Interview: Jeremy George, Georgetown McDonough

Jeremy George contacted me over Twitter and asked if we could do an interview over email. Jeremy, many thanks for reaching out and we appreciate your time to do the interview!

A. Basics

  1. What is your name? Jeremy George
  2. School and year? Georgetown McDonough School of Business 2014
  3. Current company and title? Signal Hill / Investment Banking Associate
  4. How many schools did you apply to? 3
  5. Which schools did you apply to and how did you choose them? Georgetown, Yale, Columbia
  6. Why did you choose the school that you went to? New Dean from Harvard / Location / I-Banking career options
  7. Why did you want to get an MBA? Career change
  8. Would you go get an MBA again? Yes
  9. How did you prepare to take the GMAT? Courses, self-study, trial and error? Self-study (Beat the Gmat 60 day program)

B. Resume

  1. What are your goals with work experience section of your resume? What are you trying to convey? Leadership, replete financial skill set, analytical skills, transferrable skills
  2. Describe two work experience bullets on your resume. How do you highlight your work? Problem, solution, result / impact
  3. How do you describe your academic experience on your resume? Provides the schools, degrees and GPA
  4. Describe your resume’s extracurricular, hobbies, and interests? How did you choose which activities to include? Mainly sports for me, which highlighted my leadership skills
  5. How do you talk about the reasons you left your most recent employer? Career change / transferring skills in a new industry
  6. Based on the resumes you’ve seen, what qualities make a resume go to the top of the pile? Bottom of the pile? Organized, no typos, strong academic background, interesting hobbies

D. Activities

  1. What activities outside of work were you involved in prior to your MBA? MBAMath, Statistics for the Washington Wizards
  2. Which of those activities did you focus on for your application, and why? Both to highlight my quant and analytical skills (especially with a liberal arts undergrad degree)

E. Essays

  1. How did you feel about the essay writing process? I felt this was very repetitive
  2. Describe your approach to the brainstorming, shaping, and fine tuning of your essays. I used outlines
  3. Who did you get feedback from and why? A colleague with a PhD in English

F. Letters of recommendation

  1. Describe the people who wrote your letters of recommendation, both peer and manager. Why did you choose them? Mentors and peers who supported my decision to switch careers
  2. How closely did you work with your recommenders on the content of the letter? Not much

G. Interviews

  1. What was your general approach for preparing for interviews? Mock interviews (I feel this is the only to be successful)
  2. For each question you received, how did you structure your response? Each interview was different, but I typically framed the question and resorted to my mental “database” of responses. If there was a challenging question, I would ask to revisit it at the end of the interview (which they almost always did not)
  3. What questions did you ask the interviewer? Overall view of the culture, what are the biggest challenges to expect in the first month, six months and year in the program, their opinion on what else could be done to strengthen my application

H. Other MBA

  1. Overall, what qualities were you trying to convey to the admissions committee? Leadership, ability to grow and learn, ability to work in teams and a passion for learning
  2. Did you use any admissions consulting services? And would your opinion change now? No
  3. Were you waitlisted at any schools? If so, what was your strategy for getting into the program and off the waitlist? Columbia
  4. Did you provide “supplemental information”? Yes. MBAMath transcript
  5. What was your favorite experience during your MBA? Meeting like-minded individuals
  6. What is one piece of advice you have for anyone who is about to start an MBA program? Stay committed. It’s a process and you will have to learn to enjoy the journey.

10. Other non-MBA

  1. How did your employment after business school compare to the career you thought you would have when you wrote your essays? I reached my goal.
  2. What do you look forward to the most about your job? New challenges and working with interesting clients
  3. What experiences weren’t on your resume but were instrumental to your personal/professional growth? Transactional analysis

Fortune Magazine - Getting an MBA while you're on the road: How to pull it off

During the Fat Envelopes interviews, we mainly focused on full-time MBAs, either in MBA or Executive MBA programs. However, most of us felt the pain of taking 2 full years away from our career. And that pain was both on the career progression and financial fronts.

Online education is becoming a stronger option in terms of the quality of the programs and the acceptance in business culture. Anne Fisher, of the Ask Annie column for Fortune Magazine, had an excellent write up about the online option.

The 3 whys of an MBA

The application process is beginning in earnest. Studying for the GMAT. Downloading all the application data. Psyching yourself up for a pretty grueling process over the next few months.

Yet, many MBA applicants spend too little time up front thinking about the 3 most important questions in the applications, the interviews, and their own career path:

  1. Why an MBA?
  2. Why now?
  3. Why this school?

Of our 55 interviewees, a majority of them focused on answering these questions as clearly and succinctly as possible. And a number of these MBAs wished they had thought through these questions before starting their applications.

Dave Adams has strong opinions about choosing the right school

Dave Adams has strong opinions about choosing the right school

Until you can answer these questions, you'll have a very hard time writing a compelling application.

Thankfully, we're here to help. Below are some of the Fat Envelopes pages that are relevant to the 3 why's.

  1. A3. Which schools did you apply to and how did you choose them?
  2. A4. Why did you choose the school that you went to?
  3. A5. Why did you want an MBA?
  4. E8. Essay question: what do you want to do—REALLY?
  5. E9. Essay question: why do you want to go to MBA program X?

Fat Envelopes launch on Wed Jul 22; 70,000 people reached!

I'm getting very, very excited. The Fat Envelopes launch is coming on Wed Jul 22!

For all of you who've signed up for the Thunderclap (simultaneous social media release), thank you most sincerely. We're going to reach 70,000 people next week. If you'd like to help, please click here:

We soft-launched the site this week - it's content complete and ready to go! If you know any MBA applicants, please send them my way. We'd love to help.

After hundreds of hours editing video, 373 GB of original content, and 4,198 edited, produced, and uploaded videos, Fat Envelopes is ready to go!

Thank you for all your support.


250 hours later - all 55 videos are done!

This has been a really, really long process. 4 years in the making, and more than 250 hours of video editing alone (about a 4x multiple on total video time). It was funny and it was tedious, it was stressful and meaningful.

I'm so happy to be done!

Now begins the analysis part. Taking all the chopped up answers, figuring out the distribution of answers and the patterns, then figuring out how to display it.

Much work to be done, but I'm past the hardest part.

Many thanks to Tom Rose, the last but not the least!

Didn't have the time of their lives? 2/55

The MBA program has unquestionably one of the highest satisfaction rates (during and after) of any time of schooling. 53 out of 55 interviewees loved their program. Some would even do it twice, right now. The 2 people who weren't sure still thought they would do it again, but would think a little harder.

Now, the application process? The satisfaction rate is much, much lower. Sorry about that. But we're here to help!

32/55 videos are done!

Editing each video takes about 2 hours of concentrated time. I'm pretty quick at navigating Adobe Premiere, now. And I'm not being super-exacting about video ins and outs. It's good to listen to all the content again and re-familiarize.

Thanks, Daniel (number 32)!

Hair length = career choice

David Sauvage is a film director. His hair looks like this:

As an entrepreneur, my hair looks like this:

As a "film director" doing Fat Envelopes, my hair looked like this:

Coincidence? I think not.

After a ___ year hiatus, we begin again!

This project got interrupted in the fall of 2011 because I received an offer I couldn't refuse. I went back to work for my algae biofuels company, Sapphire Energy. Since then, I've launched 3 startups and have reserved sufficient time for breathing, eating, sleeping, and not much else.

Recently, some of my time has started to free up, and I happily began work on Fat Envelopes again. Watching the interviews again is reminding me how smart, personable, and often funny these interviews were. I learned and learned again in a way I hadn't since business school.

The video editing process is tedious (working on #20 as we speak), but it will be so worth it.

Video stats

For those of you stats geeks out there, here are a few numbers as I’m processing the video.

  • Interviews: 55
  • Total size of interviews: 398.5 GB
  • Number of video segments: 296 (because of the 2 GB file size limit)
  • Average bit rate for video: 2.02 MB/s
  • Total video length: 3,287.6 minutes or 54.8 hours

Yikes. Lot of content. This is shocking and awing at the same time.

Meta-mega-theme #02: knife’s edge balance

The business school application requires you to walk a very fine line, a knife’s edge, between two competing ideas. If it was just one line to walk, we’d all be fine. However, business school applications require multiple precipices to be navigated simultaneously. There is no clear answer to each of these dichotomies, but I’ve noticed trends in the interviews.

  • Humility vs. pride : lean towards humility. Show pride in the accomplishment of work or projects. Show humility in all dealings with people.
  • Reflective vs. active: lean towards reflective. Bulls in china shops who don’t think about their own motivations and emotions rarely can write genuine and insightful essays.
  • Time on essays vs. rest of the application: lean towards the essays. You have to check all boxes, but the essays are the one and only chance to show your personality outside of the interview. I screwed this up royally in my application.
  • Directed vs. open to possibilities for your career: leans towards directed. Most people choose to show a strong and clear direction for their career after business school. It’s expected, even though it’s not true for 80% of the people who show up.

I will say one thing about all of these knife’s edges – somewhere close to the middle is correct. Very, very few people chose extremes in their application. The few who did were excellent, excellent writers who could keep the essays sounding real despite the hyperbolic direction. At a forge in New Zealand last year, I made a couple of knives, one for me and one for my dad.