Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Just finished Tuck Essay 4. Took me around 3-4 hours of work, with a lot of distractions. Was working on it afterhours at work and there were people popping in and out of my office. But I find that these distractions actually help. Being focused on just writing an essay seems to make me unfocused after a while. strange, no ?

I actually enjoyed writing this one. I don't know why but the HBS essays stress me out. It's technically a first draft but I think I'll go with most of this one. I'm going to get it reviewed and make modifications accordingly. It's turned out to be around 800 words, and 10% over is usually considered OK, but Tuck gives you a lot of leeway with word counts, anywhere between 250-750 words, so am concerned about abusing that. I might just decide to err on the side of getting my story across and go with what I have. Shaving 50 words is going to be hard.

My dinner's almost done cookin', so gotta eat. Tasks for tonite - finish the online application part minus essays for Tuck and outline essay 3.

Ah, and recos. My first recommender has started working on 'em - or so says the Tuck online status ! Hooray ! My second one will work on them this weekend. I gave him another reminder with deadlines today, so hopefully they will get online on time.

OK, dinner time. gotta run.
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Monday, December 29, 2003

It's a beautiful day. Nice and bright, and I feel great. I think the fever or whatever it was is finally on its way out.

Realized I had to still fill out the online applications for the schools and started on the Tuck one this morning. Halfway done.

Haven't written the Tuck essays yet but I feel good. I have notes from an earlier brainstorming session for Essay 1, Essay 2 should fall in place for all schools at once, and 3 and 4 I have great stories for and the word limit seems accomodating. Essay 4 overlaps with one of my significant achievements for HBS essay 2 and essay 3 - a non-academic disappointment - is a subject I've been waiting an essay question for ;-)

I want to set myself a deadline to get Tuck done, but given that I've not met a single one of my earlier deadlines, I'll let this play out. Of course, the big deadline is Jan 06.
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Sunday, December 28, 2003

I'm down with a fever and its associated perks - headache, cold, sore throat - since christmas. am feeling better today and i'm hoping it's not the flu. tried working some on my essays, but i really needed to sleep it out. not a pretty picture, but hey, you only get to play the cards you're dealt.

I've dropped LBS off the list. no time to apply for R2. Also was seriously considering Wharton but R2 is out for that school too. I might go R3 - not the best idea, but probably worth a try, we'll see. I'm probably going to take the first week of Jan off from work to concentrate on the final stretch. Tuck & Stanford are due Jan 6, HBS is Jan 8 and Kellogg is Jan 9. MIT is Jan 21, so I'll get to it once the others are done. I also have to make sure that my recommendations are sent in in time, need to check on their status this week. And still have to send my GMAT scores to Kellogg.

Anybody reading this blog should realize that this is probably the worst possible way to approach the MBA application process. The textbook way, which was what I thought I would be following, would have me putting finishing touches on essays by now and picking out new year's parties to go to. instead ...

ah well, 8 days to go for my first deadline.
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Thursday, December 25, 2003

Happy Holidays Everyone !

Hope everyone is enjoying what they celebrate this time of the year - Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah or a much-needed free day to work on their b-school essays ;-)
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Wednesday, December 24, 2003

it's 5 in the morning and i'm off to get some sleep. Spent the last 4 hours on a part of an essay and I have 218 words to show for it. But, it's 218 words i don't need to worry about anymore and it's a great feeling. I started out last night bogged down by the sheer number of essays I still have to write, and rushing things wasn't getting me anywhere. Slowly I forced myself to focus on one essay and I got into the zone. Since essays are all I'm going to be doing from now on, I'm going to blog my strategies for attacking these. ( Dunno if anyone would be interested though)

Currently, I am working on HBS essay 2 - what are your three most substantial accomplishments and why ?

This is a hard one because of the word limit. It's 600 words which means you get 200 for each. My first crack at this was BORING. It took a lot of words just to talk about what I accomplished. I realized that to answer this effectively I have to 'let go' in some sense. Though I would love to talk more about what I did, this essay's not the place. So, my current draft (of the first accomplishment ;-) has the actual task described in only around 60 words. I spend a few words on a witty/engaging/creative opening that also describes the situation, then my motivations for my actions, the actual task itself, and why this is so important to me.

Also, the transitions between these experiences are hard, because of the time frames. My original draft just jumped from one to the next, in this one I'm working on good segways. Also, I start the essay directly with the first experience, but plan on having a closing that sums everything up.

And my common thread is leadership. How each of the experiences has taught me different aspects of being an effective leader.

Still got two more sig achievements to work on ... and then 4 more HBS essays ... and 2 stanford ... and ...
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Monday, December 22, 2003

just read that Brett Favre will start for the Pack tonight after his father suddenly died yesterday. that's some leader, with the packers' playoff hopes based on this game and his arm. i can't miss this game, will have to work my essays around game time !
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just noticed that none of the blogs i link to and follow have been updated in the last couple of days. i assume everyone is super busy working on essays. i definitely am, and my biggest struggle is writing them in a way such that the passions behind my actions shine through. not an easy task by any means.

slow day at work, so got home early and am going to get a haircut and an early start on my essays today. if you're in Boston's South End and in the mood for a haircut and hotdogs (why, i wouldn't know ;-) check out Liquid for a funky hair experience. and Code 10 serves up excellent gourmet dogs. did you know Code 10 is the police radio signal for lunch break ? that's so cool i'd go eat there just for their name !
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Saturday, December 20, 2003

Dear readers, please pardon the ranting, but i've reached the part of the application process where my mental state has changed from 'stressed' to 'scared'. That's just one level below 'shit-scared', which I expect to be upgraded to pretty soon.

Was up until 5 last night working on HBS essay 2. thought i did a good job, but woke up this morning and re-read it and ... needs much more work. I am now beginning to question what exactly makes a good b-school essay. Is it the content - your experience, leadership etc. Or is it the way it is presented, the writing skills, grammar etc. I don't believe this is a contest for the Pulitzer, so I am assuming as long as a minimum threshold of writing competency is reached, the content matter of the essay is what really matters. But this is very hard to judge. Case in point - my efforts last night. I had two ways of saying the same thing. Now which one do I choose ? One is more personal but sounds very layman-like when I read it. The other is more business-writing-like but doesn't capture the passions behind the actions. And 600 words is way too less. Going off to brunch now and am going to work on it a little more there. The caffeine should help.

I've been in this kinda-scared-type of state before. And it can be either a very good place to be or a disaster. The simplest way to deal with it is to do nothing and face the consequences later. Or suck it up and work my way thru the first hurdles, and then there is this incredible adrenaline rush that brings out the creative side of me. I am hoping it is going to be the latter this time around too.

On the application front, I realized that I had to get transcripts for a couple of non-credit courses that I have taken at an extension school the past year. Faxed the request. Also waiting for my grad school transcripts. And scheduled a Kellogg interview in february. My main recommender is going to work on my recos this weekend - i think those should turn out well, got in touch with another student at one of the schools i'm apping and he's very helpful. Got to crank it up with my second recommender. he hasn't even started working on these. my third Stanford recommender is all set, needs some prep. My HBS third recommeder is a black hole right now. The guy I wanted to use is on vacation, not back until the 2nd of Jan. No idea wtf is going on there. May have to fall back to using a peer recommender. Not a good idea, but better than having only 2 recos. And a couple of people are willing to proof-read my essays - if only I can get any done in time.

Stretch goal to self - HBS essays done by tonight.
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Friday, December 19, 2003

Slow day yesterday wrt my applications. I am lagging behind very much and hope I can make it to the R2 deadlines. Couple of good things, met with a current student at a school i'm not applying to, but got some good insights and a potential reviewer for my essays if I ever get them done. Also, I realized very late that Kellogg needs paper trancripts and not self-reported. My grad school has an online transcript request system but had to fax my signature to get it activated. Finally done and ordered transcripts last night. Should arrive sometime next week.

This weekend is crucial. If I don't have essays of at least 2 schools wrapped up I think my MBA quest is probably finished for this year. Pull up my socks time.

Finally a shout out to trip_enel and FutureMBAgirl, two other fellow MBA applicants who are going thru similar agonies. good luck to everybody !
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Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Came home with a splitting headache today, am stretched at work. This is going to be tough. No way I can work on my essays today. Can't think anymore. So, started working on filling out the applications. There's a ton of stuff that needs to be input besides the essays. Figured might as well use my 'non-productive' cycles to finish some of that work. Started with Kellogg and the site was slow. And pretty funky too. Halfway thru my Part 1 I hit enter and all of sudden the Part 2 page opened ! I hope I didn't accidentally submit an unfinished part 1 ;-) The speeds are killing me - I can't imagine how bad it must be to upload essays on the last couple of days.

Note to self - you don't want to play that game.

Had my first 'prep' talk with my recommender today. He said that I should have asked him in October so he could have them ready by now ! damn ... after a lot of profuse apologizing he said he would try to get everything done in time. And then a surprise - he's going to hook me up with some pals of his who are grads & students at some of the schools I am applying to. That was unexpected. Thank You, Sir.

I gave him a resume, some general guidelines for recommenders that I researched online, hard copies of the recommendation letters of the schools I applied to for reference, and a sample recommendation letter. I am going to give him short descriptions of what each school expects of the recommendations so he can tailor his comments. Also stressed that it is imperative he use actual examples in his answers. We are going to talk about the examples once he's started. I have to do that with my second recommender maybe friday or early next week. Many thanks to ENNTT for posting this McKinsey presentation on the BW forums. Found it useful to channel my thought process regarding recos.

Well, the soporific effects of my headache medication are starting to kick in. off i go to another night's sleep ... buenas noches senoritas y senors.
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Monday, December 15, 2003

busy busy. a mini-crisis has erupted at work that will probably require me to work 12-14 hour days until the end of the year. everybody else seems to be off on vacation, so I'm stuck. Stanford essays are shaping up well, but am having word count issues. Stanford's probably OK because they ask for 3-7 pages double spaced. But I will have to start being more concise once I get to the others.

Some positive news on my recommender front. Got my peer recommender lined up for Stanford. I am debating if I should ask a peer for HBS' third recommender. Also spoke with my primary recommender and he's setting aside a couple of days next week on his vacation to work on my recos. Have a lunch appointment scheduled for later this week. I have one shot at this and should do it well. Tomorrow night's prep night for this meeting. My second recommender is hard. He's been very busy and I'm not able to get hold of him. I should meet with him before the week is over so that he gets the weekend to at least start to work on the recos.

And i've spent the last couple of hours playing around with a very cool piece of software - Konfabulator. It's an awesome app for Mac OS X, Forbes calls it the one Mac app that Windows doesn't have. Sweet. Downloaded a ton of 'widgets' for my iMac screen. I also have a counter counting down to the end of the days of my misery ;-)
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Saturday, December 13, 2003

I was in the shower a few minutes ago and not really in the mood to sing :) As random thoughts drifted in and out I suddenly remembered something from when I was a young boy. And all of sudden I had the perfect opening sentence for my Stanford 'what matters most' essay. By the time I stepped out, almost the entire first paragraph was set. Rushed back to my computer and wrote them down. Now that I've started, I'm going to finish that essay today. I'm also aiming to work on the second Stanford essay tonight. When I first looked at Stanford's essays the 'what matters most' one seemed the most daunting. But I've come to regard it as probably the best essay topic of any application. And I believe the latitude it offers precludes any attempt at tailoring it towards what the AdComm expects to hear. So, the next best thing is to forget about who's going to read it and write your heart out. Derrick Bolton wasn't kidding when he says he wants to see thoughtful introspection shine through an applicant's essays. There is no other way to answer this essay.

Off-topic : Isn't it great to go to a neighborhood restaurant or cafe where the people know you, at least by face. I went to take-out some dinner at House of Siam last night and not only was I met by smiling faces and small talk but also offerred some hot tea while I waited. And the good people at Claremont Cafe across the street keep my coffee cup full during my weekend brunch-and-essay-writing sessions there ;-)

Some more Off-topic rambling : There's an interesting thread on grade non-disclosure on BW forums. I hadn't really considered this as a factor until now but now that I think about it, it could be a non-trivial issue. Indian schools are notoriously grade-obsessed and I knew more than a few classmates of mine who were so focussed on being top of the class that it definitely affected the class dynamics. When I came to grad school in the US, I felt so free. Grades didn't really matter that much, and my entire school experience was better for it. The level of camaraderie was high, and I took courses and projects that I probably wouldn't have touched if getting a good grade was paramount. I would definitely prefer a grade non-disclosure policy in b-school too.
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Thursday, December 11, 2003

Where is my life ?

Another typical day today. Force myself out of bed, run to work, browse the BW forums, work my ass off, back home, make myself some dinner, update my blog, and sit down to work on my apps. I haven't really gone out for a long time or done anything fun. Friends are planning ski trips and I'm kicking myself for having to stay home and write essays. Haven't played a game of squash in such a long time. I know it's not healthy but will have to suck it up for the next month or so.

I realized something amazing today. I have, in a manner of saying, forgotten to stop and smell the roses. I'm spending so much of my creative energies on my essays that I seem to be stumbling zombie-like through my days at work. Does anyone else feel likewise ? A colleague & I interviewed a candidiate for a position at work and he was stellar. As we were walking out, my colleague said that the interviewee reminded him of himself a few years ago. I don't know why but that comment affected me very much. I've been in an introspective mood all day, thinking about who I was a few years ago and who I've become. What's pathetic, but very reflective of my current existance, is that I now have the outline for one of my Harvard essays out of this ! I was reading one of my earlier posts where I wondered if I would ever get back to watching TV for TVs sake. I still wonder.

OK, some more application updates. Visited HBS again today for the student lunch program. Every time I walk through those halls I am amazed. It is truly a special place. And today I got to spend some time talking with some very smart people. All my preconceived notions of what an HBS student is have been thrown into the Charles by now. These guys and girls are genuine, cool and very helpful to prospectives. Some takeaways : HBS is about leadership. Pure and simple. If your application is not dripping with your leadership abilities and potential, you can kiss you $200 goodbye. You have to project your unique skills and experiences, and have a solid story of your life so far, thru HBS and few years down the line. Asked about weaknesses, and got some interesting feedback. The i-work-too-hard type of answers aren't going to fly. The best kind of weakness is something that coming to HBS will rectify - could be lack of knowledge in certain areas that's hurting your career, not enuf general leadership skills etc. And once everything is in place, the thing they are looking for is if you understand HBS. Work on why HBS is so interesting to you.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Just noticed on the TUCK TUCK TUCK forum that a Japanese applicant - GYOKURO1 -got the call from Kristine. For those who don't follow the thread, it is a bunch of very cool folks and there's a black and tan for the one to guess the right date for decisions to be sent out. I guess Dec 11 it is - since it's morning in Japan already.

Isn't this obsessive - checking the forums several times every day and blogging a decision minutes after it's posted ! This is motivating though - pushing myself to finish my essays and doing my own countdown to the decision.

Good luck to everyone waiting on their Tuck admit status !
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Decisions are so hard to make. Should I write my blog for the day or watch The West Wing ? Thank god for TiVo, I can do both. But my decision on Yale hasn't been that easy. After a day spent agonizing I have decided not to apply. I somehow just can't see myself being very happy there. Hard to put into words, it's a fit thing I guess. The visit was very useful though - it helped me make my decision one way or the other. I wish I had the time to visit Stanford and Kellogg.

Went to bed at 11 p.m. last night and woke up at 8 this morning. It felt so good I realized I've forgotten what it means to really sleep. Going to try it one more time tonight - it's addictive ;-)
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Tuesday, December 09, 2003

For a few dollars more ... a.k.a. My Yale Class Visit

Was up until 3 a.m. last night doing some work-related stuff, and woke up at 7:30 to leave for New Haven. As I was walking towards my car I wanted to stop by and get a bagel and coffee, but I had only 4 dollars and change in cash - just enuf to pay the MassPike tolls. No time to get to an ATM so left Boston and reached 55 Hillhouse Ave just in time but starving. The erstwhile 'most beautiful street in America' was anything but today, thanks to the effects of the weekend snowstorms. Yale SOM's campus is a collection of 4 beautiful mansions retrofitted into offices and classrooms. This lends a very intimate scale to the place. Had a personalized letter and a folder full of informational materials waiting for me when I got to the visitor center. There were a bunch of other prospectives who were there for the tour and R1 interviews.

We were met by second year students who took us on a campus tour and lunch. The Yale classrooms are the only ones I have seen that have windows - floor to ceiling ones that wrap around the room. Students use the same classroom for the entire first year like HBS. Also like HBS students form their own study groups and seems like they change them for different courses too. I think that defeats the purpose a tad because you don't usually have the luxury of choosing who you work with in real life. The elective courses use a bidding process (is Tuck's the only school that doesn't use one ?), but most students seem to get the electives of their choice. Also, you can take classes at other Yale schools, and the most popular is the Law school.

The career development office's stats worried me. It seems only 30% of students get jobs thru on-campus placements. Around 80% of them find jobs thru what's called Special Recruiter Request, or alumni/networking etc that's facilitiated by the career office. I think that's a scarily low number of on-campus jobs. The recruiter list is blue-chip but mostly concentrated in the wall street / MC fields. I have a feeling that if your interests are not in those areas, you might be in for a rough ride. The other area that SOM is known for, though people there seem to want to de-emphasize it, is non-profit management. A lot of interview applicants today were interested in non-profit. But it seems like only around 3% of the class ends up working in that sector right after school - most of them get seriously involved in non-profits 5-10 years after their MBA. We then went to lunch where there were tables reserved for us. This was very markedly in contrast with Tuck where we were specifically asked not to sit together with the other visitors but go and find a table with other Tuckies. So, pretty much the only student I spoke with was my host. Also, SOM is not a residential school but most students stay within a few blocks of campus.

After lunch, I ran to my car to top off the meter and by the time I got back class had just begun. This was a second year class, and I must say not what I was expecting. The class was organized like a normal classroom with straight rows of tables. And the classroom didn't have levels either, the floor was flat. We sat at some chairs that were along the back wall. The first year classrooms are more 'traditional' MBA though. Yale offers a list of classes that you can choose from to go to, and so there is no student host to take you to class. I wasn't introduced to the professor or the class (maybe because I was a minute or so late ?), and the layout of the class made it hard to listen. The discussion was good, but not great. The class participation wasn't as involved as in other schools I've visited.

A good visit overall - I wanted to get a feel for Yale out of this trip. It's a good school no doubt - nice facilities, faculty and a pretty diverse and involved student body. But I think it's missing something. It's small but lacks the intimate feel of Tuck. The McKinsey's of the world recruit there but beyond that seems like there's a struggle involved to find what you want. Younger school so the alumni base is limited. I heard someone mention that it was a challenge to come there because of that - a chance to be part of an institution on the rise. But it seems like there isn't much student input to changing curriculum etc, these are pretty much in place. I'll have to sleep over this and decide what all this means in terms of my applying there.

Funny how the smallest of things can affect outcomes. As I wrapped up my visit I realized I was a few dollars short for the tolls on the drive back. There is an ATM in one of the buildings and as I was walking back with a crisp new $20 bill I stopped to get some coffee. One of the coolest things about Yale is 'Food for thought' - a kind of coffee shop that's run by students and staff. I was told that all the profits go toward the Internship Fund that pays salaries for students to go on non-profit internships. I got my coffee and they didn't have change for the 20. So, the super nice woman manning the counter said that I could pay it sometime later. When I said I was a visitor and may not be back anytime soon, she took a dollar from her wallet and paid for the coffee. What can I say ... thank you very much. I should mail a few dollars to the internship fund soon.

Drove all the way back with a warm fuzzy feeling.
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Monday, December 08, 2003

I posted a message on the BW Forums a few days ago about international students at Yale and how they fit into the school's culture and got this response today from RGB, a 2Y student. Thought I should blog it for future reference. I am very impressed by how responsive the members of the Yale community (adcomms, students) have been both when I have contacted them and on the message boards. I actually started looking at Yale seriously because an MBA student friend of mine (at another top school) said that they have high regard for Yale and it was a close knit community like Tuck & Darden. I like what I've found out thus far. Going to visit campus in the next couple of days, and then make up my mind about applying.

Hi PowerYogi,

I am a second year international student at SOM of Sri Lankan origin, and my experiences at Yale have been great. There are a pretty diverse bunch of people here, and whilst I know almost everyone, including the South Asians, I tend to hang out mostly with Americans. Of course that has really just come about because I probably have the most in common with them in terms of outlook and interests.

The truth however is that almost all things at SOM are what you make them. I know many Indians who are really integrated, but then I also know a few who tend to hang out mostly with other Indians. This isn't necessarily because Americans are unwelcoming, but, in general, reflects the ease of associating with people from your home country, especially when you are having to get used to being in a strange land and so far from home. In some cases, it is because the individuals are married and/or have kids, which means socializing is often somewhat different for them. And of course, if you are looking for a fellow badminton player, you certainly need to seek out the international students (Indians and Chinese usually)!

On the whole however, I do feel that all the international students here bring a lot to SOM in terms of experiences and outlook, and I think most Americans recognize that as well. (I just asked one of my American friends what he thought on this matter, and his first response was "almost all my favorite classmates are international".)

A couple of ways that this is reinforced is through the Student Interest Groups (SIGs). Many countries/regions have their own groups which are often intended to promote their country/culture/cultural activities, but which are equally often more serious in intent. For example, the South Asian Business Forum has a variety of social, cultural and career related events. The Chinese SIG organized a study to trip to China over Spring Break last year, that was initiated and organized by an American. The International SIG hosts a month of country presentations that are generally well attended, in which students present on their respective countries. The culmination of this event is an International Dinner, which is great fun, and where you can sample food from across the world. This event often attracts a fair number of faculty as well.

Also,international students often auction dinners for the Internship Fund (a fund that supports students wanting to do nonprofit or other non-traditional summer internships). Of note are the Brazilian BBQ, the Peruvian dinner, the South Indian breakfast (which was quite outstanding - 2 South Indian boys who really can cook (idli, sambar, ...)! In fact, this evening, I just hosted a Sri Lankan dinner that I had auctioned off for the Internship Fund last semester. It was great fun, and was the first time that the four Americans attending had tasted Sri Lankan food - which they loved!

I hope that helps.

thanks very much RGB, that was indeed very insightful and helpful.
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Sunday, December 07, 2003

Faking It

Have you watched the original show on BBC America, it's just fantastic. Just saw tonite's episode where the lead singer of a British punk rock band has 4 weeks to transform himself into a conductor to take part in a contest conducting the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. He doesn't even know how to read music, so he's taken under the wing by experts and gets started on his transformation. He gets to be decent but a week before he's due to go on stage, his girlfriend of 6 years leaves him. After brooding for a while, he gets over it and takes up the challenge to pull it together when it really matters. His spikey pink hair shaved off, t-shirts discarded and fitted into a tux, he finally gets on stage to conduct Rossini's La Italiana El Algera - the Italian girl in Algiers. He has a good start but misses a beat soon after. However he recovers and actually puts in a fantastic performance and gets the loudest ovation. The judges give him good grades but they do call him out as the contestant who was faking it. In the green room right after his performance, Chris knows that though he did a great effort, he missed one note that might result in all his and his mentors' efforts being wasted. Staring into the camera, he rues " Oh, why must I always regret".

Somehow felt a connection between his situation and what I'm going through and wanted to blog this. Guess I'm looking for inspiration anywhere I can :-) Working on getting the Tuck essays in shape. Been cooped up indoors the entire weekend, the snowstorm in Boston was pretty bad. Went for a walk to clear my head and it was beautiful outside. Took my camera along and took some pics and also did my good neighbor deed of the day - helped shovel a woman's stuck car out of the snow. Oh well, back to essay writing ...
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Friday, December 05, 2003


Man, this thing's going to come down to the wire. I am down to the stage where I have to crank out an essay a day to make the R2 deadlines. I must be the only R2 applicant who does not have a single essay written down yet. I've got ideas floating around my head and notes all over the place, but nothing in essay form.

I'm beginning to think I have a fear of commitment, or something like that. I had the entire last weekend to make my resume, had a great format to refer to, old resumes, even bought myself a printer for thanksgiving :-) but waited until 5 pm on sunday to start. Of course, it turned out pretty well. The first step seems to be the hardest. I would actually wager a few that I will be still writing essays the night before I am due to submit.

Spoke with both my main recommenders today. One of them needed paper copies for reference and I gave them to him, and the other is OK with doing the whole thing online. Am going to take them out for lunch next week to go over any questions they have. Need to also prepare pointers for individual schools to focus on. I'm going to be snowed in this weekend so I might get to this. My third recommender just left on a business trip so have to wait for him to get back.

For some weird reason, I am not at all worried about the state of affairs. Somehow I'm coolly confident that everything will fall into place at the right time. I guess I have been in such a high-pressure work environment for the past 3 years that it's become second nature to work like this.

I'm taking a serious look at Yale SOM. My main problem with that school is one of perception - of Yale that is. I somehow think a middle-class Indian student would be out of place at Yale. I have this image of it as the Ivy-est of the Ivy-ies, full of rich white people. So, to dispel this obvious myth and look for myself I'm headed to Yale next week for a class visit. I must say the folks at SOM have been awesome with responding to emails and calls. An extremely good first impression.

Some of my friends do this thing where they take a bunch of wines rated highly by Wine Spectator and mix them up with the local 7-11 varieties and there is a blind tasting and the results are tallied up. I didn't make it last time around but heard it was hillarious. They are having another one tonight so off I go now with my not-entirely-formidable tasting skills.

Salut !
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Thursday, December 04, 2003

Didn't get to work on my essays today. I also have not yet given my recommenders the letters to fill, and I am beginning to get worried on that front. Tomorrow I am definitely going to get hold of them. Seems like everyone is super busy. Also had a slight scare with the TOEFL. Am considering applying to Yale and realized that they do not accept graduate degrees in the US as sufficient proof of english competency. I heard back from them that I should submit a request for waiver from them with my application. Also checked with Stanford and Tuck and they clarified that I should be OK. Whew ! I assumed that all the schools would have a similar policy with regard to the TOEFL and so conveniently skipped looking at the section as I was browsing the application materials. I don't have the time or inclination to take the TOEFL at this stage. Will probably drop schools that require me to take it.

Went to see The Nutcracker this evening. A nice break from the monotony of work and sitting in front of a computer typing essays. The Boston Ballet's version of this classic was very nice. This was my first time at a ballet and I really enjoyed it. And the Wang Theater is just awesome. Something really cool happened today. We had an extra ticket and my friend tried to sell it but there were no single people looking for tix. We were running out of time and he decided to give it away to a person who was standing around with a little girl. They sat next to us and turns out she was there to drop off her elder daughter who was was actually dancing in the ballet !
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Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Tuck Tuck Tuck

It's been a while since I've seen a shooting star. As I was speeding along a dark, desolate stretch of I-89N towards Hanover, I saw one. And I made my wish ;-)

As I got to the Tuck campus in the middle of a cold night, I realized I should have wished for GSM service ! My cell phone would not work and I was supposed to call the person I was supposed to stay with. Things worked out though and I found my way to a warm bed.

Tuck is beautiful. Located at a cul-de-sac at the end of a longish drive, it is a mini-campus of a few buildings which are all interconnected with tunnels. The dorms are part of this complex also. Buchanan is the older dorm and is OK but the newer one, the 'crate-and-barrel' dorm, is awesome. Wow. Nice infrastructure, the class rooms are big enough, they have their own separate library and the lunch in the caf is actually good. Tuck is all about community. Everyone seems to know everyone else there. There is a sense of camaraderie there that I have not seen in any other school I've visited (which, of course, isn't saying much). All the students I talked with said they loved the place.

My day started with breakfast and a class visit. I sat in on a statistics class, which for the most part was - statistics. I have no knowledge of stats and it was a pretty advanced class, so it was hard to follow anything to start with since there were formulas and numbers all over the blackboards. But, pretty soon the professor got the class involved by talking to real world applications of the stuff he was teaching as well as opening it up for discussions and it ended up being a pretty interesting class. Here too, like MIT, the students don't go to the same class room and have to carry their nameboards with them. But, unlike MIT, I was able to sit at a desk and not at the back of the class by the wall ! Also, we got to introduce ourselves before class and got a round of applause.

After class, it was time for my interview. Everyone who interviewed wore business attire, and I was interviewed by a second year student. I thought they did a great job selecting the interviewer. He laid out the format of the interview first, and then started out with reasons for my wanting an MBA. We then talked more specifically about one of my reasons. The discussion then veered towards teamwork and we actually spent quite a bit of time on that - how teams work, how conflict is handled in teams, how teams are selected etc. My use of actual world examples even for general questions was complimented upon by my interviewer - I should try to get that into my system for any future interviews. We then talked about why Tuck and what i bring to the table. Ended by my asking him a few questions about Tuck and his experience there. This is supposed to be a 'fit' interview and I thought it went well. This is my first interview after about 3 1/2 years so I wasn't all that smooth and had to stop myself a couple of times to correct my sentences. But, there were no awkward silences at all and the conversation was great. I thought I gave honest and heartfelt answers to the questions and I feel good. Will have to wait and see how it played out to my interviewer.

We (the other applicants and I) then spent some time in a Q&A with an AdComm member and a 2nd year, were taken for lunch where we chatted with some other students and then walked around the place a bit. My biggest take-away is that Tuck is honest about who they say they are. It is a fantastic general management program in a unique location with a great emphasis on teamwork. If you are going to miss your jazz clubs and sashimi bars, you may not be happy here. But if knocking off the 48 4k-ers is your idea of time well spent, I would recommend you drive up I-89 for a dekho. I suspect you will not be disappointed.

Pretty soon it was time to go and as I was about to step out I looked through the windows and lo and behold - it was my first snow of this winter ! A very nice end to a very nice visit, though the drive back in the snow wasn't all that fun.
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