Jivesh Upadhyay, graduated from the Sauder MBA program in Canada and currently works in Vancouver as a Product Manager. He shares his journey from Amity University in Delhi to the Sauder School of Business in Vancouver, along with all the resources that helped him get there.
Sauder MBA: My experience as an international student in Canada
by Jivesh Upadhyay
If you want something you’ve never had… You need to do something you’ve never done before.
I am Jivesh Upadhyay and I started my humble beginnings in a north Indian family in New Delhi. Even though my father was a government employee and my mother a homemaker, I did not have an orthodox upbringing. On the contrary, my free will was always encouraged; my enthusiasm in sports since childhood did not trouble my parents, which led to me not only being a decent athlete, but also excelling in academics and co-curricula.
Like most Indian teens, I decided to study engineering after finishing school and graduated in 2012. Again, like most of the engineering graduates, I decided to join the IT industry. However, in my perusal of my 2 years of technical career in Bangalore, my free will fueled my hunger to learn more and be more ambitious. I started idolizing our corporate visionaries & leaders and firmly decided to become one of those sound decision makers that can create a ripple in the flat monotony of governance and management in the long term.
As my hunger to learn more grew stronger, I began to develop a passion for innovation. I started to create new things beyond my scope of work with the goal of developing the best end product. Some of these ideas failed miserably, but others were key in solving critical issues and resulted in me winning multiple accolades.
My achievements overshadowed my shortcomings and I became fearless of failure.
I slowly realized that I had a plethora of ideas but lacked the formal training and resources to implement them. An MBA appeared to be the right gateway for me to realize my aspirations, and so I began to research the programs that aligned well with my goals. I joined blogs and platforms such as Beat the GMAT, GMAT Club, Poets & Quants, but one day I stumbled upon pagalguy.com.
After making several acquaintances in the Pagalguy community, I was guided to join CrackVerbal in Bangalore (related link: CrackVerbal Online Course Reviews). My initial research revealed amazing reviews about their revered guru Arun. Upon meeting him, I realized the reviews did him no justice. His effective pedagogy and impressive personality made me feel comfortable around him. He recommended a book to me called “Beyond The MBA Hype”, and I was very impressed by the author of this book – Sameer Kamat.
It removed any traces of doubt I had in pursuing an MBA. The book really made me wonder ‘why only MBA’ and what next?
I started reading more about Sameer Kamat and his blogs in search of some perspective and belief. I was really impressed with the author’s thoughts and vision. He explains in the book that getting an MBA is not the end goal, but knowing your true reasons for doing an MBA and what you want to accomplish after your MBA is the most vital factor.
This perspective towards the MBA journey made me carry out an in-depth introspection and this is what I believe made me shine in my application essay. Also, I strongly recommend the book “Beyond The MBA Hype” to every MBA aspirant as this book demystifies the myths and unreal expectations people have from any MBA program.
After reading this book, I understood what the phrase “If you are not happy with something make the desired changes yourself to be happy” truly means.
I drew the determination to try new things and keep discovering my strengths and interests until I find my passion. I started working harder and was determined to also start preparing for the GMAT in full swing.
My GMAT journey was full of struggle, hard work, and dedication. I took multiple shots at the GMAT. I scored over 700+ a couple of times on mock tests, but sadly, I couldn’t replicate that score in the actual exam. My GMAT scores were not at all what I desired. However, my best friend said to me and I quote, “MBA admit is not only about the GMAT score”.
The two-year long dream to score 720 on GMAT was over and I applied with hope to top business schools in Canada and schools ranked 50-100 in USA. The GMAT journey pushed me to persevere beyond my failures, and taught me that nothing is impossible and we don’t fail until we stop trying. I became more patient and discovered qualities such as my “never give up” attitude.
During this time, I also realized the significance of my support system, which comprised of my parents and my close friends. There were times when I felt helpless and disappointed, but talking to them boosted my determination.
For those who find themselves frustrated in similar situations, I recommend keeping in touch with your near and dear ones as it really helps.
When one strategy doesn’t work, talking it out helps to discover what impediments need to be removed to gain success.
MBA interview experience
I found the interview process to be a positive experience because I spent a lot of time prepping for each interview. I came up with my own list of questions that I believed the interviewer would ask me. It is important to remember that you might be one of the most talented candidates that the school can find, but that talent needs to be conveyed clearly during your interview. This is essential for the school to consider you to be a good selection for their incoming class.
Therefore, I would recommend that all aspirants conduct detailed research on the school and see what kind of applicants they might be looking for. We have to showcase ourselves to be the best possible candidate they can have for their incoming class. They should feel that we will add value to their MBA class. Interviewers are basically looking for leadership skills, community involvement, and for candidates with a defined goal.
My interviewers had diverse backgrounds and most of them were MBAs themselves. Also, it is beneficial to drive the interview in the direction you want it to be driven in. Read the interviewer’s mind and think of follow-up questions an interviewer might think of and be prepared with answers to them.
Dreams do come true if you keep believing in them. I converted most of my applications into acceptances and was awarded quite a few with scholarships. Rather than seeking professional help, I sought advice from my peer group and supervisors, who helped me rediscover myself and see my real strengths and weaknesses through a different set of lens. I understood myself and the confidence that I gained helped me knock out series of personal interviews like dominoes.
I guess what echoed back from my feedback canyon of peers, friends and family about myself is my genuineness and resolve to deliver an idea from inception till the end and that made me stand out from the rest and rewarded me with scholarships. I believe all of us have something special in ourselves that separates us from the rest. We need to discover what it is and share it with the world. I did my research for every school by reading their websites thoroughly and talking to alumni, current students, and inquiring about the teaching methodology and post-MBA prospects.
Why Canada over USA for my MBA and Why Sauder
Finally, I chose Canada over USA because of the lower cost of tuition compared to US B-Schools, reputed faculty and the ease of getting a post MBA work visa.
Once you finish an MBA from a reputed Canadian business school, you can apply for a work permit, which is valid for 3 years. The security of staying in the country after completing an MBA and having the opportunity to grow in my career as well as earn enough money to pay back the MBA loan were deciding factors for me.
Also, the Sauder School of Business at UBC is one of the top schools in Canada and the best school in Western Canada. My interview for UBC lasted an hour and I was asked a zillion questions.
I learnt from these experiences that if your interview is going for a longer duration, it is a good sign because the interviewer is willing to spend their precious time on you.
Experience in the Sauder MBA class
When one is used to working 9am to 5pm for years, getting back to a business school doesn’t come naturally. The program was very hectic and one literally has no time to relax. Lots of class readings, daily assignments and group projects keep you super occupied.
Working in groups is quite challenging and coming up with solutions to a problem/challenge can become difficult because of existence of different personalities in one’s team. Agreeing on common ground is not easy, but gradually, we become better at understanding different perspectives and working in groups can become fun. With time, I learnt the art of disagreement.
I have a diverse and experienced peer group. The class promoted experiential learning and provided an internship outlook. We have candidates from engineering, medical, marketing, social entrepreneurship to net impact backgrounds. Someone is a softball player while someone else is a poker champion. This diversity makes the UBC MBA program very special.
The small class size does make a lot of difference and relationships amongst candidates is much stronger.
How the placement process works at Sauder
UBC has a well-established Career Centre, which is more than willing to ensure candidates get the most bang for their bucks. They ensure that the best opportunities in and around Vancouver are available to all MBA candidates.
The career coaches work closely with the students and also organize numerous networking fairs with the leading firms in the Greater Vancouver area. The job market is not really huge here, but Vancouver is a tech hub with lots of up and coming startups.
The Career Centre starts collaborating from the first week of enrolment into the program. They help us with our resume/LinkedIn profiles and mock interviews by holding several events throughout the course of the MBA program.
Getting a job is not an easy process, but if you diligently work on your profile and actively engage in job networking, getting a job is attainable. Dedication and sincerity in the process of job searching will eventually lead to success.
The best way to end up with a job is to work hard during the summer internship and make a mark for yourself, so that you can put yourself in a position to obtain a full-time job offer from your employer. This process helped me convert my Internship into a full-time job offer.
The role of the alumni, classmates, and the career team is extremely critical in the process of getting a job. Majority of the students end up with a job with the help of connections they have established during the MBA program. The willingness of the alums to help is very high and the career managers ensure they help us in all possible ways to get a job.
How I got my internship and job in Canada
It’s essential to shortlist companies where you would like to do an internship during the program. The big companies roll out their internships quite early. Hence, it is imperative to start applying early. The majority of the class starts looking for an internship only when the internship period is 3-4 months away, but most of the best opportunities are closed by then.
I got my internship through a career opportunity posted on the UBC’s Career Centre page of the Sauder School of Business. The interviewer was a UBC MBA grad, class of 2015 He was a senior product manager and had a very good reputation at the tech firm. He was really impressed and was excited to hire a UBC MBA student for the internship position at his firm. I got to work with him and it was an exciting summer at Vision Critical – a Vancouver based SAAS company.
Upon completion of the MBA program in Canada, everyone is eligible to apply for a 3-year work permit. It is a fairly straightforward process. Also, majority of the MBA candidates that wish to settle in Canada, apply for a permanent residency as soon as they are deemed eligible for the process.
Never fear taking on new challenges. Consider the worst case scenario, this will give you a perspective, make everything else seem easier and motivate you to move forward in life.
– Best MBA in Canada for international students
– Work permit process for international students in Canada and other countries
– Experiences of an international student in the Rotman MBA program (Canada)
– Ivey MBA Canada – Interview with Associate Director of Admissions