Final school list for Round 2

So after many, many, many hours of internal debate that resulted in a lot of hair pulling and crabbiness, I have finally  decided on my school list. I think I have been a little wiser in my choices this time around and I think each of them would be a good fit for me. It’s really weird though, when I started out, literally none of these schools were on my radar. This is mostly because I started out thinking I wanted to get into consulting post MBA and now I’ve done a complete u-turn by deciding to stay in the tech industry.

I know that I want to be an entrepreneur in the long term and I thought that consulting would get me there eventually. But when I actually sat down to evaluate the progression of my career, it made more sense to go another route, and that would be Product Management. It’s a pretty newish role in the industry but it’s growing by leaps and bounds each year. It allows me to leverage my experiences so far because I am an engineer, I work in a product development startup, the startup I founded is in the e-commerce space, I have a lot of experience in the technical aspects of developing a product and it just makes logical sense as a career path. So I can definitely say that I have a better handle on my story and how I’m going to market myself.

Weirdly enough, I had this revelation in the middle of writing essays for my R1 apps and my essays did say that I want to become a Product Manager at a leading tech firm, but by then the school choices had already been made and it was too late. Duke is still fine, since a lot of tech companies do recruit from there so my goals must have made some sense, but Yale was a complete washout. I shouldn’t have applied in the first place.

Anyway having cleared that up in my head, I know what kind of schools I should be looking at, especially to achieve my career goals. I want a focus on entrepreneurship, and a school that is welcoming to younger applicants and has great tech firms/startups visiting campus and so, drumroll please.

  1. Chicago Booth
  2. Berkeley Haas Kellogg MMM
  3. UCLA Anderson

Booth is where I really want to be and I think I do actually have a good chance of getting in. I am most doubtful about my chances at Haas since the acceptance rates are ridiculous but I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I didn’t apply but I’m going to have to live with it because I changed my mind and I have Vandana to thank/blame 😉 Okay, I’m lying. I owe her my unborn children because she has been a massive help and I can’t thank her enough. I knew before that the Kellogg MMM program was a great fit, but I couldn’t decide between this and Haas. I mean the MMM program is quite literally customized to fit with my career goals and what maaaaay have factored into the decision was the fact that I’d need to write the TOEFL and three long essays for Haas. Ummm… sue me, I’m lazy. UCLA Anderson is so close to the Valley, as is Haas which makes both at least one of them of no-brainers. If I had the time, I would have thrown Stanford into the mix, because, well Stanford. But hey, if I don’t get in this year, I plan to quit my full time job and scale my startup by about a 100x. Quite a few VCs have been feeling my company out, but I’ve just been dragging my feet because I honestly feel like I need an MBA to plug the holes in my skill set before we open up to investors. That’s actually why I decided I need an MBA sooner rather than later. I guess I’ll come to that when it happens.

My days are so packed, I literally have no time to breathe. GMAT prep, reaching out to current students, drafting my essays, dealing with work. It’s like I can’t catch a break. I am desperately waiting for the weekend.

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How to decide where to apply?

I’m not sure I’m even qualified to be writing about this at the moment because I’m still not sure where I’m going to be applying. I do have certain parameters though, which should help make it a little easier.

  1. I am only going to apply to 4 schools, based on the assumption that if I don’t get in this year, I’ll have several options left to apply in the next year.
  2. I have no illusions about my competency as a candidate. The top 5 are immediately out and honestly, I’m not too bothered about that. The only school I would love to attend is Stanford, because I feel like Wharton is too finance-y for my taste and Harvard is too stuffy. But my chances of going to space are less astronomical than me ever getting accepted to Stanford even after a year or twenty, so I have that going for me.
  3. I want to apply to schools that have a good placement record in the consulting industry, since that’s where I’d like to land up.
  4. I have this vague idea in my head of travelling across Europe sipping little cups of cappuccino with a dreamy Italian serenading me, while getting an MBA of course. I do want to put in at least 1 (if not 2) European schools in the mix. Traditionally, they attract an older set of students so I’m not sure how feasible this would be. IESE and Said require that students have a minimum work experience of two years, and I would be pushing that pretty close.
  5. I want warm weather, interspersed with good cold weather. I can’t do gloomy all year round, I would just get depressed. I don’t mind California type sunny weather but it’s too Indian for my liking.
  6. I can’t imagine living in the southern belt of the States, nuh uh no way. East or West coast for me. I’m also a city girl. The great outdoors are nice and all, but do I want to live in the middle of it? Nope. Nothing in the boondocks.
  7. I would like to be a part of a bigger class. Bigger the class, bigger the friend pool and the more likely I am to actually meet people I like. Also, would love it if there was a significant international representation and a younger crowd of people.

Ummm, yeah. So these are just thoughts I have at the moment, so they’re not set in stone. I’ll probably get into it in more detail after I’ve had a chat with my consultant. Also, yes I did decide to go with a consultant to help with the admissions process. I figured I could use all the help I could get.

 

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.