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University of Washington School of Business Personal Statement
1. “You’re such a dork!” I remember very clearly the words I heard my best friend say to me one day as we were walking home from class in the ninth grade. I listened to her talking about how when I got some money, we would go shopping and I could buy myself a new wardrobe. She didn’t seem to be considering the fact that I might not want a new wardrobe. I suddenly realized that she wanted me to conform because she was embarrassed of me. She wanted me to turn into another version of herself, which she would find more acceptable. It all started years before that, when I changed schools in second grade. I had many nicknames after that, such as “geek” and “nerd”. Although I got used to it, it never stopped hurting. I became resigned and just accepted that I would never be part of the “in” crowd, just because I was five pounds heavier, or because I tucked my shirt in, or laughed differently. By the time I was in middle school, I’d accepted the teasing and taunting as my fate. Before I knew it, the transition to high school had arrived. My best friend through middle school decided she didn’t want to be friends anymore, to reasons I have never discovered. Although it was hard, it also forced me to get out there and make new friends, to stand up and say, “This is me”. Ninth grade changed everything. I got less and less shy, and made friends who liked me for what I was, not for the clothes I wore or the way I talked. I still wasn’t part of the “in” crowd. I probably am not part of that crowd now, and never will be. After all these years, I know there are still people who think that I’m a dork. I have much more confidence in myself though, and I know how to stick up for myself. Our society bases so much on fitting in that many people never realize how important it is just to be yourself, and realize that in itself is special. It’s not all about what clothes you wear or what car you drive, or how high up in the company you are. It’s nice to know that I didn’t go through all of those years of being a geek for nothing.
2. By the time I reached my sophomore year in high school, I didn’t feel that the classes I was taking were very challenging. Luckily, my school offered Running Start to their students, and during my junior year I was able to start attending classes at Whatcom Community College. I loved everything about it. I liked being treated as an adult and being challenged by my classwork, and I embraced life there. The one downfall I saw in the program was that by the time I finished high school I was only one quarter away from earning my Associates Degree. Although I was proud of this achievement and glad to go back for one more quarter to continue and complete my classes, I also think that completing that much schooling in such a compacted period of time is very difficult. By the time I finished my degree, I couldn’t imagine being in school any longer. However, I managed to keep my grades up at a pretty good level, and to make the deans list my last quarter there, which is something I am proud of. I went back to school one quarter later to study overseas, and then took the following year off. What this time off allowed me was to once again become excited about the prospect of being in school and learning new things. I am just starting my second quarter at the University of Washington. Last quarter, I took Accounting, Math, and Economics classes, and loved every minute of it – I even liked reading my textbooks! My year working and time off allowed me to discover a new and interesting career path, and to learn a lot about what it’s really like being involved in a corporation.
3. While I was out of school, I got a job as a customer care representative at VoiceStream Wireless. During the year that I worked there, I was exposed to things that I never knew I would be interested in. In that time, I experienced exponential growth and three mergers/acquisitions with them. At VoiceStream, everything was always changing. While I was working there in 1999 and 2000, I also witnessed big changes in the atmosphere and morale of the work environment. At first, it was a dream come true. They treated every worker as an individual; even the managers knew our names. I was able to earn extra skills, like handling escalated customers, and could earn pay raises and receive additional training. We were also empowered to help the customers in any way that we needed to in order to fix their problems. VoiceStream had the best customer service I had ever experienced, and I was a part of it. Things changed and by the time that I quit a year later, it was a rare occurrence to even see a smiling face. It seemed as though everything had been taken away from us. We were no longer allowed to use the extra skills we had earned, as the general customer queue was so behind all the time. We were rarely informed of policy or companywide changes when we needed to be. Any opportunity for career advancement within the call center had disappeared. I no longer felt that the people higher up in the company really cared about me as an employee. There were many issues that had been brought up involving morale and the changes in the company, but it didn’t seem like anyone’s concerns were being addressed. The change that I saw happen while working for VoiceStream made me think about the way that companies treat their employees. Working there allowed me to see a world I had never experienced before- the business world. It was one of the most interesting things I’d ever seen. I wanted to learn more about it, and could see myself being involved in it for a long, long time. Because the employees are at the heart of the company, and in many companies are dealing directly with the customers; the way that they feel and are treated on a daily basis can affect everything from efficiency to customers’ impressions about the company. I have seen these effects firsthand, and how important it is that employees feel appreciated and heard. My goal is to involve myself in HR or management, focusing on employee relations to develop healthy and efficient ways to relate to their employees, while still running the firm efficiently.