My life, my blog, and B-school somewhere inbetween

A catalog of one reapplicant's journey towards an MBA in 2008

Thursday, March 31, 2005

A not so overwhelming sense of power

So, last week I went to LA and Vegas to visit a friend and go to a bachelor party. I went to go visit that buddy of mine who moved out to LA for 6 months for a change of life and to see if his girlfriend was worth it, and then we and a couple others went to Vegas for his brother's bachelor party. I'm afraid the drinking and debauchery will have to remain classified for the protection of the innocent, but we did manage to go to a gun range.

I had always wanted to go to a gun range. Check it out, see what firing a gun was like. It was always described to me as a "rush of power". But, looking back on it, I don't remember ever feeling like that. It cost $50 to be able to fire any gun they had, which included four automatics, a slew of handguns, and, of course, the .44 magnum. The catch was that you only got 50 9mm bullets and could buy another 50 for $15. That and the magnum took a different caliber bullet. Since there were a bunch of us, two people got the magnum and the rest got automatics and we shared. Gotta say, it was a tremendous pain in the ass to load the clips. Taking each bullet by hand and pushing it into place almost made it not worth shooting. Almost. Firing the automatics was fun. I sprayed 20 bullets with no accuracy in about 5 seconds. It was over too quickly for me to have felt a rush. I used a couple other automatics, same effect. Then I tried the magnum. To be honest, I was scared of it. The sound that gun made was deafening. I kept picturing Policy Academy 4 with the grandma who gets thrown backward by the force of the magnum. But, in the end I did not get any air. Recoil was big, definitely hard to be accurate. The area on my palm near the thumb was sore. Felt too troubled by its power to feel like I had any. Time for something different, so I went with the glock. Type of gun some police use. No safety, a tad disconcerting. Very easy to fire, pat pat pat. But still, no feeling of power.

So is Redwolf destined to be a marksman one day? The lack of bullet holes on my target would indicate not. Fun time, but I did not leave with a need to own a gun. Perhaps the shotgun would have been different...

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Really Long CBS Interview Autopsy

All in all I think it went ok. Could have been better, could have been worse. It was definitely an atypical interview based on what I've read on the message boards. But the reasons are easy enough to understand...

I suppose I should start back when I scheduled the interview. That was about three weeks ago now. The first thing I did was try to research the three alums I was given as best I could to figure out what they do. One of them runs a hedge fund doing something really similar to what I do so I figured I had to interview with him. Not only would he understand what I do but also appreciate it for its relative difficulty. Or so I hoped. And at worst he'd be a good contact for a job one day :). Anyway, so when I called him up he basically was like "Uhh, what is this about? Oh yeah, I sort of remember signing up to do interviews. Hmm... What do I have to do exactly?" I was actually happy he responded this way because it meant he didn't really know the process and would probably be more informal, and probably would treat it more like a job interview than a b-school interview. Most of my strengths are in what I can do as an analyst rather than my past history with leadership. So that was good. The problem was that he wasn't available for two weeks. I had to make a decision quick on the phone and so I figured I was better off having the interview I wanted than getting my decision sooner.

Ok, fast forward two weeks. Get to his office, well rested, ready to go. Meet him, shake hands, etc. First thing he asks me is if there is some kind of form to fill out and if I could send it to him. So, that meant he never bothered to read the email Columbia sent him as to what to ask and how to act like an "ambassador" by promoting the school and being very nice and friendly (or at least that's what Clear Admit seemed to say). I told him Columbia sent it to him directly, and then he asked me to have them send it to him again. Great. Then he sits down and looks at my resume. First thing he asks is about my GMAT. "How does the scoring work again?" So then I tell him about the 800 max, 700-710 median at most schools, etc. Then he says he wants to start at the bottom and work our way up.

"Where do you play squash?"

"Well, I haven't played much lately because I used to play mainly with a guy from work who recently moved."

"Alright, so where do you play golf?"

"Well, I haven't played too much of that recently either, but mainly up where my parents live."

"Piece of advice, if you haven't done something recently don't put it on your resume. Why would you have something like poker here if you didn't really do it?"

And he comes out swinging! My mind started to scramble...

"Well, uh, I haven't really played much because it's winter now and, so, uh, I mean, I haven't played since the summer."

he says semi-forgivingly.

That was pretty much how the whole thing went. He challenged me, I scrambled. He seemed to sort of buy whatever my explanation. By the end, I scrambled well though. After the questions about my "interests", he asked me about my activities section. Just had one club I listed from college I did a lot of work for and was treasurer of. After I explained all about it he tells me it's not really relevant for b-school. The treasurer part sort of is, but the budget (a number I had to pull out of my ass btw- who remembers the budget of a college club seven years ago?) was too small to be worthy. I tell him the reason I have it is because it was the activity I did the most work on and the club was founded my first year and by my fourth year we placed fifth in the national competition. "Ok, I guess that's something then." Then we start on my work experience.

"I see you worked at XYZ firm first."

"Well, I actually worked for ABC firm before that."

"Oh, really?! You should definitely have had that on your resume."

"Well, it is on my application. I only have a page to work with for the resume so I didn't have space for it."

"Some people have two pages for their resume. I know, I'll get a resume with two pages and think to myself, 'Who does this person think he is with two pages?' But then I'll read it and think it's actually ok."

Can you say ambiguous? Anyway, no major challenges for the rest of my work experience discussion. Then he says to me, "From what I see here, you don't need to go to business school. You're not going to really learn anything. Why do you even want to go? Is it just the network?" That was a curveball! I guess it's a complement, but man I was not expecting that. I obviously couldn't agree with him because otherwise I wouldn't get in! So I tell him about the type of job I want to get long term and short term and how I can only get the short term one out of b-school. He's not so satisfied with that. Then I tell him how I want to run my own fund one day, much like himself, and how there's more to running a fund than just research skills, etc. I add that the network is also really important in this business. He seems a little more satisfied with that. Then he says, "Why would you want to be in XYZ product when that market is at its peak now?" My mind scrambles again, but I make a good response which, thankfully, I happened to have randomly read a few days prior. "Ok, I can see that." Then I went on the offensive. "Well, why did you even go to business school then?" A little risky considering he could have said something like, "I was in marketing prior to b-school and used it to transition to finance," but he didn't. He took a step back and was like "Oh, well, I'm just giving you a hard time because I'm trying to figure out what you want to do, etc." Score one for Redwolf! Then he asks me why I think Columbia didn't just accept me straight out without an interview. I explain to him how everyone basically gets interviewed expect some reapps or some people in hard to reach places, etc. "Well, when I went I never got interviewed." I'm thinking to myself, well you graduated in the mid 90s. Back then the median GMAT was like 620! Then he adds, "I was in the law school at the time so I guess it's different..." You think?

At that point he basically ended the interview. My memory is a little vague on what exactly occurred, but I remember thinking it felt like the interview ended abruptly. I guess that meant he figured out all he needed to? Then he tells me to remind him to fill out the form when I send my thank you letter. My thought was, "Thank you letter, right..., forgot about that..." Then we get up, he shakes my hand, and says he thinks I'm a good candidate and if I get in we should keep in touch because he likes to know how "good people" are doing.

That certainly was not what I was expecting for an interview!

Couple days later he finds and submits my evaluation, and now I'm playing the waiting game. Good luck to everyone else in my shoes!

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Allman Brothers

Yesterday I went to see the Allman Brothers at the Beacon and it was awesome! My buddy got tickets from some broker his fund uses and we were in orchestra 8th row center. The band started really early (ie. on time) and rocked from the get go. A lot of stuff from their new album, but of course there were the classics. Set 2 had some amazing jams during Statesboro Blues and Liz Reed. The drum solos were great. And then they encored with a little Franklin's Tower (Grateful Dead) leading into You Don't Love Me. Derek Trucks is probably the best guitarist I've ever seen. If you're in NYC within the next week I highly recommend trying to get a ticket. Shows at the Beacon are always a good time :-).

Monday, March 07, 2005

My 2 cents

On this whole HBS/ApplyYourself debacle, I can't believe this has actually escalated to the point that this is an actual "issue". Who cares if they checked their app status early? I always thought these b-schools wanted the most innovative, creative, and determined people out there. These are the people who are going to do whatever it takes, without breaking the rules, to succeed. How can b-schools not expect this of their candidates? It's not like any school said it is against the rules to check their application status early. They should have had the foresight (like any good manager would have) and prevented this. A simple "it would be unethical to attempt to determine your status early" would do. And when dealing with something as simple as an application process we should not be sitting there trying to interpret what it means not to do anything "unethical". There is no supreme court to clarify ambiguities in the application rules. Ultimately, these were people checking out info about themselves before the rest. Did they attempt to change their status? I'm guessing most didn't. Those that did... sorry, you fucked up. But the rest, they were just trying to get ahead without breaking the rules. When the market is trading and you see a mispricing, do you say "Oh, I should call the market maker and tell him he's making an error"? No, you buy or sell the shit out of it. It's the competitive spirit while playing within the rules. This isn't touchy-feely school we're going to. It's business school. This is the way the business environment is. Competition is the foundation of our economy. Are your going to punish the invisible hand that copied and pasted the link?

Of course, the funny thing is the guy who came up with this "innovation" was smart enough to figure out how to do it, but dumb enough to think that if he posted it on the businessweek message board the school wouldn't get wind of it and attempt some form of punishment. Yeah, I know I just said I can't believe this is an issue and am now saying how could the guy not know it would be, but that's just the way things are. Things you believe are non-issues always seem to become issues. And stupid ones at that.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

This is a top corporate manager?

I was reading Aregon's blog today, came across a link to this post on the "Field Guide for the Aspiring MBA" blog. Funny stuff. But what was most hilarious was a link posted on that site. It's on one of those pro-Macintosh websites ready to trash Microsoft at a moment's notice, but that doesn't prevent the fact that Balmer made an ass of himself. I am generally "pro" Microsoft from a business standpoint (naturally), but seeing one of their leaders dance around like that is a tad disturbing. I wonder how an adcom would react if I said I wanted to be like Steve Balmer and then showed them this :-). Shouting "Come on, give it up for me!!!!"? Come on.