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International MBA admissions consultant in India or abroad?
Written by Sameer Kamat
What would you do if after spending £2,500 on a top international MBA admissions consultant for a multi-school package (that’s roughly INR 2.5 lakh, which can get you a couple of Nano cars and still leave you with enough budget for our MBA essay editing services), you got no MBA interview calls from even a single business school after 2 years of applying?
The typical reaction would be to write off the entire MBA consultant community and never look in their direction again.
For Sitanshu Shekhar (Sid), this was reality rather than a hypothetical situation. Here’s what he did after that.
My experience with MBA admissions consultants in India & abroad
by HEC Paris MBA admit – Sitanshu Shekhar
Upon completing my bachelors, I joined Dresdner Kleinwort in the graduate scheme working in the IT infrastructure department. In 2010, after Commerzbank acquired Dresdner Kleinwort, I led the software management team. I am still working at Commerzbank.
A few years after my graduation, I decided that I would like to pursue an MBA. I realized that in order to climb the career ladder, an MBA from a top institution was imperative. The other option I was thinking of pursuing was that of Strategy consulting. Switching careers, from my existing role to consulting, would also be bolstered by an MBA.
I started preparing for GMAT with a target of 720 in mind. Mainly using the official GMAT books, I achieved a 700 in my first attempt. Hoping that a little extra effort would help me achieve 720, I attempted GMAT twice more, achieving 700 each time. With time running out as the 2nd deadline was approaching for most schools, I decided not to attempt the GMAT any further.
First two years of MBA applications
I initially applied to LBS and Columbia, but the application was rejected straightaway. Looking back at those essays now, they very amateurish and hopelessly inadequate. I had not grasped the concept of writing an essay for business school.
After these failures, I was not sure how to proceed. So, I decided to work with an MBA application consultant in order to boost my essays. I worked with a consultant based out of Europe and applied to INSEAD (twice) and Judge business school. Unfortunately, I got rejected on each occasion without any interview call. This was quite demoralizing for me, as I believed that working with a consultant, I would have been able to crack the MBA essay puzzle. After spending nearly £2,500 pounds and a lot of time I had gotten nowhere.
I really was quite shocked and confused. Despite having started my MBA journey more than 2 years back I had no success.
Third time’s a charm
All this while, I had been following Sameer’s blogs and found them quite informative. After my initial experience, I was not sure whether to work with a consultant or not. But, after a few email exchanges and a chat with Sameer, I decided to proceed for the following reasons.
I thought that an Indian consultant would understand an Indian student’s issues better than anyone else.
Sameer and Manish were both quite forthright with me. Unlike the previous consultant I had worked with, they were quite honest.
With MCB, I applied to multiple schools and was able to receive an interview call from each of them.
MBA admissions and results
I initially applied to ISB in the 2nd round in 2012 and was invited for a telephonic interview. Unfortunately, I did not have a very good interview. I was added on waitlist, but was rejected in April 2012. I am confident that had my interview gone better, I would have definitely been accepted at ISB. In the meantime, I applied to HEC and Kellogg. I had another telephonic interview with Kellogg around the same time as ISB, but was rejected there too.
I then received an interview call from HEC. There were going to be 2 interviews, both with an alumni based in London, and I had to give a presentation on a topic of my choice. Learning form my mistakes from the previous two interviews, I prepared well and chose a topic that I knew well about for the presentation. The interviews were held in a café and were quite relaxed. It felt like it was more of an informal chat than an interview. At the conclusion of the interview, both the interviewers informed me that they felt I would do well at HEC, and that they would be giving a positive review about me. And voila! I had my first acceptance.
The feeling was more of relief than anything else. After nearly 2.5 years of starting my MBA journey, I was going to a business school. This was in no small measure due to the help of MCB.
Upon working with Manish, my essays became more impactful and coherent. Comparing the essays that I had submitted previously (even when I worked with another MBA consultant) I could see a remarkable improvement. Even if I had not gotten through to any business school, I would have not regretted working with MCB due to the stark difference in my essays pre and post MCB.
I also worked with Manish for the interview prep, and found it to be extremely valuable. The mock interview gave me a good idea of idea of what to expect, and even though my first interview with ISB did not go too well, the experience was valuable towards the HEC interviews. Here’s my debrief on the HEC Paris MBA interview.
I cannot recommend MCB highly enough and do not think that I would have been admitted to HEC if Manish and Sameer had not helped me.
I have learnt some valuable lessons during the mba application journey.
Lessons from my MBA admissions experience
- Firstly, work with the right consultant straightaway. The right consultant will help you understand what the Ad Com is looking for and will help you in engaging your essay towards that goal. It’s much better to spend the money working with the right consultant than to face multiple rejections and wasting one year. I would recommend that one should start working with a consultant as soon as you’ve decided on pursuing an MBA. There are many consultants out there, but finding one that is forthright is a must.
- Secondly, Never give up. One thing that an MBA tests is, perseverance. As Indian MBA applicants (especially IT male), due to the numbers, we are more likely to face rejection than any other nationality. So, it is imperative that a rejection is not taken too personally.
- And finally, do your research for every school. Get to know as many current students and alumnus of the school as you can. It not only helps to understand the schools and its requirements, but also helps when you some drop some names during the interview (especially if the contact is the interviewer’s batch mate).
Kudos to Sid for not losing the confidence in himself, even after the (financial and effort) toll that the cut-throat MBA admisisons process took on him over 3 long years. MBA Crystal Ball is also thankful to him for placing his trust in us after his earlier experiences.
We hope Paris gets him closer to his career dreams and…[please add a sentimental reference to the Eiffel tower here for a dhinchak finish...it's past mid-night as I type this and I'm running low on creativity].