MBA Applicant Interview with RoadToMyMBA

Click here for more MBA applicant interviews!This interview is the latest in an blog series featuring interviews with MBA applicant bloggers, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at the MBA application process. And now…introducing our anonymous blogger, RoadToMyMBA…

Accepted: First, can you tell us a little about yourself? Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? What is your current job? 

RoadToMyMBA: Hi, I’m a 26 year old financial consultant from Brazil. I have a BA degree in international relations from a private university here in my city and I’ve also studied economics for 3 years in another university but did not obtain this second bachelor’s degree since I’ve put my registration as “on-hold.”

I currently work for a Big 4 consulting firm in the corporate finance area. I work with valuation, M&A and long-term fundraising projects with companies of various sizes throughout Brazil. I’ve been working here for about 4 years and right now I’m a Senior Consultant.

Accepted: Where do you plan on applying to b-school? 

RoadToMyMBA: I’m planning to apply exclusively to US MBA programs and right now I’m narrowing my choices, but they are between Tuck, Stern, Darden, Fuqua, McCombs, Kenan-Flagler and Kelley. I know it’s a lot of options but it’s a hard decision, especially for me that can’t travel to the campus and to the best MBA events in USA. I’m doing my best to make the right choice.

Accepted: What attracts you to the U.S. programs, as opposed to other top schools in Europe or Asia? 

RoadToMyMBA: When I was younger (15 years old to be precise) I had the opportunity to live in the USA for one year as a high school exchange student. Since then, I’ve thought to come back and live in the USA for a longer period.

Another important aspect is how well renowned the American universities are in business education. I’m looking forward to studying with some bright students and world-class faculty.

Accepted: What stage of the application process are you up to so far? What has been the most challenging step and how did you work to overcome it? 

RoadToMyMBA: I’m pretty much in the beginning of my application. I truly believe that I will only be able to apply in the second round for all MBA programs I’ve chosen so far.

The most challenging step so far is the GMAT. I did my first GMAT test two weeks ago and scored a low 560. Right now I’m back to studies since I’m planning to retake the GMAT in mid-November.

Accepted: Do you plan on staying in your current industry post-MBA, or changing to a new field/career? 

RoadToMyMBA: I would like to change my career to work in the financial sector, such as investment banking or private equity more precisely. Since I work as a corporate finance consultant, the change will not be very hard. At least that is what I think…

Accepted: Why did you decide to blog about your experience? What have you gained from the experience? What do you hope others will learn? 

RoadToMyMBA: The main reason is to help others in the same situation as me (professionals coming from emerging countries that want to do a top notch MBA abroad and needing some help in the process).

The other reasons are to help improve my communication abilities in English and to make me relax a little bit during the whole process.

For one-on-one guidance on your b-school application, please see our MBA Application Packages.

You can read more about RoadToMyMBA’s b-school journey by checking out his blog, Road to My MBA. Thank you for sharing your story with us – we wish you loads of luck!

Get clear, practical guidelines for answering the MBA goals essay question. Click here to download our free report. Helping You Write Your Best

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MBA Applicant Blogger Interviews
• Financial Aid & Health Insurance for International Students

The GMAT, the GRE, and the Guy Who Knows them Well

Click here to listen to our conversation with Arthur Ahn!If you have the GMAT or GRE in your future, then you’ve most certainly heard of Kaplan Test Prep. Trying to figure out which test to take? Getting ready for test day? This podcast episode is for you!

Listen to the full recording of our podcast interview with Arthur Ahn, Senior Manager, Product Development at Kaplan Test Prep for the GRE and the GMAT for some great insight into test prep, test taking and what matters to admissions committees.

00:01:00 – Linda answers the oft-asked question: “I got accepted to School X. Should I attend?”

00:05:03 – The test prep biz: Instructing students, but not as the enemy.

00:06:23 – What Kaplan offers future GMAT and GRE test-takers.

00:08:28 – GMAT vs GRE: Differences in prepping & test taking.

00:16:04 – Why a low GRE score is the biggest application killer (by far).

00:22:31 – Is it the total GRE Score, or section scores, that make it or break it.

00:28:32 – Arthur’s top 3 GRE prep tips.

00:30:34 – How to make the big GMAT vs GRE decision.

00:34:20 – Too early to assess: Do applicants with lower scores have a better chance of admissions with one test over the other?

00:39:12 – Why most b-schools don’t really care yet about GMAT IR section scores.

00:47:25 – Last minute advice for exam takers.

Listen to the full conversation to learn more!*Theme music is courtesy of

Related Links:

• Kaplan Survey: Two Years After its Launch, a Majority of Business Schools Still Not Sold on the Importance of the GMAT’s® Integrated Reasoning Section; Most Deem it Unimportant, but Students Ignore it at their Own Risk
• What’s the Biggest Graduate School Admissions Application Killer? A Low GRE® Score, According to Kaplan’s 2014 Survey of Admissions Officers
GRE® Test Takers Are Successful in MBA Programs
Kaplan GRE Prep on Twitter
• Kaplan GMAT Prep on Twitter

Related Shows:

• Bruce DelMonico on The Yale School of Management
• Chris Ryan of Manhattan GMAT on What MBA Applicants Need to Know
• Kisses of Death for your Grad School Application

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Learn how to use sample essays to create an exemplary essay of your own! Click here to download our free report!

MBA Interview Must-Know #1: Your Interview Goal

Click here to download a copy of Ace Your MBA Interviews!

Show how your background & needs fit with the school’s strengths & opportunities.

“MBA Interview Must-Know #1: Your Interview Goal” is excerpted from the special report, How to Ace Your MBA Interviews. To download the entire free special report, click here

Your Interview Goal. It’s three-fold:

Show fit. In the words of the Wharton Adcom Blog, “The interviewer is assessing your fit for the Wharton MBA program.” Think of your professional and educational background and needs and the school’s methodology, strengths, and career opportunities. Realize, however, that the interview is not just about you as a professional: it is also about you as an individual and human being.

Inform the school about recent accomplishments and achievements. Did you retake the GMAT? Earn an A in calculus? Get a promotion? Take on a leadership role in a new project? Try to inform your interviewer of any new attainments. Doing so will strengthen your profile overall and portray you as a growing, dynamic individual.

Demonstrate your communications and interpersonal skills. The latter is important for all, but critical if English is your second language and/or your transcript and test scores lead one to question your communications skills.

MBA Interview Tip #1: Enter the interview with SID:

Show you are a match with the program.
Inform the interviewer of recent accomplishments.
Demonstrate your interpersonal skills.

Tips to help you ace those MBA interviews! Helping You Write Your Best

Related Resources:

Leadership in Admissions
• Preparing for Behavioral and General Interview Questions, a short video
• MBA Admissions According to an Expert

What Are My Chances? Indian Architect with Designs on a Real Estate Career

This blog post is part of a series of MBA profile evaluations called “What are My Chances?”  by Michelle Stockman. Michelle, who started consulting for Accepted in 2007 and worked previously in the Columbia Business School admissions office, will provide selected applicants with school recommendation as well as an assessment of their strengths and weaknesses.

If you would like Michelle to evaluate your profile at no charge and as part of this series, please provide the information requested at

PROFILE #7: Lakshya, the Indian architect with designs on a real estate (or energy) career

Click here for to check out the rest of the profiles in the What Are My Chances series!

Think of your app as you would a building you’re designing. Build it for its intended use, and users.

Note: This profile request arrived with very little information. In my evaluation, I’m going to mention “ideal” details that would make him stand out.

-BACKGROUND: 24-year-old Indian male who graduated in 2013 from Dehradun Institute of Technology in India. Six months full-time training at renowned architecture firm. Two years of work experience as a chief designer and team leader for various projects.

Lakshya, you’re on the younger side of the MBA applicant pool. I’m not sure how you could have 24 months of full-time work experience having graduated in 2013. Perhaps you wrapped your class schedule around your job or you’re counting months to matriculation? You need to clarify this.

My advice? Wait.

Unless you have some significant leadership or design accomplishments–you need another year or two of work experience to accrue noteworthy leadership stories for your application. This would also give you time to research and network your target schools.

What leadership stories might stand out? First, be careful about how you word your experience. You must come across as talented, yet humble. A “renowned” architecture firm won’t mean much to an ad comm member. They are going to be impressed by YOUR extraordinary accomplishments in an ordinary job.

So give some context. Seeking an MBA with an architecture background is distinctive. You’re going to be one of the few, if admitted, in a global MBA program. You must be exceptional.

Are you a wunderkind in India’s “green design” field?  Did you introduce a socially conscious kind of design to a building project at your company that saves resources or energy in a country where conservation is a necessity? What was your impact on the job? Or have you come up with an ingenious method using cheap materials at hand to help the disadvantaged build cheap, sturdy shelters as a humanitarian project? Have you shared your experience at architecture conferences around the country?

If not, start now.

-GOALS: Work in the real estate and energy sector.

You obviously know the guts of building. I assume now you want to understand the business side of decision-making–that impacts your design. You must communicate three things with your goals.

1. Make them ambitious: Show the admissions committee that it’s not just about making money, but responsibly developing an overcrowded nation. Inspire them with your ideas for India’s future development.

2. Focus: Real estate and energy are two vast markets. Choose one. Then choose a specific part you want to be involved with. Make it relate to your past.

3. Experience: You must show the admissions committee that you do have some experience working on business deals. This piqued your interest and now you need an MBA to fill in the gaps in your knowledge to achieve your goals.

-GMAT: 720

No breakdown was given, but this is a decent score. You don’t necessarily need to retake the test, especially if you can match yourself well to a program.

-GPA: 3.5

Your GPA comes a bit out of left field because you graduated from an Indian university. Do not feel that you need to translate your percentage score to the 4.0 scale. US and UK MBA programs understand the Indian system well enough to understand your GPA.

Overall it’s a solid GPA.

-EXTRACURRICULAR: Arranging cancer check up camps in my city and giving presentations on cancer awareness.

This is great. I want to know more. Did you come up with this idea? Why? How did you identify the need? How involved were you? For how long? What kind of difference has it made in your community?

Perhaps, you came up with this idea after you or someone close to you was stricken by cancer. You decided to create an awareness campaign that you funded through donations and fundraisers. You are involved in the administration of this program on a weekly basis. You used technology as much as possible to advertise and streamline administration of the program. For example, you convinced a mobile phone service provider to run free text msg. based ads to remind people to get their cancer screenings.

Thanks to this program, “x” number of people have been evaluated, and “x” number of cases were caught in preliminary stages. You’ve shared your plan with, perhaps, a regional hospital system, and they intend to copy the program in several villages.

If you haven’t, begin to think on this scale!


Stretch matches: Berkeley, Stanford, Columbia, Cornell, Duke, Wharton, UCLA

On-par matches: University of Texas – Austin, UNC, USC, Ross, Amity University — RICS School of Built Environment

Safety matches: Warwick, Rice – Jones, Aberdeen Business School, University of Calgary (Haskayne School of Business)

Overall, I write this with the caveat that ALL THESE SCHOOLS ARE STRETCH MATCHES unless you start networking now to get to know alumni, students and the admissions committee. You also need to tailor your application specifically to your target schools. Think of your application as you would any building you are designing. Build it for its intended use, and users.

MBA admissions tips for Indian applicants! Download Free. s
Michelle Stockman is a professional journalist, former Columbia Business School admissions insider, and experienced MBA admissions consultant.


Related Resources:

What are My Chances?: Rahul, the Indian Male IT Guy 
Best MBA Programs: A Guide to Selecting the Right One 

Leadership in Admissions 

Last Call for Columbia Business School Admissions Webinar!

Tomorrow is the day you’ve been waiting for! The day when application-changing tips on how to apply successfully to Columbia Business School will be generously doled out by our very own CEO and founder, Linda Abraham!

Register for our live webinar: Get Accepted to Columbia Business School! Do you have questions on optimizing your CBS application for admission?

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Time’s running out. Reserve your spot for Get Accepted to Columbia Business School before it’s too late. The webinar will air live TOMORROW, on Wednesday, October 29, 2014 at 10:00 AM PST/1:00 PM EST.

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