Management consultant Arsh Sharma didn't have to struggle too much to come up with interesting stories for his essays, as his entire career has been unique.
His pre-MBA resume had references to World Bank, United Nations and the Government of Ethiopia. His stint as a Performance Improvement Consultant with Pricewaterhouse helped him gain some kick-a$$ experience in unconventional areas.<!--more-->
He has also had the opportunity of taking up an internship with the UIDAI [Unique Identification Authority of India - Government of India's National Unique IDs to over a billion people, the world's biggest project in terms of scale and impact].
Arsh stays modest and talks about his journey.
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How I got a World Bank job after MBA
by Arsh Sharma
Its not about brilliance. Its actually not even about mediocracy. Its all about vision and perseverance.
Before I confuse you further with my psycho-babble, I’d like to tell you why I am writing this. Sufficient competent articles encouraging the “go-getter” in you have been published, so I thought I might talk about some of the finer aspects of the same race, only this time it wont end with your admission in the business school.
I started of being one of the typical candidates, classified as I/I/M (Indian IT Male) on some websites/forums. Also, not being the brightest engineers made me quite weak in an already overcrowded pool.
From here, I could either focus on my strengths or mitigate my weaknesses. The latter might work for people with few glitches, but for me, and many other candidates, mitigating weakness results in a catch-up game often ending in a weak candidature.
Having grown up in a diplomatic environment across 4 continents, I had a fascination with governments and hence I applied to the public-sector wing of most consulting firms. I got no call-back (which isn't surprising seeing the supply-demand equation here).
Fortunately, A cuppa coffee with an old school friend, now in United Nations got me an unpaid internship there. Interestingly enough, I got to work with consulting firms during my internship here.
Only this time one of the same Big4 firm (having rejected me before) offered me a Consultant’s role. It was a great fit and I ended up being chosen for projects in Africa, SE-Asia and the Middle-East.
The point of my above story is to make you realize that you always have more options than you think you have. And its equally important to position yourself well. I could've kept applying to the same firms with no luck, or I could position myself differently for the same job.
Dig in your past, remember those school friends at different places, pick up your phone and meet someone for coffee. As you might have read already (probably a little too much in India these days) “A lot can happen over coffee”. So take some calculative risks if you have to, because in the longer scheme of things, those might just be a small road-block.
Getting into a school is somewhat similar. They look at you a little differently than how you look at yourself. We position ourselves by “improving our profile” (also commonly known as adding a bunch of NGOs and community outreach bullet points to the resume).
They on the other hand look at the “impact” of our work. We oftentimes miss that. We also hope to sail through the admission on the basis of the “brand” of our employer. They look more at what you did than where you did it.
Give your resume a closer, harder look and you’ll realize what I am talking about. So, you might have written a brilliantly fancy code (also your essay highlight) that few can, but if you cannot synthesize its impact on your business, prove that it taught you skills that are “Transferrable” to another industry, highlight your “employability” , all you did was confuse a non-technical person and successfully slot yourself as I/I/M.
Choosing schools is where we go wrong too. We aim for the rankings and everything else “Adjust kar lenge”. I dont count the top-5 when i say this, because they actually work differently, but for everything else, you choosing the school is as important as the school choosing you.
I realized this after I joined, and I can genuinely understand if you right now think its all crap. I am assuming you’ve done the due diligence obviously (placement statistics, international student presence, target firms/industry presence etc). What lets left behind is Culture.
And ironically enough, this is the only aspect of a school that you cant make peace with for 2 years and beyond if you’ve made a bad decision.
Talking about the US: Midwest thrived during WW-II and focussed on manufacturing/operations, West coast thrived through tech-entrepreneurship era of the 60’s, South always banked on energy and agriculture and North-East on Financial services.
I am broadly generalizing, but look through the schools and you’ll see the same trend in hiring even now.
Make sure you don't decide on a choice that makes you swim against the tide while choosing schools, cos getting into the school is just your means for your desired end (that job, your firm etc).
I worked with energy and utilities during my consulting years and chose UT among the schools I got through for its strength in the same combined with a a strong general management program.
The reasons for joining UT make up stuff for a different blog, maybe sometime later.
In spite of a pretty low GPA in college again (some people don't learn , I managed the role of a Consultant with the World Bank (notorious for its selective hiring only from the Ivy-Leagues). I now look at Carbon Financing/Trading for Sub-Saharan Africa.
I make for a lousy person to be inspired from, but I know my strengths and I am a hardcore opportunist (not the negative word taught in our primary schools).
For the lack of a less filmy line, realize your strengths and position them aptly. Its all easier than you think, and there is always space for you where you belong.
- Arsh Sharma
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Unmarried girls looking for a sundar, shusheel and well-settled guy to take home to mom are encouraged to reach out to him via this post. Starting the discussion with intelligent (sounding) questions will increase your chances of getting a response.
Others who want to ask him the regular MBA related questions about McCombs or Austin Texas are also welcome to post their queries in the comments below.
Editor's note: This story was originally published on our blog in 2011 and move here.