Easing into student life

laelene Posted in mba,Tags: ,
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It’s the first official day of taking a course at my MBA program and I’m glad that I signed up to take the JumpStart for Accounting. It’s not as fast-paced as I was afraid it might be, so it makes me feel like I can handle the material, even though there’s already stuff that confuses me. This is a quick refresher course that is just 2 hours a day for 3 days. Official classes start next week for us, before any other students are even back on campus.

With just one class right now, I already find it hard to get the work done, but part of that is probably getting used to studying and learning so much again. Plus, I’m still doing a lot to get settled in to the apartment and I’m only about a third unpacked at this point while still trying to figure out the food situation (should I eat out and have leftovers or cook in bulk?). There’s also so much socializing to be done…

Oh, and there was a fire alarm today that was quite distracting. I wasn’t sure where to go and by the time I got downstairs, I saw people milling about but then the alarm ended as they tried to figure out who pulled the alarm. I had my “essentials” with me – purse with electronics, keys, phone, and skateboard. With the coast clear, we stood in line to get back up the elevators and I noted a ton of tiny dogs (and one cat).

The day was off to a rocky start after that and the glass thermos that I broke. I hope my dad can help me buy another one of the thermoses. Then to top it off, just as I was about to shower before heading in to class, I dropped my ring down the bathroom sink. I was able to turn off the water but didn’t have the tools to unscrew the pipe. I had to go off to class without it, which felt weird.

At school, I picked up my parking permit and went to park in the lot I’ll be using this year only to find you need your student ID to get in. So I had to go to a different structure that is also open to the public. I was going to get my ID after that, but I wanted to make sure I was early for class so I just went in.

My life feels a little off-kilter these days, with so many things going slightly wrong. I damaged the moving truck I used to bring my furniture. I couldn’t find my precious rock salt lamp that was a gift from Calavera (it took me 3 hours of searching, but I did find it). The car key batteries died so I had to use the key manually while trying to find the right size battery. I couldn’t find my extra car key, which my roommate will need sometimes since we are tandem parking. I then received the batteries today and managed to jab myself while trying to unscrew the tiny screws. One promptly fell into the fuzzy carpet and I had to run a magnet all over the floor to find it again. Plus, everything that happened today!

But you know what? None of these are life-threatening or anything that will impact my life in a major way. I’m trying to keep my head up, my hands steady, and focus on the business of being a student again. It’s not an easy transition and having to think so hard at night when I just want to veg will be a challenge, but plenty of others have been through the same. I have two awesome roommates splitting a great apartment with me and there are dozens of fantastic classmates ready to make this year incredible. I’m looking forward to our first social event as a class this Sunday!

Communal parenting

laelene Posted in general blog, relationships
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In China, personal lives are a family affair. I’ve seen this playing out day after day in my family, even in my relatively short visit. Everyone spends time worrying about others’ situations. Is that nephew struggling to find a job? Can that granddaughter get into preschool? Does that niece have a significant other yet? Is a cousin’s marriage in the rocks? Does that uncle have financial troubles?

These all seem to be each other’s business. It even extends to the in-laws’ families, so it can get quite complicated. One person may be helping pull strings to get so-and-so into a good school, at any age. In fact, the younger children have a harder time just to get into a program. At least when they’re older, their grades play a factor.

Meanwhile other family members are discussing how best to interfere in a relationship that has gone sour. One aunt might go talk to the wife and another aunt or uncle would approach the husband. Of course the parents and in-laws have been heavily involved all along, often in the middle of the conflict.
Then there are those dealing with some crazy complex financial situation regarding property ownership or some business venture. Who lays claim to what? Should they engage in a lawsuit? How much money should each family give? It’s a big muddled mess.

These aren’t exactly what’s happening in my family per se, but you get the gist. I don’t think Western cultures put as much emphasis on meddling in each other’s affairs. It’s completely normal and expected in Chinese families though. Sometimes I wonder about my own sense of obligation to participate in family affairs in the future. In a way, I’m shielded from this because I’m so far and there’s little contact between me and my relatives outside of my occasional visits to China.

Yet, I can choose to engage. As a connection to the Western world, I can help those who want to send their kids to school in the US. Some of my cousins have expressed interest in this when their toddlers get closer to that age. We’ll see what happens when the time comes. Having Eastern and Western influences growing up, but slightly more from the West gives me some freedom of choice which way I want to lean. My heart has always been on the helping side!

What was your upbringing? How much involvement would you think is normal for an extended family?

Central/Eastern European souvenirs

laelene Posted in lifestyle glimpses,Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
3

This most recent trip to Europe allowed me to revisit some places I hadn’t been to in 9 years and also check out new places that have been on my wishlist. It was a lot of fun and I got some gifts along the way to remember each place by!

Our first official stop was Praha (Prague). There were so many artists, musicians, and crafters to be found everywhere. In one of of the shops, I got my first souvenir – a little metal cup. One of the few that wasn’t a glossy finish, which appealed to me.

teal metal cup with owl designs

I liked the matte look and the funky owls!

Then as we were walking across Charles Bridge, perusing the various vendors, I saw a guy selling these adorable paintings! I just had to have one since he had such a fun style and had cats in each piece. This one is perfect because it has the cat couple, plus two extra cats – just like me, Panda, and our cats.

original artwork of prague with cats and hot air balloons at night

I loved that this incorporated cats and had cute little hot air balloons.

Next up was Warszawa (Warsaw), where we explored a massive park and the Neon Muzeum, all the while eating peirogis. I managed to add to my growing collection of TOUS jewelry (this is the 4th piece) and find some local folk art. I’m very happy with the usefulness of the giant coaster, which will be good for putting pots on.

tous onyx bear necklace from warsaw

When we saw a TOUS store at one of the shopping centers, we couldn’t resist. I finally got something from the onyx collection I’d been eyeing!

brightly-colored coaster with roosters and flowers

I originally saw a tote bag with a similar design, but I have so many bags that I was determined to find this look and feel on a different product.

Then we were off to Wien (Vienna) to fulfill my long-awaited dream of seeing the Spanish Riding School. We also went to tour one of Mozart’s homes and the Haus der Musik. When we came across the stalls by St. Stephen’s Cathedral, I found the opportunity to get something with the word “Vienna” on it. I liked the handmade nature of these glass cups that are perfect for holding a tea light.

glass cup for candles with colorful stained-glass scene handpainted on

We had just a few Euros left, but I really liked this one because the name was easily visible (unlike the others where Vienna was along the bottom). We had to pay in a combo of Euros and dollars!

After that, it was down to Split in Croatia. We enjoyed exploring the city of Split, where I found the amazing backpack that is perfect for my needs. We spent a whole day going up to Krka National Park for the waterfalls (freezing cold water, but totally worth it!). And of course, we just had to go out to Hvar Island to check it out. My favorite was going over to Palmizana, a smaller island off of Hvar.

drawstring backpack with elephant design from split, croatia

All pockets open and close with a magnet, which I love. There are side pockets inside as well as zippered areas inside and on the back. All sorts of storage options!

box of lavender buds and essential oil drops, plus bonus pouch of lavender buds from hvar in croatia

Apparently there are lots of lavender fields in the area, so at Hvar I got this adorable box filled with lavender buds. There’s a bottle of essential oil inside as well, to help enhance the scent with a few drops every now and then. The lady kindly gave me a pouch as a bonus.

Finally, rounding out the trip was Budapest, with fantastic views from the Buda side. I loved getting goulash nearly every meal and we got to relax at the Szechenyi thermal baths. Up at Citadella, I saw a tower of mugs (think Christmas tree shape, except everything hanging is mugs) and knew I had to get one. I wasn’t crazy about any of the color combos, so I waited to find them again elsewhere until I decided on this funky one.

giant polka-dotted mug from budapest

My ladybug mug, as it will be known. It’s really a bowl with a handle and I can just about stick my entire face in it.

So these are all the items I have to remind me of this super fun trip to Central/Eastern Europe! I tried to get things I would use and not just stuff to put on a shelf. There’s so much more that I would have liked to have gotten, but that will have to wait for next time. 🙂

Whirlwind trip

laelene Posted in lifestyle glimpses,Tags: , , ,
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The past two weeks have been a blur of travel activity. We managed a whopping 10 legs of flights going through 6 countries and boy are we pooped!! We crammed so much into each day that sometimes we couldn’t believe all that we’ve seen. I’ll recap some off it in the coming weeks.

It feels strange to be home, no longer having to pack up and get to the next destination. My legs are achy from all the walking (we topped out at over 30,000 steps one day) and I’ve had a bad ankle much of the trip. We ate so much good food that we needed all that walking to not gain weight! It’s nice to rest now and take things slower.

I look forward to sharing more about what we did, in case you’re ever interested in going to the places we did. 🙂

NASM Volunteer Appreciation Night

laelene Posted in lifestyle glimpses,Tags: , , , , , ,
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This Monday, the National Air and Space Museum held a Volunteer Appreciation Night for the folks who help out at the Udvar-Hazy Center and the NASM downtown. It was in the main hangar of the Udvar-Hazy Center, extending into the space shuttle area. Since Panda volunteers there, we decided to go and see what it was all about. Apparently they really stepped up their game this year and had a great event with delicious catering and a hired band with dancers and singers. There was even a 1950s theme with the performers.

nasm volunteer appreciation night in udvar-hazy center

When we first walked in and looked down in the hangar, we saw plenty of people mingling. There were food stations, stand-up bars, a live band, dancers, and singers.

nasm volunteer appreciation night food table with lobster ravioli

The first thing we did was help ourselves to all sorts of food! They had these lobster ravioli as well as chicken and beef dishes.

nasm volunteer appreciation night food table with mini sliders

Another table had an adorable spread of ingredients to make your own sliders. The patties were beef, mushroom, or salmon.

nasm volunteer appreciation night food table with poblano corn souffle

My favorite dish of the night, which is made of sweet corn and somewhat like a dessert.

nasm volunteer appreciation night drinks table with mugs stacked neatly in pyramid shape

They lined up the mugs so very neatly for us. Everything about the catering was wonderful. We were told that it didn’t use to be so fancy.

nasm volunteer appreciation night dessert table with plate of s'mores on a stick

How could you make s’mores an elegant snack? I’d say this is the way. These were delicious!! I need to try making my own.

nasm volunteer appreciation night bar with artfully stacked martini glasses

Small touches like this cool mini art sculpture made of martini glasses really elevated the feel of the event. The bartenders were very professional too.

We were very pleased with the event and went home happily full. I look forward to attending more of these and hopefully getting a chance to check out mine for the Natural History Museum another year.

USC Marshall MBA Admit Weekend

laelene Posted in mba,Tags: , , , , , , , ,
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Holy cow, what a whirlwind weekend! It feels like I’ve been immersed for a week when really it was within 34 hours. Amazing what you can pack into a day when you need to.

view of usc campus from 7th floor of parking garage

My very first glimpse of the campus, as I was in the parking structure.

Thursday I left work at 3 to make my flight to LA. My mom picked me up, we had dinner, and then I prepped everything for the next day and went to bed. I got up at 9 on Friday, got ready, and headed out to campus. They put me up at the Radisson right across the street from the business school, so I parked there and walked over. It was a lot closer than the lot on campus that others were coming from, and thank goodness since I was running late.

GWiB (Graduate Women in Business) had put together a lunch for the women admits, so we got a chance to bond before the official event started. We met and got on a bus that took us over to the JW Marriott by LA Live, where we had a lovely ladies’ lunch. I got a chance to speak to a variety of MBA Ambassadors, admitted students, staff, and faculty. Check out some of the food they fed us as we got to know each other and hear more about their Marshall experiences.

Afterwards, we chatted as we waited for the bus to get around some protests (about Trump, I think?) that were blocking some roads. I had completely forgotten about the guys, so when we got back we suddenly infused them with a different dynamic and then we were off and running, melding into a class.

usc marshall admit weekend welcome signBack at Popovich, we checked in, got our name badges and gift baggies, and headed upstairs to listen to deans and professors and staff and students share a breadth of knowledge. What struck me the most as I sat there listening was the energy, personality and presence that each speaker had. I loved the vibe from them all and really enjoyed hearing from each of them. I liked them all!

At that point we were so engrossed in it all that we hadn’t even checked out what was in our gift bags! We had pulled out the schedules they had prepared for us, but the rest remained a mystery (for me at least) until I got to the club fair. Turns out we had padfolios with the Marshall brand on them, a pen for notes, sunglasses, all the info we needed for the weekend, and – my fav – a Tile! I shouldn’t have been surprised that they branded it USC Marshall on one side.

usc marshall admit weekend introduction

walking over to usc marshall admit weekend club fair

Walking over to the club fair.

After many hours of talks, we headed out on the lawn to the Club Fair where I got a chance to catch up with three current students I knew from completely different parts of my life. I learned about some groups I might want to be a part of and met some truly awesome and helpful people. From there, we were ushered over to the University Club for dinner. I got roped into sitting at a consulting table by two ambassadors. I probably would have gone to the high tech table otherwise, but I wanted to keep an open mind to consulting. During dinner, members of the marching band came in to play tons of songs.

exterior of usc university club at king stoops hall

Our lovely dinner venue!

night view of usc campus from radisson hotel midtown

My night view of campus.

To wrap up the night, we went over to the campus pub/bar to socialize and I met some more great people there. Most folks seemed to have decided on attending Marshall already, but a few were still considering other options. I found we kept asking each other, “Are you committed?” As for me, yes, I am. I was committed in my mind, but had not yet submitted the deposit (which I just did now that I’m home). I’m glad I already knew, so there was no pressure to choose and I could dive right in to the culture and student body that I was encountering. Upon getting kicked out at closing, we wandered our ways back to our hotels/homes and settled in for the night.

usc trojan stuff at radisson midtown hotel

The whole place was very school spirited!

Lest you think that was it, it was only the start of homework time! We had been given a case study to read and prep for. On Saturday, we’d go over it and discuss with a professor just like in a class, so we had to be prepared. I sat in bed reading it until I fell asleep and went a little cross-eyed. I believe I woke up about 20-30 minutes later so I could finish my reading and get to bed. By then it was sometime after 1:30. For no apparent reason, I woke up at 4 (perhaps I was on east coast time). Then at 5, a bird outside my window was going crazy warbling for half an hour before finally flying off. I woke up a few more times before it was time to get up at 7.

sc themed elevator buttons at radisson midtown hotel

Even the elevator buttons were themed!

panoramic view of usc campus from radisson hotel midtown

Check out the awesome view I got of campus from my room!

cops on figueroa watching closed road for march of dimes

All’s quiet before March of Dimes.

I got ready for the day and met up with everyone else over at Popovich for breakfast and socializing. The March of Dimes was happening on Figueroa, so the road was closed (but thankfully not to pedestrians). A ton of cop cars were milling around waiting for the event to start. Meanwhile, we finished breakfast and split up into two groups, Gold and Cardinal, to hear alternately from alumni and recruiter panels (everybody they brought in were Marshall alum, a testament to the strength of the network). After that, we found our assigned small groups of about 4-5 to discuss the case study before meeting with all the Gold folks and being led through the case by a professor.

in-n-out food truck parked at usc campus for lunch

In-N-Out came to us for lunch.

Lunch was an In-N-Out truck where I was probably the only person to get a grilled cheese sandwich. We ate and met more people, then went back in to start a team challenge with our small groups. One of ours went MIA, but we pushed on. There were two consulting/strategy questions, two marketing questions, and two finance questions. I was very little help with finance, sort of knew about consulting, and contributed decently to marketing. Our teams had be assembled with a variety of backgrounds to help us tackle the different challenges. Thankfully, our finance guy who went missing made his way back to us before the competition was over.

Once our answers were submitted, we went on a campus tour and answered quiz questions on an app. Most of them consisted of choosing which company had the largest market cap. For example, between Target, Lowe’s, Home Depot, and CVS. Or between Alibaba, Amazon, eBay, and something else. Then there were questions identifying world and business leaders like Angela Merkel, Tim Cook, and the like. And your typical quiz questions about terminology. With 92 questions, we were pretty focused on getting through the quiz and didn’t see too much of the campus. We did manage to check out Heritage Hall (sports hall of fame for Trojans) and the athletic area, as well as the film school.

The final thing before wrap-up were sessions on topics related to our desired industry of work, living in Los Angeles, the first year experience, financial aid, classes, case competitions, etc. We could rotate a total of 6 times, choosing the topics that most interested us. I ended up spending an hour at the HR/Human Capital Consulting one! I was super interested in learning more and each of the ambassadors there had great stuff to share with me, so I got totally engrossed. Then it was the home stretch, with a summary, announcement of the team challenge winners (and notable mentions), and a final look at what Marshall has to offer.

mrs. fish in downtown los angeles

Entering Mrs. Fish, where the tanks hover over you.

Buuuut that wasn’t the end of it! There was dinner afterwards, at Mrs. Fish in DTLA. We had the place booked from 6-9 and had food laid out as well as plenty of drinks for everyone. I was very surprised when I ran into the fourth person I know in the class of 2017! That rounded out my time there, meeting everyone I knew AND making a ton of new connections. I got a chance to meet yet another new set of people there that night. It’s amazing how many people I met and remember, yet how many I have still yet to speak to. I’m excited to see everyone again at orientation and really get to know each of them.

This entire time I really felt in my element. Ever the business-minded folk, we were all chatting non-stop. These people take networking seriously! That energy lasted the entire time, with clusters of people chatting whenever we had a break. I tried to meet as many people as possible yet still remember who I was interacting with. It’s crazy that I already feel close to some of them and totally see us hanging out in the fall! I was so busy the whole time that I didn’t checked the time or my phone for hours. I hardly even paused to take photos, which is why I have so few (compared to what I’d normally have). I loved that we could strike up a conversation with literally anybody and count on each other to do the same. After all, we’re here to build lifelong friendships and cultivate strong relationships professionally too. I’m finally surrounded by people who speak my language and can geek out with me on business trends like nobody else in my life would. 🙂

Northwest Federal Credit Union Member Appreciation Day

laelene Posted in lifestyle glimpses,Tags: , , , , ,
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Each year, Northwest Federal Credit Union holds a fun mini carnival in their headquarter’s parking lot for Member Appreciation Day. It’s a way to celebrate members as well as welcome their families and friends. This year, it was on Saturday from 9-1, rain or shine! And this time it was raining a little, but plenty of people still came out to enjoy the event. Since Panda is a member there, we dropped by before going in to DC so I could volunteer at the NMNH.

When you arrived, you were given flyers that were “passports” to help track which free things you had claimed. Each person was allowed a cotton candy, popcorn, food (pulled pork/beef/chicken sandwiches or hot dogs), side of chips, and drink (cans of soda or lemonade). The kids were also allowed a balloon creation, face painting, and entry to the bounce houses. Everyone had the option of getting a large tote bag or those drawstring backpacks, but since we have plenty of both, we opted not to take one.

northwest federal credit union member appreciation day passport handout

The NWFCU passport for adults.

northwest federal credit union member appreciation day tent with food

Inside the giant tent, we stood in a long line for cotton candy and popcorn, then a much faster line for the food and drink.

northwest federal credit union member appreciation day game tents

There were games for the kids to try out.

northwest federal credit union member appreciation day face painting tent line

At the end was the tent for face painting, which had quite a line.

eating two cotton candies at northwest federal credit union member appreciation day

I got to eat both our cotton candies!

northwest federal credit union member appreciation day cotton candy melting from humidity

Due to the humidity of the air, the cotton candy started to melt pretty quickly and bits would fall off.

northwest federal credit union member appreciation day cotton candy absorbing moisture from air

As it absorbed the moisture, the outside layer of the cotton candy would start to get very sticky. I kept having to rotate them so pieces wouldn’t fall off as quickly.

northwest federal credit union member appreciation day bounce houses

Outside the tent, there were bounce houses for the kids.

It was a good event and next time we’ll definitely plan to spend more time there rather than having to rush off. Panda had wanted to withdraw some money from his account and I was interested in earning the free money for signing up as his referral, but neither of those got done. If a member brings someone who signs up that day, they both get $25 in their accounts. It’s small, but hey you can still do a lot with that!

MBA admission experience 

laelene Posted in mba,Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
2

The two months between applying for grad school and hearing decisions have been quite a lot of trying to stay calm while every now and then getting super stressed about whether I’d get admitted anywhere. After submitting my applications, I waited to hear about interviews. By the end of February, the ones I hadn’t interviewed for basically seemed out of reach and now I know how it all panned out. So here’s a look at what things have been like since applying through admittance/denial notifications.

January 4th: Submitted UCLA Anderson application and paid $200 fee (deadline on 5th). Ordered GMAT scores sent to 4 schools for $112. When you take the GMAT, order scores sent to as many schools as possible. I believe it’s 5 for free, so might as well get the scores out to them. I had done so for 2 of the schools, but now needed to pay for the rest.

January 5th: Submitted Northwestern Kellogg application and paid $250 fee (deadline on 6th). Also submitted Harvard Business School application and paid $250 fee (deadline on 6th).

January 6th: Submitted Berkeley Haas application and paid $200 fee (deadline on 7th).

January 7th: Submitted USC Marshall application and paid $150 fee (deadline on 8th).

January 11th: Submitted Stanford GSB application and paid $275 fee (deadline on 12th). Kellogg received GMAT score report.

January 12th: Completed video interview for Kellogg, after many practice rounds.

January 15th: Anderson received GMAT score report.

January 29th: Kellogg off-campus interview information received (they try to interview everyone); I reached out to set up a time with my interviewer, an alumnus.

February 3rd: HBS decision posted as denial without interview. If I had gotten an interview, I would have been notified and then I would have had to plan a visit to the school to do it.

February 5th: Kellogg interview with the alumnus, who has been doing interviews for something like 12 years! Great conversation that lasted for 2 hours and made me feel like I did well.

February 10th: Invitation to interview by Marshall; I scheduled a Skype interview since I could not fly out in person.

February 25th: My mom suggested a call with my dad to learn from his business experience, so I called him up on Skype and listened to him for about 90 minutes. He had a lot to say and I learned quite a bit about his life and our family that I didn’t know before.

February 27th: Skype interview with Marshall MBA Ambassador, which went well.

March 5th: Call from Dean of Admissions at Marshall. I was eating dinner and didn’t recognize the number, so I didn’t pick up. I then forgot about the voicemail until the next day, when I listened to it and was THRILLED!! That was one less month of wringing my hands hoping for good news. 🙂

March 8th: Stanford GSB decision posted as denial. As with HBS, had I been selected for an interview, I would have been notified by then and scheduled something.

As the days ticked by in March, I pretty much knew that Haas and Anderson would be nos since I did not hear about an interview from either.

March 23rd: Northwestern Kellogg decision posted as denial.

March 24th: Berkeley Haas decision posted as denial.

March 29th: UCLA Anderson decision posted as denial, but with invitation to apply for FEMBA.

And there you have it! My experience throughout the period from application submissions to final decision notifications. Luckily, I knew I had a program to go to nearly a month earlier than I had anticipated, which was just fabulous. I didn’t get into any of the others unfortunately, but hey, that just means I’ve been able to focus on going to Marshall rather than being confused about which program to pick.

I’ve told my manager about my plans and finalized a last day at work: June 17th. He also announced my pending departure to the company since we are looking for someone to fill my role. With just two months to go, there’s a lot to try to accomplish but of course it’s hard not to want to look towards the future and focus on that. Later I’ll write up the whole experience with USC Marshall from now until I start in the fall!

 

Research your dreams

laelene Posted in mba,Tags: , , , , ,
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Do you have a BHAG for your life? Do you know what it will take to get there?

When I was in middle school, around 8th grade, I developed my own BHAG. I can’t remember how it came about, but somehow I recall playing full-contact basketball during lunch break, thinking about my future. I don’t know why I make the association thinking back, but that gym is the first place I can remember deciding that I wanted to get an MBA. I guess it was because I felt that I had three good options for a career: doctor, engineer, or businesswoman. I may have imagined it, but I’m pretty sure my dad told me that at some point.

Whatever the case, I became convinced that business was the way for me. And that led me to this idea of an MBA. As a 13-year-old, that does seem like a BHAG. Ultimately, it has taken me 17 years to realize that dream (and it’ll be 19 before the diploma is in hand). I’ve wanted an MBA for more than half my life now and that goal has sort of defined how I thought of myself. Back then, I hadn’t yet considered what I needed to do to reach my goal.

I started with first things first – in high school, I began to consider what majors I might be interested in. When I was accepted to UCLA, I learned that they had no business undergraduate major, so I had to get creative. I ended up choosing Psych & Econ to get two very different sides to what would be useful business skills. While I am proud of the double major I earned, I wish I had started to understand what it takes to get into b-school at that point. Had I known about the intense competition, I probably would have chosen majors I was most interested in – Gender Studies or Environmental Science, perhaps. Granted, the Environmental Science major was introduced too far into my college career to make a pivot without derailing my graduation timing completely.

What I wish I knew was that getting at least a 3.5 GPA would be extremely helpful towards my b-school applications down the line. Instead, I continued down the path I’d chosen from the get-go and my grades slipped as the work got more challenging, yet often was not as interesting to me. While I am interested in these topics, I do not have a great passion for them the way I do others. Had I researched what top MBA programs are looking for, I would have known to focus more on a major that I could get a high GPA in, one that I had a deep drive to learn and excel in. It’s not that I didn’t know grades would be important, but I figured a 3.0+ would suffice.

I consider my next misstep the choice to work for small companies. While I have enjoyed the experiences, I didn’t feel well-positioned as an applicant because the work I did was on a smaller scale. It’s hard to be responsible for impactful programs if the company is too small to have many of those opportunities. While I certainly took on quite a bit of work and led projects wherever I could, they didn’t sound nearly as impressive. With what I know now, I would have gone for larger organizations with bigger challenges.

But then again, maybe I’m just making excuses for why I didn’t make it into Stanford. Perhaps a higher GPA and different work experience wouldn’t have helped. I do feel proud of what I’ve done and the essays I wrote to convey that, but for all I know, those were not as strong as I feel they were. Ultimately, I would have done things a bit differently if I had looked into the details of what goes into applying for and getting into a program like Stanford GSB’s.

So if you have a BHAG, I encourage you to heavily research it. Learn from others and it will help you better position yourself for achieving that dream. I was fortunate that I was able to realize my dream and I’m thrilled to be attending USC Marshall in the fall. It was difficult though, because I had weaknesses in my application I needed to try to compensate for. I couldn’t go in the past to change what had happened, so I had to find ways to strengthen my application in other areas. I very well might not have been accepted at all. And this is a lesson I’m learning – that a dream worth pursuing is worth the time and effort to prepare for. As soon as you have that goal in mind, start learning everything you can to help you get there!

My next goal is to lead an organization’s Empowerment team (which is an amalgamation of People Operations, Culture, and Internal Operations). HR is a concept that has evolved to take on a negative meaning that people don’t really connect with, so I consider what I do to be the latest evolution of that functional role. I can’t wait to learn from others doing this work and take some classes on these ideas. I’ve been preparing for this for a long time. 🙂

I got my husband back!

laelene Posted in lifestyle glimpses,Tags: , , , ,
1

It’s been 5 long weeks since Panda left me and I finally have him back again. I will never agree to such a long work trip again. It was far too much. I managed to stay relatively sane the first three weeks, but the last two have been much harder. I even gave up on eating properly and didn’t feel like anything, so I ended up resorting to instant ramen, mac & cheese, and frozen pizzas.

Now that he’s back, things are more lively again and the nights aren’t so lonely. I get to enjoy having food prepared for me and having someone to talk to after work. Even the cats get to have someone else to rub up against and spend time with. It’s nice to settle back into home life for awhile, before everything gets uprooted and I move to wherever I need to for my MBA.

I find it interesting that everyone asks me about my husband moving with me (and no, he won’t be). When I tell them, they are all shocked at how we will pass two years apart. I guess it’s more normal for Asian cultures to handle being apart for long periods of time. My parents do it all the time and much of my childhood was spent away from one or both of them. I wonder how many married MBAs go without their spouse. It seems like I will be the exception.

Anyway, I’m excited for the next couple months, where I’ll have a last chance to live this schedule before being engulfed by school. Soon enough there will be trips, orientation, classes, and so much more. I look forward to the change of pace. Turns out I get bored of a regular work schedule and I crave more unpredictability. Until then, I will appreciate having Panda back at home, being a complete family with our cats. 🙂

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