Would an MBA in USA make sense when you have twice the amount of work experience? The average pre-MBA experience generally hovers between 4-5 years in American MBA colleges.
Though the lure of job opportunities in the U.S. is tough to ignore, most MBA applicants from India who have spent a considerably higher amount of time in their corporate jobs prefer going for a 1 year MBA in India, UK, Canada and other countries where shorter durations programs are in vogue.
Vijay Raj Allen decided not to pursue the conventional approach. He sent us this after he completed his first year at Kelley. What’s worth noting is the meticulous way in which defined and used the criteria to select his business schools.
How I got into a top MBA in USA with a scholarship & graduate assistantship
by Vijay Raj Allen
I had written about my GMAT story previously. It can be found here
I had been working in the IT industry for 9 years – 3 years at Infosys and 6 years at Oracle. I knew I wanted to get into a role from where I could drive product and business strategy/vision. I tried moving into a different role at Oracle but quickly realized that I did not have enough expertise in Business, especially marketing – estimating market size/potential, segmentation etc.
It was then that I decided that I wanted to get an MBA. However the choices were many and after I took the GMAT I had a tough time choosing universities. The choices are many, and you may wonder how to choose universities and what metrics to use to judge business schools. You may also not be clear with your post MBA short term and long term career goals.
It was then that I came across MBACrystalBall. I contacted them and I signed up for the MBA MAP (Mock Application Process). The MBA MAP consisted of answering a questionnaire, a brief review of your resume and an over the phone interview with Sameer.
This was followed by a MBA application strategy document that contained a list of schools ranked – Safe, Stretch, and Ambitious along with a follow up call about possible career choices based on current professional experience and interests.
This process was really eye opening for me as it helped me choose schools and define a career role for myself. It was also a very self-introspective process that helped me assess what my strengths were and what I wanted to do post MBA.
How I selected the business schools
After the MBA MAP exercise, here is how I went about choosing MBA schools in USA. I used the MBA MAP report, and chose schools that were either safe or stretch for the most part, with one ambitious school in my selection. My choices were as follows:
- Kelley School of Business – Indiana University
- Ross School of Business –University of Michigan
- Goizueta School of Business – Emory University
- Paul Merage School of Business – University of California, Irvine
- Kenan Flagler School of Business – University of North Carolina
My choices of schools were based on the following metrics:
- Ranking in BusinessWeek.
- Placement statistics – more than 90% placements full time and 100% internships.
- Strength in my preferred function, when it came to placements – which was marketing in my case.
- My GMAT score and the possible competition I would face during the application process
- Percentage of international students (I wanted a minimum of at least of 35%) – This is because some schools post good placement statistics, but have a majority domestic student population – University of Wisconsin Madison for instance. This wouldn’t be so good for international students, since the career services in that school wouldn’t know how to deal with placements for international students. IMO.
- Percentage of women/general diversity
- BusinessWeek ranking of career services and teaching quality.
- Number of alumni – A large alumni network allows you to network much more easily.
- Tuition Fee – Yep!
- Historical record of financial aid given by the university. I did pay a little bit of attention to the endowments the University had as well. Since in my opinion, the higher the endowments, the better they would be able to fund your aid. Am not so sure though, if this is required.
- Responsiveness of the adcom and current students – Yep. This was important. If the adcom does not respond, in my opinion that was not good customer service (Applicants are customers!) and current students not responding would be a sign of how helpful alumni would be in your career search.
- Last but not least, LOCATION. This was a tradeoff in my case. I had to factor in living expenses vs. location in a big city. Big cities are not necessarily better, but in many cases they do bring you that closer to companies. But this isn’t so much of a problem provided you choose the right school, as I will explain later.
My MBA applications and final admits
After I chose the schools, I signed up for admissions counselling by Sameer’s team. I had a brainstorming session with MG, which helped me develop my stories. The essays were reviewed three times and this helped me develop my stories a lot better.
I applied to Kelley, Merage, Emory and Ross in the first round and UNC Kenan Flagler in the 2nd. I got interview calls from 4 schools – Kelley, Merage, Emory and Kenan Flagler. And I converted Kelley and Merage both with Graduate Assistantships and financial aid.
I finally chose Kelley, for its brand value, strength in marketing function, its huge alumni base, its relatively low cost living opportunities in Bloomington, Indiana, low cost tuition fees and its number one ranked career services and teaching staff.
I found that the location tradeoff isn’t so bad at Kelley. Kelley is a heavily marketing focused business school and as such specializes in two areas of marketing – Consumer marketing and Business to Business marketing.
Consumer marketing is a no-no for internationals as none of the CPG companies like – Kraft, P&G, Dr. Pepper Snapple, Coca Cola, Pepsi, ConAgra, Kroger, Target etc recruit international students.
Business marketing has quite a few opportunities (although even here some don’t recruit internationals – but this is the case with recruitment all over the US – 80% do not recruit international students) – Ecolab, Cummins, Danaher, Sears Holding, Dish Network, Direct Supply, Grainger, DHL, Amazon, Ebay, NetApp and in consulting – Deloitte, AT Kearney, EY, Cognizant, Bain, Kalypso, Gallup and so on and so forth.
Added to this is the awesome career services staff, that literally hand hold you and help you develop your resume, networking skills etc.
Today it has been a year since I started my MBA and am now interning in Louisville in a Marketing position. I will go on to pursue product management or marketing roles and am pretty sure I will be successful.
I hope this article is useful for people looking for Business school choices and looking for some info on Kelley overall.
Wish you guys all the best and please let me know if you have any questions.
– Vijay Raj Allen
Before leaving the site, go to our MBA Crystal Ball reviews and testimonials page and search for Vijay’s reaction (4th from the top) when he started getting the admit decisions from the Admissions Committee. Yup, it’s the one with the maximum number of acronyms (like ROFL, LMAO) and exclamation marks.