jueves, abril 19, 2007

MBA applicant waitlist management advice

A friend just told me that he has been waitlisted in his application to a top-notch MBA (the other school that he applied to dinged him after the interview), so here are some thoughts on how to manage the waitlist process:

- first and foremost, review why you want to do an MBA. Sometimes people are waitlisted because they don't have enough work or international experience, or because they don't manage to pull out a convincing story in their application. So review it!! Did you sound convincing? are you convinced that an MBA at this point in your life and career is the right thing?

- have a backup plan ready. Again, think of the different possibilities, along the lines of "what would happen if I don't get into school XXXX?" Check alternative schools' admission dates: some have pretty late rounds (visa problems might apply here, so the best strategy is always to start early with your applications!). Last year, my backup plan was based on some Spanish schools in Madrid and Barcelona that have a last round in late june (luckily I didn't have to use them! ;)

- consider the possibility of delaying your MBA for a year. In the midst of the application process, it is difficult to even think of this option, but better to be mentally prepared for an eventual ding that would kill all our options.

Once the above is ready, it is time to start the action. You have been waitlisted, so the door is not closed. What could you do to possibly maximize your chances???

- Be polite and don't lose your nerves. Send an email to AdCom reconfirming your interest in the school and its programme.

- network, network, network: most schools have outreach or ambassador programmes in which current students liaise with applicants. If you have visited the school already, you might know some of those: ask their advice and support! Most probably AdCom will take students' opinions into account.

- if you haven't done so yet, visit the school. Go for a drop-in session (usually monday or friday), try to meet with current students. It will boost your motivation, and most probably will help you (see the point above).

- Of course, if there are any changes in your career to date (e.g. promotion offer, change, increase in responsibilities, etc.) let AdCom know. Don't bother them by sending them a weekly email, but do send them a short note with the info, and reconfirm again your interest in that particular school and that specific MBA programme.

Even if you follow this advice, remember that it is very competitive and that there are many people who are rejected. Especially now: I heard that MBA applications are up this year 50% compared to last year, at least here in London. So it is very difficult.

However, the MBA application game is all about keeping your options open and maximizing your chances.

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miércoles, abril 18, 2007

Karlitos in Translation (2)

Thanks to Patxi for his wonderful Photoshop skills....

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martes, abril 10, 2007

lost in translation: crosscultural impressions from an MBA student after visiting Japan

So this is me in a Japanese hotel room, wearing a Yukata (Japanese pajamas) and looking completely lost. In fact, this was the case almost every night for the past 2 weeks. Japan is a great country, full of interesting places and people, but some things just look a bit different.

Hereby, my impressions about what's worth seeing and what has impressed me the most. Of course, these are my personal opinions, so take them with a grain of salt....:P

- Japanese food: it's amazing, tasty, fresh, healthy...however, there are many things apart from sushi that Japanese eat. And to be honest, some tastes (or lack thereof) require a certain "training". This is why, for instance, I wasn't able to appreciate all the different varieties of tofu that Japanese people eat. On the other hand, I haven't eaten fresher sushi anywhere in the world...yummy!

- Japanese onsen or hot springs: like most cultures (Scandinavian/Slawic/Russian with sauna and baths, Roman Baths, Turkish hammam, etc), the Japanese also had their own baths. They started out of necessity (for hygiene) and opportunity (there are many natural hot springs in the volcanic islands of Japan). In fact, the baths have a certain interesting etiquette, where males and females are kept separated, and enjoy fantastic settings: imagine an outdoor jacuzzi with hot water in the middle of a forest. I must admit that I got addicted!!

- Service: maybe it's due to an incipient only tourism industry, maybe to the traditional Eastern hospitality, but we've always felt very welcome in Japan. And in bars, hotels and restaurants, people have treated us great!! Some people even stopped us on the streets, when they heard us talk Spanish, to ask where we were from. On top of it, it struck me that there are few incentives for waiters: Japan is a tip-free country, and the service is still outstanding. On one occasion, after buying a soda on a takeaway, the waiter came running after us to give us the 10 yen (ca. €0.07) change back.

- Urban planning (or lack thereof). Japan cities have nice skylines, however, some places are a bit claustrophobic. It just looks like an immense agglomeration of people, houses, offices and factories. Of course it might be due to the lack of soil, and it is partially made up for with the beauty of Japan's natural landscapes (like the ones around Mt Fuji in the Hakone area). But it is still impressive...

- Karaoke: much more fun than in the West, in Japan karaoke is done in a private room, with drinks. Shame is out of the equation: everybody has to sing. And, to be honest, our Japanese friends could sing, and quite well. Not sure it's genetic or just much more practice than the rest of us...

- the Japanese fan phenomenon: nearby big shopping malls, amateur singers and performers try to imitate their idols, usually some manga characters. Hordes of people surround them. Amazing show...

In conclusion: a fantastic trip, and a well spent spring break. I indeed recommend all MBA students around to take advantage of the fantastic travel opportunities they will probably have. In our case, the Japanese MBAs organizers of the trip had taken care of everything to the smallest details. I doubt I would have gone to Japan and had the same experience on my own, much less on a traditional touristic package.

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