Computer Engineer, Rishika Karnani (name changed), had a profile that was not too different from the thousands of Indian MBA applicants. And her goal to get out of the technology industry into a business role wasn’t too different either.
But she was able to crack into 5 top ranking business schools in USA, Canada and India, with 4 of them offering her scholarships.
Despite being media-shy, she agreed to our request to share her application experience, some strategies that worked for her, and practical tips you can use when you apply.
How I got into top ranking MBA programs in USA, India and Canada with scholarships
by Rishika Karnani
I am a computer engineer and have about 4 years of experience working as a Technology Consultant at Deloitte Consulting. MBA for me is a way to transition out of technology, into a role that allows more client interaction.
I have a GMAT score of 710, an average academic record and an above average background in extra-curricular activities, both in college as well as at work. I also have a meaningful work experience with an early promotion and other achievements to show for it.
MBA Crystal Ball first helped me via the MBA MAP. The direct tangible outcome of the process was a list that told me where I stand, which schools for me are safe, ambitious etc. But the more meaningful outcome of the process was the clarity it gave me about my own goals and my story.
Sameer didn’t feed my story to me. He basically asked me questions that forced me to think, and then told me how to go about doing the correct research so as to know for myself what my target role and target companies should be. The process basically gave me everything I required to begin the next phase – the college applications, the essays.
Next I started working with MG for my essays. It took me time to get a hang of the entire process but I did feel myself getting better with every school. MG’s inputs were insightful.
I’m the sort who’s really unsure and nervous, I don’t trust easily; so initially I kept talking with others, reading up to cross check whether the inputs I was getting from MG were the right way to go. I continued this for a while only to realize that I was wasting my time.
MG’s way of thinking and mindset is exactly like an Admission Officer’s. He can think and react like they do.
I worked with him for essays and mock interviews and every advice he gave me was bang on. So for anyone who decides to work with MCB, I’d suggest, trust them, they know what they are talking about. But I’d also say, for most of you, you’re most likely going to apply only once. Don’t let anyone, not even them tell you that you’re not good enough for a school. If you believe you’re a fit for a certain school, apply, go for it!
I researched quite a few MBA application consultants before I signed up with MCB. The two things that struck me the most about them were:
1) They believe their work will show for itself, and it does. They won’t push you to sign up, on the contrary, they’d encourage you to research for yourself and find out which consultant works best for you.
2) They will NOT do your work for you. Neither will they write your essays for you, nor will they encourage you to make up stuff in your profile that does not exist – and that is the way to go! What they will do is – help you choose the right life/work experiences/incidents to showcase and present them in an effective manner.
I applied to ISB, Rotman, Emory, Darden, Ross, Cornell, UNC Kenan-Flagler and Kelley and had interview calls from all of them except Darden. From the ones I interviewed with, I converted ISB, Rotman (10% scholarship), Emory (63% scholarship), UNC Kenan-Flagler and Kelley (50% scholarship). I got waitlisted at both Ross and Cornell.
MBA Application Tips
The biggest tips I’d give to any applicant are –
1) Be genuine. You may fool someone into calling you for an interview, but it won’t be easy to justify what you’ve written in front of a seasoned ad-com if it isn’t true.
2) Do your homework before starting the application process, be sure of your story, target companies, 5 and 10 year plan/goals and about what you want to do post MBA and why. As per me, this is the hardest part, but once you’re clear yourself, that conviction and surety will reflect in your words and voice.
3) There are some schools that will give you a word limit for recommendation letters and some that won’t. In the ones that don’t, make sure the recommendation letter is not too long – even if it is genuine, I think it’s hard for anyone to believe that an employer would write so much. I think this contributed to me not getting a Darden interview call.
4) Every school is different and you need to understand that. You need to respect the process – research must be done for every school, no shortcuts. You should also reach out to current students and alumni. Attend any and every event of the school that happens in your city (if possible travel to other cities if required). Let your research reflect in your essays and interviews. The ad-com loves to see you’ve done your homework.
5) If you decide to work with a consultant – stay away from people who say, I’ll do the school research for you, I’ll definitely get you in XYZ school – if you hear the last line just run in the opposite direction! If someone does all this for you, they are just depriving you of the chance to do it yourself, and if you don’t do it yourself, you can’t sound like you did in front of the ad-com.
6) For Indian Applicants – remember that Indian Schools (with the exception of ISB) are very different from International Schools with respect to the criteria they evaluate on and how they conduct their interviews. Interview prep for the two type of schools should be of a different sort, it would have only some similarities.
I don’t ever talk about myself so much on a public forum and only did it because I couldn’t say no when MG asked. I don’t know how good/bad of a job I’ve done, but I certainly hope you find it useful.
Image for representation only. Credit: cyberspaceandtime.com