Telling Your Emotionally Volatile Boss You’re Applying to B-School


Thirteen days, in case you didn’t know, is a very short time. It’s barely enough time to watch all eight seasons of 24 with sleep sprinkled in, and it’s definitely not enough time to make yourself prepared for the GMAT. With this predicament in mind, I adopted a commonly favored method for solving difficult problems called Let’s Pretend This Isn’t Happening. This approach produced brilliant results for five peaceful days, then fizzled out like Sir Mix-a-Lot. In the middle of the sixth day, a Saturday, I became very stressed out about the previous five (peaceful) days and began studying conscientiously. For the AWA.

The AWA is a very nice component of the GMAT, but it’s also like a Prada bag, because it’s a terrible investment. I’m generally good with investments, but my stake in the AWA is one I’d rather not discuss.

So test day came along. (What? You’re skipping the final week? How could you? Yes. The final week was so boring that if I write about it I’m going to fall into a food coma. Three practice tests, yada yada yada.) When I had impulsively signed up for the test thirteen fateful days ago, I had done one thing right: schedule a 5pm date. I arrived at the test center a whole ninety minutes early, only to be beaten by several other testers. You can never win at the game of life. Most people packed light, some not at all; MBA Mama packed her boy for the win. Let’s see: two half-sandwiches, a not insignificant amount of blueberries and grapes, a pastry, two water bottles, and on top of that, a Godiva chocolate from the sister. So that’s one way to stand out from the crowd.

I tend to get an adrenaline rush and smile a lot before I take a test. Weird, I know. Everyone else there looked as if they’d rather eat three screams than be at the test center, so I let them all go in first. Finally, I was seated and ready to go. The AWA was outstanding. (So good I thought about high-fiving myself.) The quant wasn’t outstanding, but it wasn’t horrible. I was preparing to sail into the sunset. I cruised through the first half of the verbal section, and then an inconvenient thing happened — my brain sailed into the sunset on me. In one fell swoop, everything on the screen became upside-down Arabic, and I am not good at reading upside-down Arabic. Having lost all grasp of the English language, I started guessing on problems, to my own dismay.

Trudging through the experimental section, my mind oscillated between The Inconvenient Thing and the remaining food in my locker, making the experimental section seem quite difficult. I would be terrible at the new GMAT, I thought. Upon reaching the screen before my score was revealed, I secretly hoped my quant score would compensate for the abomination that was my verbal disaster. Haha. 99th percentile on the verbal. 760. In the Great Escape of 2011, I scurried out the door before anyone could tell me my score was reported incorrectly.

Schools and Things

After the GMAT, I started thinking about applications, but decided it was not a favorable topic to ponder. I rested for a week (read: worked very hard and focused on leading the collegians and young adults at my church) before revisiting the topic. Facing seven applications to seven different schools (Booth, Columbia, Harvard, Sloan, Stanford, Tuck, and Wharton), I was suddenly enthralled by the notion of applying to Columbia early decision and hopefully skipping out on the other six applications. But good things never last, and I quickly realized that I didn’t come this far to cop out at the end. Seven applications it is. After shuffling around the order, I ended up with something like what’s posted to the right on this blog.


The GMAT was pretty hard. But was it as hard as informing my boss (whom we shall call Barney) that I might be leaving, and that I’ll need a recommendation on the way out? Good question; I’m not sure. Regardless, breaking the news to Barney was extremely difficult for me for a multitude of reasons.

First, Barney is a very emotionally volatile man. I love Barney, but Barney is a very emotionally volatile man. Secondly, my role with the company has expanded significantly over the past couple of years, and I work closely with Barney on many things. And lastly, although many people experience difficulties dealing with Barney, I have had the privilege of developing a strong relationship with him (despite the occasional hiccups) and know that my departure would have a great impact on him. Being a deeply loyal person (sometimes to the point it hurts), this last reason made it the most difficult.

Since he was on vacation after I took my GMAT, I waited until he returned to let him know. Waiting never eases the soul, especially when you cannot predict a response. When I finally spoke to him about going back to school, he came across as very understanding and accommodating, but I could sense that slight bit of hurt beneath the surface. Gosh, I hate hurting people.

This post is adapted from MBABoy, a blog written by an investment banker and anonymous MBA applicant who has a GMAT score of 760 and is targeting Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, MIT Sloan, Tuck, Columbia, and Chicago Booth.

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