Wednesday, December 31, 2008

What a Year

Wow. So much has happened in the last year that I can't believe how far I've come. Last year at this time, I had just found out I'd been admitted to Wharton. I was trying to figure out what to do with myself for the next 6 months. Today, I'm savoring a much-needed break and trying not to worry about whether I will score an internship offer and how hard the next semester will be academically. Night and day. Let's do a little year in review, shall we?

Wharton: Since I didn't post much about Wharton at all this semester, it's difficult to sum up. But I'll try to summarize the highlights:
I drank a lot. Maybe even more than I did as a Penn State senior. And I dressed in silly outfits more than a person probably should.
I passed MGEC and Accounting! Still waiting on a lot of grades, but I think I managed not to fail anything (fingers crossed).
I dropped 13 resumes and so far have 1 interview (that I won in bidding).
I became hyper-involved. So much so that I probably overdid it, but I wouldn't change a thing.
I challenged myself to step out of my comfort zone.
I blew off way more than I'd typically be comfortable with. Being that busy meant a lot of things just didn't fit in. Like sleep. And laundry.
I discovered Zipfizz
I realized that even a somewhat scaled back social life is still pretty expensive.
I finally started to get the hang of this networking thing.
I learned a lot about business, which is what I am here for in the first place!

Sports: This year has been, by far, my best sports year ever. My co-ed softball team won the championship for the 3rd time last summer (although I missed the championship because I was taking the math test!). My cohort won the flag football championship. I won in fantasy football. Penn State finally beat Michigan and won the Big Ten Championship and is playing in the Rose Bowl tomorrow. The Eagles, despite a somewhat wretched season, managed to pull off an unlikely historic win against Dallas to sneak into the playoffs (and send the Cowgirls home). And of course, the Philadelphia Phillies ended a 25-year drought for Philadelphia to become the world champions of baseball. Ah, I loved 2008!

P.S. Hi Arthur!

Sunday, December 14, 2008


I just don't have the motivation I used to have for taking finals. I feel similar to maybemba, who said exams feel juvenile at this age. I definitely feel too old to be doing this. I am trying not to stress too much. I reached a high level of stress last week when I finally reached the end of my resume drops, only to realize that it was 7pm and I had an Accounting final at noon the next day (and had not studied at all yet). From that point I realized that stressing is not going to help me. Truthfully, grades mean little to me now with grade non-disclosure. I came here to learn and proving I've done so on an exam is just not important to me. So I'm just trying to do enough to pass. Or at least, I'm trying to get myself to treat studying that way, but I invariably stay up too late or start to get upset at points when I realize how much work I have to do ...
The nice thing is all my hard finals (accounting, linear programming) were last week. The remaining ones are open book or take home, so I just need to make sure I understand the concepts and get organized enough to be able to find stuff in my notes during the exam. My biggest obstacle is just getting myself to sit down and do it! I want to watch football and drink hot chocolate!

Sunday, December 7, 2008


Wharton has a cool system that allows us to apply to jobs online. Unfortunately, there are only a few days when applications are due, which means that they tend to clump together. Plus, many of the applications require filling out another application on the companies website. And we all know how un-fun those are. Ugh, I am not happy right now!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

New Book Review

The nice people at MBA Admissions Strategy sent me a copy of their book a long time ago, but I haven't had any time to post a review. In my opinion, this book is really great. I wish that I had it when I was applying. It has some really great insight into the strategies that you should use when creating your applications. It goes into everything from identifying your themes to approaching the most common types of essay questions. Other books are great for tactical advice (what to do when, how to go about it, etc), but this book mirrors my own personal philosophy about how you need to think about each step in order to create the best application for yourself. Highly recommended. In fact, I gave this book to a special someone that is applying this year. Check it out (link below to amazon where you can see the 5 star rating!)

Long Time ....

... no Blog! Dear readers, I am so sorry to have abandoned you, as I am sure you missed hearing about my exploits here at Wharton. Well, I can only say that I have only been this crazy busy once in my life (during one particular consulting project), but this time it is a lot more fun. I've had an amazing semester. I learned a lot, met amazing people, made wonderful friends, and experienced a few inspirational victories. At the same time, I've experienced a lot of stress, wasted countless dollars on un-read bulk packs and text books, wondered why the hell I am doing this to myself, and thanked the Wharton gods for grade-nondisclosure. It has truly been a roller coaster ride, but I regret none of it.

I can't really express how busy I've been. A coworker warned me that a friend of his virtually disappeared for 2 years when he went here, but I figured it couldn't be that bad. I had majored in engineering, that was hard. This might be a lot of work, but it wouldn't be hard, right? Wrong! It IS a ton of work and it IS hard. The only reason I have time to write right now is because I should be working on a cover letter (ah, procrastination). But somehow, I have found a little time for "networking" with my classmates and, hopefully, my career activities will get me a summer internship. Of course, that assumes that the sky is not falling and employers will actually be hiring. Not a given these days. I've learned to ignore the bail-outs and the bank failures and the doom doom doom coming from the news. All I can do is keep my fingers crossed that I'm not flushing $150K down the drain ...

No, no, of course it is worth it even if I don't get a job. I think.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

BLOG ACTION DAY: Poverty In America

It's easy for those of us in the position to attend one of the best business schools in the world to forget sometimes how lucky we are. We all worry about our return on investment of our tuition money, whether we can afford that new interview suit, or how much to budget for party tickets and pitchers of beer. Economic downturns may have us questioning whether to take that ski trip over winter break or if we should really be spending money on those baseball playoff tickets (Go Phillies! Sorry, had to sneak that in).

But the reality is that we are lucky to have these "problems" to worry about. Millions of Americans worry every day about how they will put food on the table, or whether rising gas prices means they have to get a new job because they can't afford to commute to their current one anymore. Politicians may talk about how much they care about "Joe Sixpack" or the suffering middle class families. But they rarely mention the true desperation of our country's poor. Some say that as a country we are only as good as our weakest link. We, as Americans, need to step up and remember our neediest neighbors. The simple things often help the most: volunteer at a soup kitchen or a food bank, donate to charity, anything. At this election time, we need to remember that we are ALL Americans, and we all have a responsibility to help take care of each other.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

"Riding Out" Recession is a Myth

It's an age-old concept. The economy goes sour, so thousands of professional go back to business school to "hide" and "ride it out" for two years. If this is what you are thinking of doing, you are in for a rude awakening. The idea that current b-school students had great timing and are unaffected by this downturn is false. Although we are obviously not fearing lay-offs for ourselves, everything that is happening right now in the economy does not paint a pretty picture for us.

Second years are interviewing right now for their full-time positions. As you can imagine, a lot of companies are canceling their recruiting or severely downsizing the number of positions they will offer (not to mention all the companies that suddenly don't exist anymore!). The fact that investment banking is typically a huge source of employment for Wharton grads is a serious concern for everyone. Even if you are not planning to go into banking, we all expect the competition for things like consulting and investment management to increase due to the migration of those folks to other opportunities. And when competition rises there, the trickle-down effect will almost definitely impact other career choices like marketing and general management. In other words, it's a total shake-up, and no one knows what to expect.

For first years, we start meeting recruiters this month. The typical schedule means that we'll be interviewing for summer internship positions in Jan/Feb. Does anyone actually think things will be better by then? Highly doubtful. What about by this time next year? Maybe (we can hope!) but it's looking less and less likely by the day. That makes the idea of getting an internship that will lead to a full-time offer more and more important. But when companies are reducing internship opportunities to try to cut costs, we're looking at a much harder job search that's going to require a lot more work.

Don't misunderstand - I am still optimistic. I'd rather be here at Wharton than many other schools. If companies reduce their number of offers, they will probably do so at other schools first. Many companies still see MBA recruiting as an investment, and therefore will make cuts elsewhere. Others may not have interviewed at Wharton before due to lack of interest by students, but they will come this year in anticipation of the shift I described above. Unless the bottom completely falls out of this economy, most of us still expect to have net gains from our time here.

So what am I saying? I guess the current situation just makes the whole ROI of the MBA that much more important. If you were unsure that you needed an MBA before this whole mess unfolded, you should be looking even more carefully at the decision. If you are convinced, as I am, that an MBA from a top school will help you achieve your goals, even if the job prospects are diminished from previous years, then you should continue with your applications. Just be careful not to view this as a 2 year vacation.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Essay Advice

Many of you are working on your essays now for R1, or maybe you are thinking about them for R2 and beyond. While I am by no means an expert, I do feel that I am a good writer and I was happy with my essays. I don't think I was a "slam dunk" candidate (despite a high GMAT, it really is just 1 data point, albeit an important one), so I believe my essays were probably the differentiating factor for me. I also paid a lot of attention during the application process to what adcom's were saying about what they look for. So here is what I learned. I hope this helps some people.

1. Show IMPACT. Adcoms don't want people who are going to pass all their classes and that's it. They want people who are not only going to be engaged, but are going to have an impact on their classmates and into their careers. So don't give a laundry list of your job responsibilities. That's for the resume, and you don't need to repeat it in your essays. Show how you had an impact on your company, your project, your group outside of work, yourself. Impress them with your actions and your accomplishments, not your title. They've seen a lot of titles.
2. Focus on how you will contribute. Yes, schools want to know why you love them. You definitely need to show your fit with the program and why you are applying there. I believe this only gets you halfway there. Smarter applicants then link this to why the school should want them. Discuss the unique perspectives you'll bring to your classes. Discuss ways that you'll leave the school better than it was before you came. This is a great way to differentiate yourself from similar applicants that don't quite "get it". If you aren't sure how to do this, try putting yourself in the position of the reader, perhaps a student reader. Why is that student, who has his/her own impressive background, going to want you as a classmate?
3. Don't just describe your goals. Describe WHY they are your goals. Explain how everything you've done so far has led you to this point. Don't leave adcom wondering, connect the dots for them.
4. Tell good stories. Don't be afraid to open up. Remember that application readers are people, and all people like reading stories. If your essays are just fluffed up resumes, your reader will be bored. If you are an exceptional applicant with alumni parents that donated a building, this won't matter. But if you are not (and most of us are not), you need to differentiate yourself as much as you can. Try to write something that is enjoyable to read. But don't force it with gimmicks, like random quotes or dictionary definitions. Just try to be your authentic self, and the rest will come. You are interesting, show it.
5. Prioritize and make cuts. If you are a strong applicant, you have loads of leadership examples, extra-curricular activities, accomplishments, etc. You can't fit them all in, so don't try. You need to keep the best stuff that tells the best story in. Let the rest fall away or leave it to a brief mention somewhere in a data sheet. It's so easy to want to make sure the reader knows that in addition to starting a charity and running a professional club, that you also volunteered for the special olympics every year while you were in college. Of course these are all good things, but what value is the special olympics example bringing when you've already showed that you are volunteer-minded and a self-starter? Try to keep the law of diminishing returns in mind. Leaving some stuff out leaves you more space to reflect deeper on the most valuable points.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Guest Post: Three's a Crowd?

Just call me BadDancer - Tiny Dancer's 'partner'

Nine months ago, when Wifey got into Wharton, I had a bunch of comments thrown my way by friends and family that gave me pause:

From my brother - "Ohhhh, now you'll have a Sugar Momma"
My friends - "You going to be a stay at home Dad?"
My grandmother - "What about grandkids? I'm not going to be around forever"
My parents - "How are you going to pay for this???"

While TinyD's post-Wharton salary would certainly surpass mine, I was totally cool not being the breadwinner. I also liked the thought of stay at home Husband, raising TinyDancer, Jr., with days full of watching SportsCenter, teaching TinyDancer, Jr. the minutia of a curve ball and learning to cook. (Just replace Sports Center with Oprah and I figured that's what stay at home Mom's do).

But as the start of pre-term at Wharton drew near and I learned more about our next 2 years of B-School, I got a little nervous. Move from our 2,000 sq ft house into an 850 sq ft apartment in Center City, full days of classes, hours and hours of group work and studying, tons of extracurricular clubs, interviewing for internships and full-time jobs, guest speakers, learning team retreat, winter break global treks, etc. etc, etc.

Holy crap. When again was I supposed to see my wife? Would she ever be home for dinner? How many frozen burritos could I possibly take? Would I be included in any of this stuff or would I want to be involved? How in the hell would we be able to afford $150G's in just two years??? It was a little scary.

I was beginning to think that three's a crowd. Wifey and I had a great life together and Wharton was going to be the third wheel. Yeah, long term benefits aside...the next two years might really suck and we'd be in major debt to boot. Then after graduation, Wifey would get some crazy cool job and we'd be up and moving again to a far away place and I'd just be along for the ride. Maybe I'd be the third wheel since she'd be spending most of her time with Wharton.

Now don't get me wrong, TinyD and I talked about this quite a bit. She told me it wasn't going to be that bad, she'd try and come home and make dinner, I could be involved in some of the fun stuff and she wanted to stay near Philly after graduation. I also was told about the Wharton Partner's Club and I could make friends with some of the other 'partners' (that word gives me chills, probably the subject of a future guest post if TinyD lets me write again). But going into pre-term, I wasn't convinced.

Well, I can say, Wharton passed the 1st test. I know pre-term is much less of a time commitment than the 1st Semester, but I had an absolute blast. TinyD worked really hard, but we went out and partied with her classmates ALOT, met some great people, did some really fun activities and loved living in the city. Honestly, I haven't drank this much or stayed up this late since College...and overall, it was great. It actually got to the point where I needed Friday or Saturday night to recover from parties from Tuesday through Thursday.

I'm sure my opinion would be different if I was a partner moving to Philly from far away or internationally, but not all that much.

To all potential future Wharton husbands - don't spend too much time feeling bad for yourselves that your wives are smarter, going to be more successful, etc. Enjoy the next two years for all that they are...and try and meet a really smart Wharton grad to hook you up with a sweet job and maybe Philadelphia Eagles club box seats.

Sidenote - I do need to start going to the gym. I'm going to get a major beer gut unless I start working off the extra liquid carbs.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Hello, My Name Is

One of the best things about Wharton so far is the large number of name tags for different events I've accumulated. I haven't yet found a use for them, but I'm sure I'll come up with one soon. Ideas are welcome. Here's the list:

Explore Wharton: Diversity in Action (This is my favorite one because I wasn't sure if it was going to be the only time I had my name on something that said Wharton. Aw.)
Wharton Winter Welcome
Wharton Welcome Weekend
Wharton Health Care Conference
Wharton Pre-Term
Wharton Learning Team Retreat
And my fav ...
My shiny new professional Wharton name tag that make me look like I work in a hotel.

EDIT: Yes I know that I just identified two as my favorite. I can have two favorites if I want! It's my blog!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Calling All Bloggers!

I just heard about a great idea called Blog Action Day. On October 15, thousands of bloggers around the world (including me) will speak out about poverty. Options are wide open, all you have to do is blog that day and make the topic poverty. I hope a lot of B-school bloggers will participate. I'd really like to read all of your thoughts.

Click on the graphic on the right to sign up!

Friday, August 15, 2008

My Body is Rejecting Wharton

Too much bar food + too much beer + too many shots + not enough sleep + stress * (falling behind on homework in every class + "did I pass the math test?" + complete confusion over Stat waiver class ) = unhappy body

Let unhappy body = x
Let feeling of excitement and fulfillment in choice of MBA = f(x)
As x increases, y increases. But as value of x gets large, y is subject to diminishing returns. Recommendation: student should take night off, watch Olympics, and get extra sleep!

Yes, I passed the math test.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Busy Busy

Wow.  I can't believe how quickly everything got so busy.  I mean, I was expecting it, but I still feel a little surprised.  I guess I knew that I'd be going out almost every night, but I glossed over in my mind that we'd have real life classes during Pre-Term.  Sure, there are no grades.  But you still need to know the material because you can get tested on it in the Fall.  Or, if you're trying to waive, the stakes are high because you need to pass that waiver exam.  
Today I bought my first text books since undergrad.  Actually, when I was in undergrad, I benefited from a sweet deal that got me free books each Fall.  I was in the band, and a group of us performed in front of the downtown store on Friday nights before football games.  In exchange - free books!  I wish I could work out something similar here, but something tells me there will be no occasion to play my clarinet outside of the bookstore.  At least, none that would inspire the owner to give me free textbooks ;)
Anyway, I'm already behind in my Math Camp homework (thankfully it does not get collected).  I tried to read from my Managerial Economics book today, but I couldn't get through the chapter.  My mind kept wandering.  I used to be able to tear through this stuff once upon a time.  I don't know why I'm struggling so much to turn myself back into a student.  Sigh.  I'm sure I'll get there eventually.  

Saturday, August 2, 2008

What are Wharton People Like?

I feel like now that I've been here for a week+, I should comment on some of the things I've read about Wharton in the past.  I guess every school has a reputation for what it's like, based on truth or perhaps not.  I think a lot of what is said about a school can be true to some extent, but there's always more to it when you look closer.  For instance, Wharton is known for being a Finance school.  For sure, it is excellent in that area.  But I feel like people decide not to apply there because they are not interested in Finance, and I think that's a shame.  Wharton is so good at so many things, it's just that Finance tends to overshadow the rest and people don't hear about it.   But I think "the rest" is actually still worthy of the Top 3 designation.   I have zero interest in Finance, other than the necessity of learning what I need to know to be a good businessperson, yet I feel that there is no better school for me than Wharton.  
Another thing that perplexes me is the tendency for people to say that Wharton people are a certain way.  We are supposedly all "quant jocks"  ... that is news to me judging by how many of us seem to be thoroughly confused by logarithms in our basic math class, but I digress.  Also many of us are supposed to be super-competitive ... I'm also scratching my head on that one since the vast majority of students favor grade nondisclosure because they don't want to be competing with their classmates for grades.  Oh, and many of us are a-holes.  Seriously, I must be at the wrong Wharton.  Yeah, anywhere you go, there will be some crappy people.  But I am just not feeling an a-hole vibe here AT ALL.  Everyone I've met is incredibly nice, rather humble, and eager to learn about their classmates.  I have never felt that anyone was "sizing me up," as I read on a BW post.  More often people are too busy commenting that they don't know how they got in with all the incredible students here.  
I'm not trying to be a cheerleader for Wharton in this post.  I just feel that I need to counter some of the stuff out there that might discourage some people from applying.  If you have heard any of the above things about Wharton and you were turned off, I encourage you to take another look.  Come visit us.  See what our culture and students are really like.  Do the same for other schools.  I think there is much more to all of them than what you might expect.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Pre-Term is in Full Swing

I know I've been light on posting lately. I haven't had much to talk about. Now I have a million things to talk about, but no time to do it! My days have been totally packed. Thank goodness for my new iPhone (wuhoo!) and always having my calendar on me!

I'll try to post again soon.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Wharton and Math

I spent a lot of time this summer trying to brush up on calculus. Wharton has a math test during Pre-Term, which mainly includes calculus concepts applied to business problems. You have to pass in order to matriculate (but you get 2 tries). So I read a business calculus book because I last looked at calculus about 10 years ago, and I never had word problems. Then I did the assessment test on the web, which helps you decide which math review class to take to prepare for the test. My score was pretty horrible, so I was kinda worried. But then I asked around and found out that most people hadn't even looked at the assessment test. So I felt better, but also a little like a nerd. I need to chill a little, lest I become one of those poor souls who cares too much about grades!*

*At Wharton, and I suspect other schools that have grade non-disclosure (Wharton doesn't have GND as a policy anymore, but the student association votes to have it as a student policy), you will often see 2nd years advising 1st years not to worry too much about grades. As long as you pass, your grades really don't matter because they won't be a factor in recruiting. Of course, you want to learn, but there is no need to go for a super-high GPA for any reason other than an ego boost. GND fosters a sense of community and cooperation among students, because it theoretically stops people from scratching and clawing their way to #1 in the class. It also, theoretically, gives you permission to pry yourself away from academics enough to socialize and participate in clubs. But there are always some students who care very much about grades (many would argue too much) and end up studying way more than everyone else. These people miss out on stuff. I don't want to be one of those people. But as your standard-issue-overachiever-Wharton-admit, I have a feeling it will be hard to really convince myself "that grades don't matter."

Friday, July 18, 2008

So It Begins

I can't believe it. Pre-Term arrives in a little over a week. People are already in town and planning get-togethers. It's a little strange to think about starting school in July. Friends and family keep asking me "When do you start?" and literally every time I tell them, the response is "So soon?" What can I say, Wharton is a little thorough about preparing us to start the program. I'm kinda glad. I'm paying a lot of freakin money for this degree. I want it to be a rigorous program! I'm not sure that I'll have the same sentiment as I sit down to the math test in August (readers attending other schools just thought "Math test?!?!" Yes. Math test.) But I'm not worried about the Math Test (well not TOO worried). There is a class that's meant to prepare me for it. I'm more worried about adjusting to the academics in general. I simply have not studied for anything other than the GMAT in 7 years. I think I forgot how.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Three book Recommendations

During my time off, I've been trying to get some reading done.  Somehow, I never succeed as much as I want to, but I have managed to finish a few books that I wanted to share with you.
Since I'm interested in marketing, I've been reading a few books on the subject.  This one really struck me as a good source for MBA applicants.  First of all, very early in the book, the author Seth Godin admits that he lied with the title of the book.  All marketers are not liars, he says, but the good ones tell authentic stories that we want to believe.  From the amazon description of the book:  "Every marketer tells a story. And if they do it right, we believe them. We believe that wine tastes better in a $20 glass than a $1 glass. We believe that an $80,000 Porsche Cayenne is vastly superior to a $36,000 VW Touareg, which is virtually the same car. We believe that $225 Pumas will make our feet feel better-and look cooler-than $20 no-names . . . and believing it makes it true."  "Marketers succeed when they tell us a story that fits our worldview, a story that we intuitively embrace and then share with our friends. Think of the Dyson vacuum cleaner or the iPod." How can this help you with your applications?  Imagine the readers on the admissions committee.   They read hundreds or thousands of applications each year.  How are you going to make in impression?  I don't believe that it's through a couple of high scores and some A-list employers.  No doubt these things might help your application, but I believe the most memorable applicants tell a good story.  And not just good stories in each essay, but their whole application is a story that, put together, gives adcom a clear pictures of what that person is all about.  How can you do this with your application?  Well first, I recommend reading the book for inspiration.  Imagine yourself as a "product" that you are "marketing" to adcom.  Put together your elevator pitch - a few sentences that sum up the picture you want adcom to have in their head about you after reading your application.  Keep it near you whenever you are working on a portion of the application, to make sure everything you write is consistent with that pitch.  For instance - does your elevator pitch say that you are going to be a contributor to your class?  You should probably show in your application how you are already a contributor in your job, your volunteer work, your extra curricular activities, etc.  In other words, show that you are already living the story.  Note: It's worth mentioning that I'm not advocating that you actually lie on your application.  Not only is it unethical (obviously), but I think that adcom are very good at picking up on this.  It is a rare person that can lie about themselves in writing and actually sound authentic.  Be honest about yourself and who you are, and it will resonate.  

You're So Money: Live Rich, Even When You're Not
I met the author of this book, Farnoosh Torabi, at the women's conference I attended at Penn State.  Turns out my husband was in a group with her in his undergrad business classes.  He was very excited to buy her book when it came out, but I ended up reading it first.  I think I was in the perfect state of mind to read it, since I'm suddenly a lot "poorer" than I was a few months ago when I had a job and no huge loans!  A lot of it is aimed more at those in their early twenties, but I definitely learned a lot and got some great ideas for how I can still have a fabulous life during this two years of less cash.  And she gives you tips and tricks without seeming preachy like other personal finance books.  She won't tell you to give up your latte, but she will challenge you to determine how important it is for you to have that latte AND the designer jeans of the season.  There are chapters on buying a car, buying a cell phone, and buying real estate.  There is also a chapter by Jim Cramer on stock speculation.  

The author of this new eBook, Josh Hohman, a recent Stanford GSB grad, sent me an advance copy to review for possible interest to my audience.  I read the whole thing last night, and I definitely think it could be a good resource for some applicants.  The book is basically a report containing survey responses from recent admits from Stanford, Harvard, and Columbia.  There are questions like "Describe the challenges you had in your application" and "What advice would you offer an applicant applying to your school."  I think this book is a good supplement for the big application guidebooks you may be reading.  It's not going to give you extensive advice and instructions, but it will provide you with some good profiles of successful applicants to give you a feel for what it takes to get in.  There are profiles of students with low GMAT scores (below 650!), no work experience, non-traditional backgrounds, and some students who claim they had no "wow factor" but still got in.  There is also a lot of advice and information specific to Stanford, which could be very valuable to those targeting this school.  (There is nothing about Wharton though - Josh should definitely expand to Wharton and other schools in his next edition!)  If you follow the link to the website,, and provide your email address, Josh will send you a free preview copy that lets you see the questions that are included in the survey with a some examples of responses.  If you like it, the full version is available for purchase.  
Disclaimer: The author did offer me compensation for linking to his book.  However, I would definitely not recommend this to my readers if I did not think it would be a good resource.  I recommend downloading the free preview and checking it out for yourself.  

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Ode to Philadelphia: Living Here

I can't believe it's been more than a month since we moved in.  I guess the move and post-move activity was so intense that it's only really be a few weeks since we've been "settled."  We're still unpacking, but that's another story.

Anyway, I thought I'd resurrect my Ode to Philadelphia series now that I am a real live resident at last.  Let's get the bad stuff out of the way first, so we can end on a good note!

The Ugly:  As easy as it is to get complacent once you are used to your environment, every once in awhile you get a reminder that no matter where you are, you have to be smart about safety.  There was an attempted rape about 3 blocks from my apartment the other night.  A woman was returning home from a party alone, late at night, and a man followed her.  Normally, this is a really safe area, so of course people are very upset and police are warning us to be smart and careful.  I think the important takeaways are: 1) Never get lazy about safety.  Women shouldn't walk home alone late at night in ANY city (or any town or rural college campus for that matter).  No matter how safe it seems to be, there can be crazy people anywhere.  Cabs are plentiful - it's worth the $5!  2)  In a weird way, this actually makes me feel better about the neighborhood.  Let me explain: this wouldn't be getting so much attention if it were not so rare of an occurrence in this area.  All evidence points to an isolated incident, so I'm going to take precautions and not worry about it.

The Bad:  
Some of the typical city stuff - sirens, honking horns, etc.  Although I'm pretty much used to those by now.
Philly is an old city, and much like New York or any city in Europe, it can be kinda smelly.  Not everywhere, mind you.  But every once in awhile you are reminded that you just walked near a sewer grate.  Especially in the summer.  I won't elaborate. 
Also an old city thing - the roads are narrow.  Trying to get around by car (and even by bike) is difficult and frustrating.  Rush hour is to be avoided at all costs!
The sidewalks are kind of a mess.  I mean, they are solid and certainly adequate.  But they tend to slant in different directions in different spots, which is a nightmare for someone trying to walk in heels.  My husband has not noticed this, by the way.  
The ~4% wage tax!  This doesn't affect students, obviously.  But for those of us with working spouses, this is a really tough expense to swallow.  This tax applies to anyone living in Philadelphia, even if you work outside of the city, like my husband.

Ok, Now the Good:  
Fabulous Restaurants!  There are so many within walking distance (and so many more within a short cab distance) that I want to try.   From Five Guys Burgers and Fries to Le Bec Fin, pretty much any taste and budget can be satisfied here.  I've mentioned it before, but it's worth telling you again that BYOBs are a fantastic way to save money on a night out.
Bars!   There are so many great ones.  I'm looking forward to the Wharton social life.
Shopping!  Well I can't really afford to do it now, but there are plenty of interesting places to spend your money along Walnut and Chestnuts streets.  I can't wait until I have my internship salary ;)
Center City Sips.  This is a summer thing in Center City.  Restaurants and bars all around CC have really cheap drink and appetizers for happy hour on Wednesday night.  It's a great way to try out an expensive place, like Brasserie Perrier, without spending a lot of money.  Student friendly!
Walking to Everything I Need: The bank, the library, the post office, the grocery store.  Everything is within walking distance, and many things are even just within a block's walk.  I love it!
The Atmosphere.  I'll just give you an example.  Last night, when Hubby arrived home, we started hearing curious sounds outside.  We opened the windows to listen, and determined that there must be a concert somewhere.  We decided to take a walk and check it out.   We got downstairs and started strolling.  There were people everywhere, walking along with shopping bags, sitting outside at bars and restaurants, walking their dogs, etc.  We walked over to Rita's Water Ice to get a little dessert, and noticed that across the street there was a small group of teenagers playing jazz music in between two casual restaurants where people were sitting outside.  We decided this wasn't what we heard from our window.  We headed toward Broad Street.  We noticed a band playing in the lobby of the Kimmel Center.   We kept going and finally found our source.  It was a pre-4th of July event.  At least 3 bands were playing on different blocks along Broad Street, and various food and arts and crafts tent lined the sidewalk.  We took it all in, then headed back to Rittenhouse Square.  The park was loaded with a diverse range of people and dogs enjoying the lovely night.  A bit reluctantly, we returned home to attend to our mundane evening chores.   

So yeah, I'm really loving our new digs.   It's tough to have a small apartment, and I'm kinda missing my garden a little.  But it's so much fun to be here in the middle of all the excitement of the city.  I really recommend that anyone who is thinking they might not like living here for two years just give it one visit.  I believe you'll be pleasantly surprised!

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Economist It Is!

15 out of 20 voters said I should subscribe to the Economist instead of BusinessWeek. Though this is hardly a representative sample (see, I'm brushing up on my statistics!), I'm still going to go with the majority and put in my order for The Economist.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

This Year's B-School Scandal

It seems like every year there is a scandal in the MBA world. A few years back, it was the Harvard application decision "hacking" scandal, where students who followed the advice of a BW poster were able to modify the Apply Yourself website to see their decisions early. Harvard rejected them all due to their poor ethical choice (debatable, but I'm not going to get into it). Last year it was the Duke cheating scandal, where several students were expelled for collaborating on an individual take-home test. This year, it is the GMAT cheating scandal.

It seems that a site called Scoretop (which has since been shut down) was selling actual live GMAT questions to potential test-takers for $30. Then the questions were discussed on the site in a forum. Presumably, the MBA hopefuls that bought the questions may have seen them on the actual test, which means they had information that others didn't. GMAC won a court order to shut down the site and claims to have a hard drive that they are searching to discover the identities of those who purchased the questions. They will cancel the culprits' scores and notify the schools that they sent the scores to. So far no schools have come out and said that they would take action against those students, but it's within the realm of possibility that some students may have their offers revoked or get kicked out of programs if they are already enrolled. A ray of hope for waitlisters, perhaps (wink wink)?

In all seriousness, this is scary stuff. I wonder how many people purchased access to the questions without realizing that what they were doing was against GMAC's policy? I doubt Scoretop disclosed that little tidbit. Some people probably didn't even realize they were live questions and may have thought they were buying practice questions similar to those provided by other legitimate companies. I guess ignorance is not an excuse, but I feel bad for those people. On the other hand, I'm sure the majority of people that paid the $30 knew exactly what they were doing. Regardless of whether it actually helped them, I think they deserve whatever punishment is handed down to them, although I'm sure the harshness will vary by school. I guess we'll just have to watch and wait for the fallout.

Friday, June 20, 2008

New Book Alert: The Best Business Schools' Admissions Secrets

I got an alert from Amazon today about a new book, The Best Business Schools' Admissions Secrets: A Former Harvard Business School Admissions Board Member Reveals the Insider Keys to Getting In. It comes out on July 1. I haven't seen the book yet, but it sounds like a good resource. I'm an advocate of using whatever research you have time to use! If you are planning to apply this year, you might want to check it out.

As a reminder, I've got a list of recommended books on the right side. Except for this new book, my recommendations are all based on my personal experience using the book.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

BusinessWeek or The Economist??

I got a thingy in the mail today inviting me to use my American Airlines miles to subscribe to magazines. I don't have enough miles for a ticket, so I figure I should sign up for one mag just to keep my miles from expiring for a while. But if I'm going to do it, it's gotta be something useful.

Hence, my poll. Should I get BusinessWeek or The Economist? Which will be more useful in keeping me up-to-date on the business world while I'm working on my MBA?
Please vote in the poll on the right!

Officially Unemployed and Poor (Sorta)

Well it was certainly a wake-up call. The very first day of my unemployment, my bank account went negative. Ouch. It was really just an accounting error (I forgot about a payment I'd set up), but it really hit home the fact that I no longer have a salary. I know I will have loans, but I don't actually have any of that money yet, and I won't for several weeks. So now that I actually have some time to enjoy myself, my funds to do so are quite limited!

And as I've mentioned, we are contemplating borrowing less than Wharton's budget for first-years since my husband's salary will likely cover a lot of the room and board expenses. It's really hard to decide how much to borrow. I want to take advantage of these two years as much as possible, and there are a lot of expenses associated with that (i.e. social activities, travel, club membership, business wardrobe, etc). But at the same time, I don't want to live too far beyond our means, because that will just cost us more in interest in the long run. My husband is lucky enough to have never been in any kind of debt besides our mortgage, so all of these dollar signs associated with my education are pretty scary. We both know it will pay off in the long run, but it's not like I'm planning to go into investment banking or consulting so my pay off period is going to be longer than many of my classmates. I guess we both just need to get over that now. This is about my education, not everyone else's. Right ...

I keep thinking back to a mantra that was heard over and over from the students that hosted Welcome Weekend. "It all works out in the end." They said this so often, about so many subjects, including class waivers, tuition, technology, learning teams, academics, feeling overwhelmed, etc, that it started to become funny. But they all said it really is true. So I will go with it. It will all work out in the end ....

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Nearing the Finish Line!

Monday is my last day at work. Why Monday? Well, long story short, it's all about how you leave. Every year, I am responsible for putting together a lot of data from my team for the annual budget process. In order to do this, we get inputs from other groups. Those inputs were due on Friday, so I volunteered to stay for an extra day to make sure I had all the inputs ready to go for them so they could proceed to the next step. I wanted to minimize the impact of my departure as much as possible. I guess part of it is just from pride. I don't want them thinking "Man, Tinydancer really left us high and dry here." The rest of it is keeping bridges intact. I don't know if I want to come back to my company directly out of school, but I want to stay in the industry, and it's a small industry.
Of course, as expected, not all the information came in on Friday. Not sure if we'll get it on Monday, but it probably won't matter for me because I have too much other stuff to take care of, including exit interview, transitioning all my other projects, and cleaning out my desk. I've done my best to have everything in the best state that I can get it before I leave. That's all I can do. I really wish that I had a replacement to train like Julydream, it would be so much easier! I've already had to deflect many last-minute requests to do more work and I've had to say no. Not sure what kind of superhuman they think I am!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Kellogg MBA Application Advice

Today a reader asked me for some advice about applying to Kellogg. I realized my reply could help others that are thinking of applying, so I decided to post it here. Enjoy.

Here is what I know about Kellogg, which should help you frame your essays:
-Teamwork. This is hugely important to them. They want to know that you are a team player and want to see evidence of this. They want to know that you understand how important it is to them and that is why you are applying to Kellogg (they consider this a major differentiator between them and other top schools).
-Community. This is a tie-in to teamwork, but they want people who are going to be very involved in the community of the MBA. Play up any community involvement you have in your background. Volunteer work is part of this and is important, but also they like to see any other activities you might have such as a recreational sports team or alumni club or maybe you organize a family poker competition (see what I mean, look everywhere for evidence of this). Even if you have done some extra-curriculars at work, this will show that you are going to be someone that will contribute and not just attend and go home to study. It will probably help to discuss what clubs and activities you specifically want to be involved in
-Leadership. This is a new focus for Kellogg, but they definitely want to see that leadership learning is a priority for you. But the leadership focus is within the teamwork concept. Show that you've been a leader in a team situation (so it doesn't have to be where you supervised people, but any situation where you took the lead in helping a team make a decision would work).
-Personality. It helps to visit so you can see it for yourself, but the typical Kellogg student is very outgoing and "fun". This is probably a result of the aspects of focus above. It probably matters more for your interview, but you want to show that you are not only smart, but nice to be around and will be an asset to any team you are on.
-Uniqueness. There is an essay question from last year that I would expect to be there again, since it has been there for a long time. They ask what makes you unique and what will you contribute to the class. This was the hardest question for me, and requires a lot of self-reflection. I think you need to think about what makes you unique in all aspects: work experience, extra-curriculars, interests, etc. Sure, many people may share any of these with you, but no one is the same combination of all of these as you! Show that you understand how every aspect of who you are will help you contribute to the experience of everyone else. And they really do want to know who you are.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

3 more Days

I only have three more days of work! You'd think that I'd be winding down and finishing up a few things here and there while I leisurely clean out my desk. You'd be wrong. In classic fashion, my company only started recruiting for my replacement a week ago, so of course there is no one for me to train and transition my work to. So I need to get all my open projects into a state where they can sit for awhile without anyone attending to them. Meanwhile, my managers are panicking and trying to unload more work on me, presumably so that they won't have to do it once I'm gone. It's getting stressful because I have less and less time left to get it all done. I'm so tired! I'm gonna go to bed early tonight to try to get some energy back.
Can't wait till Tuesday when I will be officially unemployed!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Time for Financial Aid Decisions

I finally received information from Penn on how to apply for loans. The Stafford loan application is extremely easy. Just pick a lender and send the info to Penn and they take care of the application. According to many news sources, there are a lot of lenders dropping out of the student loan business. But Penn still had more than enough options, with what I thought were decent opportunities to lower costs through interest rate reductions and other benefits as rewards for signing up for auto-pay, paying on time, etc. One lender definitely came out on top in terms of the benefits, so that's what I went with.

I am lucky to A) have some money put away and B) a spouse that will be working full time while I'm in school. Therefore, I have some decisions to make about how much money I really need to borrow and at from what sources. The Stafford loan is a no-brainer, but I am not sure if I will take a Grad PLUS loan or an alternative loan. Grad PLUS has a rate of 8.5%, which right now is really high. Alternative loans have lower rates (assuming you qualify), but they are variable. You can find many predictions for what rates are going to do in the future, but who the heck really knows. Another option we're considering is a home equity loan or line of credit. We've got a little bit of equity in our home and the rates might be pretty good, especially if we can get fixed rates. We'd have to make payments during school though, which is a consideration.

Sooo, Hubby and I have a lot of work ahead of us to figure out our budget, how much money we really need to borrow, and what type of loan. Lots of fun on a hot day.

Hope all readers on the East Coast are finding ways to keep cool!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Welcome New Bloggers! Plus, a Rant.

I have been trying to catch up on reading my blogs now that I have a little downtime. I realized there's a good crop of new applicant blogs popping up and I didn't even know about it! Welcome Happy Bunny (well, you I knew about), MBA Veggie, Soni, V2B-School, Samantha, and Veni Vidi Vici. I'm sure there are more of you out there. I'm gonna try to get better with keeping up. It'll be easier when I'm done working because Hella's page is blocked at work like everything else!

I was reading Samantha's blog and she was discussing women in business. She touched on something that is also my pet peeve and I've been wanting to discuss:

I also want fellow women to get their acts together. Maybe it's me being
too critical, but I do it out of love! I want women to succeed. The 50s-ish
woman with the wardrobe left over from the 80s with bad, unconfident posture,
the women my age who say "like" waaayy too much ... sexy wrap dresses, nails
painted red, skirts with high slits, twirling hair, chewing gum, tucking your
shirt in and not checking your backside at home so I can see your thong through
your pants, being overly demure and quiet in meetings, overusing !!!, the list
goes on and on. Of course I'm not perfect, but women need to realize how much
work we have to put into our professional appearance/demeanor in order to be
taken seriously and sometimes I just want to smack some sense into people.

I couldn't agree more! My company has a business casual dress code that is actually on the rather formal side. But I see so many women, young and old, that act like it doesn't exist. I work with a woman my age who wears sundresses to work that I'd wear to a brunch. Women wear flip flops and open-toed shoes all the time in summer. They wear capri pants and skirts way above the knee. We all want to look good, but I wish women would think like men for five minutes when they get dressed in the morning and realize that dressing sexy or casual creates distraction and takes attention away from the work you are doing. It's the same as that one guy that wears golf shirts when all the other men are wearing dress shirts. People think that guy doesn't get it. My company has a few fundraising events during the year where you can wear jeans to work if you donate $5 to the cause. I did it once or twice until I realized that I never saw a man doing it. I bet the men probably didn't even know there was a reason we were all wearing jeans and who knows what they were thinking of us. Please understand, I'm not saying that women need to emulate men because they are men. I just think men are better at obeying the dress code and making it work for them. (Granted, it is easier. All you need is a closet full of white and blue shirts). We women need to get better at projecting competence and separating how we dress for business from how we dress socially. This goes for communications too. Please stop firing off emails full of !!!! and misspelled words and lack of punctuation. Again, this does not project competence. It doesn't take that long to write out complete, grammatically correct sentences and it makes you look SO much better. And finally, I know this sounds funny coming from a paragraph full of complaining, but women need to stop complaining so much. I know there are men that do this too, but at least where I work, I notice so many more women always complaining about their job, their boss, the company, etc. No one likes a whiner! And when was the last time the whiner was chosen for that high profile position? Women have come a long way in business so far, but we still have a long way to go. We need to help the rest of the business world see us as the professionals we are!

Lovely Long Weekend

We got a lot done yesterday! We unpacked a bit, but more importantly, we installed some great shelving in our kitchen which frees up some cabinet space so that we can store food (and it's no longer in boxes on the floor in the living room). They look really cool too. Thanks Ikea!

Today we're at my parents' Jersey Shore house, enjoying some lovely weather, a Phillies win, and we're heading out to see Indiana Jones shortly. I hope all of you are enjoying your weekend too!

I've added a Twitter application to the page so that I can add short thoughts without writing a full post. That way I can still add some content to the site even if I'm busy or unable to get on Blogger.

Friday, May 23, 2008

My Rational and Irrational Fears about B-School

A while back I asked you guys what I should blog about. Linda asked

are you having any uncertainties? what will you fear/dread/not like very much
about bschooL?

Ooooh yes. I have many fears and uncertainties about B-School. Some rational, some not.
First, while I am definitely certain that my matriculation at Wharton is the right decision for me, at times I realize the enormity of the decision to leave my job and spend lots of money for this degree and it hits me like a ton of bricks. Not only that, it's just going to be such a huge lifestyle change for me. I haven't been in school since 2001. I think I forgot how to do it. It feels a little like standing on the edge of a cliff getting ready to jump.
Speaking of money, I'm definitely worrying about my budget. With the additional temptations of living in the city - endless restaurants, drinking establishments, awesome shops, etc - downgrading from the professional lifestyle to a student lifestyle is going to be really hard. I'm worried about finding a balance between putting myself in massive debt and missing out on the social life of school and living in Philadelphia.
Another subject I have been discussing a lot with my husband is the pressure I feel to make the most of this opportunity. I am so excited about everything I'm going to learn and the networks I'm going to build. But two years feels terribly short. And actually, considering the recruiting schedule in the second year, I have far less than 2 years to figure out what my post graduation job will be. I have an idea of what I want to do, but I want to keep my options open as much as I can. But how to fit open options into the recruiting schedule?
Welcome Weekend was great, and I met so many great people that I can't wait to call my classmates. But one thing I've been thinking about is the size of Wharton's class. At 800 people, it's just too big to be able to know everyone. I know that I will make plenty of friends, but I wonder if the size of the class will make close friendships difficult to find? Also, as silly as it is, I am really hoping that the friends I've already made will be in my cohort. But I'm sure most of them won't be - the chances are too small. This makes me sad.
Finally, probably my biggest concern is how I'm going to fit in all the activities I want to do and still get decent grades. There are so many clubs and activities that I want to be involved in that I am overextending myself before I even start! Prioritization will be key, but I've never really been very good at that ...
I think those are the biggies. There's definitely not anything I'm dreading (well, maybe exams?)or thinking I won't like. I'm sure some dislikes will come up once I start, but for the most part I'm really looking forward to getting started. Pretty much can't wait, actually!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Movie Stars Everywhere! Plus Sushi

Owen Wilson, Luke Wilson, Jennifer Aniston, Demi Moore & Ashton Kutcher & Family, and Parker Posey were all hanging out in Philly this week. No, I didn't run into any of them ... yet!

Tonight we went to the Viking Cooking School in Bryn Mawr for sushi class. It was so fun! My first roll fell apart, but after that I got the hang of it and did pretty well. It all tasted very good too :) Hopefully I'll be able to find a good store in Chinatown to procure sashimi grade fish and other supplies.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Long Time No Blog

So it has been many days since I was able to blog. We had about 5 days to pack our whole house and move to our comparatively tiny apartment. Then we had about 6 days to make repairs and get our house ready to be rented. I am happy to report that we are now officially finished moving and finally have working internet! The apartment is still a mess and is definitely a struggle to find places to put things. Our kitchen is very small, and even though we put a lot of our kitchen stuff in storage, we're still having trouble fitting everything into the cabinets. Also, my house had a huge walk in closet in the bedroom. This apartment, not so much. I've got to either seriously downsize my clothing collection or find very creative storage solutions. Sigh. But the apartment is cute and has a great view and a great looking kitchen (even if it is low on storage space). We're right in the heart of the action here in Center City. I'm really excited!

I've decided that my last day at work will be June 16 (a Monday - long story). Meanwhile, I found out that my company doesn't pay out remaining vacation days when you leave, so I have to either use them or lose them. Naturally, I'm trying to use them. It's actually harder than you'd think, because I have jury duty next week (fun) and various meetings that I can't miss in the next 4 weeks. I'm taking a lot of half days to fit them in. Oh yeah, and I have to figure out how to get all my work done too. With the economic situation, I'm not sure that they will replace me right away, so I feel obligated to make sure that my team is all set to cover my projects when I leave. It's not just that it's the right thing to do, but it's also a matter of pride. When I started, there hadn't been someone in my position in a few months, so I had to figure out how to do everything by myself. So I did, and over time I improved the processes significantly. I don't want all that progress to get ruined!

I hope I'll have time to blog more now that we're semi-settled. But I still have a LOT of unpacking to do so I can't get to distracted by the internet ;)

Monday, May 5, 2008

I Hate Moving!

I hate packing!

That's really all I have to say.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Top Ten Applicant Blog, Yard Sale, Moving Update

Two unrelated things to blog about today:

I was voted into the Top Ten Applicant Blogs in Clear Admit's Best of Blogging 2007-2008! I am really happy with this accomplishment, especially considering that I didn't start this blog until December. Thanks to my fellow bloggers and the celebrity judges for the honor! And thanks to my readers - this would be no fun without you! Congrats to Julydream and m@ and all the other winners!

Today we participated in a neighborhood yard sale at a local elementary school. It was cold and windy, so we had a disappointing turnout. Still, we were able to make about $150 and say goodbye to a good amount of clutter. It was strange, some things that I totally expected to sell were ignored (like picture frames and bestseller books) but other things I never expected to go sold for a decent amount of money (like my old karate pads and this awful computer desk I've had for 10 years that most recently held tools in our garage and is missing several parts).

Meanwhile, I have been thinking that I jinxed our house renting situation by blogging about it. After our prospective tenants' realtor told us they wanted it, a two weeks went by and we still haven't seen a signed lease or a check. This is quite vexing to say the least, since they want to move in May 17! We are putting ourselves out a lot to make this quick move happen, and they are either stalling or lazy or I don't know what! If we had another option I would tell them to forget it, but despite continuing traffic no one else has come forward with a check. FINALLY today we got a call that the lease is signed and we'll have it tomorrow. I'm not holding my breath but I hope we close the deal this weekend. At least then we'll know for sure when we are moving.

I hope to blog during the madness, but it may be impossible. If only I could blog at work!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I Love eBay!

Since we are downsizing our space considerably when we move, we've been trying to attack the clutter in our house and get rid of as much as possible. At the same time, I really want a shiny new iPhone for school. So I've been trying to make some money off of some of our old treasures. So far I've sold about $30 worth of stuff on eBay. Not bad, not bad. But it's about to get a lot better because I listed an old piece of electronic equipment that I never use this week and guess what! It is currently bid up to $132!! I'm almost half-way to that iPhone!!

The other service I've been taking advantage of is my selling account on Amazon. It's great if you have books you no longer want, because you just list it and when it sells, Amazon takes care of the payment and you just package it up and send it away! Amazon deposits all your revenue into your bank account. Lately some of my favorite authors have released new books in hard cover. I don't really like to keep hard covers unless I really love the book, so I buy them, read them, and then sell them to get a good chunk of my money back.

Lastly, my mother-in-law got us a table at a local flea market this weekend. Hopefully we'll be able to free ourselves from the rest of our junk then and see it all go to nice homes! Anything left over is going to get donated.

I can't wait!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Here we go!

Dear readers, I must apologize for the lack of posts lately. I've been under the weather for the past week, but I'm now starting to get back into the swing of things.

Unfortunately, my posts are likely to continue to be few and far between for the next several weeks because .... drum roll ... we have (nearly) rented our house! I say nearly because we don't technically have a lease or a deposit yet, but have been assured that they are forthcoming. The catch is, they want to move in May 15! So today we began packing and pricing items for our moving sale. Luckily, there is an apartment available now in our building of choice in Center City, so this just might work out. It's going to be a logistical nightmare, since we have a lot of junk and various pieces of furniture to get rid of or store between now and then, not to mention figuring out how we're going to move the few items that are making the cut for our new high rise lifestyle.

Sooo ... while all this is going on, I will try to post. No promises though. The plus side of the situation is I will be nice and settled in to my new digs well before Preterm starts, so I should have plenty of time to blog then. Wish me luck, and I'll see you on the other side!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

What Should I Blog About?

I've reached a point in my blogging where I'm not really sure what to write about. Just waiting for school to start creates a bit of a lull in interesting stuff to share. I've got a few topics in my back pocket, but I thought I would pose the question to my readers. What would you like me to blog about? Any advice you are looking for?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

It's An Honor Just to Be Nominated

Thanks Clearadmit! I have been nominated for a Clearadmit Best of Blogging award! Really, it's an honor just to be nominated. I'm not even thinking about winning. Well, maybe just a little. Actually, I'm pretty excited. I wasn't really sure if this blog was going to go anywhere when I started. Good luck to all the nominees!

Funny story, the email address to request a ballot is So I started out my email "Hi Bob," .... and then I realized. Oh. It's BOB for Best of Blogging. Ha.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Hooray! The weather for Welcome Weekend is supposed to be fabulous! Looking forward to seeing my future classmates and NOT carrying an umbrella around on the tour. I think the campus looks a lot better in the sun :)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Ode to Philadelphia Series – Philly is the New Hollywood

It may come as a surprise to many readers, but Philadelphia is actually becoming a popular place to shoot movies. In fact, several full production studios are being built in right here in the Philly area to attract the best movies and TV shows.

Sampling of major movies that have recently filmed here or will be filming soon:
The Lovely Bones (Peter Jackson) – Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz
The Happening (M. Night Shyamalan) – Mark Wahlberg, Zooey Deschanel, John Leguizamo
Our Lady of Victory – Carla Gugino, David Boreanaz
Transformers Sequel
The Dream of the Romans – Jeff Daniels, Lauren Graham
Tenure – Luke Wilson, Gretchen Mol
Major TV Shows Shot Here:
“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”
“Cold Case”

So what does this mean to you? Celebrity Sightings! I mean, how cool would it be to have a beer at Roosevelts with Mark Wahlberg, who always seems to be shooting movies here. Also, movies always need extras so you could have a chance to be in a movie! I heard you even get paid!

Also, if you would like to get a good flavor for the city through cinema, there are plenty of ways to do so. I’m sure everyone knows about Rocky and Philadelphia, but there are many other great ones that can give you a good feel for the culture and scenery. I personally recommend:
Invincible – the neighborhood is South Philly, don’t worry you won’t be living there. But the portrayal of Eagles fans is dead on !
National Treasure – Featuring many landmarks of Philly
The Sixth Sense

Finally, “The Colbert Report” is in Philly (at Penn actually) filming all week. Tune in if you can!
For everything you ever wanted to know about the Philadelphia film industry, plus job postings (get your headshot ready!), visit the Greater Philadelphia Film Office at

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Is the Weekend Over Already?

It's getting tougher to blog these days. Since I'm now blocked from doing so at work, I need to find the time to do it at home. And I just haven't been there all that much lately! Plus I think of so many more topics at work (since I'm so painfully bored, but that's a blog topic for another day). I should write some posts in a Word doc or something and upload when I get home.

This week I was busy with something every night. Charity meeting Monday, had my brother over for dinner and later met a friend from my old consulting job on Tuesday, did volunteer work on Wednesday, and traveled into the city for a Philly admit happy hour on Thursday. Friday I crashed. The weekend was filled with projects to prepare for the move and cleaning the house in an attempt to impress potential renters. Exhausting!

Speaking of meeting the friend from my old job ...
One of the perks of a consulting career, especially with a big firm, is that you will meet people from all over the country and potentially the world. You will probably make more friends than you would at any other job because you will be working closely with people for longer hours. And since you are all on the road, probably socializing with them after work too. The unfortunate drawback of this is that all your friends are from all over, and they will go back to those places when the project is done. I got to meet one of my best friends from my consulting days for drinks on Tuesday since he happens to be in town for a project. It was so great to see him and catch up. It makes me sad that I so rarely get to see him or any of my old buddies anymore. I have a feeling that business school is going to be similar. We'll all make a lot of great friends from all over the world, and then everyone is going to spread out again after the two years are over. I know it's naive to hope that many of my new friends will stay in Philly after graduation, but I do hope many head for NYC since it's just a little train ride away. And I guess having far-flung friends can be nice when you want to travel to visit them!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Big Brother Strikes Again!

My employer is pretty tight with restrictions on our computer systems. Besides the fact that we are woefully behind in technology (I have a 6-year-old laptop with Windows 2000 and Office 97. Yes 97! It's 11 years old!!), we are also severely restricted in the things that we can do on our computers. We pretty much can't install anything ourselves; it has to be requested from IT. No IM software is allowed whatsoever. They even block Google Talk!

And every social networking site you can think of is blocked. Myspace, Facebook, LinkedIn. Youtube is blocked of course. And now as of today, the final straw - blogging sites are blocked!! I was so sad when I tried to log on today :( The reason the evil blocking page gives is the website may have "dangerous software." BOOO!!!

Yeah yeah, I probably shouldn't be blogging at work anyway, but this is ridiculous! I feel like I'm going to regress technologically and be lost when my classmates start talking about twittering or something (yes, twitter is also blocked).

A Note on Scholarships

I got a few questions in the comments so I wanted to just address them quickly.

Unfortunately, I didn't really save the info for any scholarships I found that I didn't qualify for. Sorry! But, to answer another question, I didn't have any inside info on places to look. I really just googled as many phrases as I could think of, like "scholarships for MBA," "MBA scholarships for women," "grad school fellowships," etc, etc etc. So if there is something out there for you, I don't think you should have a problem finding it either through a) googling b) using the information your schools send you and c) googling some more! Definitely go through the hassle of registering for the websites that allow you to search. I think they all have a somewhat different selection of scholarships in their databases.

Good luck!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Scholarship Search - Disappointing!

Other than my grant from Wharton, I have been completely unsuccessful in my scholarship search. You would think that there might be a lot of money out there for women pursuing an MBA, but I have not found anything to even apply to. Yes, there is the Forte Foundation fellowship, but your school nominates (or doesn't, in my case) you for that. There were a few others that I saw which had deadlines in December. Who knew you had to be applying for scholarships before you even knew if you got in (2008 applicants, take note!!).

It seems like there is a lot of money out there if you have critical financial need and/or are a minority demographic or international student, which should be good news for many of you. Just doesn't seem like there is much out there for my particular profile. Oh well. I wanted to have a smaller debt load, but I can handle it. Maybe in Year 2 I will find something!

P.S. If anyone knows of any scholarships I may have overlooked, please drop me a line!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

I've Received a Grant from Wharton!

It is so small (I mean tiny) that I started to wonder if it's something everyone gets. I must admit that I was hoping for more, but hey, it's something right? The letter is short on details so I'm not sure who or what sponsors the grant, but I suppose I will find out soon enough!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Are Women MBAs Doomed to Divorce?

I am a fan of the Naked MBA blog, which bills itself as "the bare truth about what to expect from business school." Today I saw a post title that made my stomach drop: "For women, MBA = Divorce." I quickly clicked on the feed link to see what the heck this was about. The first sentence reads "The numbers are in and they don’t look good. " "Oh crap," I think. Then comes the obligatory next thought, "Well my marriage is strong. Business school and a good career aren't going to change that." I continued to read, cautiously. Ok, here's the main fact driving the title of the post: "Women MBAs are twice as likely to get divorced than the men with whom they graduate." Yikes. That is not good.

Hold on, here's the actual statistic: "12% of women MBAs reported having divorced or separated as compared to 5% of male MBAs." Um - 12%? Yeah it's a lot bigger than the male number, but still, 12%?? Maybe I'm crazy but that's still a small number to me. I'm not fearing for my marriage over 12%. The article goes to discuss that women think they can have it all but it's just a myth, etc etc. To an extent I agree with that, but don't you think we're jumping a bit to far to say that MBA = Divorce?

I clicked through to the WSJ article the post is referencing. More similar discussion.
"For women, a professional degree is often hazardous to marital health."
"'Unlike men,' she says, 'women can't have it all because there is a social stigma to having or being a stay-at-home spouse.'"
And then this statistic: "Women with M.B.A.s described themselves as divorced or separated more often than women with only bachelor's degrees (12% of female M.B.A.s compared with 11% of women with only bachelor's degrees) "

I stopped there. A 1% increase with an MBA is hardly anything to fret over. Sure, the difference between the statistics for women vs. men should be explored, but why do we have to jump to panic mode and imply that women are sabotaging their personal lives by pursuing advanced degrees?

Wharton Penn Key

I got my letter to set up my Penn Key yesterday. The Penn Key is basically your login authentication for Penn systems and is also your email ID. So I go to the site and input my setup code. The system gives me a list of letter combinations that I can choose for my key. Nice, except my name is apparently really common because my choices were all horrible!

I'll give you a hypothetical example. Say your name is Sarah O. Johnson. Your choices for your prestigious Wharton email ID would probably look like the following:
And that's it! You can't even try to make up one that maybe makes more sense. Seriously, who's going to remember that Sarah Johnson's email address is joso@wharton??

Ugh. I picked the best of the list but I still hate it. Consider yourself lucky if you have a unique name.

UPDATE: So, it seems the Penn key is NOT your Wharton email address. I stand corrected. Remains to be seen if choices for Wharton email address are better than Penn Key. Fingers crossed.

UPDATE: I was right! Your Penn Key user ID is also your Wharton email ID. Hopefully we'll have the ability to create an alias or something, but I'm not holding my breath!

Ode to Philadelphia Series: Philly is Good for You!

Back in 2000, Men's Fitness Magazine declared Philadelphia the fattest city in America. Oh no! Perhaps it was all the cheesesteaks and soft pretzels? But don't worry. We got to work and turned it around. Now Men's Fitness says we're good! (Guess who's still bad: New York and Chicago! Haha, take that!). Also, Cooking Light apparently thinks we're great because they said we're the #9 Healthiest City in their April issue last year. Yay!

You might not have known it if you attended the Saturday night Winter Welcome party where people were smoking, but Philadelphia has indeed banned smoking at *most* restaurants and bars. Unfortunately it's not a complete ban because places that derive at least 90% of revenue from drinks (i.e. don't serve food) are exempt, which I guess includes the club where the party took place. Hey, at least we got most of the way there. And if you are a smoker then you know where to go!

Also, we weren't gonna let New Yorkers be the only health nuts so we decided to ban trans fats too! Yeah, there aren't really any penalties set up and there are exceptions for places that make wedding cakes and stuff (apparently wedding cakes are artery-clogging death on a china plate but you can't make them without trans fats). But again, it's something!

And finally, lest you think a trip to the ballpark must mean as many dollar dogs as you can eat, you should know that last August PETA said Citizens Bank Park was the #1 vegetarian-friendly ballpark! Don't worry meat eaters, there are still plenty of Dollar Dog Nights. Just be careful when Dollar Dog Night intersects with College Night. It's a perfect storm.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Ode to Philadelphia

I'm sure there are many of you out there that may be considering Wharton but aren't sure if you want to live in Philly for 2 years. Others may be wondering whether to apply for the same reason. I'm a believer in fit being one of your biggest reasons for choosing a business school, and certainly location is a factor in fit. You probably know that Philly is a short drive or train ride from New York and DC, and Boston's not to far away either. I guess people tell you that in case you're thinking you'll want to leave every weekend to go somewhere cool. Well you can, but I happen to believe Philly is pretty cool, and if you go to school here you may just want to stick around most weekends. So I would like to take this time to tell you why I think Philly is a great city, and why I believe you'd not only survive for two years here, but you might just love it too.

I have lived in Philadelphia for most of my life. Scratch that, I've lived around Philly, but never actually in the city limits (until July that is!). I did work and stay in hotels there for about 6 months. So this probably doesn't make me quite an expert, but I believe I'm qualified to give you my opinion on the city. Now I have a lot to say, so I think this is going to end up being a series of posts. I'll try to give you a good picture of life in the City of Brotherly Love: the good, the bad, the ugly, the quirky, and anything else I can think of.

If all you know about Philly is Rocky and that Eagles fans are crazy and eat too many cheesesteaks, well you have a lot to learn my friend. Back in October 2005, National Geographic Traveler declared Philadelphia the Next Great City (Next Great City: Philly, Really). Many people probably thought that was strange, but Philadelphians have been noticing for awhile that the city is becoming cool again. People are moving back into the city, big beautiful condo complexes are going up, retail is moving in, fringe neighborhoods are up-and-coming cool, and the restaurant scene is getting really good. And we got Live 8, how awesome is that? (I went, it was incredible). Read the article, it will tell you more.

Here are some things you might not know about Philly:
-Philly is relatively cheap. Wharton students mostly live in Center City near Rittenhouse Square. Guess what, this is the nicest part of the city. How many other urban business schools can you attend where you can actually afford to live in the nicest part of the city?
-Because of PA's arcane liquor laws, it is difficult for restuarants to get liquor licenses. Therefore many of them are BYOB. So you can bring your own bottle of wine to many nice places, and it really reduces the cost of a night out.
-Philly has Fairmount Park, which is one of the largest urban parks in the country. It's great for running, especially along Kelly Drive near Boathouse Row.
-Jon Bon Jovi is a part-owner of the Philadelphia Soul, the arena football team. Richie Sambora is too and just bought a sweet pad in Philly. Imagine that! Potential star sightings in Philly!
-Compared to other schools not in the South or in California, the weather here is actually pretty good. It's typically about 5-10 degrees warmer here than Chicago or Boston (people from those cities will tell you that's not true, but I've lived in all three. Trust me, they are colder. Or don't, check the statistics yourself!). Philly also doesn't get as much snow. What we do get are a lot of wintry mix storms where are not fun, but it's a lot easier to get to class in than snow.
-You probably aren't going to bring your car to Philly, which is fine because you won't need it and parking is a nightmare anyway. But maybe you want to take a trip to Ikea or to visit someone in the burbs? You can rent a car for cheap from Philly Car Share or Zipcar!
-And finally, Philly just recently declared itself the nation's best beer drinking city. Maybe you disagree? Well it will be fun to find out for sure won't it?

Monday, March 31, 2008

Abundance vs. Scarcity Mindset

If you have ever read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, you may remember the discussion of the abundance vs. the scarcity mindset. I haven't read it in a while so I am paraphrasing here. But the gist of it is, if you have a scarcity mindset, your view of the world tells you that opportunity is limited and that you need to compete with others in order to achieve success. If you have an abundance mindset, your view tells you that there are plenty of opportunities available to you, so it will not hurt you to help others along the way.

One of the sessions I attended at the Penn State Powerful Women Paving the Way Conference this weekend was a panel session called "Discovering your Leadership Style." In it, a woman in the audience discussed her fears that today's women are entering the workforce with a competitive attitude and are stepping on each other to achieve success. Her fear is that this creating an environment for women in business that is worse than the male-dominated environment it is replacing. Some women disagreed, but I was one who can see her point. I have been lucky enough to work in an environment where the women supported and helped each other, to the benefit of all. I have also worked in an environment where the women were cliquey and where I felt that I had to "watch my back."

I am not sure if this phenomenon is truly unique to women (think Mean Girls), or if we just notice it more or take it more personally because we don't expect women to be competitive with each other. Either way, I believe a competitive environment can create a toxic situation. Let me be clear though, I think "competitive" can carry both a positive and negative connotation. The positive meaning suggests that someone is capable and driven to succeed. I'm referring to the negative meaning, which suggests that someone views their coworkers as adversaries to be beaten in order to achieve personal success. I can tell you from my experience that it is not fun to work in such an environment, and it can hamper productivity.

Where does this scarcity mindset come from? Many people probably have a tendency to approach the world from one mindset or another to begin with. But I also believe that much of it comes from leadership. The team I worked on where the women supported each other? The leader of that team fostered an environment where the team's goals were all of our goals, and our individual accomplishments needed to support that goal. A failure of any one member would have meant failure for the team, and we were encouraged to help each other. The job where I felt the other women were competing with me? The leader of that group did not work to foster the team spirit. As cheesy as corporate team-building can sometimes feel, people notice when it is absent and make assumptions about leadership's priorities. Our goals were structured based on our leader's goals, and as a result people realized that individual accomplishments were what got you ahead. I assume many of these people felt that helping others achieve their goals would be to the detriment of their success.

So readers, I believe it is up to us, the future business leaders of the world, to make sure that we are fostering an abundance mindset at school and at work. Don't let Mean Girls happen to your team!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Powerful Women Paving the Way

This weekend I attended a conference at Penn State (my alma mater) hosted by the Smeal College of Business and the Women in Business Club. I wasn't sure what to expect since it was the event's first year, but I really enjoyed it and I felt that every session had some relevance to me and my career advancement goals, which I think means it was a great success.

The first speaker was Michelle Austin, an entrepreneur who founded the Fluidity fitness system. You may have seen her infomercial with the free-standing ballet bar. She showed a case study of her company, including how it took her 6 years to raise capital and how much she had to learn about in order to protect her intellectual property and structure good deals with investors. In addition to making me really want to be on Donny Deutsch (click here for Austin's Interview) one day, it made everyone there want the Fluidity bar :)

The second speaker was Anne Weisberg from Deloitte. She is one of the authors of Mass Career Customization: Aligning the Workplace With Today's Nontraditional Workforce. According to Anne, the reason why most flexible work arrangements don't reduce attrition rates or otherwise don't live up to expectations is because they are always set up as exceptions to the norm. Also, tradeoffs such as reduced pay that come with the arrangement usually aren't clear to those outside the arrangement, so it can breed resentment among other employees. Deloitte is implementing Mass Career Customization, which allows each employee to customize their career-life balance across four areas: pace of work, workload, location/schedule, and role. The tradeoffs for "dialing-down" one of these areas are clearly stated, and the choices are incorporated into the employee's performance expectations and review. For example, if you are going to work 80% of full time hours, it will be clear to everyone that you are also receiving 80% pay and your goals will reflect the reduced hours you work so that your performance rating will be fairly assessed. I think it's a great idea and I'm encouraged to see that a big company like Deloitte is giving it a try. I hope other companies join in, because once the baby boomers start to retire in large numbers, companies are going to have trouble finding and keeping good knowledge workers. I think a system like this could help keep people who might otherwise leave. There is an activity on the website where you can customize your own career/life preferences, check it out.

Other than these two, my favorite speaker and a big part of the reason I attended was Sue Paterno, wife of legendary coach Joe Paterno. Sue is very involved in many philanthropic activities, including the Special Olympics and Libraries Advisory Board, among others. She and her husband also donated a significant amount of money to build a library on campus. She discussed the benefits of giving back in any small or big way that you prefer. It was a great way to wrap up the conference: although we are all going to work hard on making our careers the best they can be, it is important to remember that giving back creates valuable rewards for both giver and recipient.

One last note for anyone considering Penn State's Smeal College of Business for their MBA. I got to visit the new Business Building on campus and it is really nice. Smeal was recently ranked #1 by Princeton Review for best business school facilities and I completely agree! The program itself seems to me to be a good up-and-coming second tier program with a very small class size (<200). If that sounds like a good fit for you, I encourage you to check it out. The campus atmosphere and town are beautiful and the football experience can't be beat. I love my alma mater and I've met few fellow alumni that don't feel the same way! It was great to be back this weekend.