When you come across discussion forum posts (from Indian candidates) that start off as follows: “I belong to the IIM pool…,” chances are that our friend isn’t referring to apna hallowed institutions of management learning (the Indian Institutes of Management). He probably means ‘Indian IT Male’, an acronym that’s enough to send shivers down the spine for a large majority of desi applicants.

I came from the same pool and I don’t feel it needs to be something to be really concerned about. Like any other field, the challenges when you are working on your apps would be the same: demonstrate what makes you special in this category, show that you have the potential, convince Adcoms that you deserve that seat.

Here’s a quick case study:

My Background:

– Computer Science Engineering
– Worked for Big-4 IT consulting for several years.
– My GMAT was pathetic for an IT/Indian/Male

My Strategy:

– Spent a lot of time getting the mix of schools right. Didn’t apply to the usual suspects (Harvard, Stanford etc). Chose those that matched my profile and future aspirations.

– Didn’t hide my background or my work in the IT field.

– Just highlighted the fact that I was knowledgeable about multiple industries, highlighted my leadership success stories, my team-leading experiences, my international work.

– Spent a hell-of-a-lot of time on my essays. Tweaked them, tore them apart, built it up all over again till I was satisfied that it did justice to my profile and presented it in the best light without bending the facts.

– Submitted my apps and prayed like crazy, hoping I’d get an interview call. Had several mock interviews to ensure the general questions as well as the odd ones don’t take me unawares.

Result:

– Got into all the schools that I applied to. I chose Cambridge.

– Got a double scholarship from Cambridge. Also got a scholarship from another school.

– After the MBA, switched careers completely and moved from IT into Strategy / Mergers & Acquisitions

Incidentally, in that extremely competitive year, in my class I was the only ‘Indian from India’ (there were two more, but one was from Zambia and the other was a British citizen, both with very strong profiles). I’m guessing a ton of Indian candidates with far better GMAT scores had applied as well. So there was something about the process that I adopted that made the application stand out despite being from the dreaded Indian IT Male Engineer pool.

In my role as an MBA Admission consultant, that elusive differentiation is exactly what I’m helping out other Indian candidates achieve as well.

Structure your strategy well and you have every chance to get into the school of your choice. If you need some help along the way, you know where to reach us.


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Sameer Kamat //
Sameer Kamat
Founder of MBA Crystal Ball. Author of Beyond The MBA Hype & Business Doctors. Here's more about me. Connect with me on Google+ | Twitter | Facebook | Linkedin

6 Comments

  1. Flad says:

    What’s a double scholarship? Full tuition waiver + stipend? Or do they pay you tuition to study (teach?) your fellow classmates? I have never come across “double-scholarship” at any place else. Is it an Indian term like ‘samosa’ or ‘curry’?

    FL,
    NYC

  2. Sameer Kamat says:

    Hey Flad, thanks for reaching out. Let me address your doubt, before sharing something more interesting.

    Double scholarship = Two independent scholarships.
    To be more specific: One was a Cambridge Commonwealth Scholarship and the other was Misys Scholarship (available for candidates from the IT industry).

    In a European one-year program, there’s generally no concept of a US-style stipend (for instance, a teaching assistantship where students can work for a few hours each week in return for compensation). The format and pace of the program just doesn’t allow that flexibility. So it’s either free money or nothing. Of course, there are bank loans as well.

    Hope that clarifies.

    Now the interesting part. You’ve mentioned NYC in your signature, but you’ve posted the comment from Delhi (not too difficult to track internet footprints). Hmmm…interesting!

    Just to share with the rest of our friends, we got another anonymous comment on the blog yesterday (no name, wrong email ID) questioning our credentials, approach and making some (ridiculous) allegations. This one was from Bangalore. Hmmm…even more interesting!

    Any Sherlock Holmes fans out there?

  3. Mohit Joshi says:

    Hi Sameer,

    I have a decent GMAT score (730). I am currently preparing my essays. I think I’ll be able to write most of my essays properly but I am stuck with my goals essay. It is pretty embarrassing – not being able to know or articulate your goals. I am from IT background and have international experience (typical Indian IT onsite). My total experience is 7 years. Could you please guide me what post MBA career paths generally there are for someone with my profile. I would love to change career path but I believe MBA schools don’t like if you write about switching career without giving proper evidence that you are capable of doing that (even though most MBAs anyways end up doing exactly that) – for example saying you want to be an entrepreneur when you have done nothing of that sort in your career till now.

  4. Sameer Kamat says:

    Hi Mohit,

    That GMAT score is more than just decent, buddy :-) Well done.

    Bschools don’t frown down upon career changers. If you check the careers page of bschool websites, a big chunk of most top bschool graduates ends up changing careers. But you do have a tell the Admission officer clearly what you have in mind and why.

    You don’t have to be embarassed about not having a crystal clear idea of your post-MBA goals. This is a tough one for many applicants who are hoping for a career change. You’ve hit the nail on the head with your IT-to-entrepreneuriship example.

    In fact, the dilemma of goals is so common that this is what we focus on the most even in our MBA MAP where we interactively decide on potential career options for each candidate depending on not only their IT backgrounds, but also real interests and passions.

    Many websites have general descriptions about post-MBA goals. Google will bring up many of them. But it’s difficult to just put a finger on one without introspection and say, ‘This is the one for me.’

    Btw, do you think you could share your story on our GMAT forum?

  5. Sagar Trivedi says:

    Hi Samir,

    Posting on an old post, and as a male, not from IT, probably doesn’t concern me, still, the post title is Indian IT Male/Female and didn’t understand whether it applies the same to IT Females as well, also, how about IT Females applying to Indian B-schools?

  6. Sameer Kamat says:

    The IT tag is gender neutral and makes it challenging irrespective of whether the application comes from a male or female applicant.

    But with all other aspects being the same (GMAT score, work exprerience, industry, role, quality of application), a female applicant would be preferred over a male candidate.

    This is primarily because bschools have a tough job of trying to maintain a (skewed) gender ratio, and they don’t get many competitive female applicants.

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