Indian IT applicant receives scholarships from 4 top US business schools: Case Study

Indian IT Applicants applying to top international MBA Programs will not be taken seriously because these applicants are a commodity? Right!

Wrong! One Applicant who submitted 5 Applications got admitted to 4 and bagged scholarships from all of those business schools. Not just that, two of these business schools gave her 100% scholarships and also offered graduate assistantships. She did not even have to pay for her accommodation. This applicant came from an IT Background. She worked for TCS and had an average Indian IT profile.

Let us dig deeper and see how she made all of this happen.



Today we will look at the case study of this applicant who wanted to do an MBA from Top international MBA Programs. She had a GMAT 730 but did not know what her MBA Goals were. Although she knew that she did not want to be with TCS for the rest of her life. A lot of Indian IT Professionals that I work with move from their existing IT Career within 4 to 8 years of work experience and this applicant belonged to this category. GMAT 730, 3 years of work experience and a dream to crack Top US MBA Programs.

My challenges:

She had a very plain resume. The challenges of IT applicants are; first, their resume can be so technical that it can make it impossible for a layman to even understand it. Also, because she had 3 years of work experience in software testing, there were no leadership experiences on the resume. With 3 years of work experience, you do not get to lead teams. I mean, you might but, it is not that common. And her resume did not resonate with a layman. Definition of a Layman? Write it down. Someone who is not working in your organization, your current teams or your industry and does not have the same view of the world as you do.

I have talked about this in various other videos on building a B-School resume as well. Second challenge IT applicants face in their resume is that a lot of their activities or responsibilities are not result-oriented. Business Schools do not relate with a profile where an applicant cannot connect their projects with measurable results. Results that are measurable in terms of Money/percentages or other numerical outcomes.

Another thing that was completely missing in this profile was an understanding of what she wanted from an MBA. It is common for MBA applicants to have very vague goals or very generic goals. Remember, if your goals are not well connected, the schools will think of you as a liability. They are not sure how will you leverage their MBA Program to get the value that you seeking and they do not see your endeavor as a WIN-WIN.

Business Schools do not have anything against the IT Applicant pool. It is the mentality that these schools do not connect with. The IT applicants fail to connect their past endeavors with a TOP TIER MBA. They fail to tell the school, “How did my profile in TCS or Infosys or Wipro make me explore a career in investment banking or consulting or Product management or any other career that I want post MBA”. Without a strong connection, you are a liability to these business schools. When they reject you, they do not reject you because they do not like your profile, they reject you because you make it so tough for them to even understand the profile.

Extracurricular activities:

She was a hard-working applicant and her life did not give her the opportunities to be exceptional in any particular activity that could have carried her entire story. And let me tell you that it is okay. A lot of applicants fall into this category.

Now, how can an applicant with the above set of missing links, and an average profile from TCS fight for Top US-B Schools and also win scholarships?

My first endeavor with this applicant was when I told her, “I am not moving ahead unless I have a VERY STRONG Result oriented Resume. I understand that there is a lack of leadership experiences, but we will find alternative opportunities to showcase leadership on your resume”.

Before even started working on the essays, any essay for any business school, every applicant should do this activity.

We started with hair-splitting every project, everything that she had worked on, to identify and extrapolate what could have been the financial impact of all the things that she had done. And also, to find out what the key transferrable skillsets this person has that can take her to her POST-MBA role. We asked ourselves, “What is it that will make the business schools not only satisfied with her story but to make them jump on their seats, and throw money at her in the form of scholarships?”.

Doing these exercises even before starting the business school applications created a very strong sense of confidence in this person. After having created a very strong result-oriented resume, we realized that her goals started falling in place too. We then started training her on Equation of employability.

Your Past + MBA = Short-Term + Long-Term Goals

If you dig deeper into finding out your goals, connect with your transferrable skill sets, and your work handicaps, you will realize that your goals will start to fall in place. Remember that the goals assignment is not for us, and not for the business schools either. It is for you. You have to dive deeper into connecting your stories with your future aspirations. Forget the language, the business school essays, grammar etc. Forget everything and start with generating a very strong level of organic understanding of what is it that you want to do, Why do you want to do it, what has happened in the last 12 to 18 months that led you to believe that you want to have these goals, and what are the current strategic gaps in your skillset that are holding you back from doing whatever you want to do.

You will realize that you will start to have conviction. Essays, paragraphs, words, language, they come in later. It was in the next stage where we covered different categories of essay topics, critiquing on various storylines with diverse topics, but whatever we had done until now formed the entire background of the confidence this applicant had started to have in her own stories.

Even if she did not have very strong stories for a lot of diverse situational essays, I knew that now she can make a very strong impact with her understanding of employability in all the goals essays. In even her NOT so IMPRESSIVE personal situations, we focused on bringing the essence of leadership because she had not led teams in her professional setting. This was my way of countering the weaknesses.

I did not know this on day 1, and neither did she. This is how she and I evolved together and how the process goes with every applicant. It is a process of discovery.

She received more than 3 crores in scholarships with full tuition waivers and graduate assistantships. It was all worth the time and effort.

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