We get many applicants asking if a 3-year bachelors degree in science / commerce / arts (i.e. 15 years of education) will put them at a disadvantage, since they are competing with engineers wielding a degree that’s generally kept on a higher pedestal compared to B.Com, B.A or B.Sc degree.
Vikramjeet Bhatt’s story proves that an overall solid profile presented with a strong application matters much more than whether you have a 4-year bachelors degree or not. He cracked the brutally tough ISB admissions process in style, with a 5 Lakh Rupees tuition fee waiver.
My name is Vikramjeet (ISB Co’19). Through this write-up I intend to share my experience. To give a brief background, I am a commerce student and did my under-grad from Hindu College, Delhi University (DU). During high school, I enjoyed subjects like accounts, business studies and economics, which made pursuing b.com the next logical step for me.
I was never too bright in academics as my main focus was on playing lawn tennis, a game I was pursuing professionally. In class 11, tennis took a backseat and I channelized all my energy on academics.
The reason I mention this is to highlight the fact that I was never the smartest, in fact far from it, but I believed in myself and worked as hard as I could and then with luck by my side I was able to achieve the goals I set for myself.
My key take away from school and college life is to have faith in yourself and you will always surprise yourself and do better than you expected.
I got placed on-campus with Deloitte (external audit) and worked there for a couple of years. My objective of working post-college was to explore the corporate world and to better understand my strengths and weaknesses. I soon realized that audit wasn’t my cup of tea and I began reaching out to people to explore other fields.
It was then that investment banking caught my fancy; I was intrigued by mergers and acquisitions and valuations etc. I decided to switch to investment banking (IB). To my disappointment, there were very few opportunities available in IB for under-grads. So I decided to take the GMAT as an MBA is a requirement for many investment banking roles.
There is a lot of data available online on how to ace the GMAT, so from my personal experience my only suggestion would be to have a positive frame of mind while giving the test. It is easier said than done and good preparation helps.
I gave the test twice and within a span of 25 days my score went from 700 to 760, clearly it wasn’t my preparation but my frame of mind during the paper which I feel made all the difference.
In those 25 days I gave 10+ mock tests. So that is roughly a test every two days. It is extremely important to spend at least a day in just analyzing the test.
Initially speed was a big issue for me but after giving so many mocks one can easily improve speed. Improving accuracy is the hard part. At the beginning of my preparation I made it a point to not focus on speed and aimed to near 100% accuracy.
Believe me when I tell you that I used to take about 15-20 minutes to solve RC passages and toward the end of my preparation I was able to bring it down to 8 mins.
One should only focus on speed while giving the mock test, and one should start giving mock tests after accuracy on all topics is at least 80%.
Finally, luck plays a big role so please don’t be harsh on yourself and give the paper again if need be.
After getting done with the GMAT, I was fortunate to get an opportunity to work in my desired field i.e Investment Banking (M&A advisory) with KPMG. This experience gave me a bird’s eye view of IB and helped me identify gaps in my knowledge that an MBA could bridge.
Also, in investment banking, career growth beyond associate level is hard without an MBA degree.
I chose not to apply to colleges abroad because I eventually want to work in India and after having spoken to a few people I realized that it did not make much financial sense to go abroad with my end goal in mind. A lot depends on what your end goal is when deciding on MBA in India Vs Abroad.
Next came college selection, which for me was the easiest step in the entire process. With 3 years of experience it only made sense for me to apply to ISB as other top colleges in India usually have students with 0-2 years of work experience and don’t value pre-MBA work experience as much.
One of my reasons to do an MBA was to learn about different industries and functions and it always helps to be in a class with students who have years of experience in different fields. ISB fit the bill.
Hence I applied to only ISB and sought help from MBA Crystal Ball.
GMAT is just one of the many hurdles one needs to overcome to get into a business school and I knew I had to work hard on my application.
I did my research before selecting MBA Crystal Ball and suggest each one of you to do the same as one consultant, who may be a perfect fit for your friend, may not be the best for you.
I had a story to tell and answers to questions like ‘WHY MBA’, ‘WHY NOW’, ‘WHY ME’. Two things I needed help on were ‘WHY ISB’ and how to structure my essays. For ‘WHY ISB’ I reached out to alumni in my field of interest to understand how ISB helped them. I also reached out to current students to better understand what ISB has to offer.
For the structure of my essays, I worked closely with Parveen (MBA Crystal Ball admissions counsellor). I can’t emphasize enough the importance of conveying your story in a structured manner. In my opinion the flow of the essay is extremely important and takes multiple drafts to perfect. You need to tie every significant episode in your life to the above mentioned questions in a concise manner.
Parveen Sir will guide you in every step of the way but please don’t expect spoon feeding; you will have to put in a lot of effort and take full ownership. I used the simplest of words to articulate my story as I wanted to be as original as possible and did not want any window dressing.
I risked not getting an interview call but then on the flip side I knew that if I get the interview call, all I would need to do is to be myself as there was no exaggeration in my essays.
Preparing for the ISB interview was not as hard as I had initially expected it to be, simple because I was confident about my story. Having said that, before my interview I reached out to a lot of alumni to understand what to expect. According to me it always pays to be over-prepared for an interview so research extensively.
In the bid to stand out, one must not forget to be true to themselves. Please don’t fabricate or bother to know what the school would like to hear. Just focus on yourself and how you can contribute to make the school better.
We all have strengths and weaknesses and no one can say for certain that he/she deserves to be in a school as getting an admit is a factor of luck; hard work is just a necessity. So just put your best foot forward and hope for the best!