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MBA after Civil Engineering: IIM and ISB admits for reapplicant

After getting rejected after interviews from both the schools (ISB and IIM Bangalore) he had applied to, Anand Sen (name changed) spent many months evaluating what may have gone wrong. He felt having a guide was important as he went back into the admissions process as a reapplicant.

MBA after Civil Engineering

How I got into ISB and several IIMs as a reapplicant

by Anand Sen

ISB MBA after Civil EngineeringHello Everyone! I am a civil engineer by profession, a big mixed martial arts fan and a guitar player. Music taught me that any improvement in one-self requires consistent effort and MMA artists inspire me with their perseverance.

I graduated in 2010 and have worked for construction companies for more than 7 years. The initial few years of the job were challenging and rewarding as I was learning new things every day. I engineered some of the most complex structures of petrochemical plants and resolved site disputes and vendor issues.

However, after a few years it became repetitive and stagnant and an urge for MBA set in. I wanted to set my career in a direction in which I could see myself playing a bigger role in the operations and strategy of the company in the future, which I felt was not possible for me without an MBA. (Read this student’s account of why he chose an MBA after chemical engineering from IIT Bombay)

At this point of time I had 6 years of work experience and wanted to target only GMAT based programs in India. By the time I took GMAT, I could target only ISB and IIMB (1-year program).

For GMAT, I studied the official guides thoroughly and supplemented them with the Manhattan Books. My aim was to achieve a score of 740+ but I could manage 720. I felt it was a decent score and GMAT would not be a hindrance to my application.

But the lack of research about school and clarity of goals & achievements reflected in my essays.

I faced rejection from both the schools after interviewing with the admission panels.

Second Attempt

I analysed my essays, reached out to the school for feedback and pondered over my mistakes for months. In my second attempt, I started the application process very early so that I could target maximum possible schools. A B-School application is quite exhaustive and even more for a re-applicant who has to justify what has improved in last 1 year. I knew I needed a guide who could help me with the application.

After taking reviews from people and doing some internet research of my own,I finalized MBA Crystal Ball. I reached out to Manish Gupta (MG) for help with the ISB application. I exchanged almost 50 emails with him before signing up for the 1 school package. He patiently answered all my queries and after going through my application & profile, introduced me to my consultant – Vibhor.

I had an hour long conversation with Vibhor after which he gave me his inputs. He pointed out flaws in my approach that I could not see.

I was trying to write essays that I thought admission officers wanted to read. My approach was to use catchy phrases like “Leadership” and “Strategy”, all of which were cut down by Vibhor.

Being from a core engineering background, I was apprehensive of my work experience but Vibhor pointed out unique strengths in my story that I would have never thought of on my own and mentioned in my essays. Throughout the application, he provided the much needed straight-forward criticism that improved my essays.

What I liked about working with Vibhor was that he didn’t provide me a pre-written template but pushed me to think of high points of my career and my future goals. It was still my story but presented in a manner that was much more impactful. Additionally, it prepared me for the dreaded interview where everything is questioned and dissected.

ISB Interview Experience

I was interviewed by a panel of 3 alumni. The interview was focused mostly on why MBA, why ISB, the essays and a few behavioral questions. I was much more relaxed in the interview because of the deep introspection I had done during the application stage.

All of the hard-work from the application stage showed up in my responses.

Two weeks after the interview, I received confirmation from ISB that I had been accepted. It was new year’s eve and I could not have asked for a better start to a new year.

Besides ISB, I also received offer from IIM Bangalore, IIM Calcutta & IIM Lucknow (1 year programs).

I will be joining ISB because I believe ISB delivers better curriculum, opportunities and brand value for a 1-year program in India.

Advice to future applicants

My advice to ISB aspirants is to be absolutely clear about your goals and be aware of what you have achieved in your career.

Good GMAT score and academic background with lackluster essays may fetch you an interview call, but you certainly won’t be able to clear interviews.

Secondly, don’t let internet blogs and other candidates’ profiles shake up your confidence level. Rather concentrate on unique elements of your own story and be original in your responses.

If you need help, then consult someone who has been through the B-School application process himself and knows how the process works. The inputs and critique will save you significant amount of time and maybe a whole of reapplication.

Also read:
Best Admission Consultants for ISB – Application Reviews, Essay Editing, Interview Prep for ISB
Reapplicant success stories
MBA ding analysis: What you need to do after a rejection
Image source: ISB (Twitter)

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Manish Gupta
About Manish Gupta
Chief Consulting Officer at MBA Crystal Ball, ex-McKinsey, IIT & ISB topper. MG can help you get into the top B-schools. Read more about this top MBA admissions consultant. Connect with MG on Email. Or follow on Linkedin, Facebook.

22 thoughts on “MBA after Civil Engineering: IIM and ISB admits for reapplicant”

  1. Hi Sameer/MG

    My husband in in the Indian Navy. Life is difficult because I currently have my dream job in a metro city. Husband’s current job involves no challenges, many restrictions and no innovation, plus not being able to live together is a major driver for him to seek change in career. What do you think are his chances of getting into ISB based on his profile? He studied engineering, worked in Tech Mahindra for a year before joining Navy.Will this be considered being “Fickle Minded” ?

    • Well we don’t speculate on chances but bschool in general value army/navy type of experience. So as long as he can showcase good achievements and the right traits, I don’t see why it shouldn’t be possible.

  2. Hi,
    I have just entered in the age group of 30+.
    I have some doubt of my own, please help.
    I have completed 8 yrs of service in SBI where I joined as PO in 2010. Now people would definitely give me advice against leaving this stable, government, secured job but I have my reasons and now I want to do 1-yr mba preferably from isb or iim PGPX. Is there any disadvantage in doing the MBA while on study leave from my bank. As I’ve heard somewhere during campus recruitment process it comes as a disadvantage to be working(even on leave). Does it work as a negative to your profile.

    P.S. I know I will have to enter into a bond with my employer which I might be willing to break by paying the bond fees.

    • We work with quite a few folks from SBI and other PSU Prakash so you are not doing anything wrong.

      The study leave should definitely not have any issues as long as that doesn’t constraint you from participating in the regular placement process in any way. If anything, that’s a good insurance policy!

  3. Hi MG,
    Thanks for the detailed analysis, it does help a lot.
    I request your opinion on the question that whether it would be a good decision for me to invest around 40L (I will have to take a loan) for 1 year ISB course.

    Currently I am an big data developer with around 4 years of ex , earning 12 LPA in an international bank in India. I am just asking the question in terms of ROI ? And if yes what kind of roles would I be able to get (sorry for this but I am naive in this).

    Need your advice. Thanks.

    • The RoI usually pays well Mohit. But that should come later. Instead of what roles you can get, you should be approaching things the other way round – what do you want to achieve and is an MBA the right next step. Given the extremely relevant field you are in, if you are good and like your work, there is no reason to believe you need an MBA just to increase your remuneration. So think hard and deep about that.

  4. I plan to do executive mba from canada.can i keep my four years old daughter n my mother with me thr for the entire period of mba

  5. Hi, this is a great debrief. Am a civil engineer targeting GMAT MBA. I have 8 years of experience and always wondered if there is any place for me out in MBA world, for someone who has completely unrelated core engineering background. But this post has saved my hopes. Thanks.

  6. Confusion regarding the kind of profile and companies!!
    I am graduate civil engineer (2010) and working as a civil & structural engineer (Core technical engineer work profile) in a MNC deal in oil & gas industry. In 2017, I enrolled myself for executive MBA in IIT Delhi (this program is for working executives and classes are held on weekdays 6:15PM to 9:15PM). I will be graduating from IIT in 2020 (since it is a 3 years program). IIT doesn’t provide placement assistance for executive MBA students citing the ethical reasons regarding ditching your current employer post MBA.

    I am confused that what kind of companies, what kind of profiles should I seek to get a new job as in my current organisation they don’t need MBA. Also, in which subject should I specialize my MBA (Operations , finance etc.)

    Please help me out with this dilemma.



  7. I have been working as a civil engineer for NHAI for the last 5 years. My role as a engineer at site is to stimulate communication between all the stakeholders involved in the construction of a highway ranging from contractors, client and supervision consultant. How do you see the prospect of me with core engineering background getting an admit from isb provided i acquire necessary score in either gre or gmat.

  8. I graduated this year as civil engineer , and planning for MBA from IIM bodh gaya . Can you advise me regarding MBA and carrier in construction companies . I am fresher

  9. I did my in civil engineering, then from NITK Surathkal in Construction technology and management and now joined L&T constructions. I am now thinking of pursuing MBA and exit construction industry.Could you suggest me some good way of doing it? Is there any possibility of joining hospitality sector after MBA?Which all industries can I join after MBA?

  10. I have done my internship in a construction firm for 3 months and converted it into a job and worked there for 3 months. I got good job opportunity in another construction firm and joined there. Will changing job in 3 months effect my chances of top B Schools

  11. I did civil engineering and worked for 2years. Now I am thinking about MBA which might give my career a better push needed. Will MBA help me out, if yes which course I have to take in it. Usually I find three regulars in all institute “Business analyst, Financial and marketing “.


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