IV with a UC Berkeley Haas Admitted Student and 2013 MBA Launcher

Check out the rest of our MBA Applicant Interview series!This interview is the latest in an Accepted.com blog series featuring interviews with MBA applicants, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at the MBA application process. And now…introducing Marisa who will be starting at UC Berkeley Haas in the fall.

Accepted: Let’s start with some basics: Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? What is your favorite non-school book?

Marisa: I’m from Santa Barbara, CA, but went to college at Northwestern University, where I majored in Middle East History and International Relations.  My favorite non-school book is “A Thousand Splendid Suns” by Khaled Hosseini — he’s such a powerful storyteller.

Accepted: Congrats on your acceptance to Haas! How would you say that you’re a good fit with the program?

Marisa: Thank you!  I was really attracted to Haas’ four Defining Principles, but particularly “confidence without attitude.”  When I visited the school and spoke with both current and former students, I found this cultural attribute to be absolutely true — these people are rockstars, but they are humble about their accomplishments and eager to collaborate with others.  I think this phrase describes me pretty well.  I’m confident and ambitious but don’t like to be a jerk about it, and I certainly don’t believe that my success should come at the expense of someone else’s. Plus, I truly believe that humility is essential to good leadership, and I like how Haas emphasizes that as a key aspect of their culture

Accepted: Which other b-schools had you considered?

Marisa: I applied to Stanford’s GSB in Round 1, and Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business in Round 2 (but withdrew my application after being accepted to Haas).  I also strongly considered Northwestern’s Kellogg SOM but ultimately decided I did not want to return to Evanston.  I don’t like to repeat experiences, even though I’m sure Kellogg itself would have differed from undergrad.  Also, it’s freezing.  But we’ll pretend that wasn’t a serious factor…

Accepted: What are you most looking forward to in starting b-school in the fall?

Marisa: I’m most looking forward to meeting my classmates and hearing about their experiences and goals for the future.  I’m also looking forward to some of the experiential education opportunities at Haas, like the International Business Development course and Social Sector Solutions consultancy.  As a history major, I rarely had the opportunity to directly tie my classroom learning to practical applications, so I look forward to learning new material in class and then applying it on projects right away.

Accepted: You have a really interesting work history — currently at Deloitte and previously at the FBI. First, can you tell us about what you did at the FBI (if you’re allowed…), and then, how did that lead you to Deloitte, and where do see yourself working post-MBA?

Marisa: My work history sounds more interesting than it is!  I was a strategic intelligence analyst in the FBI’s counterterrorism division, where I basically conducted research and wrote papers (sounds like a history major, right?).  The intelligence products I wrote, and briefings that I gave to decisionmakers, theoretically helped guide investigations of terrorist activity.  I did have some cool experiences (briefed the Director a couple times and traveled internationally to brief some partner agencies), but ultimately I found the pace a little slow and the bureaucracy more than a little maddening.  I was also far from the action on the ground, so I didn’t feel like I was able to have a true impact in my role.  Ultimately, it just wasn’t the right fit.

I saw consulting as an opportunity to help organizations like my previous employer address the issues that get in the way of executing their missions effectively. So last January I joined Deloitte as a consultant in their Federal Practice here in DC, where I have been working with IC clients on things like strategic planning and business process improvement. I have also been heavily involved with the Federal Women’s Initiative (WIN), founding and leading the WIN Gen Y team focused on engaging and empowering junior women professionals in the Federal Practice. Deloitte is a great company and I’ve learned a ton, but I feel ready to take the next step in my career with an MBA.  Post-Haas, I see myself working in international development consulting, helping organizations create positive social and economic impacts in emerging markets (specifically, in the Middle East).

Accepted: Can you tell us about your experience as a 2013 MBA Launcher? And what about your experience with Forte? Are these programs that you’d recommend to other b-school applicants?

Marisa: I really enjoyed participating in the pilot Forte MBALaunch program.  For those who are unfamiliar, Forte Foundation established this program to help MBA-interested women navigate the application process, from identifying target schools to acing the GMAT to executing on essays and interviews.  In 2013, the program was launched in New York, DC, and Chicago and included an in-person kick-off event, monthly webinars, a personal advisor, placement in a peer group of other MBALaunch women, and attendance at a local Forte-sponsored MBA fair.

I found the monthly webinars, particularly the ones that forced me to really think about my “story” and how to present myself to the admissions committee, to be extremely helpful.  I don’t think I would have had quite the edge I needed without that guidance.  Plus, since the program started in January, it forced me to start thinking about the process very early, and then kept me on track for Round 1 submissions.

When I applied to the program, I was most excited about being paired with an advisor — a woman who had received her MBA and would help me through the application process.  However, I ended up finding the peer mentorship of my fellow MBALaunch women to be even more impactful.  My advisor provided some necessary tough love and advice — like insisting I consider retaking the GMAT when that was the last thing I wanted to do, which led me to improve my score by 30 points.  But my peer group provided me nearly constant support.  We shared resources, read each others’ essays, and advised one another when we ran into challenges.  In fact, even though the program has officially ended, we’re still getting together soon to help one of our members make her enrollment decision.

Overall, I had a really positive experience with MBALaunch and the awesome Forte women who run the program.  I hope to continue my involvement with Forte in the future.

Accepted: As someone who applied successfully to b-school, you must have some good tips to share. Can you offer 2-3 tips for our readers?

Marisa: Every applicant is different, but I can offer some general tips that worked for me:

1. Get beyond the rankings lists.  Really think about what you want, and what characteristics are important to you — class size, location, specific focus areas or experiences, recruitment relationships, etc.  It’s not as obvious as you’d think, so talk to those people in your life who know you best and can help you figure out what aspects of a program to prioritize.  And keep an open mind — your dream school might just surprise you.

2. Talk to current students at the schools you’re considering before you start your applications, especially if you’re unable to visit campus before applying.  Not only will this help you get a feel for a school’s culture and determine whether it’s a good prospect for you, but it will also help you target your essays and guide your recommenders in a way that demonstrates your fit with the school.  Speaking of guiding your recommenders…

3. Have candid conversations with your recommenders about why you’re applying to MBA programs, why you’re a fit with the schools you’ve chosen, and what questions they need to address in your recommendations.  I put together packets of logistical and background information for my recommenders, including deadlines, instructions, the specific questions (if available), and context on what I was hoping to get out of an MBA at each school.  Some recommenders will want you to write your own recommendations — resist the urge, and push back!  You can offer to provide as much or as little support they need in terms of brainstorming content and keeping them on track with deadlines, but ultimately the best recommendations are genuine.  If someone doesn’t want to write your rec themselves, they’re probably not the best person for the job.

4. Visit campuses in the spring before you apply!  I totally didn’t do this and wished I had, because many schools don’t open for tours prior to the R1 deadlines.

5. Be sure to take breaks to be with friends and talk about something — anything! — besides b-school.  When you’re head-down in applications with deadlines approaching, it’s tempting to shut everyone and everything out.  The whole process can become an obsession very quickly, so this is way easier said than done, but totally worth keeping in mind.

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Interview with Arun Prasad: An Accepted EMBA Applicant

Download free: Against the Odds: MBA Admissions for Indian ApplicantsThis interview is the latest in an Accepted.com blog series featuring interviews with MBA applicant bloggers, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at the MBA application process. And now…introducing Arun Prasad who will be starting at IIM-Calcutta’s PGPEX-VLM Executive Program in the fall.

Accepted: We’d like to get to know you! Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad?

Arun: My name is Arun Prasad. I’m from Bangalore, India. I did my Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering from MVJ College of Engineering, Bangalore. I presently work for Cessna Aircraft Company in Bangalore. I have about 6 years of work experience in Design, Analysis and Manufacturing.

Accepted: Congrats on your acceptance to IIM-Calcutta’s PGPEX-VLM Executive Program! Why did you choose that program? How is it the best program for you?

Arun: Thank you. I’ve always wanted to do a program that has a right balance between technical and management side of business. Something like a dual degree program. My initial Google search pointed me towards the MIT’s LGO (Leaders for Global Operations) and this happened to be my dream school. There were a couple of other schools like the Michigan Ross Tauber Institute and Kellogg’s MMM program and of course the PGPEX-VLM program.

I made a decision to choose PGPEX-VLM on various factors such as “Program Fit,” post MBA career goals, Batch size, Cost and Duration of the Program, Return on Investment, etc.

PGPEX-VLM (Visionary Leadership in Manufacturing) happens to be the perfect blend of technical competence along with right management and business skills. PGPEX-VLM is jointly conducted by IIM-Calcutta, IIT-Kanpur and IIT-Madras along with few industry consortiums like the CII, JICA and the governments of India and Japan.

IIM-Calcutta, which is one of the country’s best and oldest B-school imparts the Business and Management skills whereas the IIT’s, which is the country’s best technical institution (IIT-Kanpur and IIT-Madras) imparts the technical skills. So, PGPEX-VLM just happened to be the right program for me and I did not apply anywhere else.

Accepted: What is your current job? Why are you pursuing an MBA at this stage of your career? What do you plan on doing post-MBA — will you stay in your current industry and move to another field?

Arun: I work as a Manufacturing Engineer for Cessna. I do the Process Planning for Aircraft Sheet metal components and assemblies. It’s a purely technical role that I am in. Somewhere within me there is an itching that I want to do something more than planning how to manufacture Aircraft parts. I felt I must be associated with an operations role or on the strategy side of business. Though I work as a part of the Integrated Supply Chain in Cessna, I’m not involved in making Supply Chain decisions. This is when I gave a thought of doing a MBA and PGPEX-VLM happened to be the right program for me.

Post MBA, I would wish to venture into the Supply Chain side of business and I’m looking at few consulting positions as well. One of the reasons I chose Supply Chain is that, irrespective of industry, there are always challenges. I am highly interested in Defense Procurement as well.

Accepted: Can you talk about your experience with online courses? How has taken MOOCs influenced your Executive MBA goals?

Arun: Online courses are really cool. It all started when I saw a TED talk show of Daphne Koller (Founder of Coursera). Being a working professional, I’ve always felt the need to learn and keep learning. These MOOCs are a boon for working professionals. It is such a great platform to take the world’s best course, right at your home, at your convenience, and for free!! I signed up for a couple of courses from Wharton, University of Michigan and Stanford and I was awed. The same course is taught by the same professors for regular full time MBA students at top b-schools though a little variations do exists considering class size.

I’m the kind of a person who first likes to try and then decide. I took these MOOCs to have a firsthand experience of what to expect in a b-school and whether the subjects/concepts resonate with my thinking. It did. So, taking these MOOC has had an influence in my decision to pursue an MBA program.

Accepted: What would you say was your greatest challenge in the application process? What steps did you take to overcome that challenge?

Arun: PGPEX-VLM is one unique program and so is the application. Apart from regular MBA application elements like test scores, essays, and interviews, PGPEX-VLM has a aptitude test that tests the candidates on the fundamentals of Engineering (after all, it’s a techno-managerial program). The aptitude test had a wide range of topics from higher mathematics, to differentiation and integration to matrices and statistics to mechanical engineering to electronics to electrical engineering to even computer science concepts. Pretty much everything that falls under engineering. This was my greatest challenge. So, I started reviewing my engineering fundamentals and my GRE preparation helped me the verbal and quant section. I also took help from my fiancé, Gayathri, who is pursuing her Masters in Electronics engineering to review electronics and electrical engineering fundamentals :). So, I had taken lot of time to review engineering fundamentals.

Another challenging area for me was essays. There were 2 essays and this was a challenging part for me. Firstly because I was very new to this and then there were tons of consultants who supposedly offer services for reviewing and editing essays for top b-schools. Going through the testimonials of these essay editing admission consultants was quite intimating. The only investment I did was I bought MBA Admission for Smarties by Linda Abraham. I think instructions in that are pretty clear and straightforward. I read that book a hundred times before I drafted my essays and kept fine-tuning it for a month. I showed it to my family and got their feedback. My father-in-law’s feedback proved to be highly useful and many changes were incorporated based on his suggestions. So, to review essays, one need not really take help of essay editing services. Family and friends could offer the best critique and sometimes bring in a fresh look that sometimes others easily miss out.

Accepted: Can you share some EMBA application tips with our readers? What are some tools or resources that you used to help guide you through the process?

Arun: 1. Self Introspection: Before choosing to do a MBA/EMBA program, a lot of introspection is to be done. There is a significant amount of cost and time involved in a MBA program. So, it’s worth to do introspection till we find clear answers. Just keep asking yourself if an MBA is something that you really want to do. Why MBA? Why not something else? Why now? What would happen if I didn’t do an MBA? This type of introspection and self-interrogation could lead to some clear answers.

2. B-School Selection Matrix: We all know that top b-schools follow a holistic approach in selecting candidates for their programs. Like, no admission decision is made solely on GPA or GMAT score or essays. Similarly, while choosing a program, as candidates, we need to have a holistic and a realistic approach, not just ranking of the b-school. Various factors to consider for a b-school before joining is whether it’s a one-year MBA or a two-year MBA, location (India or abroad), class size, class diversity, post MBA goals, “Program Fit”, cost of the program, return on investment. I had written a blog post titled “B-School Selection Matrix” in which I evaluate various b-schools of my choice and make a qualitative decision. It’s like, I design my own personalized b-school rankings.

3. Profile Building: The decision to pursue an MBA most likely shouldn’t be an overnight decision and it’s not possible to build an MBA profile overnight. I think profile building should be the first step in preparing your b-school application even ahead of taking the GMAT. You just need to get into the league of MBA applications, be aware of various schools, follow admission officers’ blogs and even applicant and student blogs, sign up for newsletters, etc. I had written a blog post titled “MBA profile Building” on this. Those who have weak communication can sign up for few courses to improve communication. Those having problems with GMAT should change their browser home page to www.gmatclub.com. Those who haven’t had a chance to display leadership skills at their workplace, may choose to organize a few events or show leadership skills in other events, like even sports. So, profile building is a long evolving process and one must start early and invest time on this.

When it comes to resources, I had purchased MBA Admission for Smarties by Linda Abraham. This book is great. I had also purchased Beyond MBA Hype by Sameer Kamat. There are some great resources out there on the net. I religiously followed Accepted.com blogs and used to attend several webinars. So, following these blogs, network of current students, following the newsletters of your target schools, following admission officer’s blog – these are some priceless resources and one must make use of these as much as possible.

Accepted: Can you tell us about your blog? Who is your target audience? How have you benefited from the blogging experience?

Arun: The idea and thought that I must write a blog can be attributed to Accepted.com. I have seen several hundred applicant bloggers and student bloggers who have been sharing their experience. So, I decided to have my own blog.

I don’t have a target audience as such, but I write about GRE, higher education, MBA, MOOC, etc. So, if anyone is thinking about writing their own blog and needs some source of inspiration – they are my target audience!!

I have largely benefited from reading these blogs. Reading these blogs and the experiences have kept me going at difficult times and they serve as a source of motivation. Learning from others experience is one of the best learning ever. I follow a lot of applicant bloggers and benefit from their blog. So, this has been my biggest benefit from blogging.

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

You can read more about Arun’s b-school journey by checking out his blog, Aroundynamics.  Thank you Arun for sharing your story with us!

MBA admissions tips for Indian applicants! [Download Free]

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Hugo: A Pharmacist from Spain Applying to Top U.S. B-Schools

Read more MBA applicant blogger interviews!We’d like to introduce you to Hugo, a pharmacist from Spain who will be applying to top MBA programs in the U.S. in the fall of 2014. Read our interview with Hugo below, as well as his blog, Under Prescription: MBA & Pharmacy, to learn more about Hugo’s b-school adventure. Thank you Hugo for sharing your story with us!

Accepted: We’d like to get to know you! Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? What is your favorite non-school book?

Hugo: I am from Bilbao, a mid-sized city in northern Spain, but I’ve lived in Madrid since I was 18. I moved in order to study Pharmacy at Complutense University, and remained here ever since.

It would be difficult for me to just name one favourite book. One of them would definitely be The Lord of The Rings, I am a big fan since I was 11. The others could be The Feast of the Goat by Mario Vargas-LLosa and 1984 by George Orwell.

Accepted: What is your current job (industry/function)? Do you plan on continuing in that field after you receive your MBA?

Hugo: I am a third year Resident Pharmaceutical Intern at one of the major hospitals in Spain, specializing in Hospital Pharmacy. After the MBA, I do want my career to remain related to the Healthcare field, because it has always been my passion, but I would like to have the opportunity to work one of the big pharmaceutical or biotechnological companies. Many of them have great Leadership Development Programs in which I am definitely interested.

Nevertheless, I cannot deny that, at some point, I would also like to start my own company. Although the latter is more of a long-term goal.

Accepted: What stage of the MBA application process are you up to at this point? What would you say has been your greatest challenge so far? How did you work to overcome that challenge?

Hugo: I am on a quite early stage of the process. I have already taken the GMAT and, currently I am preparing to take my TOEFL exam within the next month, and also doing some research about the schools. So I would say GMAT has been the hardest part so far.

In any case, I am aware that the biggest challenges are still ahead of me; first and foremost, writing the different sets of essays corresponding to each one of the schools I end up applying to. Therefore, I will start to prepare and write them as soon as I can, so I don’t end up being rushed by a time constraint, and I am able to take my time and do a good job.

Accepted: Looks like you did great on your GMAT – 710 – congrats! Can you share a few tips with our readers?

Hugo: Thank you! I did very well and I am very happy with it, although I always have the feeling I could have done even better.

In my opinion, the first thing any potential test taker has to be clear about is the fact that you have to take it seriously and that it is an exam that will take a great amount of your free time to prepare, and even a bigger one if you want to get to 700. Besides, I believe that it helps when you like it, because it becomes easier for you to commit time to study and it requires a not-so-big effort on your part. I did like the exam, for me every question was a little challenge, and that motivated me to find the logic behind each one of them and always look for better way to solve them and do it faster.

I would also recommend rest properly. It is an exam that will definitely penalize the test taker if he shows up unprepared. In order to solve the questions, particularly when considering a high-difficulty level, you have to take into account very small details that are very easy to overlook if you are not focused. It is very obvious when you are tired, because you start rushing the answers and thus failing a far greater percentage of the questions you take than you usually do.

Accepted: Where are you applying? Why would you say you’re drawn to the U.S. schools as opposed to ones closer to home?

Hugo: I am still deciding to which schools I am going to apply, although I am almost certain there are a few of them, such as Tuck, Stanford or Fuqua, that will make the final cut. In any case, I do know that location will not be a critical factor and that I prefer smaller classes and close communities.

My interest in attending a business school located in the US is based on several factors. First of all, most top European schools only offer one-year MBAs (I think IESE and LBS are the only ones to offer a two-year degree), and I believe a two-year program, summer-internship-opportunity included, better suits my career-changing plans. Besides, I have always been very attracted to the American culture, and since the MBA offers an opportunity for a unique and, in some aspects, potentially life-changing experience, I think I would make the most of it if I step out of my comfort-zone, and move to another continent, into a very different culture. If I stayed “at home”, so to speak, I would have the feeling that I am missing something.

Accepted: Can you tell us about your blog? Who is your target audience? What have you gained from the blogging experience?

Hugo: I have always had the idea to create a blog, maybe about music or cinema, two of my biggest passions, but never really tried, until I discovered a blog by a recent MBA graduate where he shares his two year experience at Chicago Booth. That blogger provided a glimpse of what those two years could mean and while reading I realized that, in fact, this could be a great topic to write about: a Spanish pharmacist who wants to enter a top MBA program in the US.

At first, I had the intention for my blog to cover more diverse topics, but it has ended being an MBA-centric blog, at least for the time being. Nevertheless, now that I have started with the blogging, I plan to create another one, when I have the time, to write about my other interests.

What I have gained from it that I value the most is that it has helped me get in touch with other applicants, some of them also bloggers,  who are in the same situation I am in: preparing to apply or just applied. This has allowed us to share our experiences, our thoughts on the application process or the schools, and to support each other through a very daunting process like this is. Most of them are in a more advanced stage of their way to get into a top MBA program, and thus I have been able to learn a lot from their personal stories that will help me when I apply next fall.

And that is what I want to achieve with my blog: to share my story and the information I gather with those considering the same path or who are in an earlier stage of the application process. Although, I appreciate anyone who takes the time to enter and read what I write, interested in doing an MBA himself or just curious.

I would also say that since, in order to being able to write and blog about every event I attend or every school I am considering, I have to do a little bit of deep thinking and soul searching, it will help me when I have to start with my essays.

Do you want to be featured in Accepted.com’s blog, Accepted Admissions Blog? If you want to share your MBA/EMBA journey with the world (or at least with our readers), email us at mbabloggers@accepted.com.

Learn about healthcare management’s past, present, and future.

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Manasseh: Investment Manager, Doctor and MBA Applicant

Want to read more? We’d like to introduce you to Manasseh, b-school applicant, doctor, investment manager, and blogger at The MBA Journey of an African Doctor. Enjoy Manasseh’s unique journey below!

Accepted: We’d like to get to know you! Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? Do you hold any other degrees? What sort of doctor are you?

Manasseh: I am from Nigeria. Got my undergraduate degree, as a medical doctor, also from Nigeria. I am what you will refer to as a general practitioner i.e. I did not specialize. I don’t have any other degree but I have the CFA charter.

Accepted: Why are you pursuing an MBA at this stage of your career? What do you plan on doing post-MBA?

Manasseh: Honestly, I should have applied a little earlier, but I was not financially stable because of my young family and a few challenges along the way. I have gotten to the peak of my career as an investment manager, and I believe that it is now time to bring my knowledge of two disparate industries, healthcare and finance, together. I want to work at the intersection between finance and healthcare to bring healthcare delivery to the poorest in Africa.

Now is also the right time to acquire the skills that will help me to achieve this goal because Nigeria has been privatizing different sectors of the economy in order to improve the quality of services. Telecommunications and the electricity sector have been privatized and it will soon be the turn of the health sector. I want to be ready when that happens.

Accepted: I see you’re considering top b-schools in the U.S. (HBS, Wharton, and Stanford), as well as INSEAD. What would you say are the pros and cons of studying in a U.S. institution versus a European school?

Manasseh: Most US institutions have two year MBA courses, which allow the students time to really reflect about their post-MBA goals and to also assimilate the curriculum. However, this may not be too good for an older candidate like me who may want to quickly integrate back into the system because emerging markets such as the ones in Africa are changing very rapidly and six months may be a very long time away. Most European institutions are one year accelerated MBA programs that cut down this time to 10 – 12 months. However, I am not afraid to be away for such a long time because I don’t think two years is enough to get a lot of traction in the health sector in Africa, given some other factors that are currently playing out.

A two year MBA course will allow me the time to really imbibe the required skills that I need to get to the next level.

Accepted: What would you say has been your greatest challenge so far in the application process? What steps did you take to overcome that challenge?

Manasseh: My greatest challenge in the application process was getting the Transcript. In most parts of Africa, academic records are still kept in paper files. It also becomes a little complicated for someone like me who graduated from the university about 8 years ago because papers get missing and results disappear. It took me a solid 11 months to get my Transcript. I actually got it about three days before the INSEAD Round 2 deadlines. It was the non-availability of the transcript that stopped me from applying for the INSEAD Round 1.

I could have said GMAT was the most challenging because I took it three times but that was entirely under my control since I got a 670 on the first try and I knew that a 700 was just at arm’s length but the transcript was entirely out of my control, and it also took soooo long.

Accepted: As an international applicant and a doctor from West Africa, you certainly have an edge when it comes to the diversity factor that b-schools seek. How have you worked that into your application strategy?

Manasseh: Trust me, I really brought out all the factors that I believe would make me standout. An international applicant, a medical doctor, an investment manager with a CFA charter, CIO of a fund worth over $2 billion and a very personal unique factor. I worked everything into the application strategy right from personal experiences when I was 9 and how all of them came together to the end where I hope to be a major player at the intersection between finance and healthcare in a potential $100 billion industry in sub-Sahara Africa.

If anything would work against me, it would be my age (I am in my mid 30s), my poor academic performance and three tries at the GMAT (which I was able to explain since I had to finance myself through medical school because of my family’s financial circumstances, and my ability to pass all three CFA exams at one sitting each).

Accepted: Can you offer some advice to our international applicant readers here?

Manasseh: Most international applicants, especially from sub-Sahara Africa who spent their whole lives in Africa tend to be older candidates. This can discourage them especially with so many blogs out there that claim that your chances are near zero once you are over 30.

I think the Adcoms would understand that we have a different way of life. Some of us have to contend with difficult conditions such as incessant university lecturers’ strikes, poor infrastructures (I practically did 90% of my studies for the GMAT and CFA exams using candles), and many of us have to travel many hours by road or by air just to take the GMAT.

I would advise such applicants to look for a way to get really personal. We do not have opportunities that are taken for granted in the West. International applicants should look for a way to really work all these into their stories, and make them understand that it is much harder to attain certain things in life in an environment like ours where poverty rate hovers around 70% and unemployment rate is stuck at 25%.

Accepted: Can you tell us about your blog? Who is your target audience? How have you benefited from the blogging experience?

Manasseh: My blog address is www.knightmba.com. I call myself a knight because of what I want to achieve in the future. Sub-Sahara Africa is my lady. I started the blog because I know that an MBA will provide a powerful turning point in my life especially if I get into my dream school (well, my dream school changes every day, so pardon me if I cannot tell you which one it is right now). I look forward to business school and putting down all my thoughts. Maybe my experience will inspire many other Africans to get the same experience so that we can all work together to push our mother continent beyond the place where our fathers have brought her to.

Free advice to steer you through the 9 critical decision points in the MBA admissions process.

Do you want to be featured in Accepted.com’s blog, Accepted Admissions Blog? If you want to share your MBA/EMBA journey with the world (or at least with our readers), email us at mbabloggers@accepted.com.

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Aiming for a R2 Admit to Booth or Kellogg: IV with ‘fromgmattomba’

Check out our 26 fantastic tips on every single aspect of the MBA admissions process!We’d like to introduce you to our next blogger, fromgmattomba, an anonymous MBA applicant who describes himself as “a pretty average dude” with a mission to attend one of his top choice b-schools. Thank you fromgmattomba for sharing your story with us – we wish you loads of luck! (Readers: Don’t forget to check out the fromgmattomba blog!)

Accepted:  First, can you tell us a little about yourself? Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? What’s your favorite movie?

fromgmattomba: A little bit about me – I’m originally from Austin, TX, and in undergrad I studied Economics at the University of Texas. It’s tough to pick just one favorite movie (I probably have several in each genre), but one that I’ll always watch is Pulp Fiction, it’s a classic.

Accepted: What stage of the MBA admission process are you up to so far? Where do you plan on applying? Will you apply to safety schools?

fromgmattomba: Right now I’m applying to my R2 schools (Booth and Kellogg), having already taken the GMAT and having already been dinged at both R1 schools (Columbia and Wharton). All four are definitely reach schools for my profile and I don’t really plan on applying to safety schools this year. My contingency plan is to reapply next year with a broader application process if things don’t pan out this year, but since I have a bit of time on my side I am only applying to my absolute top schools this year.

Accepted: How do you plan to compensate for a “low-ish” (as you put it) GPA? Do you have a strategy worked out?

fromgmattomba: Hmm, I think it’s tough to compensate for really, but one tried and true option is to retake an accredited course and ace it. Unfortunately, since I had to retake the GMAT over the summer, I didn’t have time to take a course to bolster my profile before application season (and all the essay writing that goes with it). So this has now become part of my reapp strategy, and something that I plan to point to as my “what is different about you now?” piece that most reapplicants need to address.

Accepted: Congrats on your amazing GMAT score! What would you say are your top 3 GMAT test prep tips?

fromgmattomba: It wasn’t easy, but I firmly believe that if I can do it, anyone can. I think there are some stats out there that back me up, regarding hours put in and score results. Anyway, my top 3 test prep tips:

1. Trust your test prep on test day (don’t try something crazy).

2. Targeted studying is vital.

3. Remain constantly aware of your time spent per question and the likelihood you’ll get it right with additional time .

Mastering this trade off, for me, was the whole point of the test (executive decision making and all that).

Accepted: Can you tell us about your blog? When and why did you start blogging? What have you gained from the experience so far?

fromgmattomba: I started my blog a little after my very first GMAT test, but the reason I started it was so people could follow a pretty average dude through the whole MBA application process. The idea is that I will give a detailed look at everything involved in the process, good and bad, while maintaining enough anonymity to speak candidly about each school. I wanted people to understand me and my applicant profile and I also wanted it to be entertaining and informative, something people could relate to. Ideally, I hope it’s a blog that helps people get/stay motivated to take on their own MBA journey, but it’s also a little self-serving as a space for me to vent :).

One of the most surprising things about starting this blog is the community of fellow MBA applicant-bloggers that I’ve met and chatted with. It’s a very welcoming and friendly community (shout out to Bschool Admit, CaveGirlMBA, Coffee Beans and Tea Leaves, Domotron, TheMBAStory, expectingmbamilf, hamm0 and everyone else who has commented on/liked/encouraged my blog)!

Do you want to be featured in Accepted.com’s blog, Accepted Admissions Blog? If you want to share your MBA/EMBA journey with the world (or at least with our readers), email us at mbabloggers@accepted.com.

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Aiming for IMD? An Admitted Student Shares His Story and Advice

Check out the rest of our MBA Student Interviews! We’d like to introduce you to our next blogger, Marcelo, who begins his one-year MBA program at IMD in just a few months. You can read about Marcelo’s MBA journey in our interview below, as well as at his blog, Marshmallow’s IMD MBA Experience. Best of luck to you Marcelo – we look forward to following your IMD experience!

Accepted: We’d like to get to know you! Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? What have you been doing (work-wise or otherwise) since you graduated?

Marcelo: First off, thank you for inviting me to be a part of this great blog series. My name is Marcelo – I am an easy-going, soccer-loving Brazilian. Throughout my life I’ve lived in a bunch of different places. Before coming to Switzerland, I lived in the United States for 12 years, and before that I lived in London for 4. Each of these places has left an impression on me, and contributed to my desire to see more of what the world has to offer.

During my undergrad I studied Economics at the University of Chicago, and went on to work in analytics and reporting in the mortgage industry for 7 years. I worked at Fannie Mae, Countrywide and Bank of America. As you can imagine I had a pretty eventful few years getting through the financial crisis! Despite all the uncertainty, it proved to be a valuable learning experience. I was exposed to very distinct business environments – the bullish times, the downturn, and the beginning of the recovery.

Accepted: Congrats on your acceptance to IMD! Why did you choose IMD? How would you say you’re a good fit for that program?

Marcelo: Thank you! I am very excited to start the program at IMD. There were a few things that were important to me about an MBA program, and I feel IMD will check all of the boxes. I was looking for a school that would best help me develop my leadership skills, and I was impressed by IMD’s approach. Throughout the year there is an ongoing focus on self-reflection and soft-skill development, including writing an “autobiographical” document, and even meeting with a psychoanalyst to discuss how to improve as a person and as a leader. I really like how the small class size leads to a very personalized experience, including continuous individualized feedback. I believe this approach will complement my somewhat technical background very well.

From a recruitment perspective, IMD’s placement track record and close affinity to industry were a big considerations for me, given my interest in breaking into the consumer products business. Also, coming into the program at 31 years old, I also appreciated that IMD favors slightly older, more experienced candidates. I didn’t necessarily mind going into a class where I would be one of the older students, but at IMD my peers will be at about the same stage in their lives and their careers as I am in mine. I believe it will help us all relate to each other more deeply. I also really like that every single one of the 90 students has had major international exposure, having lived or worked in different countries. All the different perspectives should be conducive to some great class discussions.

Accepted: Did you only apply to European b-schools? Which other programs were you considering?

Marcelo: Yes, I did only apply to European schools. I was looking for a way to give my career a more international dimension. I’ve lived a pretty international life, but I felt my career path in the US was steering me away from that. I thought European schools offered me the best opportunity to gain work experience in a different country, and put my professional life on a more international track. Also – although it wasn’t the main consideration – I also liked the potential of going into a one-year program.

I considered mostly the top European programs: IMD, INSEAD, London Business School, IESE and Oxford. With the timing of the applications, I submitted applications to IMD and Oxford first. After going through the IMD assessment day I was totally confident it was the right fit for me, so I was really hoping I would get in. It was a long several days waiting for their decision! Luckily I was accepted, and in the end I never got to submit the other three applications.

Accepted: Your course starts in just a few months — what are you most looking forward to? Is there anything you’re not looking forward to?

Marcelo: Based on everything I have heard about IMD, there are a lot of things to look forward to! I am most excited about meeting my classmates. I’ve met a few of them during my assessment day, and they were all extremely talented and accomplished. IMD puts so much time and effort into recruiting the right 90 candidates each year, I feel like every interaction will be a learning opportunity. I want to take full advantage of this experience.

I am also very excited about IMD’s practical, real-world approach to learning. As part of the coursework we will have opportunities to work with senior-level leadership and help solve real problems for both start-ups and established business. We will have opportunities to present to, and interact with, high-level executives from a variety of companies who attend executive programs at IMD. I am excited to see all the different tasks and activities IMD will have for me.

Sadly, there are things I am not looking forward to as well. The biggest one by far is that I will spend a lot less time with my family. It will be especially hard since my wife and I are expecting our first baby. I will want to be there with her at every moment, but I know I won’t be able to.

By all accounts, the IMD MBA is very intense. It sounds like knowing how to balance all the coursework, activities and personal life can be tough. One thing I do worry about is the constant fear of missing out – for example, I don’t want to regret going to a certain presentation when I could have been at home with my wife. Hopefully I will quickly learn how to juggle everything and find the right equilibrium.

Accepted: Do you plan on staying in Switzerland/Europe post-MBA?

Marcelo: Yes, I would like to stay in Europe for at least a few years after the MBA. Ideally, I would take a position in a multi-national company with a presence in the United States and/or Brazil. After a few years of getting to know the business, working through the ranks and building my network, I may then be in a position to look for opportunities for international mobility within that company.

In the short run I am pretty flexible as far as geography goes, and I am looking to identify the right company, gain the best possible experience and put myself in the best position for career advancement. Thankfully my wife is also flexible and willing to go to different places with me, so this is an exciting opportunity for us as a family to have some unique life experiences together.

Accepted: What would you say are your three top tips for b-school applicants?

Marcelo:

1. Understand your goals

Even if you can’t name a specific position in a specific company that you want to get into, you should know your “story,” i.e. how you will connect your past experience to whatever you want to do in the future. You should be able to explain how the skills you already have, and the skills you will gain in your MBA will help you succeed in a new industry, a different geography, a higher position, etc. Obviously the MBA needs to be part of that story, and every school will want you to tell them how they will help you reach your goals.

2. Do your homework.

There are so many great MBA programs out there, it can be overwhelming to know which one is the best fit. It’s easy to look at a school’s ranking number and decide that’s a good enough reason to apply there. It’s important to a) understand why a school is ranked where it is, and pay special attention to what its strengths and weaknesses are, so you can see if that program will line up well with your goals and development needs; and b) gain as much knowledge as possible about a school’s culture, personality and teaching style.

I suggest attending MBA fairs, reaching out to alumni and current students, reading blogs etc. That way you will get a better sense of what life in that school is really like and will start to see if you can see yourself there.

3. Accomplishments, accomplishments, accomplishments.

Every school wants to know what you have accomplished, which is not the same as what you have done. You should be able to showcase how you have added value in your work life (or even in your personal life). Whether that came from bringing people together, improving processes, etc – the school wants to see what outcomes came about as a result of your actions, not simply a list of the tasks you go through each day at work.

Accepted: What was the most challenging aspect of the MBA admissions process? What step(s) did you take to overcome that challenge?

Marcelo: To me, the toughest aspect was the sheer amount of time that I needed to dedicate to my applications. I wanted to make sure I submitted the best possible applications that really represented my best self. I knew that if I didn’t take the process seriously, I could end up looking back and having major regrets if I got dinged by my top choice schools. I’d wish I had studied a bit harder for the GMAT instead of going to happy hours, or wish I had spent those extra couple of hours proofreading my essays instead of watching the hockey game. By knowing I did my very best, I’d be sure that if I got a rejection letter, it just wasn’t meant to be.

To overcome this challenge it was important to keep the end goal in mind. I found it helpful to keep in mind the things I am trying to accomplish, the career I am trying to build. I tried to think of every detail in the application as a step in the right direction, and make the MBA applications a priority.

No question though, the biggest help for me was having a supportive partner who motivated me when I felt like I couldn’t be bothered anymore. She understood what a good opportunity a top MBA would be for us as a family. With her help I was able to organize my schedule, stay away from distractions, and spend the right amount of time to get the applications just right.

Accepted: Can you tell us about your blog? Why/when did you start blogging? Who is your audience? What do you hope to gain (or what have you gained already?) from the experience?

Marcelo: I started my blog almost as soon as I received the famous acceptance phone call from IMD. At first I thought of it as a good way for friends and family to keep up with me. I also figured it would be an interesting way to record my thoughts during this once-in-a-lifetime experience. I will enjoy looking back at the blog in five years or so, and re-living it all.

At the same time, I wanted my blog to help out others who are interested in IMD – during my application process, I found that reading the blogs of IMD students from previous classes was tremendously helpful in painting a picture of what it takes to get into IMD, and what being an IMD student is like. There weren’t too many IMD blogs out there, so hopefully my blog will be a resource for future applicants who considering going down this same path.

Do you want to be featured in Accepted.com’s blog, Accepted Admissions Blog? If you want to share your MBA/EMBA journey with the world (or at least with our readers), email us at mbabloggers@accepted.com.

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Interview with Nonprofit, Older B-School Applicant “MBA My Way”

MBA_My_WayWe’d like to introduce you to our next blogger, MBA My Way, an anonymous non-traditional MBA applicant who has been working in the non-profit world for the last eight years. Thank you MBA My Way for sharing your story with us – we wish you loads of luck! (Read more about MBA My Way on her blog, MBA The Nonprofit Way.)

Accepted:  Let’s start with some basics: Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? Can you give us a brief tour of your professional background?

MBA My Way: I’m originally from the Midwest, but have lived all over the U.S. I studied humanities in the Ivy I attended. I was rebelling against the all-math-and-science education I had up until that point; I was always good at math but I enjoyed creative work much more. When I finally got to pick my own courses, I went all into humanities and social sciences. And, predictably, I was crazy behind in reading comprehension and writing skills compared to my peers. I hadn’t read any Shakespeare, Dickens, Salinger, Conrad or any of the other writers that most students studied in high school. I had a LOT of catching up to do, and that’s what partially accounts for my low-ish 3.4 GPA.

Professionally, I decided that I would do nonprofit work back in college. We spend so much of our lives at our jobs, and I really wanted my efforts to go toward a clear cause I believed in. And due to my newly-developed skills, I ended up in marketing and communications. There are a lot of interesting psychological factors at play in marketing for the nonprofit sector, like how to speak to people’s consciences without being overbearing or unapproachable. Or you could go the opposite way and play a heart-wrenching Sarah McLachlan song over sad images of abused animals. It’s always interesting to see what kinds of tactics are successful.

Accepted: What motivated you to pursue an MBA at this point in your life?

MBA My Way: I was actually very convinced for a long time that I did NOT need to go to graduate school. Any graduate school. I thought I could put my head down, do awesome work, climb a ladder and get where I wanted to be on my own skills and gumption. And although I do think that was possible in the past, sadly, that has not turned out to be the case for me. I blame a good amount of that on the economy I entered after college. There’s just been no growth or expansion, especially in the nonprofit sector. Despite my being the absolute standout employee wherever I work, I’m regularly told that there is simply “nowhere to go” from whatever position I’m in at the time.

I’ve also been carefully plotting my professional experience so far to cover all areas of marketing, and I am now ready to take my next big step up. But whenever I come across a marketing job at a nonprofit that looks like the perfect opportunity, it always has that one line: “MBA preferred.” And I can’t compete against an applicant pool already saturated with MBAs. Can’t get much of a clearer sign than that!

Accepted: How will an MBA help you move forward in the nonprofit world? What do you plan on doing post-MBA?

MBA My Way: I’ve seen a clear preference in nonprofit upper management to hire MBAs and people with corporate, for-profit backgrounds for higher level positions. I think there’s a double standard at work there, but hey, whether I agree with it or not, I need an MBA to get where I want to be, so I’m going to do it.

One of the causes I care about most is animal welfare. And no, I am not a vegetarian or a PETA militant. I just don’t think it’s right to take their lives for granted. I’d really like to be able to work for an organization like the World Wildlife Fund or the ASPCA after I obtain my MBA.

Accepted: What stage are you up to in the application process? What has been the biggest challenge in the process so far and what have you done/are you doing to overcome it?

MBA My Way: I’m about halfway through submitting all my apps for 2014 enrollment. The most unexpected challenge for me with this whole application process is how much time I had to spend discussing my recs with my recommenders. It’s something I thought would take one or two meetings, maybe, but it ended up taking so much time that it almost threw off my entire schedule. And a huge part of it is that my recommenders are really great and they just really want to do as good of a job as they can. But, in the end, I ended up spending more time on recommendations than some of my essays, which is probably a really dumb thing to do. But some of the questions they receive are insanely detailed and hard to answer, especially if you’re asking supervisors from your past (who can remember that much from years ago??). A lot of it feels like artificial hurdles put in place to try to weed out people who are cheating/writing recs themselves. And though I understand that effort, it alienates applicants like me who are just trying to be honest and straightforward.

I actually have built up some resentment over the entire recommendation process because I don’t think the value that schools place on them nearly equals the amount of time and effort it takes for all of us to produce them.

Accepted: Where are you applying? Do you have a first choice?

MBA My Way: I’ve submitted apps to Yale, Stanford, Berkeley and Northwestern so far. I am planning on submitting to UCLA, Cornell and USC next. I chose those schools based on a combination of their nonprofit programs, their locations and for personal financial reasons.

It would be a downright miracle if I got into Stanford, and if I got in, I’d go 100%. But after that, I really like all the schools I’m applying to, and I think each can fulfill what I need out of an MBA in different ways. I’m going to have a lot of thinking to do once decisions are released (assuming that I get admitted and get in to more than one school, but seriously, who knows what will happen?).

Cornell is my personal dark horse. I haven’t gotten the impression that they are as dedicated to the nonprofit sector as other schools I looked at, but little details about their program keep standing out to me…like the fact that they offered a live chat on how to pay for business school that went over the basics of student loans. So often that part of getting an MBA is glossed over by schools, maybe because a lot of candidates have finance/consulting backgrounds and have money, or their employers are helping sponsor them.

I definitely do not have money, so I really appreciated that Cornell went through the effort of reaching out to folks like me who will be covering everything with loans 100% for two years. I also think Ithaca seems like a crazy beautiful place, and I could use some nature in my life right about now.

Accepted: What has your experience been as an older applicant? What advantages or disadvantages do you think you have?

MBA My Way: Was this question meant for someone else? Because you certainly can’t be talking to me! ;)

By the time I enroll in 2014, I’ll have 8 years of full-time work experience, which is a lot when compared with the average. But I rarely think about it, and I didn’t shape my essays or application in specific terms of that fact at all.

My career track makes perfect sense to me, and I think I have fully developed skills in all areas of marketing now. What I’m missing is the high level, top-down organizational skills and know-how to break into upper management, and that’s exactly what an MBA can give me.

I’m really not sure why adcoms don’t want older folks around. Maybe they think we’re jaded and stubborn and grumpy? Well, I am certainly not that. I definitely still have that early 20s “I can do anything!” mindset. But at the same time, I think I can bring really useful practical knowledge and experience to share with fellow students in school.

Accepted: Can you tell us about your blog?

MBA My Way: I started my blog after reading Sassafras’s blog, MBA: My Breakaway. I was so glad to find another person with a nonprofit background enrolling in b-school, and I thought I’d add to whatever content was out there about it so others in the same boat won’t feel so alone. We all need to stick together!

I’m approaching my blog as a way to tell my story, whether I succeed or fail. So it might be an inspirational journey…or a cautionary tale. My application is a huge gamble, especially my essays. So we’ll just have to see how it goes!







Do you want to be featured in Accepted.com’s blog, Accepted Admissions Blog? If you want to share your MBA/EMBA journey with the world (or at least with our readers), email us at mbabloggers@accepted.com.

 

 

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MBA Applicant Blogger Interview with MBAreapplicant84

This is the Japanese character for health or strength and is the first character of the blogger's middle name, "Kenichi."

This is the Japanese character for health or strength and is the first character of the blogger’s middle name, “Kenichi.”

We’d like to introduce you to MBAreapplicant84, an anonymous MBA reapplicant who offers us loads of advice and insight into the MBA admissions process here and in his blog, MBA Reapplicant. Thank you MBAreapplicant84 for sharing your experience with us, and best of luck to you!

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?

MBAreapplicant84: I was born in Japan and lived there for a total of about eight years. My mother is Japanese and my father is from the US. We moved back and forth between Japan and the US quite a bit, but when I was about 10 years old, we settled down in California.

I went to Brigham Young University as an undergrad and studied Japanese. I hadn’t spoken Japanese since I was 10, so I had forgotten most of the language and really had a desire to relearn it.

Currently I work at Goldman Sachs as a Senior Operations Analyst.

Accepted: When did you first apply to b-school? 

MBAreapplicant84: I applied to b-school for the first time last year. I only applied to a few schools that I really wanted to go to in Round 1. I was interviewed at Tuck and Kellogg, but ended up getting dinged from all the schools I applied to. I was very disappointed to say the least.

For awhile, I thought of applying to some safety schools, but the thought of giving up and going to a school I knew I wouldn’t be happy at made me a bit depressed. So I decided to wait a year and try again. Looking back, I am very glad I did. I have grown a ton in the last year, and I know I made some serious mistakes on my apps last time around. Also, when I was denied at Tuck, they actually sent me a letter saying that I was in the top 10 percent of the candidates that got rejected, but that they saw a lot of potential and encouraged me to apply again the following year. I was even able to sit down with one of the admission officers and go through the strengths and weaknesses of my application. It was pretty cool of Tuck to do that, and it has helped a lot.

Accepted: What do you think went wrong that time and what are you doing this time to improve your candidacy?

MBAreapplicant84: The first thing is I waited till September to take the GMAT (second attempt). Because I was so focused on studying, the rest of my application, especially the essays suffered. Also, when I talked with the adcom at Tuck, she mentioned that she wanted to see a little more growth in my current position at work (at the time I applied last year, I had only been in my current position for about six months). I think there were a few other small things too, like lack of clarity on goals.

This time around, I have spent almost a year prepping for essays, better understanding my career goals, and growing at work. I have been promoted once since last applying and am set for another promotion in January. I also took the GMAT one more time and improved my score a bit. I have also taken on a few leadership responsibilities outside of work.

Accepted: Where do you plan on applying this time?

MBAreapplicant84: This time around, I am planning on applying to Tuck, Haas, Kellogg, Sloan, and Yale SOM.

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?

MBAreapplicant84: Currently I am working on my essays, which I also consider to be one of the tougher aspects of the application. I know, at least for me, I really needed to do some deep introspection to figure out why I really want/need an MBA, what I want out of my career, and what stories in my life best illustrate who I am. Aside from that, the hardest thing has just been the actual length of the process. I started studying for the GMAT almost two and a half years ago. It’s exhausting. I know my wife is ready to have me back in the evenings.

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

MBAreapplicant84: I plan on staying in operations post-MBA, but I want to switch from the financial industry to the consumer products or tech industry. I want to be somewhere like Nike or Google where there is a bit more freedom to be innovative. The financial industry has been great to me, but because of the amount of regulation, I feel like there is not as much room for significant innovation.

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

MBAreapplicant84: I decided to blog about my experience mainly to have a periodic outlet. I don’t really know if there are people out there that really care what I have to say, but it has been almost therapeutic to be able to get my thoughts about the whole process out there.

Blogging has helped me to be able to take a step back and better analyze how I am doing in the process this time around. I hope others will understand that applying to b-school isn’t something that you just do at the last minute, it is a process. If you don’t take the time to really dig deep and understand yourself and why you want and need an MBA, you might end up wasting a lot of time and money. However, if you do put the time and effort into it, the process of applying to b-school itself can be very rewarding.

Do you want to be featured in Accepted.com’s blog, Accepted Admissions Blog? If you want to share your MBA/EMBA journey with the world (or at least with our readers), email us at mbabloggers@accepted.com.







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MBA Applicant Blogger Interview with MBAGirlJourney

MBAGirlJourneyWe’d like to introduce you to MBAGirlJourney, an anonymous MBA applicant who has a positive approach to the MBA admissions process – she is eagerly learning new things about herself as the admissions process unfolds and is happily sharing those things with others. You can read more about MBAGirlJourney on her blog MBAGIRLJOURNEY. Thank you MBAGirlJourney for sharing your admissions experience with us, and best of luck to you!

Accepted: First, let’s cover some basics, Where are you from? What and where did you study as an undergrad? Where do you currently live and work?

MBAGirlJourney: I grew up in Pennsylvania, about an hour west of Philadelphia. I studied Finance and International Business at a large public university in Philadelphia. I currently live and work in the Philly area.

Accepted: What stage of the application process are you up to?

MBAGirlJourney: I am working on my Round 1 applications for my top 3 schools. I am keeping my 2 other schools for Round 2. I am on drafts 3-5 for all of my essays except for Harvard, which I only just completed my first draft. I have revised my resume several times as well and I think I am now fairly happy with it.

Accepted: What has been the most challenging aspect of the admissions process so far? How have you approached that challenge?

MBAGirlJourney: I think the hardest part of the application process is the uncertainty of the outcome. You really start to second guess yourself. Some days, I feel very optimistic about my chances and other days I get very unsure whether any of my applications will be successful. I am someone who is pretty detailed and likes to plan; not knowing is hard for me. I try to stay optimistic and do whatever I can to put together the best applications possible. I talk to a lot of people about my applications and my approach, including people who have been through the process and are going through the process.

Accepted: Which b-schools are you applying to? Which is your top choice program? Why?

MBAGirlJourney: I am applying to Harvard, Columbia, Wharton, Booth and Yale. Harvard is my top choice…because it is everyone’s top choice! Seriously though, I really like how the classes are very interactive and you always have to be mentally on your toes. I also think their new Field Method is really interesting and it is something I want to be a part of. Their career opportunities are great also.

Accepted: Do you plan on applying to any safety schools?

MBAGirlJourney: I wouldn’t consider my Round 2 schools (Booth and Yale) safety schools, but I think the bar for admission is a little lower there. They are still two great schools and I would be lucky to attend either. My feeling on it is, if I can’t get into any of the full time programs I am really passionate about then maybe a part-time MBA makes more sense for me. I really like my job and I am not making a drastic career switch, so it wouldn’t be the end of the world if I got dinged from all 5 schools, although I am sure it would feel like the end of the world for a little while…

Accepted: Will you be applying for financial aid?

MBAGirlJourney: Yes, definitely.

Accepted: Have you already begun exploring financing options?

MBAGirlJourney: Yes, it will be some combination of personal savings, investments and of course, loans. Lots of loans.

Accepted: Do you have any tips for our applicants?

MBAGirlJourney: As soon as you decide an MBA is probably for you, start saving. Also, take the GMAT early so that when applications go live you can concentrate on them, instead of concentrating on studying for your GMAT.

Accepted: Have you learned anything new about yourself during the MBA admissions process?

MBAGirlJourney: I have learned a lot about myself during the admissions process. I think sometimes I minimize some of my accomplishments when I talk about them. Having to write about them and really reflect on them has made me feel incredibly lucky that I have had the experiences and opportunities I have had.

Accepted: Can you tell us more about your blog? Who is it aimed towards? What do you hope to gain from blogging?

MBAGirlJourney: My blog is for anyone who is going through the application process or is thinking about the application process. I started it to help me keep my thoughts from swirling around my head and to help me really think through and analyze getting my MBA. Also, I am a big proponent of writing goals down, and putting my goals related to the MBA application process out there for anyone to see was a big step for me.

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MBA Applicant Blogger Interview with Priyank

PriyankWe’d like to introduce you to Priyank, an MBA applicant, risk management consultant in NYC, and author of the blog Writing in Transit. Thank you Priyank for sharing your admissions experience with us, and best of luck to you!

Accepted: First, we’d like to get to know you. Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? What is your current job and where do you live?

Priyank: Hi, my name is Priyank. I am originally from India but I completed both high school and undergrad in Florida (University of Florida – Go Gators!). Since undergrad I have been working in the consulting industry, first as a business analyst in technology consulting, and now as a risk management consultant. I recently moved to New York after travelling to the city for work every week for about two years.

Accepted: Can you tell us about your blog? Why did you start blogging? What do you hope to gain from the experience?

Priyank: I used to blog about trading and investing during my undergraduate years. But when I started working I was short on time and long on trading restrictions imposed by my clients. So I stopped that blog, but I have always enjoyed writing and knew I always wanted to start another one. When I seriously started considering an MBA, I started following some of the blogs by other students and applicants and was inspired to start one about my own MBA application experience.

My blog is fairly new and is still taking on a defined personality, but right now most of my posts focus on my MBA journey. I have also written about some of my consulting experiences.

Unlike swimming, writing is not a skill that stays with you forever. I hope that writing consistently for a few months leading up to my applications will help me refine my skill. I have also become a more reflective person as writing forces one to organize thoughts and put things in perspective. Finally, as I said, I enjoy writing – I find it to be relaxing and it is always good to see new visitors who [hopefully] enjoy my writing.

Accepted: What stage of the application process are you up to? 

Priyank: Just finished the GMAT and now starting the essays.

Accepted: What has been the most challenging aspect of the MBA admissions process so far? What have you done to approach and overcome that challenge?

Priyank: I am still in the early stages of the application so I have not had too many challenges so far. Now that I am starting to look at essays, resumes, etc. I can tell that it will be hard to keep my creative juices flowing after putting in a full day’s work. I tried writing my first essay draft yesterday and after about half an hour all I got was “I sat”. But, as with anything worth doing, the application will require focused, undivided attention. This can be challenge while working, sometimes around the clock, and while balancing personal life.

Accepted: Where do you plan on applying? 

Priyank: I was lucky to get a good GMAT score, so I have the top schools in my sight. I am looking for schools that have a strong focus in entrepreneurship and social enterprise. I would also love to stay in New York. Given that criteria, I will likely be applying to HBS, Stanford GSB, MIT Sloan, and perhaps Columbia and NYU. I am still doing research however, and Yale, Babson, Booth, and Wharton are all possible application recipients.



Accepted: Do you plan on staying in the same industry post-MBA or switching to a new field?

Priyank: It is possible I end up back in consulting, but I definitely want to switch my focus to non-profit / social enterprise consulting. I may also try to work in a start-up. I wrote a detailed post about this on my blog, and you can read all about it at http://writingintransit.wordpress.com/2013/05/23/why-get-an-mba-the-post-mba-plan/.

Do you want to be featured in Accepted.com’s blog, Accepted Admissions Blog? If you want to share your MBA/EMBA journey with the world (or at least with our readers), email us at mbabloggers@accepted.com.







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