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Acads: • Under-grad stream: BTech (ICT) from DAIICT (not likely to be recognized outside of India as the IITs are) • Under-grad CGPA/percentage: 2.96/4 or 62.4 (have a couple of Fs too!) – will basically own up to it in my optional essay. Also, after graduating, I have chosen a completely different field (Microfinance), so will build my defense around that.
Extra-curricular: Good (Have won a state-level lawn tennis championship, written 2 academic research papers which got published, was active in the student body of my college)
Workex details: • Years: 4 (on 28th Aug'11) • Industry: Microfinance (Development Sector) - currently working in Product Development as Senior Manager (at a top 10 MFI in India) • Work Progress: Good - have done well and consistently moved up in the 4 yrs at Ujjivan o Currently leading a product vertical within the company • International Exp (Abroad): None
Recommendations: I am in good shape on that front
Outside Office Work: • Lead writer for a social sector oriented blog • Advisor and volunteer for Activist Circle – a discussion+networking platform for local communities of youth involved in the development sector o I give introductory lectures on microfinance and mentor fellows who join the Activist Circle fellowship
Post MBA career goal (short-term): Social Venture Fund (I believe that my on-ground operational work-ex in Ujjivan plus the hard-skills, i.e. finance learnt at an MBA program will equip me for a job at an SVF). I plan on taking relevant electives (Private Equity, Finance) during my MBA to give myself the best shot at an SVF job
Post MBA career goal (long-term): yet to give shape to that (I have an idea for a start-up, but I have to think through it and don’t want to appear unrealistic)
Other notables: • Got admitted to IIM-Indore in 2008 (IIMs are the leading MBA schools in India with acceptance rates of less than 1%), but decided to stay in Ujjivan (I had initially joined Infosys after my under-grad and gave my CAT exam during my tenure there. By the time CAT cleared and results came out, I had switched to Ujjivan and then I decided to stay and not pursue my MBA). I am mentioning this because I plan to use it in my essays
Target Schools: INSEAD, LBS, Oxford, Chicago GSB, Cambridge
W.r.t international experience (which is important especially for LBS and INSEAD), I have the following line of thought/defense:
1. I choose to work in India because I wanted to work in the development sector and since I am Indian, to me it made the most sense to work here 2. Post MBA, I want to work in a Social Venture Fund - to understand how companies make decisions on investing in social enterprises. I don't have a preferred location of my job post MBA (India/international) but I am guessing that if I choose India over international, then it might hurt me in my application to these schools 3.My long term goal (potential) is to start-up a end-to-end dairy consulting firm for Indian farmers (I believe that combined with my current on-field experiences and experience in an SVF will provide with the skill sets and expertise to start up in future). I have to refine this further though
In view of 1-3, can I build a logic/defense for my INSEAD/LBS apps which can counter my ZERO international experience?
Also would love to hear thoughts on my chances at other schools - Oxford, Chicago and Cambridge
Thanks for your post and all the detail. i don't think the lack of international experience will do much damage in the application process, especially if you cast your post MBA vision for working in India. Not sure why you think doing so will hurt your application. I like the idea of the dairy farming consultancy and believe it can be tied in logically to your short term goal of working in a Social Venture operation out of b-school. It sounds like your experience in microfinance is a good preparation for this visoin, but I would make sure I put some serious thought into how I couch my responsibilities thus far for the committee--you want to make a clear connection between what you did and your potential value as both a classmate and as a potential employee. VC is difficult to break into, and Socially focused VC is a very tight niche. VCs are having much trouble raising money in general thanks to the poor economy, so you will need to be prepared to answer tough questions about how you will be able to break into this industry in such an environment. If you do this, you should have a good shot at your target schools. Also, have you looked at Yale? Seems like a good fit based upon your social focus and at Yale , guess what? You DO have international experience!
Thanks for the detailed reply Bryant! Really appreciate the help.
In terms of post-MBA short term goals, I know that SVF is a very niche segment. I will be building a back-up plan for sure during my MBA. Its just that in my essays, I think it would be better to have specific goals instead of diluting a niche goal and broadening my vision. Would you advise otherwise and recommend that I present a back-up short-term goal also in my essays ( I definitely don't want to come across as naive w.r.t my goals)? In terms of laying the groundwork, I have been in touch with some SVFs over the years as a result of my work-ex and I have started sounding them off (a process which will continue during my MBA).
Coming back to India - "Not sure why you think doing so will hurt your application" - I want to avoid coming across as financially naive and for the schools to think that coming back to India may not allow me to sustain my MBA costs (the same logic was offered by a couple of consultants also) - so I am a little unsure on that front.
I did strongly consider Yale and might still add it - my logic for choosing schools (in the particular order) is: 1 year program (cost and want to return to my field sooner than later)/brand name (will help when I come back eventually to India)/strong quantitative focus (I need to add hard-skills to my skill set)
Looking forward to hearing your thoughts again. Thanks for all the advise so far
Srijan it just so happens that I spoke today with a Career services director at a top b-school, who told me they are more skeptical of applicants from India who want to work in the US, especially if they don't have an H1B Visa. If you can get them believing you truly want to return to India, you may become more attractive as a candidate, since you circumnavigate the risk they see in your getting a job within 90 days after graduation (a key metric for rankings). I do think identifying your target industry as niche and briefly mentioning a backup plan is a good play for the application, since in my opinion it will demonstrate maturity (vs. naivte as you mentioned). Also will make you seem more practical and less idealistic. No reason why the passion you have for non-profit should be dimiinished in doing so.
Thanks for the great advise. The point you make on placements is indeed logical - some students that I have sounded out confirm the same.
Also, after hearing you, I think it makes sense to highlight the back-up in my essays in a line or two, rather than hope to get a chance to do that in the interviews (that is also rather presumptuous of me!)