Second MBA applicant, Abhinav Gupta, got admits from 3 good schools with varying amounts of MBA scholarships. He took the unusual decision to leave close to $100,000 (~ 65 Lakhs in Indian Rupees) in free money on the table and choose a program where he saw a better fit with his profile and career aspirations.
The most difficult decision in my MBA journey was making up my mind if I wanted to go for this education. My decision was made further difficult as I already hold an MBA from one of the top 15 B schools in India, so I knew what I was going to put myself through. The risks were higher as I was working with a global MNC in a managerial position which meant the personal bar to succeed was higher for me.
I finally made the decision to go for my second MBA as I realized it would not only benefit me professionally but also would give me a much needed break from corporate life where I was engaged in repetitive tasks every month leaving little scope for learning. Time spent during MBA would help me re-evaluate my future career options.
GMAT was more difficult than I thought. As a result, I appeared for exam twice. The good part was, I had planned my time well so I could afford taking test twice before applying to business schools. I was able to increase my score from 690 in first attempt to 730 in second attempt by changing my study approach and focusing on selective sections in which I was strong or at least confident of improving.
The increased score opened a host of opportunities: better colleges, more scholarships and as I would realize later, better prospects at finding job in my preferred sector. If I thought GMAT was difficult, choosing the right college for me was a nerve wrecking job. I looked at the process objectively, identifying factors important to me: quality of job placement (percentage of class which goes to sector of my choice), financial aid, starting salary, rank of the program etc. Then using various online resources and interviewing current students, I shortlisted five colleges: INSEAD, Darden, Kelley, Georgetown and Emory.
I strongly recommend doing your own research on colleges and making connections with current students. It helps not only in the admission process but also in developing a valuable network of friends at the school.
The third step involved writing essays and preparing for interviews. I faced a dilemma here: I could hire an expert admission consultant or I could work on the stories myself relying on my years of corporate training. I decided to work on the essays myself although it took me a while to get my stories in order. I took help from my family members as second and third set of eyes to make sure what I wrote made sense. In order to make sure the stories reflected my experience, I addressed three things in my essays: how my experiences had prepared me for MBA education, how the college would help me achieve my post MBA professional goals and most importantly, how could I contribute to the learning of my MBA peers.
I received three interview calls: Emory, Georgetown and Kelley. The interviews were easier than the essays. I met the Kelley interviewer in person and Emory and Georgetown interviewers over skype. The great part was, all the interviews were very conversational and the interviewers wanted to know me and my aspirations. There were no trick questions in the interviews, my essays had answered what I wanted and my interview was all about why I wanted that.
My biggest advice to a candidate is be yourself in the interview, it might sound clichéd but it’s the reality. I practiced a lot of different questions and answers and tried to work on my fluency, vocabulary and pronunciation but what helped me was clarity of thought and articulation. The interview is a discussion of your goals and make sure you bring your authentic self in the process.
Finally I got admits from all the colleges with varying amount of scholarships: Kelley offered the most with 100% scholarship and Georgetown offered least with 0%, Emory was in-between.
I finally chose Goizueta Business School at Emory partly because of impressive placement stats in management consulting industry but mostly because of small class size, location in a metropolitan, weather like my home town and academic rigor focusing on problem solving rather than specific concepts in various disciplines.
I must say I have not been disappointed with my choice. Goizueta offers all the advantages of more popular business programs and the benefit of a tightly knit community because of smaller class size. The highlight of the program was high involvement of the career management center from beginning with focus on achieving 100% internship and full time placements. To that end, school organized special classes for international students highlighting the importance of networking and how to excel in professional networking scenario to land your coveted job.
Along with CMC, various professional clubs are quite active in guiding first years: for instance, consulting club organizes case workshops, finance club organizes investment banking treks and marketing club organizes mock interviews. I was amazed to see fellow classmates helping each other with mock interviews when they knew they are grooming their competitors.
The spirit of Goizueta encouraged all of us to help each other become a better version of ourselves and succeed as a community. This philosophy transcends in class room as well. There was a lot of collaboration between faculty of various courses, for instance we would deliver an assignment in which content would be evaluated by one faculty, presentation by second faculty and problem solving methodology by third faculty.
I learnt how to look at marketing problem with accounting focus, and solve finance cases with concepts learned in strategy class. The focus was not on introducing some concepts but to help me develop a holistic approach of solving complex business problems.
To sum up, I had an amazing experience at Goizueta Business School. My two cents to US MBA aspirants would be: