New Admit Series – Part I

Sonny: Here’s a guest post from Shamik Bandyopadhyay (class of 2014) who recently started his first year in the EWMBA program. Shamik has the unique perspective of having made a decision to move to Bay Area from Seattle in order to be closer to classes and other EWMBA folks. To find out how he made the transition and what he would do differently if he had to do it all over again, read on…


I moved to the Bay Area a couple of weeks back. My move had been in the works for a while. As I started my applications for Haas I also started engaging with current students and alumni to get to the bottom of the question – “Are you better off commuting to Haas on weekends, or being a Bay Area local?” My conclusion was that it’s a matter of personal choice. The program is designed to be very commuter friendly. The program office and the professors go out of their way to make sure the program works for commuters.

For me, it came down to a desire to both be deeply engaged in the Haas community on a day-today basis and to work in the Silicon Valley. It was a big decision, given that I was a Round 3 applicant. I barely had a couple of months from the time when I received my acceptance letter, to the start of class. In this short span, I had to find a position in my firm’s Silicon Valley office, relocate and settle down. I learnt a lot of lessons and given a second chance I would do things differently. Let me share with you what I learnt, so you can prepare yourself better if you decided to move to the Bay Area:

  • Apply in the early rounds:  If you are planning to move to the Bay Area, apply in Round 1 or Round 2, the earlier the better. This would give you ample time to cherry-pick your job in the Bay Area, settle into your job and truly plan out and manage your relocation.
  • Get your statistics and math pre-requisites out of the way:  If you apply in the later rounds and plan to move after receiving the admission decision, get your pre-reqs done early. Start your necessary pre-req courses or take the waiver exams well before you even receive your admission decision. Finding a job and managing your relocation while trying to complete a pre-req class is definitely not fun.
  • Give yourself time to settle in: Moving to a new location and settling in is not trivial. There are a lot of little things that add up. Moving your stuff, finding a new apartment, getting your car registered, getting a California driver’s license (they make you take the dreaded written exam), getting your insurance and bank services transferred over and on and on. The list gets pretty long and you really need to find time to get all of this taken care of before the start of class, while drinking from the fire hose at your new job.
  • Enjoy the summer activities: The fun starts well before Orientation weekend. This summer there were at least half a dozen happy hours and dinners, a picnic and a few other outings for the Class of 2014 – all before we had even started reading a single page from our textbooks. These events really help you to get to know your classmates and get comfortable in your Haas community. Add to that the all-day Accounting Review Workshop, and Haas starts filling up your calendar pretty quickly
  • Enjoy the sunshine: If you are moving from some of the sunshine deprived cities and states, you need to give yourself time to just stare at the sunny blue sky. There has not been a single cloudy day in the past two weeks and I find myself just staring out of the window trying to convince myself that it can actually be sunny most everyday.

That’s all folks!!

Jet-Setting @ Haas

You commute from where??? Seattle??? Wow – now that’s some dedication! How do you do it?

We’ve all heard it – many times. We usually brush it off – casually. We secretly enjoy the reaction – very much (it still hasn’t gotten old). We – are the Haas Jet-Set.

Yes, the constant flying is very tiring. Absolutely exhausting at times. And yes it sucks to miss out on so many cool events that happen at Haas. The Bay Area folks try to tell us it is not such a big deal because they end up not being able to make it to several of these events as well – but it still sucks.

So how do I do it? I have a secret weapon. In fact I have three. My fellow commuters from Seattle: Ankit Tandon, Sumit Garg & Amit Paka – without whom I’d have spent many many miserable hours waiting alone at the airport. And I’m not making this up – all their first names really do end with ‘it’ which is why it is easier to refer to the three of them as *its.

It is amazing to think that after 13 weeks of commuting this semester which translates to 26 flights, I have not been on a single flight where I was alone. I always had one of the *its travelling with me. Not only is it more fun to have company it is also very economical. We save a ton by carpooling and sharing cabs. We are always looking out for the cheapest flight deals and let each other know when one is available. We also formed a study group that meets weekly to go over homework (that’s us below – working on Accounting problems earlier in the day today).

We have jet-setters from other cities too – flying in all the way from from Portland, Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Diego and even Minneapolis (wow!). Between all of us I think we have the west coast pretty well-covered.

I have to say – the out-of-state commute is not that bad. Like everything else that’s challenging it gets better over time. It also helps to have so many people around me that are going through the same experience.

To the *ITs – I’m so glad you are in the program. Even though you tease me about wearing blue PJs to school, I still think you are cool, fun and smart!

To everyone else – Good night & Happy Thanksgiving!
– S

This post was written while listening to ‘Jimmy’ by M.I.A.

Commuting from Out of State – Is it feasible?

Not everyone in the program lives in the Bay Area. We have some folks commuting from Southern California, and even some from out of state.

Arul Elumalai, a fellow second year, has been coming in from Seattle each weekend to attend class. Here are some of his thoughts about what the commute is like:

1. Awareness around the fly-in option: It is suprising to find how many aspirants are not even aware that the option of flyng in on weekends is possible. So they limit themselves to local programs.

2. Expenses: For a Seattle’ite the incremental cost of traveling (as compared to a bay area student) is around $25,000 for the entire program. One could budget around $250 to $300 per trip and students make around 100 trips over the entire program (assuming one attends classes for all 6 semesters). This includes flight tickets, hotel stay, car rentals and other incidentals.

3. Effort: In my opinion, the effort is a small increment to the total MBA effort. The MBA in general is a pretty significant commitment and commute time is not something I see as a huge time sink. Flying and airport wait times are also networking time with other students and pretty efficient reading time. Fellow students understand our constraints and support in providing rides to the airport.

4. Logistics: Students normally fly into the bay area on Friday evenings and return Saturday evenings (for a location like Seattle). Morning flights are available for Santa Clara classes and hence one can fly in and out the same day – which roughly happens 50% of the time. Multiple students flying in from the same location helps us split costs. There are several logistics strategies that fly-in MBAs have figured out in economizing cost and effort that we pass on as tribal knowledge.

5. Increasing ease after the first semester: On an airline like Alaska, one can get to MVP status in the first semester (14 round trips from Seattle to the bay area gets one there). This gives free upgrades to first class, privilege to bypass security lines and the option to be the first to deplane. All these cumulatively add up to convenience and time efficiencies. (Also the miles I accumulate every year, gives me a free trip to India to give an estimate of the mileage redemption.)

6. Group work: This comes as a concern with most aspirants that I talk to. But the fact is that even those who live in the bay area seldom meet in person. With several audio and web conferencing technologies that are available that is option. As a long distance commuter I have never felt the void.

7. Club activies and extra curricular activies that happen on weekdays: This is the only thing, I would quote as a disadvantage and I haven’t found a way around. Its hard for commuters like me to be there on weekdays to attend talks or participate in workshops.

A weekend in the life of a fly-in MBA

Berkeley weekend: A typical Berkeley class goes as follows

7:00pm : Arrive at the airport, clear security and meet up with other fly-in students
8:00pm : Take off from Seattle
10:00pm: Land in Oakland/SJC
10:30pm: Rent a car and head to the hotel
11:00pm: Get a drink at the lounge with other students and call it a nite

7:30am: Breakfast
8:00am: Drive down to Berkeley/Santa clara
9:00am: Classes start
12:00 to 1:00pm: Lunch and catch up with group members
4:00pm: Classes end
(This will be 6pm for first year students)
4:00pm to 5:00pm: Socializing time
5:00pm: Head to airport (return car, clear security and board)
6:30pm: Take off from Oak (you really appreciate the complimentary upgrade to first class and the free drinks!!!)
8:30pm: Land in SEA
9:30pm: Arrive at home

Santa Clara weekend: Santa Clara classes are slightly different. It is a Saturday-only affair

6:30am: Take off from Seattle (inflight complimentary breakfast)
8:30am: Land at SJC and share a cab to the Sun campus.

5:30pm: Get dropped by some one at SJC
6:00pm: Take off from SJC
8:00pm: Land in SEA
9:00pm: Arrive at home

At the outset, the first four trips are new and there is quite a bit of anxiety. But then it just becomes a routine. When I started there were some Haas students in the second and third year who showed me the ropes. And the tradition continues…