Many MBA applicants get so enamoured with the MBA prestige, ranking and brand power that the ultimate objective (i.e. what they want from the MBA) gets pushed down the priority list. Too heavy for an opening statement? Let’s break it down.
Which of these paths would you prefer?
Route 1. Get your dream post-MBA job along with close to a crore Rupees in education loans.
Route 2. Get your dream post-MBA job with little or no debt.
When you put it that way, the choice seems obvious. What complicates matters is the vehicle (i.e the degree) that applicants choose to get to their goals.
For those with a pre-MBA background in technology, these dream jobs are in companies like Amazon, Google, eBay and the like.
Staunch proponents of the Top-10-MBA-or-nothing philosophy try to convince everyone that it’s a waste of time even thinking outside a small set of business schools.
The belief is that the leading MBA recruiters won’t even consider your job application if you aren’t attending an elite program.
Fortunately, not everyone follows that school of thought. They realise that the cost of attending a top tier university can knock the wind out of all RoI calculations. They understand why the top programs fare badly in terms of value.
From the options we listed earlier, CR Srinivasan (Srini) chose Route 2 and executed his plans in style. Among the 4 offers he got, 2 business schools offered him a full-scholarship with Graduate Assistantship.
When I was working in TCS, I realized that ever so slowly I have been moving away from what I wanted to be doing in my life. I had settled too well in the comfort zone my life offered, happily married, a 3-year-old boy and a life in Seattle, USA.
But I could see that the bridge from techie to a business manager was too crowded and stacked with heavy odds.
The dark clouds in Seattle were screaming that it was high time I made my move from the comforts of IT to the rigors of the business world. But to realize that dream, I needed to step into the world of business school and invest in my future.
Alas, I fell into the highly notorious IIM (Indian IT Male) conundrum. With my family backing me, I buckled in and entered the ride of GMAT preparation.
As I began my GMAT prep, I reached out to MBA Crystal Ball and Sameer struck me as as a no-nonsense and straight-forward mentor.
The MBA MAP strategy cleared the remaining cobwebs in my mind and stated the obvious truth. Sameer also explained what b-schools are ambitious, stretch and practical, with my profile in mind.
This exercise shook me to the reality of what I am about to embark on, a long, arduous two-year journey for me and my family! Gulp!
I scored 680 in GMAT after three attempts. It was not a great start and I was already tired with the effort.
I pushed on and worked with Sameer and MG about the schools to apply. We decided to apply to nine b-schools, eight in the USA and ISB in India.
I started working closely with MG for my essays and oh boy, he is an amazing person to work with.
He kept pushing me on my essays, questioning me on the intent of my stories, the truthful impact of the events, polishing the rough edges and finally providing pointers to add genuine conversations to my essays.
Something I really liked about MBA Crystal Ball is their genuine interest in my success and going above and beyond of what was required for them.
MG prepped me for my interview with ISB on Skype, when I knew he was drowning with application consulting.
All our efforts bore fruit when I got admits from 4 of the 9 schools I applied to.
Considering the financial scholarship and supply chain opportunities, I chose to accept Smeal’s offer and I signed up with them on January 20th.
At several stages, I found myself staring into the mirror and asking if it is all worth the effort. The fact that I was able to get the admission with a free ride was a big confidence booster but tougher tests lay in store.
Those words could not have been more true. The first six weeks back in school were my toughest in the last few years.
I had multiple conflicting priorities, internship search (as companies were lined up for campus visits), academics (Accounting, Statistics and Finance) and my graduate teaching responsibilities.
I was part of a great team in my school, excellent personalities, understanding and competitive at the same time. I quickly realized that I need to be a part of a student association to immerse further in this experience.
Five months in, I ran for the post of VP of Corporate and Alumni relations for MBA Association and won the elections. This exposure helped me to reach to the entire class and improve our opportunities for networking and company campus visits.
The peer pressure was getting to me as each company came and went without any avail. I modified my interview strategy and decided to convey my stories with passion instead of worrying about getting the job.
The interview process for Amazon was drawn out with both behavioral and case interviews. After 6 rounds of interviews, I finally landed an internship with Amazon as a Senior Program Manager.
I cannot believe that I got into Amazon and more importantly in Seattle where my family resides. With my background in technology I decided to opt for Amazon Web Services as my team for the summer.
Amazon is a very different world, a clearly structured internship with expectations for each of my twelve weeks of internship. Everyone lives and dies by Amazon’s leadership principles and my team was no different.
I spent the first week building trust with my team members over coffee and lunches, establishing rapport.
Crucially, I worked with my manager to analyze my project and understood the key deliverables for each week. I need another six pages to write about this experience.
In short, I would not have been successful if not for my manager and team members and then I was offered a full time offer with Amazon on the last day of my internship.
As an icing on the cake I was offered another full time offer with Amazon as part of a leadership rotation program. Gladly, I accepted it, really it was a no-brainer.
As I now look back at the last couple of years, it is worth all the sweat, effort and most importantly a great investment for my future.
I was one of the folks who thought a top 10 MBA degree is the only way to crack into top companies like Amazon. Well, I am glad to break my own myth!
For fellow MBA aspirants and candidates out there, this is definitely a career changing investment.
Please be smart about your school choices, respect your financial responsibilities and finally work your butt off. Cheers!