James Joyce doesn’t teach time management, but fate is the great equalizer

I should honestly be working for a marketing company. I mean in the last 5 days since I took the GMAT I have gotten more e-mails about what I got and why am I keeping people waiting…the hype was building. It finally reached a crescendo last night when someone broke into my apartment to find out what I got on the GMAT. (That last one isn’t true, but I did get a lot of e-mails and I want to thank those who cared enough to drop me a line). So why you ask did I wait this long to deliver this tidbit of news? Well something has been happening behind the scenes here at the blog. An exciting thing, a somewhat disappointing thing, and things that will have a huge impact on my life. But before we get to that, here is rundown of what happened on my GMAT.

I arrived at the testing center at around 7:25 for my 8:00am test. Why, because I am neurotic about being early. As I am looking for a way into the locked building, a woman asks me if I am here to take a test. I told her I was and she told me to follow her and that she was running late, she was sick, and the other guy who was supposed to be here today has a pregnant wife, so he might be a little late, or just not show up at all. This woman is talking a mile a minute and is pretty much giving me a verbal rendition of her autobiography. I pretend to intently listen, while inside a fire was burning. One that would fuel me to achieve greatness on this test (at least I hoped it was that and not just gas…). Too make a long and frustrating story shorter, lets just say that the guy whose wife was going to have the baby, forgot to come into work because he though it was Columbus Day weekend and the center was closed. I didn’t start my test until about 8:20, so I was just hanging out with 14 other people for about an hour. One hour, to think about the test…my strategy, the score I needed. I think I freaked myself out a bit during that time because when I went in to take the test, I wasn’t as confident as I was when that fire was burning inside me (it turned out to just be gas…).

The test began well enough, answering questions left (or wrong) and right. Swatting all comers away with confidence that I was getting them right. I was on question 20, when I realized that I hadn’t looked at the clock yet. This isn’t unusual, as timing has never been my problem. When I looked at the clock, it was a moment of sheer terror. If it was portrayed in a movie, the camera would have zoomed in on my horrifying expression, while some eerie music plays in the background. I don’t remember the exact numbers in play here, but needless to say, I was pretty much screwed. I think I had 20 questions left for 30 minutes, or something insane like that! I immediately hit the panic button (there wasn’t an actual panic button, but a metaphorical panic button instead)! I start whizzing through problems by just narrowing down answer choices to 2 and then picking one. I don’t think that was one of the strategies that Manhattan GMAT recommends…I finally catch-up to where I am supposed to be and there are about 5 questions left. I answer those to the best of my knowledge, but the damage was done. Time management had ruined my Quant section for sure. After this emotional and physical beating I still had verbal to contend with…

I don’t know if it is the GMAT in general, or I have just been really lucky, but every official GMAT I have taken has started the verbal section off with a sentence correction question (my least favorite of the verbal questions). Despite that I make my way through this section without much fuss, but with a constant eye on the clock. I finish it off and I feel pretty good about verbal, but I just know that my quant score it going to tank my overall score. I click through the questions about my background and I get to the section that asks if I want to cancel my score. I seriously think about doing this, but I was always told to never, ever cancel your score, unless there is something ridiculous that happens, like a lion breaks into the testing facility and bites your leg off. So I don’t cancel my score. Out of nowhere someone breaks through the door into the testing center with a trombone and plays WA-WA-WAaaaaaaaaaa. I see my score up on screen….640. Just as I suspected my quant had destroyed a good test. My breakdown was a 40 for quant (8 points lower than last time) and a 38 for verbal (2 points higher than time). So what did I learn? Well first, James Joyce seemed to help me, but not as much as I would have liked. Secondly, and probably the most obvious…even it has never been a problem for you before ALWAYS CHECK THE CLOCK! Time management ruined my GMAT and my day…but all was not lost.

On Thursday of the week prior to the GMAT I was supposed to have a call with Randall Sawyer of the Johnson School to discuss what I could do as a re-applicant to better my profile. The call didn’t happen because he wasn’t in the office. I don’t know if he had something happen, or the admin did not block that time out on his calendar, but they get a pass…once is a mistake and I can handle that. I was bummed out, but not totally destroyed.

Also on Thursday of that week, I had a 2nd interview at a bank in the city (this bank may or may not sponsor Liverpool F.C.). After 2.5 hours of interviews I emerged confident that I would be receiving an offer, but then I was told that because of funding reasons, the position would be put on hold until January. I was thrilled about that because I knew that I would find out about Cornell, Columbia, BU, and ND before January, so if I got in somewhere I could politely decline an offer, or if I didn’t get in…the new gig would have been a nice fall back option.

So what ended up happening? Well, the new bank was so impressed with me, that they ended up putting through an exception to make me an offer, which was incredibly generous, like 25% higher than what I make now generous! The offer came on Monday, which is incidentally the day that I was going to hit the submit button on my Cornell app. After talking it over with my wife, my family, my extended family, random people on the street, and a homeless guy who was trying to catch a unicorn….I decided that I am not going to be applying to B-School this year and I am accepting this new position. The past few days have been a whirlwind, but I finally got the official offer letter last night and I gave my two weeks notice this morning.

I am saddened to leave my current job, as the people around here really make the company what it is. Although I will miss the people I work with, I know that this is in my best interest now and for my future. Once I made the decision I decided that I should call Randall Sawyer to let him know that I wouldn’t be applying. I thought that he deserved to know why I wasn’t applying because he had been so helpful to me throughout the process. I have too much respect for him to just leave him guessing. I called Randall and while he was disappointed that I wasn’t reapplying, he said that getting an offer in this job market is something I should be proud of. I thanked him for his help, he thanked me for the call and we said goodbye, but not before he added that B-School would always be there for me in a couple of years if I still want it.

So now what? Well the blog dies….I don’t really know why I would keep it around if I am not planning on applying to B-school for at least 2 years. I had a great time blogging and sharing my successes (I don’t know how many there were but there had to be some, right, right????) and failures (multiple, soul crushing failures). I believe that all things happen for a reason. I was meant to take this job and to not go to B-School. Why? I have not idea…but it is going to be really fun to find out!

Before putting a knife in this guy, I just want to thank everyone who read,  commented, was a fan of, casually glanced at, or even hated my blog. Hopefully I have helped you in some small way, and if not, hopefully you had fun reading about my life. I want to thank my wife and my family for supporting me throughout the process. This experience took time away that I could have spent with them, but they always understood and they never let it become a problem. They were my biggest supporters and my best friends.  Love you guys!

I want to thank Clear Admit for featuring me in the Friday From the Frontlines. I want to thank anyone who has ever done a guest post for me and lightened the burden of having to come up with a brilliant post everyday. Lastly, I want to thank John Byrne from Poets and Quants for featuring my blog on his website, his stuff is cutting edge and he isn’t afraid to give you his opinion on things. Plus, he is a Jersey guy, so we have that bond going already. Go to his site people…you won’t be disappointed.

If you ever have a question about applying or want to mock me for coming this far only to stop about 1/4 of an inch from the finish line, I can be reached at sgargiulomba at gmail.com. So I bid all of you adieu and like Ryan Seacrest, I’M OUT! (cue curtain and applause)

The weekend that was…and the week ahead

Is the weekend over already? Seriously? I could have sworn that I had another day in there somewhere.

My weekend consisted entirely of studying, taking practice tests, and re-writing my Columbia/Cornell essays. First thing is first: I am a freakin’ genius! I don’t know if it had anything to do with my strategy of reading some James Joyce, but my reading comp. scores were off the charts good! After having to really concentrate to understand the ramblings of Joyce, the RC section seemed like a pleasant read. Maybe it was that I was more confident, maybe I got easy questions, but either way I am going to keep doing what I am doing.  My score for the test was once again a 700, 45Q and 40V. I am pretty happy with this and I am interested to see how this will translate to the real thing next weekend. I can’t believe it is here already! It seems like yesterday that I was buying the online course from Manhattan GMAT. In total I scored 700 3 times, I scored 660 and lastly I scored a 640. This is good for an average score of 680, which is 22 points higher than the last time I was taking practice tests. Hopefully I see a similar score bump on my test on Saturday.

The week ahead is a hectic one to say the least. Tonight I am attending a  Columbia event in NYC, which focuses on Finance and Economics. It should be what I need to put the finishing touches on my essays this weekend. On Wednesday I have an industry event after work, which I might have to skip out on to study. Thursday I am taking the day off to study and to speak with Randall Sawyer. On Friday, I rest. I take it easy before test day and go to bed early. Saturday is my test and that night I have a celebratory dinner & drinks with friends. Sunday will probably be finishing off essay and tweaking things, after my Columbia event and any hints I pick up from Randall. Sleep?…overrated!

MBA Tour Rewind

Big news of the weekend is that I attended the NYC MBA Tour. If you don’t know what it is, the MBA Tour is an event, usually held at a hotel, where multiple business schools from around the country come to give presentations and answer attendees questions. It is also a great opportunity to speak with the people who are going to be reading your applications, so they can start to put faces with names.

This years event was held at the Grand Hyatt on 42nd Street in NYC. This place always brings back some fond memories for me, as the last time I was there was during the summer of 2005. I was an intern at Bear Stearns…the now defunct I-Bank…and I was attending the Bear Stearns technology conference. It was my first real look behind the curtain at the world of the research analyst. I loved every second of it. I will always be grateful to them for that opportunity, as it  began my love of equity research.

So on Sunday morning I trekked into the city and visited 4 school presentations, and chatted with some admissions people.The first presentation I saw was from the Kelley School of Business. While it was a good presentation and the speaker was very good at selling the school, I had a few reservations. First I think that Kelley would have some difficulty in bringing in recruiters from top NYC banks/financial firms. This would definitely be a school where you would have to travel to NYC to even get in front of people. Second, I don’t think that the Kelley NYC presence is all that strong. When asked about this, the presenter (Tim Smith), said that there were a lot of Kelley undergrads that come to be analysts in NYC. Not exactly a ringing endorsement for the MBA alums! In conclusion, very good school…but I don’t think it is right for me.

I then sat in on a Boston University presentation. I was very impressed with the speaker and her energy for the program. While this isn’t a top MBA program by any means, it seems like it would be a nice fit for me. Boston is a hub for asset management and that might help me in my goal of becoming a portfolio manager. BU is also in the midst of a strong push to make its B-School more highly regarded, so the value of my degree could grow over the course of my career. Conclusion – definitely applying

Next was Georgetown. I had high hope for G-dubbs, but the presentation kind of left me a little flat on the school. There wasn’t much exciting about it, the presenter wasn’t all that engaging, and I didn’t really get a good feel about the school. This could have just been an off day, or I could have just been hungry and grumpy at this point. Either way, I don’t think I am going to apply here…the school seemed much more political than I would like (I guess you have to expect that, with it being in DC and all.) Conclusion – I am bummed out about this one. I thought it would be a great name, a great location, and a great fit…but I seemed to be let down by the last one. With that being said, I still might take a trip down there on Columbus Day weekend.

I saved the best for last…Cornell. The apple of my eye, the one that got away, and the seeded raspberry preserve to my crunchy peanut butter (If you are not a member of my family you probably have no idea what this means, but I am cool with that.). The presentation began a little late because the NYU presentation ran a little over its allotted time (ugh…who needs those Violets anyway, just kidding). This gave me a chance to say hello to Randall Sawyer, who is the Assistant Dean of Admissions for the Johnson School. If you have read the blog in the past, you probably know that I have a borderline man crush on this guy. He is a really nice guy and he genuinely wants every applicant to find the school that is right for him or her. After exchanging hello’s the presentation began. As Randall spoke about the Johnson School, it was pretty much the equivalent of the Pied Piper …except he wasn’t leading a bunch of rats, he was leading the future leaders of America. After the presentation I went to speak with him again. He apologized to me and said that he wasn’t exactly sure who I was, but during the presentation he remembered. He asked if I was going to re-apply and I said that I was. I asked if he had any advice for a re-applicant. He said that I should give him a call and we can set some time aside to talk. He then apologized for my time on the wait list, saying that there was only 1 no-show in the class. I thanked him and told him that I would send him an e-mail today.

After this exchange I was pretty much on cloud 9…I was re-energized by the presentations and my chat with Randall. Hopefully it can carry me the rest of the way. There are only 2 weeks left until R1 apps are due! Plus the freakin’ GMAT! I am in total melt-down freak-out mode…but at this point, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

My Application Plans

Since it doesn’t look like I am getting that call this year, my plans are turning to next year. The crazy part is that R1 apps are due in 6-7 weeks, depending on where you are applying. So I am going to have to cram essays, recs, and the GMAT into this time period. My list is going to be different from last year, as I will be applying to some schools that are slightly lower ranked than I did last year. My thought process on this is that I want/need to go to B-School this year and since my father has graciously stated that he would pay for a semester of tuition (doing the same for my brother as an MD), the return on investment calculation would still be in my favor if I didn’t land a $100k+ job after graduation.

I researched quite a bit about all these schools and they are certainly different in many ways, but each of them have a good finance department and have respectable finance placement stats. Below is a list of the schools I am applying to and the dates for each round.

Cornell – Oct. 5th

Yale SOM – Oct. 7th

Georgetown – Nov. 1st

USC – Nov. 1st.

Boston University – Nov. 1st.

Still Under Consideration:

Columbia – Oct 6th (ED), rolling until April after this initial deadline

Notre Dame – Nov 1st

Roll Call!

Since this is a new application season I figured a little spring/late summer cleaning was in order. I have cleared out my Blog Roll of almost all the applicant blogs on it last year because I have no idea who is still blogging about applying to B-School. So if you want the fame and notoriety that come along with being on my Blog Roll…drop me a line and if I deem you worthy, you can hang with the true immortals of the applicant universe.

I suck, I’m an idot, and I’d like to thank the academy…

Soooo, this is awkward. It seems that I haven’t blogged at all since I left for my honeymoon. The reasons are many, but it really boils down to 2 things:

1. I wanted to take a break from everything after the wedding

2. I have a new boss that is just ever so slightly more demanding of my time (read extra sarcasm here!)

But, my many fans (my mother and the family dog) requested, nay demanded, that I start this machine back up again. I can’t promise that I will post as frequently as i did prior, and the posts probably won’t be as long, but I am really going to try to get back into this. Before doing so, there are a few apologies that I must make first.

1. I want to apologize to Accepted.com for not voting in the Beautiful B-School Contest. I told them I would and I completely forgot. That is totally my fault and for that, I am a moron.

2. I want to take the time to thank Clear Admit and my fellow bloggers that voted me as the most entertaining applicant blog and the 7th best applicant blog overall. I never took the time to properly tell everyone else how much I enjoyed their blogs, and for that…I am an idiot.

So to update everyone as to what has been happening in my life over the past 3 months:

1. I love being married! Danielle and I are really happy (at least I know I am…hope she is) and are just loving being newly weds. Plus, having this ring on my finger has really helped me out with letting the ladies know I am taken. Before I had the ring I had to carry around a stick that Danielle gave to me to beat them off of me as they approached, but now I just flash the ring, and it is like garlic to a vampire.

2. I STILL HAVEN”T HEARD ANYTHING FROM CORNELL!!!!!!!!! I e-mailed Randall a couple of times and he indicated that I would should be receiving a letter within the next week or so…never happened, so here I wait. I am just hoping that some poor soul can’t attend Johnson this year and I get a call on the 1st day of Orientation.

3. I finished my online course from the UCLA Extension program. For those that don’t remember, I took an online calculus course to boost my quant profile and to show Johnson that I could hack it academically (my college grades were not very good, 2.9). Obviously i got an A because I am a freaking genius (the first time I typed this word I completely misspelled it, some genius I am)!

4. I have begun studying for the GMAT again…in anticipation of not getting in to Johnson. My method of choice for this go around is Manhattan GMAT’s self study program. I figure that I know the test enough that I don’t need a course, just the discipline to study as much as is required. I took the intro test on Thursday of last week and scored a 630, which wasn’t terrible considering that I hadn’t looked at any of this stuff in one years time. My breakdown was 43 Q and 34 V. My actual test day breakdown was 48Q and 36V, so I am not that far away in either category. I am really going to try and break over 700 this time. I figure that a 710 would have gotten me into Johnson this go around, so hopefully it will do the trick if I apply for next year.

I am (hopefully not – if I get into Johnson next week) starting an all new admission’s cycle, with all new bloggers. I hope to read everything that you guys write and hopefully you do the same with my stuff. May all your scores be 800s and may all your essays write themselves. I’m back bitches!

P.S. I changed the name of the blog because I will no longer be a 2012 applicant. I figure it fits my content better anyhow.

After this weekend I will be forever changed…

So this it….what I have been looking forward to ever since I started this whole process. It will either make me whole or I will melt away into oblivion. I am talking of course about the 2010 Polar Bear Plunge in Sea Isle City, NJ!!!!!!!! For those not familiar with “The Plunge,” it is about 3,000 people (usually heavily intoxicated) running into the ocean. Why? I have no idea, but it is a lot of fun! The process of becoming a “true polar bear” is participating in the event for 3 years in a row. This will be my 3rd year, and I couldn’t be happier! I finally get to step out of the shadow of cubhood and into the limelight reserved for a true polar bear! My brother will also be going through bear-if-ication with me, so I have a wing-man in the process.

Me praying that I get a call from Cornell on Monday!

The weather forecast is not exactly cooperating with us because the east coast has just gotten over two major storms in the last week, so the possibility of snow on the ground remains a good one. The temperature is going to be 34 degrees with partly cloudy skies….fine weather indeed to take The Plunge (although a few extra degrees never hurt anyone). I will certainly be providing pictures of my exploits upon my return, as I hope to have a special costume in place for the event, but the snow storm has delayed the shipping and now I don’t know if it will be possible.

There are two other exciting things going on in the next few days…the first is Valentine’s Day and the last, but certainly not least will be my Cornell decision. Danielle and I have an engagedment party to attend on Sunday, which is actually Valentine’s Day, so we are going to be celebrating on Monday. Since this coincides with my Cornell decision, it will be either the greatest V-Day ever, or the worst. Risky strategy, but that is how we have to play it. I have off of work on Monday for President’s Day and I think that will make the waiting for a phone call worse. I think Cornell’s admission staff should be in on Monday, but I am not really sure and I don’t have the cajones to call and ask them about it. So I am going to wait, and wait, and wait some more for a call…I hope everyone who is doing the same thing on Monday doesn’t have to wait long! Best of luck to everyone and I will see you on the flip side of the weekend!

Guest Post – How to Ace Your B-School Application Essay

I hope everyone had a great weekend. My was snowy and such, but more on that later. This is something that I have wanted to do for a while, but haven’t really followed through with it. A guest post, by someone who does this stuff for a living. So without further adieu, I present, Brenda Harris:

About Our Author, Brenda Harris

“With a background in journalism, Brenda brings both her background in writing and passion for business and entrepreneurship which she obtained from University of Houston to her feature pieces at Executive MBA programs. Once set loose in the world of blogging she has been steadily increasing her readership and enjoys the interaction between reader and author that allows her to get feedback from readers who suggest new titles, then publish those articles a couple of days later only to receive feedback from those same readers. This cycle improves writing and the reading experience and is something unique she feels she brings to Executive MBA Programs. To that end, we rely on your constant feedback and comments, so please email us with any comments, questions, critiques or suggestions. Brenda is originally from Houston and enjoys spending time with family and friends.”

How to Ace Your B-School Application Essay

The process of applying to a good business school is usually fraught with stress, especially when it comes to coming up with a good essay that will wow the admissions panel and get you into the B school of your choice. Most people know how to study for their GMAT and ace this test, because it is standardized and involves something they understand – focus and hard work. But when it comes to writing a personal essay of a 1000 plus words explaining why they want to get an MBA from this particular B school, they tend to mess up for various reasons. If you want to write a great essay, here’s what you need to do:

  • Think of what you want to say before you start writing. Put your thoughts down on paper, and then order them in a cohesive manner. You could either use this as a rough blueprint for your essay or to ensure that you don’t forget to add all that you want to in the course of writing your essay.
  • Make your essay personal; your desire to get into the college must come across through your words. This means you must write your essay on your own instead of outsourcing it to someone who you think is better suited to the task. While you can take their help, make sure the effort is all your own.
  • Your reasons for wanting to study an MBA and to join this particular institution should be corroborated through other aspects of your application form, like the recommendation letters, your GMAT scores, and your academic grades. So if you want to say something just because you think it will touch the admissions panel, think again. The best essays are those that are true and spontaneous.
  • Don’t go off on tangents or be too verbose about one particular subject or topic. Be as concise as you can and ensure that your flow of your narration is natural and continuous and that it does not jump abruptly from one issue to the other.
  • Don’t use words that you don’t understand or because they sound good and are bound to impress. When you use flowery and bombastic language, you come across as pretentious and overeager to impress with just your use of words.
  • Once you’ve written your essay, read it over a few times to ensure that there are no spelling or grammatical errors. If language is not your forte, get someone who does not need a dictionary and who knows their verbs from their adverbs to look it over. An essay filled with mistakes does not make a good impression even if what you have to say is interesting.

Almost every one of the students who is applying for the same degree will have academic records and achievements similar to yours. So more often than not, it is the essay which becomes the differentiating factor that determines admission – all the more reason why you must pay attention and accord importance to it.

By-line:

This guest post is contributed by Brenda Harris, who writes on the topic of executive mba programs . She can be reached at her email id: brenda.harris91@gmail.com .

Blog #s and weekend plans

So this is the big one, it’s Super Bowl (American Football) weekend, which is pretty much the equivalent of the Champions League Final, for those non-US readers. I have been invited to the house of a family friend, who lives by Philadelphia. He is a University of Penn grad w/ a Harvard MBA…needless to say that he has a few sheckles to rub together. He runs his ow hedge-fund, which is pretty much only his money with a small amount from outside investors. I am going to take the opportunity to talk with him about the MBA process (although he did it many years ago) and financial services in general. It should be a great time because, of course, he has a 30 seat movie theater in his “house”, which is actually a mansion. My life is not going to suck this weekend, hobnobbing with high society!

Just want to say thanks, heading into a snowy weekend…I don’t want to assume anything, but with a little help from people reading this post I should reach 20,000 page views. This is a pretty staggering number for me to think about. When I started this blog, I would have been happy if 2,000 people ever visited it, with 1,998 finding it by mistake. I never imagined that this many people would read my thoughts, triumphs (have there actually been any of those yet?), and certainly failures with such eagerness. I want thank everyone who has read my blog and I hope to continue informing, entertaining, or boring you to death for the forseeable future. I should know if I got into Cornell in a week or two, so hopefully I have some good news to share with everyone. Regardless of what happens, I have really enjoyed the application process and that is due in no small part to the MBA Applicant blogging community.

You’ve got to be shitting me…

So if you are not from the US, you probably have no clue about this, but Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow this morning…Phil is a groundhog, as today is groundhog day. On this day, in Gobbler’s Knobb, PA, (not kidding, they actually named there town after a blow-job reference) someone takes this groundhog out of its cage and asks the groundhog if he sees his shadow. If he does see his shadow, that means 6 more weeks of winter, while if there is no shadow, then spring is coming early. A very scientific approach indeed!

So, here’s the thing…we all know that this is fake and a production. It is something that brings the town of Gobbler’s Knobb (had to write it again) some money and I am fine with that. The problem I have is that it is goddamn freezing outside, at least lie to me and tell me that spring is coming early. This was pretty much the only hope I had left. I know when I wake up in the morning it is going to be in the high teens outside and windy. When I get out of work it will be 30 and windy. It is a miserable feeling…stupid, fat  groundhog!

BTW…Is it February 16th yet? The wait is beginning to eat away at me!

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