First Attempt: No
What is your educational and professional background like?
I did my Engineering in Electronics and Electrical, from VTU. I’m a Bengali but have lived all my life in Orissa. I did my Engineering in Karnataka. I did ok at Engineering, in the sense I topped my college.
I feel I did better in my PUC (state university) since I was in the top 50 of my state.
I then got recruited during the campus placement and that’s how I came to be in the semi-conductors field. It was a small company in Karnataka called Karnataka Microelectronics. When I joined the company it was very small with only 20 employees. I stayed there for the next 7 years.
By the time I left it had grown to 400 employees, so in 7 years it grew from 20 employees to 400! There I used to do a lot of recruitment related roles like talking to professors and students etc. But that being a service industry, I felt I wanted to move to the product industry so I could experience the other aspect of the business as well.
I quit that and came to Bangalore and joined AMD first, and then I moved to Texas Instruments and been there since. I have around 10 years of work experience.
How did you transition to the MBA dream?
One fine day I asked myself what I’m doing in my life and daily I followed the same routine, I felt I won’t grow if I continue with my current role. Ten years after college I felt I wanted to do an MBA. So I came and attended one of CrackVerbal’s demo classes.
Initially I expected it to just tell me what GMAT was about because I didn’t know what it was about and that was the intention I attended it with. I then joined the classes because I felt it would bring a good structure to my learning. I studied all the 3 sections of verbal.
I gave the GMAT twice, the first time I got a score of 660 and the second time I got a 710 and then with that score I thought it would be good enough to apply with a 710 as I have 10 years of work experience.
How did you go about the next steps in your application process?
For applications I came back to CrackVerbal again. Arun and team helped me a lot and told me what was good for me. The courses which they felt were right for me ended up being 2 year courses, although I wanted 1 year courses as I have 10 years of work experience and a family, I felt it would be better.
They suggested 2 courses – INSEAD and MIT. Arun chose the MIT System Design and Management program for me and I wasn’t aware of this course at MIT. I had actually taken the services only for INSEAD and with all the brainstorming etc., I felt I could apply to MIT as well since the brainstorming sessions helped me gain a line of thought.
CrackVerbal trains you for the next application as well and not just leave it at consulting for one particular program. Arun was kind enough to review my MIT application though I had only signed up for my INSEAD application. For INSEAD however, I received a reject. For MIT I had an interview and got through in the first round.
How did you manage to prep for your GMAT despite your work schedule and having a family?
It was very challenging but I tell my friends that if I can do it so can you. Each night I would study between 10 p.m. – 1 a.m. I would return from work late because being a team lead I would have conference calls to attend to in the evenings. I would return home, then spend some time with my wife and finally begin studying after 10 p.m. Of course, I learnt it the hard way that after 10 years, returning to books and GMAT is not easy to crack it takes quite a toll on you. For 6 months I tried to spend at least 3 hours every day and on weekends study for about 6 hours. I don’t recommend the same for others. I felt I wasn’t as smart so I put in the extra work. Some get a 760 with just 3 months of prep. It took me 6 months however.
I was thinking of giving it once more as I wasn’t too happy with my score but I was advised against it, and my MIT admit came through and that was the final goal.
How was the interview with MIT?
For the System Design and Management course, I had given my SOP, resume and a regular format for achievements etc. I got an interview call 6 weeks after. I interviewed with the industry co-director, Joan Ruben. The moment she asked for an interview I just said yes so I think I was the first person to interview.
So maybe that was an advantage for me. July 26th, 2013 was the deadline for announcements of chosen candidates so I would anxiously check my e-mail everyday and finally I got an e-mail from the admission committee that I got in!
What do you think was the defining factor in your profile which helped you get an MIT admit?
I always wanted to get into IIT, but never did. So I always felt I should aim for a big school. I feel if I had gotten into an IIT, it would have made me do the same thing every day but because I didn’t do that, I had a varied background like joining a start up. I taught in Engineering colleges; mentored interns and gave talks, etc. so that gave me good exposure and made my profile look good.
Also the brand names which I have been associated with are good and the score helped too, so it was a combination. It is very important to have a clear line of thought. The couple of brain storming sessions with CrackVerbal were helpful. I thought I wanted to do Consulting but I was guided the right way to the right course by CrackVerbal and I realized a Product Manager kind of role is better.
Since I’m from a semi-conductor background, it is a niche one and to add to it, 30% of employement from MIT is for Product Managers and that’s exactly what I want so it worked out for the best.
What advice would you like to give to the future MIT aspirants?
The first thing I would like to say is there is no substitute for hard work, the only substitute is you’re really smart. You need to compensate for your weakness. If I could do it with 10 years of work ex, a family and a kid on the way I think anyone can. The whole “I don’t have time” excuse is nonsense.
If you sleep for 2 hours less each day, you’ll be able to do it. You need to be very clear with whatever you need to do. Once you have a good story then, clarity of thought impresses them I think.