why hello there

it’s been a really long time since i’ve posted anything substantial. for the last 5 months or so, if i’ve posted, it’s been about sample sales or what not.

i had been meaning to at the very least write a post after each semester and the summer but clearly i haven’t.

to be honest, i have very little desire to write anything but i guess i should for consistency. it’s going to be super short.

spring semester:

  • consulted for the council of fashion designers of america
  • interned at mandarin oriental hotel group
  • took some elective classes, like luxury marketing and luxury branding
  • survived aswath damodaran’s “corporate finance” course, thanks to my awesome study group
  • went to south africa

summer:

  • spent in seattle
  • interned at nordstrom hq doing product management for e-commerce
  • apparently able to find more of my kinda music in seattle
  • went to portland and vancouver for the first time
  • weddings and bachelorette parties

this fall semester:

  • not doing the cfda
  • interning at chanel
  • planning a trek to san francisco for our luxury & retail club

i am recruiting again for a full-time job after i graduate but the industry usually does as-needed, just-in-time hiring so totally expecting not to have an offer until way later. which is making it hard for me to decide whether i should actually study abroad next semester.

i really would like to go but the job situation and fomo are making it difficult.

and speaking of sample sales, there are a bunch coming up that i want to go to. and i’m too lazy to post about them, so find out on your own.

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cfda x stern

cfda, bond street, scc, stern consulting corp

as we wrapped up our stern consulting corp projects for the cfda, the cfda wanted to do a photo shoot and interview with us for their blog.  we had the photo shoot at the intersection of bond street & lafayette, which is a very cool area that has a cobblestones.

the above photo is now being featured on the stern website as “grow possible” and it links back to the interviews and more photos on the cfda blog, parts 1 and 2.

my partner and i were originally assigned reece hudson and m.patmos as our cfda designers to work on comprehensive financial documents and a business plan for investors, respectively.  due to some complications, we only worked on reece hudson and the project brief evolved into an ecommerce growth strategy for the next 24 months.  my partner and i were much happier with the way the project evolved since we’re both interested in ecommerce and will be doing that for our summer internships.

on top of getting to work with the cfda and these really talented designers, we were also paired with some awesome mentors.  ours for reece hudson was the former ceo of oscar de la renta!

the experience was a lot of work, time, and pretty stressful…but amazing.  i’m still deciding whether to do it again this next semester.

safari disco club

so a lot of my posts are kinda depressing generally i think.  well, i recently got back from spring break.  i was so excited to finally travel somewhere…which i thought the mba was all about.  i didn’t get to travel before school and it’s been a few years since i’ve traveled internationally so i was happy to spend my spring break trek in two continents that were new to me–africa (south africa) and europe (netherlands).

our trek went to johannesburg and cape town in south africa, with a layover in amsterdam on our return flight back for a few hours.

we went on a couple safaris and saw a lot of animals:

zebras, south africa, mabula, game reserve

zebras on the mabula game reserve

giraffes, mabula game reserve, south africa

giraffes

impala, mabula game reserve, south africa

impala

rhinos, baby rhino, south africa, mabula game reserve

a lot of baby animals (!), including this playful baby rhino with mama

lions, lioness, mabula game reserve, south africa

lions

lion, mabula game reserve, south africa

king of the jungle

bush, mabula game reserve, south africa

…er, the bush

hippos, mabula game reserve, south africa

hippos

much better weather than i’ve returned to in nyc…with beaches and…

yacht, cape town, south africa

a yacht

cape town, south africa, beach, human pyramid

human pyramids

cape of good hope, light house, cape town, south africa

lighthouses

victoria & albert waterfront, v&a waterfront, harbor, cape town, south africa

waterfronts

table mountain, cape town, south africa

mountains + clouds

table mountain, south africa, cape town

cable cars

penguins, boulders, boulder beach, cape town, south africa

even penguins!

vincent van gogh, string doll, amsterdam, netherlands, holland

and of course, vincent…with a special appearance in his motherland

and lots of jumping, cartwheels, flips, ACTION shots…

and of course a lottttt of drinking, dancing, and getting turnt up…

recruiting

yes, what the image says.  i signed my summer internship offer letter yesterday and i’m thrilled to be done recruiting.  it’s been a real pain in the ass and tiring.  after applying to at least 50 (no exaggeration) places and interviewing for over a month for both spring and summer, i’m finally DONE.

i’ll actually be taking my first offer, from nordstrom, for the summer, although i did get offers from johnson & johnson and sears (this was hard to turn down, they pay very well).  i also interviewed with coty (withdrawn), amazon, co:collective, estee lauder, gilt (pending), the jones group (pending), kurt salmon, pepsi, quidsi, unilever, sony, and urbn/urban outfitters.

and for the spring, i’ll be doing consumer marketing for mandarin oriental hotel group.  i didn’t get any other offers for spring, but talked to tory burch and louis vuitton (pending).

so let’s see the breakdown…like 47 applications, 15 multi-round interviews, and 3 offers for the summer.  3 applications, 3 interviews, and 1 offer for the spring.  although some stuff is withdrawn or still pending decisions…that’s a pretty terrible yield.  let me tell you kids, it’s no easy thing to get an internship/job in bschool.  sure, they guarantee everyone will get something that pays 6 figures but they lie.  first of all, only banking/consulting really pays 6 figures…and sears apparently.  the minority of your class are done recruiting on campus in january (so odds are that you won’t be done, but don’t sweat it).  and yea everyone will get something, but it’s always been a question of whether i’d get something i actually want…which is much tougher.  fortunately i am doing something i want but that could’ve easily not happened.  there are plenty of people still recruiting and it definitely sucks.

i honestly felt like i’m going to die this semester with the combo of classes, projects, the cfda consulting project, recruiting, and competitions.  thankfully recruiting and the macy’s challenge are done but now my spring internship will commence and i’ll probably still die this semester.  on a bright note, south africa in a few weeks!!

first offer!

school just started up again less than 2 weeks ago, so what have i been doing this entire time since i came back to nyc right after the new year? well, i’ve been going through the painful process of recruiting–preparing for and actually interviewing. so although we were technically on break, it wasn’t much of a break. i am certainly glad we didn’t have classes at the same time though. that’s what i’m currently doing and it’s been torture with classes, extracurriculars, and recruiting for both summer and spring. the recruiting that takes place upfront that early is mostly for more traditional mba career choices like banking, consulting, cpg marketing, etc. i haven’t done well with that stuff and i’ll make a post later on with more details after i accept an offer.

it’s been pretty discouraging since i did reasonably well with interview invites but haven’t had any offers. just further reinforces my theory that i don’t interview well. but it’s also because there are so many qualified candidates, many of whom do interview well.

but onto the good news! i got my first offer and i’m super happy because it’s definitely something i wanted (not that there weren’t times i didn’t get stuff i wanted, but let’s not get down again). my first offer is for nordstrom! since i want to do luxury fashion/retail, this works out quite well. i got the call today and am waiting for the written offer but i’m so relieved to have an option and know i won’t be unemployed this summer.

after i got the call, i realized how similar my feelings were to when i was accepted to ross. ross was the first business school i was accepted to after a few rejections, so it’s a similar scenario. i find a lot of things similar now to when i was applying to business school but more on that later.

so yes, in short: i have an offer for a summer internship at nordstrom and i’m happy and want to go crazy!

behind

things are so busy for us mba1s right now.  with corporate presentations, a ton of class/group work, conferences, club things, social activities, talking to mba2s for advice, and networking/conducting informational interviews it’s pretty hectic.  even though we don’t have class on fridays and i don’t have class until 1:30 pm on monday/wednesday, i find myself not getting to sleep in like i love to do–usually doing something career/school related.

school’s kinda kicking my butt…i’ve never liked numbers and i’ve never taken a business class so, as i expected, i’m struggling.  i have no clue what’s going on in finance or accounting.  i really hate accounting because that class is definitely the most work out of all my classes; our weekly homework assignments take even the people who know what they’re doing like 3 hours so you can only imagine how painful it is for a newb like me.  and we have diagnostic tests like every other week and group cases every few weeks.  midterms are coming up pretty soon too.

i feel so behind in like every single aspect of my life.  i should be working on my cover letter, or reaching out to my network for internship/job opportunities.

i feel bad since i’ve been telling people to visit me and i have a really good friend coming this week but i won’t be able to spend as much time with her as i was hoping to.

i’ve been trying to be good about cooking and started bringing lunch to food and it’s made a noticeable impact on my spending, which is great.  i don’t eat very healthy, but when have i ever.  i recently got a bike and while i’m pretty out of shape, i do enjoy riding it–although it’s pretty scary.  the second time i took it out, i was almost hit by a cab.  i probably won’t be able to ride it too much since it’s getting pretty cold (for me, anyways) and it rains too.

i’m thinking about what classes to take next term and all the marketing classes seem the most interesting; i guess i really am meant to stay in marketing.  now just need to beef up my analytical/big data skills.  i need to take an excel workshop too because i don’t really know how to use it.  sometimes i really wonder what i’m doing at business school and how i even managed to fool the adcom into letting me in.

i was at a “speakeasy” bar last week that was pretty cool and ran into this guy who was doing a corporate presentation like the day before so that was pretty funny.  and on thursday night i went to this lounge for macaulay culkin’s ipod–it’s literally macaulay culkin playing music off his ipod.  seth green was there too.  i should’ve talked to and/or gotten a photo with him/them.  i’m sure he could care less but i love the home alone movies (only the ones with him count) and actually sorta recently watched them again.

there’s a group case project due for marketing this week and i don’t have a good feeling about it…

but anyways, here are some pretty cool animated gifs of banksy work:

this one makes me think of home

there are couple more at high snobiety.  i still need to check out the fireflies over the water exhibit at the whitney museum…i should see when it’s leaving.

time to get ready for dinner with my block/cohort and the weekly birthday thang.

here and now

it’s been nearly 2 months since i moved to nyc.  i’m still slowly settling in and adjusting to life here.

today’s the last day of my internship.  i think i’ll try to continue interning here part-time during the academic year after i figure out what my availability will be like.

monday is the beginning of launch, stern’s nearly 2-week long orientation.  it looks pretty good and i’m getting more excited.  pretty much all of my class is now here in the city and i’ve met up a couple times with my future classmates and will be having my first block meeting this sunday.

the launch schedule was just released yesterday and i was previously told that all the scheduled activities would be done by 5 pm but looks like that’s not the case.  i’ve been taking a brand strategy marketing class at the general assembly tuesday/thursday evenings for the past couple weeks so it looks like i’ll have to miss a few classes for launch; hopefully the instructor will understand…she seems cool.  and i’ll be missing stern’s thursday beer blasts for the first month, which is a pretty big bummer since i’m sure a lot of people will be bonding during then.

in my last post i mentioned how i’d be flying home for a friends’ wedding…and now it’s been a few weeks since that happened.  granted, this is the first wedding i’ve been in and the first time a really good friend has gotten married but it was just such a happy time.  the bride and groom are both some of my best friends and they and the rest of the wedding party have known each other for 10-14 years.  it was a ton of fun and i’m so happy for them…there were quite a few tears shed by many.  it was a very short trip for me but filled with joy.  here are some of my favorites photos from what’s available so far:

another couple i’m super happy for, taken by the very talented nicky ferng

i love this photo of the groom after the ceremony

some of the fancy-footed groomsmen

by our powers combined, we are the bridesmaids!

the wedding party’s prom pose, party style…probably the closest thing you’ll get of my face

until i get a better photo of the bride’s gorgeous gown

what did i do

it’s been a long time since i’ve last blogged…sorry about that.

i’m actually moving to nyc this saturday and although i should be excited, i feel like everyone else is more excited for me than i am.  now that it feels real, all i feel is a sense of “what did i do?”.  i feel stressed about how expensive it will all be and how difficult it’s been for me to find an apartment and thinking about how to move my stuff, then how to fit into a tiny room.  but most of all, i feel really sad for the people i’ll be leaving and missing.

today, i’m selling my car.  it’s not the first car i’ve owned but i’ve had it for over 3 years and although it gets dinged and scratched easily, i really enjoyed it.

my life will be changing completely-i’ll no longer have a car and be taking the subway or maybe even biking, i’ll be unemployed (but being broke seems to be a constant), i’ll be moving out from my parents’ house (YAY!) and living by myself or with roommate(s), on the complete other side of the us, and even my relationship status will be changed.

my school actually doesn’t start until mid-august for orientation but i’m moving out earlier to start working full-time as an intern for two months at a digital branding consultancy for prestige brands.  i sacrificed a free summer that i would’ve loved to use to travel in the hopes it would help my next summer internship search and eventually my career…i hope it was worth it.

just like i hope the mba will be worth the expense and everything i’m sacrificing here…

i’m sure i’ll be really busy once i start school so i started this blog as a way to stay in touch with people so they know what’s going on with me.  looks like its finally going to be used for that purpose…

i feel blue…

the results are in

well, i’ve finally got all my decisions for all the programs i’ve applied to…just today, actually.  i was trying to save some space so the table would fit into my stupid blog template so i apologize for some of the confusion.  “%” indicates how selective the school is; the percentage of applicants the schools gives acceptances to out of its entire applicant pool.  the 5 most selective schools in order: stanford, hbs, mit, haas, stern, and cbs.  “int.” is whether i was invited to interview…this may not seem like much but most schools don’t interview everyone (see *** below); typically your chance of admission after receiving an invite is 40-60% so they probably invite about twice as many as they accept.  for example, stern accepts 13.2% of its applicant pool so they might interview about 26% of them. ok, enough explanation…here we go:

School Round Rank* % Int.? Result? Aid?
CBS ED** 5 15.3% Y N N/A
HBS 1 Top 11.2% N N N/A
Ross 1 10 / 15 25.4% Y Y $$
Stern 1 10 / 15 13.2% Y Y $$$$
Wharton 2 Top / 5 16.8% N N N/A
Booth 2 Top / 5 22.3% Y Y $
Kellogg 2 5 19.9% Y*** WL**** N/A
Anderson 2 15 29% Y Y

* – rank changes every year and with every publication (businessweek, us news, etc.) so i’m just going by the general consensus on its prestige.  people often say you need to go to an m7 (magnificent seven: harvard, stanford, chicago booth, mit sloan, northwestern kellogg, and columbia) or a8 (awesome eight: m7 + dartmouth tuck) school.  while those are the super-elite / elite schools…i think you’ll  do very well with the top tier (top 25?), and reasonably well from second tier.

** – most schools have application cycles in 3 rounds for each class year.  some even have 4 (berkeley haas), or some, like columbia, are either early decision or regular decision and on a rolling basis.

*** – kellogg is one of the few (only?) schools that doesn’t extend interview invites; they interview every single applicant so getting an invite bears no indication of how well you’re doing (unless you’re an international student whose interview was initially waived).

**** – wait list.  doesn’t hurt as much as a ding, but you’re still not in…you’re in limbo.  some people can get off the wait list; it can be really difficult if you’re at a school with a high yield (people who actually decide to matriculate).

and how does this compare to my undergraduate institution?  let’s see, my school was ranked #31 according to u.s. news at the time i started (#37 now, geez guess we slipped) and one of my majors (based on how my school did in the graduate school rankings since i couldn’t find an undergrad one) is top 7…not that i think anyone in the world would know that.  a very unique major that was impacted when i was still in school…it required an application and portfolio.  i was lucky enough to be accepted my first time.  anyways, back to my school…accepts 38.2% of its applicant pool.  not too dissimilar from my undergrad performance if you consider top tier for colleges is the top 100 whereas top tier for mba programs is anywhere from the top 15-25.

as i might’ve posted about previously…i originally only intended to apply to 4 schools in r1 but when i was rejected from hbs and cbs, i also applied to 4 more.  overall, i think i did pretty well.  i was rejected at 3 schools but i have 4 options to choose from with significant scholarships from 2.

some highlights and thoughts:

  • the entire admissions process is a crap shoot.  you can’t really tell how well you’ll do at each school precisely because the admissions process is so holistic (you’ll hear this often).  all components of your application are important (work experience, undergrad gpa, gmat, etc.) and considered differently at each school.  you might get rejected at a school that was lower ranked, or even less selective, than a school you were accepted at.  i didn’t get any scholarship money from ucla even though it’s less selective and not as prestigious as any of the other schools on my list.
  •  also, the adcoms at each school know their programs really well and there are more than enough qualified applicants to fill the class seat so a lot of times, it comes down to fit.  if you don’t get in, don’t feel too down…it isn’t necessarily something you did wrong, or that you aren’t good enough…you just might not have been a good fit at the program, even if you want it or think you would be.
  • it’s really easy to be swayed by the rankings/prestige.  for me, i was turned off by cbs in a lot of ways, but still held onto it because of the prestige.  in a way, i’m relieved that the decision was made for me.  and tying into my last bullet, it’s interesting to note that the schools i didn’t get into were the ones i felt the least connected to.  i didn’t like cbs, never visited hbs or really talked to any of the students, didn’t connect at wharton but was only there for like 30 min, and was a little disappointed with kellogg.  this goes back to the fit thing i guess (bullet 2).
  • the ding that stings: it’s never easy to be rejected by anything.  while i certainly didn’t enjoy being dinged by those schools, cbs’ ding stung by far the most.  it was my first ding, first decision, and one i really thought i would get into.  i mean, my chances of being accepted were higher (~50%) than even getting the invite (~30%).  kellogg was pretty brutal too since i was one of the last people to be notified over a 5-day period…maybe they were really on the fence about me or something?  but it’s not a ding, i already had other great schools, was my last decision, and was expecting it by that point.
  • the acceptance i was most happy about: ross.  maybe because it was my first acceptance + it came with a scholarship…or maybe it was because it might be my favorite program.  but i was happy enough to jump up and down after the call.  (stern doesn’t tell you about scholarships until you receive the mailed acceptance package, so you don’t know at the time you hear your decision.)
  • the next step: i have the very tough decision of figuring out where to matriculate.  i’ve already ruled out ucla but i have 3 other great programs to choose from.  i’ll post on that once it happens…because i haven’t decided yet.

the business of luxury

so as many of you know, i’m applying for business school right now.  post-mba, i’d like to do brand management/marketing or strategy for a luxury goods company like lvmh, ppr, or coach.  of course this can all change once i start taking classes and recruiting.  i’m pretty sure that’s what i’d like to do functionally, but i’m also interested in hospitality, entertainment/media, and management consulting.

there isn’t much information out there for this career path since it’s pretty new to mba recruitment so i hope my post will be helpful for others.

ok, first of all…what programs should you consider?  european or american?  this issue’s pretty debatable and i’m not even sure if i made the right choice myself.  most luxury goods companies are headquartered in europe so it makes sense to think of european programs.  and unlike most american programs, there are plenty of schools that offer some sort of luxury specialization.  while american schools tend to be more prestigious and more highly ranked, you have to think of what will be best for your career…especially when you’re not going into traditional mba industries.  i personally chose to apply to american programs but if i hadn’t missed the january intake deadline, i would’ve also applied to insead.  i also thought about london business school.

top european schools with luxury programs (in no particular order):

  • sda bocconi – luxury business management track (partnered with bulgari)
  • hec paris – luxury strategies certificate (sponsored by ppr)
  • essec – international luxury brand management (lvmh chair)

these programs are pretty tempting since they have sponsorships/partnerships with some big names.  and while lbs and insead don’t have luxury specializations, you should also consider them because they are among the top mba programs in the world and especially in europe.  there are also programs with similar specializations from less prestigious schools.

if you’re looking at programs in the us (in no particular order):

  • harvard business school
  • stanford graduate school of business
  • upenn wharton
  • columbia gsb
  • nyu stern – luxury marketing

as you can see, stern’s the only top us school with a dedicated luxury specialization.  most of these other programs are on the list because companies looking for top talent will look at these prestigious schools and columbia/stern have the nyc accessibility and they have strong clubs in the area.  even the ny post has acknowledged hbs’ role in the fashion world.

i didn’t apply to any european programs because i didn’t want to pigeonhole myself; right now i’m pursuing luxury goods but what if i change my mind at school?  i didn’t want to be stuck.  this isn’t really a problem with lbs and insead because they’re some of the world’s best, but the other schools–even though they’re among europe’s top–they’re not the same level as the american programs.  i also want to work in the us so it makes sense for me to apply to an american program.  i really liked insead’s program but it’s a one-year program, which i feel is too short but i would’ve applied anyways if i hadn’t missed the deadline.

now, why am i choosing luxury goods amid an economic recession?  i think it’s something i’d really enjoy while supporting a comfortable lifestyle.  i’ve always liked fashion and i kind of work in the luxury industry already.  and to echo the same reasoning from this businessweek article: “the ultra-wealthy will always buy luxury goods, regardless of the fluctuations in the economy.”  actually, a lot of the major players have been doing extremely well during these tough times…mostly spurred on by growth in asia/china.  and to quote an ie professor who teaches on the subject, “in addition, new business opportunities are arising as a result of 3 important changes–the grown of chinese consumption, the development of technology, and changes in sonsumers’ values.  people are always attracted to industries that are growing.”

i realize it’ll be tough since these companies don’t really recruit on campus; i’ll have to do a lot of my own networking and job hunting outside of what the career resources my school can offer.  it may be especially difficult to start post-mba, so alternative tracks can be to do management consulting or working at a more mba-friendly company (l’oreal, p&g, nike, amazon, target) and transitioning later at a more senior level.

another harsh reality check is that the glamorous life doesn’t equal money.  retail is among the lowest paid careers for an mba (with banking/pe and management consulting at the top).  and because these are such sexy, popular companies, they don’t have to pay a lot…people will work there anyways–and they know this.  listen to essec’s academic director’s advice: “he’s also encouraging them to broaden their searches beyond luxury brands such as hermes and chanel and use their skills to land jobs at more mainstream companies with strong brand identities.  ‘you will have more power in a normal brand and maybe these people are willing to pay you a little more.  there are a million mbas lining up to work at vuitton lvmhor chanel, but if you think about going to the pumas or nikes of the world, then the sky’s the limit.'”

also be aware that luxury companies are asking for special profiles that they can’t even find in top business schools: “luxury goods require special managerial competences because they aren’t chosen for their functionality, but for their symbolic value.  […]  it’s important to understand the different competitive rules of the various luxury business […] and to decide whether you need to use general or specialist managerial tools.  plus you need to be international, open-minded, flexible, and a team-worker.  […]  this sector…needs people that are able to manage teams that integrate these two very difference profiles, the analytical and the creative one.”  if you take a look at the candidates lvmh is looking for in their futura initative, you can see this is true.  this sentiment is further cemented by the university of monaco’s associate dean, “there’s something a little magic about a luxury brand.  you have to be initiated and understand how it works.  it’s a lot more specialized and complex than it looks.

this discussion thread on find mba may also prove helpful.