Getting Ready for Columbia Business School, Running, et cetera

Friday, April 14, 2006

Columbia Open House - Day 2, 3, 4

On Friday there was a breakfast at nine and then a panel on the academics at Columbia that lasted until 11. I woke up and looked at the clock around 9 and decided that I could wait until August to learn about picking classes.

After breakfast at Absolute Bagel, I wandered up the street and sat in on the last few minutes of the career planning session that my cluster was about to enter. And here I managed to hear the one of the two phrases that defined the non-social part of Open House. “Guided Missile”. Basically, one of the Executives in Residence told everyone to get their shit in gear before school starts. I need to be a guided missile by the time I get to school (he later tempered this to December at the latest). His argument was that if we don’t know what we want, we’re going to get our clocks cleaned by the folks who do know what they want, who have been pursuing _______(insert career here) since day one of school.

Sometime later (a lot of the days blend together, probably because of the intensity of the experience and my alcohol consumption) Linda Meenhan said something similar. This was the second phrase that defined my “serious” time at Open House. “Columbia is not a hand-holding school. We put opportunities in front of you, and it’s up to you to take advantage of them.” Aha! This is why I didn’t get any love from Columbia, this is why I didn’t get a t-shirt months ago, and why there was no coffee mug either. Columbia is in New York, and through the school and the city, I’ll have access to just about anything that I want. But I am the one who has to go out and hustle… It’s hard out here for an admit.

Anyway, after guided missile, there was a reception with a talk given by Pete (formerly of Pete’s Wicked Ale), a CBS alum. We had a sheet listing which professors and other notables from Columbia were going to be sitting at various tables. I sat down at the table hosted by the head of the Value investing program. I later realized that Professor Greenwald was holding forth at another table-doh! The food was good, and the speech was great. I especially enjoyed his stories from Xerox (I grew up near Rochester, so this was special). After his MBA, he had to produce lots of color presentations, because Xerox had new color copiers. The bad thing was that there was no quick way to produce color originals. So you had mba grads working until the wee hours of the morning, cutting out pieces of colored plastic and gluing them onto paper to make pie charts. And then they’d just have to change them in the morning, when the boss wanted something a bit different!

We then had a student panel. The main benefit from this was when a fellow admit asked how much money we would need before we get our student loan disbursement in September. Basically, we need enough to get an apartment (three months rent) plus enough to live in New York for 2-4 weeks. Ouch! I had not thought about this.

The club fair lasted approximately 10 minutes, or else I spent too much time talking to people. Whatever, I never found half of the tables I was looking for before a group of us went down to Bloomingdales. There was a speech, good white wine, and pleasant hors d’oeuvres, and sofas that had been set below heat lamps. Ok, they were halogen track lights, but I sat directly in the path of one of those death rays, and may have gotten a tan. I noticed that the only food that was making it to me was cucumber slices with some shredded carrot, so I swung into action. I found several fellow DC admits standing in the path of the food, which came from several directions, but had to run through a gauntlet just outside the natuzzi area. My diet improved immediately.

The next stop was Bliss, a bar where the NYC admits who had organized Social on Wednesday had gotten us open bar for the not so cheap price of $50. I got to the bar and was told that there were no martinis, no caipirnhas, and no mohitos. So I began to order long island ice teas. Later I went to a club called Show. I danced, and had a good time, but perhaps because of my previous libations, I don’t have anything else to report.

I spent Saturday convalescing. I didn’t make it out to the happy hour, and from what I heard, people went to either Friday night, or Saturday. If anyone went to both, I imagine that it’s the guy who was still talking to the Irish women when I left Social on Wednesday.

Sunday morning there was a brunch in the lower east side, again organized by one of our amazing NYC admits. I had a great time, talking to some people who I felt that I knew well, and others whom I had somehow managed to miss over the preceding days. One guy has already quit work, was leaving for Russia, and wants to start a Rock, Paper, Scissors club at Columbia. Apparently there’s a national organization for this-RPS!?! After brunch I had a lovely walk down to a Chinatown bus, where my Columbia Open House adventure ended.


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