Posts Tagged ‘mba’

Finding myself

laelene Posted in mba,Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
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As I apply to MBA programs, I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching. All this introspection makes me take time to really consider what it is that matters to me and what sort of person I want to become. It’s a great exercise that I feel like we should all do more often.

So as Stanford GSB asks, what matters to me and why? So many things come to mind: empowerment, collaboration, change, balance, diversity/uniqueness, fulfillment, compassion. Each of these because of how they enable us to improve our lives, to be better versions of ourselves. Ultimately, I think it boils down to empowerment. When people are empowered through education or resources or connections, they can take themselves to a better place bit by bit. And aren’t we all pursuing incremental improvements that will culminate into a life that we can look back on and be pleased with?

For years, I’ve yearned to find my calling. I’d watch shows, read articles, and hear interviews of successful people following their passion as if answering a calling. Many of them spoke about how they’ve always felt the deep desire to (fill in the blank). Meanwhile, I searched and searched for my calling. Was it animals? Nature? Photography? Travel? Blogging? Entrepreneurism? So many options seemed compelling, but no single one stood out to me above the others. I was trying so hard to get a little bit of everything I wanted.

Recently, in writing my essays for my MBA applications, I’ve finally figured it out. What is it that I can spend hours reading about, thinking about, talking about? Sure I love animals and I volunteer with insects, I take photos all the time and love getting that amazing shot, and I have been blogging for years… but I don’t engross myself in science articles or photo editing or blogging tips the way I do business articles and interviews.

When it comes to business – in particular, management principles, hiring practices, and above all – culture, I am obsessed. For me, culture drives everything. Culture determines the type of people you attract, the way they behave (and therefore the output they’ll create), the effectiveness of your brand, etc. etc. etc. I literally devour everything I find mentioning anything related to company culture, hiring, and training. I could sit (or stand, or walk) and talk about ideas around these concepts for days. I constantly have new thoughts that I add to my every-growing ideas document.

While I often get distracted by the many other things I am passionate for, I don’t spend nearly as much time and energy on any of those topics. This is how I know that the thing I would get up in the morning for above all else is the opportunity to cultivate an amazing and likely unconventional culture. To do that, I want my vehicle of change to be empowerment. By creating mechanisms through which people are empowered with the knowledge or resources or contacts they need, I can help them become better people. Better people thrive and feed into a culture that is supportive, collaborative, and empowering. And thus the cycle goes, building upon itself and sustaining itself even as it grows.

I’m still finding myself, but this time spent being self-reflective has given me a lot of insight into who I am and who I aspire to be. I’m starting to notice the patterns in my life that draw from an underlying current that I hadn’t observed before. All these seemingly disparate choices have come together to paint a clearer picture of what motivates me. I have gained confidence in what I should do with my life because I can now see the forces that have been there all along, creating the themes that define me. Now I just hope I can clearly articulate to the admissions committee!

Another step towards an MBA

laelene Posted in mba,Tags: , ,
2

I finally got my GMAT over with!  That’s the first big hurdle in the process and I did alright with a 710.  It’s not as good as I had hoped I could do, but right on par with how I had been performing on practice tests.  It’s also a good enough score that it won’t hurt me in my application, though I was shocked to find I only scored in the 76th percentile on the quantitative section, even with a scaled score of 47 (which I thought was decently high).  In the verbal section I got a scaled score of 41 and that put me in the 92nd percentile, which was also the overall percentile I ended up in with my 710.  Curious – do many people do that well in math but poorly in English?  Am I competing against a lot of foreign test-takers or something?

With that off my back, tomorrow I’m heading off on a site visit to check out both Berkeley and Stanford’s MBA programs.  I’m hoping to make some friends with my fellow travelers, all of whom either took a class with my GMAT teacher or know someone who did.  Hopefully we’ll all end up at our dream schools!  I’m looking forward to seeing the Stanford campus again and maybe even learning something I didn’t know that will help me with my application.  Once I get back from that, it’ll be time to buckle down with my application essays!  At least I’ve gotten the recommendations underway, with all of my recommenders aware of the questions and deadlines.

I have just over a month to complete my applications and I’m really hoping I can put together a strong profile that will get me in.  I don’t have as much work experience as most of the other applicants, but my experience has been a super-condensed rollercoaster ride that has taught me a lot.  That should make up for a lack of years worked.  That’s the great thing for working for a small company!  You end up learning and growing so much more than you might have at a large corporation, espeically with all the hats you have to wear.  I’ve even been adopted into the engineering team more recently, since I’ve been working with our CTO on some things that he used to take care of.

It feels good to have time to dedicate to my applications now, but those essays are daunting.  I really want to present myself in such a way that they can’t help but take me.  That will be the hard part!

Another step closer

laelene Posted in mba,Tags: , , , ,
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I did it!  I finally scheduled my GMAT exam, which brings me one step closer to getting my applications ready for b-school.  It’s in just under two weeks, so I’ll definitely need to do some final prep work over the long weekend.  After that, I will transfer all my energy towards applications and pump them out in a month.  It all sounds daunting, but a little bit of pressure usually gives me the motivation I need to take care of business!

I’m optimistic that I can put together a profile making me a strong candidate, but the reality is that only 5-10% of applicants get in and I’m definitely on the lower end of the scale when it comes to work experience.  Hopefully I can make up for that and state a good case for my qualifications.  The good thing is, it wouldn’t kill me to get another year under my belt and I’m not in a huge rush to get an MBA right away, so even if I don’t get in to Harvard or Stanford (the only two I’m applying to this year), I’ll just try again next year.

Of course I’m definitely hoping I do get in for the entering class of 2012, but at least I have the luxury of more time if I need it.  There is definitely a lot of experience I can still accrue with an additional year.  However, I feel there are a lot of opportunities at work out of my reach without an MBA to back me up.  Getting that degree would really help me over a hump in my career that otherwise may take two or three times as long to overcome.

I’m looking forward to getting the test out of the way so I can focus all my energy on my applications.  If I can, I’ll definitely want to make a classroom visit too!

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