I’m unemployed.

It’s hard to believe that several business schools have already begun to release their essay questions for the 2013-2014 MBA application cycle. The vast majority of these prospective students will be graduating in 2016! Wowza.

I finally left my full-time job last week and let me tell you – it felt oddly unsettling and strange to be walking out those doors knowing I wouldn’t be able to return if I tried. After exiting, I stopped and looked up at the building somewhat wistfully, knowing my (former) Blackberry and ID card were many floors up, tucked away in the top right drawer inside my manager’s office. I’ve been fortunately employed ever since I graduated college and so many times this past week I felt a strange yet wonderful feeling of not having to check work e-mail. Having been employed for such a long duration, I grew what felt like an additional extension of myself, embedded in a “professional” world, one in which I could escape to if my personal life ever came to be too much, or one in which I could not escape from, knowing the office will always need me there, Monday through Friday, all year round. Having that corporate job simply removed from the equation… took some getting used to.

And boy oh boy have I ever fully embraced it now! It’s hard not to wear a big grin on your face when you can spend the day literally doing whatever you want – go for a bike ride, read a book, complete that laundry list of errands (the pre-MBA phase will ensure your list is long), relax in the park, explore the city, spend time with family and friends, plan a vacation, etc. It’s fantastic – this may be the last month and a half or so of freedom I’ll get in a long, long time! I’m making it count. Since a pre-MBA internship never materialized for me, I had decided to work an extra 2 weeks to collect some extra $$$, and now I’m planning to do all of the above and more. Couldn’t be more excited!

For anyone curious as to what are some of the checklist items that admitted students are asked of before arriving to school, here are a few:

Medical Check-up; get a physical if you haven’t done so recently, receive immunization shots, fetch old records, etc.

Recommended Reading; let’s face it, most of us will not have been in school for a while and it takes a while to get back into student/study mode. recommended reading always helps and probably serves as a critical refresher for most topics. it is also essential for anyone thinking of placing out of core courses

Housing; luckily I had my housing setup secured a long time back but there are many fellow classmates who continue to seek housing in May, June, maybe even July. better get your cash deposits ready and sign those leases!

School-specific tasks; activate your school e-mail and ID, submit required forms, decide on potential dining plans and parking permits, etc.

Background verification; schools gotta screen for frauds, what more can I say. this process comes with paperwork and of course, a processing fee

Finances; and of course, you have to get your financial bearings in order, contact the Bursar if necessary, complete any required loan documents (e.g. Master Promissory Note), and prep for incoming tuition bills

Although the start of my MBA journey began long ago when I decided to begin prepping for the GMAT (oh man I am glad that is over with), the real meat of the MBA process is just around the corner. I officially settled on Cornell after I withdrew myself from Duke’s waitlist because I was confident and convinced that Johnson was the right school for me after my two visits.

A year ago I was wondering where I would matriculate to business school. Today, I am wondering where I will land my official summer internship. In the future, I will be wondering where life will take me next. There will always be questions and wonders about the future. What makes things exciting though, is knowing that I am taking that first step towards each of these goals, so that I am not merely dreaming of the next big thing, I’m actually doing it.

Can’t wait to start at the Johnson Graduate School of Management and join my fellow Class of 2015!

What’s in a name? What’s in a degree?

I can’t believe it’s already March! I’ve had a little over two weeks to digest my acceptance at the Johnson School of Management at Cornell University but it feels so much longer than that!

By the way, I still quite haven’t nailed how I plan to address the school name. Is it Johnson? The Johnson School? S.C. Johnson? Johnson Cornell University? JGSM? Cornell MBA? Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University? My God, that’s a mouthful.

A part of me cannot help but to be lured by the simplicity of the “(blank) Business School” naming convention. As someone exploring the possibility of a career in brand management, it’s only natural for me to consider what goes in a name. I’ve connected with a few of the Johnson students on LinkedIn and here’s a sampling of the headlines under the PEOPLE ALSO VIEWED section:

“MBA Candidate 2013 at Cornell University – S.C. Johnson Graduate School of Management”
“MBA 2013 Candidate, Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University”
“MBA Candidate and Roy H. Park Leadership Fellow at Cornell”
“MBA Candidate at the Johnson School of Business at Cornell”
“MBA at Cornell University-Johnson Business School”
“MBA Candidate at Johnson at Cornell University”
“Class of 2013 MBA Candidate, Johnson at Cornell”

So… it appears as if I am not alone in the indecisive naming capacity of Cornell’s business school. One student uses the preposition “at” twice (i.e. “at Johnson at Cornell” which sounds redundant… most students use a comma to address this). Another forgoes the name “Johnson” completely and opts to simply go with the Cornell brand. A few others decide to say the hell with it and rename it as they see fit. Few students appear to use the initials S.C.

Anywaaaayyyys, haha, sorry for the random rant. I reckon I’ll just use whatever damn wording comes to mind when I’m typing!

Moving on…

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Not-So-Standard Interview Questions

Clear Admit is a great resource for reviewing potential interview questions that you may encounter during your business school admissions interviews. However, in spite of my preparation for my four interviews at Fuqua, Kellogg, SOM, and Johnson, there were still a few questions that caught me a bit off-guard.

‘lo and behold, here are the few questions that I hadn’t encountered before (online) until I was asked by the interviewer. The last one listed here had me scrambling for a meaningful answer for what felt like an eternity. (Fortunately, the interviewer had smiled and said a lot of her interviewees did not expect that question and that they had also taken a few moments to think of an answer).

Hopefully these questions will be of some assistance for anyone reading who is preparing for an MBA interview!

If you had one minute to present your case in front of the admissions board, what would you say? Go.

If I were to call your supervisor right now, how would he describe you and your quality of work?

Give me an example of a time you acted out of character.

Accepted! :D

I’ve spent so much time in the past year imagining this – the anticipation, the phone call, the acceptance offer, the moment when I could stop dreaming and actually plan for the months ahead – but I never imagined that when the moment finally arrived that I would just stand there quietly in awe.

Even as I write this blog post, I’m struggling to some degree as to what to write. Feeling jubilant, relieved, appreciative, thrilled. I feel as if my brain has been wired for months, at the helm, ready to learn business fundamentals, network, and charge ahead. The switch has finally been flipped.

Here’s how it went down for me:

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Returning to my cell block

To say that the last two months have been stressful would be putting it lightly. I received admissions decisions for 50% of my submitted applications and I’m essentially stuck in the same mudpit as I was back in December. This is not an ideal scenario by any stretch of the imagination.

Believe me when I tell you how thrilled I was to see many of my fellow MBA prospective applicants receiving admittance offers to various top business schools – I know how many hours of hard work and focus that were poured into the process! But I wouldn’t be honest with you or myself if I said that watching my fellow applicants jump off the sinking ship into their respective lifeboats wasn’t a tad bittersweet (okayy… a biiiitt of an overdramatic analogy there, I know). It’s just that I badly wished to be joining my brothas and sistas to MBALand, not watching them leave for it without me.

I imagine it’s akin to warming up to your cellmate in prison (oh herro fellow MBA applicant!), befriending him over the years (infosessions & forums), fending off the crazies (GMAT) cornering you in the showers, working out a deal with the gang members (recommenders) together, overcoming the interview with the warden (admissions committee), and then finally learning of his release date (acceptance offer) and congratulating him – you’re genuinely happy and elated for him, but the fact remains you’re still returning to your cell block (ding-land). Wouldn’t it be a hundred times more awesome if, say, the two of you were released together? Alas, I have some more waiting to do.

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NYU Stern’s Open House Event

I just wanted to write a short post (this ended up being longer than I thought), commenting on NYU Stern’s Full-time MBA Admissions Open House event. The event was held on a Saturday morning, and even though my R2 application to Stern isn’t guaranteed, what else would I be doing at 10AM on a Saturday? Sign me up.

In short, if you’re within the general vicinity of NYC or can somehow arrange to attend a future Open House event, I highly encourage it. Although the majority of the event was your standard run-of-the-mill information session complete with student speakers and PowerPoint presentation slides, the admissions committee capped the event with a very interesting, unique approach that I’ll touch on later.

The four student speakers NYU Stern elected to speak at the event were a diverse panel of speakers (a former Googler who spent his past summer at Sony working on strategy for a Harry Potter product, an investment banker, an intern at Bayer Consumer Care, etc.) I felt that Stern touched more upon the diversity and strength and influence of its faculty more than most other schools. (Obviously  being located in the heart of Manhattan has a lot to do with the strength of its professors.) Highlights they touched upon included the renowned Corporate Finance class taught by Professor Aswath Damodaran or the connections another professor has with the Cannes Film Festival which allows him to bring 25 students each year, often meeting with executives of various film companies or conglomerates.

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the application process – not as simple as it seems

Surprise, surprise. I can’t stop thinking about business school. I’ve officially been brainwashed. So here goes another blog post about business school. This one’s for anyone reading this blog that is casually considering applying to business school in the future.

In theory, it sounds simple enough. The application involves several key components:

– GMAT score
– essays
– recommendations
– miscellaneous application components (fee, transcripts, demographic info, etc.)

That’s it! That’s all there is to it! Sounds pretty good, right?
You might be thinking, how much time could all this possibly take? Maybe I’ll just apply to 8 different schools while I’m at it?

Let’s break it down further.

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