May 04, 2015

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I sought out help from MBA Mission starting in Round 1 and continued through the very end of Round 2. I was particularly seeking hourly consulting services to fine-tune my essay ideas and some ad-hoc advice on resume, recs, etc with the biggest focus being on essays.

My initial 30 minute free consultation was with Jessica Shklar and I felt that in this brief session alone, I could get a sense of the depths to which I knew she could truly help me pinpoint what to focus on in my essays and how to really convey the thread of my experiences in the most powerful way possible.

She got on the call prepared and ready, having analyzed my profile and what information I provided to the website. I could tell she really reviewed my background and the materials I provided, so that I didn't have to waste anytime reviewing things again in summary. Since I was worried about how much money to invest in expensive consulting services, I admit I was hesitant about buying these services because I was worried I would dish out tons of money for what might be mediocre guidance. I got off the call truly feeling the she was personally invested in my success and I knew I wanted to continue with her as a consultant. In just thirty minutes, I felt I had a MUCH clearer picture of what angle I could focus on in my essay stories.

The thought of tackling all the business-school essays gave me incredible anxiety : I was self conscious about my writing, I was concerned about being an industry-switcher and how to really prove to the admissions committee why and how I was planning to carve out my future career based on the past experiences that shaped me. I had an immediate sense of relief and clarity with Jessica because she so easily and naturally found ways that I could tell my story- in a very captivating and genuine way that never occurred to me before. And that is what you need in a consultant.

Unfortunately, Jessica had been pretty booked up with R1 clients and when I decided I wanted to buy some consulting hours, I had to pick someone else to work with at first. But ultimately, I felt that my expectations were not met by that person, and after one session, I felt unhappy with who I was left with. They just did not compare to the rapport I felt with her. I contacted Jessica and told her how I felt, what my concerns were, and if she could find a way of taking me on as a client because I was convinced I needed to work individually with her to really accomplish my goals. She was prompt in immediately addressing my concerns, not only did she find a way for the company to refund me for the consulting services I wasn't happy with, but she ultimately told me she would find a way of fitting me in as one of her R1 clients so that I could work with her instead.

Jessica worked with me from this point forward, as I applied to one R1 top tier school, and then 7 other top R2 schools. She is excellent at giving really raw feedback, directly pinpointing what you need to fix, where you're not being clear, what you do well, what you are still not doing right etc. - What I value most about her support was that she isn't afraid to be tough with you. At first, the writing critique process can feel really personal and the feedback can be painful but I cannot emphasize how important it was for me to have someone like Jessica who was not afraid to tell me her opinions on each point of my essay in the most blunt and direct way possible. At times, it hurts, but its what you really need to get your essay into the best shape possible. And this is ultimately a valuable aspect of Jessica's style because she doesn't waste your time or money - basically, she tells it like it is, and doesn't sugarcoat it for you. In this gut-wrenching process, that is exactly what you need, especially when you're going through draft after draft, competing with thousands of people, juggling with deadlines, and want to get those acceptance letters. It was critical, and it helped enormously. Because I could really see how my essays had evolved, and how I even improved the drafts I was giving her after only my R1 essays. Because I took her feedback and applied it to my thought process.

Throughout the months, Jessica was always clear and reliable about what she needed from her client group - she also reminded us about what deadlines we should be aware of and how to facilitate that with her two-day turnaround so that she could ensure we were not freaking out at the last minute and begging for a 24 hour turnaround of a final draft or needing to pay the expensive rush fee to get it back from her - she was always very clear with what she needed to be able to give the best support most efficiently. Even down to the specifics of how to write your emails to her, with what in the subject line, so that she could most efficiently get back to our requests.

In hindsight, I felt like writing essays and crafting your story for business school applications really feels like you go through therapy. And Jessica was like my therapist in this aspect! You go through a LOT of self-reflection about who you are. I was truly floored when my decision letters started rolling in. I did not get into the top 2 most competitive schools - I got into all other 5 schools (highly competitive programs), with incredible merit scholarships, and was waitlisted at 1 other. I really was overjoyed with my results. No matter what, you have to put in the best effort possible to get the best out of consulting services. Jessica was the person who got me to the level I needed to be at - I felt confident that I was submitting my best work. And my results reflected this.

I highly recommend Jessica Shklar - she was a consultant that was truly invested in my success and I have no doubt that she maintains this standard with each and every one of her clients.

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