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.

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The result is in…

And I’m definitely not admitted to Fuqua. It was horrible waiting for a phone call that never came, but I’ve had a while for it to sink in and I’m okay. Slightly heart broken because everyone who’s read even part of this blog knows how much I loved Duke – but I’m still hopeful for better things to come. I’m not sure if I’ve been dinged completely or wait listed (they haven’t updated the web portal yet) but I want to move on. Part of me isn’t sure if I should you know? This decision has me wondering if I even have a shot of getting in anywhere that I actually want to get in. Hearing absolutely nothing from Yale hasn’t helped things either. I just don’t know anymore!

UPDATE: Dinged. Oh well.

Tick tock

As the nifty little countdown calendar to the right says, I have to wait for two more days to hear from Duke. I actually thought I’d be much more of a nervous wreck but surprisingly I’ve been pretty calm through all this. I think I was more stressed out during the whole interview invite waiting period. I guess with the practice that came from that, I’ve gotten much better at the waiting game.

It’s actually scary to think that a decision made by an admissions committee comprising of 10-15 (I imagine) individuals can change lives, for better or for worse. Getting accepted to Duke would open up a whole new world of possibilities, but a rejection could mean that much better things lie ahead. I can imagine my life both ways! I’ve always believed that things happen for a reason.

Having achieved a state of mental nirvana, I’m blissfully not thinking about the whole application process, at least until Wednesday. Depending on the outcome of that, I’ll have to get back to the grind of essay writing and form filling – and just for that reason alone, I sure as hell hope I get in. I don’t know how everyone applying to 7 or 8 schools does it. You guys have my undying respect.

Fuqua Interview Report

So I finished my interview yesterday and it went better than I thought it would! I had to fly in to a different city so I flew in on the 14th, spent the night, woke up well rested and headed for the interview which was scheduled comfortably at 10.15 a.m on the 15th. I was actually a full 25 minutes early, but it worked out great since my interviewer showed up early too! He was a young-ish guy, about mid to late 30s if I had to guess. After a few minutes of small talk, he jumped right in. Questions asked included:

  • Tell me about yourself
  • Tell me about your current role at work
  • Why MBA
  • Why Duke
  • Tell me about some constructive feedback that you received
  • Tell me about the time you showed your leadership skills (in and out of work)
  • What do you think makes a team successful
  • What is your role in a team
  • Tell me about a time you handled a conflict in a team
  • What kind of a leader are you
  • What are your career goals
  • Why do you think this is the right time for an MBA
  • Which other schools have you applied to

The interview lasted about 40-45 minutes, including the questions I asked him at the end. Initially, I didn’t think he was very responsive but as I found my groove, I saw him nodding and agreeing with stuff I said. I didn’t have any issues coming up with stories and I was very well prepared with my answers to why Duke and why an MBA. He opened up when I started asking him questions about the Duke experience and by then, we had a good rapport. He even told me to call him if I ever needed any help regarding Duke or even otherwise.

Overall, a nice friendly chat with a chilled out vibe. No curve balls and no unexpected questions. I was kind of flipping out right before because some guy (interviewing in the same city as I was) was asked a case question and grilled for 1.5 hours, so I guess I got lucky. I think I did my  best and there isn’t much I would change about the interview. I guess only time will tell now! Good luck to everyone else interviewing at Fuqua!

Fuqua – Invited to Interview!

AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH! *insert girly squeal here*

So I’ve scheduled my interview for the 15th which happens to be a Wednesday. That gives me a decent amount of time to prepare I think. It’s going to be an interview with an alumnus and Duke interviews do have a reputation of being friendly and easygoing, much like the school itself! It’s going to be a blind interview so the interviewer will only have access to my resume. I’ve started preparing and it mainly involves going over every inch of my resume and reading endless interview reports on Accepted and Clear Admit.

I’m trying to focus on getting the FIT exactly right and showing how Fuqua is my number one choice. I also need to emphasise on the aspects of my work that involve collaboration and leadership. I’ll be sure to have a detailed report up here once my interview is done. I’m not stressed really, just intensely hoping that it goes well. I want to step out of there knowing I’ve got this in the bag: a girl can dream!

I’ll keep you posted.

Five stages of losing your mind

Guys I am officially losing my mind. I’ve gone through what I think are 5 stages to “losing your mind during the post application submission waiting period.”

It starts with relief, where you think hah, I got it done before everyone else (EA/R1 pseudo-superiority complex).

That is followed by doubt, where you second guess every comma and period in your essays. Did something slip through the cracks? Should I have waited, like the rest of the sane people out there?

Next comes the numbness. You hit submit and it’s gone into the black hole of admissions and there’s nothing you can do about it. So you tuck it away in the corner of your mind and try to move on with regular life. This doesn’t last very long though.

The closer the notification date is, the closer comes the next phase: preparation. You prepare yourself for every outcome as you veer between outrageous optimism and resigned pessimism, although you try to condition yourself to expect the worse because that way, it would hurt less. The glimmer of hope is always tantalisingly close though, my preciousssssss. This is where I’m at right now.

I think the fifth stage, which I hope to reach soon is that of mental peace. I want to know that I’ll be content with the outcome, either good or bad because it isn’t the end of the world nor is it the means to an end.

I’m waiting on Fuqua and Yale now. 7th of October for Fuqua and around the same time (I’ve heard) for Yale. Let’s see how that goes!

I hope GMAT/essay prep is going well for everyone! The blogosphere has been a little dead lately (understandably of course), so I hope all you lovely people are doing well. Keep us posted.

Two down, two (?) more to go!

YEEEEESSSSSSSSSSS!

That was me literally seconds after I hit submit a day before Fuqua’s EA deadline.

NOOOOOOOOOOOO!

That was me a minute after I hit submit a day before Fuqua’s EA deadline.

I realized that the application process was a bit too smooth. I hadn’t entered any credit card or payment information, and yet, my application went right through. WTF. Cue me losing my mind, shooting off a cleverly disguised panicked email to admissions asking “What the heck just happened?” All this was a DAY before the deadline mind you, to my FIRST choice of schools.

I spent pretty much all day at work just willing a mail from Fuqua to appear in my inbox. Finally, my anxiety and prayers to all 8475493875398 gods of the Hindu religion paid off and I received a sweet, succinct reply. There was some glitch in the system (aka totally not my fault) because of which I wasn’t asked for any credit card or payment info. But basically, my application had been successfully submitted so I had nothing to worried about.

HUGE sigh of relief. I am pretty happy with how my Fuqua application turned out. I absolutely loved both the essay topics and how open-ended they were. The entire application was comprehensive enough to make me feel like they now have a complete picture of me. Fuquans have been super helpful throughout this whole process and I’m so stuck on this school, it’s starting to become a major pain. I’m going to be so heartbroken if I don’t get an interview at the very least.

I finished up my application for Yale R1 as well. I’m not entirely too happy with it. I mean one essay, 500 words and that’s basically it. With space for only 5 extracurriculars and a one page resume, I feel like they only know about 40% of the stuff I’ve done, both professionally and otherwise. I guess the recommendations will help, but even then, I’m not as happy about this one as I was about Fuqua. But then again, I am pretty biased.

With two applications down, I now have ostensibly two more to go. I don’t particularly want to apply to more than four in total. My plan is to wait until I have a decision from Fuqua (interview invites will be out by the 7th of October, WHUT!) and see how that goes. I’m thinking R2 for the remaining two schools, but at this point I’m not even sure which two they’ll be. But for now, I’m semi-done. Things at work have been getting busier, so I’m happy to be 100% committed to that without having all this application stress at the back of my head.

Until then, I hope y’all are killing the GMAT and/or your applications for R1. Good luck everyone!