Charlie liao

Cornell University, Business Analyst at McKinsey & Company

Charlie is currently working at his undergraduate dream job in New York City. While he was at university, he was a campus leader and urban dancer known for spearheading and supporting several unique initiatives around campus. However, to get there, he's bombed interviews (Charlie once spent 30 seconds on the phone saying ludicrous instead of lucrative), failed Linear Algebra with a sub-25% final grade, and unsuccessfully started a healthy exercise and diet plan 5 different times.


"I failed Linear Algebra as a senior and I’m not overly upset because Harvard Business School (HBS) says it doesn’t look at official transcripts until after you get in. If I fortunately end up there, I am going straight to the admissions office to cackle maniacally (I’ve been practicing all year) as they realize their colossal mistake. That being said, I will never forgive my lovely roommate Peter for insisting that his makeup final was 'totally not cumulative', leading me to study only 10% of the material for the exam. For revenge, I’ve been leaving sugar cubes in his bathroom to attract ants (he hates them) and now there’s a mild ant problem in 401 Dryden Road, Ithaca. I guess, with this ant issue, we both lose, but me more so because I still failed Linear Algebra. 

Despite the HBS transcript policy, failing Linear Algebra still felt like someone thrust a wooden stake in my heart; the last time I failed a class, it was also a math class. In 9th grade, I failed Geometry. Yes, I failed shapes. To this day, Mr. Allen still thinks I can't solve for the area of a square. Sad! Similarly, the Linear Algebra failure carries another embarrassment. I, along with the rest of the lecture, was demolished by a twelve year old engineering prodigy. While I sat in my seat drawing creative stick figures on the exam for pity points, Jimmy Neutron incarnate whizzed through each problem and destroyed the curve. 

Frankly, there is no redemption to this story like in the other ones. My mathematical catastrophe was, honestly, the purest manifestation of failure. I think I was the only student in the class to receive under a 25% on the exam - the only student to fail the entire course. But hey, sh*t happens, and as Carl Sagan once famously proclaimed, there are more stars in the universe than there are grains of sand on earth. Sometimes, there are just bigger things to worry about and it's okay to take a deep breath and let go."