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)


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.

In the year 2000…

(Shout out to Conan O’Brien with that title!)

This BW article talks to the new dean of Stern about his plans for the future of the school. Highlights include: reducing Stern’s dependence on Wall St. (gonna be a tough one), increasing the global presence of Stern, and making everyone wear a similar uni-sex tunic. Ok, so the first two are true, and the last is just what I would like to see happen (it would make getting dressed in the morning, so much easier!). The article talks about how NYU has been hit the hardest of all the top-tier B-Schools because of its dependence on Wall St. I believe they quote that 18% of the graduating class was without a job, six-months after graduation. That is nothing to sneeze at…the new dean wants to promote other areas of the business world and send Stern students all over the globe. An admirable plan to say the least…but it is going to be very hard to do. NYC is dominated by finance and Stern and Wall St. are synonymous with each other. Reducing a relationship such as that is a very tough task for anyone to take on, but has to especially hard for someone who is brand spanking new to the gig.

I thought this article might be helpful to some of you who have interviews coming up (cough***cough***xlick***cough***cough). Best of luck to all those who are interviewing and a very special good luck to Dean Peter Henry (never trust a man with two first names) because he has his work cut out for him!

Ding! (NYU Style)

The Admissions Committee has completed its review of your application to the NYU Stern MBA program. After careful consideration, we are unable to offer you admission.

While the Committee recognizes the high aspirations and unique qualities of all of our applicants, we are in the difficult position of being able to offer admission to only a small percentage of the many individuals who apply to our program. Our decisions are based on a holistic process in which we evaluate each applicant’s academic profile, professional achievements, and personal characteristics.

We appreciate your interest in NYU Stern and regret that we are unable to offer you a place in the class. You have our best wishes for your future success.


NYU Stern MBA Admissions

That pretty much says it all right there….NYU protecting the basket, and swatting me from the applicant pool like Dikembe Mutumbo. I sure hope this doesn’t turn out like an experience I had in college when I was trying to “juggle” three women at the same time and it all blew up in my face, ending up with me all by myself. The slogan started as, “and then there were three!” and ended with the epic, “and then there were none!” All the eggs are in the Cornell basket now, which is exciting, but nerve-racking as well. If I don’t get into Cornell it will be crushing, but I guess that is how the cookie crumbles. No time to dwell on the past….I am either going to Johnson or not going to B-School at all next year. (A sobering possibility). I am really happy for all those people who got interviews, like my boy xlick, and I hope you guys and gals do great. Stern is obviously not the place for me, but I hope it is the place for the rest of you. Nothing to do now, but wait, ugh. FML!

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!

Feeling Submissive…

As Jesus Christ once said, “It is complete!” Now I know he was talking about his life, which was pretty important, but I am talking about my applications! Mine is obviously slightly more important than his…


It feels like a weight off of my shoulders and I couldn’t be happier. Now my fate rests with the big guy upstairs. I have done everything I could do, and now all that is left is waiting. I hope everyone who was submitting for NYU this weekend got everything done and if not, there are still many hours left in the day. I hope everyone has a great weekend and I will recap further on Monday!

NYU Visit

Went to NYU for a class visit and a “coffee break” yesterday with my fiancee. I went last year, but I wasn’t taking the MBA thing as seriously, so I didn’t remember as much detail, or who I spoke with. I wanted this to be the crux of my Essay #2 (What is you experience with the Stern community) and I was very pleased with how things went.

Class Visit:

As I stated in my earlier post, I was scheduled to attend an International Economics class taught by the one and only, Nouriel Roubini.   We arrived about 15 minutes early and were asked to wait in the admissions office. We waited, and waited, and waited some more until it was apparent that no one was coming to get us. A woman from admissions kindly took us down to the class before it started. When we got there it was a fairly large lecture style classroom and the students were all milling around talking with one another. The admissions woman asked a student where we should sit and they decided 3rd row was a good spot. While shuffling into our row, one of the students told us that Nouriel was not going to be teaching the class today, as he had a prior speaking engagement. Complete and utter dissappointment….As we sat waiting for the stand-in professor I chatted with a few of the other applicants in the class with us. When the stand-in got there I was pretty impressed. Instead of Roubini we had the head of LatAm Fixed Income research for JP Morgan, not exactly chopped liver. This got me thinking about how unique NYU and Columbia are because if a professor cancels, they can just call upon the many financial (or other types) professionals that make NYC their home. It truly is amazing the access that these two schools have to the top minds in their fields. You can bet that this made it into my essay #2!


Coffee Break:

The class was interesting and informative, but the coffee break was a chance for me to speak with current 1st years and to get a lay of the land from those who live it everyday. Danielle and I got to speaking with one of the 1st years who is looking to go into a managerial rotation program. She was in IT consulting before Stern and came here because she loved the students. I was very impressed with how she handled the questions and spoke about the school. To demonstrate how helpful the students are she told a story about how two students were vying for the same position at a boutique firm. Upon learning that only 1 spot was available, the students asked if they could split the 12 week internship into a 6 week internship for each. I was very impressed by the story and while I know it doesn’t happen everyday, it happening once is pretty impressive to me.

The conversation took a stark turn as we started talking about the social aspects of B-School. I am well aware that drinking is a big part of the B-School experience because there is a lot of stress and what better way to take your mind off it than to kill the very brain cells that are thinking about it, but I think our students was taking it a bit too far. She started talking about how drinking was a big part of getting your MBA and how if you don’t drink you should start now because you are going to have to build up a tolerance. I was fine with that…good natured joke to lighten the mood, but then she continued…She said and I quote, “Listen I am at school from 9am-11pm Mon – Thurs. because I get blackout drunk every other day!” – Ladies and gentleman the future leaders of America. I am not a prude, I obviously drink, but I thought it was a tad excessive and slightly inappropriate for an applicant discussion. It got worse (at least for me) as someone turned the discussion to dating while at Stern. The student said that everyone dates, and you have to be careful because the guys will not tell you if they are married. She said that MBA stands for: Married But Available. As the words leave her mouth, my fiancee shoots me a stare that could have killed a lesser man. Needless to say she is slightly less than excited about the prospect of me going to Stern and she is now openly rooting for Tuck.

We left after the coffee break and returned back to Jersey. I finished off Essay #2 and sent it over to my Stern specialist.

Overall impression was a great class visit with a so/so student visit. I will say that I was more impressed with the Tuck students than the Stern ones. Not just because of the one student we spoke with, but just a general consensus. All-in-all Stern is still my top choice because of the convience it provides me and it also allows Danielle to keep working while I am at school. (Big Plus!)