One rejection does not mean defeat.

So last week I heard back from Stanford and it was a rejection notice. I’m obviously disappointed, but also acknowledge that this whole b-school this will work out as it shall. I gave a lot of consideration to the schools I was applying to and would be happy at any one of them. One rejection does not mean defeat.

The next 20 days are going to be trying though. I’m going to keep myself busy as much as possible so that I don’t sit and think endlessly about all the decisions that will be rolling in. By December 20th, I’ll hear back from 5 more schools. Leaving only 2 still up in the air. Pins and needles folks, pins and needles.

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Back on track

I’m out of my funk from last week. Other people on the internets (so it must be true) have called similar reactions to application season PTSD… maybe that’s what it was. Either way, with two schools inviting me to interview last week, I’m feeling better. It shows me that I’m at least a competitive candidate and gives me an opportunity to woo them. I’m a good wooer.

This upcoming week I have a Skype interview with Georgetown. I would have preferred to do it in person, but they only have one day available for on-site interviews and it was a Saturday. Spending time in class and seeing the campus during the week is important, so if I can’t do that, I might as well just Skype it. Plus, I’ll go über-broke flying everywhere if all 8 schools come calling…

After the first interview request, I did something terrible and discovered Beat The GMAT, which is a website where people post if they’ve been invited to interview yet. It kind of allows me to go crazy as if I didn’t have that ability already. I learned though, that MIT was beginning to send out their interview requests the following day (Friday). I hate knowing stuff like this because then I can get my hopes up and down and all around within the normal response period. In reality though, I shouldn’t be worried until I don’t hear back at all.

Anyway, I got an email Friday morning from MIT and nearly had a heart-attack. Except it was just a newsletter mentioning things going on around campus and was in no way an invite to interview. Then they emailed me later in the morning and I was like “god dammit MIT quit emailing me heart-attacks” except this time it actually was an invite to interview so the excitement was warranted.

I signed up for a good time and will be able to do a class visit and information session. It will be an awesome little trip. I also reached out to all the current MIT MBA students who are also Macalester grads – I’ll be meeting up with them when I am out there to gain insight into their experiences.

Now it’s time to practice like crazy for my interviews and remember that I don’t suck. I also need to stop analyzing the admissions process because now I think every school sends invitations out alphabetically so when Stanford starts on Monday I’ll get my invite then too… but I could totally be jumping to conclusions and getting me hopes up for naught.

Last minute jitters

Stanford is due tomorrow which means I’m pretty much freaking out and nearly hyperventilating. I needed to take a little cry break on Joe’s shoulder even. Crying is fine, because I haven’t cried in a while. It wasn’t even a good cry though, just a little mopeyness.

I didn’t know what this one would feel like, but it is really nerve wracking. Last week when I submitted MIT, I wasn’t stressed. I put my best foot forward and am happy with how it turned out. But with Stanford, I want to have it just perfect which is impossible because I don’t know what perfection is even if it exists. I’ve just got to put all I can into it and hope for the best, but it also feels like I should be able to do more. It’s an overwhelming feeling of just not being good enough, which is lame.

I briefly considered listing one of my old Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen fan site awards on the “Awards and Honors” section, because I really don’t have anything else. And, while I am legitimately proud of them because I was young and taught myself how to code HTML, I don’t want them to think I’m making light of the application. It’s also kind of pathetic if my only award is from 2001 so I left it off.

I’m going to go to sleep, get a great night of rest, and wake up early tomorrow to put together all the final touches. My essays are done (except one for a fellowship), 90% of the application itself is done, I just need to read through everything 10 more times probably. But, mmmrrrahhhhhhhhh

Application time!

I’m in Berkeley. I’m here visiting the business school. Mainly because Chris Kluwe lives nearby and I miss having him close, but also because it’s a pretty good program. Or so I’ve heard. I’ve never experienced it. I’m not a good reference.

I submitted my MIT application on Monday. It was the earliest deadline and a good starter. The application was average in terms of essays/prompts, amount of information, etc. I haven’t visited yet, but really like a lot about what the program has to offer. I also think the location would be great. One down… 7 to go?

Next Wednesday is the infamous Stanford deadline. I went and tried to psych myself out today by looking at application stats and stuff. Only 7k people apply for the less than 400 spots, so, it’s not like it’s impossible… My essays are in “okay” shape. Questions like “what is your favorite place” and “what is your favorite thing to read” give me not only the opportunity to let my personality shine but also make an ass out of myself in less than 300 characters. If I had to guess, I’d say 23% of applicants get an interview. If I’m not in that bunch, I’ll be a sad cat who failed. If I’m in that bunch but then don’t get in, that’s okay. At least I tried.

I’ve also been maybe over-doing it lately. Work has been pretty busy, Girls in Tech stuff is in full force, and I’ve been getting up every morning at 5am to work on my essays. Yesterday I just wanted to come home and sleep but I had already volunteered to help out Tix for Tots at the Lynx Game, they kicked ass, by the way. And now today I whisked off to Berkeley, delayed flight and all.

I’m just going to be so relieved when it is all done and I can impatiently wait for months on end.

The application begins…

So I’ve started working more diligently on my business school applications. You can tell by the fact that I’m blogging. While I’m usually procrastinating blogging itself, it can also be a procrastination tool for other things. It depends on which I sense is more of a priority.

Anyway, I think I’ve narrowed down the list, mostly. My number one priority is applying to Stanford. I’ve visited, know I love it, and would be extremely excited to attend. The next tier that I’m applying to though are schools that I have yet to visit. This makes it a little more difficult because as I’m writing thoughtful essays, I like to envision myself being there. That’s hard when I’ve never been!

In that list is MIT, Berkeley, Tepper, and a couple others. I’m applying through the Consortium which not only makes the application process easier (basically like a common app for b-school) but includes the opportunity to be selected for a large fellowship. I don’t want to apply to too many schools though, I’d rather put more effort into a smaller number. That’s why I’m trying to see just the top four in person, and then maybe apply to a safety school or two.

Joe’s graduation reception for his master’s program was last night. Since we’ve transitioned from him being the student to me being the almost-student, he’s been super supportive. I explained that my most productive time is in the morning, so this whole week we’ve been getting up at 5 for me to get at least an hour in of application work before going off to work. And here I am… blogging.

A memorial day

I’ve been in such a funk these last few days that I just can’t seem to break out of. I’m pretty sure the sun will never shine again in Minnesota, and that’s a pretty depressing place to be.

This past Friday, a girl I went to middle school with lost her daughter. Her beautiful 2 year old went missing while they were camping, and she was discovered in the water after what I can only imagine to be the most unbelievably painful 2 days. I didn’t know her that well when we went to school together. We had a few classes with each other; I always thought she was a very sweet girl. Sometimes, things like this hit me harder than others, and this one, because it feels so close to home, is ripping me apart. The pain I can only imagine that family is going through is just tragic.

On not even remotely the same scale, but still affecting my mood, is that today I just found out that my two most desired things are pretty much incompatible. Stanford housing doesn’t allow for pets of any kind. I’ve looked for apartments/rentals nearby, and nothing seems to accept pets. This means that I can’t even get a puppy right now if I want to have the ability to go to Stanford next year and that really sucks.

I’ve been thinking about a puppy more and more and even put in an application with the place I want to get him from. I had intended to get him before the winter because I know that he will help me be a happier person during the terrible winter months. And even though I haven’t met him yet, I know he would love California so much.

Joe is encouraging me to look into the policies at/near the other universities I am applying. That in itself feels disingenuous – I want Stanford and I know I can get in. I understand applying to other places as safeties… but this feels different.

As I was lying on the couch though, unable to motivate myself to do so much as even turn on the TV, I couldn’t imagine ever leaving this black hole to succeed in Business School. I allow myself to waste an entire weekend when I have work and writing and Girls in Tech things I could be working on – how on earth do I think I could fight my way through school again? This place I’m in is so dark it feels like I’ll never break out and I should probably just stop reaching for my goals now.

After my two hour nap and then direct migration to bed, Joe set up my light box to use in the morning. After the move to our condo, I hadn’t really found a suitable place for it and kept it packed away. I was also hopeful that my depression was just seasonal and now that it is “spring” I should fall out of it. But apparently I haven’t. So, I’m pretty thankful I have Joe to remind me that this place I am now may not be permanent.

A week of technology

The Holiday Tech Bash hosted by W3i last Thursday at Aria was awesome. It was just as awesome as the MinneDemo event hosted at the same space on Tuesday. Except, Friday morning I woke up with a tad more of hangover, probably due to the bar Joe dragged me out to afterwards.

At the event though, Girls in Tech raised some money! I think it was my fabulous speaking skills that earned us the dough. Or not, because people were busy playing cards. But I did manage to turn 50 fake dollars into a lot more, so, I can take a sliver of credit myself. It was just a really cool event though where I met a lot of great people – and saw some friendly faces too! Including someone from Macalester! I really feel like I’m beginning to become connected to the Tech community here in the Twin Cities, and I’m even more excited when I think of all the great things Girls in Tech can accomplish. I’m really proud to be heading things up.

Monday night was a Girls in Tech Happy Hour. It was held at aLoft hotel and was a pretty good time. Frist, I just love that space. Second, it was like a symbolic passing of the baton type of thing… both Jacque and I got up on “stage” and spoke for a few minutes. It was nuts because there was not an ounce of nervousness in me. It’s amazing to feel so great and confident about something – I know I’m doing the right thing.

Last week just just so much awesomeness wrapped into a bubble, and then this week, I’ve got notta-damn-thing planned. I hate how that seems to happen. It should be okay though, Joe is finally done with class!

Anyway, even though I didn’t get any book editing done today, it was still a good day. I did some nonprofit stuff and had a nice time with Joe. Then I took my new prescription which gives me a tummy ache and knocks me out – not sure why I haven’t learned to just take it at night yet. We went to the Holidazzle and I felt like a rock star remembering the order of the floats (or at least recognizing each one) from the time I worked on the planning team (Winter of 2010).

I just found out Milkweed Editions has decided to close/cancel their Jan – March submissions calling and I’m über disappointed. That’s when I was going to submit my book and then get published and be super awesome. It would have been nice to work with them because they too are a local nonprofit and really strike my fancy. However, I was hoping to get a decision regarding my publishability by October just in case they actually did want it. Then I could put “author” on my resume for Stanford and be even cooler. Now I’ll just continue finalizing the manuscript and consider branching out to other publishers, or, wait to see what Milkweed says.

Also, totally managed to connect with someone from the Grace Hopper conference committee today. Girls in Tech is going to partner in some way when they come to Minneapolis for their 2013 Celebration of Women in Computing. 2013 is going to be a good year.

Quick updates

Today was a pretty awesome day. Remember a while back how I was all like “oooohh… work never challenges me…”? Well, I’m not saying I’m all of a sudden über challenged or anything, but I have been thrown onto a few more projects. Which equals busy sauce at work. This makes me happy.

Further, a super awesome article came out about me today. If you are so inclined, you can read it here: http://tech.mn/news/2012/12/04/kate-agnew-girls-in-tech-msp/ .

Quick life update? NaNoWriMo: 30,000 words. Not the 50k I strove for, but 30k nonetheless. This means I am 25k closer to finishing my book. I’m really happy with where it is at. I’m confident it is what I would call a first draft as it does chronicle most of my life. Step 1: Write it. Check! Step 2: Edit it. In progress…

I totes bought Joe a pretty good Christmas gift, until I realized he probably wouldn’t like it. So, even though it was already wrapped and under the tree, I unwrapped it, returned it, and will be getting him something else. Maybe there is such a thing as shopping too early…

We rearranged our apartment! The “office” is now in the living room, and the couch and TV are in the den. This is an effort to make me a happy camper through the winter months rather than sitting in the darkness. Also, I love my sun lamp. High five for technology equalling happiness.

Lastly, condo hunting has been great. We didn’t love the IVY, reasons for this include: not allowing owners to rent out (how would I go to San Francisco if I got in?!), charging owners for access to gym, not including parking in the 1 bedrooms, tiny closets, small windows etc. The Carlyle rocked our socks off. Beautiful pool, hot tub, workout area, view, morning sun, nice counters, huge closet, home to a timberwolves player, great parking (which is included!). I’m not completely sold yet though, mainly because we haven’t been approved for our loan yet because we haven’t applied yet. We are looking for more of a May move in date so I’m just getting the lay of the land now anyway.

Well, I’ve gots to run to my Girls in Tech meeting… first one as Managing Director!

Connections

I worry about the connections I am making. I’ve realized over the last few years that I have a tendency to procrastinate my involvement. For example, I’ve been living in Minneapolis for over a year now, and I’m just recently finding the communities that I really connect with. The same thing can be found when you look into any slice of my life.

This is what made changing schools so often so hard. Before high school, I never went to a school for more than two years. The first year was made attempting to make friends, and well, sadly, the next year was spent losing them. The first time I really broke out of this bubble was in high school when I began my involvement with the student yearbook and volunteered at various places around town. By senior year, I real felt like I hit my groove. I was earning all A’s, compared to the C’s and B’s I got in 9th grade. I excel when I have the opportunities to lead, help others, and learn. Why can’t I find these opportunities right away? Same thing happened in college – not too much that I am proud of from my first year, but by second year and beyond I really made my mark on campus. And that, my friends, is the true value in any experience. Looking back and knowing that I brought students together for the Winter Ball, and that I sat on student government for two years, really makes me proud of my time at Macalester.

Now, I’m falling into my niche in Minneapolis. Work is going well, I’m enjoying the projects I am working on. I’m getting more involved though Girls in Tech and other local tech orgs; I’m volunteering with programs that really make me feel like I’m giving back (the Reading Corps, and Meals for Minds). I’m getting out there and going to blogging conferences and being less nervous about leaving the house and being who I want to be, and who I am.

So, what happens when I decide to uproot myself and go to Stanford? Did it take me a while to fall into a groove here due to the nature of my rotational program at work? Was it having so many new experiences with my friends and family being distant? Am I in a better position for change now that I have Joe by my side? What if I don’t have Joe by my side when I go to Stanford? Obviously I’ll be so busy I’ll barely notice (luff you!) but will I still face the same set back of a year in order to get myself acquainted with the people and community?

What if a year from now my comfort dissuades me from even applying? Will I find myself so entwined that I no longer entertain the idea of leaving? No, I sure as hell hope not. But, I also am dreading the day I no longer believe I can change the world. When this day will face me, no one can say.

Permission to be me

Tonight I went to a Women Leading in Technology event, which was presented by the Minnesota High Tech Association. I had totally forgotten about it until I saw it on my calendar earlier today, and then I was like “what the heck is this event?” I was about to bail, but then I realized I paid $15 to go and felt committed. So I went. And it was awesome.

First was a short networking session. I met some interesting people, saw some people I have worked with, and generally had a good time. The best part by far though, was the panel. They brought together a panel of four strong, intelligent, successful women within the technology industry.

  • Carolyn Parnell, CIO MN.IT Services
  • Jennifer Haushildt, CTO, FindLaw at Thomson Reuters
  • Jean Becker, Senior Executive Partner, Accenture
  • Chris Mahai, Co-owner and Managing Partner, Aveus, LLC

My favorite part was when each woman gave a little bit of their background and how they got to where they are today. It was inspiring to see women from different companies and backgrounds coming together. For example, Carolyn started out as a social worker, and always made sure to work for companies that she shared a common goal or belief with. Jennifer, on the other hand, has been at Thomson Reuters for most of her career (19 years). Jean had a different start too, coming from a small town without phones or electricity, to becoming a nurse, and now is at Accenture. The best takeaway was from her: don’t be afraid to say way you want. Once, in an interview, when the interviewer asked her what she wanted to do, she replied “I want to be an engineer for a while, get my MBA, and then manage people.” The response she got wasn’t laughter, it was belief. Somehow, somewhere, I got ahold of the wacky notion that one shouldn’t announce that their sights are set high. Rather, that it is better to be humble and speak more to that next step rather than further down the line. I’m honest about these things with some people (Joe, my grandma, my diary, etc.), but not with the people that can help me achieve the goals. [From a professional standpoint, I mean. My family is very supportive of me and means the world to me.] But that is going to stop now, because I left tonight with the permission to tell people what I want, who I am going to be, and how I am going to get there. And, just so we are all on the same page, I’ll tell you too.

I’m going to be CTO of a fortune 500 company, whether I start it from the ground up or join one of the many existing successful companies. I’m going to be actively involved in my community, specifically with organizations that promote STEM fields to women and with my alma matter (Macalester + probably Stanford). I know these things won’t happen over night, but I’m a hard worker and I’m in this for the long haul.

Additionally, I’m going to be a published author and I’m going to drive a Maserati because they are awesome. I am a genuine person that tries to help out others any way possible. For example, I love meeting with Macalester students to talk about life post Mac, and I recently paired up a coworker with a recent Mac grad to dog sit while he is on vacation. It is sometimes the little things, but it is also the bigger picture, and I’m always willing to put myself out there for others.

And now it is my turn to pay it forward: tell people what you want, who you are going to be, and how you are going to get there. And don’t forget to appreciate the present.