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

Recession, what recession??? If my weekend was any indication, we have chased the recession away like a dog with its tail between its legs. My weekend consisted of nothing but studying/taking a practice test and eating meals out.

Friday after work, me and the little Mrs. (to be) took a walk over to the local sushi establishment. It is called Robongi and it is inside the NY Waterway Terminal, so when dining you have a great view of Manhattan (very posh!). This is our favorite spot, especially on a Friday, when cooking is the last thing I want to think about. It has become almost a Friday tradition, and it has gotten to the point where they know us and they give us free dessert. For the past few months Robongi has been a cold desolate place, and quite often there were only a few couples in the restaurant. This past Friday however, there was a sea of people chowing down on raw fish…what has changed? The only thought I have is that consumer confidence it on the up swing and the American public is going to go back to its ways of consuming things like a drunken sailor. One instance is too little to judge this one, so that brings me to Saturday night.

Saturday night was the big rehearsal dinner prep, with my parents. The meal went really well and everyone agreed that this had to be the place for the rehearsal. The one thing I did notice was that the place was packed! We went to an early dinner because my parents have a 2+ hours drive back home, so we decided to head over around 6. I thought this would be more than ok, and we would pass all of the elderly exiting after the early bird special. I didn’t make reservations because I can’t remember the last time I needed them at a restaurant, and we were only 5 people. Granted we didn’t have to wait, but we got the last table that would seat 5+. What was going on here, was two places the beginning of a trend?

Sunday….Brunch in Hoboken. Taking the prior two days as a sign, I made reservations. Good freaking thing I did because people where clubbing each other to get into this buffet. At this point I can not deny that this is occurring. Restaurants are becoming more crowded, and I couldn’t be any more unhappier about it. If this trend continues, I might have to invent a financial product that will bring the entire economy down again. Anyone else want in on that one?

Turing back to my GMAT prep…Saturday morning, 8:00am, I took a Veritas Practice test and scored a 680. I really seem to be stuck in this area, and I have no idea why. My breakdown was 40Q, 48V. I feel like the GMAT is a seesaw and if I do well on Quant, I don’t do well on Verbal, or vice versa. My only solace, is the fact that my tutor and I are moving into the more refined areas of the quant section, so hopefully this pushes my score ever higher (A little sneak preview for the Wednesday Rewind, although this week is going to be a Thursday Rewind). 700, the bane of my existence!

Essays are on tap for the week…there was much rejoicing!

MBA Jobs, the waiting game

Business Week has this article which pretty much states that MBA who have jobs are being asked to pushed their start dates back by 3-6 months. This leaves the graduates with a nice dilemma because the gap in income leaves them high and dry. Some with job offers have begun looking for new jobs secretly, even though this is pretty looked down upon.

My view on this is that MBAs should be looking for new jobs, if their start date has been pushed back. If the company has not given you a signing bonus, I believe that MBAs are well within their rights to look for something new. If a company is not willing to invest in you now, then you shouldn’t be beholden to them.

All of this changes if the company has given you a signing bonus, or a relocation bonus because then you are receiving compensation for a future promise of work. It would be in poor taste for a person to accept a signing bonus and still continue to look for jobs. Temporary jobs would be fine as a way to plug the income gap until the new start date rolls around.

I’m still at work????

How can this be? Well while most of my company has left because we are mainly a bond brokerage house, we have a small equities desk, and as a risk manager, I have drawn the short straw and I am staying until 4pm, ouch! This article was a little pick me up though. It is an article about the various graduation day speakers at top MBA programs. Just reading about who these people are listening to gets me excited. I also think the message that business schools are conveying by changing the types of speakers they have is a necessary step. Business schools, colleges, and the financial community in general put too much an emphasis on creating shareholder value, which led to short term goals and misaligned compensations with performance.

A lot of people look at me funny when I tell them that I am investing in my future by going back to school and that I intend to work in the financial sector after getting out. Most tell me that the compensation of the past few years will never return and Wall Street will never be what it once was. I am fine with that, I am not going to Wall Street because of the compensation (although if someone wants to pay me millions of dollars, I suppose I could put my Wall Street dreams off for a bit), instead I am going for the challenge and my love of the stock market. No other job tests its participants more often than the stock market. Every trade that is executed will typically have a winner and a loser. (ex. you sell and the stock goes higher, loser!) This forces you to be at your best at all times. You won’t always be right, but what you learn from being wrong will only help you in the future.

Congrats to all the grads who are venturing to Wall Street this year (or trying to), follow your dreams, not the compensation and all with work itself out in the end. Happy Memorial Day!

War on the Young

CNBC’s Cliff Mason has this little story about a paradox that exists in today’s corporate America, laying off young people because companies are fearful of  being sued if they lay off older employees is incredible and ageist. I am not a big proponent of playing an -ist card, but this is ridiculously blatant. You have to ask yourself what these corporations are thinking…how bad/rigid is the management that they cannot see how bad this plan is? Young people are screwed on so many levels (health care, housing prices, low pay) and now we are being laid off because no one fears our legal rath. I say we grab our pitch forks and torches and head over to…wait, where the hell can we go to protest this? Oh well, I guess we just have to wait until all the Boomers retire to have a fair shake. Hmmm…sounds like a good time to get an MBA, huh.  Until tomorrow, I bid you adieu!


Saw this and just had to share…stunning number. According to a CNN survey only 20% of college seniors who applied for jobs received them this year, 20%! It was 51% in 2007. This just goes to show that there are large forces at work in your life, over which you have no control. Think about all those who went to get their MBA 2 years ago when the market was booming, now they are faced with a very tough job market, and a huge mountain of debt. Malcolm Gladwell’s new book Outliers details this very well. A must read, as are all his books.  Video embedding seems to be hitting a snag, I will post it if I every figure out how to do so.