Tuesday, November 30, 2004
- Re-read my application.
- Read through Montauk’s chapter on interviews.
- Looked through accepted.com’s interview feedback database.
- Read about other people’s experiences on S2S
- Read information that people have been kind enough to e-mail me about their interview experiences.
- Gone over my notes about Wharton and re-looked through the Wharton website.
- Thought through answers to likely questions suggested by all the above. Spoken them through in my head and out loud.
- Shortened my suit trousers, polished boots, bag and broach, selected clothes etc.
- Checked that I know where I’m going and how to get there, allowing time for the vagaries of public transport.
- Relaxed, slept, eaten etc. etc.
I haven’t done mock interviews or sat and planned out answers word for word. I’m told that I interview very well, so I’m not overly concerned about they physical aspects of an interview, and I’m more comfortable when I’m ‘improvising’ rather than working from a rehearsed script.
I hope people find this useful. I’ll let you know how useful I found it after Thursday.
Got into work, checked my e-mail for the details and found another e-mail waiting from Kellogg asking me to phone them to book a telephone interview. It's all go today.
Monday, November 29, 2004
I have stopped mythering about my Christmas travel plans though. Getting to my Mum's by 2pm will mean an early start, and as I'm going to be late home the night before that might not be fun. Planning to break my journey, given the usual performance of British trains, means risking that at 2pm I'll be sat on a train in the middle of nowhere, having not moved for the last 45 minutes, and slowly tearing my hair out. So I'm going to be staying at home until the decisions are out, and then hopping on a train shortly afterwards. I might even have time for a spot of good luck shoe shopping that morning to take my mind off things - I've got my eye on a rather spiffy pair of red boots.
Sunday, November 28, 2004
Well, I think I've just experienced my nadir. Worse than the GMAT. Worse than draft 27 of an essay. Worse than long hours of thumb twiddling wondering what the good folk in Philly or Palo Alto or Evanston think of me.
Let me explain. I'm 5'3" and long bodied, which makes for pretty short legs. Trying to find trousers of any sort that are the right length is not easy. Trying to find some that are part of a suit is nigh on impossible. And yes, I know that theoretically I could wear a skirt, but if you'd seen my calves then you'd understand why that isn't really an option. So, I've spent this afternoon shortening my suit trousers by about four inches. If this were an admissions requirement, I think I'd be working on plan B right now. It's been a battle, but I think I finally managed to get both legs the same length as each other, and a uniform length around the hem. And I haven't cut off anything I shouldn't. At least, they'll look fine unless my interviewer decides to exmine them in minute detail, which seems unlikely.
Maybe it would be easier just to buy a rack and try to lengthen my legs.
"It should go without saying that your shirt should be 100-percent, cotton, long sleeved, professionally cleaned and heavily starched." Really? How many of you chaps wear heavily starched shirts on a regular basis? How many of you who don't would feel comfortable in one for an interview? How many of you, if interviewing someone, would be less impressed by someone in an un-starched shirt than by someone who was obviously uncomfortable and fiddling with his overly-stiff collar?
For anyone who's interested, I'm intending to wear a black trouser suit with a cream top (100% artificial fibres) underneath and black, heeled ankle boots.
The second moment of humour came from his 'Special Concerns for International Applicants' section. There's some useful information about being sensitive to cultural differences, but what really amused me was his comments on sports. Firstly, he asserts that discussing 'working class' sports such as football (soccer) or darts would be considered bizarre, CEO's would limit themselves to sports such as rugby, cricket or tennis. I don't think football has really been considered 'working class' for at least 15 years. As far darts, well, if it's not a sport you're really familiar with it would be unlikely to be one that you'd just happen to pick up on and even if you did, I don't want to sound like a snob but I don't think you'd need a particularly finely tuned social radar to realise that the average professional darts fan is not likely to be found in the boardroom of Goldman Sachs. He also states that "little sports terminology would find its way into a British business discussion." Huh? Sporting metaphors and terminology are used all the time, although often they come from US sports and people don't understand their sporting meaning, but do understand their business one. We also have some 'home grown' terms that may not be more widely understood, depending on a person's sporting background. Note to self: remeber not to talk about 'being bowled a googly' on Thursday.
Saturday, November 27, 2004
Reassuringly, no major typos or mistakes jumped out at me from my essays. I cam across a minor one in my CV though (fundrasing, rather than fundraising in one place) but I don't imagine it will have sent the Kellogg adcoms screaming for cover (Kellogg is the only school I applied to that asks for a resume). I reformatted the CV I gave to Kellogg to take with me on Thursday, removing the very wide top margin that Kellogg required. It's on two sides of A4 paper ( no way it would fit on one without being in an unreadibly tiny font) and trying to find a suitable space for a page break was a bit tricky - I either orphoned information or had huge areas of white space. But some playing with spacing and font sizes has resulted in a dcoument that is clear, readable, and looks sensible. Printing it out was also fun - for some reason my printer wasn't pulling the paper through quite straight. It's amaxing how only a mm of difference can make something look so lopsided. A bit of playing around solved things though, and I now have three nicely printed copies to take with me.
Now I need to think up some sensible questions for me to ask the adcom.
Friday, November 26, 2004
Currently, D-day for Wharton is scheduled to be on December 23rd, which is the day I plan to travel to my Mum's for Christmas. Decisions come out at 9am Phily time, which is 2pm GMT. I'm trying to plan travel arrangements (its about six hours by train) and can't decide whether to
a- travel early, get the decision at my Mum's, and cope with the emotional fall-out straight away
b - stay at home, get the results, react accordingly and then have a long journey and late arrival
or c - break my journey, find a convenient internet cafe for 2pm, and risk being sectioned for an extreme emotional reaction of one sort or another.
All of this may be theoretical as the decison release may move forward by a few days. It's a really thing to be worrying about, and I keep telling myself that I should just pull myself together and decide on way or the other, but I can't seem to manage it. Maybe displacement worrying about something I can control is not a bad thing.
Wednesday, November 24, 2004
The upshot of all this is that, instead of spending this evening on Wharton interview prep I'm having to work on the copywriting I was meant to do theis morning. Hey hum.
Monday, November 22, 2004
I'm still mid-way through reading Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour by Kate Fox. She is an anthropologist and social reasercher and the book manages to be both scholarly and entertaining (it had me laughing out loud on public transport, which is a very un-English thing to do!). If you're likely to be studying / working / living in the UK (the writer specifically looks at the English, although I think a lot of it is probably equally applicable to people from Wales, Scotland, and maybe Northern Ireland) or there's a 'small islander' in your life that you want to understand / bond with / seduce, then I'd highly recommend this as a good and useful read. And for Englishpeople and Brits of other flavours, it shines a fascinating light on 'normal' behaviours that really are rather odd to the rest of the wrold.
Sunday, November 21, 2004
A week in the sunshine, amid tropical greenery and under blue skies, has similarly thrown my calendar out of sync. Sun and warmth just don't compute with November, and Christmas felt five months away rather than five weeks. I've also realised that my brain is focussing on December 23rd at the moment, and Christmas seems like an event of minor significance that is barely registering on my mental radar. But I need to get through 2nd December before then, and that is only ten days off.
Saturday, November 13, 2004
This got me thinking - the last minute exists for a reason. It's that magic sixty seconds where we achieve what we thought wouldn't be possible, or get the good news that we'd resigned ourselves to not receiving . None of us should give up until the last minute is passed.
I'm not likely to be in regular contact with blogs and boards over the next few days, and I know lots of people have last minutes approaching for submissions or decisions. Good luck to everyone and don't give up hope.
Thursday, November 11, 2004
Wednesday, November 10, 2004
In terms of going away, I've put the rubbish out, the heating's turned off and my bags are packed. The latter turned into quite a pallaver. Between sorting out warmish clothes to wear to work on Friday, identifying clothes to carry in my hand luggage so that I don't have to go 30 hours without changing, finding a jacket that will be warm enough early tomorrow morning but won't be too bulky to cart around when I'm in temperatures of 90F+ , trying to decide whether I should take my hair irons or if humidity will result in frizz whatever I do, etc. etc., my brain went into temporary meltdown. Let's face it, ther'e not a lot of point worrying about whether I need the travel charger for my toothbrush when the toothbrush itself is still in the bathroom and not even registering on my mental list. And my travel guide needs to be in a bag if it's going to be any use, not buried on my bed. Now though, I think I've got everything I need, and if I'm missing anything I can buy it at Heathrow or once I arrive. I have my passport, my ticket, and my credit cards, and as long as I have all those I can cope. Now I just need to get through a day and a half of work.
Tuesday, November 09, 2004
Monday, November 08, 2004
A little earlier I got an e-mail from a colleague enquiring about progress on a piece of work that I didn't even know I was supposed to be doing. I go on leave on Friday lunchtime for just over a week, and the list of things which have to be done or got to the stage where they can be delegated before I go is worryingly long. I was talking to my boss about work pressures last week, and having this dropped on my plate is not what I need right now. Still, I have several hours in Changai airport on Saturday in a lounge with internet access, and I'm sure there's somewhere I can work at Heathrow. All good fun!
Sunday, November 07, 2004
I still haven't heard from Kellogg about the interview. I dropped them an e-mail on Friday (which was six weeks since they'd confirmed receipt of my part 1) just in case something has got lost somewhere, but I tend to think it's more likely to be a delay in things being arranged (or a shortage of local alumni). No news of anyone hearing from Stanford yet.
In preparation for the Wharton interview, I've started reading through Montauk's advice on interviews and watched the mock interview videos in B-week's MBA Insider section. The Georgetown one's were so basic as to be almost useless I thought. It was hardly a surprise to be told that it was a bad thing not to be able to describe your career, explain why an MBA made sense for you or give a convincing explanation of why you wanted to go to that school. The Michigan ones are much more useful. I've also had a look through accepted.com's interview feedback database, and liberated my interview suit from the tempremental wardrobe. The latest from Wharton is that c60% of r1 interview invites are still to go out, so I'm looking forward to hearing lots of good news from fellow bloggers in the next ten days!
Wednesday, November 03, 2004
I must admit I had been wondering what I'd do and how I'd feel if Wharton didn't want to talk to me. Given the relatively high proportion of applicants interviewed by Wharton (c50%) and that the applications I submitted to all the schools are pretty much of the same standard, not being interviewed by Wharton would have been a pretty bad omen for everywhere else too. So, while this is a neutral omen rather than a good one, it does relieve the worry, at least for the time being.
I've booked in for a Hub interview in London on 2nd December. My first reaction was to interview with an alumnus/alumna, as it'd be good to talk to someone about their experience of being a student at Wharton and how it'd benefitted them since. When I thought about it though, the next few weeks offer limited convenient time for interviewing, so finding a slot that would be good for both me and the interviewer could be difficult. In contrast, Thursday the 2nd is supremely convenient, as is the Hub location. So I now have four weeks to 'prepare' and to liberate my suit from my wardrobe, which currently has a door that's firmly jammed shut.
Tuesday, November 02, 2004
Speaking of which, I also got two e-mails inviting me to Wharton's European Business Conference on 19th Nov. As I'm going to be in the Far East that week, I can safely say I won't be going. And as it's potentially the day after getting a Wharton ding, I don't think I'd be planning to pop over to Philly anyway, it could just be too painful. The time difference on my trip (Philly +13) will at least mean that if a ding arrives it'll be while I'm asleep, and I'll have my last two days of travel to take my mind off it.
Monday, November 01, 2004
On Thursday I had a phone conversation with the colleague doing my peer recommendation for Stanford. She wanted to talk through the two or three areas that she was identifying as weaknesses so that I could query what she planned to say if I felt she was being unfair. I've taken the view all along that I want my recommenders to tell the 'truth' as they've experienced it, and if I end up being rejected because of what someone's said in a recommendation that's fine. I'd rather not get a place than get in somewhere on the basis of a misrepresentation. So as far as I was concerned, she should write about what she'd observed and experienced of me, good or bad. It wasn't a particularly easy converation (let's face it, no one likes having the things they're not good at pointed out to them) but it was a useful one. In general, I think she was fair and the conversation highlighted to me some areas that I need to work on (as well as answers to the 'what are your weaknesses', 'what would your colleagues say about you' type questions in any interview). What did strike me though is that some elements were very much tied into the way in which the organisation works and the situations in which I work with this colleague. What she was saying was absolutely right in the contexts that she's observed, but wouldn't necessarily be right in different contexts (although I'm the first to admit what she said does reflect my natural style and that behaving differently doesn't come as easily).
Given all this, I'm glad, despite Friday's debacle, that I asked my former boss to give me recommendations as well. My first instinct in choosing her, especially to do an extra rec for Kellogg, was that she could say more about my team working skills, because my last organisation was much more team based than this one is. More broadly though, I think she gives the added perspective of having seen me work in a very different type of context and in different ways. Hopefully that will mean that collectively the recs will reveal the weaknesses and strengths that are 'absolutes' rather than a function of a particular situation.
To change tack, it seems like the end of last week was a tough time for a number of bloggers, in various ways. I hope things work out for everyone. Unless I'm mistaken, with the exception of Chicago, deadlines are pretty much over until December. Good luck to everyone finishing up for R1 and may interviw invites come floding your way. And similar good wishes to everyone working towards GMAT and R2.