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, Dartmouth, and down (and out) with the sickness

Where to start? I feel like I haven’t posted in a long time, so this will probably be a lengthy one.

Friday – Spent the night finishing up my Dartmouth essays, so I could send it to my Dartmouth specialist. The only problem was that I wasn’t told who my specialist was going to be, so I couldn’t send anything anywhere. This angered me because I am busting my ass to finish these essays and Veritas can’t find me anyone to send them to.

Saturday – Woke up to find out that I still didn’t have anyone. Traded emails with someone from Veritas, as Yoda was away for the weekend. Finally received my specialist mid-afternoon on Saturday, so I sent my stuff over to her (Manisha). The rest of the day was spent waiting for the US Men’s Soccer Team to play Honduras. The game was scheduled for 10pm and was only available on CCTV (what is this the 80s?), which meant I had to head into NYC to catch it at Nevada Smith’s. $40 later ($20 each for me and the fiancee) I was one of the last few people let into the bar at 9pm. We elbowed our way through the crowd and were able to pony up to the bar. A bunch of beers, a  lot of screaming and hugging, and 3 hours later, everyone (minus the Honduran contingent) joyously spilled into the NYC streets to celebrate the US qualifying for the World Cup. The game was one of the best events that I have attended in quite some time and it was the best game that the US has played in recent memory. All-in-all this was a great day…(On a separate note, please pray for Charlie Davies, his family, the other injured parties, the woman who died, and their respective families. Really hope he wasn’t driving and that alcohol wasn’t involved. Seeing that it occurred at 3am, I have no doubt it was)

Sunday – My fiancee and I leave early for Hanover, NH. We get there around 1 and immediately park to look for food. It was alumni weekend at Dartmouth, so the restaurants were packed with people desperately trying to relive their formative years. We settled on a place called Molly’s Pub and were not disappointed. The food was tremendous and we waddled off, stuffed, to find our hotel. We stayed at a Courtyard Marriott, just outside of Hanover. Nice hotel, nice people, rooms were standard Courtyard. I watched the Red Sox implode and football (Redskins lost again, why do I even bother?), while Danielle took a nap.

At around 5pm, Manisha called to conduct a mock interview with me. The mock lasted about 35 minutes with about 20 minutes for me to ask questions. We hung up and she called back about 5 minutes later with her feedback. She gave me some things to concentrate on during the interview, which were very helpful and told me that the interview itself would be with a 2nd year and it was typically very casual.

I finished the night off by watching the Yankees finish off the Twins. You have to feel bad for those guys, they just couldn’t keep a lead against the Yanks. I got to bed around 10:30 and planned to wake up at 7:30

Monday – Woke up, ate breakfast at the hotel and had Danielle drop me off at Dartmouth. I arrived at the Tuck admissions office at 9:30 for a 10:30 class and I was the 7th person in the room! (very enthused that other share my hatred of tardiness) We were then put into groups and given a guide for the class session. I was put into a group of 5 and we headed off to a Capital Markets class. Since Tuck is on a trimester system, it was the first day of class, so it was mainly syllabus and course expectations.

Some things did stick out to me during the class though.

1. The prof had all the visitors introduce themselves and what their occupation was. The class then gave us a standing ovation (not too shabby, and a nice touch that no other school has done)

2. The professor invited groups of students to have lunch with him on a weekly basis (a free lunch!) to discuss current business issues. Very cool, indeed.

We then had lunch, standard stuff, and went on a tour, also pretty standard. Then came the interview!

My interviewer was someone who graduated last year, but had her job pushed back a year. She had a 2nd year fiance, so she stuck around to help out around campus. She was very nice and put me at ease (somewhat). We sat down and then the questions started…here they are to the best of my knowledge.

1. Walk me through your resume

2. (Follow-up to my career to date) Knowing what you know now, would you have chosen a different career path?

3. Why MBA? (I answered this and why Tuck specifically, so that was not a follow-up)

4. Tell me about how you work in groups?

5. What do you like & dislike about working in groups?

6. How would you deal with a teammate who doesn’t pull their weight, and give me an example.

7. Anything else you want the admissions committee to know about you (said no! What? I said no? Yep, I did. What was I thinking?)

Other than saying no to the last question I felt the interview went well, but not wonderfully. I guess I am a masochist at heart, so nothing can ever be great that I do.

During my interview my fiancee was meeting with a Tuck Partner and I saw them hanging out in the cafeteria. The Partner invited us back to her place to see what the partner housing was like. They were very spacious 2 bedroom town houses, so we enjoyed that very much. After that and getting some fuel, we hit the road home.

Tuesday – I felt it coming when I woke up on Monday, but it hit me hard yesterday…I was sick. Sore throat and stuffy nose, fall/winter is definitely on its way. The blessing in disguise was that it gave me an opportunity to finish off my Dartmouth essays that I received back from Manisha. I sent them all over to Yoda and she has (pretty much) given a final blessing. I cannot wait to hit the send button on this app…gonna feel really good!

Shout out to Susana, a reader of the blog, for shooting me a feel good e-mail. I don’t check that e-mail account much, so I just received it. I wanted to post this to let you know that it is much appreciated!

(Apologies if there are spelling or grammar errors, but I have no time to proof a post of this length)

Weekend Rewind (GMAT Edition)

As I was making my way through the Verbal section of the GMAT, I thought I was doing pretty well. I didn’t think my Quant section had gone well, so I was determined to make up for it with a great verbal section. I had not scored below the 96th percentile in Verbal in about 3 weeks, so I thought if I did about the same in verbal, I would be happy. As long as the test accurately reflects my strengths and weaknesses, then I have done the best I can…everything was going swimmingly as I got to the last Read Comp section. Panic was now setting in….the passage was only two paragraphs!!!!!!!!!!!!

Throughout the practice tests, I noticed that the better I was doing, the longer the passages got, so I immediately knew I wasn’t doing as well as I normally do. This coupled with my perceived poor Quant performance had me thinking I was looking at something like 620. The moment arrived to click the “Continue” button to calculate my score. I didn’t even look…I waited until I saw the screen change to look at my score.

When I saw my score there was shock, horror, relief, and anger all rolled into one. The screen displayed a 690, not what I wanted, but obviously much better than I had expected. How did this happen you ask? Well the Quant section that I thought I bombed turned out to be a 48 (83%), which I was thrilled with. My verbal was a huge letdown, 36 (78%), as it was the exact same score I received last time. I was very angry with myself for not doing better in verbal because if I had done what I normally do in verbal, my score would have been well north of 700.

I realize that it sounds pretty stupid to be disappointed with a 690, but it is more about not reflecting my true abilities that made me angry (still makes me angry). BTW…an increase of 4 points in Quant is only worth 10 more points on the total score, wtf? Overall the experience was a good one, and from where I came (550 on my first practice test) this is a pretty good achievement. My plan is to go with my score for this year and if I don’t get into a top 25 school then I will re-take the GMAT next year in hopes of improving on that score.

On a somewhat related note: Why do I consistently get great verbal scores on practice tests and a mediocre verbal score on the real thing? I wouldn’t mind so much if it was just a Kaplan thing, or just a Veritas thing, but I was pretty consistent throughout the process. Very perplexing to me…

I hope everyone who took a GMAT this weekend did very well, happy Monday everyone!

Weekend Rewind (Same old song and dance…)

So this weekend was like deja vu all over again (to quote Yogi Berra). I will get to the non MBA related things first, so without further adieu…

Sports:

1. Notre Dame – Ughhhh…terrible loss to a young Michigan team. Notre Dame beat themselves though with penalties, bad play calling, and terrible clock management. They were the better team, but they need to learn how to finish games off. This was just like watching the team play the last couple of years. Not a good start to the weekend.

2. Fulham – Success! Fulham played with heart and gutted out a nice 2-1 win over Everton. Clint Dempsey put in a great performance for the Cottagers and it was like watching the team last season….steady as she goes. Top of the table, here come the Whites!

3. Redskins – Another: ughhh…why do I support football teams that are just plain hard to watch? The defense played well, but the offense couldn’t move the ball against the Giants. Before the game I predicted we would lose 24-10, and they actually lost 23-17, so I can’t be too upset…but this was a game that they should have played better in. The score is not indicative of the game itself. Another flashback to last season.

GMAT/MBA stuff:

1. MBA Tour – I went to the MBA Tour on Saturday and by and large it was a disappointment. I had been to the tour last year and I felt as though the presentations were the same from last year and not much new information was presented. It made me angry to have gotten up early on a weekend to attend the event. The one saving grace was getting the opportunity to listen to Randal Sawyer from the Cornell’s Johnson School. I envision him as the type of man to just chew espresso beans because he seems to get an endless supply of energy out of nowhere. He passion, enthusiasm, and honesty show through during his presentations and you can tell by how engaged the audience is when he speaks. He was the main reason I began to look at Cornell, so kudos to him for saving me from completely wasting my Saturday.

2. GMAT – 670 (Q35, V44). 650-690: I am definitely stuck in this range….but I shall continue undaunted because the test is only 1 week away and I need to go into lock down mode to try and improve my score. In reviewing my test, I am still making little mistakes in the quant section (not answering the right question or just a simple calculation error) that are holding me back. I plan to take another test on Wednesday, so I am going to check each answer before clicking “confirm” to make sure that I have solved for the correct thing. It might cut down on the amount of time I have for the end questions, but making sure I  get questions correct is the most important part.

3. Yoda got my essays back to me and I plan to work on them next week…this week is all GMAT baby! Cornell is my first deadline and she thinks that those suckers are rounding into form. NYU on the other hand….another ughhh. I haven’t had a chance to look at all her comments, but let’s just say that they were very constructively critical! I am having trouble conveying that this is the school I want to go to…I guess I am suffering from something that I will call “Hot Girl” syndrome. This is when you get to speak with a very attractive female and you try to say something suave, but something barely resembling english leaves your mouth instead. Not good…I need to get past this and think of NYU as just another school. There are so many great things I want to say about it, but it is like 20 people trying to get through a doorway at one time and nothing of value is being said.

There is much to be done…and much to look forward to. I am in the home stretch of the GMAT and the Cornell app is right around the corner! Exciting times indeed! Happy Monday (if there is such a thing)!

Thursday Rewind (Veritas Edition)

I had to push back my final tutoring session because JB had a conflict with our normal Wednesday schedule, hence the late rewind…

Tutoring

Parting is such sweet sorrow…And so it was that JB and I had our last two sessions together. There were tears and hugs and promises in the night…not really but it was pretty close. With the last week of tutoring upon us, we decided that we would work on some of the higher level quant items (combinations, probabilities, and permutations) and re-enforce the only verbal item that still gives me trouble, sentence correction.

The quant items were pretty hard, I still have trouble distinguishing combination from permutation (DOES ORDER MATTER, I DON’T KNOW!!!!!!), but I think with some practice and possibly some voodoo I can get some of those questions right. I continue to work of my pacing throughout the test because I tend to want to rush through things, or in the case of the verbal section I have a lot of time left ( <10 minutes). By trying to even out my pace, JB and I feel as though I can avoid the careless mistakes that seem to be tripping me up. In reviewing my previous test I noticed that I get around 3-4 questions wrong because of stupid mistakes, or solving for the wrong thing. These questions are probably the difference between the 700 level and my current score of 680. The next two weeks are vitally important for me to continue the momentum I have built up. The holiday weekend give me an extra day to study, so that should help me.

The last thing we discussed was the test day routine. There were a few important things that JB told me I should be doing. The obvious ones were going to bed early, eating something before you go to the testing center, and taking care of any bathroom needs that might arise. The one tid bit I found very helpful was that I should do a handful of problems that morning of the test. He cited a few studies that people get a disproportional amount of questions wrong on the first part of the test because their brains are not functioning at full capacity yet. The most important part of the exercise though is to not look at the answers, unless you are SUPREMELY confident that you got the answer correct. Confidence is a large part of the testing experience and killing your confidence by getting some questions wrong a few hours before is a recipe for disaster.

Consulting

Not much on the consulting front this week, but this weekend should give me time to work on my essays further. Version 2 of all the essays is scheduled to be delivered to Yoda on the 9th, so I need to get working on those.

Other than that I can say that my mid-year performance review is coming up either tomorrow or next week, so some nerves are being expended on that. I will have all of the horrifying details for you when I get it…on the bright side maybe I will finally have an answer for the question, “what is the toughest criticism you have ever received and what did you learn?”

Have a wonderful Thursday and the Holiday weekend is almost here!

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!

Clear Admit School Guides and weekend plans…

Clear Admit was kind enough to send an NYU school guide my way, for which I thank them immensely. I figured that I would write a review of the guide, so that if some of you are looking at buying one, this might help push you in a certain direction.

I was pretty interested to read this because I have been to Stern and I have sat in on 2-3 presentations by the adcoms and alumni. I wanted to see how accurately the guide would portray what I knew/learned about Stern. I would say that overall the guide does a great job of introducing you to the program and life at Stern.

I might not have been the best person to receive this guide because at this point I am bordering on obsession when it comes to NYU. I don’t think that I have gone as far off the deep end as Xlick has about Columbia (just kidding, not really, you know you are obsessed!), but I think I am right behind him. Most of the stuff in there was a review for me, but what is great about the guide is that it puts everything in one place for me to look at. There were things that I knew about NYU, but had stored in the back recesses of my brain that this guide once again brought to the forefront. The layout of the document is very logical as it flows from general to more specific information (layout below).

The document flows like this:

1. Intro

2. Academics

3. Special Programs

4. Part-Time Langone Program

5. Life at Stern

6. Life After Stern

7. Admissions

8. Financing the Stern MBA

9. Further Resources

In summation, I would definitely recommend the school guide to anyone who has yet to visit a school to which they are applying. I would still recommend it to someone who has been to visit the school, but it isn’t a must have because a lot of the information is given to you when you visit.

Weekend Plans

My family is coming to visit this weekend, making the trek up the NJ Turnpike from South Jersey. They are coming like plagues of locust, to try and nail down a place for the rehearsal dinner for my wedding. In all honesty, this is one of the few enjoyable parts of planning a wedding (unless my fiance is reading this, and then the entire experience has been fabulous honey!) because it involves food and if that is the case, I am always game.

On the MBA side of the weekend I am going to take a practice test and study more (imagine that). I have 3 weeks until the test and this is hardcore crunch time. Whatever life I had will go out the window and like an ancient druid I will sit in my apartment copying GMAT formulas and rules over and over under my hands bleed. That might be a slight hyperbolization (apparently not a word, but it should be!), but I think you get the point…I am going to work hard to finish this off.

Hope everyone has a great weekend and may all your GMATs be an 800!