Roller Coaster Ride on Journey to my MBA
by Afzal Khan
Hi Guys, I am a recent graduate from MDI 1-year program and presently working in consulting domain. Before going moving to that story, I would like to take you on my unusual roller coaster ride that has purely been achieved through grit and determination. I hope that readers find inspiration while going through it and you can surely achieve the dreams what one sets up for.
Let me take you to year 2002 I was still in class Xth and like every Tom, Dick and Harry in India I too was preparing for the much famed IIT-JEE which was the only way a lower-middle-class boy could dream of breaking the shambles. The same year turned the life upside when my mother was diagnosed with renal failure and to which she succumbed in next 2 year.
So, I leave it up to the readers to understand the stress, pain and trouble that I had to go thorough and continue my IIT preparation and take care of my sibling who were young, my ailing mother and run the household chores.
I didn’t clear IIT. I cleared NDA but failed to clear Interview. I got decent ranks in the state engineering entrance exams but couldn’t pay the astronomical high fees.
Well, somehow I got into a engineering college in which was ready to offer scholarship and reduced fees seeing my financial condition and my class XII score. When you don’t have much of an option left in life, I decided to put my energy in to studies as I couldn’t see where I would land up, all I could dream was of joining a call center after my engineering.
But God has his own mysterious ways of keeping the hope and miracle alive. The college which I went to never had any placements in its 25 year history, I was the first in its history to secure an off-campus opportunity that happened in 3rd year.
Along with me, half a dozen whom I had helped for interview preparation also got placed in various different companies.
Well, to add to that astonishment my father didn’t believe as how could I get job in 3rd year while my other cousins who had cleared or were in final year of engineering couldn’t get a job. That astonishment you can only comprehend when your father is a low rung government servant. Just to mention, I am proud of my father.
The financial crisis 2008-10 happened and my job was delayed. Then I realized how the companies function and what importance it holds to go to an illustrious college.
The low ranked or C-tier colleges are placed in the last list of joining and got the job at the end after a long wait as I was from one of them. I utilized that period to work as a Lecturer in the same college and prepared for CAT, GRE the year was 2010.
My CAT score was good enough to get me into some really decent college and the GRE was on the higher side to get me the admission in some very decent university , received the scholarship for Michigan Ann Arbor for MS in Computer Engineering.
Well you can’t do what isn’t destined for you, I could see the opportunity pass away as I couldn’t do much when I had to pass on the opportunity to my younger brother as he had to go for his education and only 1 of us could afford it
I joined Wipro, the job was good as learning was immense and had space to grow, but higher studies was always on my mind but didn’t know how to for it and how to finance, then I met a colleague of mine who had just returned from his onsite and was actively trying to pursue for higher studies and he gave me the roadmap but financing was the one thing that was holding me back.
MS in Saudi Arabia
During that period I came to know about the scholarship for MS in Saudi Arabia. I know it seems like an odd destination when you tell others, but I checked that the university had started the scholarship with stipend for the first time and found it to be good hoping that it would provide an opportunity for job in Middle east market.
I checked with my colleagues and friends and went ahead.
The professors were really good in terms of knowledge and with human values ingrained in them, almost all of them had earned their PhD in good US or UK University contrary to what people would have expected.The 2 years of MS in Saudi Arabia I would say would be the best year of my life, the life was good, education good enough and the stipend was enough to cover expenses plus research work paid decently.
As part of my MS program I had to research work, and found more than helping hands from professors who were ready to help me write the research proposal and received the research funding. The research work led to publication in international ISI Journal.
I was ecstatic that now it would be easy for me to get a break through in Middle East Job Market but found it really very difficult. There was no way to as student visa didn’t allow to get a job or get a transfer into Job visa.
Most of my batchmates had to return to their home country except a handful. Fortunately I was one among them. With the help of my professor I could land an interview and got the job which was ready to provide my Visa and believed that it would be wonderful to start on a new Journey.
Well the Job was good enough to start with after MS, but soon I realized it wasn’t the kind of Job that would allow me to use my skills and grow up the ladder in organization. as most of the companies in Middle east are not a fertile ground to develop a career if they are not an MNC.
Along with that mindset to hire people only from mostly Arab speaking and in particular Egyptians who instead of working focused on office politics, did give me a food for thought to think about my long term career prospect. I was left with no other option but search for opportunity and didn’t know what to do then realized MBA would be away out.
MBA after MS
I started reading Poets and Quants, Business Insider, Economist.
I started preparation for GRE, somehow I didn’t feel comfortable with GMAT and also checked almost 95% of global B-School accepted GRE scores. I scored a decent total of around 640 and was not satisfied with the score and gave another attempt which took the score to 680 when converted over GMAT table.Later, I landed on MBA Crystal Ball to read about the MBA success stories and how others have overcome similar kind of dilemma it gave me strength.
During this period, I was on Job in Saudi Arabia and started attending MBA admission fair to gain more knowledge about it. The situation turned for worse by mid-2015 as the Oil prices had plummeted and there was firing going on in almost all the companies, and my company a big one was able to resist for 6 months and went without firing but things began to decorate and I could see the numbers fall in my company.
Although being in safe zone I realized it was a matter time when I would be axed and actively pursued for other opportunity. I was fortunate enough to land up in another company but didn’t realize that it would sink so fast.
The new company requested me to take a pay cut. I obliged as my wife was expecting. But again the next round of paycut came and was not enough to cover my cost.
The other thing that happened was that my brother had cracked into a good B school in India and I had too finance him for same as my father had refused to sign for his loan.
I had applied to couple of B School for which I had received the offer letter for admission to name a few, Connecticut, Weatherford, EDHEC, EM LYON, Nanyang B-School’s.
But all the conditions that had convoluted to create a situation which was a mess and didn’t know how to proceed, meanwhile my brother had asked me to fill the CAT form to be on the safe side , if I plan on doing MBA as a backup option.
I had to move back to India after resigning. It was almost September end when I returned in 2016 and I had received a job offer from one of the companies in Bangalore. I joined the same but after a week of job which didn’t pay me well, I requested my wife to give me a couple of months to try for CAT and if nothing turns out good I would find a job with whatever pay available. My wife was understanding and agreed to my crazy idea although she had to handle our new born son and with no inflow of money no job to go for.
CAT results came out, I was ecstatic as the score was decent to get me into Indian B school. Applied for IIM Indore, Shillong, SP Jain, XLRI, MDI, also applied to IIT’s and other B schools (which I would like to not mention here ).
I initially looked for 1-year programs but to be on the safer side applied for 2 years programs too knowing very well that I would most probably not join them.My desperation level was so high that I needed to get into any of the B-School knowing that If I didn’t get into one, the road ahead would be really long and hard.
Then came the interview time for the B-school, the 1st one to happen was IIM – Indore, on same evening I had to fly for MDI. Sitting at airport to catch flight I though am I being too stupid and crazy to do all this and blowing out my saving and time and going through all this trouble, now when I look back it looks like the plan that Almighty who had made for me.
I was sure of making it to IIM-Indore, didn’t apply for ISB as it would be really difficult to get into. Plus the fees was astronomically high.
XLRI was on interview list. The result that came out was from MDI, I was offered the position, IIM Indore waitlist, XLRI waitlist, the result for IIM Shilliong came when I had joined MDI. SP Jain didn’t make the cut.
After joining MDI the result for XLRI was declared but I had already joined and kind of liked MDI. It gave a feeling of home and felt that I belonged there so didn’t plan to move anywhere else.
MDI didn’t have residence for family which was available at XLRI and a couple of other B-schools in India. So I had no option but to keep my family outside the campus and handle both studies and family with 6 month old kid.
Life as a student at MDI 1-year MBA
The course was tough, grind was always there and then I had the responsibility of family to also take care of.
It was a hell of a time for the next 6 months but I didn’t allow it to affect me. I was able to maintain decent CGPA so that companies don’t throw me out just on that basis.
It was almost midway during my course then I realized it would be extremely difficult for me to continue my studies, handling family and to prepare for placements that would be starting in another 2-month time.
I had to request my wife to take break and go to her parents’ home for a couple of months, till the placement season. She obliged, understanding my situation and I was back to campus residence.
It was difficult to adjust as my wife and kid were gone, but soon adjusted to the grind as the program pressure didn’t allow you to be complacent. Then there was Internship which I did at Mondelez International (parent company of Cadbury).
Placements at MDI 1-year MBA
The placement season started and companies had started to visit but the placement of 1-year MBA program is not like the 2 year program where you have minimum exp of 5 years and maximum went up to 15 years in my batch. The companies come looking for 1 or 2 positions and it’s a rolling placement which started in October.
The MDI placement team was made up of our own batchmates who did the effort to bring the companies on campus and they did extremely well.
The MBA batch for 1-year program was very diverse ranging from experience to sectors to industry so it made the placement a bit more tedious and difficult. No doubt most of us had to do a tradeoff with what we looked for in terms of Job.There was lack of support from MDI for placements. If the Institute would have intervened like it does for 2-year program it would have been much easier for the 1 year program students.
1-year program is considered as stepson in B-school at least what I and my classmates felt where you are not given the due importance as 2-year MBA program which was the flagship program, although being very well aware that we all were experienced candidates.
The trade-off between pay to position and industry and sector. But one thing was taken care of was that we were in the same league of IIM-Indore, XLRI and SPJain in terms of Companies and CTC that was being offered.
I was able to land up into 4 interviews and but they were of different role, as I had always aspired to go in to consulting, I landed up at Infosys which is good enough.
The MBA classroom Journey ended on 22nd march and we had to complete out dissertation that is under process as of now which needs to be submitted by September end.
I Joined Infosys in March and the Job is good, Got to learn new things, more of customer interaction and client facing role which I wanted to work ,all I would say is I am liking the job.The ROI from MBA at MDI is way better when compared to its peers like XLRI, SP JAIN and couple of IIM’s.
The only advice that I think I can give to other folks who would be reading this is that life is not fair and it owes you nothing. Everyone has their own share of problems, difficulties and troubles.
Don’t get bogged down and never ever crib, make the best out of your situation, if I would have continued to blame the situation I would have never reached here.
Although some may differ to what I did and decisions that I took but that’s up them to decide and judge because I would have done the same thing again but this time more Intelligently.
Be happy. Peace.
- Afzal Khan