Friday, January 29, 2010

I hear ya! (and free service!)

After two weeks of attending various social activities and catching up with a number of friends, I am back to the blogging world! My poll has ended and looks like the majority of you (who voted) wanted to see some advice on interview prep. Sounds about right as most R2 applicants wrap up their applications and moving into the anxious interview waiting phase. I will write up a post about that this weekend to serve my dear readers. I am also glad to learn that a few of you care about my random thoughts on life~ I am definitely gonna keep writing those, for I think life is more than just b-school and applications. And I encourage b-school applicants to step out of the ever addicting forums once in awhile and pick up a good book or read the international section or the cultural section of the news. I think developing a broad perspective from the everyday life outside of the business world can do business people a lot of good. And I hope my blog can help convey this idea. As this application cycle finishes up, I will move away from writing about applications and focus more on life before b-school, the b-school experience, my thoughts throughout this process among other random things. That's what's in store for you. :)

On the application front, nothing much has happened recently. My Haas application went under review, and hopefully interview invites start coming out soon. MIT result will come out this Monday, I hope I will get to visit Boston in the Winter! (it's 15 degree there today according to my co-worker....) Lots of schools' R1 decisions were out the past few weeks, congrats to those who got those exhilarating calls! For those who didn't get the result they wanted, don't lose hope as I always say. And really, I don't think application results determine who you are and your future. (I've recently encountered a few so-called H/S/W admits on a forum who I think I would never like or associate with in b-school, so there you go~ school's reputation/elite status does not necessary guarantee the quality of people)

The last thing I want to mention is that I realize that some applicants are still applying for R3 or Jan round of a few schools. I want to offer my free service of essay review to those who want a second pair of eyes before sending off those essays. I can also help provide some feedback for those who unfortunately didn't make it this app season, sort of like a "ding report". Please do not ask me why you didn't get into MIT when you have an offer from Haas. There is a level of randomness/mystery in the admission process which nobody understands. Why I am doing this? Because I got free help from people, some who I only met once or never met, so I want to give back to the community. Do I want to become an admission consultant? Not really, one I think it's a crowded space, two I did it without spending a penny on consultant and I think you can too. Will post more on this later as I slowly move to my application advice posts.

So hit me up if you need some extra help. You know how to contact me. Have a good weekend!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Asia's rise - past and future

Came across this awesome TED presentation by Hans Rosling on an ESADE student's blog. I suggest anyone who is interested in India and China's development take a look at it. As many economists agree, Asia is the future. This presentation can give you some perspective on its past (well, focused on India and China) and its future through Hans ingenious presentation. This is one of the most engaging presentation I've seen for a long time. I guarantee it will be 20 minutes well spent!

What do you think of the future of these two giants? and the new world order? in both economic and political terms? Discussions are welcomed! (I know there are a lot of Indian MBA applicants out there reading my blog, so chime in :)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Done Done Done!

Update: I put a survey on the right to get some advice on what you want to see on my blogs. Please vote if you follow my blog :) always feel free to send me a note to suggest other content too!
Five minutes ago I submitted my last b-school application! I can proudly say that I am officially done with this stressful and ever-lasting process! Hurray!!!!

Outside of the window, the scary storm has stopped (well, scary by LA standard...) and the sun came out! What a great day!

Now I can start thinking about all the things I want to do but put on hold for the past 6 month. I already have 3 trips lined up for the next two months. Snowboarding, Kellogg's DAK and a birthday trip my bf planned for me last year! Just hope I have enough vacations to cover all those! And here are a few things that are on my to-do list.

1. Decide whether to run the 10k or the half-marathon in March and train for it! Finally getting back in my running routine and getting my muscles and immune system back!

2. Schedule hang-out times with my dear friends who have been ignored by me for awhile. Already have several events lined up! can't wait to catch up!

3. Read the long list of books that I have been wanting to read! Will write a seperate post on that.

4. Explore LA with bf and spend as much time with him as possible. Despite having lived here for so many years, I still have so many things that I haven't done! Griffith park observatory, wine tasting in Malibu, hiking on Channel islands, just to name a few. Let alone all the great restaurants and hole in the wall eateries that I haven't experienced. I want to do all these things with my dearest bf who I will definitely miss a lot while away for school.

5. Write blog posts on my advice on b-school applications. I want to share my experiences and lessons learned and help you, my dear readers, to succeed in your process. So send me suggestions on what you want to see on this blog.

6. Basically live life to the fullest! :)

The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs

We all know the basic rules about how to make a great presentation. But it's always incredibly hard to actually stick to it in real life. So this kind of reminder always help! Enjoy!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

quiet on Haas front~

Haven't heard from Haas for awhile. The school has been especially good at communication before the break, but sort of stopped there after the New Year~ I remember the very first email they sent after my submission is that an confirmation email will be sent out within 4 weeks to confirm everything has been received for review. Well, I haven't got that yet.

I guess it must be really busy up there, with R1 interviews, decisions and R2 applications. I sympathize what adcom has to go through~ that's why I think Kellogg/HBS/Stanford's approach might be a better one. Focus on R1, decisions all sent out, and then start R2. HBS adcom even get a few weeks break between New Year and R2 deadline. Anyway, hope Haas will start moving soon on my R2 :)

Btw, I believe today is Haas' R1 Super Saturday, which is the interview day + open house for most applicants in the US. I have a friend interviewing today. So I wish her and all the R1 applicants good luck!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Last weekend writing b-school app!

While I am still sitting in front of my computer, I am leaping for joy inside. I have been waiting for this day since I started the app process back in July. Last weekend of essay writing, of not being able to go out, of not embracing the gorgeous weather~

I start to think about things I want to do after this weekend. My list is already long.

3 more days, and I can't wait to be done.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Help Haiti

Just donated $20 to UNICEF for Haiti relief efforts after reading Hari's blogpost. It's not a lot of money but I always believe if everyone contributes a little, the world will be a better place.

So I encourage you to go to Hari's blog and donate through the links he listed. For one thing, Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and its citizens have long been suffering from poverty before the earthquake. Just imagine that for a moment. And add the earthquake.

Here is an American's account for the earthquake, it's an sobering experience.

And learn about Haiti the country on Wiki.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Google pulling out of China?

Just read this news, to be honest, it was a shocker. Will post more thoughts later.

As the world learned about Google's decision to pull out of China (if they don't come to agreement with Chinese government on un-censoring Google search engines) and reacted in all sorts of different ways (most of them expressing a notion of surprise), I finally got my thoughts together and came back to write it down here.

What do I think? Well, let me start with what do I feel. I discovered Google while I was still in high school in China and have been using it since. It was love at first sight. The simplistic design, the speed and the superior performance at searching relevant information have made me a royal user since day one. Although I haven't got many chances to use (as it was just before Google entered China), I have no doubt that despite the fact that google does not hold the majority of the search market in China, it has given Chinese users tons of information and awesome free services over the past four years. So hearing that Google is leaving, is saddening, especially for Chinese Internet users.

On the other hand, I admire what Google did, although I still don't understand the real reasons behind their decision. Google has done something no other major US corporation has done before, which is to challenge the Chinese government, on an extremely sensitive issue, and in such a public way. For those who are not familiar with China and the way things are done there, the government-business relationship can make or break a company, any company wishing to do business in China. And the second key point is, while Chinese government is very open on the economic front, it certainly doesn't tolerate anything that interfere with how they rule the country. So even though Google didn't say for sure they are leaving, to make a statement like that in a blog~ without talking with the Chinese government before, is an indication that they are ready to pack up and leave. I would be very surprised if Chinese government works something out with Google regarding censorship.

What I don't understand, is the business rationale behind this decision. It is true that doing business in China was frustrating for Google and dealing with Chinese government doesn't help with Google's global (or mostly Western) image. But just as one blogger asked "Will Google make the decision to leave if its market share in China is 70% rather than 30%?". What about the potentially huge smartphone market that just started to gain momentum in China? With Nexus coming out, is Google really willing to give up all that potential? Does it really come down to their adherence to their motto "do no evil"? or is it an act of well thought-out strategic plan?

The bottom line is, I hate to see Google leave. If I am in one of the ethics class in b-school, I will make an argument that Google has made before, that the benefits of doing business in China outweighs the compromises. This is not just from a business point of view, but also from the heart of a Chinese person who really hope the best for her home country. Yes it's not ideal that Chinese can't search about the Tiananmen Square incident or investigate for themselves if Dalai Lama is good or evil, but the presence of Google still brings the wealth of the world's information and knowledge to Chinese citizens. And that presence can help China advance, both economically and socially, slowly but surely. And now with Google leaving, we are left with Baidu, a great local search engine for gossips and social news, but by no way comparable to Google at finding information for English searches (the intellectuals and business people will really hate this....). Plus Baidu has tight relationship with the government, so there goes the hope of changing the freedom of speech in China.

In conclusion, I want to share a few articles on this story (thanks Hari for one of the article). Take a look yourself, and tell me what you think of this whole story. I think this is the kind of discussion that I will find particularly invigorating in bschool.

The official Google blog announcement

Reuter's article, more on the political implication, very interesting perspective
U.S., Google and China square off over Internet

TechCrunch Artile, very good insights

A Tsinghua Professor (American)'s blog post, offered some new development on the story and his perspective (thanks Hari)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Technology is cool!

Inspired by fellow blogger madbubbles's new contact feature, I looked into Kontactr, a free service for blogger to add contact forms on their blogs...and it works great!

So now you can send me an email by clicking on that small contact me icon without needing to leave your email address as a comment! Isn't that great! For someone who doesn't enjoy sharing email address in public and is too lazy to manage multiple email accounts, this is the perfect solution!

Kudos to Kontactr! and madbubbles!

In the spirit of sharing the excitement about technologies, check out a Haas student's post on the Tech Crunchies Award and the actual award list. Have to say it's great to see Dropbox win! (it really helped me through these multi computer essay writing days)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

I am restless...

It's 75 degrees outside. Sunshine, blue sky, such a beautiful winter day (well, considering the temperature, I am not sure if it qualifies as a winter day).

I am sitting in the poorly lit study room, typing away my last set of essays. Oh I hate to be inside on such a nice day!

It's finally coming to an end, this strenuous essay writing process that seemed to last forever. After Jan 18th, I will be done and I just can't wait for that day to come!

Last week as I was driving down the scenic route (to avoid traffic) to my MIT interview, I couldn't help but notice the beauty around me. The gorgeous canyons, the blueish green ocean, the golden beach and the birds flying along the water. I know I am really going to miss all of this when I finally have to pack up and head to a different city. It was at that moment, driving through the canyons with breathtaking views, that I realized that I have taken all this city has given to me for granted for so long. There was a saying from a TV show that I recently saw, "so many of us focus so much on the goal ahead of us that we forget what's important is right next to us". So I made a mental note that I am going to start appreciating the wonderful people and things around me and make the most of my life here for the rest of my time before bschool. After all, this city has really become my 2nd hometown.

Friday, January 8, 2010

MIT Interview + the Power of Social Media! (Again!)

So I had my MIT interview today. I think it went pretty well considering that I found nearly all the BEI questions I could find on clearadmit and and thought of no less than eight stories to answer them...I think I only ended up using 3 or 4. Well, I tend to over-prep for interviews...but as I always say, over-prepping is better than under-prepared. As usual, I will post my interview report after MIT decision, but I will remember to take notes today so that I don't forget everything :P

There was a surprising moment in my interview, when my interviewer told me that MIT Sloan's Admissions Director Rod Garcia knew of my blog and liked it. That was a total shocker. Although I knew b-schools admissions read applicant blogs (see how I found out Haas re-tweeted my blogpost), I never imagined they actually spend the time to put the blog with the face. So much for keeping my blog anonymous :)

While I feel flattered that b-school admission officers find my words and thoughts interesting, I am again overwhelmed by the power of social media. It's really true that you can't hide your identity in the world of Internet and everything you write/post will forever be a search-able reference to who you are (and perhaps be added to your b-school application~) . It again shows that you need to stay true to yourself in every aspects of life, whether online or not. It's also a rule of life in my mind. hum~ I just hope my blog adds points to my MIT application :)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Become a Judge for "Save Me A Spot In College" Scholarship Contest!

Last year I got involved with "Save Me A Spot In College" Scholarship Contest and became a judge for their written word category. It was a relatively small commitment in terms of time (just a few hours of essay/poem/story reading), but it was quite an rewarding experience. Most of the kids entering this contest were from under-privileged communities and most of them still haven't mastered the written language, but it was a humbling experience reading their stories and aspirations. Their genuineness just touched me so deeply.

So this year, I am encouraging you to help out this organization to do this amazing thing that aspire and encourage young people to aim high and dream. You can find out more about the contest here. To become a volunteer judge, just fill out this online form. I hope you will enjoy reading those stories as much as I do! :)

Feel free to leave me a comment if you have any questions about this. (p.s. I just found out that there is no limitation to geographic location or citizenship for becoming a judge, so feel free to volunteer! wherever you are from!)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

5 down 1 more to go!

Finally I am reaching the end of the six month essay writing saga! With Stanford submitted last night, I only have one more app to go! This whole process feels like an accomplishment in itself!

Gotta prep for Friday's MIT interview first. These BEI questions are such a pain to prep....after writing 4 stories for MIT, I still need to come up with meaningful and preferably recent stories to show my actions and impact...definitely harder to prep than blind interviews...

On the other hand, I think it will be a cool experience though, since I haven't done one like this before. And life is all about experiences right? :)

Wish me luck! (and I wish you luck too!)

Monday, January 4, 2010

Kellogg Interview Report

As I promised in my previous post, I would share my interview experiences on and clearadmit's wiki once I got the result from the schools. The downside for doing this is that I can't really remember many of the questions asked during the interview. For Kellogg, I took notes soon after the interview so I still have a beefy report to give you. But unfortunately for Wharton, I did not take notes and the questions are forever lost~~~

Anyway, here is the report I sent to ClearAdmit, got a $10 itune gift card in return~ cool~ :)

Interview Date: Mid November, 2009
Admissions Round: R1 (admitted!)
Interview Location: On-campus
Interview Type: Adcom, blind interview

I selected to do the interview on campus during the Kellogg Preview Weekend (which btw, is an awesome event that you should check out, see my post on KPW). I wasn't sure if I was gonna interview with a student or an Adcom. But it looks like on Saturday you interview with student (I am not 100% sure about whether you always interview with Adcom during the week days though). I ended up in one female Adcom's office for the interview. She was very friendly and that relaxed me a little bit because I was quite nervous since Kellogg was my first interview. The interview started off with the most standard question about walking through the resume. I went a little far into explaining why MBA, and my interviewer actually smiled at the end of it and told me there was specific question for that later (I thank her for not interrupting me while I went off for that would have throw me off a little). All the questions were pretty standard Kellogg questions, even the leadership style one I have seen on interview reports. The interview lasted about 30 minutes and the interviewer left enough time for me to ask questions. Overall, the interview was like a relaxed conversation with the interviewer occasionally probing on points of interests. Because of my profile and my answers, the interview end up focusing a lot on leadership and team work, which allowed me to fully showcase my strengths. I felt that the Adcom was very experienced and asked lots of follow up questions. She also kept writing notes the entire time but kept good eye contact in between and had lots of positive confirmation through body language (nodding, smiling, ect.) Overall, I thought I did quite well and the admission later confirmed that.

My 2cents for interview prep: read interview reports from and clearadmit, prepare those questions, and prepare all of them. I always think it's good to over prepare than under prepare. Just make sure your answers don't sound rehearsed. Know your story, of course, but also know your strengths, and try to showcase as much as of it during the interview. And lastly, stay relaxed, don't get throw off by odd questions, just be confident and be your best self. Good luck!

Here is the list of interview questions that I remember:

Walk through your resume starting from undergrad experience?
What is your biggest accomplishment at work?
Leadership experience at work?
Follow up question on my leadership experience such as my specific actions and leadership style.
How has your leadership style progressed since college (through work and a specific extra-curricular activity)?
What role do you play on a team?
Tell me about xxx (a specific extracurricular activity on my resume).
Why MBA?
Why Kellogg?
What unique contribution can you bring to Kellogg?
What clubs do you plan to participate in while at Kellogg?
What do you do for fun?
Anything you want to say that we haven't talked about?

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Welcome to the New Decade!

After a sickening (literally, in every sense) new year's trip to SF, I am back at my desk and churning through the last bits of my Stanford essays, with a running nose.

The new decade has finally came. This past 10 years has come and gone so fast~~~I still remember in 2000 I was imagining what kind of crazy thing I would be doing in 2010. Well, actually I still remember in 1990 thinking ahead into 2000 and feeling I would be such a grown up at the age of 16....time flies....

So it's about time to think ahead into 2020. First of all, a little side track. I am just very curious about how they are going to make those ridiculously looking new year's glasses for 2020. I was pondering this question for 2010, but the innovative human race always pull it off~beautifully or stupidly, that's your call.

Ok, back to looking ahead the next 10 years. It's kind of exciting to think that I have NO IDEA what the future holds for me. Sure, I have many goals but b-school can lead to many things which I can't imagine at this point. It's sort of exhilarating. On the non-career side, I think the picture is a little clearer and that happy family image hopefully will provide me with the stability I need in my life. I believe in the art of balance, between the predictable and the unpredictable, and between work and life. So I think I am quite content with my fuzzy yet holding-a-shape 10 year outlook, It's like driving in the fog, you don't know what the destination would look like, but you know the road is always underneath you (as supposed to walking and getting lost in the woods in the fog~).

Welcome to the new decade everyone, may it be a new exciting chapter of your life! (as always, ending my random thoughts abruptly~ back to essay writing!)