Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Not Easy - but it all pans out in the end...

Writing this one for anyone struggling through recruiting, and for anyone in the future who will struggle through it.  Want to say that the recruitment game works out in the end.

Before I went through the internship recruitment process - I found it hard to believe what people told me along the way: "Every step is tougher than the last".

But after weeks of doubt, I can finally say: I believe now.

Went through over 20 interviews, and more rejection than I'd like to remember - stayed the course for over 4 painful months, but I'm taking my dream job in San Francisco.

Here are a few tips I'd give January me:

  • Rejection sucks but make it count by learning at least one thing from each job you miss - whether its coming prepared with a joke, knowing your story better, or brushing up on technical knowledge
  • Don't second guess yourself - You can't convince employers how great you are unless you truly truly believe it
  • No one gets through alone - I wouldn't have made it without the support of Team Fuqua, and the friends/family back home.  Stay connected even though all you want to do is look for jobs 24/7

Wednesday, 29 January 2014


Its been a long time since I've blogged - but I need to address an important issue that I've been facing here at business school.

Summer internship recruitment has been an incredibly humbling experience.  After performing well academically for the past 6 months, the MBA has opened up doors that I wouldn't have thought possible.  I interviewed with almost every "top" firm/company in America.  Perhaps I'd be the long-shot that made it through.

But after all the interviews - I'm here unemployed.

As you can imagine I take these rejections very personally because these companies rejected the man and not the resume.  Always thought my strength was the former.  But even with a top school, top grades, and a top GMAT on my resume - I can't get an offer.

Which brings us to the important issue I want to address: Every part of business school is the hardest part until the next one.  GMAT, B-school applications, fall grades, networking & sip circles, resume drops and interviews.  I'm sure that whatever is next will be even tougher.

In any case I've been questioning if this whole process is worth it - I need to do some soul searching.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

What leaving my job for b-school has taught me about "fit"

With an admit in hand, bonus received, and annual review complete - I thought that by this time of the year, I'd slowly be riding off into the sunset of my pre-MBA career.  What I didn't know, but have come to realize, there's a short period - after getting admitted before resigning - that not a lot of people talk about.

I don't think enough gets said about the experience of leaving a job for b-school.  Say this because it would've been nice prepare for the frequent impromptu career discussions with various people, and the very polarized opinions a lot of people have about MBAs.

You learn a lot about people's priorities when talking about careers and going back to school.  I've had people have tell me about the way that their career paths have gone, and even some advice on what jobs to take, or cities to live in.  These are discussions that I appreciate because I'm a huge fan of stories.

Speaking of great stories - I should mention that I love the show Lost.  Its about a group of people brought to an island for a specific purpose, which is to protect the island.  As it turns out, this task is not straight forward - it takes a huge amount of time, several decades actually (and some time travel to boot).  But then as the story concludes, you begin to see that the characters were never really brought to do a job - each one was brought to the island to build a life.

When I talked to people about their careers, a lot of people say they got to a point of inflection - the moment when everything changed and they realize exactly what the characters in 'Lost' did.  At some point, you career becomes less about finding a great job, and more about building a great life.  A great job is a part - but its not the only part.

Now its very possible I could have had these conversations before my departure became public - and maybe that would have changed my career path a bit.  But right now, I'm really embracing the post-MBA advice I've been receiving and hope to post any other gems I uncover soon!

Wednesday, 7 November 2012


Its over.  The journey's come to an end.

I've been admitted to Fuqua, and I'm out of the MBA applications game for good.

Before I close this chapter - I wanted to share some of my learnings over the last year of applications.

Without knowing for sure, I inferred my biggest 'weakness' was my interview/on campus performance. Until I visited Breeden Hall to interview, I'd never even met a Fuqua alum - but I quickly got a feel for the culture and realized my interview didn't quite hit the mark.

Since its fresh on my mind - I want to walk through interview strategy.

There's a saying that there is no such thing as a truly great pick-up line - because nothing you can say will alone be clever enough to get you a number.

I took that approach to interviewing - I focused on strong presentation rather than clever/elaborate answers (plus I had my clever answers from February anyways). Got the feeling that they don't actually care about "How do you handled a team member who wasn't pulling his/her weight" - a good answer is enough as long as the presentation is outstanding. 

Here are the questions I expected, and what I wanted to get across:

1) Walk me through your resume - Rather than describing the details of my job responsibilities, or title changes, I focused on the story. Talked about the evolution of telecom in the last 5 years (rise of iphones, mobile internet, the app industry, tablets, virtual wallets) and how my work/career has made an impact. Goal was to demonstrate I could be more engaging/socially savy than a stereotypical financial-modelling math nerd MBA, and safe to introduce to recruiting partners.

2) Why MBA - Wanted to appeal to my interviewers' confidence and ambition without making myself sound like an arrogant self-centred douche. Talked about wanting to gain 'broad experience' quickly and how my company wants me in an elaborate rotation program that would advance my career, but may not provide me with the other life experiences of bschool. Goal was to put the interviewer in my shoes, and get her on my side. Wanted her to empathize with me and say "I was like you once and decided to come to Duke for my MBA - great decision"..

3) Why Fuqua - Prove I can market the school, and given my 'why mba' why Fuqua is the perfect fit. Goal was to demonstrate I could pitch the school concisely.

4) How you handled xyz in a team setting - This is the Team Fuqua question ie. my role in a group setting. Goal was to introduce my 'group' personality without coming across as fake. Wanted my interviewer to think "You sound exactly like a guy I once worked with - he was good. I could see you as cool headed even when you're having a shitty day".

5) What do you bring to the class - Wanted to establish a personality other than (industry/country/target industry/undergrad). Goal was basically to cherry pick parts of my 25 random things.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012


Its almost November, and I've made a lot of progress since I last blogged:

Fuqua submitted EA and was fortunate enough to get an interview invite.  Originally I planned to head back to Durham to interview - but they were kind to give me a Skype interview - saving me a few bucks and some 2012 vacation.

Now I've gushed over Duke for the better part of the year.  Fell in love with the beautiful campus, and the amazing school culture.  The first essay: 25 random things was probably the most enjoyable b-school related task I've done all year.  And now this whole skype interview thing basically freed enough resources for me to take the new lady friend on a cruise or a short vacation.

I don't want to get my hopes too far up but I REALLY want the Duke admit. Can't imagine this journey ending anywhere but Fuqua.  At least I'll know next week when decisions are out October 30th.

Today I got the Michigan Ross round 1 interview invite (the Ross application was probably the best one I've done so far).  It made my week, because work has been absolutely gruelling and preparing for the interview will be a great distraction.

Hopefully I'll have more good news soon!

Monday, 2 July 2012

Preparing for R1 this Summer

Its the start of summer - a great time for bbqs, long weekends at the cottage and MBA essays!  According to my Fuqua waitlist councillor, my decision should be handed down shortly and I'll finally get closure on my last R2 decision.  At this point, I'm not particularly optimistic about my chances.

The consolation is - the 2013 MBA application essay topics are starting to come out.  After a 6 month hiatus from MBA essay writing - I'm ready to the process all over again.  This Canada day long weekend I spent sometime looking over schools and essay choices.  Think I'll start off by tackling the Cornell Johnson essay set first.  Last year I spent a lot of time debating whether or not to apply to Cornell.  Couple of things turned me away - first I was a bit skeptical about winters in Ithaca (which is a terrible reason not to apply to a school), and second found the 'legacy' essay a tough one (fortunately it looks like that one is gone).  After a bit of research (and some forum reads) - found quite a few people that applied to Fuqua, also applied to Ross and Johnson.  Get the impression that all three place students at a nice rate, and maintain rankings in a similar group.

Big plus for me - is that a disproportionate number of Canadians head over to Cornell - so this is pretty much the only top MBA school to which I have alumni access through my personal network.  Wish I'd known how much easier that would have made my life last year, since tracking down current students/alumni was one of the most difficult parts of the application process.  Think it will help tremendously with the 'Cornell/Goals' essay.

In other news - I'm also 1/2 way done my first financial accounting course - which is something I'm doing to help address GPA concerns.  Currently sitting at roughly a 93% - Think this is a big one to help my candidacy.  Last year I definitely overestimated my chances for admission - had a nice 730 GMAT, an engineering undergrad from a top school here in Canada, and four years of experience in an important sounding job title.  Had no idea that my profile sounds like just about every other top 15 MBA applicant that I met last year.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more... waitlist?

The Duke R3 results are out for some.  I'm still on the waitlist.  With re-application becoming more likely I've decided to work on my candidacy for next year - primarily by taking an online course to build an alternate transcript, and by pursuing a different/advanced position on my team.

Essay Snark has provided an awesome analysis on re-applicant strategy that I've been going over in my head since I've been waitlisted.

1. Look at your profile.
730 GMAT (48Q/42V)
73/100 Engineering GPA
4.5 Years of Work Experience

I've been a bit insecure about GPA since about second year of undergrad.  My game plan here is to take a course this summer to prove (partly to myself) that I can be a strong performer at shcool.

2. Look at your target schools.
This year I targeted mid to large sized top 15 programs (Fuqua, Stern, Haas, and Anderson) which resulted in 3 dings and a waitlist.  I was also admitted to a smaller top 20 program - a school that I recently declined.

3. Look at where in the process you were rejected.
In Round 1, I was rejected by Stern, Haas, and Anderson without interview. 

In Round 2, I re-wrote all of my essays, got better recommendations and was interviewed at both my schools - admitted & waitlisted.

After getting rejected at pretty much every point in the process (and also admitted at one program that turned out not to be for me), I learned that mis-steps can happen at any point in the process - so you need flawless execution all the way through.

Speaking of flawless execution - its about time I hit the books and go for that "A" in accounting!