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!

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.

I don’t suck at blogging…

and I have a nomination to prove it!

Somehow, someway (cash bribes) I am a nominee for Clear Admit’s Best of Blogging. I have no idea why they would nominate me, as I don’t think my blog is particularly helpful when it comes to MBA stuff. Maybe it was when I was applying, but its been so long since I wrote something of substance. I pretty much just drone on about how great I am and how I am getting married…not very interesting stuff. But, I am grateful none the less. I realize that there were a lot of blogs to choose from and choosing mine really means a lot to me. Maybe instead of going to get my MBA, I can just blog about wanting to get it, or trying to get it. It seems I am better at that, than actually getting in…

The next step is voting for the winners. I am not opposed to paying people in large unmarked bills to try to rig this thing, so if anyone is in need of some money to help finance their MBA, come see this guy. Because I am going to need all the help I can get. If this was the NCAA tournament, I would be in the play-in game (ex. ranked 20 out of 20, for those not familiar with the tournament). I am going to keep my ballot a secret and then when the winners are announced (cough***cough****vote for me***cough***cough) I will tell you who I voted for. Thanks again to Clear Admit and have a great weekend.

P.S. It might or might not be my birthday on Monday…I might be posting some pictures from my childhood to reminisce as to where my life has gone.

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.

Someone is hiring!

I read this article over the weekend and couldn’t remember the last article I read about someone who was hiring, especially on Wall Street. It followed on the heels of a Reuters article about MBA job prospects improving. These “green shoots” are all part of a general warming trend in hiring for all types of businesses. My fiancée, who is a finance/accounting recruiter, has had business pick up recently and she feels as though companies are starting to see an end to job cuts. These are all great signs for our economy, but more importantly (for me & you) for future MBAs. Economic contraction and expansion are like a pendulum, which swings back and forth, albeit at varying speeds in each direction.We swung so far in the direction of excess that a strong correction was needed to balance it out.  The pendulum will eventually turn the economy positive and job growth will return. It won’t return to the 4% unemployment we had for so many years, but we should settle into a 5-6% long-term range of normalcy.

That is my attempt to start this week off on a positive note…hope everyone’s weekend was good and you tried to stay warm (if you were in the northeast it was f-ing freezing).

What say ye?

I haven’t had anything to write about…I guess it is somewhat like writers block, but this morning I come to you with a conundrum that I would appreciate you helping me answer.

This is a real event, but the names and places have been changed to protect the innocent.

So this girl I work with, lets call her J, is set to leave my firm for an oportunity at a firm we will call, Sredit Cuisse. J had talked with me in the past about going back to B-school and getting a JD/MBA. She wants to shoot for a top 5-10 school, and she certainly has the academic/ECs for it. The only thing lacking is her work experience. She graduated only 1.5 years ago, so she is still very young. When she told our boss that she was leaving, he told her that she would receive a title bump and pay raise if she stayed.The job at Sredit Cuisse is not in I-Banking, but Prime Services. It pays better than her current job and she gets a signing bonus.

The conundrum she finds herself in is one that I think is pretty tricky. Does she stay here and show progress on her resume, or does she shoot for a more prestigious firm, who will pay for an MBA, but she will be starting from the bottom again.

I told her that she should take the job at Sredit Cuisse because there will still be chances for advancement before she applies to B-School in 2 years. She will also surround herself with managers and colleagues who have their MBAs, and would be able to guide her through the process of applying with greater ease than my current firm, where an MBA is of no real value. Having more MBAs around you probably increases the chances of a recommendation carrying more weight because an alumni rec. is better than a non-alumni rec.

What are your thoughts on the matter??? Think J should bolt or stay the course? What say ye?

Crazy Game of Poker…

Apologies to OAR for completely stealing their song title, but I though it the best possible title to my post this morning.

I am hitting a whirlwind time in the application/decision process of applying for my MBA. Riding into work on the train this morning, I couldn’t help but relate my upcoming slate to a game of Texas hold-em. It might be a bit of a stretch, but follow me on this one…My hand has already been dealt. It was dealt long ago, in college (GPA) and with my GMAT score. To be honest it is probably a middling hand, at best. Am I the best candidate ever? No, but I think I am competitive at the schools to which I am applying. So lets say that I am currently holding a Q-10 off-suit. Not the best hand, but not the worst hand ever. It is a hand that is easy to play, but difficult to win with. Some have higher cards than I do, some people at the table are suited up, other lucked out with a pair to start.

Since I applied to only 3 schools I see it breaking down like this.

The Flop: Dartmouth – it doesn’t break my hand if I don’t get in, but it would certainly be a crappy start (I find out Friday at 5:00pm EST). I would need some luck with only two “cards” left to flip. On the other hand, Dartmouth could certainly make my hand if I flipped a set, or even (dream scenario) a full house. An inside straight draw would be the equivalent of the waiting list, as it is good enough of a hand to stick around, but you are going to need a lot of luck to pull that one out.

The Turn: My interview/decision from Cornell (Monday the 21st). This is my best chance at making a hand for myself. If I am still looking at rags after this card, it might be next to impossible to win the hand.

The River: NYU interview invite/decision. The last hope…If I am floating down the river at this point, I sure hope it is with a paddle. People have been known to “suck-out” on the river, but it doesn’t happen very often. When it does happen though, the relief/joy can not be compared to any other joy experienced during the game.

My cards are on the table, how about you? Shuffle up and deal!

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