Just about exactly a year ago today, we had a Brave Supplicant sign up for his first services with us… and today we’re thrilled to be publishing his Success Story – at least, Part 1 of it. Once they’re unleashed from the burden of word limits and asked to write about their experiences here on the blahg, former BSers tend to have a lot to say! So, as we often do, we’re splitting this up into two posts. You get the “do this” advice today, and the remainder will come next week.
I will start off with my profile. I come from an oversubscribed pool (Indian Male) working in the analytics industry (which EssaySnark ruthlessly categorized as IT 🙂 ) with a non-feeder company for four years. I have a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and a master’s degree in Industrial Engineering from a good school with average GPA and I have a decent GMAT score.
Things, I think, I did right
- Started early – I started researching on b-schools in January 2012, 10 months before my first application. This gave me ample time to zero in on the schools I would love to be a part of. I gave the GMAT in early June 2012 so that if something went wrong, I could retest in August and still apply in round 1 to my top choices. Though I was able to get a satisfactory score in my first attempt, this didn’t mean that my application process went without any surprises. More on the hiccups later. However, this brings me to my second point.
- Applied in round 1 – Time and time again ES has stressed on the importance of applying early, especially if you belong to a very competitive pool (Indian Male in IT, White dude in Finance etc.) and do not have a lot of points to differentiate yourself from your peers. I think applying in round 1 definitely gave me a distinct advantage. Of the three schools that I applied to, I was waitlisted at my top choice and got accepted at a good school.
- Researched a lot – I didn’t go about applying to all the top ten schools. Instead I chose a few schools that best met my requirements and researched a lot on them. I attended their presentations, talked to a lot of alumni and current students went through the blog posts of students/admission officers etc. This helped me understand the resources that the schools have to help me reach my career goals. This also helped me answer the fitment questions during the application process with answers tailored to the experience that the school offers.
- Hired EssaySnark – As this was my first experience of applying to the US schools, I thought it was important to have someone knowledgeable review my application strategy and essays. I had been reading EssaySnark’s blog, which by the way is a goldmine of useful information, for a long time and thought of trying their services. I went for a comprehensive profile review and got a customized 16 page report that talked at length about my strengths, weaknesses and application strategy. I had asked 12 very specific questions in the profile review questionnaire and ES patiently answer each one of them in the review.
I then opted for the Essay Optimizer Plan [now called the Complete Essay Package – ES]. The app accelerators that were a part of the package helped me to sift through my life events and choose my best stories and biggest achievements. According to me, the best app accelerator of the lot was the Career Goals app accelerator, which helped me develop a strong career goal statement. Though I used the essay decimator service only for my top school, the feedback from ES helped me understand how essays should be structured. I applied this knowledge while writing the essays for the other schools. [Which is exactly how we’ve designed our services. You don’t need to buy a full package for every school; we’re of the “Teach you to fish” camp. -ES]
- Prepared well for the interviews – I went through all the interview questions for my target schools on various internet forums like gmatclub and clearadmit. I prepared my responses for all these questions and practiced with a partner. This helped me feel confident during the actual interview.
- Backed up my work – A day before my first application deadline, there was a robbery in my house and my laptop that had all my essays was among the many things stolen. Luckily, I had uploaded my essays on EssaySnark’s website for review and only a few changes that I had done over the last three days were lost. I would strongly suggest everyone to backup all their work with proper version control while drafting the essays.
Wow – another benefit to using EssaySnark – backup services! Glad that horrible pre-application hiccup had a happy ending.
Part 2 of this BSer of the Past’s advice to BSers of the Present will come next week.
And just to comment on how we categorized his industry as “IT” – we are sometimes guilty of overusing the shorthand of “Indian in IT” – thanks for forgiving us that sin! This former BSer does present a more compelling career history than “just” someone in IT, and that certainly makes this entire process easier, in terms of chances of success. If you have done mostly tech / programming stuff and little else, it is going to be harder to show how the MBA is necessary. This wasn’t the biggest obstacle for this particular person, as the background had some interesting elements in evidence.
We’ll post the conclusion of this set of advice soon.