Sauder MBA program in Canada: My experience as an international student

Sauder MBA in Canada - International student experience

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.
 

Why MBA

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.
 

GMAT Preparation

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.


Also read:
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


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Sameer Kamat //
Sameer Kamat
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9 Comments

  1. Karan Sharma says:

    Hi Sameer,
    I completed my graduation in the year 2005. I passed out with 48 percentage . Then I was diagnosed with rare kind Of Tumor I am 33 now. For last 7 years I was working in my family business and still engaged in that. I want to study now. Want to do MBA abroad or here in India. What are the prospects ? Does my medical background or my percentage or my age deterrent to my chances for of doing an MBA. Kindly share your expertise.

  2. Arish khan says:

    Hii,
    I have done b.tech in mechanical engg from Aligarh Muslim university. Currently I am working in a PSU. My work experience is 5.5 yrs currently. I am planning to go for MBA from a good foreign university. I am a married person so can’t spent much so i need a good scholarship programme. I also want to know what will be my prospects in India after i complete my MBA .

  3. AKshay says:

    hi,
    After completing BE in Electronics i have completed CDAC in Embedded System Design from CDAC ACTS Pune, from there I have been working on python and django, and have written automation scripts for creating VM on KVM and esx, updating kernel for linux distro, getting remote desktop on browser, and few more client related scripts for past one year. I have total 1 year of programming experience, but today im bit confused that should I continue with the work Im doing(i mean be on the technical side) or should i opt for MBA(change my stream). Currently my pay package is also on the descent side. Please help me in deciding.
    Thank You

  4. Smita Pradhan says:

    Hi Sameer!

    I have been reading your post to proceed my plans for MBA. I have just completed my Mtech degree and currently looking for job. I was preparing to apply for MBA in 2018.
    Is it good enough to apply for MBA with just a year or less experience? Or Should i opt for MiM program ? So accordingly i would write GRE or GMAT. And moreover I am looking for short term courses so I would be preferring 1 year MBA . So i wanted to know ,do i stand a chance to be good enough applicant ? I would like to know any futher more suggestion. I would be really grateful for your help.

    Looking forward to hear from you.

  5. ANGEL says:

    I’m angel… now I’m studying B.com final year . i want to Persue my career in business field. so that i want to do MBA in best university of USA. i
    Know there must be want a experience. but i don’t have.but i want to know the fees structure and finally i want to know basic requirements for the MBA…?

  6. Vaishnavi says:

    Hi Sameer,

    I completed my graduation in BE. computer and now working in IT from past 9 months. I am looking forward to do MBA from Australia. I have a 1 year gap in engineering so will it affect my masters study and doing MBA in Australia with 1 year of experience is that a good option? Kindly advice.

  7. Prabal k Ghosh says:

    Hi Sameer, this is Prabal. As I consider your articles very worthy stuff to spend time with, I need to know few things from you. Although I have done B. E in Electrical engineering from Jadavpur University, Kolkata, I have been working for Coal India Limited in managerial capacity in E&M cadre. Now, I am interested in entering investment banking sector and I’ve completed CFA level 1 and preparing for CFA L2. I’ve a GMAT score of 600 from Jan 2016. Please give your valuable suggestions so that those can help me to help me enter the world of finance.

  8. Sameer Kamat says:

    @Karan: Hope you’ve recovered full now. The illness can be explained in your application, and it’ll justify the delay (and age). The graduation perscentage is too much in the past. If you are clear about your goals, convince the Adcoms with a strong GMAT score and strong essays with convincing goals.

    @Arish: Read more about the value of a foreign degree in India: https://www.mbacrystalball.com/blog/2016/05/20/value-foreign-mba-india/

    @Akshay: Whether you should continue to be on the technical side or move to management roles, is a call only you can take. Don’t rely on others for it. Work for a couple of years more, things will become clearer.

    @Smita: For an MBA it would be too early. You can go for an MiM, but don’t look at it as an alternative to an MBA.

    @Angel: We’ve expained the full process here: http://www.mbacrystalball.com/get-into-the-top-mba-programs

    @Vaishnavi: What was the reason for the gap? Explaining it will decide whether you have a shot or not at the good schools. But better to wait for a few more years before applying.

    @Prabal: The score is too low for any good MBA program that attracts investment banks. Take another stab at it with better preparation. Here are some good schools to consider: https://www.mbacrystalball.com/blog/2015/11/09/best-mba-in-finance/

  9. Michelle says:

    Hi Sameer,

    I’m thinking about applying for Sauder, and this is very helpful! Just wanted to clarify one thing: you mentioned that UBC MBA grads are qualified to apply for a three-year work permit. Since the Sauder program is only 16 months long (and three-year PGWP is only for those with 2+ yrs of study), is this an exemption granted to UBC grads? Thanks in advance!

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