Wednesday, August 15, 2007

MBA Admission and Job Search August 15, 2007

Attention: part of this post is philosophical BS at its best!

For some, life is already tough and challenging; others make it so! The MBA students fall in the second category. In the search of ‘holy grail’ of success & happiness (you define your own ways to measure it!), some think that a top MBA admission is right at the top. Don’t blame them- it is what was taught to them. It is what their friends and colleagues did. It is also what yours truly did.

For me, it wasn’t much different from most other applicants. Same problems, similar measures, similar crests & troughs. One day I was riding high and celebrating, next day I didn’t want to see the world. One day I got an interview invite from school A, next day, I got a reject from school B. Life went on.

Did I enjoy the process- honestly, not really! And I don’t know many who really enjoyed taking GMAT, writing essays, getting recommendations and going through the whole process that is often filled with obstacles and failures.

But I must say that I came to know myself much more in the 1.5 years of application process than any other period twice as long in my life. Still, the formalities, drafts, re-drafts and re-re-re drafts were a bit too much of hassle.

In the end, what did I get? 4 rejects, 2 WL’s and 2 admissions. Did it make my life better- hopefully yes, though only time will tell!

Will I do it again? Yes. And that’s why I said that we MBA’s are different animals who enjoy misery a little too much sometimes!

Ok, given that I will do it again, how will I do it this time? (Now we are talking Business ;)

  1. Draw my boundaries (which career, geography, role etc which will lead to the decision of which schools to apply to). Some people like to apply to few schools in each tier; others take bets on only a couple. I chose a middle path- six schools in Tier-1 only.
  2. Learn and memorize early in the process that it is about complete package. Only one component of an application rarely makes or breaks everything.
  3. Identify weaknesses and work on them (for Engineers, it is likely to be essay writing, for arts people, it is likely to be GMAT and so on…). They take you down before you know it. – Probably my biggest mistake.
  4. Be patient- don’t loose heart even in the face of failure… yea, I admit- easier sad than done!
  5. Keep in touch with family, friends and your hobbies and interests. You don’t want to lose your strongest supporters. Besides, they keep you from going insane ;)
  6. Talk to people, especially alumni who graduated two to five years ago. Fresh alums often don’t have the complete picture; older ones don’t have time to give it to you!

Thanks to my MBA friends, I did most of these, but often realized some key aspects of MBA admission late in the process by when it was too late for first few applications. Given that I was applying to only tier-1, this turned out to be pretty grave!

So what happens? I go to school, was quite well prepared for Internship search and got early successes- thanks to friends again. Only mistake I made was I put all my eggs in one basket. Didn’t really keep in touch with internships who I said no to… And when things didn’t work out at my summer employer, it was deja-vu of MBA applications. A bit worse actually as I didn’t have a job, had invested my 1 year and all my savings in MBA and there also was strong peer pressure. Graduated without an offer. Incidentally, graduation week was the first time when I truly stopped worrying. And guess what, it showed- got couple of decent offers a day after graduation! One of them in the sizzling hot ‘PE’! On the way to Italy!! While I was about to climb in to the car!!!

Lessons were pretty same as in MBA Admission with a couple of additional points:

First impression here is most important. If you don’t get admit, you can apply next year. If you don’t do well in a job interview, you are done.

And the last lesson while we are at it: It will work out in the end. Relax and don’t let life take its toll on you in the mean time :)

Good luck! Questions/suggestions/comments welcome as always.





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