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 game is in us!

If you don’t know already, the US is bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup. FIFA is sending an inspection team to the US next week to take a look at our sites and the marketing plan that US Soccer is putting together. Part of that plan is to say that they signed up 1 million people in support of this bid. The count currently stands around 993,000….they need only 7,000 more people to reach their goal. I am calling on all of you to sign the petition here and bring that number over 1 million before the inspectors get here. I don’t want you to go and just vote though, I need some old-school Chicago style support here. That means I want you to sign it as many times as it will let you, then sign it for people you like, people you hate, people you kind of know, people who have been dead for 1000’s of years (seriously if no one signs the petition in the name of Jesus Christ, I will be pretty upset), and lastly  sign your pet up as well. Get it over a million, bring the World Cup here and you won’t be disappointed.

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!

The next step in my B-School App & Red Bull Reflections

I found it rather appropriate that this e-mail was in my inbox this morning…

Steven,

Thank you for your continued interest in the Johnson School at Cornell University. We encourage you to actively improve your application by engaging in self-assessment, addressing potential weaknesses, and highlighting your strengths.

When reviewing your application, you may consider our class profiles and the general suggestions below. As mentioned in your decision letter, we will review the wait list on a rolling basis with consideration for recent updates.

Potential Weaknesses Recommended Strategies for Improvements
GMAT or TOEFL score below the median Retake the exam and send an updated score report
Limited exposure to quantitative coursework or tasks / Low GMAT quantitative score (below 65%) Improve your GMAT quantitative score and/or quantitative coursework
Communication skills Join Toastmasters or a similar public speaking group
Planning a significant career transition without prior preparation Network with individuals in your desired industry and consider refining your goals
Limited career experience Demonstrate significant achievements and leadership successes by sending updates and/or obtaining an additional recommendation
Fit and commitment to Johnson Contact current students, faculty, staff, and/or alumni to learn about the Johnson School and how you could contribute

Provide an updated statement about why the Johnson School is the best MBA program for you

(Drats…I can’t seem to get the table to not cut-off. I suck at technology related things.)

We will only offer feedback sessions by invitation during the month of May. In the meantime, we encourage you to submit updates to Taissa Cox (tk75@cornell.edu).

We appreciate your commitment to the Johnson School and understand the variety of options you must consider at this time. We look forward to receiving updates from you.

Sincerely,

Randall T. Sawyer
Assistant Dean of Admissions, Financial Aid and Inclusion
The Johnson School at Cornell University
112 Sage Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853-6201

Email: rs348@cornell.edu
Phone: 607-255-4660
Toll Free: 800-847-2082 (US and Canada)
Fax: 607-255-0065

The Johnson School at Cornell University • Office of Admissions, Financial Aid and Inclusion
111 Sage Hall • Ithaca, NY 14853-6201 • Telephone: 607-255-4526 • Fax: 607-255-0065

I find it appropriate because this week I am starting my online course from UCLA. This is the first e-mail of any kind that I have received from Johnson since I was waitlisted and I think it put quite a few of my own, and other people’s, fears to rest. They are going to be doing feedback sessions in May, which seems like a long time, but since my wedding is coming up at the end of April, it seems really close for me. This course should be a good way for me to demonstrate that my early undergrad coursework was just due to a lack of maturity and that I am ready to tackle the rigors of Johnson.

One thing that I did get from this e-mail was the last bit. I never really thought to provide a statement about why the Johnson School is the best MBA program for me…so lookout for that one in the coming weeks (maybe days).

On a completely unrelated note…The Red Bulls took down the Chicago Fire on Saturday. It was frickin’ freezing outside, but that didn’t detract from the game’s atmosphere at all. The crowd was rocking, the ESC was chanting, and the stadium was beautiful! It truly was a magnificent start to the season, and I can’t wait to get back to Red Bull Arena on the 17th of April vs FC Dallas…it’s Seattle away next week, so here’s hoping we can pick up a point in the great northwest! Hope everyone had a great weekend!

Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole….

USA, USA!!!!!

Fantastic draw for the US in the World Cup. The only other teams that got off easier were the Mexicans (Booo!) and the Frenchies (Handball much?) Brazil, Ivory Coast, and Portugal should be a great group to watch and certainly the “Group of Death.” At least this will take my mind off of “Snooki” from Jersey Shore!

Weekend Rewind (Wedding, Yankee, & Cornell edition)

What a weekend! Lets get the rewind started!

Friday – My future brother in-law got married on Friday and I was lucky enough to be a part of it. A day of drinking, eating, and dancing to excess. This was the most elaborate wedding I have ever been to and it was a great time. I wanted to share the following story with you to show:

A.) exactly how drunk I was

B.) how I embarrass my fiancee no matter where I go

The story begins at the introduction of the bridal party. This is typically a pretty easy thing to do, you just walk out when your name is called and everyone claps, even though they have no idea who you are. This wedding however was slightly different. First there was a large screen that showed each couple as they walked out for introductions. Second, this was a north Jersey wedding, so everyone was expected to bust out their best dance move or do something funny. Lastly, my fiancee and I were the second to last couple to be introduced, so I got to see everyone’s  intro.

Because big things are expected of us, my fiancee and I begin planning out our routine. We decided that we had to come up with multiple things to do because we were the 10th couple to go and our material could be stolen before we even enter. We plot out 3 routines and feel we are ready to wow the crowd.

The parents get introduced first and then the bridal party begins. I am pretty far in back of the line, so my fiancee and I sneak up to the front to get a better look at our compatriots dance moves. The first few are uninspiring and a few people simply strut their way to the dance floor. My fiancee and I are feeling very confident that we are going to dazzle (dancing with the stars style). Then like a scene from a horror movie, it all goes to pieces. The first was when someone threw the fishing pole out and the female began dancing back towards him. Move #1 gone (I make an incredible fish). Next, one of the men picks up the woman and carries her to the dance floor. Move two gone (but my back was saved, sorry honey). Then to my horror I realize that our third move isn’t possible. We had planned to twist our way to the dance floor, but we didn’t know that the room was carpeted. No one can do the twist on a carpet, not even my father, who is the twist master. There is only one person ahead of us now and we are panicking. What are we going to do? We can’t just walk out there can we? CAN WE? We turn to each other and I say to her, “You dance and I will do my thing behind you.” (Not in a sexual way, but in a dancing kind of way) We are up….I hear our names called and the doors open.

The spotlight hits me and the crowd roar for us (slight exaggeration). I still have no idea what I am going to do. My fiancee begin busting a move and then without warning I throw open my suit jacket and begin dancing while accentuating that it is open. If you want to picture the scene, I look like a flasher who is dancing behind a woman at this point…creeping everyone out. I immediately realize that I need to change the move up, as we are almost half way to the dance floor. What happens next I cannot explain and do justice to it. I turn to the left and see the camera that was filming me…I then start giving it “the guns.” You know the move (or hopefully you don’t) where you pretending to be shooting things from both hips. Why I did this, the world may never know. Needless to say it was not one of my finer moments and I embarrassed my family and my fiancee. Later in the night, I was asked to pose for a picture (with my sis) to re-enact my “dance” move. Here it is in all its glory…

Disgraceful

Disgraceful

Saturday – There was a brunch the next morning and we left right after that. I got home and laid on the couch all day, as the weather was terrible here in NJ. Perfect day to rest and recuperate. I watched Notre Dame win, and the Yankee game was canceled. I fell into a deep sleep at about 10 and didn’t wake up until 9ish. It was a great day!

Sunday – Liverpool vs. Man U was a decent enough game, so I watched that while working on my final version of my Cornell essays. I finished that up and watched football the rest of the day. I did make it outside for a while, though because it was such a  beautiful day. The night was reserved for a huge Yankee win. They got lucky with how they scored there runs, but if you put yourself in good enough positions, sometimes you get a break. Back to the WS for the first time since 2003. Bravo and congrats Yanks. You deserve it!

Hope everyone had a great weekend. My final deadline is coming up on the 15th, so I am going to go back into essay mode. Gotta push on through to the otherside!

Champions League Final

Having absolutely nothing to write about that is MBA related this morning, I turn my attention to the biggest spectacle in world sports today: the Champions League Final. The final sees Manchester United vs Barcelona, which is the MBA equivalent of HBS vs. Stanford. The top two players (CR7 vs Messi) in the world are squaring off against each other this afternoon (2:15 EST ESPN) and it should be a great game. Soccer by Ives has a good preview and prediction for the game and this video to get you pumped up. What say ye, Man U or Barca?