First Attempt: Yes
Why did you want to pursue an MBA?
Talking about why exactly MBA at this point in time is because I wanted to be clear about it myself. I’ve been working in IT sales for about five years now and my job requires me to constantly be on track with my product managers in the US. My job requires me to interact with a lot of product managers based out of our headquarters in Texas. Every time I got an opportunity to speak to a customer, I had limited options to speak only about the products that had been given to me and that was holding me back because there were many times where I have had an opportunity to go out of the way which I have developed on my own. So that is one thing that I wanted clarity about in my head. This is why I needed an MBA to get into product management work because eventually, my goal was to work at the headquarters of a large firm. So that’s why I thought an MBA would be the right. Once I had it figured out, the next step was taking up the GMAT and that was a rigorous exercise. I am someone who has never really been tutored. But the GMAT is a different game and that’s where things changed.
How long did the GMAT prep take? How was your prep? What was your final GMAT score?
So first things first, I had to revisit everything that I had given earlier in my previous entrance examinations. So the first most important thing which I feel everyone should go through is the official guide. There is enough in those books to know about, but I will not encourage you to restrict yourself only to that practice because the GMAT is a very practical exam. You need to be in the scheme of solving questions, understanding comprehension sentence correction, data interpretation. My concepts were clear at this point. When my test started I was initially on the low side and my final score ended up being 710. So I’m quite happy with that. This was due to obviously a lot of hard work, but there is a little bit of a pattern understanding with regards to what kind of questions are generally asked. There is never a similar GMAT exam for anyone but if you get a hang of which section you want to take up first, you need to understand why you want to take that section. Just don’t take it for the sake of seeing- I am good at something, so should I just try with this? Have a safe pattern as to why you are doing this and keep on practicing.
Which B-Schools did you shortlist? If yes, how did you go about shortlisting them?
I want to eventually be in Tech. So I had to choose schools that were focusing on it and eventually having a curriculum that would develop stronger business techniques within the Tech. Also, there are a lot of networks and connections within a curriculum. So obviously that makes me partial towards the west coast but they were the few on the east coast as well. So I had chosen a good mix of schools which would give me enough opportunity to ensure I have an admission. That’s how I went about choosing and shortlisting. The first two schools that I applied to were the Foster business school at the University of Washington. And then there was Cornell. I had even applied to the McCombs school of business at the University of Austin, Texas.
What were the challenges you faced during your application process?
My job currently requires me to interact with a lot of new people every day. So that instinct brought me to researching current students and questioning them about the MBA. Once that was done, what I did was validation of my post-MBA goals. I had that clear.
With respect to the essays, how did CrackVerbal help you?
We have a different education system when you’re in India. So when you start your first essay is when you realize that this task will really require some effort and that was my greatest challenge. That’s where it started also with the CrackVerbal.
I was always searching for webinars that CrackVerbal was organizing with regards to admissions and all aspects around it. That’s when I came to know that CrackVerbal approaches things differently. They work closely with their alumni students. These students would have already been through this process and have studied at a business school where you were targeting. I feel that this is more helpful to me rather than a consultant because this would give me the advantage of really understanding what a b-school wants. These are students who have been admitted to b-schools. They really know what goes on behind and how it really is supposed to be, how essays are to be structured and to ensure your stories are put out well because everybody has a story to say but how you put it out across would really make a difference. I felt that it would be a choice for me from this aspect.
So did you find any difference between the first essay and the final essay you wrote?
There were a few differences. When I started working along with my guide, I got continuous feedback from him regarding my essay. There is a major difference if I compare it to the final product with regard to what we started off with. There were times when we actually changed the entire essay to a particular school. These things helped me ensure that when I’m writing the second essay of any school I am expected to have a structure in mind before writing the essay.
How long did the overall application process take place?
I applied for most of the schools in round one. So the application deadline was in the last week of September and in the first week of October 2019. I had all my admits by November last week and December the first week of 2019. I got all my results by December 2019.
Could you tell us more about the interview process? How was the interview process in the B-school you got an admit in?
One of the first interviews I attended was that of the Fosters. I was very much excited. It is very close to the companies that I have always dreamt of working. That gave me a clear validation that my essay was on point. My interview experience was very unique because a lot of job interviews we go through here in India are based more on the job experience that you have and somewhat even tend to be stressful. But these b-school interviews are very casual in nature and very conversational. They try to understand you and know you. There is no such pressure on you. You just need to know about who you are and what you put out there and they want to know more about it because what they eventually want to know is whether he or she fits into my program. That’s about it.
How did you finally decide on which college to go ahead with?
After the interview call when I had more than one admit, I was in a dilemma as to which school to decide on. I contacted Shreekala from CrackVerbal in this aspect. She was able to make me speak to a few students who she knows in particular and I also reached out to known experts. So that gave me a sense of understanding as to where I intended to be and how that should particularly help me in my future journey. So that’s how I eventually narrowed down my b-school.
Could you tell us about the scholarship allotment in these b-schools? What was your scholarship structure like?
When you are actually preparing for these college applications you tend to go through these forums called the GMAT club and you see last year’s threads. They have been admitted to the scholarship and you tend to believe that these would be profiles that are outstanding or different. That is why the scholarship is being awarded because scholarship can be associated with very extremely differentiated profiles. In fact, in every application from India, there is a differentiation factor. So when I was applying I always wanted to stress on that- How is my application different from the other?
One is obviously the content in the essays and how I have projected where I am and where I want to be. It should always be a simple math equation. You know that you are at X and MBA will be your Y for you and that will eventually need calculations. So that’s what they’re looking for, how you are feeling about this equation and how you present it in your interview also makes a difference. That gives them whether this person is fit.
And you need to insist on how your experience will not just be a valuable addition to the class but also learn from the class. So these are a few things which I feel should be looked at. I have got a pretty good amount of scholarship which is more than 50% of my fees. It will help cover my tuition expenses.