SgHama's MBA Dream

After 2 years of what if's and worrying about the finances... class of 2008 here I come!

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Wharton Essay 1 feedback

My reviewers came back with their feedback, and the verdict was not pretty. And here I was thinking I had written a literary masterpiece. The common theme I got was the lack of specifics to personalize the essay. i.e. You could have taken my essay and tagged any consultant's name onto it, and it would probably still make sense for the most part. Another area I need to work on is to show, not tell. Again this boils down to giving specific details to support broader statements.

Back to the drawing board, but at least I know version 2 will be much better.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Can you write an essay in under half an hour?

Last night sitting on the bed in my hotel room, I worked on Essay 2, laboriously trying to describe one of my challenges leading a team of programmers and achieving our target despite incredible odds. And as usual I didn’t get very far with it. My mind was completely unfocused and I was distracted by this movie on TV, not sure what it was called but it involved a lot of bike racing. I’m a sucker for racing/sports movies.

On my way to the office today, I had a sudden flash of inspiration and as soon as I came into the office, I junked last night’s sorry writing. Well not really junked. I saved a backup copy just in case. But I basically booted up my laptop, opened up the essay and wrote my new idea in all of 20 minutes! Unbelievable, and I think this new one is much stronger because I wrote about one of my EC’s instead of another war story about work. Anyway it’s still very raw, but at least I’ve got my thoughts down and it would be easier to rework it now that I’ve got a base to start with.

Ok, I better stop patting myself on my back and get back to work. Got a presentation tomorrow and I haven’t even started on the analysis yet… sigh.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Finally some progress

I’ve completed my first draft of Wharton’s Essay 1! This is a major milestone. My first MBA essay ever, and definitely more than 15 hours of work taking into account all the time spent in front of the computer thinking, with my fingers poised to type but not moving.

I pretty much did the essay in two discrete portions – first, career progress, and second, career goals and how a Wharton MBA would help me achieve them. Describing my career to date was relatively straightforward, and I struggled only to condense my experiences and avoid rehashing my resume. I think it still needs more work, but at least it’s in a state where I would be comfortable in asking people to offer feedback.

Refining my career goals, on the other hand, was painstakingly difficult and this was where the bulk of my time went. I knew what my short-term goal was, but coming up with a plausible long-term goal that I could tie back to my background, interests, and short term goal given my hazy view of where I want to be in 10 years was a trying experience. I probably burned out a few brain cells in the process. For those of you who haven’t started yet, this is definitely the KEY to the essay and the effort required to articulate your goals should not be underestimated.

Once I had my career goals settled, answering the Why MBA and Why Wharton questions were a breeze. It was simply a matter of identifying what skills and knowledge I lacked, how an MBA could bridge that gap, and including specific details about Wharton that attracted me.

My essay is still rough around the edges, so I’m going to send it out for review and hopefully get some good insights on how I can improve it.

Now on to Essay 2…

Monday, August 08, 2005

Reality check

I just got off the phone with Sandy Kreisberg and he didn't sound too optimistic about my chances at Wharton. Bummer. The main problems, as I already know, are my GPA and my lack of EC's. So basically unless I can tell a compelling story that hits home with the adcom, I will probably be left behind by guys with better grades and EC's, who also have high GMAT scores and work experience at the more prestigious strategy firms.

A little depressing, but I think I'll stick with my school choices. I always knew Wharton would be a stretch, just didn't like hearing it I guess.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Work and unpredictable travel

Have been pretty busy lately with work - just got back from Bangkok today, and I still have to go to the office tomorrow. MBA-related work has been put on hold for the past couple of weeks.

I'm planning to give Sandy from Cambridge Essay Service a call on Monday to see what insights he might have to offer. Bought some SkypeOut credits to use, so that should save me much moolah. Not sure what the quality is like, but will give it a try.

Last minute traveling is a pain. 3 days ago, I received an email telling me I needed to go to Jakarta for the next few weeks, and would be leaving tomorrow night. I was completely blindsided by this - I was expecting to be home for the next couple months until the wedding. So this was terrible, terrible timing. I just came back from the Phils last Saturday and flew to Bangkok the next day. Now, after being back for a day, which I have to spend at work anyway, I have to go to Jakarta?? And you tell me 3 days before???

But as usual, the plans have changed. And at the last minute. I'm still going to Jakarta, but on Wednesday night instead of tomorrow but Wednesday night. At least I'll be home Friday night. For now anyway. Who knows what will happen in the next few days.