There’s nothing more heart-breaking for a sister, than to see her struggling brother wearing an ‘Epic Fail‘ T-shirt, even if it’s in jest.
Priyank put his life on hold for 4 years in pursuit of his long-term ambition – to get into an elite MBA program. His long battle with the GMAT and applications finally bore fruit. He explains what he did over those rocky years to get into one of the most respected business schools in India – IIM Ahmedabad.
His biggest pillar of support came in the form of his family – and especially his sister, Priya, an MBA grad from the Indian School of Business (ISB), who had already gone through the grind.
The siblings from the 2 top Indian B-schools share their story and some tips to deal with failure and rejection from MBA programs.
I had around 10 years of global experience in developing, deploying, and managing various IT products and services. My top concern may sound clichéd – that I was a typical Indian IT male applicant – an extremely over-represented profile.
However, in my opinion, there were some differentiating points in my profile:-
The first good thing with my profile was my plethora of extra-curricular activities in the social sector – something that I love to do as a responsible citizen.
Secondly, I knew that my international work experience with Fortune 100 clients was far better than the international experience acquired by an average IT consultant.
I was fortunate to work on niche consulting roles from the inception of the project. That gave me a chance to travel, learn new facets of life, and the opportunity to work under very senior foreign delegates from globally respected brands.
Thirdly, my switch from an MNC to the fast-paced startup world has indeed played a great part in shaping my business knowledge and management acumen.
In the last few years, my experience of working with a few of the startups, on futuristic technologies, was exceptionally rewarding. It helped me break the mental barrier and the traditional way of thinking.
Self-realization, introspection and detailed stories of all of the above points helped me in writing my unique MBA application story, and confidently presenting the same during face-to-face MBA interview, and finally getting admitted to IIMA.
I went to one of the yearly MBA seminars in Mumbai, organized at the Taj. During the session break, I was standing at a corner engrossed with a lot of pamphlets from several top B-schools in USA such as Kelly, Columbia,Tuck etc.
A guy noticed me, and he came up to me with a smile asking “How are you? How are you finding this seminar?” and general chit chat about MBA and B-school.
After half-an-hour of discussion, this guy said “My name is Sameer Kamat. I help people with business school admissions and career advice”.
I was flabbergasted, as I had already read so many MBA Crystal Ball blogs and was already a die-hard fan of Sameer, since I have read his book “Beyond The MBA Hype”.
I was so happy to meet the founder of MCB and get some words of wisdom face-to-face.
Luckily I had his book “Beyond The MBA Hype” in my bag that day, as I was out for MBA seminar, so I managed to get his autograph on the book.
I was so in awe of this person – he was so genuine, so empathetic, so down-to-earth, and extremely helpful.
It’s been 4 years since I know him, he has helped me throughout my journey by dropping me text messages on any query that I have had related to my career or MBA or life in general.
I consider him best mentor & friend, with whom I can talk about anything without any apprehension and can be sure that I will get most practical and logical answer for the same.
In these 4 years, he tolerated all my career related gibberish without even trying to sell me any B-school services.
For the record, all the gyan that he has shared with me was out of personal relationship that I have developed with him.
Neither he has asked me for any money nor I have paid anything for general counselling that he did for me every now and then.
Ironically, my GMAT prep story is dreadful. I had to give 4 attempts in 4 years with 4 different courses namely Manhattan GMAT, Veritas Prep, Jamboree, and e-GMAT to finally reach my target score.
My GMAT scores were 560, 600, 640 and 680. The highest score by which I applied to all good universities was 680.
My GMAT prep story began in year 2013, That time I was into software engineering job and wanted to move up the ladder. I gave one shot and failed miserably. I tried again and failed.
After two failed attempts, I decided to put GMAT on the back-seat and decided to switch the roles at my current organization.
Post that with the help of supporting managers, I successfully changed by job role from software engineer to IT consultant with in the organization. With the new assignment, I went to UK and got immersed in my new IT consulting role.
After coming back from UK, in 2016, I again gave a shot at GMAT and with a little better score, I decided to apply to business schools. The best offer I have got was an admit from Katz Business School with 50 percent scholarship.
Although, Katz – University of Pittsburgh, was ranked consistently in the top 100 programs in the world, I gave a lot of thought and did not pursue Katz MBA.
Instead, I switched jobs and got the profile more closer to Product Management – area that I wanted to Pursue post MBA.
After switching jobs and 6 months into the job, I again started preparing for GMAT, with the intention to get big brand name admits.
This time I managed to score pretty well and have gotten admit to Master’s program from Foster School of Business and Carnegie Mellon University.
However, life had other plans for me. I was already about to get into my thirties and everyone in the world was conspiring to get me married. At that time, I decided to put marriage above studies and took a defer admit to CMU.
Finally, last year I got married.
In this whole saga of marriage, MBA, career goals, family responsibilities, as I had deferred admit, I started getting not-so-positive thoughts about moving abroad.
Thoughts of having been forced to stay in foreign land for for years until the debt was cleared, getting away from loved ones in India, leaving behind the aged parents when they need me most, circling life around uncertain visa status and Green Card.
All of the above thoughts compelled me to apply again in 2018 with same GMAT score that I had, to Indian one year MBA programs.
I was pretty clear that I have very few choices in India – one year IIM Ahmedabad PGPX, one year Indian School of Business PGP or maybe EPGP IIM Bangalore.
Out of which personally, IIMA PGPX rang the bell for me. IMO ISB PGP is exceptional for younger folks with lesser work experience, folks who are still figuring out what they want to do out of life.
In contrast, IIMA PGPX is great for folks who know what they want, who want to learn from more mature and experienced peers, who are interested in the case study teaching methodology, and who want to get into senior executive positions after MBA.
Hence I applied to IIM A, and fortunately got the admit.
My IIMA PGPX interview experience was awesome. I went to the IIM Ahmedabad campus for the interview. As per the IIMA standard format – extempore set the tone for my interview.
And then two professors and I had a happy chat on politics, business, current affairs, my life etc.
However the MBA interview experience will differ from person to person. For anyone reading this, the best advice from my side – expect the unexpected in an IIM-A interview, and try to be cool as cucumber, while answering the questions logically.
Someone rightly said, even if you give them everything that they ask for, it’s never enough.
After getting an admit from IIMA PGPX, I enjoyed for a week. Then one day I pinged Sameer Kamat again, asking him if it is wise to attend the program, or if I should go for top 15 global brand name.
He put me at ease with his logical views and told me to do little introspection.
After this, I have now finally decided to join the best management school in India for a one-year full time MBA course.
My younger sister is an ISB grad. As she has already been on MBA path, she has been a great support to me for years, throughout this mad ride.