Journey of Nigerian MBA ReApplicant and Future Entrepreneur

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NaijaMBAgal

This 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 our anonymous blogger, NaijaMBAgal…

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

NaijaMBAgal: I’m a twenty-something years old Nigerian female. I have six years experience in risk assurance and one year in non-profit. I have a B.Sc in computer science and I love to dance even though I can’t sing.

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

NaijaMBAgal: I first applied to business school last year. It was a disaster and I got several dings.

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

NaijaMBAgal: Everything was wrong. My GMAT score was really low and I did nothing to make up for it in the applications. Also, my applications did not show my reasons for picking each school and by the time I realized that and changed it, it was round three and most of the class was already filled. I really think the timing affected my outcome.

Before applying this year, I took the GMAT again, my new score was within the 80% range of all the schools I was targeting. Also, I’m applying earlier this time. I’ve submitted my applications in round one (hopefully, I will not have to apply in round two but I will definitely not be applying in round three). Another thing I did differently this year was to ensure that I showed why I wanted to be part of each school in my application; talking to current students really helped me achieve this goal.

Accepted: Where did you apply this time? Do you have a top choice? Are you applying to “safety schools”?

NaijaMBAgal: I applied to Booth, Sloan, Stanford and Wharton. My top choice kept on changing as I researched each school, right now it’s a tie between Stanford and Wharton but that may have something to do with submitting their applications most recently.

I did not apply to any safety school; last year, I got into my safety school but could not convince myself to attend, so this year, I applied to schools that I will love to attend when admitted.

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

NaijaMBAgal: I know it’s a cliche but I’m tired of the consulting industry which is amusing because I find a lot of people get an MBA to get into consulting. I plan to become an entrepreneur either during or after my MBA.

Accepted: What are your thoughts on the presentation essay on Booth’s application? 

NaijaMBAgal: I love Booth’s presentation essay. I think it was my favorite part of the applications. For me, anything is better than writing an essay but the fact that it was a presentation made it more interesting, I should probably mention that I make a lot of presentations so I am very comfortable with the medium. I think the presentation is the best reflection of Booth’s culture, giving applicants that flexibility with a main essay is phenomenal.

Accepted: How do you think being from Africa affects your candidacy?

NaijaMBAgal: It’s like a double edged sword. On one hand I think it amplifies my profile, gives me an edge and reduces the applicant pool that my application sits in. On the flip side, there is a smaller percentage of the class available for us regardless of how many good applicants there are within that pool. Since both sides nil-off, I don’t think it helps or hurts my application – except if there are a lot of less qualified applicants in the pool then it’s good for me.

Accepted: Can you tell us about your blog? What have you gained from the experience? What do you hope others will learn?

NaijaMBAgal: When I started my blog, it was not supposed to be an application blog but a b-school experience blog but it had to transform with my plans. One of the best things that has happened since I started blogging is that I have become a part of this amazing group of people composed of fellow applicants (including bloggers) and current students. I have had people give me advice, books and templates which I try to share on my blog so that people that read my blog can use that information in their own application. I hope others can leverage on my experience to make their own admission process smoother.

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

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

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An Indian B-School Hopeful Racking Up the Work Experience

MBA Applicant Bloggers

Balaji

This 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 Balaji.

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 favorite non-school book? 

Balaji: I’m based on out Bangalore, India. I currently work as a Program Management Analyst in a Fortune 100 company. I did my undergrad in Bachelor of Engineering (Electronics & Instrumentation Engineering) from Anna University, Chennai.

I love reading fictional and history books. My favorite ones have been Dan Brown’s series and my most favorite book related to history is Glimpses of World History by Nehru.

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

Balaji: I did not start my application process yet. As I currently only have 3 and a half years of experience. And after thorough study, I thought I would require 5 years of experience to have a good chance of getting into top b-schools as the average WE is 5 years.

Last year, I tried applying to one b-school to get some experience in the application process. But I was dinged without interview, and I think it was due to my WE, as I had only 2 years of experience while applying.

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

Balaji: I haven’t decided on that yet. I wanted to stay in my field for sometime post-MBA, as I love Project/Program Management – rather to generalize I love management/operational stuffs.

Also I have a plan to start my own business at some point in future.

Accepted: As an Indian male in the software industry (a highly represented applicant group), you’re going to need to work hard to distinguish yourself from the crowd. What are some things that set you apart from your competition? 

Balaji: Yes, I belong to Indian-Male category but not in software industry any more. My previous employer was a top 15 IT service provider in the world. But as soon I was done with my undergrad, I wanted to pursue an MBA. So I avoided any software related jobs in my previous employer, so I worked as Enterprise Project Management Analyst. After 3 years working with CGI. I moved to Honeywell (here I work for Aero Division). I thought working in Fortune 100 Company will make my profile/application more visible and strong.

Now moving onto distinguishing myself from the highly represented group, below are my extra-curricular activities I presently do/did during my work, undergrad and high school.

A.    Student Coordinator in National Entrepreneurship Network during my last 2 years of my undergrad.

B.    Core Cultural Committee member during my last 2 years of my undergrad – in charge/single point of contact for all technical related activities.

C.    Was a Sergeant of National cadet corps in my high school.

D.    Was a vice-captain of my high school football (soccer) team.

E.    Was core member in corporate social responsibility team at my previous employer. We conducted many charity and fundraiser events for orphanages, etc.

F.    Certified Competent Communicator and Competent leader from Toastmasters International. And also served as Vice President Education for 2 terms.

G.    Finally was a core member in Employee Welfare Association club at my previous employer.

On Entrepreneurship: My in-law runs an event management company. I take care of the business when he is held up with other important works or on travel.

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

Balaji: There isn’t a better way than forums and blogs to tell everyone around the world who is currently preparing for the GMAT/MBA application that it is easy to get into top b-school with your efforts and perseverance. I thought, if I start blogging about my experience I can learn my mistakes. (In PM terminology: We always to tend to document our project plan and risks etc., so that it will be helpful for the lessons learnt at the end of the project.)

And for others, there will always be room to improve from one’s own mistakes from others’ mistakes/experiences.

You can read more about Balaji’sb-school journey by checking out his blog, GNPTH: My GMAT/MBA Journey. Thank you Balaji for sharing your story with us – we wish you loads of luck!

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

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TexasWannaBeCali: 24 Year Old MBA Applicant Dreaming of the Beach

Click here for more MBA applicant interviews. This 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 our anonymous blogger, TexasWannaBeCali.

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 current job?

TexasWannaBeCali: I am from the great state of Texas. Dallas to be exact (Go Cowboys!). I went to college out of state to a nearby SEC school and graduated with a BS in Finance in 2012. After graduation, I joined a corporate tax advisory firm that was headquartered back in Dallas, and have been there ever since, working as a tax consultant on a team that specializes in the healthcare industry with a client base that includes most Fortune 500 healthcare services companies/hospitals and medical device vendors.

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

TexasWannaBeCali: Post MBA, I would like to move into a corporate finance role at a big pharma/biotech company. I want to use my knowledge of the healthcare industry that I have gained from tax consulting on the provider side to be a valuable asset on the industry side of things.

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?

TexasWannaBeCali: Right now, I am entering my last month of GMAT studying as well as drafting outlines to start essay writing. I would honestly say the most challenging part of the application process is not necessarily completing a certain requirement, they all take a little blood, sweat and tears, but more so being able to balance everything while still working 45+ hours a week.

I’ve found that determination, organization, and not being afraid to ask questions can alleviate a lot of the struggles.

Accepted: Where do you plan on applying to b-school? Will you be applying to any safety schools? Why or why not?

TexasWannaBeCali: I am applying to Anderson, Haas, Fuqua and McCombs. After a lot of thought, I decided not to apply to any safety schools this time around. I am only 24 years old, if I don’t get into one of my top schools, I’d rather take time to reflect on what I could’ve done better and try ten times harder the next time around than go somewhere just to go.

Accepted: So…why California? What’s the draw to California in general and to UCLA and Haas in particular?

TexasWannaBeCali: Yes I have been kind of obsessed with idea of living in California lately. I’ve lived in the South my whole life, and would love the opportunity to explore a new place…and be close to the beach. I love the culture, weather, lifestyle, and just the abundance of things to do there.

The fact that California is home to some of the top companies in the rapidly growing biotech and life sciences industry has made UCLA and Haas front runners in my school wish list. Both programs offer substantial post-MBA opportunities in healthcare because of brand name, proximity and an outstanding curriculum targeted at excelling in the industry and I would love to be a part of either one.

Accepted: As someone on the younger side of the applicant age spectrum, how do you plan on making up for what you lack in years of work experience?

TexasWannaBeCali: The age aspect has been one of my biggest internal struggles. I know adcoms will want to know more than usual why an MBA is necessary for me right now, and not 1 or 2 years down the road and then if I am admitted, what knowledge I can bring. I think that emphasizing that not only is the quality of my work experience high despite the quantity, but also the fact that at matriculation I will have 3+ years of consistent on the job learning from the same firm. My job has enabled me to take on a lot of responsibility and leadership roles at such a young stage of my career and I have learned so much from being able to build upon my knowledge with every new project and/or client I take on.

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

TexasWannaBeCali: I initially started blogging to organize my thoughts and ideas as I made my way through the b-school application process. I can get overwhelmed rather easily so being able to track my progress in one place would keep me somewhat sane.

Blogging has been a great outlet for giving and receiving feedback whether it’s from other first time applicants, re-applicants, or students that have successfully been accepted into their dream schools. At first I was honestly shocked people even took the time to read what I had to say, but I’m glad they did because I love reading their stories too. It’s like a little network of people wholeheartedly supporting each other and I am so happy I made the decision to start blogging. I would recommend it to anyone making the lofty decision to go back to school, you won’t regret it.

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

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

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Interview with MBA Reapplicant, “Top Dog”

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This 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 our anonymous blogger, Top Dog.

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?  

Top Dog: Hello, and thanks for the opportunity to talk about myself! I was born and went to school in the UK, studying for my Bachelor of Science at the University of London. I’m currently working in southern Europe as a global relationship manager for the largest corporate and investment bank in the energy and commodities sector.

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

Top Dog: I applied to five top 10 U.S. business schools in 2013/14 (Rounds 1 and 2). I got two interviews (at MIT Sloan and Wharton) but unfortunately failed to get an offer.

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

Top Dog: I don’t think there were any obvious issues – aside from my 12 years WE and relatively low GPA – but my applications were maybe a bit bland and failed to fully explain what I have actually achieved so far and my detailed reasons for wanting an MBA. This year I got the chance to lead an international team after my boss resigned – that’s definitely an experience I’ll be writing about in my applications that I didn’t have last time.

Accepted: Where do you plan on applying this time?

Top Dog: I’m going to be focused and reapply to MIT Sloan and Wharton, plus INSEAD for the first time. I’ve done a lot of research and love the location, culture, collaborative spirit and emphasis on entrepreneurship and social enterprise at these b-schools. I’m toying with reapplying to Stanford too – the lure of the West Coast is difficult to resist!

Accepted: Can you talk about your decision to apply to/attend a European program versus a U.S. program? What are the pros and cons on either side?

Top Dog: I have tried to balance my target b-schools this time and, while most top b-schools will give you a great education, there are differences. In Europe, I really like the international classes (INSEAD’s incoming class has 90 nationalities with c. 60% from outside Europe), but 10 months is short to fully experience the teaching, culture and career prospects on offer. In the U.S., b-schools simply rock the MBA – this is where the MBA was born and it’s still the best place to study it – plus it broadens my otherwise European profile, while the con would definitely be the cost – ouch!

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? 

Top Dog: I’m in a good position as I have my experience from last season so I’m all done with research, profile building and I’m about to start my essays. I’ve blogged about my mistakes from last time and I’m already falling into the first trap – leaving it too late to start writing my essays (where did July go!?). Another challenge was not keeping on top of my recommenders, and I’m definitely going to be focused on this this time around.

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

Top Dog: A big motivation for the full time (rather than exec) MBA is the ability to transition into a new field. Post-MBA I’ll go back into banking with a focus on business development and corporate social responsibility – ideally in the emerging markets – where innovation and entrepreneurship are rewarded skills. Longer term I want to combine my finance experience in a start-up, potentially a social entrepreneur focused micro-finance venture in an emerging economy.

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

Top Dog: I got a lot of knowledge and comfort from other bloggers last season and I’d like to give something back to the MBA applicant community. My blog encourages me to keep on top of my applications while testing ideas with others in the same position (and some helpful consultants too!). In exchange, I hope I’m giving some useful insight, sparking a bit of debate and creating a sense of companionship among fellow and future applicants.

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

You can read more about Top Dog’sb-school journey by checking out his blog, TopDogMBA, and Twitter, @topdogmba. Thank you Top Dog for sharing your story with us – we wish you loads of luck!

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Interview with 22 Year Old B-School Applicant, “Pulling That MBA Trigger”

Check out more MBA applicant interviews!This 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 our anonymous blogger, “Pulling That MBA Trigger.”

Accepted: Can you tell us a little about yourself – where are you from, where did you go to school, and what is your current job?

Pulling That MBA Trigger: Ah, I never really know how to answer this question. An entire lifetime in a few sentences? I’m way too chatty for that. Anyway, I’m 22 years old, female and fresh out of the college boat. Well, it’s been a year anyway, so I’m still not a jaded adult which is probably why I’m so gung-ho about this whole admissions thing.

I’m from India and I went to a school that is probably not known to the rest of the world, although a recently appointed CEO did go here. It’s doing a lot for our street cred. I graduated as an electronics engineer and I’m working for a tech startup that develops web and mobile applications when we’re not busy working with big data analytics and all that jazz. I also founded my own startup in the education space, so yeah pretty exciting stuff!

Accepted: Which schools do you plan on applying to?

PTMT: I’m glaringly honest with myself and I know that my chances of getting into the top 5 schools are astronomically low. With that said, I’m targeting the lower 10’s and pretty much any school in the 10-20 range. I haven’t narrowed down the names yet, but I’m angling towards MIT Sloan simply because of their focus on entrepreneurship and the fact that they happen to like engineers from the technology space. I’m also considering Yale (Ivy League, ’nuff said) and Booth (quant focused with a soft spot for younger applicants, or so I hear). I’m applying to a maximum of four schools and this is more strategic than anything else simply because if I get dinged from all four of them, I can reapply next year with plenty of options still left open.

Accepted: What would you say is your greatest profile strength? Weakness? How do you plan on overcoming that weakness?

PTMT: I guess my greatest strength lies in the fact that I am an entrepreneur and a leader at heart, and this kind of spills over everywhere in my application. I have only ever worked for startups and I have founded a startup. I never felt the need for an MBA to take that plunge and I guess I would say that I’m ballsy. Not sure how I would put that on my application, but eh.

Weakness is pretty obvious. I am very, very impatient. I can’t wait any longer to get that MBA and so I’m quite stupidly applying after having worked for only a year (or two at the time of matriculation). It’s going to be quite a challenge convincing schools that I’m emotionally and professionally ready to get an MBA.

Accepted: So…how are you going to convince the adcom that you’re a candidate worth paying attention to with only one year of work experience? 

PTMT: Honestly, I’m not even sure I’m convinced just yet! I’m just faking it as I go, maybe eventually I’ll actually believe that I’m someone worth paying attention to. But with that said, my plan is to focus on all that I have managed to achieve in such a short period of time, possibly as much as other people achieved in two years. Impatience has its own rewards, which is why I jam-packed my years in college and post-college with every activity imaginable and that is now paying off. I am mainly going to emphasize the success of my own startup (albeit on a modest scale) and my stint as the secretary of the student body in college.

Accepted: Why do you want an MBA? What are some of your goals and how will an MBA help you achieve them?

PTMT: In my current role as a software engineer, I’m limited to my work as a code monkey and I have no exposure to how the company gets its clients, or how they measure the bottom line and success/failure. I guess this kind of points to a role in consulting post an MBA, simply because it would allow me to look at how different companies across different industries function, without slotting me into a role that is limiting in terms of what I’m able to learn (i.e. software engineer, product manager, marketing manager and so on). Long term though, I’d like to use all the consulting knowledge from watching other companies’ mistakes to set up my own company in the tech space.

Accepted: What has the b-school application process so far taught you about yourself?

PTMT: The b-school process has forced me to thoroughly excavate my head. I had to visit corners I never wanted to revisit. It has been torturous at times and merely annoying at others. It’s taught me that I have a high tolerance for pain and that I should really get a commemorative tattoo when I’m done. Okay, okay. It’s also shown me that I have vast reserves of strength, resolve and motivation. I know I can pull through and even if I don’t, I know I’ll have the energy to do it again next year. I also think I’m a lot more interesting than I thought I was. I actually have interesting stories to write down in my essays. Who knew?!

Accepted: Can you tell us about your blog? Who is your target audience? What do you hope to gain from the blogging experience?

PTMT: My blog is called Pulling That MBA Trigger and it’s no coincidence that I want to shoot myself in the head about once a day during this whole process. It’s basically a place for me to vent and document my thoughts before I go crazy. I hope it provides slight comedic relief to others going through the same thing and perhaps makes them feel better about their own chances of getting in. At the end of it, I want to be able to look back and think, “Ah, I’ve made it so far,” unless of course I get dinged everywhere in which case I’m going to nuke the blog off cyberspace and pretend it never existed.

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

You can read more about PTMT’s b-school journey by checking out her blog, Pulling That MBA Trigger. Thank you PTMT for sharing your story with us – we wish you loads of luck!

Navigating the MBA Maze

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