So what changed this time?

Okay, so let’s look at the cold, hard facts.

My GMAT score stayed the same (710)

My GPA is the same as well (9.03)

The last time I checked, I was still an Indian engineer

My work experience moved up from about 19 months to 26 months

My job title is now “Product Manager” and not the dreaded “Software Engineer” it was before

My post MBA goal looks legit now because I have the experience to back it up

A senior colleague at my new job wrote what I can only assume was a stellar letter of recommendation

Let me tell ya, I had to work my butt off to transition from being a code monkey to someone making actual product decisions. I must have applied to nearly a 100 places and interviewed at about 25 until I finally got the job I wanted. But I persevered because I knew that MBA or not, this was where I wanted my career to go.

I guess the lesson here is: don’t let the fact that you got rejected bring you down (if you are a reapplicant like I was). The lofty goals that you’d written about in your essay? You can still get closer to achieving them without an MBA. By self-selection, most applicants are ambitious, go-getters who honestly don’t need an MBA to get where they want to go. Of course, if you still think business school is right for you, then your application will be stronger than it ever was before.

Apart from switching jobs, I also narrowed down my goals even further. Previously, my short-term goal was to “work in company X as a PM”. I changed that to “work in company X’s Y division as a PM”. I backed it up with very relevant experience that I had and tied it in neatly to my long term goal. I’m sure it wasn’t a huge distinction, but it became super relevant during my interview, where surprisingly enough I spoke to a 2nd year student who had a ton of knowledge about my field of interest (odd because it’s quite a niche area).  I believe that this worked in my favour since I was immediately able to establish common ground and our conversation centered more around the latest developments in that industry than the usual “tell me how you…” stuff.

Finally, in my reapplicant essay, I called out what I believed were the weaknesses in my application. I addressed the age/work experience thing head on, I made a stronger connection between my short term and long term goals and finally, I mentioned in passing the gazillion students, alums and admissions officers I’d spoken to over an entire year.

Now, I do want to caveat this by saying that I did pretty much the same things I mentioned above in my reapplication to Fuqua as well, but surprise surprise, I got dinged without an interview. There is a pretty big element of luck involved, plus the relative quality and composition of the applicant pool, so there is no “fool-proof” method to this madness. It’s just doing the best you can and hoping for the best.

Advertisements

Why apply now?

As I mentioned in my last post, this isn’t probably the best time for me to apply. I have one year of full time work experience and I graduated in 2013. By the time I matriculate (if at all I do), I will have just about 2 years of work experience in total. This is on the lowest end for most applicants. I am fully aware that on paper, I don’t look very good as an applicant.

Cons:

  1. Squarely in the Indian IT engineer bracket
  2. Not from an IIT/NIT/a brand that would be instantly recognisable
  3. No full time work experience at a big brand name company
  4. Only 1 year of work experience at the time of applying
  5. Not a genius of any kind, did not invent the cure to AIDS when I was 12
  6. Indian IT engineer, yes it’s that much of a disadvantage

Pros:

  1. Female Indian IT engineer (yes! the vagina is good for something)
  2. College brand gained value by leaps and bounds thanks to a recently appointed CEO *hint* *hint*
  3. Full time work experience at a startup that is growing rapidly
  4. 1 year of full time work experience while at the same time launching my own company
  5. Not a genius, but look good enough on paper — 710 GMAT, 9.03 GPA, 94.4% 12th, 92.4% 10th
  6. Software engineer as opposed to IT engineer, gives me a slight edge as I develop products and applications directly for the end consumer

With all that said, I guess it largely comes down to how I build my application strategy, the schools I apply to and my essays. I know the top 5 are beyond my reach, so I’m not even going to go there. What I am looking at are the schools in the 10 – 20 range that I have a somewhat realistic chance of getting into.

So, why am I applying now? Why don’t I wait for a few years, get some more work experience and apply then? In an ideal world, I would. But in this world, I have issues, some of which are downright stupid.

  1. I am sick of coding. Honest to god. I’m good at it, but I can’t keep doing any more of it.
  2. All the jobs I do want to do /consulting/ need an MBA. To make the switch, I need a degree (at least the MBB firms).
  3. What good is waiting another year going to do? How much of a difference could a year make? I highly doubt that I would be able to make a drastic switch during this time.
  4. There is a clock ticking away in the back of parents’ heads for they fear I shall become an old maid by the time I get the damn MBA, and then of course no self respecting Indian man would ever look at me twice (I am seriously hoping this happens).
  5. I need to push the fast forward button on my career and I need to switch industries. I am also itching for that international work/study experience which is why I’ve given the IIMs the boot.

Good enough reasons? I’m not sure. I guess we’ll know soon enough.

When push comes to shove

I think I’ve known pretty much my entire life that I was going to get an MBA someday. I think it has to do with the fact that my dad got his MBA and had a successful career following that, so in my pliable mind, it looked something like

[random degree] + [MBA] = [successful life + career]

Obviously I know better now. An MBA isn’t going to guarantee that you’ll get a killer job or be the CEO of the next dot com empire, and is probably a luxury that not many people can afford. But the initial wonder it held for me still holds. I loooooveeee the idea of studying business for two years, the very thought of being able to learn about corporate finance, strategy, marketing, organisational structures, accounting principles — ah, I may have just wet myself a little.

I could have done a business degree during undergrad, and in hindsight I probably should have. Sadly, I was swept away by the engineering wave and I went with it at the time because I didn’t know any better. It wasn’t all bad though, there are several aspects of engineering that I did enjoy and my math skills received a thorough ass busting.

I applied for the YLP program at ISB in my sophomore year of college with a GMAT of 710 (that is still valid, thank god) and breezed through all the rounds. Like seriously, my one minute video was filmed on an iPhone under a tree in the campus grounds. The final interview was a complete disaster though and I knew it from the get go. Puzzles, my ass. How is a freakin’ puzzle supposed to decide if you’re a good fit for their school? Haven’t my academic records + essays + GMAT scores spoken for themselves? Anyway, I suffered from a severe brain fart and didn’t recover until I walked back home wondering which part of the country I was in.

Yeah, needless to say, never applying to ISB again. I’m going to be blogging about my MBA journey, as hasty and unplanned as it is. I’m not a solid candidate at this point and I’m not even sure why I’m applying this year (well, I know why, but I know it’s not the best idea). More on all of that later. Hopefully others as unprepared as I am can get a kick out of this and possibly talk themselves out of applying right now.

HA, I kid.