Friday, March 12, 2010

Columbia MBA Admit Event 1

Feb 27 was a very un-New York day. Those who flew in had a terrible time with flight delays and those who took the subway waited for eternity to board one. The campus was closed down for the most part but the event was unaffected. Around 200 admitted candidates turned up- some confused it to be another interview and wore suits, while others couldn't care less and wore jeans. Gods were cruel to those who wore high heels.

I arrived fashionably late with my better half (as per CBS), the keynote speaker (Shelly Lazarus) was in full swing giving vivid anecdotes on how to manage work/life balance. She said it was super easy, just walk the talk. Figure out you priority every day and have the courage to act on it, she said. She made a good impression, sharing funny one liners like- working mothers are comfortable with failures, they fail someone (family, boss...) everyday.

Someone in the audience wanted more reassurance, asking her to compare CBS MBA students with others. Shelly grabbed the opportunity with both hands, comparing CBS with HBS and Stanford. HBS students wanted to solve only big/important problems, she said. CBS MBA students had humility and practical knowledge, she said. I noticed relief/happiness in many faces, having heard exactly what they wished to hear. Of course, I was feeling pretty good too who doesn't like to be told they are the best!

We moved to the Cluster welcome event from there. I was part of the Cluster 3 along with another 40 odd. The cluster reps part of Hermes Society welcomed us with Follies videos (Regulate, is a must watch) and a frank discussion about life at CBS. Deli sucked they said, and facilities could be better. But they were mostly happy, CBS listens to the students they said. They also spoke highly about CBS World tour but many candidates had no idea what it was (very surprising, I feel). We played a quiz that included questions like what does the symbol of CBS represents (greek sign/god of commerce ?!) and how many were admitted in the last fall term class (554).

Some career related questions were asked and the current students
suggested that it's best to be flexible (not so good news). We could pursue unpaid internships during school terms, an opportunity available thanks to being in the heart of the business world (good news). Banks have started hiring again (good news).

Next up was lunch, I had a sumptuous three course lunch at Le Monde with eight others including an admissions official. I poured my heart out to the official, talking about the improvements that could be made to the application process. I was not all alone, everyone at the table seemed to share similar feelings and we all bonded over the misery that was now behind us.

Interestingly, most at the table had similar aspirations. They all wanted to be in Media in some capacity, but acknowledged the fact that some will end up following the herd to wall street or consulting for that sign on bonus. The admissions official was pretty candid and receptive to our suggestions, who knew this day would
come ;) But of course even after asking the same question in five different ways, he didn't tell us how many seats were left, oh well.

Upon returning to the campus, we were welcomed by the many club representatives. I was a little bit drowsy (chocolate eclair did the trick) but
still managed to do some "networking". Next we had a half hour session with Fin Aid Director. I had zero interest, as the one item which concerned me- the private loan for internationals- CBS had given up long ago. She spent 29 minutes without any questions on this topic but some brave soul brought it up and another candidate replied- no cosigner implies you are screwed. For that, she said -not really and after some 2 minutes of diplomatic talk- pretty much said the same thing- you're screwed if you have no US cosigner. Oh well, I didn't expect anything more at this point.

I was looking forward to learning more about the Entrepreneurship center
and they didn't disappoint. The panel included a recent alum and
second year students who were pursuing a business opportunity through Greenhouse program. Heard many stories on how the CBS brand opens doors and
how Lang center goes all the way to help us succeed in our ventures. Fantastic stuff, if you can manage your loans.

Mary Miller, director of admissions, talked about pre-MBA program next. Some online tutorials and exams that we should pass in order to matriculate. We will get access in May. It's going to take about 40 hours of work for the average student. We also heard from the current student body president, a cool and confident fellow who talked about the CBS community. He shared a few stories, the most remarkable one- a student from his class had an accident in his 1st yr and had to miss the entire semester. He still managed to pass his exams and graduate on time, thanks to the
friends in his cluster. Amazing story, everyone was sold that your cluster is your family.

Everyone (or at least me) was waiting for Prof. Greenwald but we learned that the he slipped and injured his ankle during the snowstorm, so he was not coming. I guess I do have to spend 5000 points to get into his class, after all. Prof.Robert Bontempo, instead took the stage. Frankly, I didn't know who he was and I'm thinking many were in the same boat. What an amazing guy, the next 1 hour was the best
part of the entire day. He taught leadership, negotiations and spent the hour discussing the art of persuasion using theory and demonstration.

People were either Ask assertive or Tell assertive. Another classification - they were also either Analytical, Driving, Expressive or Amiable. With some explanations on what these means, he asked us to identify ourselves and brought 4 from the audience and did a role play. He asked two people to sell him a car, each person did it in a different manner showing how all this classification makes sense and how we should do our
pitches based on what kind of person our audience is and not what kind of person we are. Well, I am not doing any justice I know, just wait for his class in the fall :-) Take a bow, Prof. Bontempo!

Next up was the happy hour, Dean Hubbard addressed the audience and so did a couple of alumni. Everyone was eager to meet the dean and he was
gracious to spend time with many. My wife and I got a chance to speak to him as well. We all had a good time, a nice ending to the day that gave
everyone a peak into what lies ahead. Six letters will connect us in future- CBS MBA.

No comments:

Post a Comment