Archive for July, 2007

Half Marathon PR!

Good news: I set a PR (personal record) for running 13.1 miles–45 seconds faster than my previous PR. I finally hit that imaginary barrier that I had set for myself 3 years ago when I started running longer distances.

Bad news: It hurt so much when I was running that the only thing I was focused on was putting one foot in front of the other. At mile 11, when I was contemplating giving up and walking, it dawned on me that I had forgotten to think about the Kellogg diversity essay which I had planned to map out during this race.  Oops.

Lesson learned: When truly pushing the pace, my brain goes zen. Running is only conducive to essay mapping when I’m going at a more leisurely pace.

In other news, I received a personalized letter (more probably someone from the marketing office) from the Dean at ND Mendoza urging me to apply. I was flattered by the personalization (swayed by direct marketing much?) and briefly considered it…until I realized that they don’t have the program I’m looking for, I already make more than the average graduate, and I really don’t want to live in South Bend, Indiana. Wharton sent me an email blast inviting me to a local women’s only event, which I am also now considering. I’m still not sold on Philadelphia…but it just goes to show that a little love can go a long way.

As a B2B marketer, I’ve been more skeptical of direct mail lately, not just the rate of return, but the environmental impact…but they got me this week.

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Lessons (re)learned

When I first started studying for the GMAT, I did it with a glass of wine. Not long after, I realized this didn’t work well for me. Of course, the GMAT was a long time ago (ok, just two months) and I’ve already forgotten this lesson. I just got home from my last track workout before this weekend’s half marathon, fixed myself a nice dinner and cracked open a cold beer. Fired up the laptop to gear up on an essay writing session and just realized *doh* no focus. 

Either Montauk or Bodine says to write every day, so here I am.

I had a moment of clarity on the track today: rather than trying to perfect my goals essay, I’m going to move on to Essay #2. Once I’ve completed a suitable first draft for each of my essays, I’ll take a look at my essays as a whole and see what needs to be edited to provide a truly complementary profile. For Sunday’s half marathon, I’ll look over my Kellogg essays and focus on whichever one I’m having the most trouble with. My best thinking is done either on the run or on my 45 minute commute to/from work. 

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Kellogg essay 1

Briefly assess your career progress to date.  Elaborate on your future career plans and your motivation for pursuing a graduate degree at Kellogg (one-two pages double spaced)

I’ve temporarily abandoned the HBS essays in favor of Kellogg’s, mostly because I want to nail the first essay (above) and set the tone for the rest of my applications. I’ve jotted a lot of ideas down and figured out my career plans and how it ties into my background. Yesterday, I wrote, what I felt at the time, were four good paragraphs outlining my specific experiences within my career thus far. This morning, I read it over and I’m a little bit disappointed. I’ve done exactly what Montauk tells readers NOT to do–I’ve given a chronological rundown of my resume (although with stories and examples sprinkled in). Back to the drawing board. ARGH.

I’m heading down to LA for the weekend armed with some light beach reading: Montauk, Bodine, and my rough essay sketches. Starting next week, nose to the grindstone. I wonder if I can draft a set of essays every 10 days. That would give me ~2 days to draft each essay over the course of the next 6 weeks, taking me into early September. That would leave September for visiting schools, continually refining my essays, and give me some breathing room since my work hours can get pretty intensive late Sept – early Dec.

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Cuts

I’ve been thinking about this for a few weeks, but after a conversation with a fellow applicant interested in healthcare, I’m cutting NYU off my list. They just don’t have the program that I’m looking for. I’ve known this for a while, but kept them on there because I really liked the idea of finally living in the same city as my best friend again.

This scares me a little bit since NYU was my “more likely” school.

In other application news, I sent a set of five questions out to people who know me in different ways: family, friends from various stages in my life, roommates, close colleagues, running buddies, etc. Basically, I asked them what they like about me, what they don’t like about me, what they think is unique about me, what five words they’d use to describe me, and what makes them think of me. Hopefully this will give me some added insight since it can sometimes be difficult to step back and realistically evaluate someone (me) that you (I) deal with every single minute of every day.

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Oy.

HBS, Kellogg, and Haas have all released their essays. The inertia of the last few weeks has been replaced by the pressure of knowing that I have to write ~20 great essays which have a direct impact on my future. I’m notoriously slow at writing (in college, I started my essays as soon as they were assigned whereas most people wrote things the night before). However, as painstaking as essays are for me, what traditionally comes of it is (in my opinion) pretty awesome. I read back on old essays and the prose, logic and flow are amazing. Of course, I haven’t written a real essay in 7 years. Hopefully writing is like riding a bike.

I’ve come up with my positioning statement. I wrote the first draft of HBS’ accomplishments essay yesterday. Of course, there is a lot of revising that needs to be done, but at least I knocked one out. Next week, I’m sending a couple questions to my friends and family with the hope that they’ll be able to point out some things about myself that I’ve missed. It is rather difficult to step back and figure out what is unique about yourself when you deal with yourself on a daily basis–everything becomes ordinary.

I think I’ll approach these applications one by one. I’ve had a few weeks to ruminate on the HBS application, so I’ll tackle that first. I’ll think about the Kellogg essay in the meantime, and draft that next. And then on to Haas. I’ve got some pretty good ideas for Haas…but on first glance, the “innovative solution” question will require some thought. Right now, the only thing that comes to mind is those chain reaction/domino contraptions…which I’ve never created.

After all that, I’ll go back to each application and revise holistically. There is some time before the fall due dates…but August is the time for me to really pump out those essays.

Tomorrow I have a 12 mile training run and then we’re picking up a whole pig (delicious beast!) for my friend’s BBQ. Sunday, I’ll sit down for another HBS essay draft.

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Worry wart

I’m a worrier. This isn’t a characteristic that I allow to surface in the professional arena, but self doubt follows me wherever I go. I truly am my own worst critic and my friend always reminds me that I don’t give myself enough credit. I have high standards for myself and will accept nothing less. I have to constantly remind myself that anything that I’ve ever set my mind to, I’ve achieved. Anything that I really want, I usually get. Things always have a way of working themselves out.

These days, I worry that I’m shooting too high with my choice of schools. What if I’m shooting for the moon and miss completely? It happens. I’ve read some blogs from people who strike out completely their first year. A couple people struck out their second year as well. On GMATClub, one guy struck out with 7 apps this year. I worry that I’ll fall into this demographic. Anyone know of any mid-level MBA programs that offer both a healthcare AND marketing track?

However, I shouldn’t. I’ve got solid stats, solid work experience, great recommendations, and kickass writing skills (I still read my college entrance essay sometimes and marvel at its genius–really!). I just need to focus on harnessing all of my assets and producing stellar essays. I need to stop comparing myself to other people and run my own race.

Changing gears, I was a little bit embarassed when one of my recommenders sent me a draft yesterday. Already?! I have my brainstorms, but nothing solid yet for HBS. Yesterday, I went back to Montauk’s book and started some of the brainstorming/mining exercises. Hopefully something good will come about it.

I think that if I treat each of my essays like a blog post, my true voice should shine through. Of course, this will be a blog that will be multiply revised and critiqued, but the same voice should come through.

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Reference #1 squared away…sorta

After a rare conference call where my manager (he’s the GM for a several hundred person division) showed up in person (he’s usually flying somewhere) AND we finished early, I spoke to him about writing my reference letters for bschool.

Something must have gone wrong, because it was just too easy. He said of course he’ll write my letters (or maybe his wife, who is a Kellogg alumna, will ghost-write them), just give him the deadlines. Of course, this doesn’t come as a surprise to him. Every time we’re at an off-site and we’ve had a few drinks (this company has an alcohol-heavy culture), I ask him if he’ll write my recs for me. This time, however, there are real deadlines. He’s late for everything (almost missed his own wedding)…so I’m sure there will be a lot of manager management down the road for me…unless his wife takes over.

On a slightly unrelated note, does anyone out there know if all bschools lump “Asians” into one bracket when they’re doing their demographics? I don’t think I got lumped into the overrepresented “Asian” category when I applied for undergrad, but I did notice that the HBS application doesn’t differentiate between East Asian (typically overrepresented group) and Southeast Asian (traditionally underrepresented–but is this true for bschool?, me). Southeast Asian-American, that is.

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