Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Who has been backpacking?

It's that time, I'm planning my summer adventures including Vegas - Twice, Colorado, and a solid 5+ weeks in Europe. I've never backpacked before, nonetheless on the opposite side of the world, so suggestions, comments, places to go, things to see, I want all the input I can get. So far, I have the Europe and Western Europe Lonely Planet books. I'll try to narrow down places to which I want to travel. I know people in London, Lisbon, Rome, Paris and Amsterdam. All great places, but may be a bit hard to navigate and Western Europe can get mighty expensive. Note I do need to be in Germany in the middle of my trip for a wedding and I want to go to Prague - just to go.

Other than that, time is my only enemy (and maybe not spending my savings before b-school)... where should I go? What should I see? And what shouldn't I miss? I've only been to Paris, Rome, Florence, and Capri - thus I'm a newbie.

Any suggestions on backpacks? Items not to forget or items not to pack? I know travel light and only pack what you need. Though I do want to enjoy BOTH the nightlife and the sights. Recommendations on clubs would be appreciated as well!

I Don't Like Coffee

But I'll admit, the grounds smell very good. As I close on my 4 year anniversary, which I will never actually celebrate, it's funny to think that even after this long in the financial services industry, I don't drink coffee. When I started, my bosses were stunned and said they'd give me three months before I indulged in Peet's Major Dickason's blend. Never happened.

It's ironic that I'm also attending a school known for their recess named First Coffee. Though luckily, I found they also serve tea and hot cocoa. I supposed I can understand the addiction to Starbucks, only because I did frequent the corner stores on a cold weekend in NY. However, as soon as I returned to the trusty arms of the Bay Area, I stopped. This morning I was entertained as the radio blasted about Starbuck's 12,601 second shut down last night. This must be madness they chirped. For those like me, I'm sure it's a bit difficult to understand what all the fuss is about. It's just coffee, yet I wouldn't want to see any of my co-workers without it.

Monday, February 25, 2008


I can't figure out if I'm still hungover, overly tired or simply out of it. Yesterday, I spent all day in bed with short spells on consciousness, but I promise, it was for good merit. Saturday night was one of my wildest in a long time. About a month ago, I planned a trip to Vegas for 12 hours, which included 9 girls for a friend's birthday. Tickets were dirt cheap and I have a friend whose company puts together entertainment packages, ie. VIP hosted entry to a club and limo to/from the airport. It makes the logistics so much easier than trying to find 3 cabs for every stop we make and wait an additional 2 hours to get into a busy nightclub.

San Francisco weather caused our flight to be delayed by an hour. On one hand, it was good to have time to eat before the adventure, but on the other, it cut down our already tight schedule. As soon as we landed in Vegas, we met our limo at passenger pick-up. Our hostess had stocked the limo with our requested alcohol and drinks were immediately mixed. First stop - Stratosphere to see Dean, a San Francisco native now bartender at Polly Esther's. When we arrived, I leaned over to the birthday girl and said, I have one more surprise, she looked at my in fright and I told her I'd let her know in about 20 minutes. Knowing me, she was skeptical, but I assured her it was nothing bad. Twenty minutes later, my phone rang, I grabbed her and walked straight to the lobby. I was walking quite fast and she was a bit confused, then Linds saw us and walked straight over, the birthday girl fell to her knees and almost started crying. I couldn't have asked for a better reaction to having one of our close friends fly in from Colorado.

That night we went to LAX at Luxor. Picking a meeting place at the beginning of the night proved to be genius. We all met at 3:30 am and headed to breakfast after 4 hours of drinking and dancing. The limo was out front around 5 am and as far as I know, our 6:25 am flight took off on time. I don't think any of us were awake during the flight. Definitely a great adventure, but not one I could repeat on a consistent basis.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Essay Retrospection

Many of you have read my blog for a while and you probably have a good sense of who I am. Most of you have never met me and yet, you may have preconceived notions as to whether or not we'd get along. This is very similar to your business school essays, but likely, you have not even a handful of essays to demonstrate who you are and what you bring to the table.

The season of hopes and dreams is like clockwork, we bust our booties for hours on end to finalize between 1500 and 3000 words about us, our aspirations, our research and our hope to join the business school community of our dreams. And here we are - some of us with admits to die for, others with a full set of dings and another group still pending decisions. No one knows what sort of miracle it took to hit the grand slam or what sort of luck it takes to completely strikeout. We're all good candidates in our own right, but did we whole heartedly communicate that in our essays to the adcom?

I've had the pleasure of reviewing a few essays for some friends, however, I don't count myself as an expert. As I read, I try to put myself in the adcoms' shoes, but I honestly don't know for what they are looking anymore than the next person.

It's dawned on me though. Someone made a comment about my Day@Darden post and how I truly know how to express myself. Truth is, sometimes I do and sometimes I don't. I think this blog has helped me over time sort out my thoughts as has my personal writing that I don't post. More importantly though, I know who I am.

Since I started on my essays many moons ago, people always told me to show my passion. My extra advice, remember what's important to you. If you look at Stanford or Darden's what matters to you most question and after a few minutes you still draw a blank, you need to figure out who you are. It took me thirty seconds to choose a topic for that question. And I understand the question seems weighted, but it doesn't have to be the perfect answer for the adcom, just for you. If there's a laundry list as there is for a lot of us, pick one thing that you feel can define who you are.

Even though a lot of people talk stats, I believe this process is so much more than the numbers we produce.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


As mbabound said, we're totally drinking the kool-aid! I returned home from the movies last night to a box outside my door, after pondering if I had ordered anything lately, I looked at the return address, "Mail from Virginia." I had read on the DardenPortal that people had received a package from Darden. At first, I thought maybe it was only sent to students who couldn't attend Day@Darden as I hadn't received one, but I was wrong. More swag! (I now know where my application fee went. ha!) Enclosed was a Darden mug and black leader portfolio with the school logo stamped in silver. Classy. Among the items in the box, the t-shirt and Darden USB flash drive from Day@Darden, my favorite item isn't anything material. It was the letter enclosed in my box from Dean Brunner and the leadership team, which talked about Darden as a relational school versus a transactional school. I sat there for a moment and thought, this is exactly why I applied and will attend Darden.

Do all schools send boxes of swag?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Master of the Funk

And we're live... a hot pink dress, bright yellow tights, teal converse and I'm ready for Master of the Funk! Master of the Funk is a competitive spin on the traditional host committee for the annual R.O.C.K. benefit - Funk Out with R.O.C.K..

R.O.C.K.: Real Options for City Kids is a nonprofit youth development organization focused in San Francisco's Visitacion Valley neighborhood. ROCK offers sports and fitness, community service, learning enrichment, leadership training and outdoor adventure programs for girls and boys ages 6-17 that live or attend school in Visitacion Valley. Serving over 350 kids a year, the mission of ROCK is to nurture healthy development of children and provide opportunities to those who might not otherwise have access.

The Competition: Bring in the most donations from combined ticket sales and monetary donations. Whoever has the most donations on April 9th, 2008 at 11:59pm is crowned, MASTER OF THE FUNK!

The Event: Funk Out with ROCK
Date: April 12, 2008
Time: 8p-2a
Location: Rockit Room in San Francisco, CA
Live Band, Silent Auction, Raffle
Benefit Goal: $15,000

The fun: Check out the YouTube Video below to see all the Candidates in their funk gear. Click here to buy a ticket or donate to the organization (tax deductible)- the candidate whose picture you choose to donate under is the one you want to win Master of the Funk. As donations roll in, there will be a funk-o-meter where you can see total donations and who is in the lead to be crowned Master of the Funk. Of course, I'd like the votes, but...should you choose someone else, I won't be too disappointed. This is a great cause and one with which I've been involved for the last two years.

Monday, February 18, 2008


I feel like I'm walking on water and I'm not quite sure if this recap will do Day@Darden any justice. I've been home for a little less than 5 hours and I think I have caught up on all my email. So here it goes...

Thursday morning I caught a flight from SFO to IAD (Dulles), which was uneventful, but given that I didn't immediately receive a seat assignment, I was a bit worried about how the day was going to go. Luckily, this was not indicative of the rest of the afternoon. Avis rent-a-car was a breeze and by 5 pm I was on the road to C'ville. I chose to stay with a student host to get the full experience, though I was a bit concerned about how our personalities would mesh. My rational was, it's only two days. My student host, Elise, and I exchanged emails before I left home and I had planned to meet with a handful of current Darden students for dinner before heading over to her house. Dinner was at a local joint called Wild Wings. It's sportsbar-like and had plenty of room for the 30 of us there. I didn't meet a lot of admitted students, but spoke at length with a current first and second years. All had positive things to say about Darden and were willing to answer any questions I had, however I couldn't think of any.

After dinner I went to Elise's, which is located in Huntington Village. She had warned me that she'd have people over for pre-TNDC (Thursday Night Drinking Club). I walked in to a living room of about 15 people, the majority of them male. I was quickly informed that the diversity was not a good representation of Darden, but the male to female ratio was. Elise did not like the venue picked for TNDC, but her friend Steve would not let me miss the experience, so I left with a key and a handful of second years. We stopped by Buddhist Biker Bar (TNDC's designated bar for the night) where I met more people from various years as well as an admitted student and future classmate, Leah. After Buddhist, we ventured to Three, which is located on the Corner and included a mix of Darden and UVA undergrads. Dancing ensued and around 1 am it was time to head home as Friday would be a very busy day.

I wish I could say I jumped out of bed when my alarm sounded, but instead I continued to sleep on the comfy couch until Elise woke me at 7:30 am. I was on grounds (note, it isn't called campus) by 8 am where I quickly picked up my bag of SWAG and headed to the NAWMBA (National Association of Women MBAs) brunch. I sat next to a professor who seems to be a favorite of all and with 40 years under his belt, I'm sure he has some stories. An alumni speaker who works at the World Bank spoke of the work-life balance, females in the working world, and another topic I don't recall. Immediately following breakfast, we had learning team simulation. None of us had opened our bags, so we were surprised to find we had a case in our packet. We took a few minutes to read it and shared our thoughts. Our second year coach showed us how we would crack the case together, though without a computer we simply had to envision the result. (It was financial/Excel based.)

Next, we attended First Coffee, which is where I started to bond with fellow classmates. Rongling, another admitted student and I hit it off. It's amazing to hear the backgrounds of future classmates, born in China, grew up in Africa, or living in London - I know I have my own story to share, but as someone who has lived the majority of her life in SF, it's a different experience. But as I say, I'm collecting couches and these are the people I plan to visit. The rotunda was filled with people from all years including faculty for First Cofee. It reminded me of homeroom or recess from HS. Plus, free coffee, tea or hot cocoa is not a bad reason to congregate in the rotunda.

DA (Decision Analysis) class followed where we got to witness case study in action, not just any case study though, the one we had reviewed in our learning team simulation. The person who was asked to present the case came ill prepared, which definitely irked the professor, though he didn't let up. I definitely wouldn't have wanted to be in student's shoes. It was very interesting and the conversation was intriguing, yet had to be cut short as they chose the candidates for Darden's Luckiest Student. We learned that students do not talk about cases between classes even though someone may have DA at 8 am and another person at 10am. This further enforces Darden's honor code. Exams are also take home with an allowed 8 hour window in which you're only allowed to use 5 hours for completion. Again, all on your honor.

We had a SHORT 15 minute break to sign up for brunch on Saturday morning and speak with financial aid officers and the like. This is where I finally met Rahul, who I had exchanged messages with before C'Ville. I think we're going to be good friends.

Next up, Strategy Class visit, which was a presentation by Dean Bruner discussing the difficulties Darden has in conjunction with globalization and competing with other top MBA programs, of which none were specifically named. This is the most transparent you will likely ever see a school. The Dean asked the student perception on the challenges that Darden faces as globalization ensues as well as what the community can do about it. How does Darden become more recognized around the globe instead of just well respected in the MBA world? We were asked for a story placed in 2018 on how Darden has evolved in the last 10 years and what steps Darden took to get there. Absolutely incredible and definitely hits a lot of admits and future applicants reservations on matriculating into a lessor known program in the world.

The day didn't stop, subsequently, we had lunch with Darden faculty. I'll admit, I didn't talk much as I was extremely hungry at this point. It was time to simply listen. Good conversation and great insights continued. I also ran into Michael Woodfolk, the alumni coordinator for Darden who I met at the SF reception in September of last year. He was extremely excited to see me in C'ville!

The Question and Answer session following lunch hit on subjects such as financial aid, student affairs, career development, and an introduction by the associate Dean. I'll admit, I was ready for a breather by the end of the presentation and thus, was given an entire hour before the next scheduled event. I took the time to purchase a ball cap from the student store and change into business attire for dinner. By the time I returned, Cold Call was in full swing. Cold call is where they have snacks and beer in the PepsiCo Forum. Again, more time to socialize and attempt to connect faces and names. I met so many people and I can only recall a small handful. At 7:15p the bus picked us up for dinner, which was held at Boar's Head Inn.

Boar's Head Inn had an open bar in the back, of which we all took advantage. At the close of this long day, a cocktail was welcomed. Seating for dinner was open, so everyone grabbed a friend and chose a table. Our table quickly bonded and the lot of us discussed the night's activities. Dinner was delicious and we all left with our bellies full and a few new friends. I was happy that dinner encompassed more prospective students than current students. It gave us a chance to get to know each other, which is what this day was about in my opinion. I attended Day@Darden because you never know who you will meet or how you will sway their decision one way or another. Each person often asked where you were in your Darden decision and seeing I turned in my deposit on Friday, you could say, I already signed the dotted line. Rahul said he was 98% sure he'd attend, but I quickly corrected him and told him he wasn't allowed to go anywhere else. ;)

Some went home immediately after dinner to catch up on sleep they had yet to get. The other group headed to X-Lounge for the LASA event. It was all Darden students and again a very friendly atmosphere. A group of 6 of us shared stories for a while. I also hung out with my new found 2Y friends, however they will be gone next year. Jim, a Colorado Grad who I met during my interview was happy to see another Colorado Alum at Darden. If you've read my small world stories previously, here's another one for you. Jim lived with a guy in Boulder in the same complex in which I lived for 3 years. Granted, we were there at different times, but the guy with whom he lived, Craig, owned the place next door to my condo and thus was also my neighbor for three years. Turns out they're still good friends and so I passed on a Hello. Small world!

I decided to forgo brunch on Saturday and was happy seeing I slept in. Elise, her roommate Chun, and I spent a good hour gabbing about Darden - the good, the bad, and the ugly. There is nothing that turned me off about the program or the people. They simply mentioned relationship logistics (or the normal gossip - who is together, was together, is married, was married etc), which you'll likely find in any MBA program. Elise said this was the best decision she's ever made, and I believe it. I slipped out shortly before 3 pm and headed to DC for the rest of my weekend festivities, which will be in another post. A wonderful 2 days in C'ville.

My novel is now complete. I'm very excited for the upcoming months and the next two years. I have found my fit at Darden. Please feel free to ask any questions, I'll answer them to the best of my ability. I can't explain how much help the current students have been and every time they hear you're an admitted student, they give you a heartfelt CONGRATULATIONS! Dean Bruner even mentioned that for each seat in round 1, there were 9 applicants competing. Very competitive this year.

Off to bed, work will be early tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Full Throttle

It's Wednesday, and I'm not exactly sure how it became Wednesday. Yes, I know Wednesday is the day after Tuesday, but it seems my days have been packed leaving the house slightly before 7 am and returning between 6p and 10p. Last night I finally slept, which was definitely needed, but has left me a handful of tasks to complete. Today looks like this: work, haircut, chiropractor, Earthquakes (soccer) exhibition game, pack and get ready for C'Ville/DC.

I've rented a car, yay! At least that is done. Early this week I was contacted with the name of my student host on whose couch I will crash for 2 days. Part of me thought I should forgo the couch surfing and rent a hotel, but seeing I don't plan to spend much time sleeping, the hotel would likely be a waste of funds. Additionally, this way I may partake in TNDC (Thursday Night Drinking Club), a movie night with current students and a Carnival celebration sponsored by the Latin America club. Not to mention, I still have class visits, breakfast with the NAWMBA, a speech by the dean, various presentations and dinner with alum at Boar's Head Inn. It's going to be a busy 2 days! After C'Ville, I celebrate with Mack in DC until I return on Monday.

Now I need to figure out what I'm going to pack! Attire needed: Casual, business casual, business and going out (for DC). Hmmmm ...

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Focus...Try to Focus

Argh, I think I've been updating Quickbooks for 3 hours, which can only mean, I haven't been able to focus for more than 10 minutes at a time. I'm not sure if I'm simply lazy today, or if it's this horrible cold, though I'm leaning towards both. Purchased my ticket for Day@Darden. Turns out this is the first time they've had an early admit weekend. I thought about skipping it because it seems to be for those who are on the fence, however I think it would be interesting to meet some of my potential and future classmates. Plus, I'd like to figure out housing, financial aid and summer travel plans. For whatever reason, I feel this trip may help me with those. Furthermore, I get to spend another 2 days with one of the besties, Mack. I may even watch her volleyball tournament on Saturday!

I looked at the calendar today - how the heck did I get so busy?? Chiropractor appts to fix my hip. Birthday parties. Meetings for my women's group. Meetings for volunteering. Trips to C'Ville/Wash DC, and Vegas, two each. Soccer games/practice. New member recruiting. Planning for Darden. And I'm sure there's more that I'm forgetting. I get the feeling the next 6 mos are going to fly.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Logistics and such

It's 10 o'clock and I have yet to eat anything. I've been at work 3 hours and feel more human than I did yesterday, however, my cold, even after 2 weeks, has worsened. Can you tell I had a good celebratory weekend?

Logistics: Where to begin?

Day@Darden is in 2 weeks and I'm still trying to figure out if it is feasible to go based on costs and time off work. Granted, I was just in C'ville, but I think it would be nice to meet some of my fellow classmates and get to know more about the 1st years I will be joining. Additionally, information on housing would help the stress of moving. I'm likely to live on campus, but I'm not sure how much room is available. And I do plan on bringing my car with me, which seems to be another hassle with the VA DMV. Cheers.

Next, the job. I likely decided many moons ago that I wasn't going to be here through July. Though the thought of the bonus is tempting, I always wanted to travel the summer before business school and this is my chance. I spoke with a friend yesterday who wants to go to Prague and travel Europe for two weeks. He's a buddy from college, thinking about business school, who is simply great company, so I may take him up on the offer. Another friend wants to travel Europe for 2 weeks as well, and she would be a blast. Lastly, there is someone else interested in South America for a few weeks. Maybe I really could go around the world. ;) Another thought was to connect with future classmates or b-school students and try to set up travel. Obviously still some planning on that front.

I have logged in and connected with a few people on the DardenPortal who I met while in C'ville for my interview. I've decided Darden is brilliant for requiring on campus interviews. DardenPortal is similar to a facebook/myspace, but just for Darden students. You're automatically connected to all admitted students through a group as well as admits in your region. There are additional groups based of post-grad interests and you can create your own groups - I started one for Soccer. Go fig, huh? It's fun to see where people went to school, where they live, what their career interests are, and some of us have already added photos. Friend requests are possible, although the UI could be better. I've also decided the Portal doesn't like long email messages as I ran into some hiccups trying to respond to someone - I get a little longwinded sometimes. ;) Either way, it's a great idea and I'm guessing most schools have some sort of community like this. I thought about making a facebook group for the Darden class of 2010, but perhaps I should slowdown a bit.

It's time to find some food and perhaps focus on some work... Hope everyone has a GREAT day!!

"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader" - John Quincy Adams

Friday, February 01, 2008


It's hard for me to focus on work today, yet I can't tell if it's the excitement or incessant headache I have. Everyone has started to ask questions and I'm on information overload. First decision: Stay at my job through the end of April or middle of July? Hmm...pros and cons to each. I have always wanted to journey around the world before business school, but as I think of the finances and logistics, I wonder if that's the right path. My bosses posted the job description almost immediately after they heard my news. Yes, it's exciting and I realize it will take time to fill my shoes, but a part of me is unnerved. I haven't even decided when I'm leaving!

On the other hand, my parents are asking about costs. They have offered to help support me during my 2 year sabbatical from the working world so that I'm not completely under water on the other side. For this, I'm VERY fortunate and lucky, I recognize that, however, I have problems accepting the help. I know I shouldn't as I still live at home, but I do. I don't want restrictions on what I do or what decisions I make and for some reason, I feel as if that's what financial dependency is. Hence, I learn towards staying at work and getting my next bonus.

In my personal life, I have commitments through the end of May and possibly longer, though I'm unsure because my women's soccer season hasn't even begun. Additionally, what the hell would I do with so much free time?! I'd almost be tempted to get a part time job so I don't become incredibly lazy. I suppose I just feel like I'm being replaced already and I still have six months until I move. Likewise, I haven't even received my acceptance package. Is it happy hour yet?


I don't think I've stopped to catch my breath as I read CONGRATULATIONS a few hours ago. I've been to San Francisco and back for a beer with some teammates to celebrate Tim's birthday. I tried not to steal the thunder, but couldn't settle down long enough to sit in a chair. I'm so happy I'm on the verge of tears - happy tears. 10 Months of hard work has finally paid off, with two dings, one wait list, and now an admit to my number one school, I can't explain how much this means.

I've had the pleasure of making some friends along the way, and I'm hoping, these people will soon be classmates. If not, I look forward to hearing about their adventures in business school. I'm still in shock. I realize I have a lot of logistics to figure out in the coming weeks, namely, when do I leave my job, but until then, I pause, smile, and prepare for a weekend of CELEBRATION!

Thanks to all who have been there on my journey. From family and friends who listen to my complaints, to my sacred reviewers, generous recommenders, and fabulous blog readers. I couldn't have gotten through this without you! :D

Signing off, I need to rest up for an intense weekend. I'll write more when I actually catch my breath.