With all the buzz around Canada being friendly towards international students, you’d expect Canadian visa officers to welcome prospective students with a smile and a bouquet.
Despite getting admission offers from 2 leading MBA programs in Canada, Srivallabh’s student visa experience left him heart-broken. But he didn’t give up on his aspirations.
Waking up to the sounds of chirping birds and the fragrance of flowers, I grew up in the cultural city of Mysore. My early exposure to music, theater, and native arts rendered my persona to be incredibly artistic and after practicing Tabla, an Indian percussion instrument, for over 7 years and performing under various occasions erased the concept of stage fright.
Growing up in a joint family under one roof, created a sense of oneness amongst me and my cousins. At an early stage of my life, I learned that the real assets we have are the people we invest in and not the worldly pleasures.
Fast-forwarding to my life in Bangalore, I am proud to have evolved to meet the fast-natured city of Bangalore while holding my values close to me. My friends here describe me as a man of indefinite energy, and I unanimously become their 4 AM friend. I have my family and friends to thank, for the confident and reliable person I am today.
Despite the bright and happy childhood, I was posed with many challenges during my undergraduate studies in Engineering. Competition became fierce, and the diverse nature of my cohort intimidated me substantially. As a child, I reached my goals with great ease. However, as an adult, I started doubting my abilities.
Working in a team, taking ownership, and always going an extra mile helped me overcome my frailties and my engineering skills helped me gain a lucrative job as a developer.
My role in the startup propelled me to embrace responsibilities that were beyond my designation, and this gave me an opportunity to watch my managers and executives from close quarters.
My innate nature of taking the lead and accepting new challenges combined with the motivation to create an impact on a larger scale instigated the thought of moving my career towards business and management.
I yearned to gain the necessary skills and experience to reach my goal sooner than later as I had just 3 years of professional experience. This was when I decided to pursue an MBA to hone my skills and to train myself for the impending career, in Product Management.
Although I had a new sought out goal, the efforts required to achieve it was impossible.
After taking not one but two swings at the GMAT, I landed a score of 650, and I decided to move ahead with this score.
Thus began my MBA journey. From the advent of this journey, I was confident that I wanted to pursue a one year course. Hence I decided to look for universities in Europe and Canada.
In 65 days, I wrote enough to publish an 80-page book on essays. Answering questions on ‘Why MBA?’ ‘Short term & long term goals’ became second nature to me.
I still remember shooting the video essays in parks and gardens and cursing myself each time I mispronounced a phrase and the time I spent reading numerous articles on the MBA Crystal Ball cannot be forgotten.
The valuable insights provided by MBA Crystal Ball through their MBA articles prepped me for my applications. As they recommended, I started early, understood how I could align my goals with that of the university’s, learned how to gauge the different essay questions so I could keep my content unique and non-redundant.
These articles were a gold mine of tips needed to crack the application process.
After applying to 4 colleges in Canada, I got interview call from 3 universities, and I finally had admission offers from 2 of them. One from the Schulich School of Business and another from HEC Montreal. I opted to go ahead with HEC Montreal for their fewer tuition fees and the scholarship they offered.
I graciously accepted the offer and started the Canadian student visa process, I decided to quit my job to prepare for my MBA. This is when reality hit me, hard.
A month before my flight, I got an email that said that my visa was refused. As I had the time to apply again, I decided to apply, again, attending to the student visa application in detail, only to get another refusal within 10 days.
I spoke to multiple visa consultants, and one of them restored confidence in me to apply another time. With all energy left in me, I applied for the Canadian student visa for the third time, only to receive another ‘visa refusal’ email 2 days before my flight.
I was devastated as I had just quit my job and the visa refusals left me empty-handed. This was probably the roughest phase of my career.
However, with all my grit, I decided to start applying to other universities. Only this time, I decided to apply in Europe, as it’s home to most of the 1 year international MBA courses.
After another lap of writing essays, recording video essays and attending interviews with RSM Erasmus, ESMT Berlin, and The Lisbon MBA program, I landed an offer from The Lisbon MBA program in Portugal.
Like many of the B-School interviews, the interview at The Lisbon MBA was well rounded with the perfect mix of personal and behavioral questions.
Note that they asked numerous questions to authenticate my application on a professional and personal level. So, I recommend future applicants to be as honest as possible in the essays and during the interview.
Remember this, They’re not looking for superheroes, they need an ambitious goal oriented person who is capable of taking on the MBA challenges.
Ecstatic as I was, I was awarded a scholarship that covered about 15% of my tuition fees, which reduced a bit of the financial burden, considering the cost of living in Europe to be expensive compared to North America.
I think a one year MBA program, with dual degrees from Catolica and Nova, combined with one term at MIT Sloan business school will provide the perfect pedestal for me to amalgamate my engineering skills and the management skills.
Finally, despite the highly competitive pool, I managed to stand apart from fellow applicants by being completely honest with my profile, highlighting my interest in music and extracurricular activities and strengthening my intent to become a Product Manager shortly.
The experience and the learning I have gained thus far in my MBA journey is unprecedented. I am slowly evolving to a much better version of myself by continually adding new skills and goals.
Thanks to the application process, I can now fearlessly create excellent content, and it has propelled me to pick up writing as a hobby.
For the future applicants, here are a few of my suggestions.