The one where I got in!!! 

I just read my last blog post and honestly what a difference 300+ days make. 

Although never truly consistent, it’s been great to read back from time to time and appreciate the journey. The current stop is BSchool! I’m officially at a Ivy League too! Complete change of course on so many levels, but I’m great full for self discovery. 

I’m nearly a month in and I can say the GMAT, applications and the anti social imbalance of work life vs studying life feel live a long (nearly lost) memory. 

But not completely vanished.

So grateful to God for working through my concerns, fears and desires to get to this place now. 

If you’re stuck in a hard place along the application journey, keep going. Your breakthrough is assuredly coming. Trust in the process and if you need an extra sprinkle of encouragement, feel free to say hi! 

The One Where I Ask “Is anyone out there?”

Hello! Hello? Is anyone there? 

The MBA blog world has been surprisingly quietly. Spookily quiet. But then I can’t say much, since I haven’t blogged in months. 

Is everyone throughly enjoying and soaking every moment of their summer before they head to B school? 

Is everyone hurriedly pulling together applications and recommendations throughout the sweltering heat to be on time for early admit and first round deadlines? 

Or perhaps scurring around exhausting all possibilities and trying to make up the funds for their overpriced acommodation, for those bound to happen treks and bonding abroad sessions? 

Maybe some are relaxing. Taking a break from it all. Spending time with loved ones, focusing on projects and figuring out the best plan of action? MBA or not? 

Could anyone else possibly be in a similar situation as myself? Seen the GMAT twice and no shift in score. A terrible score at that. Had enough of trying to beat the GMAT, feel sickened looking at the OG and opted to try the GRE instead. Possibly finding it a little difficult (read terribly distracting) to study throughout the last month of sunshine we tend to get here in the UK. Ploughing ahead nonetheless. 

Could anyone else be so pregnant with opportunities and grateful for key career moments, yet still not content with the fact she’s not starting B School in the next few months? 

I don’t suppose anyone else’s personal MBA timeline has shifted so dramatically throughout this year, that they no longer feel like sharing, remaining transparent, open to vulnerability just in case it doesn’t happen (again!). Embarrassment pending. 

I wonder if anyone else is out there? 

The One Where I Visited INSEAD

This is actually a backdated post, which I should of published months ago. In the last few months of the year, I attended a few open days & evenings and wanted to share my thoughts. i visited INSEAD back in September and attended one of their open days.

By the time it had come to September, I knew INSEAD was one of my top choices mainly due to the structure of the MBA programme, the multiple locations and the international alumni network. Not wanting to waste anymore time, I made the commitment to visit the school. Thankfully living in London, a Eurostar to Paris is not only cost effective (about £60 return) but time efficient. Plus with a good friend of mine living in Paris, staying with them helped ease the accommodation costs and accompanied me to the open day.

The Journey:

Anyone interested in attending INSEAD and dreaming of having lunch breaks by the Eiffel Tower and creating study groups on the Champs-Élysées will sadly be disappointed. INSEAD is about a hour and half out of the centre of Paris. We took a train from the busy station of Gare Du Lyon to the quiet town of Fontainebleu. From there we caught a bus which swirled around the picturesque town and arrived just a stones throw outside of the European campus.

The Day:

Due to some timetables and missing our train at Gare Du Lyon, we arrived slightly later than planned. The campus was quite peaceful, maybe because it was a Saturday and only a few brand led talks and receptions were going on. I saw signs indicating to a L’oreal champagne reception. Swanky!

Us visitors were seated in a large lecture style theatre and we walked in towards the end of a professor going through a typical business case and complete financial analysis. I was assured by my neighbour, that we didn’t miss much…thankfully. The programme swiftly moved on to a panel of 5 current INSEAD students, 3 females and 2 males. A Israeli Canadian, an American, a Canadian with Asian heritage and two Europeans. I appreciated the mix and diverse backgrounds, but it would of been great to see one black person at least! Alas the panel begun with each candidate giving us a brief overview of their profile and how they arrived at INSEAD. Then the questions started. With close to 100 visitors, the questions came thick and fast, which probably wasn’t expected, but each candidate answer well and gave full useful answers.

They described the importance of the network, the diversity of the multiple campuses and the sacrifices they had made to get to INSEAD – one of them even sold their house and their business to pay for B school and be debt free once graduated! They delved into the lengthy application form and their top tips, which was most useful. The panel portion was definitely active and impressed me with their honest and transparent answers, which made me fall in love with the school even more.

The programme ended with the admissions team throughly going through the application process, stressing the importance of their proven criteria for applicants, including knowing TWO languages to business level and learning a THIRD as apart of the graduation process.

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We then left the theatre and had drinks and nibbles with more current students and each other. The informal reception allowed me to reconnect with the one of the INSEAD admissions team that I met in London a few weeks previously, as well as exchange details and discuss in length with the students.

The Verdict

Overall I was throughly impressed, felt welcomed and eager to join the INSEAD fold. Investing in the open day helped me make the decision about which class I wanted to apply to (Dec Vs July) , comforted me about my profile particularly as a black female and sparked the daydreams about the day I am accepted.

The Strengths:

– One year programme

– Can include a opportunity for an internship

– Well connected globally, with partnerships with Wharton, Kellogg and Sorbonne and campuses in France, Singapore and Abu Dhabi

– Opportunity to study across campuses, experiencing life in different countries

– Strong consulting, technology and retail connections

– Friendly atmosphere, emphasis on building friends instead of networks.

The Weaknesses:

– Small number of black alumni, like very small. Talking about 10 in a class of a 1000!

– The application portion which has 7 – YES SEVEN – essay questions

– The ability to know three languages proficiently before you can graduate

– Not sure how INSEAD is viewed in the states, but often times overlooked by those who don’t know the in’s and out’s of top MBA school. Doesn’t hold the same status to the everyday person as a Harvard or a Oxford.

Have you visited INSEAD before or is it on your school picks? If so what are your thoughts?

The One Where I Am Less Than A Week Away

… From the GMAT.

Before I get onto that, good news to end the year on. I have just received a huge pay rise and also been accepted to a great programme which I’m excited to begin in 2015!

Right now there are a lot of
opportunities that I am trusting in God for, which is keeping me equally nervous and excited. If all comes together I believe “my MBA story” will truly stand out and help with the ad comms.

However one thing is holding me back – the GMAT.
I can’t tell you I’m completely confident right now about next week, so why did you book it some may say.
Mainly because I couldn’t decipher when exactly would be the best time to take the exam.
I believe there never will be an ideal time like most difficult things in life.
So like a plaster or a waxing strip (for the ladies) the quicker the better is the premise I convinced myself.

Also there is something satisfying about tying up loose ends before the end of the year. Starting fresh in the new year no matter the result.

Finally I felt like my forthcoming holiday which is the day after my GMAT would be well deserved or heavily needed depending on the percentile and score received. Lol

Good luck to all those waiting for R1 answers. Keep the faith. You’ve put in the work. You’ve been through the trials. The testimony is coming.

The One Where I Visit B Schools

It’s been a bit quiet on my front. Mainly because I’ve booked my GMAT. Yep that’s right. I took the plunge and booked. And it’s in 2014 too!

The $250 examination fee has kicked my butt into proper gear, so much so that I’m not sure exactly what I was studying previously… Recent sessions have felt so much more valuable than the previous months.

Anyway that aside, the last few months have been busy as I have been to quite a few MBA open days which I will be sharing shortly. Once my GMAT is out of the way.

Honestly I would recommend once initial research is completed, to go and see your chosen B schools. Or at the very least an open evening held off campus or a general MBA fair.

The benefits have outweighed any negatives. Here are some of the former:

• The ability to hear direct from the school
• The opportunity to see the school
• To gain inside knowledge and insight
• Strengthen relations with alumni and current students
• Provide specific material which may be useful for the application
• Meet your potential future classmates
• Understand what the B School want from future candidates
• Get your hands on lots of shiny paraphernalia!

The last one is definitely a HUGE winner!

Probably won’t be posting as much these next couple of weeks due to studying and the busy holiday period too.

What score do I expect? It’s difficult to say but I’m always open to a Christmas miracle!

The One Where I Explain My Profile

I was recently inspired by My Life of Bliss weekend posts and thought I would share my MBA profile too as it stands.

27 year old female

2:1 Law degree from a non Ivy League school, but Top 20 in the UK.

Qualified chartered marketer by the CIM

Dual nationality

British citizen

5 solid years of marketing experience in the entertainment industry.

Last role at a global household name.

Current role at a small start up as a manager. Responsible for the most profitable clients, managing projects 300k upwards.

Extra curricular include volunteering in church, running, pro bono work for grassroots organisations and established networks.

Endorsed by global brands as an influencer (their word not mine!)

Started my own online business, a year later changed the business model to a social enterprise. (Currently in the process.)

Short term post MBA goal is to move into the consumer technology sphere – think Google, Amazon, Netflix focusing on the African market. Still working within the marketing, branding functions.

Haven’t taken the GMAT yet, but fingers crossed!

Spoke to a few alumni of high profile b schools, explained my profile and all have been encouraging. Most have told me that their specific school would love a candidate like myself, as my profile is not typical. But don’t they all say that…?

Through past examples, I believe I can show the general leadership potential, community and collaborative passion but may need to convince adcoms about my analytical acumen. I don’t use many quantitative methods in my everyday job aside from budgeting, so a solid quant percentile would be favourable.

70th percentile for Quant has been a guideline which for you IBs and consultants out there is no mean feat. But for this creative lady, going back over Pythagoras theorem has been a unwanted blast to the past! I press on regardless.
Definitely not the traditional applicant but believe with the right GMAT and right percentile in Quant, I could aim for the TOP!

Thoughts?

The One Where I Work Backwards

schedule

 

Back at work and back in the swing of things, I decided to revisit my massive Google Doc Spreadsheet covering all things MBA.

It includes all my B school options, reasons for choosing them, scholarship options, essay questions, prerequisites, key curriculum wins for me and application deadlines. It also includes all my strengths, weaknesses and future opportunities, (you can tell I’m a marketer!) plus my short term and long term goals and finally my achievements.

The doc may be messy to some, but helps me to plan and plot my attack on this whole MBA process.
I have seen a few year plan timelines around on my daily MBA update search and thought I should finally put mouse and keyboard to digital paper to assess my individual timeline.

As my plan has been housed in my head so far, I was pretty assured that I knew my timeline and all that I would need inside out. How I was wrong.

Working backwards from my first application round – March 4th (Eek!), I realised I really don’t have much time at all.
GMAT, essays and references all need to be completed in a timely order if I want a good chance at getting some key scholarships in Round 1.
Also by seeing it visually, I realised I have potentially three opportunities to do the GMAT.
December – if I bite the bullet and book. Although I’m not sure if I will feel entirely prepared, but we will see.
January – more likely and gives me more time to study.
February – pushing it as I won’t be able to take it again before Round 1 due to the 31 days rule.

Of course the ideal is to take it once and be done with it, but the likelihood is better to plan for twice if not thrice just in case.

References need to be underway come February, which made me realise as much as I would love to change my job, it would probably make more sense to stick around until Easter to get the best out of the role and potentially a great reference which I’m hoping my current director would be able to give me. *Fingers crossed* Saying that there are a few forthcoming job opportunities on the cards at the moment, that if they came up, I think I would take.

Essays. I have kinda sorta planned NOT to study GMAT whilst on my Christmas break. I think the distance will do the brain good, plus carrying the OG across oceans just depresses me. Lol
However I will now be tasking myself with brainstorming and possibly crafting my essays sitting next to the pool during the festive season. The aim is to have first draft ready for criticism by end of January.
Loads happening all at once, makes me wish that I took the GMAT earlier so there wasn’t any overlap. But alas…

Will update on B School choices in a future post, but some of you may have guessed it already according to my timeline.

If you haven’t already, I would urge you to plot your own timeline. Makes things so much clearer.

 

 

The One Where I Create My November Study Schedule

What a difference a day makes…

With the time out of work, I have gained more time to rest, think and focus. The month of October flew by as I headed out of the city every week and generally tried to juggle too much (See The One Where GMAT Is A Welcome Distraction) and I have now vowed to myself to attempt a first pass at this dreaded GMAT this very year.

Although work is getting busy, as I have picked up two more projects to add to my list, as well as a few events coming up and a leadership course that I’m currently on and expected to complete a report for, I have realised there is no REAL perfect time..EVER. I just have to muster through.

So here we have it, my ideal schedule for November. I officially started yesterday.

Screen Shot 2014-11-05 at 19.13.29

 

Current State:

  • Downloaded the GMAT Prep software and took one of the CATs back in August without any studying. Wasn’t the most impressive score, but at least I knew what the test entailed and where I stood.
  • Continued to enjoy the summer and then bought a GCSE Maths Revision book to recap on some basics, as well as use the GMAT Club Toolkit game to stretch the brain each morning on my commute. This game has helped in particular with number properties, integers and reminding myself of number operation rules.
  • Spent most of September and October seeing a tutor, going through OG questions and relearning theory for both Quant and Verbal.
  • October has been patchy but I have drawn up a plan for November and here are my goals.

NOVEMBER GOALS:

1. Complete 4 CATS and review them

2. Bought the Magoosh $99 pack as it was on offer and thought a visual aid, would be better use then reading a textbook sometimes. It has been useful, but if I’m honest I haven’t really utilised it as a study resource. I have incorporated the videos heavily into my November study plan.
3. I am out of the city at least two weekends this month so will need to utilise the apps on my phone and use the Magoosh Idiom cards app, GMAT Club QOTD and the full set of Manhattan text books I have available in digital form on my iPad and my laptop whilst I’m on the go.
4. Will hopefully see by the end of the month a significant move in my abilities, comfortably around the high 600s and be well prepared to sit an exam in December. *Fingers Crossed* If not then January will be the next target.
5. I booked my Christmas holiday which I’m super excited for, but spent a tad more on hotels and flights than I hoped, so will purchase OG exam packs next month and utilise free CATs for now.
6. Practice my weak areas. I have started a ongoing weak list where I jot down the areas where I get the questions wrong in practice tests. By the end of the month, I should be able to see any trends occurring. Also the aim is that the list decreases as the month goes on.
7. Focus predominately on Quant. My aim is to ace the initial first questions and making no mistakes.

Resources I am using this month:

OG – OG is KING!
Manhattan full set of textbooks
Magoosh video set
Magoosh Idiom app
GMAT toolkit from GMAT club
Free practice CATs approved by friends/bloggers Any suggestions feel free to share.

The One Where GMAT Is A Welcome Distraction

The last couple of weeks have been straining to say the least and resulted in losing a dear family member to cancer a few days ago.

Spending as much time with them, I tried my ultimate best to balance all and be the perfect superwoman with all going on. Juggling work, family visits, studying, church, friends and a “everything is fine mentality” all to my best ability.

You know when a machine is working to its optimum ability, it’s usually shortly after that it overheats, makes some funny noises and packs up.
Well, let’s just say I definitely overheated (literally) a few times with a few fainting/dizzy spells and those were warnings enough. I have taken some leave since the loss, only two days to be exact, but two days to regroup and find the energy to be able to persevere these next couple of months.

At times in the past few days in the hospital just waiting hours, the GMAT was a welcome distraction. I won’t lie, I tried to attack questions but my brain at that time was majority mush, the remainder high emotions. But my handy WordPress app allowed for something to focus on. A way for me to keep up to date with all the posts from you guys, which I honestly enjoyed reading. It was so great to read about forthcoming interviews, app feedback and GMAT techniques. At the very least it felt like I was absorbing something during this sad time.

Some may ask why was I even attempting to focus on something else other than the loved one? Well merely because it’s draining and disheartening to watch someone you love dearly deteriorate. Mentally I preferred to revisit their most vibrant moments, rather than the negative scene that was performed and captured in my head that everyday is precious. Another opportunity to do all you can and tread the line of optimum ability as close as possible.
So I press on.

In other news, I will take these next couple of days to rest, watch movies, review the questions for a past exam that I did, sit a practice exam and rewrite a study plan for the next couple of months.

I have my eye on a GMAT date before Christmas! *Fingers crossed*