Well, I have just submitted my last application. I am feeling so bored now! I have nothing to do
.. no more reading the same essays 100 times... what am I going to do with my life now?
(some kind of post MBA application syndrome.. I wonder if it is a good reason to call in sick tomorrow...)
So I guess I will start by sharing my MBA application experience. Please keep in mind, this might be an extremely long post.
When did i first think about an MBA:
I first started looking for another job. I wanted a change from what I was doing. However the deeper I got into the job search process I realized that the only offers I was getting were pretty much along the same career path as my current position. I wasn't really interested in these but was looking for something completely different from what I do. I started thinking about what would be the best way to make a career change.
This was when I seriously started considering an MBA. A lot of my friends and relatives had already mentioned this option to me. So an MBA was in the back of my mind. I did not have any idea how exactly it would help me or what my goals were.
I guess I did it the wrong way. Conventional wisdom says that you need to have a goal and then find out that an MBA can help you achieve those goals. In my case my application essays are what really helped me focus on my thoughts and desires and find out what I really wanted to do. Not many of us have the inclination to look at ourselves and find out what our goals and desires are unless we are pressed for it. The MBA application process does just that.
the dreaded GMAT:
The first thing I learnt was that all applicants have to take this exam called the GMAT. So I focused all my attention on this aspect initially and neglected everything else.. (a mistake I would advice other candidates to avoid
) So I spent a month or so studying for this exam.
I ended up with a mixed bag: got a 770 (51Q and 42 V) but only got a 3.5 on my AWA.
This is the weakest part of my application experience and wish I could go back in time and fix the way I selected my portfolio.
While preparing for the GMAT I just browsed through the rankings and did some basic research on the top 20 schools and picked 5, almost randomly. I made subjective choices based on what I read on their web-sites, their location and their image. I regret that I did not do detailed research. But here lies another contradiction- I still did not know why exactly I was applying for an MBA other than wanting a change in my life. I wish someone had told me to write the essay about career goals before I did anything else, because this was when I really took an introspective view and was able to answer this all important question, 'why MBA?'.
This is probably the best advice I can give
: answer 'Why MBA?' first before anything else.. this will help in deciding the schools to apply to.
When I look back now.. my choice of schools is probably completely wrong.. but I was too far into the process before i realized this.. so i just went with what I had.
The schools in my portfolio were: Stanford, Berkeley, Michigan, Columbia and Cornell
Letters of Recommendations:
I was nervous about asking my employers for recommendations. But i will say this, most employers will be glad to hear that you are applying for an MBA. They probably view it as better than loosing you to a competitor and it also gives them fair notice to plan for your replacement. I did get an enthusiastic response from my employers and they promised their support.
Another word of advice
(sorry if I sound preachy): asking current employers for recommendations is not as bad as most people think. They are usually very supportive.
The most demanding part of the application but also the most useful. As I said before if I had done this initially I would have had a much better understanding of what I wanted.
This is also the part of my application that i think will make or break my applications. I spent a good two months on this aspect.
Another pearl of wisdom
: send your essays to your friends and relatives and ask them to criticize it and then work on it based on their suggestions. I had 5 different people read it and all their reviews were useful except the one who said, 'your essays are great'. There is a huge difference between my first draft and my final one, and when I say huge I am not exaggerating.
Well that is a summary and I will keep everyone posted if anything happens.. dings
. it is time for me to sit back and twiddle my thumbs.. I am not sure what most people do during this time.
It has been a draining experience. I feel I am a long shot at all the schools I applied, but I hope to atleast get a couple of interviews out of this experience.
Thanks to GMATClub and all its members for helping me along. Hjort
and many others have been very supportive and acted as mentors in this process.