Almost done with my first year…how’d it go?

I had thought this blog was dead, but I got a question from Bill, and I think it would be valuable to add some sort of update.

Bill’s Question:

“I know you’ve basically retired this blog about a year ago, but I was wondering if you’d share some of your observations of your first year at Kellogg, the forthcoming summer internship, etc. I’m curious to hear about how closely your experiences are tracking with the expectations you may have had while you were preparing and writing this blog.”

Well, I’m just going to jot down some bullets, since that’s what I do. Organizing my thoughts into a cohesive entry would be too much work and not my style!

  • The Fall quarter was miserable and overwhelming for me. I hadn’t been in school for almost eight years. Sitting through a lecture without distraction was torturous. Also, I was learning material that was completely foreign to me and competing with classmates who were more familiar with the material/concepts. It took some time to accept being average or below average (which is bound to happen when you’re in a top-tier school, but still…it takes getting used to)…and it also took time to understand that grades don’t really matter. Years of academic success are hard to shake.
  • My classmates are brilliant yet down-to-earth. Sometimes it baffles me that these seemingly ordinary people are so accomplished. It is hard not to feel small around such stars…but I have to remind myself that the administration also saw something in me, too. What it is, I have yet to figure out.
  • Winter quarter was slightly better on the academic front, but the added stress of interviewing for internships compounded with my first ever winter (learned the hard way my car could read negative temps)…made for a miserable few months. I am accustomed to acing all my interviews. Hell, I give good interview. People love me! However, when competing against your classmates who are equally charismatic, employers use the nitty gritty to weed you out. Even though I felt I was well prepared (over-prepared, even), I got GRILLED in many of my interviews and often left feeling defeated. I had a gazillion interviews, landed 3 offers, and will be working in NJ this summer. In this economy, I feel lucky to have an internship since some of my classmates are still scrambling to find something.
  • Spring quarter is much better. I’m taking classes I’m interested in (e.g. Marketing) and not taking things I don’t understand or care about (e.g. Microeconomics and Finance). I have more time to socialize, play softball, train for a triathlon, explore Chicago, and travel.
  • What they say about strained relationships in bschool has been eerily accurate. I broke up with my bf of 9 years prior to leaving for Evanston. No regrets. I am dating someone new…no, not a classmate (though I am by far the exception). Among my peers, there has been a fairly high relationship mortality rate: broken engagements, divorce, long distance relationships not working out…even breakups among couples who moved to Evanston together. Of course, there have also been new couplings, engagements, babies, and healthy couples flourishing. Life continues to happen and change.
  • Business school is a lot more work than I thought it would be, but in the end, I do see it paying off. The alumni network is super helpful whenever they can be. The speakers we are able to draw are amazing.
  • I’ve had some great professors, some ok professors, and some TRULY AWFUL professors who have no business teaching anything. I had high expectations for the teaching caliber at a top 3 bschool, but I guess it was unrealistic. Some great researchers are awful teachers, but that’s part of the job. Just pay attention to the evaluations and get advice from the 2nd years so you don’t end up with someone who can’t teach (though sometimes it is inevitable for the core curriculum).
  • My 6-week trek through Europe was amazing. My KWEST trip and spring break (both in the Caribbean) were relaxing. I’m traveling as much as I can while I have the time, even though I don’t have the money.
  • There are a gazillion social events every night of the week and you’re always going to miss out on something. Kellogg has a strange affinity for costume parties, which I loathe. But there’s a plethora of other events that I show up at…something for everyone…even misanthropes such as myself.
  • Would I do it again? Certainly. What would I do differently? Maybe I wouldn’t take classes so seriously the first quarter…other than that, I am now having a blast. You just gotta survive the first two quarters and the rest is supposedly cake. If spring quarter is a taste of it…2nd year will be awesome!

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Hey look!

I’ve been nominated for Clear Admit’s Best of Blogging! Voting happens in the next week or so…

But I’m leaving for a two week vacation tomorrow. I’m flying on American but on the 757s which aren’t affected by the groundings. Hopefully I get to my destination without any trouble. I’ve got some zip lining through the rain forest, hot spring soaks, volcano hikes, ATV adventures, and lots of beach time with my girl friends scheduled. I’m also using this trip as a test run for packing light. I actually have extra room in my backpack. However, I’ve been known to stuff extra clothes in at the last moment when there is space.

My Europe trip is falling into place. I’ve got this spreadsheet that probably makes me appear crazy outlining my destinations, transportation costs, hotel reservations, etc. I don’t have my restaurants and activities planned, but I do like to keep track of my expenses as well as know where I’m going to be, how I’m going to get there, and where I’m going to sleep.

There probably won’t be too much blogging here moving forward. I’ll leave this site up since I found reading other peoples’ experiences from the previous years really helped me prepare my application this year. If you have any questions please feel free to email me. Good luck to the incoming class of 2010 and to next year’s applicants for class of 2011!

Oh yes, and I officially gave notice of my resignation earlier this week. YAY! Only six weeks of work left after I return from vacation.

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What I do at the office…

…besides work:

  • Plan my Costa Rica/Belize trip. Still not sure what we want to do on the tail end of our Costa Rica trip yet. So far, we’re going to be in Arenal and Monteverde swimming in hot springs, hiking to volcanoes, and zip lining through the rainforest canopies.
  • Play Scrabble & Boggle on Facebook
  • Plan my European trip. Flights have been purchased! Now I just have to finalize my agenda. The first few weeks overlap with the Eurocup, which should be fun, but makes Salzburg and Vienna a little more expensive and difficult to secure housing. I’ve never stayed in hostels before, so Austria will be my first time. I’ve booked two days of hostel respite in Vienna via my Starwood Points, and then a few more days of hostel living in Bratislava before I meet my friend in Budapest. We’ll be watching the Eurocup Quarterfinals in Budapest and Zagreb. The final match will be somewhere on the Dalmation Coast. And then onwards to Greece and the Cyclades before I return home. Still gotta research ferries, train schedules, hotels, etc…but its all falling into place. I’ve been a bit obsessed with this trip for the past week…took a while to iron out the details of my solo Austrian leg. For you Greece/Croatia experts, do you suggest we prebook accommodations given we’ll be there late June and all of July?
  • Ponder my last day in the office. I think it’ll be June 5.
  • Pass my work on to my direct report…transition planning!

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Kellogg Financial Aid Package / summer travels

I looked through my financial aid package today…seems like I’ll have to take $33k in Grad Plus loans (8.5% adjustable w/3% down). This is definitely more than I have in cash, so I’m not sure how they’re figuring I have that much to spend during my first year of school (they calculated 401ks, idiots). Luckily, I got a small scholarship/grant/whatever. It is not as sizeable as Duke’s offer, but still better than nothing.

My bf is faxing a signed copy of my Evanston lease to the landlord tomorrow. Money is just flying out of my coffers left and right. I’ve been in Orlando for the past week. Oh, and I made Premier status on United last year. That was a nice surprise.

Today and tomorrow I’ll be tied up with jury duty. Jury duty is not unlike high school detention…except I have wireless access (yay SF!).

My summer travels are slowly being fleshed out. My last day in the office will be June 6. I have a wedding June 7th in LA and then I’m free to leave whenever is convenient. I don’t have to be back in SF until the first weekend of August. I’ve cut out Tanzania (cost-prohibitive) but Egypt is still a possibility (~$500 flight from Athens). Right now, it looks to be a 6-7 week backpacking trip through Czech, Austria, Hungary, Croatia, Greece, Turkey…and who knows what else with a budget of $5-7k (transatlantic flight will be booked on miles). I’ll stay with a high school friend in Prague, do the Austria leg by myself (unless anyone out there on the internets wants to relive the Sound of Music with me in Salzburg? or watch the Eurocup?), and then meet up with a friend for the remainder of the trip. My fingers are crossed that this works out since it would be VERY nice to have a buddy to travel with for a month.

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DAK was awesome! I met a bunch of really great potential classmates. I was awed by how down-to-earth everyone is. One even lent me his jacket for the evening after my luggage was delayed. I’m totally drinking the kool-aid:

  • My Kellogg deposit is in the mail
  • Income taxes have been filed
  • FAFSA completed
  • Broke up with Duke this afternoon. Too bad Kellogg isn’t giving me the same kind of $$ (or any at all, for that matter)
  • The bf (or JV in Kellogg-speak) is also drinking the juice. He’s looking forward to the KWEST trip this summer and has started studying for the GMAT.
  • I met with a healthcare professor and can’t wait to take his classes. Next year, I’m going to look into producing better communications/marketing materials for prospective students interested in healthcare at Kellogg. While the program is strong, it is really really hard to find backup materials that make you feel the program is comparable to Haas, Duke, and Wharton. It is a little bit flaky mostly because there isn’t much information on how the program is run, there aren’t any statistics, and information available isn’t as in-depth as the other schools. After talking to the professor, I’m confident in the strength of this program.

Still to do/in progress (mostly stuff I can’t do since I don’t have a fax machine at home):

  • Drop calculus
  • Financial aid/scholarship paperwork almost done (gotta fax it in tomorrow…why do they want to know how much is in my 401k?? I am not liquidating that for school)
  • Housing application almost complete (I don’t have a fax at home so gotta wait til I get to work). Once that’s done, I’ll send a furniture deposit to the student who currently resides in the apartment. All I really have to do in August is bring my clothes, TV, Tivo, and wireless router. YAY!
  • Figure out if my tires are all season. Hopefully they are so I don’t have to buy a set of new ones.

Aside from being cold, poor, and back in school…all this purple will be an adjustment. Since 1st grade, I’ve always been blue and gold. Yesterday, I walked into the very small student store in downtown Evanston and was incredibly overwhelmed by the purple. It looked like Barney had exploded into a space the size of two office cubicles. The best I can do right now is grey with purple lettering. A hoodie will probably be my first on-campus purchase this fall.

Random: The admissions director mentioned that Kellogg’s Round 1 admits had an average GMAT score of 721 and an average GPA of 3.5. I’m dragging down the GMAT but raising the GPA numbers.

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As much as I travel, I really dislike packing and unpacking. I never actually unpacked from my last trip to Orlando…I’m just rearranging things for my trip to Evanston for DAK. I’ll be home for a few days and then I’ll probably rearrange things again for my trip BACK to Orlando.

I hate being limited to the items that I bring. I never pack efficiently (it would take too much time to repack) so I’m always embarassed of the size of my suitcase. I’m even more embarassed when I travel to colder climates. I’m ALWAYS cold so I have to pack lots of warm clothes…which take up a lot of space. I work mostly with boys and its amazing how many days of suits they can fit into a small carryon bag. Although I’m not a major girly girl, I still need shoe options. Oh, and my toiletries take up a lot of space.

How am I going to fit everything I need for six weeks in Northern Europe, Eastern Europe, and East Africa all in one backpack? That will be a challenge.

I can’t wait to get into a bikini. Hawaii has been canceled, but Belize and Costa Rica aren’t too far away!

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Duke scholarship

I got my scholarship letter from Duke last week. It was SIGNIFICANTLY more than I expected, but not significant enough to change my mind. I’m going to break up with Fuqua and send my deposit to Kellogg after I return from DAK.

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