from scratch. That's all fine and good, but why are you working on a recommendation that's not due for two weeks when one is due this week? He assures me he will submit it tomorrow. I'm a little worried because I know he's busy today with his boss in town and one of my co-workers just put in two weeks notice. Crossing my fingers and saying a prayer.

Now that I've broken the seal, so to speak, I feel really good about finishing up the remaining four applications. Some of the stuff was actually pretty fun to write about and I think the process is a good experience, no matter the outcome. I'm really excited for my trip to Chicago and I can't wait to see one of my best friends from college. Should be a really good weekend and I will be sure to post a recap when I return with all the info about my campus visits and fun times in Chi-town.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Haas visit

I made the trek up to Berkeley yesterday to learn more about Haas. It was a great day and I have oodles of information to spice up my essays in the next two weeks. With my work schedule and my ambitious plan for 5 round 1 apps, I had to squeeze my visit into a single day. Lucky for me, Southwest has a direct flight between San Diego and Oakland so it wasn’t too bad and they have great deals on inter-CA flights. I woke up around 5 am and caught the 7 am flight. That put me in Oakland just after 8:30. I was able to take BART into Berkeley than catch the campus shuttle bus up to Haas. I love public transportation and BART is one of the best. It’s clean, easy to use, convenient, and efficient. I had no problems and checked in at the admissions office around 9:30.

That left me some free time before the tour/lunch at 11:45, so I went down to the cafĂ© to make some notes/list of questions, proofread a couple essays, and read the latest “Economist” (has a great section on the presidential election). Plus, I wanted to just sit back and observe Haas students in their element. People were very friendly, smiling/happy, and most people were working in pairs or groups. I talked to some students who were in the morning section of Microeconomics (the class I would be visiting in the afternoon) and talked to them about the pricing presentation they were working on. Everyone seemed very casual and laid back. I definitely got the “collaborative environment” vibe.

The tour through the Haas facilities was nice. I like the layout and central courtyard, lots of common space for interacting with your fellow students. I did notice the presence of the undergrads, but the tour guides and info session leaders said that there were very few issues sharing space and/or professor time with them (except for scheduling the study rooms, which can be done online). The campus itself is pretty cool, and of course Haas is situated at the top of the hill so all the older MBA folks get their exercise. We got some lunch and continued to bombard our hosts with questions.

After lunch, we attended the information session hosted by two student ambassadors. I didn’t get much new information out of it since I attended the Haas info session here in San Diego, but it was nice to get two new perspectives on life at Haas. My overall impression of Haas remains the same: a laid-back yet rigorous program filled with intelligent, down-to-earth folks who care just as much (or more) about the world around them as they do about making money, all in a very collaborative and student-driven environment.

Next, I attended the core Microeconomics class. It was different than a typical class since it was their final class of the half semester. Rather than a lecture or case study led by the professor, the learning teams each did a 5 minute pricing presentation on a variety of companies as a culmination of what they had learned. There was a wide range of presentations: some with one presenter and some with two, some who played it straight and some who went for funny, some with PowerPoint slides and some with no visual aids. I was happy to see that a handful of the companies selected were sports related and this showed me that even in a general class you can tweak a project for your industry of interest. The students I spoke with at the end of class told me it was a really interesting class, great professor, very “laid back yet rigorous”. As Dave reported a few days ago, the classroom was stifling hot! Public program = Less money for the luxuries.

Finally, I met up with the co-chair of the Entertainment Management Association. This was probably the most informative part of my day and will have the most impact on my essays. Two pages of notes from that discussion full of advice on using an MBA in the sports/media/entertainment industry, searching for jobs/internships, tailoring the curriculum to work for you, networking with alums and MBAs from other programs, different projects and seminars available at Haas related to the industry, etc. It was invaluable and I’m so glad I’ve set up similar meetings at Kellogg and Chicago next week. We wrapped up around 5:30 and I headed back to the airport. I tried to get on an earlier flight but failed, so I didn’t get home until around 11 pm. It was a very long day, but a great day.

I am physically exhausted and with 5 apps due in the next 4 weeks and my trip to Chicago next week, there is no reprieve in sight, yet my campus visit has me mentally energized and ready to attack my remaining application tasks. MUST…PUSH…FORWARD!

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Don't you just love landlords?

I typically enjoy the benefits of renting vs owning. I like not having to do yard work, fix things, buy appliances, etc. and having the freedom to pick up and move pretty easily. Sometimes it sucks. Like now. My landlord called me last night to inform me that our building needs to be fumigated and he wants to do it before the end of the month. We will need to be out of the building for 3 days/2 nights and I have no choice in the matter. Of course this can't be done while I'm in Chicago, that would be too convenient. I will be homeless Oct 28-30 and it's just my luck that I have 3 applications due within a week of that (Haas on the 29th, McCombs on the 1st, and Anderson on the 3rd). Fan-f'n-tastic. As if I don't have enough stress in my life right now!

I submitted part 1 for Kellogg last week. It's the first application piece I've formally submitted. It was terrifying! I triple-checked for typos, spelling, and grammar, but I was so tense when I hit that submit button. I now have one recommendation submitted for Haas and my recos assure me that more will be coming by the end of the week. I'm looking forward to spending Thursday at Berkeley. I've set up a lunch, tour, info session, class visit, and a meeting with someone from the Entertainment Management Association. It will be a whirlwind day and I'll be taking copious notes so I can finish up my Haas essays before my trip to Chicago next week. I'm getting nervous anticipating my Kellogg interview. I need to get some quality copies of my resume made, go over some practice questions, make sure I know my app/resume backwards & forwards, and pick up my suit from Nordstorm. Ended up buying a beautiful black pinstripe suit that should last me a long time. I also need to dust off my overcoat. It hasn't seen the light of day since I moved to San Diego.

As for the BW rankings, it all seemed like much ado about nothing. Not a lot of change, and those few changes didn't seem unexpected. It will be interesting to get current students perspectives on the Haas slip.

Thursday, October 07, 2004


"Elephants sleep only 2 hours a day."

This according to the lid from my diet Snapple iced tea this morning. Well color me jealous, I wish I could survive on 2 hours of sleep. As it is, that zombie feeling is starting to creep in and I don't see it improving anytime soon, even after my last deadline there will still be admission decisions to worry about, then financing and moving.

I've been working later into the evenings on my applications, and I'll plow through the sleepy feelings only to be ready to wrap up and hit the sack feeling completely wired. I'm having a hard time shutting my brain off when I go to bed. Makes it hard to fall asleep when I'm thinking about all the things I need to do, questions that still need to be asked and answered, etc. Once I do fall asleep, it's restless sleep. I've tried to do the watch a boring show or read a book thing, but I have this MBA ADD and my thoughts always drift back to my applications or all of the what if scenarios.... What if I don't get in anywhere? What if I get in to more than one program, how am I going to decide and how will I finance this little project? What if my recommenders let me down? What if I bomb my interviews? What if things progress with my boyfriend but he doesn't want to move with me? WHAT IF A THOUSAND RINKY DINKS COME ROLLING DOWN THE HILL???! (one of my father's favorite sayings when I start playing the "what if" game, a funny reminder to KNOCK IT OFF because it's useless)

Business Week rankings come out in just an hour and 15 minutes. I'll be tuned into the chat. Do I really care about the rankings? Are they going to change my application strategy at this stage? Definitely not, but all the hype surrounding the rankings, the snub by Harvard & Wharton, the endless debates on the forums....this thing is like a train wreck and I can't help but watch. I'll post my reaction later tonight.

I have a friend who is a department manager at Nordstorm so I'm going to pay her a visit tonight after work and buy a suit for my interviews. I haven't worn a suit since I interviewed with my current employer in the spring of 2000! Back then, I couldn't afford anything nice so the one I had is a bit beat up, dated, and doesn't fit me that great. It's time to be a big girl and buy something nice that will last at least the next 3 years and hopefully longer. Credit card is going to get some exercise tonight, ugh.

Friday, October 01, 2004

That didn't take long

Mount St. Helens had a little eruption this afternoon, but it sounds like that will be it. She just needed to let off a little steam...don't we all?

My boyfriend and I had a real, proper date last night. We went to dinner downtown then went to the theater to see the traveling production of "Rent." I love the music, but this was just an OK production of it. It's interesting that in less than a decade material that was once controversial is now pretty mainstream.

I missed the presidential debate because of the show, but I Tivo'd it and plan to watch it sometime this weekend.