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)

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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.

Groundhog Day & Weekend Rewind

With all due respect to Punxsutawney Phil, Staten Island Chuck, and any other shadow seeing rodents in the US, I am talking about the movie with Bill Murray. In the movie, Bill Murray keeps waking up to the same day. It didn’t matter what he did or if he died during the course of that day, he would still wake up to the weather report on the radio in the morning. That is pretty much how I felt this weekend. I took my practice test and thought that I did terrible on Quant and very well on Verbal. When I clicked the submit button, the score read 700, with a 45 Q and a 40 V. The exact same score I had received last week. At first I thought that this was an error because I didn’t feel like I could have/should have scored that high after the limited amount of studying I did during the week. After logging out and logging back into the test section, it indeed showed that same score. I was very happy with it, and it is somewhat validating to know that I can post two 700 scores in back to back weeks, even though my studying wasn’t what it should have been. This gives me confidence that moving forward I can increase these scores, especially quant, as I felt that I was guessing quite a bit (although most were educated guesses).

After taking the test, I relaxed for most of Sunday. I cooked a little bit…my first venture into making polenta. It has an interesting consistency, but once I drowned it with a sausage-tomato sauce the dish turned out pretty well. I also FINALLY got around to writing a first draft of the first Columbia essay. I am sending it to my reviewer tomorrow and then will hope to do 2 more revisions before sending in the application.  I am going to start working on revising and editing my Cornell essays this week. At some point I also have to write the re-application essay, which shouldn’t be that hard of an essay, as I have quite a bit to write about. I am already looking forward to essay writing being completed, and I haven’t even really started yet!

In sports news:

Yankees are tied for first, Fulham tied Blackpool (disappointing result, but glad to get a point after how the game played out), and the Red Bulls smacked San Jose 2-0. A good sports weekend for my teams, save for Donovan McNabb’s injury for the Redskins. Hopefully he can be back for the first game of the season.

Hope everyone had a great weekend…

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

Good or Bad & Weekend Plans

Bloomberg Businessweek has an article talking about how applications to some top B-Schools were down last year. It points out that applications to Cornell were down 12% last year from the recession high of the year prior. So the question I ask myself is…is this a good thing or a bad thing. Let’s discuss:

1. It is good:

This is a good thing for me and other future applicants because if the total number of students applying is down, then the acceptance rates should be higher. You can also say that the next application cycle should see applications fall even more, as the job market firms up, and in some instances, like Financial Services), actually is doing quite well. I got on the wait-list this year, which means that they would have admitted me this year if they had a spot open up. With a further decreased applicant pool, this may turn into an admit.

2. It is bad:

I didn’t get in last year and applications were down 12%! I suck! I’m a failure, oh woah is me…ok, got that out of my system. But seriously, it isn’t a very good sign that in a depleted applicant pool I didn’t get into Cornell. After numbers like these Cornell may double its efforts to recruit people to the school, which might actually increase the applicant pool this year.

It could really go either way…although it seems I have a more plausible scenario laid out in the “Good” section, I can’t really get over the first point in the bad (not getting in, in a smaller applicant pool).

Weekend Plans

So if you were a reader of my previous blog entries you might remember that I was a big fan of the NY Red Bulls (soccer team for those not in the know). The problem was that the Red Bulls were historically bad last year…I mean the soccer team I played on when I was 6 could have beat them. That team pretty much just packed into a little scrum around the ball and kicked each other in the shins (at least we stayed compact at the back), but I am pretty sure that we could have found a way around the Red Bulls defense last year. This year is a totally different story. We have a new coach, a new GM, a new stadium, two very important new players, and we are currently in 2nd place in the Eastern Conference.

With that being said, my weekend is going to kick off with a monster of a game between the NY Red Bulls and the LA Galaxy (sans David Beckham <– he is hurt). It is going to be a sell out (25,00 people) crowd on Saturday night, so Red Bull Arena should be rocking. My dad, brother, sister, and wife are all coming, so it should be a great time.

On Sunday I am running in a 5k inside Yankee Stadium. The 5k is going to benefit cancer research. You can check the website out here, so that you might be able to do this next year (sold out this year). I will let you know how it is, but I know it is going to be really hard because the course consists of 268 stairs! Are you shitting me? I am not exactly a finely tuned athlete, but I can run in the occasional 5k or 5 mile race. I usually look like death when I finish, but it is because I push it pretty hard. I can’t even imagine running one and adding stairs into the mix…not going to be fun.

Have a great weekend everyone!

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.