Friday, January 28, 2005

The women of The Apprentice

I just looked up the bios of the contestants on the latest version of The Apprentice and there's something that caught my eye. I don't know if these descriptions are made up by the producers or the contestants, but there seems to be a pattern in the way the women's personalities have been described.

Team Magna (Book Smarts)
Erin - "She's attractive, bubbly, energetic, and funny"
Kendra - "She may appear to be a bubbly, blue-eyed blonde"
Stephanie - "She is often described as "fun and bouncy""
Verna - this one has no real personality related stuff in her bio.

Team Net Worth (Street Smarts)
Angie - "She has an intimidating presence"
Audrey - "Audrey is outwardly opinionated "
Kristen - " Kristen has a quick, sharp tongue, and confrontational style"
Tana - "She approaches challenges with no fear"
Tara - "Tara can be the life of the party, but no one pushes her around"

Now, I know I am quoting random lines from a page, and there is more about each woman that talks about their accomplishments, strength, etc. But, what really struck me is that the 'book smarts' folks' business acumen is framed in the context of them being cutesy, bubbly, la-di-dah, whereas the 'street smarts' girls are potrayed as all kick-ass toughness.

I'd like to think that this is just marketing spiel to cast the college-educated vs non in opposing lights, but I also wonder, can this be an accurate generalization ? I find that hard to believe because the few (i must admit i have a small sample to work with) women I know who do their own thing are all also nice, fun and, yes, bubbly.

Thoughts ?

Edit: Actually, the entrepreneurial women I know actually have a college education. So, i guess that reduces my sample size to 0. So, now I really don't know.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

It's chic-a-GO !

IT"S OFFICIAL ! Yogi's goin' to Chicago !!

I must have jammed the chicago phone lines with my incessant calling this morning, only to get voicemail. Finally, gave up and went to a design meeting with a manager for a new project she wants me to work on. In the middle of it, I got a call from a chicago area code. I look at her and go, I've got to take this. She gave me a look of wtf?, but before she could say anything I was running out of the office into a conference room. It was Kurt, calling to congratulate me. I actually don't remember anything of the call anymore. I thanked him, he thanked me, we thanked each other, and after a little victory jig, walked back into the meeting. And oh, it was a one-on-one meeting :-)

It's slowly sinking in, but this is a sweet, sweet feeling. No can write anymore. Am off to Tiffany to buy a gift for my recommender, who's also a mentor and one of the best people I've had the good fortune to know. There's also the little matter that hers was the meeting I walked out of ;-) Haven't told her yet, will do so later this afternoon.

Congratulations to all the Chicago admits, and best wishes for those still waiting to hear.

The longest night of my life

I just can't sleep !

Chicago results started to trickle out today with the admissions folks calling admits. I got into work and sometime during the day I heard my cellphone beep - low battery ! so, I shut it off waiting for the first admit to be posted. Once that was announced, I turned it back on and around 4 pm it ran completely out of juice and died. turns out wakechick was in the same boat and her cellphone died on her too. so, after my meetings for the day, I got home around 6 and charged it back up - but no messages or calls. At 8:40 I heard another beep - announcing a voice mail.

Check it, and it's Kurt Ahlm, Director of Admissions at Chicago. I literally froze. But, his message had no mention of an admit or congratulations - just asked to call him back, and that he was trying to get in touch with me and that he was looking forward to talking with me. So, I called him back and got his voicemail. Turns out he had left the message around 5:30 or so my time and told me then that he was going to be sticking around for another 2 hours. He must have left by the time I called him.

So, I am now anxiously waiting for the sun to rise on a bright new day. I hope he was calling to tell me what I wanted to hear ! keeping my fingers crossed - and trying to get some sleep which is proving elusive. Have to call him back first thing tomorrow.

The story does have a kick-ass chapter though - Wakechick's been accepted to Chicago, with $$ thrown in no less. I am so happy for you WakeChick. Many Many Congratulations, this is much deserved.

Man, there are too many thoughts racing through my head right now. Need to keep it grounded until I know something for sure. The story of my life's been so interesting that anything can happen - maybe he dialled a wrong number, or they need more info, or i've been selected for a pilot program where they call the dings ... ;-)

It's going to be a long night.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Chicago R1 Update

The floodgates have opened, the first call was just reported on BW. And, to make things interesting, Wakechick and I have cellphones running on low battery ... c'mon chicago, make the call soon. You know you want to ;-)

Monday, January 17, 2005

Chicago R1 calls tomorrow ?

Hot off the Boards !! Piper0128, an R2 applicant, was at HPC interviewing today and this is his report from the frontlines:

"For all those anxiously waiting, I did my R2 interview today. Spent 20 jealous minutes watching the receptionist put together packets for admitted applicants. Several people in the office mentioned that phone calls should start tomorrow."

I've been eavesdropping on the Stanford boards all day watching the nervous energy as the calls have been trickling out of Palo Alto. I guess it's the turn of the wannabe Chicagoans. Good luck to everyone waiting for Stanford and Harvard which I think is due tomorrow also. And super-good-luck to Wakechick and Bharath for the Chicago decisions.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

How many times can I tell the same story?

I sat down christmas weekend, after unwrapping my gift from Wharton, to think about my application strategy going forward. I pulled out the list of R2/3 schools I had drawn up and did a serious rethink of where I could/should apply given the deadlines, possibilities of getting accepted etc. I came up with a list of three more schools that I could reasonably do and made up a plan of attack.

That's when I hit a wall, and the title of this post aptly sums it up. I don't know if other re-applicants ever experience this phase, but it's a funky case of Writer's Block. I knew what I needed to say, had already done it a few different ways, but somehow lost the enthusiasm to do so. I guess I felt weighed down by a combination of repetitive boredom, fatigue, and efforts unrequited. The temptation to just pick from my, now considerable, cache of essay materials, change school names, and submit actually gave me a few good nights' sleep.

But, I also realized (finally ! i'm starting to learn from my mistakes :) that this is the kiss of death. So, I sucked it up and went back to the drawing board. Square one. Locked up all my older essays and sat down with an empty sheet of paper. In essence, started my application process anew. I spent a couple of days revisiting my life, writing about every event that matters to me, and the when/how/why/why-not's of it all. It was a therapeutic exercise, and had the effect of bringing back my self-confidence and the enthusiasm.

The next step, a serious post-mortem of my apps so far, revealed two main areas of improvement: better use of the non-essay parts of the app, and more detail about my intended job right after MBA. I tackled the latter first. I laid out what I want to be doing longer-term, around 15 years from now, and short term, 5 years out. For both I tried to answer two questions - why and what skills do I need to be successful. Working backwards I came up the exact job I want to do after an MBA. As I juxtaposed the skills sets needed to achieve each of these against what I currently possess, the gap between now and the future, and the reasons for an MBA to connect the dots, became evident.

That done, I picked up my next application - LBS - and researched, researched, and re-researched the school. I listed every available question on the app, from language skills to essays and spent a ton of time matching this with the body of work developed earlier to find appropriate places in the application for all the information I wanted conveyed. I must say I did indeed sleep well after this was done. The results included a complete re-do of my resume, asking for and being allowed to submit a cover letter, and oddly enough, stricter limits on my essays - there were things that I HAD to talk about in each essay.

Essay 1 - why, why, why - was serious, as is wont to be, given the subject matter. The closing of Essay 2 - teamwork experiences and what I'd bring to my study group - had both my reviewers(yes, I did have two lined up with decent time to review) in splits. Heck, I laughed out loud when I wrote it. It is something that complements the opening and, at the same time, humorous.

For Essay 3 - what club/activity would I start at LBS - I broke my own rules. I had planned for this essay to cover my past experiences starting/running student clubs, fundraising etc. But, as I was thinking of an interesting way to actually say all this, and talk about what I actually wanted to start, an intriguing essay format cropped up in my brain. Actually, energized me would be more like it. It's the most creative idea I've had since my Chicago mascot essay and I decided to use it. Though i didn't get to cover all the aforementioned bullet points, I did answer the asked question in a very interesting way.

A hard part of the entire exercise was resisting the temptations, which presented themselves at regular intervals, to say that I already know what I've done, what I want to do etc. Harder still was overcoming my ADD to force myself to start getting things done a few days before the deadline.

The end-result : What I think is a very solid application, which took entirely too long, but was done and submitted on time.
Will-it-be-good-enough : The one thing I'm sure of, is that no one can be sure of this one. Will have to wait and see.

Must-Do's for the next app: The employment & activities sections could use more attention, have NOTHING on the app left undone on submission date, and allow myself to get creative on the essays.

I've been catching up on the blogs and boards, and wish the best for everyone who is working on R2/3 applications. Onwards and Upwards we go.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Chicago App : watch out for the ?s

This is just a quick heads-up for those who are working on submitting the Chicago application on their extended deadline. Their online application has a wierd feature where characters such as -, ", ', !, ( etc get uploaded as question marks, '?' (??? in chicago-speak). So, if you are composing essays in Word, make sure it is saved as text, and also verify the actual version. I went back into the system after I uploaded my essays, and edited the uploaded versions to hand-correct the changes. Saw that a couple of posters on BW struggled with this, and just wanted to put out a word of warning. Needless to say, you may not want to wait until the (extended) last-minute to submit ;-)

Good luck !

Edit: Actually, Chicago requires a cut-paste from your word processing program. So the steps I followed were : cut-paste, save, then go back to the page to see how the essay was saved, then edit this version to convert all those annoying question marks back to what they were intended to be, save. Rinse and repeat.

Edit2 : Oh, the payment system. Thanks Badri for bringing this back to my notice. There is another quirk in the system that allows you to submit the application without going through the actual payment system. And, you can't come back in to fork out the dineros. So, make sure you fill out the payment form before clicking the final Submit. Then, you wait - it takes over two days for the payment to be confirmed.