Wednesday, May 28, 2008


It happened. It was something I always feared would happen, something I've tried to prevent. It seemed to have been confirmed on Tuesday. The issue: being pigeonholed!

When I first starting working at the bank, I intended it to be a stepping stone to better things, more marketing related. I was promoted twice in the first 17 months, gathering more and more responsibility. The entire time this was happening, I was trying to get out. Not a serious job search, mind you; I'd just shoot of resume's every now and then, go on some interviews, but nothing ever materialized. I was worried people would start to see me as this data-centric, SAS/SQL programmer, and not the campaign manager that I am. I worried I'd be lumped in with IT people, or database administrators, or even worse, data entry.

I've started to be a bit more active in my job search. I know it sounds odd, I'm planning to apply this fall to many business schools, yet I'm also looking for a new job. I feel I've got good reasons for it: the new experience, how I shouldn't let me MBA aspirations put the rest of my career on hold, etc. But, after speaking to several hiring managers, it appears everything about my previous positions screams back-office data guy. I was specifically called that on Tuesday, as I sat in a conference room at a competing bank. Needless to say, I walked out feeling awful.

It's a pretty terrible feeling, like you're trapped under the weight of a decision you made over three years ago, that you'll always be the bank data guy. I try and push my other accomplishments, my leadership experience, project management skills, but it always seems to come back to data. I can do more! I think this fear of being trapped is what initially led me to want an MBA. I'm the perfect definition of a career switcher. Problem is, I just have faint ideas of what I want to do. MBA AdComs do not like faint ideas of future goals. Being rich doesn't count.

Now, I must combat this fear head on, and figure out a way so that admissions committee members do not see me as the Bank Data Guy, and as someone who brings so much more to the table. I'm not an engineer, I'm not a sales guy. I don't do financial services or consulting. I feel I'm a category loosely defined in the MBA world. I just pray it's enough to gain acceptance to a single school.

And me and the GF have gone our separate ways...

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Love The Long Weekend

Happy Memorial Day everyone! I've been spending my weekend running errands, seasoning my smoker, laundry, cleaning, all sorts of fun stuff. Sunday should be a day of studying, while Monday will be a day of gourging myself on burgers and ribs. Yummy!

June 28th is rapidly approaching!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Evidence of Progress

Another crazy busy weekend! Friday night was a going-away party for a co-worker, then just the usual stuff. Saturday was an early start. I had a Humane Society event at a bank branch opening, and we raised some money and more awareness, which is always good. It's cool to see the look on people's faces when they see a puppy. After that, running errands with mom, then studying for the GMAT, then to a friend's birthday party then to another party. I need a break!

I decided to take another Manhattan GMAT test (I seem to be saving the GMATPrep tests), and wasn't sure how I would do. I keep working through the OG11, but wasn't sure how it would translate to Manhattan GMAT. To recap, my first two tests were a 580 and a 600. After this time, a 660 popped up. Woohoo! That's gotta be more than a variance in guessing, right? Definitely made me feel better. Quant jumped up three points (from 40 to 43), all of which came in DS (I actually missed more PS questions than last time); verbal jumped four points, to 37, with gains in CR and RC. Definitely happy about the gains in DS and CR, as those were my weakest, but I'm concerned about my score dropping in PS.

Regardless, this does instill some confidence as I approach my June 28th test date. Overall, I've raised my score 80 points, and have 40 more to go for my goal. I feel good, knowing I haven't focused much on SC (I've got the Manhattan GMAT SC bible, so that'll help) and I've got plenty of more practice questions in the OG to go (I've only done 56 PS questions!) Moral of today's story: My confidence that was shattered is slowly coming back!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

D-Day is set!

I did it. On Saturday, June 28th, 2008, at 8AM Eastern, I will sit for my (first) attempt at the GMAT. People had long been telling me that once a date is set, you really start buckling down and have a clear end in site. No more aimless studying, or putting off that last problem set because tomorrow is another day. I have roughly six weeks to get it done. There are no trips scheduled in that timeframe, no birthdays or vacations. It will be all GMAT, all the time.

I went through some of the Problem Solving sets in OG11. I got 31 out of the first 32 correct, and thought to myself, "Hey, maybe I've turned the corner and I'm gonna do it!" Then I realized that the questions at the beginning of the group of 250 are much easier than those at the end. Oops. False hope stinks.

This Saturday is a Humane Society event...the bank I work at is having a branch opening near my house, so I'll be volunteering there, handing out literature and trying to get some dogs and cats adopted. It's good to get back into this, as I haven't done anything since early April (right before I left for LA); I don't want the AdComs thinking I'm just doing it to put it on my application! Though, now whenever another volunteer opportunity comes up (Junior Achievement, Big Brothers Big Sisters, etc.) I wonder if I join now, will they think I did it for resume filler? Will they see a lack of leadership positions within my extra curriculars and say "He's full of it!" This is what I worry about.

In other news, let's all keep the people of both Myanmar and China in our thoughts and hearts as they deal with their natural disasters, the cyclone and earthquake, respectively. I've lived through a few hurricanes, an earthquake, more tornadoes than I can count, and I can say that none of them are fun. The loss of life from these events is astounding...estimates of 100k and 50k from these latest disasters. That's more people than I've met in my life!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Buckling Down

I realize it's been nearly a week since my last post, and I apologize. Why does it always seem that once I get motivated to buckle down and study, real life creeps its ugly head and prevents me from doing what I need to do? It's downright annoying and frustrating sometimes...I wish I could disappear for like a month, and study all the time until I get my target score.

I finished the diagnostic test in OG11. I got Average marks for Problem Solving and Data Sufficiency (which I expected), Excellent on Sentence Correction (17 out of 18...a definite surprise there!), and Above Average in Reading Comprehension and Critical Reasoning (first one I expected, but the AA in CR was a bit of a surprise). Some of that gibed with my Manhattan GMAT scores, but things like SC and CR were much higher. Maybe the rumors are true, and Manhattan GMAT isn't a good representation of a score. This weekend I'll be taking another practice test, and I should see some improvement based on my last test (which seems like ages ago!).

It's still crazy to check out the BW forums and see people still languishing on waitlists and wondering about their status. It makes me wonder about my own future status...lots of questions pop up. Will my undergrad GPA kill any chance I have? Will I meet my target score on the GMAT? Are my EC's enough (about one year volunteering at the Humane Society), and if I start more, will it look like I'm just doing it for acceptance? Is my work experience facsinating enough when compared to people working in PE or MC? Will the Cleveland Indians ever score some runs!?!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Too Nice To Be Inside

Admit season seems to be coming to a close. Reading the BW forums or checking the blogs, it seems everyone who applied this season knows whether or not they were accepted somewhere. Apologies to those who are still in waitlist purgatory; I hope the wait doesn't kill you, and that in the end everything works out ok for you.

I've been doing the diagnostic test from OG11. Both Problem Solving and Data Sufficiency left me squarely in the Average category, which wasn't surprising. Reading Comprehension put me in the Above Average category, while my marks for Critical Reasoning was right at the cusp between Average and Above Average; that WAS surprising. My scores on Manhattan GMAT were pretty awful. I guess when everyone says the Manhattan GMAT tests are more difficult, they weren't kidding. Next up, I'll take the Sentence Correction portion to finish the diagnostic test.

Let me ask you it true that your scores on the OG practice tests, Manhattan GMAT practice tests, etc., are all lower than your score on the actual GMAT? Seems to be that that is the consensus. I sure hope that's true. I've read of people getting 630s and 640s on Kaplan practice tests, then scoring 750s and higher on the actual GMAT. I'm not looking for a score that high; I just want something around 700, to give me the best possible chance at my target schools. I know my GPA won't allow me to even think about the big schools (H/S/W, Chicago, Columbia, MIT, Kellog), but I figure with my alternate transcript (more on this later) and a 700 or so GMAT score, then my schools (USC, UCLA, UNC, Duke, Darden, NYU, Texas) would be slightly in reach. Or maybe I'm still too far out of it. Won't know until I apply, right?

As for the alternate transcript...I enrolled last week in the UCLA Extension Online program, and signed up for Math for Managers. Veronica Ho at USC's Marshall Admissions Office specifically recommended it, and I had heard other good things about it. It's a for-grade course and will end before the application season starts, so I'm hoping I can go to AdComs and say "I know some marks on my undergrad transcript are lower than usual, but I took this course to show that I can handle the rigors of the MBA program). I sure hope this works out for my benefit.

In other news, it's 70 and sunny, and I'm not meant to be caged inside right now! I may eat lunch outside instead of at my desk. I love the office at lunch, because it's so quiet, I can get a lot of work done. Oh, and for those who are interested, the meeting with the parents went well. A good dinner on the grill (including some smoked venison jerkey!), a walk around their farm, and just some good conversation. I apparently got the seal of approval from both the parents, the sister, and the dog. Yay me!

Friday, May 2, 2008

The Cost of the Journey

After receiving much advice, I decided to finally purchase the Manhattan GMAT SC guide, as well as the OG11. I guess I'm sort of re-starting this process, as my old methods weren't yielding the results I need. It also got me thinking...just how much money have I spent on my MBA journey so far?

Study Stuff: I've bought the OG11, and a total of five Manhattan GMAT books (SC, Number Properties, Equations/Inequalities, fractions/decimals, and Geometry), as well as a general math refresher book. Total cost of all this: $124.29

Class Visit: I took a trip to LA to visit USC-Marshall in early April; flight + hotel = $640. Adding in food and cab fare, total cost of the trip was close to $900.

Others: I bought two books, How To Get Into The Top MBA Programs by Montauk, and Your MBA Game Plan by Bouknight and Shrum. Total cost: $32.03

So, prior to actually signing up for the GMAT, or writing any application fees, I've spent $1056, the bulk of it coming from the trip to LA. And who said an MBA isn't an investment with high costs