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Mayo's Admission Blog - UCLA, LBS, Columbia, Haas

Congrats! Tell us how you did it
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Got an acceptance from UCLA Anderson yesterday - good Christmas gift.

LBS - Ding
Columbia - Waiting...
Haas - Waiting...
UCLA - Admitted with $20k fellowship.

Will provide more details later after XMAS. Merry Christmas everyone.
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Heartiest congratulations!! yeah, it looks like a chrismas gift!
Time to celebrate buddy!!
B-) :lol: :twisted:
Merry Chrismas!
mayonnai5e wrote:Got an acceptance from UCLA Anderson yesterday - good Christmas gift.

LBS - Ding
Columbia - Waiting...
Haas - Waiting...
UCLA - Admitted with $20k fellowship.

Will provide more details later after XMAS. Merry Christmas everyone.

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by aj5105 » Thu Dec 25, 2008 1:11 am
wow ! congratulations !

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by beatthegmat » Thu Dec 25, 2008 1:25 am
CONGRATS MAYO!!!

Great to see a staffer finding success in his MBA journey. A nice Christmas gift indeed. :)
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by AleksandrM » Thu Dec 25, 2008 4:00 pm
Man, you are all over the place with your school choices! Congratulations. Is Anderson your top choice? If not, what is?

Enjoy your holidays.

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by mayonnai5e » Thu Dec 25, 2008 4:12 pm
Background Info...
School:
University of California, San Diego - Class of 2003
Graduated Magna Cum Laude (top 4%) with a BS in Computer Science
GPA 3.81
Weakness: No extracurriculars, only some part time work
Strength: Stellar GPA, Quant heavy major

GMAT: 720, 49Q/40V with 5.0 AWA.
Weakness: 5.0 AWA was only 55%; counteracted with good essay writing in apps

Work:
1st Job
Associate Software Engineer promoted to Software Engineer after 6 months. Left after 18 months
Weakness: No direct management & no leadership opportunities, but this is to be expected as a college grad

2nd Job
Software Engineer II
Co-lead a team of 4 in designing, developing and integrating a complex software component. Expatriated to Paris, France to work at the sister location for 2 years. Proposed, designed, and implemented small innovations to the code base as the most trusted and reliable engineer on the team.
Weakness: Still no direct management opportunities, but gained opportunities to lead
Strength: Lead a small team to develop a software component

Enlisted my two French managers (technical lead and supervisor) to write my b-school recommendations for all 4 schools. Recommendations included points about how I would have been entrusted to directly manage a team of 4 or 5 had I stayed longer in France. Written in French and translated to English with originals provided to the schools.
Strength: Recs written by French supervisors who described how I joined the team and quickly became their most trusted engineer (even above the French engineers that had already been on the team for years). Mentioned that I would have been given direct management opportunity (to counter my weakness described above).

(JUST FYI, TRANSLATING 8 RECOMMENDATIONS WAS VERY EXPENSIVE!!)

Return from France - Given new role as software coordinator between the French and American teams on my program. Role involves coordinating, managing and resolving software dependencies between the two teams. Involves a lot of people management, getting people to work together, and thorough knowledge of the software.
Strength: Highlights the non-engineer related qualities - communication, influence, people skills, time management, prioritization, etc.

Volunteer:

3 months working in the youth ministry of my church as a youth leader; watched over a group of 3rd grade boys and communicated weakly message

Volunteer Managing Director BeatTheGMAT.com for more than 1 year now. Help community members formulate personal study plans and strategies.

Lockhaven Investment Group - formed with several coworkers for fun and to learn

Strength: Volunteerism to counteract lack of extracurriculars in college; started very early relative to the application process to avoid the perception that I did these things to "boost" my application in the few months preceding the app. Note, did not do the "cliche" things like Habitat for Humanity and instead did things I really care about (children and BTG.com).

School Applied to...
Columbia, UCLA, Haas, LBS - all of these were chosen for two specific points: entrepreneurship and international business. In essays, specifically mentioned how the schools matched these criteria and how I would take advantage of what they have to offer.
Strength: Was very clear about my two critical criteria for schools and did not choose any schools that did not fit this (may be asked in interview or in application which schools were applied to and if your list is top 5 verbatim that can be seen as a weakness)

Interviews and Impressions...
Columbia and Haas waiting...
LBS dinged without interview

UCLA - On campus interview; informal with a current student. Questions were very go-with-the-flow ...he asked follow-on questions to delve deeper into my experiences. For example, when I mentioned the technical side of my co-leading a project, he asked what I did on the people side (what challenges did I face and how did I resolve them). I was very comfortable with the interviewer because he was a current student and when he mentioned talking points that were of interest to me, I asked him for more details about it. Prepared by studying the canned questions that every interview will ask (why MBA? why now? why UCLA? etc.).

Tips & Suggestions...
Sit down and really think about why you need an MBA - why can't you accomplish what you want to do by doing what you are doing now? Determine your goals and figure out exactly why your goals cannot be met on the road you are on now. Then find a few underlying themes (for me it was entrepreneurship/innovation & international business) and find the schools that stress those themes.

Communicate the route - use your essays to tie your experiences together and explain exactly how you will use your skills/knowledge + the MBA from such and such school to reach your end goals.

Prepare yourself - understand the weaknesses in your application (like I have done above) and your strengths. Try to find ways to overcome your weaknesses by doing things after the fact (low GPA take college courses later and do well, no extracurriculars in college then volunteer afterwards, no direct management focus on leadership).

Differentiate yourself - make sure you stand out from the rest of the pack. I am an Asian-American engineer applying to UCLA. I figured there are 5000 applicants (recession after all...) and roughly 30% are engineers so I am up against 1500 other engineers of which a significant amount are asian-americans (southern california after all). So estimate that 30% of that set are Asian which leaves us with 500 other Asian engineers. Granted they wont all be in Round 1, but that's still a large number. How did I differentiate? Very, very clear about my goals and a strange combination (entrepreneurship with international business). Expatriation to France knowing that those 4 schools are big on international business. Excellent Recs written by French managers. Essays that are written in a very personal style.
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by Zipper » Thu Dec 25, 2008 5:50 pm
It was very interesting reading your story. Please let us know when you hear from the other schools (i know you will but had to ask it just to be sure:D)

Congrats about Anderson btw! Very nice Christmas gift indeed.

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by aj5105 » Thu Dec 25, 2008 10:08 pm
Mayo - you are a very methodical person!
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by mayonnai5e » Fri Dec 26, 2008 2:16 am
AleksandrM wrote:Man, you are all over the place with your school choices! Congratulations. Is Anderson your top choice? If not, what is?

Enjoy your holidays.
My school choices appear random, but they are in fact very carefully and thoroughly selected.

Oh and Berkeley is my top choice.
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by AleksandrM » Fri Dec 26, 2008 10:29 am
I am sure that you were very careful in your selection. By "all over the place" I mean that there is no specific geographical area. For example, some people choose just Europe, or those who choose US schools might choose just those in the Mid-West or Northeast, etc. At any rate, hope you hear good news from Berkley.

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by mayonnai5e » Fri Dec 26, 2008 3:23 pm
AleksandrM wrote:I am sure that you were very careful in your selection. By "all over the place" I mean that there is no specific geographical area. For example, some people choose just Europe, or those who choose US schools might choose just those in the Mid-West or Northeast, etc. At any rate, hope you hear good news from Berkley.
Oh right okay I understand now - well basically I want to live in a big city. I just moved back to the US from Paris and I decided I like city life much more than the suburbs so I chose the big cities: SF, LA, NY and London that also happened to have great schools that matched my goals.
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by gabriel » Sat Dec 27, 2008 5:31 am
Congratulations Mayo !! . Hope you get into Berkeley too :) .

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by mayonnai5e » Sat Dec 27, 2008 2:16 pm
Thanks Gabe!
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by mayonnai5e » Sun Dec 28, 2008 4:10 am
Waiting for news is such a nerve wracking experience particularly while waiting for an interview invite. With LBS, I got several emails saying that they were reviewing my application, reviewing my application, reviewing...then one day an email saying that I was not offered a spot. Just like that.

With Haas, it's been the same thing..several emails stating that my app is under review, that they are extending invitations to interview and that of course my app is under review. I know the invitations started out awhile back (Nov I believe) which seems like bad news. For Anderson, I was extended an invite to interview within the 3 or 4 weeks of submitting my app. Anderson also sent out a series of early admits just before the holidays and I was one of those admitted. So my experience thus far tells me that the earlier you hear good news the better it is and the longer it gets dragged out the lower your chances.

Haas has their Super Saturday event for R1 on the weekend of Jan 17th, but I've read that normally only people from out of town are invited to that event (e.g. international candidates). So for the time being, I can only keep my hopes up.

The wait continues...
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by mayonnai5e » Sun Dec 28, 2008 4:27 am
Admissions essays - the one thing I learned about writing the essays is that it takes a serious amount of introspection to really get your ideas and passion down on paper. In my essays, I wrote about very honest thoughts and ideas, but often found it difficult to communicate them like how I imagine them inside my head. I suppose that's how all writers feel.

What I found was that the essay questions are actually a reflection of the schools themselves. UCLA and Berkeley both had very personal questions - they try to learn about you as a candidate...your history...your passion...your achievements in life..the things that make you who you are. In other words, they try to learn about who you are and in doing so they both attracted me even more to their programs. Columbia, on the other hand, had rather cut and dry questions that in a way seemed to ignore the individual behind the writing. In writing my essays for Columbia, I was actually turned off from the school a bit. Chicago was another example where the questions did not appeal to me and that was one reasons I did not apply there. Essentially, it boils down to the fact that I want to be at a school that I can trust screened applicants to find amazing people with great personal stories, people that I will be intrigued by and will want to learn from - not a school that simply wants to know your goals, why an mba, and why now.

But that's just my personal take on it - to each his own.
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