Just an hour ago, I thought that I’d be writing a very different post than this. About two weeks ago, I interviewed for a spot in the class of 2015 for The MIT Sloan School of Management.
While I left the actual interview feeling pretty good, I began to wonder about whether my performance was good enough soon after. I was very candid in my interview–which was not bad thing. In fact, I love being authentic; however, I feared that the good news of my acceptances to Wharton and Booth 5 weeks ago had made me a little lax from an emotional standpoint.
It’s a good thing to be just a little on edge during an interview. It keeps the crazy in check. This is especially true for people like me who tend to say whatever the hell they want to say. I have a filter, actually–a good one; but I prefer not to have to use it. Bill Cosby and I have the same birthday; so that kind of gives you a clue into how I tend to get down when it comes to speaking my mind.
So, during my Sloan interview, I thought that I might have been a bit loose…maybe a bit TOO loose…like this-is-why-my-mama-told-me-to-never-drink-with-your-boss loose. I was somewhat candid about advising a coworker who was going to “throw someone under the bus” to avoid that unless he wanted to be eaten alive politically. I think I might have even called a former boss from my previous company “dumb” in so many words. I wouldn’t say that I was out of control, but I definitely could have reeled it in a bit.
At the same time, I really enjoyed the conversation. I interviewed with one of the admissions directors and was quite impressed with him. My actual interview experience definitely rivaled my Wharton interview experience with Ankur Kumar. It was a great dialogue, and I’m happy that my candor did not make that dude light a match to my app before leaving Santa Monica. That says a lot to me about MIT; that they appreciate the outspoken one…the person who questions and challenges.
A Long Time Coming
I actually thought about applying to MIT for undergrad. For someone going into engineering, it was and is THE #1 dream school on the planet. I had received a recruitment letter from them in the mail after being selected as a National Achievement Scholar–the URM award from the National Merit program.
At the time, however, I was intimidated to even apply. Marco Pravia, the valedictorian from the class 2 years before me at my high school had gone there. While visiting home for the holidays, he spoke to the AP Calculus class and told us that when he went to MIT, they covered his entire senior year of calculus in one day. That scared the daylights out of me. I didn’t think my down south public school pedigree was good enough. I thought I might be eaten alive by genius cyborgs. I never applied.
Last Minute Doubts
Well, I’m a MUCH different person now. But our confidence is not always well founded. Sometimes it is self delusion LOL; and thus, I thought that might have been the case during this bid. In fact, by the time today–D-day–rolled around, I had already braced myself for a ding.
The more I thought about my interview, the more things I began to recall that I could have done better. I already knew that I would not be starting my day with an admit call during breakfast like I got from Wharton and Booth because Sloan had sent an email after my interview in which they stated that nothing was going to happen until after 5pm EST,which is 2pm my time in Los Angeles.
So I’m sitting in my weekly strategy meeting with my boss (my GM), the COO, our project manager and our director of QA. The meeting runs each Tuesday from 2pm – 3pm, so I knew that admit calls would begin at about the time of the meeting. Just in case I was to be lucky, I put my phone right on the table (instead of on my lap or in my pocket as usual) so that it would buzz loudly if I got a call. I didn’t want to miss that call.
Didn’t happen. I never got a call. No area code 617 on my phone. Total silence.
Then, at 2:21pm PST, the phone buzzed. I checked it and saw “Admissions Decision” as the subject of an email from MIT Sloan. Hmmmm….an “admissions decision” with no call. I knew what that meant. HBS and Stanford all over again; a ding.
I got back to my desk at about 3:55, logged in to get some closure on my admission process by confirming my last decision and skimmed right past the “CONGRATULATIONS” looking for some sign of a ding.
It wasn’t there. They let my outspoken, black ass in. Hallelujah.
Props Where they Are Due
I really must give props to MIT Sloan for what I believe was the best overall application process. While I have slight beef with waiting until the end of January for a R1 decision (would have been torture if I had yet to be accepted anywhere) and feel that Wharton has the best interview process, MIT killed the game with an app that didn’t take a day to fill out, an objective scoring system for choosing whom to interview, that awesome :59 video essay that I got to do and then giving out final decisions AFTER the business day was over (at least on the east coast) so that applicants could be at least remotely well productive at work. I only checked my email like 3 times today.
What Lies Ahead
Interestingly enough, I ended up getting interviews from the schools whose apps I enjoyed the most: Booth, Wharton and Sloan. Each school really allowed me to communicate who I was and why I was a fit for their program in its own way. I’d jump at the chance to go to any of the 3 in all of their quanty glory. My next steps are as follows:
1/31-2/3 – Wharton Welcome Weekend in Philly
2/7 – 2/10 – Booth Welcome Weekend in Chicago
2/19 – Deposit due at Wharton and Booth; thus, my decision deadline between Wharton, Booth and Sloan
I’ll let you know how it all checks out. Thanks for reading.
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