Friday, January 28, 2011

T-Minus Freak Out

Today I had a freak-out. It's not as exciting as you might think--I'm MUCH more likely to implode on myself than break down in hysterics. The cracks started when I had trouble falling asleep last night because my brain was telling itself, "Tomorrow is Friday. Which means it's the weekend. Which means this is your last chance to buckle down before you re-take your GMAT first thing on Monday....Good luck with that. HA."  It was saying similar things when I woke up unusually early this morning.

Yeah, my brain likes to turn on itself. The jerk.

Anyway, I went out to lunch with a couple of my co-workers today, one of whom is a recent MBA grad. One of his comments regarding the GMAT (and its significance in the admissions process) was all I needed to send me over the edge, and by the time I was sitting back at my desk afterwards, I wanted to throw up my pad see ew.

Shortly thereafter, I went to my one on one meeting with my boss and she talked me off the ledge, reminding me that everything will work itself out the way it's supposed to. She wisely counseled me to have a backup plan and remember that if I really want an MBA, one way or another, I will get it. Period. I admitted that only this past week did I even seriously entertain the idea of sticking around San Diego to do it. I went down to USD to help the Kappa chapter with their recruitment last weekend, and I was taken aback by how much I liked the campus, and I thought, "Hmm...not too shabby..." That's where she and several of my co-workers have gone to do their graduate study.  It wouldn't be the end of the world to end up there.

I suppose I didn't just get tied up in knots at the possibility of being rejected from my #1 choice, but at the idea of admitting that I might not go the way that I've declared to the world that I will go, and thus feel like a failure.  I get so, so focused on things that when I don't get them, for a time my world is in ruins. But the reality is that my best might not be good enough to get into St. Gallen or ERASMUS Rotterdam or any other top European school. I have to remind myself of my end goal and the fact that I am quite resilient and I will find a way to make things work; I always do. That's life.  Suck it up.  Do your best and suck it up.

Meanwhile, I have at least drafted all of my essays and wrote up my resume. I'm going to put the finishing touches on them over the weekend, do some practice questions, rest up, and, as the saying goes, let Jesus take the wheel.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The MBA Project: B-School Lineup Update

By the way, I don't know if you've noticed, but I changed the URL of my blog.  I decided that I didn't like my first and last name in there.  The title remains the same for now.

But on to business.  Earlier I alluded to an update in the B-School Lineup.  (My original run-down can be found here.)  There have been some changes in the last two months.

London Business School & Imperial College - Out.  I have since made the declaration that if I'm going to do this--uproot my life and take on more debt--I'm going to go all out.  I'm going to immerse myself in another culture and language.  Again, most MBA programs the world over are taught in English.  I don't need to live in another English-speaking country on top of that.  If that's what I really wanted, I might as well stay in the United States.  Also, immigration is a hot button issue in the UK right now.  There has been a lot of back and forth between the courts and Parliament as to whether or not an immigration cap is lawful or in the UK's best interest.  Last month the Home Secretary introduced the cap last summer and the courts eventually deemed it unlawful.  However, caps on the number of Tier-1 and Tier-2 visas are still likely to face restrictions this year.  Makes London sound even less inviting.  If you're gonna make it that hard for me to come over, then I might as well go to...

...Switzerland!  I received a mass e-mail from St. Gallen this morning regarding an amendment to a Swiss by-law that will effectively make it easier for third-country nationals (e.g. non-Swiss and non-EU) to obtain work visas.  Previously, the law was like many other countries' immigration laws, which is to say that a company looking to sponsor a foreign citizen has to prove that there is no other equally qualified Swiss or EU national is available for the job.  Well, no more.  They just have to show that a candidate would be a benefit to Switzerland's labor market.  It gets better.  "In addition to this, third country nationals who earn a degree from a university in Switzerland may stay in the country for up to six months after graduation to seek full, permanent employment."  If that's not a sign that die Schweiz is ripe for the taking, I don't know what is.  Needless to say, the University of St. Gallen is still high on my list.

Which brings me to address another school.  It pains me to say this, but Germany may have fallen off my radar once again.  I've done some more extensive investigating into Mannheim Business School, and I find the lack of information available regarding what companies recruit from that school to be suspect.  I've scoured enough business school brochures, reports, and websites by now to know that schools are all too happy to tell you exactly what companies their students go on to work for.  MBS?  Not so much.  I've even spoken with a current student and still not quite gotten to the bottom of it.  I cannot easily link it to the top consulting firms that I would want to qualify to work for.  That's a red flag that I just can't ignore, as appealing as the program is otherwise.

So, in a way, not getting the GMAT scores I wanted last month and signing up to re-take it may have been a blessing in disguise and not just a punch in the face.  I can select a few different schools to receive my scores this next time.

Are there different schools...?  Perhaps.  St. Gallen, and Vlerick Leuven Gent are still on the list.  I've also re-instated ERASMUS Rotterdam.  (Thanks, Adam, for calling b.s. on my reasons for letting it go and thus forcing me to re-consider.)   All of those schools have solid reputations and strong ties to the places I'd want to go after I get out.  I'm considering adding IMD--also in Switzerland, but in French-speaking Lausanne--and possibly Copenhagen Business School.  In light of this new Swiss immigration business, however, it's in my best interest to look more closely at schools in that region.

Until then, study study study again for the GMAT and continue to work on my essays.

Viva le French Press!

May I have your attention, please, for this announcement:

Preach, sister.

Bad coffee SUCKS.

There, I said it.  And I ain't putting up with it any more.  I am not and never have been a hardcore coffee drinker--one cup once in awhile is really all I care to have.  I was in the grips of an International Coffee addiction when I was 13 or 14, and ever since the first time I had a headache from withdrawal, I decided to never drink that much caffeine again.  However, I have come to the realization that quality coffee done right is worth the effort.  I'm not a snob about wine and I don't have a wide appreciation of beers, but dammit, I'm going to be selective about my coffee from now on.

Enter Bodum.  I happened to have a few Starbucks gift cards lying around, and it occurred to me one day after a rare stop in for a cup and a breakfast sandwich that I could also have bought a coffee press while I was at it.  Unfortunately, I had a dickens of a time finding a small 4-cup one.  I only drink a cup or two and I rarely have guests, so the 8 cup ones didn't make sense.  I must've hit 3 or 4 Starbucks before I finally found the little one I was looking for.

I will make all of your dreams come true!


While I was home in Pittsburgh for Christmas, I rescued my Dad's trusty old coffee grinder from an uncertain fate by bringing it back to California with me.  (My stepmom doesn't drink it and he was wasting too much on a traditional drip brew system, so he switched to the pods.)  Back in October for my cousin's wedding, her favors were bags of coffee beans from what I assume to be one of her and her husband's favorite local cafes.  So, this morning when I finally had all the necessary elements together, I made magic happen.  Grind, pour, brew, plunge, voila.  I think I could've used more beans and made it even stronger, but for a first go I was pretty happy.

No more crappy coffee for this lady right here!  I feel more European already.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Signed Up for Round II

In some sort of fuge state, I just signed up to take the GMAT again on the 31st.  For the last 10 days or so, I did seriously consider just trying to make a go of it with my 580, but today I strong-armed myself and went ahead and did it.  I look at it this way: if I don't re-take the test and I get dinged (b-school speak for rejection), I will always wonder if it had a lot to do with that score.  I will kick myself and say, "Why didn't I at least try?"

My re-test date just happens to be the day before St. Gallen's Round 2 deadline. Insert mirthless laughter here...so that means I have to have my entire application ready to rock and roll before I take the GMAT again.  I've already started on my essays, which is a lot less painful for me than facing up to this quantitative business.  I got my AWA score online yesterday and I received a 5.5/6.0, which, not to sound cocky, wasn't surprising.  Analytical writing is one of my greatest strengths; it's my weaknesses that I really have to prove I can overcome.