Tuesday, February 28, 2006

4 P's - People, Personalities, Projects, Positions

Had my Cornell interview bright and early this morning.

Sitting down at a Starbucks table, the alum gave me the drill: "Here's how it works. I have a list of questions to ask you. I will write your answers as we go. At the end you can ask me questions. I send this all back to Cornell, and they'll compile all your information together. If there are 'holes' in your application, they may call you to clarify some information. Sound good?"

On you mark. Get set. Go!

1) How did you select your current/previous job(s)?
2) Why do you want an MBA?
3) Why Cornell?
4) What are your long-term and short-term goals?
5) What other schools are you applying to?
6) How would your co-workers describe you?

Me: "I'm approachable..."
Her: "That's because you're female. I work in the tech sector too. Give me another one."

7) What are three characteristics that make a great leader?
8) What drives you? What makes you get up in the morning each day?
9) Tell me a team situation where someone was hard to deal with.
10) Tell me a team situation where you faced an obstacle.
11) Tell me a time when you directly had a conflict with another team member.
12) What will you add to Johnson?
13) Name three characteristics that you will bring to your Cornell classmates.
14) Tell me about a significant accomplishment and what impact you created.
15) What are the strengths and weaknesses of your Johnson application?

To my weakness answer: "That's a weakness that can be turned into an advantage or positive. Give me another one."

16) How do you approach a problem?
17) What is an innovative solution you came up with for a problem you dealt with?

Her feedback: "I think you communicate well and have the right social skills. Your weakness is that you've only had one full-time employer. All companies are different. If Cornell calls you, try to think of more examples where you've worked with Vice President's and such to help broaden your experiences." I thanked her, and we parted ways.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Stanford GSB Interview

Checked into the alum's company, sporting my "guest" nametag. Was in the process of blowing my nose, when I turned around and discovered the alum was standing right there, waiting for me! Wow - talk about punctual. (Yes, I tucked the tissue away.)

We spun a couple circles locating our meeting room, chatting about her Stanford experience. I entered the room and found myself staring at smiley faces and pillows dotting the walls. What a way to set the mood. :-) No doubt, she works for a very friendly company indeed.

We casually eased into our seats, and then came her list of prepared "Stanford recommended" questions.

1) What was the point/situation that made you realize you wanted an MBA?
2) Why Stanford?
3) Tell me about a challenging time for you.

At this point she said, "I will give you a minute, because honestly, I don't even know how I would answer this question." My mind almost blanked, but then I really dug into myself and answered from the heart - something family related.

4) Tell me a time where you failed as a leader. What was the reaction of those under you?
5) What do you believe to be your greatest achievement?

After my answer, she stared at me wide-eyed. I almost panicked thinking, "Oh no! Did I just say something wrong?!?!" She stunned me by saying, "You're a walking case-study for a book I just read! What you just talked about - there was an entire chapter on it. When you mentioned your X experience earlier, it also fit what this book is teaching as well!"

Whew! I let out my breath. We launched into a discussion about women in business. Many women seem to be ripping each other's hair out as they fight for top spots. Why? Perhaps we assume there are only those "few spots" for women on top? But that's not right. Women should be collectively working towards the top together in a mutual support. Shouldn't we? We chatted animatedly about career women, work-life balance, stepping beyond your comfort zone to make things happen, and through it all, being driven by your passion and interests to reach your goals.

Oh, and I discovered that the GSB has a "Books for Break" reading list! (Aha! Thus, the infamous book question.) She Wins, You Win was the latest and greatest book from the reading list. I'm definitely picking up a copy. (Thanks also to Anuj for an enlightening ongoing discussion of Freakonomics.)

6) Tell me about a great leader you had and what you learned from this person.
7) What was the best college course you took?
8) And the question of multiple school apps came up, as MBA Jackass pondered over, but I was instead asked: Why aren't you applying to Harvard and Wharton? I gave her my 10-second spiel and we moved on.

9) What is the best constructive criticism you've received?
10) Finally, there it was: What is a non-business book you've read and what did you learn from it?

Through the entire 45 minutes, we had collectively recommended 5 different books and 2 different community service orgs to each other. However, my biggest take away from this interview was how much I was able to reflect on myself and what I've learned in life - and speak to it from the heart. Sure, we wrote about it in our essays, but our conversation challenged me to step beyond my own answer to the "what matters most to me and why" question. The light bulb flashed even brighter, reaffirming for myself who I was, what I was there for, and how we are a part of each other's lives (perhaps in ways unknown).

Even if I don't get an admit, I will always thank Stanford for the 45 minutes of pure, honest self-reflection. For now, I will remain hopeful. Good luck to all fellow '08-ers and your upcoming interviews!

Monday, February 20, 2006

The Buzzzz


Have you been bitten by the buzz yet? :-) The site went up about a week ago and has since gained a lot of traffic. (Here, I'm already thinking of: 1) Data of their # of applicants over the time period in correlation with 2) their advertising techniques and strategy. Perhaps the next MBA case study? *grins*)

The best feature you should check out? THE PLOTTER. You can visually see yourself against other applicants based on the factors of your gmat and gpa scores. Sure it only involves 2 key data points, but it may still help give you a perspective of what you're up against. (From a developer's perspective, I think it's great that each datapoint is linkable to the user's profile.)

They've been really great in featuring my site this week! Thanks again, mbabuzz! And I know they are interested in featuring other applicant blogs, so check them out if you haven't already.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Chicago GSB Interview

I've included brief interview blurbs in the wiki-wuh wiki-wiki-wuh wiki-wiki-wiki-wiki-wiki... (DJ, turn it up! *wink*)

Coming out from the Chicago cold, I strutted down the hall of the HPC until I found the Admissions Office on my left. Before pulling the door open, I took a deep breath, and then stepped through the doors.

I was met by a room full of applicants and 1st-years. The applicants glanced around nervously. The 1st-years grinned and welcomed us, helping to calm our nerves. I took a seat next to a 1st-year. He talked. And he talked. And he talked. I began to wonder if he ever stopped to take a breath. :-) Letting him continue his monologue, my mind began to wander, reviewing the interview q's I had studied an hour before.

The admissions door opened and a princess glided over. Greeting me with a friendly smile, we shook hands firmly. She led me to a meeting room. My interviewer explained this was a casual interview. It was blind, so she had only seen my resume. She shot off her first question: "Tell me about when you co-managed this project."

Other Q's:
- Tell me about a teamwork experience from work.
- What are your long-term and short-term goals?

On the topic of marketing, her eyes lit up and she spoke about her summer marketing internship. We discussed GSB's unbeknown strength in marketing and its curriculum. Surprisingly, she never asked me the famous "Why GSB?" question, so I attempted to tie all my answers back to "Why GSB."

Also, prompted from my resume:
- Tell me about your hip-hop dancing.
- Tell me something interesting from your trip to Thailand.

The 30 minutes were soon up, and I was given 5 minutes to ask her questions. Afterwards, I thanked her and left the office. I headed towards the cafe to re-energize. Sitting down with my food, the French man approached me. "I heard you were here! How did it go?" *kiss kiss hug hug* He looked exhausted from his battle with the 1st-year recruiting season. We wished each other well, and he left for a group meeting.

I ate my sushi.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Heart A Poundin'

Stanford Interview Invite


Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Yale SOM Interview

Was. A. Blast.

I have never enjoyed an interview so much! Driving an hour north to meet the Yale alum, we settled ourselves over freshly made hot chocolate at Starbucks - to soothe two chocoholics' souls. Sorebrek and I once discussed the benefits of having an interviewer of the opposite sex, but this was one time where my interviewer being the same gender seemed to play to my advantage.

My interviewer and I were drawing connections on every level! From both studying the same major in college and our similar work experience (she spent several years at a competitor company and knew the industry well), all the way down to the craziness of sorority life and our annoying face blemishes - a pimple decided to sprout on my chin the night before and a fresh, new scab glared back at me from her forehead. "Don't ask," she said shaking her head in embarrassment. We both laughed.

After covering "why mba" and "why yale," the conversation took an interesting turn, and we discussed our frustrations with technology marketing. Then a flurry of brainstorming began as we batted marketing ideas across the table for both of our companies.

I walked away feeling empowered by our discussion - or maybe I was just high on cocoa beans. :-)

Stanford finally turned "Your application is complete and currently under review" yesterday. Chicago interview is a week away.

Friday, February 03, 2006

No Word From Stanford

I have the jitters.

The "Complete" verification from all my schools have blessed my inbox - all except Stanford. Foobarme posted his app going "Complete" 2 weeks back. I just logged into my Stanford App and the same bright, bold characters from when I submitted my app on 1/4/2006 12:03:00 AM PST still stares back at me: Submitted.

Well, as Leo Tolstoy once said: "The two most powerful warriors are patience and time." This is a test to see how much my nerves can take. :-P Don't know if I'm fit to be a "warrior," dear Leo.

Hats off to all my fellow bloggers! :-)