My motto in life has always been "go big or go home". And, this adage applies to my MBA journey as well. Once I decided to pursue an MBA, I made a conscious decision to aim for the top-tier B-schools. I was not ready to settle for less.
My choice of MBA colleges included Stanford, London Business School, MIT Sloan, and IIM A – PGPX. I was a bit apprehensive about choosing the most competitive business schools as my profile didn't really stand out. I would be what one could consider a slightly above average candidate. I nonetheless decided to give it my best shot.
After making a list of preferred schools, I meticulously started preparing for the GMAT. With other aspects of my profile like - my work experience, my college degrees - less than stellar, I wanted to ace my GMAT.
At this juncture, while scouting for trusted MBA admission consultants, I chanced upon the PythaGURUS website. And, I should say this is when my MBA dreams begin to take shape. Connecting with Jatin Bhandari, the man behind PythaGURUS, was an eye-opener.
He didn't give me false hopes. Neither did he discourage me. Instead, he gave me some concrete direction – I had to work exceptionally hard to get into the B-schools on my list. I knew that I had found the right counselor I could trust.
I started by reading the entire blog section of PythaGURUS, which gave me plenty of information related to- planning and budgeting time for GMAT preparation, the guides to use, tips to solve difficult questions and more. I also read several success stories that reassured me that I was on the right track.
I made use of the extensive 4000+ GMAT questions in the online program offered by PythaGURUS. Practicing the 800-odd challenging level drills increased my confidence and I was sure I could score above 700.
My GMAT score was 720. While that's considered a good score, I was disappointed that it wasn't higher. In hindsight, I realize that maybe I should have joined the classroom program for one-on-one guidance under expert GMAT faculties.
With my GMAT score in hand, the next step was to send in the applications. I decided to apply in Round-1 so that I could maximize my chances.
To say that I wrote and rewrote my MBA application essays countless times is an understatement. Every time I sent the drafts to Jatin, I received feedback within hours. And, the feedback was often brutal but always honest. After endless rounds of revisions, I had crafted a final version that not only pleased me but also got Jatin's approval. I sent my application to Stanford, London Business School, and IIM-A. I decided to hold my application to MIT as the dates hadn't opened yet.
I was on cloud nine when I received interview calls from all three schools. Jatin and I spent several hours practicing and preparing my answers for the interviews. Together, we refined my answers for all common interview questions like – Why MBA? What are your short-term and long-term goals? Why this school? etc., as well as the curveball questions specific to each program.
Here's a gist of my three interview experiences:
This was my first MBA interview. I was confident and well-prepared. But, I made the grave mistake of taking the call on my spotty Vodafone mobile connection. The call kept disconnecting and I began to get nervous. The interviewer was getting frustrated as well, triggering high levels of anxiety in me.
My nervousness cost me this interview, and I committed two grave blunders in my responses. And, as I had expected, I didn't get selected. But then, as they say, God has a plan for everything.
Next, I had to take the interview from IIM – Ahmedabad. After my failure in the previous one, I didn't want to take any chances with this interview. I prepared doubly hard, and Jatin grilled me from every angle. We went through all the possible questions several times.
The judicious preparation paid off and I can say that this was one of the best interviews in my life. I was sure that I had impressed the interviewer and finally got the coveted acceptance letter from IIM-A.
I had to decide whether to take up the admission offer or not, as I was waiting for the call from Stanford.
By now, I was prepared for all the regular interview questions. So, we focused on program-specific topics for the Stanford interview. This time I didn't use my mobile connection to take the interviewer's call. It went well, and I was hopeful.
As expected, I received the acceptance letter from Stanford on 9th December 2015. The day remains etched in my memory, as it was a life-long dream coming true.
I didn't proceed with the MIT application as I had made it to my dream MBA program at Stanford.
There's no sugarcoating it - MBA admissions to the top programs are incredibly demanding and mentally as well as emotionally challenging. But, if you're genuinely passionate about making it to the prestigious MBA institutes, go for it, don’t doubt yourself, even if you don't have a top-notch profile.
Remember that MBA preparation is a journey, where you would often need support and guidance. I am incredibly grateful that I had Jatin to guide, inspire, and motivate me at every step of the way. Look for the right MBA consultant who will work with you and help bring out the best in you. While it may sound clichéd it’s true - give your best, and the sweet taste of success awaits.