Saturday, January 13, 2007

Kellogg interview

After clicking the nerve-wrecking Submit button on my H/S/W/K applications, I was hoping for a sigh of relief, but it didn't come. I remember this feeling from completing the GMAT, ending a long and painful process only to find yourself worrying about a new one.

Right now my new worry is my Kellogg interview on Monday.

I guess the nice thing about these interviews is that you pretty much know what you're going to be asked. Walk me through your resume, Why MBA, Why this school, long-term goals, short-term goals, extracurriculars, tell me about a leadership experience, teamwork experience, biggest failure, biggest success, strengths, weaknesses, etc. etc.

My interview prep strategy is simple. I write out bullet-point responses, and test them on my bathroom mirror alter-ego, while timing and recording my response so I can check if I sound boring or overly scripted. It seems effective, but I'll let the schools be the ultimate judge of that.

When the Kellogg interview is done, the true waiting begins. Kellogg will follow with a decision, and hopefully I'll get some more interview invites.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Wanted: a 'true voice'

Man, I am getting really frustrated with the Stanford essays. This is my last application, which I'm not unhappy about because they say your last application is your best, and I really really really want to go to Stanford.

I never expected this process to be so arduous. You need to write in an upbeat fashion, but because Stanford is especially sensitive about hearing your true voice, you cannot spin your experiences too much around the admission criteria. Yet if I remain utterly humble, how on earth am I going to be competitive? Reading sample Stanford essays of successful past applicants sometimes just makes me want to curl up in a corner and cry.

In my HBS, Wharton and Kellogg essays I have certainly tried to squeeze every last drop of leadership out of my experiences (and I'll tell you how effective that was when the decisions are in...), but with Stanford I am really trying to 'be myself', whatever that is.

Since I find it hard to convince myself that I have done 'ordinary things extraordinarily well', my only hope of Stanford admission is to tell my true story, lay bare my soul, and hope they will like me for my background and ambitions and will consider me to add 'breadth of perspective to class'.

You never know....

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

You gotta love 'em

Ah, the French...

The French have a way of being protective about certain entitlements, however unsustainable they might be. This time it was not labor protection or their 35-minute -- sorry 35-hour -- workweek.

No, this time they found an even bigger cause and fought against progress in general, protesting against the new year. Father time proved merciless and killed 2007 anyway. But that didn't silence the protestors, who after a moment of disappointment regained their ever-positive spirit and changed their tune. "No to 2008!!"

Seriously, how do they come up with that stuff...

The power of procrastination

Here I am, on HBS deadline day, creating a blog like I've got nothing better to do.

I need a break, I need some distance from my essays, and ...

OK, let me give you a bit more on who I am. I'm a simple guy from Holland, 27 years of age, 5 years of experience in the corporate world, 760 GMAT, with a dream to get an MBA from a top US business school.

Why an MBA? Because I believe it gives you knowledge that can be valuable to excel in business. I don't believe an MBA (or anything else for that matter) is a guarantee to success, but it sure wouldn't hurt. That, and it opens doors like nothing else.

Why a top US b-school? Because I believe the US is still of primary importance in the global business world, underlined by the fact that that's where the top b-schools are. Globalization is sure to bring an end to America's dominance some day, but right now that's still the way things are.

I'm applying to the following schools, in order of preference:
1. Stanford - strongest links to Silicon Valley (I have an IT background), most selective school to get into, and unbeatable weather
2. HBS - this should perhaps be number 1, simply because it's HBS. I don't care whether they are ivory tower, whether the administration is unresponsive, whether the faculty stinks -- nothing says MBA like Harvard, period.
3. Wharton - strongest global brand after Harvard/Stanford
4. Kellogg - top-ranked by most publications (what's up with the Financial Times??), student-run, and just seems like a friendly place

I have no idea what my chances are. On the plus side, I've got a strong leadership resume, rapid career progression, strong international experience, my GMAT score is up to snuff, and last but not least, my Dutch nationality could make me a diversity admit. On the down side, I've got no community service or extracurriculars to speak of, my undergrad grades do not show excellence, and while I've done some interesting stuff, I haven't cured cancer or solved world hunger, which seems to be the caliber that these schools look for.

I'm working with an admission consultant (you know, the ones with the wiki) and I think they're fantastic, and no, I do not feel they give people an unfair advantage. This competitive admissions stuff is just so alien to me and, I imagine, to many other people who do not live in a country filled with prestige-driven private universities. The consultants do charge an arm and a leg, but hey, what's $300 per hour (rush rate) if it helps you earn $250k+ three years after graduation...

We'll see whether it's money wasted, but if I get dinged by all these schools, at least I can say I tried and spared no effort or money in my pursuit..

Alright, there you have it, I started a blog.

Now back to my HBS essays. Those damned essays...