Monday, October 29, 2007
Beijing was an interesting trip. It was my second time in China, but first in Beijing and first with any real time to spend doing tourist things. My schedule worked out so that I could take a 4 day weekend while I was over there, and a good friend who's living in Beijing let me stay at his apartment for the weekend and took me out to see the city. It's an interesting city to see the mixture of old and new architecture, and interesting to see the rate of growth and construction, which I'm sure is also being driven by the Olympics next year. Construction crews literally work 24/7 - there was a crew outside my friend's apartment putting in a road/sidewalk. One night I went to sleep and literally woke up the next morning to see it completely finished. There is a bit of another side though. My friend's roommate teaches English to a local man's daughter. The man has a little corner store, and recently the government came in and said they were going to demolish the store. No due process, no compensation, nothing he could do. It really reminded me that as much as a great story China is economically, on the political side it is a very different system to what we have (and often take for granted) in the west.
Once I get home I'll see if I can post a few pictures from the Great Wall and Forbidden City.
Friday, October 19, 2007
Besides that, everything else for Stanford is going well. Got my reviewers' feedback on my essays, and it's positive with only minor suggestions of places where I ramble at bit and could be a bit more succinct and impactful. So, I will work on revisions tonight and tomorrow and submit tomorrow afternoon or evening. Then it's off to a bar with some friends to lift a glass and celebrate being done with this stage of the process.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Now to turn my attention to Stanford. Did a review of my data sheet last night and came across the part-time employment page. The instructions say to include summer employment, internships, etc., so I've gone back and listed the two jobs I had during summer and winter breaks from college. I haven't gone back to the fast food job I had during high school since I don't think that sheds any light on my candidacy for bschool (well, I did rise to the rank of "Assistant Manager", but that just took staying at the place for a few years rather than any demonstrated leadership abilities). How are other Stanford applicants handling this?
Good luck to all the other Chicago R1 applicants out there. Hopefully we'll see each other in Hyde Park at Admit Weekend in February.
Monday, October 15, 2007
Stanford is in pretty good shape, but am going through a last round of review and revision on my essays. Data sheet is complete so it's really just the essays at this point. Well essays and one last recommendation. Plan is to finish it and submit on Saturday before I fly off to China, and to chase down the final recommender this week and make sure he's on the ball. Hopefully the 2 week trip will keep my mind off the waiting game. Unlikely, since I'll have access to email while there, but we'll see.
Friday, October 12, 2007
For those in HBS R1, in case you haven't seen the latest post on the Director's Blog, interview requests should start to go out the week of Oct. 22. Of course, they'll continue to go out through January 16, so there still could be a lot more waiting to go. What's nice, and I'm not sure if it's different that last year, is their use of an online self-scheduler for interviews so you can try and pick a date that is most convenient for you. Should help with my travel concerns.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
- The program presentation was oriented around the 4 themes of the Stanford MBA program: personalized education, innovative learning, global & social impact, and collaborative community. He spent a lot of time in the first two areas talking about the new curriculum. I won't go into detail here since it's all on the website.
- He mentioned a few times (and alumni reinforced the message) that innovative faculty research makes its way into the classroom, giving Stanford students an edge on the market since they see it first.
- Heavy focus on "leaving a legacy" and being a force for positive change in the world. He also mentioned here the loan forgiveness program, for people who take jobs in the public or not-for-profit sector, and also the Stanford Management Internship Fund, which subsidizes internship income (up to the median of all students' internship income) for people who do summer internships in the public or not-for-profit sector. The loan forgiveness sounded similar to other schools, but I think the SMIF is unique.
- He mentioned briefly the Global Management Program certificate, and the Public Management Program certificate, and said that each program gets about 25% of the students in any year.
At that point the alumni panel started (6 alumni, mostly in finance post-MBA). Their main points were:
- A few alumni talked about the great opportunities and support for entrepreneurial ventures while at Stanford (one of the alumni was CEO of a startup menswear company). They said beyond support, it is possible to get academic credit for working on a startup venture, and that culturally entrepreneurs were looked up to as superstars.
- All of the alumni had gone through the program before the new curriculum, so unfortunately they couldn't give insight on it. But, they did talk about how the curriculum is fluid and students have an opportunity to influence courses or to create new ones with faculty support.
- In response to the "Why Stanford" question, the answers were all about the culture (more empathetic and collaborative people than other schools) and small class size (about 7-1 student to faculty ratio).
Most of the other questions focused on whether it matters if you don't have a finance background (it doesn't) and whether it matters if you're earlier in your career (it doesn't). People seemed to be asking questions that were already answered earlier, which got a bit frustrating. After the alumni panel, we went back to Derrick for some admissions info. Again, not too much that wasn't on the website, but here's some bits he added about the application:
- Pay attention to the wording of the essay questions. They pick the words for a reason, and omit words for a reason. There is a big difference between asking "career vision", "aspirations" and "post-MBA plans". Hint: Stanford's use of the word "aspirations" means that could be both inside and outside work.
- For Essay A, he mentioned the Steve Jobs commencement address at Stanford where he talked about connecting dots. Derrick used that as an example of the type of reflection they're looking for in this essay (but obv. not meant as a template for applicants to use).
- For Essay B, he said they're not just looking for a 5-year career plan. Again, they're trying to understand what is important to you, inside and outside of work, and how Stanford can support those goals. He also made the point that they know your career progression from other parts of the application (i.e. resume) so don't spend too much time in the essays restating that.
- For the short-answer essays, they're looking for specific anecdotes, both at what you did but equally important on the impact the experience had on you and the people/organisations around you.
- With regard to interviews, they expect to interview between 800-1200 applicants, with a target class size of 400-500. The interviews are behavioral (again trying to get to know you), are just one piece of the application that they look at so they influence the decision more for some than others, are largely (95%) done by alumni, and are blind (the interviewer only has your CV, which you send them, and will not have seen your application).
- The winner of the stupidest question I've ever heard in my life was the guy who asked Derrick whether they coordinated their deadlines and decision notification dates with other business schools, or whether it was just coincidence that the dates were the same as another school. There was actually an audible groan from the audience when he asked that.
My overall impression was very positive. You definitely got the strong sense of innovation from the presentations and alumni panel and it's definitely a top-notch program. One thing that left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth though was the repeated references to their "competitors in Boston, Philadelphia and Chicago". At the HBS event, they never once mentioned other schools and why they think what they're doing is better than other schools. They just talked about HBS. Here, they kept saying that X at Stanford is better/more exciting than HBS, Wharton or Chicago. My feeling is that if you're confident in what you're doing and it really is better, you shouldn't have to say it, people will see it for themselves. I know it's just a minor thing, and certainly wouldn't affect my decision regarding the school, but if I could have changed one thing it would have been that.
Monday, October 8, 2007
One thing that does concern me a bit is that I have quite a bit of travel for work in November and December. While I am getting a bit ahead of myself, I'm concerned that it could impact interview scheduling. I guess that's a bridge I'll have to cross when I come to it.
I'm going to a Stanford reception tonight in NYC so I'll give the full rundown on it within a day or so.