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!


Quantjock said...

Great post... I agree that Chicago is a great town.

Btw...thanks for your kellogg will be helpful for me. I have a interview with an alum...

aregon23 said...

Great post! This is the best part about reading blogs, you don't have to be there to experience the show, you just read about it later. :)

Thanks for the Kellogg interview questions. If Kellogg ever gets around to connecting me with an Alumni recruiter, I will certainly find these very useful.

Classy said...

Great post WC! :-) I agree, Chicago is a great city and I really hope to end up there after b-school. Keep us posted!

BTW, are you going to visit McCombs? If so, let me know as I am in Austin pretty often!

yoni cohen :: said...


Came across your blog today. Great stuff. In-depth, lengthy posts. Best of luck with MBA admissions!

Noticed that you are a sports fan. Hoping you could add a Blogroll link to my "College Basketball Blog," I blog on the Deamon Deacons from time to time. I'd very much appreciate a link on your site.

And would gladly return the favor, adding you to my blogroll.


Yoni Cohen,
College Basketball Blog

Wakechick said...

Thanks everyone, glad you enjoyed the recap. I hope I was able to give you guys another perspective on Chicago & Kellogg. The trip really was a lot of fun and reaffirmed my interest in those programs. Now on to the waiting game!