After getting an early morning acceptance call from the Chicago Booth School of Business two days ago, one would think I’d be more calm and zen than I was when I got up this morning. I was actually–its a huge relief that you have somewhere (really good) to go to for b-school after all of the blood sweat and tears that all of us have put into this process over the past 6-12 months (closer to 12 for yours truly).
Curiosity Kills the Cat
Then I gave into my lower nature. I logged into BeatTheGMAT and GMATClub simultaneously and began checking updates from people around the globe as they got acceptance calls from Wharton; and I did so in side-by-side windows as I ate breakfast. Utter and Complete Lunacy.
While I took some comfort in seeing that most of the admits seemed to be in Asia, Europe and the East Coast (and I figured the West Coast would get our calls hours later), there is just something about watching other people progressively post their updated status as new admits to Wharton’s Class of 2015 that makes you go slightly crazy if you’re still waiting for yours.
An hour or so later, I was about ready to start my commute and told myself that I wouldn’t panic until lunchtime when the online statuses were supposed to be changing. In the meantime, I’d keep my phone by my side like a drug dealer and would not be putting it on buzz when I got to work. My quiet office of e-business folk would just have to deal with its noise until I (hopefully) got that call.
The call from (215) 898 – 2585
Then at 8:16 am, a call from a familiar area code blasted onto my phone. I know that 3-digit code well, as my favorite hip-hop group (actually my favorite group period) of all time is The Roots.
Philly. Illadeph. South Street. Cheese steaks. Bahamadia. BlackThought. Black Lotus. Jill Scott. Will Smith. The 215. I know those numbers well, because I’ve recited those numbers in countless lyrics over the past #@%^@% [age alert!] years.
It was Ankur Kumar, Wharton’s Director of admissions. She had called to put me out of my morning misery. “Hello, ******** speaking”, I said, as if I hadn’t already checked the caller ID; as if I wasn’t already doing cartwheels and full gainers into P-Diddy’s infinity pool in my head.
“It’s Ankur Kumar”, she said with an audible grin. “Yes! Talk to me Ankur!” I belted shamelessly. Why have pretense NOW?
After welcoming me into the Wharton Class of 2015, she sweetened the deal with a generous fellowship (actually for the exact same amount as Booth’s offer) that I was more than grateful to hear about. Groupon on a Wharton MBA? I’m definitely listening. Small talk with “thank you thank you” somewhere in there. Phone clicks. Jabberwocky-like Celebration ensues.
A Star Sighting
So, a little history and prequel to this conversation.
Nearly two months ago, I was elated to have received back-to-back invites to interview from Chicago Booth and Wharton on Halloween and November 1st, respectively. While I signed up for a local interview with an alumnus for Booth, I had only two domestic options for my Wharton interview: Philly or San Francisco. I chose San Fran.
On the morning of November 16th, I got up at about 5:30 after having slept at the home of a friend who lives in Long Beach so that I could be at the LBC’s tiny little makeshift airport by 6:30 without morning traffic and make my 7:30 flight without a hitch.
After arriving at Wharton’s west coast campus at around 10am, I spent the day toggling between loitering, b-lining to Starbucks and rehearsing the two opening arguments I had prepared for Wharton’s new team-based interview format. About 2 hours prior to my interview, I bumped into Ankur, who did not see me because she was speaking with a student who was leaving his group interview. He was also pummeling her with questions to ease his anxiety. I felt his pain.
I must admit, I was thrown off my game a bit by that sighting. For some reason, I assumed (don’t ask me why. I had NO data to support it. BAD MBA!) that I’d be interviewed by Tiffany Gooden, Wharton’s 2nd in command ad com who had greatly impressed me during Wharton’s LA info session and her participation in the Riordan/DMAC diversity conference back in August.
Having lived in Los Angeles for 12 1/2 years, I’m more than used to seeing someone in person that I’ve seen on camera dozens of times; and more than over it, because I’m not the star struck type. Still, it is always slightly thwarting to see someone animated in real time that you are used to viewing through a camera’s lens. Knowing that she was the HWIC (head woman in charge), I thought to myself, “Well…this is going to go one of two ways”.
Every Dog Has its Day
I was VERY pleased with my group interview. I was proud of both my individual performance and my group’s performance as a whole. Then during my one-on-one interview with Ankur, I mentioned that I had been trying to get in contact with a certain professor from a research institute that I was VERY interested in.
Then, to my shock and surprise, she offered to help me contact him if I tried again and did not reach him. In essence, she threw this dog a bone; and I bit–HARD. The former salesperson/account executive in me would have no less.
Over the next few weeks, a flurry of emails went flying mostly between that professor and I and a few from Ankur, who connected us. The professor is Peter S. Fader from the Wharton Customer Analytics Institute. He and his colleagues are the preeminent thought leaders in a field that I have both some experience and tons of interest in; and their work hasn’t been duplicated at any other schools–its unique to Wharton.
So by the time I got this morning’s call, I had been tantalized by “what ifs” and other hopeful thoughts over the past few weeks as I’ve had the opportunity to get to know professor Fader and become familiar with the amazing work that he is doing. Needless to say, I have some tough decisions to make. And in the meantime, I’ll be bumping to the entire discography of THE ROOTS on my iTunes…and going through a bottle or two of wine this evening. That is all.