Thursday, April 22, 2004

Tied up with a FenderBender (kinda) on my way to Wharton.

Meant to write earlier, but work is killing me right now. Way too much to do, too little time. I had my interview at Wharton on monday and I thought it was good. Of course, no telling what my interviewer thought, but I feel good.

The trip started out all wrong. I was pulling out of a parking lot and all of a sudden this car sped in behind me and I slammed into her passenger side door. Damn, the sound of breaking glass is not something I wanted to hear. Luckily nobody was hurt, the cops showed up, and all I had to replace was a tail-light. I tell you, having plastic panels on cars is a beautiful thing. Not a scratch on my Element despite the impact.

Ties. That's probably the closest I'll come to understanding women and their shoes. I have worn a tie exactly 14 times my entire life. But I have 10 of them :-) And, of all things, I forgot to pack a tie in my hurry to leave Boston. So, had to do a quick pitstop at a friend's place in New Jersey to see if I could borrow one. The problem was not actually finding a tie, but the right one. Every single one of his ties I found some fault with. Finally I picked one out, and it actually went very well with my suit when I wore it. J, thanks a lot da. Phew, close call.

So, with the above distractions preventing me from spending the planned time on reviewing potential questions and my responses, I arrived with a distinct sense of unpreparedness. I wasn't in the 'zone'. Got there early enough monday morning, signed in, and after handing over my resume, went for a walk around campus to calm me down. It was such a gorgeous day. The little walk did me good, and I had one of those rare 'fuck-it' moments when stress and worry are replaced by a certain lightness. The last time I've had one of those was the day before my GMAT when I was all stressing out about not scoring above 650 on the KAPLAN tests. A much better score on the actual test was sweet reward. Anyways, I decided to stop obsessing about the interview until it started and went into the MBA Cafe. Met up with a prospective who had just finished his interview and said hi to my tour guide from last week's visit to campus. He was an R3 admit, and he said to just let my energy and passion shine through and have my reason for wanting an MBA crystal clear. Thanks for the advice, NG.

Walked back to the Admissions office and straight into my interview. The interviewer was very friendly, and immediately made me feel comfortable. He explained the layout of the interview - 30 minutes, with about 5 minutes at the end for questions, idea is to get to know me better - and we started. His first question was open-ended : So, tell me about yourself, from the time you were growing up. I was able to articulate my entire 'story' starting from my schooling, why I wanted to study what I did, why I chose my undergraduate and graduate schools, a defining experience a few years ago that is the basis of my long term goals and how my career choices since then have tied into my goals, and ended with the reasons I wanted to get an MBA and why now is the right time. It was good to get a lot of the potential questions cleared with that one. The next question was Why Wharton ? After that, the interview was very conversational and some of the other questions were :

* What makes you unique ?
* What would you consider your proudest achievement ?
* Elaborate more on your career plans, where do you see yourself working a few years out ?
* You seem to have a strong resume, why did you wait until R3 to apply ?
* If I talked with your friends and asked them what your two biggest weaknesses were, what would they say ?
* What do you do outside of work ?
* Do you think the admissions committee will have any reservations about your application ?
* Anything else that you wish I had asked you.

I think I had good answers for the above. Well, I had the honest answers, and I presume they are good :-) About two minutes into the interview, I lost track of the fact that I was dressed in a suit talking to a person who was in a position to potentially alter my future. I felt more like I was talking to a person who was really interested in knowing the answers to his questions (it is very rare that an interviewer has made me feel so comfortable). So, I dropped all the buzz words and 'key points' I would have normally used in a situation like this and had a real conversation, with all the accompanying faults - a stutter here, a pause to think there, some humor etc. I can really say that I was being myself in the interview. This is what W'll get if they decide to admit me.

After the interview, I went to an awesome class on GE Medical Systems and their China strategy. It was a case study class and it was amazing. A great example of why Wharton strives to get so much diversity into their classrooms. The professor started out by asking if there were any MD's in the class, so they could give a doctor's perspective ! There were none, but a couple of the students were familiar with healthcare, another had worked for a competitor and it was great to see a Chinese student clarify another student's understanding of IP laws as applied to China, and provide insights into how the Chinese hospital system is organized. Towards the end of the class, the professor asked the students their impression of the case. Apparently, it was very complex and there was seemingly too much data of no import (to which the prof suggested that maybe people weren't looking closely enough :). After talking about the merits and demerits of what people thought was a hard case, he quietly mentioned that it was last year's final exam :-)

All in all, I walked away with a nice spring in my step. Thinking back, I think I had a good interview. I felt good at the end of 30 minutes. The next 30 days are going to be a long wait, though.
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