Monday, January 31, 2005

Travel Planning 101 
When analyzing two possible flight itineraries, at what point do you take a later direct flight over an earlier 1 stop flight? Let's say, hypothetically, that you have a 1 stop flight that arrives two hours earlier than your direct flight. They're the same price and the layover is an hour long and in a city not known for bad January weather. Is a two hour difference enough to take the 1 stop? I thought so, but apparently I was mistaken.

Jie and I flew out to Denver for the weekend to catch a couple of days of snow skiing while the rest of the family was there. It's hard to turn down free room and food, especially when airline tickets are just $200. We flew there Friday night on AirTran, the 1 stop flight via Atlanta, since it arrived 2 hours before the JetBlue flight. Unfortunately, we wound up spending 5 hours on the runway in Atlanta waiting to be de-iced before we could takeoff. It was painful to say the least, and I was not impressed with the way our AirTran crew handled the whole situation. I don't think I will be flying them again.

Just to make things exciting, we also drove through a snowstorm last night on our way to the Denver airport to get back to Boston. We left 3.5 hours before our flight, and managed to get on the plane about 5 minutes before they closed the cabin door and pushed away from the gate. The 90 minute drive from Winter Park wound up taking about 2.5 hours.

Classes were great fun today, as I struggled to operate on 4 hours sleep. I know that most of my MBA brethren make-do on not much more than that on a regular basis, but I'm a big wimp and don't work well on any less than about 6 hours. My goal is to hit the sack around 7pm tonight and get a solid 12 hours to catch up.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Interview Schedule 
Well, my closed interview schedule is set for Hell Week. I don't have an overload on any particular day, but I do have 6 interviews that week, with another the following week. I'm also an alternate for a company, and there is still the lottery/open interview process to go through, so all is not said and done. The process has been relatively painless and straightforward, but there is a lot of competition in certain fields, which makes it very challenging for career switchers to get closed spots.

All in all, I did about as well as I expected for the closed process. Hopefully during the lottery I'll get an additional interview, and hopefully my alternate spot works out as well. What is frustrating about many positions is that a company may be interviewing 12-24 people for 1 or 2 slots. Most of the companies that come here also go to Wharton, Chicago, Kellogg, etc., and so they are probably interviewing 100 people for 4-6 slots or so. Those odds are worse than getting into HBS in the first place.

Of course, if I wanted to go into sales or general management I would have a significantly easier time of it. I can only blame myself for targeting one of the perennial favorite industries among MBAs.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Happy Blogiversary to me! 
What began with the simple words This is the very beginning of my BLOG... has now become a year-old endeavor. It's been a lot of fun to write and keep up my own portion of web space, and I'd like to think that I've added some minuscle amount of value along the way, aside from giving our parents and friends a way to keep up with us.

Over the last year I've decided on a b-school, worked through a strike, spent a month at the lake, driven 1800 miles in a big-ass truck, started business school, and begun looking for a future career. It's been a good year, and I've very much enjoyed writing about it. I think by now most of my friends here at school are aware of my blogging fetish, and several have expressed how valuable they think this will be to me in the future. I already enjoy reading back through old posts, especially as the critical issues of the day now seem so comical and minor in hindsight. I have no doubt that in the next year or two I will look back on the internship search process and think that I was silly for taking it all so seriously and not enjoying things more. Ah well, such is life.

Speaking of internship search, interview invites have been a rollercoaster affair. The first three of my companies that released decisions all granted me interviews, but then the next five firms shot me down. This morning I got another two invites, and it turns out that one of the firms that I thought didn't want me yesterday actually released invites for a different position, so I still have the opportunity to get an interview with them. All things told I am doing about as well as I thought I would, and it looks like my hell week will be rigorous but not quite hellish.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Of interviews, airlines, and jury duty 
Interview closed lists are starting to come out today. The majority will be released tomorrow, with the stragglers coming in Wednesday. Starting Wednesday at 5pm we can sign-up for specific slots and I'll start to have an idea of what my hell week schedule will look like. Thus far everything seems to be going according to plan, but only a fraction of my target companies have released lists, so we'll see.

Last week when Jie and I were booking our trip to Puerto Rico the ticket prices jumped from $330pp to $380pp at the last minute, literally. Those same tickets are now back to $330pp today. Stupid airlines...

I got a summons for jury duty on Friday. I lived in Texas for 26 years and was never summonsed for a jury, 5 months in Boston and it happened already. Worse yet, it is due to the urgent needs of the court, so I may not be able to get out of it just for being a student. To add insult to injury, my date is the Thursday before Hell Week. And just to kick me while I'm down, my court location is out in Dorchester instead of being in Boston or Cambridge. Hopefully the judge will take pity and allow me to delay it until recruiting is over, but recruiting doesn't really end until after March 6th, I don't know if he'll buy a month delay. We'll see...

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Blizzard of '05 
I started taking pictures of the courtyard in front of our building at 4:30pm yesterday. I took one every hour until about 2:20am, and then another at 6:20 and 10:20 this morning. Below are the before and after pictures, but be sure to click on one to get to the gallery so you can see the progression.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow... 
We're expecting 15-25 inches of snow in Boston tonight. I'm not really sure what that will look like. We had 8 inches just before Thanksgiving, and I thought that was a lot. Now it looks like we're going to get 2 or 3 times as much. Jie and I had been talking about going to a movie tonight, but I guess that's out.

Friday, January 21, 2005

I posted the following comment on Megami's blog after reading her review of HBS and received an e-mail from Marissa requesting that I post it here as well. It was in response to Megami's comment that she had previously been dissatisfied by "the 'quality' of people at HBS (in terms of sincerity, openness to build REAL friendships rather than superficial acquaintances, etc.)" Here is my response (with a few additions):

Depending on who you talk to, superficiality can be a big problem at HBS. Personally, the atmosphere is just about right for me, since I prefer a few very good friends to a lot of good friends. I feel comfortable saying that Jie and I have definitely met people that we will stay in touch with for a long time.

It does irk some people that in general there can be a networking feel to the school at large, rather than a true friendly atmosphere. I've never really felt the networking vibe, so I don't know. Part of that may be that your experience is highly section dependent, and the section vibe is usually set by a dominant minority. My section's dominant minority is very inclusive and friendly, and so I don't see the issues that others do. I would also say that in a school of 900, you have many extremely nice and genuine people, and some not-so-nice and not-so-genuine people. Your experience kind of depends on how many of each that are in your section, and how much you let their attitude influence your own experience.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Two things you don't want to do... 
I was at a recruiting event tonight discussing the overall interview process with a couple of higher-up company people when they relayed a couple of things that had gotten other applicants in trouble. One applicant was from HBS, another from Duke.

The HBS person apparently skipped out on the info session but tried to cover it up in her cover letter by complimenting the main speaker on his message. Unfortunately, the main speaker had cancelled at the last minute and had been replaced with someone else. That is a sure-fire way to not get an interview.

The Duke person was actually interviewed and chosen by the interviewer to be brought back for a second round. Unfortunately, HR nixed his choice because that candidate had sent e-mails to people who were supposed to attend an event but weren't able to make it, telling them how much he had enjoyed speaking with them. Again, a good way to lose out on a summer job.

Of course, one could argue that these people wouldn't have had a good chance anyway, given that they skipped events. That's probably true, but as I learned from the Martha Stewart case, it's better to be honest about something that may not be held against you than to cover it up and get busted for lying.

When I walk outside tomorrow morning to go to class it will be 3 degrees. Not 3 degrees celsius, mind you, 3 degrees fahrenheit. That's -16 celsius! It will be a balmy 47 degrees in Palo Alto, 58 in Austin, and 62 in Houston, just for your reference.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

I just wanted to wish all the accepted students congratulations! The long wait is over! I'll be taking part in some of the student contact initiatives, as well as Admit Weekend activities, so hopefully I'll be getting to know some of you pretty soon. In the meantime, please drop me a line if you have any questions about the school, the program, what happens next, etc. I'll be happy to help in any way I can!

Again, congratulations!

Spring Break! 
My few loyal readers may remember my short-lived excitment back in December when it appeared we were going to Barbados for Spring Break. Unfortunately, that fell through, and so we started planning a trip with several other couples for somewhere in the Caribbean. Apparently the travel industry has fully recovered, because flights to just about every destination were running over $500pp, and we had slim pickings. We finally managed to find a couple of good options, one in Puerto Rico and another in the Dominican Republic. However, we couldn't all come to an agreement on an acceptable cost, length of stay, etc., so that too fell through.

Just now, and I mean minutes ago, Jie and I finally nailed down our Spring Break plans. During my research I became enamored with Vieques, a small island off of Puerto Rico that used to be the site of Naval weapons testing. That ended several years ago, but the island is still relatively un-touristy and very relaxed. There is only one sizable resort on the island, a Wyndham, along with many small hotels, hostels, and B&B's. Jie and I will be staying 6 nights at a B&B over Spring Break, which sounds incredibly relaxing and the perfect remedy to the Boston winter. This will be a pretty pricey trip, but it's the first real vacation that we've taken on our own since our 4 nights in Hawaii as part of our honeymoon two years ago.

Just as everything was falling into place we hit a bump in the road that has been typical of the vacation planning process. Literally as we went to book the airfare American raised the prices and we ended up paying $100 more than we thought we would. Ah well, I know it will be worth it after two more months of winter. Did I mention it's 19 degrees today in Boston?

Monday, January 17, 2005

Good luck! 
A quick good luck to those of you who are waiting for HBS and Stanford admit calls in the next two days. I was in your shoes last year, it was an anxious time. I was lucky enough to be skiing in Steamboat at the time, and it was a great feeling to finally know (I kept my voicemail from DB until I left my job in June, since it was on my work number). Last year was a bit different, as both schools officially announced on the same day. This year Stanford officially announces on the 18th and HBS on the 19th for R1. I got my Stanford call a day early, 1/20, which had been the custom for the last couple of years. Perhaps this year they kept it on the official day since they were already a day ahead of HBS. Last year HBS updated the website with admission status precisely at 12pm Eastern on the designated day, 1/21. So I assume this year's R1 group will hear the word same time on Wednesday. Good luck!

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Cover Letter Madness 
I finished submitting all the cover letters and resumes for the jobs I've targeted for the summer. I know that I'll wind up with something, but not exactly sure what, or where, it will be. I may have gone overboard on apps, but I want to hedge my bet since I'm changing industries.

School is kicking my butt right now also. It's hard to get back into old habits, especially since I was on cruise control for the last 3-4 weeks of term 1. I imagine everyone else is in the same boat, which makes this one of those rare instances when the forced curve could actually be useful.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

A four hour bus ride, a four hour bus ride... 
I don't know if anyone has been watching the weather, but it's snowing from NYC to Boston. Unfortunately for us, we were just in a bus driving from NYC to Boston. Our four hour bus ride mushroomed into 6.5 hours, with the traffic leaving the city and the snow all along the way. I did manage to read all my cases for tomorrow and Thursday, though. My advice: take Amtrak instead of the chinatown bus when the weather is sketchy. Oh yeah, and don't buy tickets in advance online, especially when going from Boston to NY. The buses don't really fill up until the very, very last minute, and the two companies are right across from each other in Boston. You can get really cheap tickets (50% off) at the last minute since they compete head to head.

Grades for Term 1 came out today. I'm happy with my semester grades, but not with most of my finals. If I have time, I'll probably go try and see some of my professors and find out what my big problems were. Hopefully it's something that can be corrected for next time. All in all nothing to worry about, but I want to see if it's something easy that I screwed up so I can avoid the same mistake for Term 2.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Fortune Cookie 
My fortune cookie tonight at dinner read something like: "A good beginning is half done." Considering I had two info interviews today, with two more tomorrow, I thought my fortune was strangely appropriate.

The Chinatown bus was pretty cool. It was cheap, clean, and I was able to sleep just about the whole way. Of course, it now looks like I will be woefully underprepared for classes Wednesday, but whatever.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Back in Boston 
We're finally back in Boston, after spending about 17 days in Texas. We had a great time, but it's nice to be back home. I can't wait to shower in my own shower and sleep in my own bed. Everything west of the Rockies was free of precipitation, which made for a very smooth flight. Tomorrow morning we leave for NY on the Chinatown bus. Right now I've just got to print out our bus confirmation page, make sure I know how to get there, and then get some sleep. We're taking the 7am bus, which means we'll have to leave here around 5:45. Ouch.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Fly me to Vegas! 
After spending the night in downtown Austin with a lot of our Austin friends, we went to Melanie's house for poker. In just under an hour and a half I managed to clean out the other four players. This has to be my greatest day of poker ever. After wiping out the two strongest players I had one person left. We decided to go all in, even though I had many times more chips, on one last hand. I had a full house on the flop. That typifies my luck on the night.

On the way home I bought a few scratch-off tickets for the helluva it. I managed to win back the $4 I spent, which is definitely a positive result, but with my streak of luck I was hoping for more. Ah well, it was fun while it lasted. Hopefully that winning streak will flow over into internships!

Friday, January 07, 2005

  1. The Texas Trek is a lot of fun, particularly with more than one school represented (HBS, Texas, Rice)
  2. Some companies know how to hold a meeting with students better than others
  3. The Dell factory floor is something else, I was seriously impressed
  4. Allergies top the list of things I don't miss about Texas
  5. Hand-written thank you notes are a huge pain for someone with as bad handwriting as myself (I can't tell you how many times I've been told: Wow, you should have gone to med school)
  6. It's too bad I don't want to live in Austin, since just about all my college and high school friends live here

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Poor sooners 
In the interest of Big XII solidarity I should probably be rooting for OU. Fortunately, my hatred of that school runs sufficiently deep that I can revel in their blowout loss to USC. I thought the PAC-10 was overrated, and was kind of looking forward to OU putting them in their place, but this is really much better. It's been a while since I could proudly reflect on a Longhorn bowl victory and at the same time laugh at the plight of the sooners and aggies. Ha!

Monday, January 03, 2005

Hectic days of sloth 
This has been about the busiest vacation I can remember. Not for any particular reason, mind you, and I haven't actually accomplished that much, but for some reason it seems like I've been consistently busy.

We spent the first 6 days in Houston with my family, having Christmas with both sets of parents and generally doing the family thing. I also managed to meet with a company that I am interested in there. Then we came up to Austin to spend time with Jie's parents and several of our friends. It's been a really enjoyable time, but behind it all is the ever-present anxiety about my summer internship, and so I haven't been able to 100% enjoy anything.

Starting tomorrow we're going back to Houston for a few days before the Texas Trek on Thursday. I'll be meeting with a couple of companies on my own, then going on the Trek, and then driving to Austin for the Friday portion. After that it's back to Houston on Saturday and back to Boston on Sunday.

It doesn't look like I will be able to blog much at all until perhaps the 14th. Once we get back to Boston we're turning around and heading down to NYC for a few days to meet with a few firms there. That's all still being set up, so if anyone has any suggestions on the best way to get there from Boston or where to stay once there, I'm all ears. I've all but ruled out the Chinatown bus since I will want to get work done both ways, but I'm not sold on the train and airfare is too expensive right now for a one night trip.

Anyway, good luck to all those who are submitting round 2 applications!

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