Sunday, May 22, 2011

The MBA Project: Next Steps

Step One: Find money.  The school will notify me of any grants and loans within the next week or so, but I will definitely need to apply for more loans beyond that and I started identifying private scholarship opportunities a few months ago.  Unfortunately, they all stipulated that one must be admitted into a program, and at the time I wasn't.  Now it's time to dust off those saved Favorites and get to work.  This means more essays and probably more recommendations.  *sigh*  Worth it, of course, but I'm not looking forward to more application processes.  Work does have an educational reimbursement program, but it's exactly that: reimbursement.  Meaning I will have to cough up the money up front and then I am reimbursed according to my performance in the class.  Thankfully the program also covers things like paying for a parking pass, books, and other incidentals.

Step Two: Time for an upgrade in a few things...

  • Laptop:  I bought a used Powerbook G4 from my friend's husband four years ago and it's been limping along for awhile now.  It no longer recognizes that it has a battery, and thus will not operate without being plugged in, it's only got a 60GB hard drive (I had a larger one put in, but it failed...twice), and its processor can't keep pace with today's software requirements.  I stand by Apple products, but age eventually claims all electronics and this one is at least 6, possibly 7 years old by now. Mama wants a MacBook and has the perfect excuse to get one now!

  • Location, Location, Location: My livelihood is in the region known by locals as "North County", and the school is waaaaaaaaaaaaay down south, just 10 minutes or so from downtown San Diego.  Where I live now is a good 40 miles away from school and 10 miles north of work.  In order for this arragement to work out without me going insane and/or bankrupt from paying for gas, I will have to move somewhere between the two.  The challenge is that in order to go to a place in a decent neighborhood that will accept a pet, I am facing a huge increase in rent.  I would also really like to get into a 1 bedroom, as I've been living in a studio for almost 4 years and have outgrown it.  I have been periodically trolling the Internet to find places that meet my needs and budget, and there are precious few.  There is a reason why most people out here have roommates.  San Diego is 'spennnnnsive.  However, I won't really be in a position to know exactly what I can afford until after the annual reviews at work next month.  While I know that a merit/performance based raise is not a guarantee in this economy, my company has been able to at least provide standard Cost of Living increases these last few years.  So I'm just playing the waiting game here...

And naturally when I know what my class schedule will be, all of my other extracurriculars will have to fall in line accordingly.  I really hope that it will work out for me to make it to at least once dance class a week.

Other than that, it's so nice to be out of the woods with waiting for acceptance/rejection and just being able to move forward with plans.  Between that, my Europe trip, and Maid of Honor duties for my brother's wedding, I have plenty to keep me occupied this summer!

Friday, May 20, 2011


If you haven't already heard the word--I got in!!

Funny, the admissions director e-mailed me about 20 minutes after I left the office and went to the gym.  I came home and made dinner, putzed around, and finally decided to check may e-mail for grins about three and a half hours later and there it was.  Of course by this time of evening, it's a bit late to call the people I would want to tell immediately because of the time difference! (e.g. my parents)  Oh well, I guess I'll be making the congratulatory phone rounds tomorrow then! :-)

Off to celebrate with my friends and a bottle of chocolate wine and some Top Gear: four of my favorite things.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Blast from the Past: Prom Night!

A few days ago it occurred to me that it was coming up on 10 years since my prom.  I've been having those moments a lot this year because I graduated high school in 2001.  I went to a really big school, so we just had a senior prom.  (Homecoming was huge too, and it was almost like a mini-prom in and of itself anyway.)

The Date:
I nearly stabbed him with the pin four times before my Dad finally stepped in and did it.
I was utterly frustrated by the fact that all of my good guy friends either had girlfriends or platonic dates that they entered agreement with first, or were underclassmen who didn't want to go.  My senior year I was close to a few sophomore guys in particular, and I was turned down by two (or three?) of the ones I asked.  I thought I scored when I asked my art class buddy--a junior--if he would go and he said yes, but his mom put the kybosh on that when she said that she believed the prom was for seniors only.  In the end I did go with a junior that I was acquaintanced with through the band geek network, and he proceeded to blatantly lust after my friend Amanda, who was in our pre-prom dinner party.  He was a nice enough guy I didn't really care as long as I wasn't making that walk during the Grand March alone.  Haha.  So let's just say that I really related to last week's episode of Glee when Rachel and Mercedes had trouble finding dates.

The Dress:
I got my dream dress.  It was an Alfred Angelo prom gown in black with embroidered flowers and it came with a matching purse!  I saw it in one of my many special-edition prom magazines and I tracked it down at a local bridal shop.  It was way too big, so it had to be taken in.  I thought they could've taken it in even more--the tight corset look was huge when I was a senior in high school!  I still love that dress and I wore it again my senior year of college at the last Kappa formal.  When I texted my BFF Lindsey today to remind her that it's been 10 years, she wrote back (aside from reminding me that I am crazy for always remembering these things) that she would so totally wear her dress again.  As would I.  I am just looking for the next opportunity...
Just look at all that pouffy glory!  There was a petticoat underneath that gave it the real "oomph" that it needed.

4 years and about 20 lbs later, sans magical petticoat

The Pre Prom Party:
We went all out.  I called and got us a limo and everyone met at my house.  Pre-prom dinners are a must, the fancier the better.  And the groups you end up in can get kinda strange.  I only say that because of the way your networks of friends and politics work out.  Sometimes a group forms and then decides that they are full, so you join another or start your own, etc.  So that's kinda what ended up happening in my case, which is why I didn't go with aforementioned BFF Lindsey and some of the other people in my inner sanctum.  That said, my group was awesome!  We went to dinner at a restaurant that overlooks downtown Pittsburgh.  I don't remember much except that it was a real laugh riot when Amanda and I tried to be in the bathroom at the same time because we were both sporting some serious gown-age and they took up a lot of room!
A ragtag group of seniors, juniors, and fellows from other schools
Dinner at the Georgetowne Inn in Mt. Washington overlooking the city

The Entrance:
Grand March
Our limo driver was late coming to pick us up from dinner and he missed a turn driving back to the school, so we damn near missed the Grand March.  I don't know if this is common for high school proms, but at Seneca Valley it was our red carpet.  SVTV taped it and everything.  The gals in our group were on pins and needles afraid that we would miss it!

The Dance:
This is a blur.  My date and I didn't see much of one another from this point on and I probably spent most of my time dancing and/or catching up with people that I hadn't already seen at dinner or the March.  My buddy Pat Sandora choreographed a dance to Jennifer Lopez's "Play" that he taught to a few of us in the weeks leading up to this night, but the damn dj never played it!

And a word about prom kings and queens...all of the movie and tv portrayals about the queen bee bitch and the stupid jock always getting crowned make me laugh.  That's not how I remember it.  The girl who won, Megan Gilliland, was extremely friendly and well liked by all.  She was athletic and smart too.  The guy, Josh Butia, was a thespian with a beautiful singing voice.  That's right--being in music theatre and/or choir at high school was not always a death sentence!  At my school, it was actually usually better than being a jock because we had such a strong music program and consistently won notoriety for our school district because of it.  Our athletics program could not always claim the same.  So that's the part of Glee that I do not relate to at all.
Poor Mandy forgot to wear the garter we all bought.  She was not happy about this.

The After-Prom:

We went on a river cruise down in the city.  This part was totally optional, but most of my friends went.  Unfortunately for me, I had a bad head cold that I was still recovering from, and the meds wore off by the time we got down to the river.  I promptly took Dan's jacket and spent most of the rest of the night on the top level of the boat sulking and watching everyone dance down below.  They had some local radio personalities hosting and hypnotists and such.  It was "meh".  I probably would have enjoyed it more if I wasn't sick and if more of my regular posse was there, but a lot of people opted to have parties at their house with movies and pizza.  Smart.

Slow dancin' down the Allegheny River

The After-After Prom:

Which I like to call "coming home and passing out".  I think that by the time we got on the busses and made it back up to the school, it was 6am.  My friend Amanda drove her date Toby and Dan and I back up to my house, where I proceeded to make everyone breakfast (tater tots and waffles or something like that) and then pass out in my basement.  I pulled the sleeper sofa out and we all crashed on that and the couch attached to it.  That's it.  But imagine my Dad's horror when he walked down into the basement and saw four seventeen and eighteen year olds passed out together.  That still makes me laugh.

Inside the Limo, my favorite picture.  Non-alcoholic beverages for all!

All in all, it was more fun getting ready for prom than it was actually being at the dance, but I treasure the memory of this rite of passage none the less!

The MBA Project: The Interview

Well, it all started out fine.  I woke up before the alarm went off and I had a surprisingly good night's sleep.  (What?  No night spend ruminating, tossing, and turning?  That's not the restless mind I've come to know and love!)  I think my strategy of not psyching myself out before this interview worked pretty well.  Maybe a little too well, because even though I knew it was supposed to rain and even though I knew I was taking the route that was guaranteed to run into some traffic snags, I was a bit laissez faire about it and I only allowed myself an hour to make what is normally a 45 minute drive.  The interview was scheduled for 9am and I left the apartment at 7:58.  For all the screeching I used to do at Florida drivers, at least they could handle themselves in the rain.  Southern Californians, not so much.  The freeway was a lot worse than I expected just in terms of traffic volume on top of the slow rain crawl, plus there has been some light construction.  It was a perfect storm of late-ness.

Thank God that I had the presence of mind to put the administrative assistant's number into my phone before I left.  I called her at 8:30 when I was sitting at a stand-still some 15 miles away from the school, and I thank God even more for nudging me to call ahead because I also found out that my interviewer had switched to a new person.  I was supposed to speak to the admissions director, but she was going to come in late that day, so they had me interviewing with the assistant director instead.  And, lo and behold, when the admin looked at her calendar, she said that it was okay if my interview started later because she didn't have any meetings scheduled right after mine.  *whew*

For some reason, knowing that I was going to speak with someone I had never met before put me more at ease.  Probably because I had no pre-conceived notions to stew over.

When it was all said and done, I was pulling into the parking garage at about 9:03, and by the time I caught the shuttle up the hill to the building where the MBA program office is, went to the restroom to freshen up/dry off, and walk into the office, it must've been 9:15.

I won't go into detail of the interview--again, trying to toe the line because I'm not sure how much information is appropriate to give--but I will say that it was about half an hour and not a grilling tribunal.  My interviewer was quite cordial and I felt that it went well.  I did teeter precariously on the edge of rambling a few times, but I feel that I adequately answered the questions and stayed consistent with the narrative I built for myself in my application essays, and embellished a bit on what I was unable to include in said essays due to word limits. (Such as talking about how much I liked the campus culture and the international component of their MBA program, etc.)

When it was my turn to ask questions, I inquired into the dual degree program they have with Tecnol√≥gico de Monterrey (Tec) in Mexico and WHU Otto Beisheim in Germany.  I kid you not, but I did not really even consider the dual degree track until several days ago.  I knew it existed, but it wasn't until last weekend-ish that I actually sat down and looked at them.  Turns out, you can do 30 credits at USD (so roughly one year, including summer & intersessions) and finish out at either one of those two schools, and you will earn a degree from both institutions.  It would take about the same time and money (in terms of tuition) as working and doing the evening MBA program.  Uhhh...wait--what?  Why is that just now sinking in?  So I asked her how that came about and whether or not there was a finite number of students who could participate in that program every year, and she gave me a history of its origins and said that there was no cap on the number of students who could do it.  The USD/TEC track is more popular simply because of the close proximity of San Diego to the Mexican/Latin American market, and apparently more students come from Germany to study at USD than the other way around.

So guess what--there's a chance that Maria might make the leap across the pond for school after all.  Obviously that comes with the same implications that I was worried about before--financing, leaving my job, dealing with a diabetic cat, etc.  However, I may be in a much better position to reconcile all of that by the time I would seriously pursue that option.

Anyway, I texted my two recommenders immediately after I left the program office to let them know that I had done it.  I was told that should I be accepted to the program, I would get an e-mail from the admissions director first, followed by a formal letter.  This would be sometime in the next week to week and a half.  So I figure by Memorial Day Weekend I'll know what's what...and then take it from there.  Until then, there's really and truly nothing left to do but wait.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The MBA Project: Cordial Invite

To be honest, I was beginning to think that I had been either forgotten or cut.  My application had been complete and ready to review for just a tad over 3 weeks and I heard not a word from the school.  Then I saw an e-mail in my inbox yesterday afternoon, subject line: "MBA Interview Request".  And my stomach dropped.  It's that first zap you feel whether you've gotten good or bad news, and it either sours (bad news) or turns into butterflies (good news).  Mine was, of course, the latter.

I have been invited to interview with the admissions director, which is neat because I've already met her once.  And by "met", I mean that she was the host for the initial Info session I went to back in January.  I did pipe up with a couple of questions, but she may not remember me specifically.  Well, maybe she will--I did correspond with her in order to drop in and observe that class a few weeks later.  At any rate, I am scheduled to have a 30 minute interview with her next Tuesday morning.  I wanted to do it first thing in the a.m. so that I didn't have all day to work myself up in the office.

So this weekend I will crack my business school admissions books back open and pore over the Interview chapters and try to come up with some pre-loaded answers to common questions.  If the good folks at USD saw fit to look past my fair-to-middling, lop-sided GMAT score, then I must have done something right on the rest of it!  I feel like having made it past the first round, this is just mine to lose now.