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)


Weekend Rewind (Johnson edition) & Interview Questions!

Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, not gloom of night shall keep me from my appointed interviews! Borrowing that from the USPS, I figured that was a pretty good recap of my weekend. Friday night, Danielle and I had dinner with friends and we didn’t get back until pretty late. We slept in until about 9ish on Saturday, which was a welcome relief from the stresses of the past week. The original plan was to drive up to Ithaca on Sunday and stay at the Statler hotel, which is a hotel on Cornell’s campus that is student run. The only problem was the huge freaking blizzard that was scheduled to hit the northeast on Saturday. I didn’t think much of it at first until I spoke with my mother (who lives near Philly) who informed me that 8 inches of snow had just fallen in the first hour of the storm. It was right about that time that I panicked…

My fiancée and I started running around the apartment packing everything for the weekend. It was about 11:30 and the storm was supposed to hit NYC around 1, so there wasn’t much time to waste. I quickly called and booked a room at the Courtyard Marriott Ithaca, for the night (because I didn’t really want to pay another $250 to stay at the Statler for an additional night). We made great time up to Ithaca and didn’t see a drop of snow. The trip had started very well…

We found a local bar to eat at called “The Rose” and had a pretty good meal, with the locals seeming very friendly. It was pretty cold at night, so we didn’t hang around for very long. We made our way back to hotel and went to bed.

Sunday brought another day. We wanted to explore a little, so we went to an early movie to see Avatar (in 3D). I highly, highly recommend this to anyone who might want to see it. The theater in Ithaca was pretty spectacular. We only paid $11/person for a 3D movie. I am used to paying that for a normal Saturday movie in NYC…pretty good snack choices as well.

We then went to check into the Statler hotel. It is a beautiful hotel and they gave us a room with a view of the valley that is below Cornell. The campus is very much an IVY league campus, with brick and old stone throughout the buildings. We settled in and watched some football. After watching the Jets choke their game away, we went to the hotel restaurant. It was a very nice Italian place with a nice view of campus. After dinner we settled back into our hotel room and I tried to get some sleep before the big day…

It was no use, 10 o’clock turned into 11, into 12…I finally fell asleep around 12:30, only to wake up at 2:30! After some restlessness, I went back to bed around 3:30 and woke up at 7, so not terrible, but not a great night’s sleep either. I got up, ordered some breakfast and got dressed for my interview.

I arrived at around 8:50 for my 9:15 interview and waited in the admissions office until my interviewer arrived. I was supposed to be interviewing with an adcom, but was told that she would be joined by a 2nd year student. I didn’t know if this was good or bad, but I had to just roll with the punches. The 2nd year student arrived (along with the adcom) around 9:20 and after introductions, we made our way to a conference room.

The 2nd year told that this was going to be very conversational and that he would be conducting the interview under the supervision of the adcom. He started by telling me about himself and about his time at Johnson. Then we started the interview. Here are the questions that he asked, I don’t think you are going to find them as helpful because he tailored the interview to my work experience and the flow of our discussion.

Tell me why you chose your college.

Tell me about your internship at Bear Stearns.

Anything you saw that made you not surprised that it went out of business?

Tell me what ICAP (current company) is and what you do.

What 3 changes need to be made to fix the financial system?

Do you like the VaR model?

What is its main drawback?

What other schools are you applying to and why?

What is the main difference between Tuck and Johnson in your eyes?

Tell me how your teammates would describe you as a team member? (work and ex. curricular)

Asked me a long hypothetical question about morals and wanted me to detail my thought process for him.

Any questions for me?

The interview lasted for almost an hour and after that time I was escorted back to the admissions office. After that I met with Randall Sawyer, the assistant dean of admissions. We chatted about life in Ithaca and what having a partner there would mean. It was a really nice talk and it really helped with some of my concerns.The only bad part about the conversation was Randall telling me that I would still have to wait until Feb 15th to hear anything back. I had hoped that it would be rolling instead of a deadline…

With the interview and my interaction with some of the students, Johnson has zoomed past Stern to #1 on my list (of 2). I really loved the scenery of Ithaca and the small town feel. I think it would be the perfect place to spend 2 years and I am really hoping that I get some good news in February!

I hope everyone had a great weekend and that your R2 apps are coming along nicely.

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!

Johnson Interview Request

I just (about 10 minutes ago) received an e-mail from Johnson about scheduling an interview. I would say that this is not exactly a coincidence, as I just e-mailed back and forth with Randall Sawyer this week about coming up to campus, but I would like to think I could attribute some of this to my own merit. Needless to say I am thrilled about this and I am furiously trying to come up with a day that I can interview, while giving myself a chance to prep for the interview. I am really excited about this and I am pretty pumped to see what Ithaca has to offer. Bring on the cold, bring on the snow, I am on the march!!!!!