Insights Of An International Student At MIT Sloan

Read more MBA student interviewsThis interview is the latest in an Accepted.com blog series featuring interviews with current MBA students, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at top MBA programs. And now for a chat with Christian Marek who is in his final year at MIT Sloan.

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?

Christian: Originally I’m from the scenic Vienna in Austria. There I completed Bachelor’s in Software Engineering and a Master’s in Information Systems Management. Because I wanted to immerse myself even further in the tech industry, I decided to pursue an MBA.

Accepted: Where are you in business school? What year?

Christian: I’m currently a second-year MBA student at MIT Sloan and will be graduating June 2015.

Accepted: Why did you choose MIT Sloan? How is it the best program for you? Which other MBA programs had you considered?

Christian: When I chose my MBA program, the primary factors I considered were quality of the school, entrepreneurial ecosystem of the university, school affinity for technology (and data), class size, and location. This lead me to consider MIT Sloan, Berkeley Haas and UCLA Anderson. All programs were almost equally amazing. However, once I saw the MIT campus I knew this was the place to be for me. The geekiness and culture was impossible to match. Coming from an engineering background this is where I wanted to be.

Accepted: Can you share some advice to incoming first year students, to help make their adjustment to b-school easier? What do you wish you would’ve known when you were just starting out?

Christian: Adjusting to b-school is a great experience but it’s definitely challenging – there are so many variables. Being an international student adds an additional challenge as it takes some time to get used to local communication style and culture. Here are a few things that make the adjustment easier:

Keep reaching out after your acceptance: The MBA years are among the best in your life. Having a rough sense of what you want to get out of the MBA is really helpful. Obviously as an incoming student you do your research online. Additionally, I recommend reaching out to a variety of current MBAs at your school that are doing what you are looking to do. This should be even easier after acceptance. For example if you’re interested in entrepreneurship try to talk to a club VP over the phone. They can tell you if the club a good choice for your, help develop your interest further and intro you the others who might have similar interests.

•  Attend post-admission events: I find that the admission events (weekends, seminars, etc.) I attended really helped me in making my decision. You get to know your potential future classmates. Doing so, let’s you figure out if you’re kind of on the same wavelength and even find roommates. Furthermore the schools will showcase what the programs have too offer in even greater detail.

•  MBA communication classes: These classes are amazingly helpful, especially for international students. As I said communication in the U.S. can seem very different. The communication classes at Sloan taught me a lot about American communication standards in business personal interactions.

Accepted: Are you involved in any clubs on campus? How central to student life is club involvement?

Christian: I’m a co-president of the European Business Club at MIT Sloan and I really enjoy the experience. However, I think club involvement is a personal choice. I know classmates who are members in up to eight clubs and I know classmates who are in zero clubs. Some classmates are VPs and presidents, others just aren’t. Personally, I think clubs can offer a lot of value in terms of making friends, finding classmates with common interests and taking on leadership opportunities. Just like everything in life it helps aligning your decision on the extent of your club involvement to what you want to accomplish. If you want to be an entrepreneur, joining the Entrepreneurship club makes sense. If you want to do something for the overall community, join a culture club. See if you like it and then you can typically still decide whether or not to go for a VP position.

Accepted: Can you tell us about your internship at Google last summer? What role did Sloan play in helping you secure that position? 

Christian: My internship at Google last summer was amazing. The internship program is run by an amazing team at Google that makes the experience at Google unique. On a weekly basis leaders in the organization gave us their inside scoop on leadership and the tech industry. Google offers a variety of MBA internship roles. Over the summer you take responsibility for executing your very own project. Sloan helped in a variety of ways. First, the internal network at Sloan is extremely helpful to learn about a company. As I was in the internship recruiting process, I reached out to former Googlers and former Google MBA interns at Sloan. They were extremely helpful in telling me about their experiences at Google. Second, the various clubs at Sloan help you with the internship process by doing resume reviews among other things. Coming from Europe, I found this particularly helpful because the U.S. job application process is very different. Third, the MIT Sloan Career Development office collaborates closely with Google to host coffee chats and recruiting events. In that way Sloan MBA students can connect directly to Googlers to learn more about the company and the internship.

Accepted: Looking back, what was the most challenging aspect of the MBA admissions process? How did you approach that challenge and overcome it?

Christian: For me personally the most challenging part getting connected to the schools. I was the first in my network to pursue an MBA. However, from reading online I got the sense that insights from current students are extremely valuable to the application. Even though the notion of writing cold emails was completely foreign to me, I researched Europeans (particularly Austrians) that were attending my target schools. I was surprised how quickly they responded. Even though arranging these chats and conversations was a lot of work, I do believe building those connections contributed to my admission offers. Talking to current students is irreplaceable and it helps you get a feel for the school.

Accepted: Do you have any other advice for our med school applicant readers, especially for international applicants?

Christian:

1. Connect to your target school: Your future school is probably a couple thousand kilometers away. Still connecting to current students is the best way to learn about your school.

2. Make a well-rounded application package: Show who you are personally and professionally. Ideally you’ll be able to tie this to together and paint your future to the reader. Also, use data points to quantify the impact you had. I think for internationals (or at least Europeans) – this is particularly unusual. Still, you need to get over it and do it.

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

You can follow Christian on Twitter and by checking out his blog Producteria.

Thank you Christian for sharing your story with us – we wish you loads of luck!

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Related Resources:

• Navigate the MBA Maze
MIT Sloan 2015 Executive MBA Essay Tips & Deadlines
IV With an Overrepresented Minority MIT Sloan Admit!

Experiences & Advice from Columbia MBA Student Kendall Miller

Click here for more MBA student InterviewsThis interview is the latest in an Accepted.com blog series featuring interviews with current MBA students, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at top MBA programs. And now for a chat with Kendall Miller, a student at Columbia Business School.

Accepted: First, can you tell us a little about yourself? Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? Can you tell us three fun facts about yourself?

Kendall: I originally hail from the Midwest, growing up in Cincinnati, Ohio, and attending Indiana University where I graduated with honors in Finance. Afterwards, I spent four years working in Chicago as a management consultant before finally making it to New York!

Three fun facts about me: I have traveled to 30 countries in under 30 years, my favorite films are The Godfather and When Harry Met Sally, and for New Year’s Eve this year I went to a house party in Valparaiso, Chile, where I knew no one.

Accepted: Where are you in business school? What year?

Kendall: Currently I am a second year at Columbia Business School.

Accepted: What is your favorite thing about Columbia so far? If you could change one thing about the program, what would it be?

Kendall: While I have lots of favorite things about Columbia, I can narrow it down to two. First, the core classes last only a semester and you have the option to test out of core subjects. Coming from a degree in Finance and a consulting background, I was itching to get to interesting electives instead of repeating content I already knew. Second, being in New York for graduate school is amazing. The number and seniority of guest lecturers in class is largely due to the fact they just have to taxi up to campus from their office, and I’m able to be constantly networking in the city. At least once a week I am at an event off-campus, meeting people outside of the MBA community.

If I were to change one thing, it would be to have more group work space in the school. However, I do know this is a priority for the new property being developed.

Accepted: Where did you intern last summer? What role did Columbia play in helping you secure that position?

Kendall: Last summer I was lucky enough to live in Milan, Italy, working for a luxury eCommerce company called Yoox. I attribute this internship entirely to Columbia, as the CEO and co-General Manager both went to Columbia for their MBAs, and they used the resume book at school to reach out to potential candidates. My consulting background was also a huge help, as the group I was working in (Office of the CEO) consisted almost entirely of ex-consultants.

More recently I have been interning part time in the city for Moda Operandi, another luxury eCommerce company. Many people at Columbia who are interested in careers in retail, startups, venture capital and private equity do internships during the school year, particularly if they are a career switcher. Again, this is only possible because we are in the city.

Columbia also offers “block week” classes, which are accelerated classes taken at the beginning of the semester, allowing students to free up time during the school year for work.

Accepted: And do you have a job lined up yet for when you graduate? Again, how did Columbia help you during that process?

Kendall: After school I will be returning to Deloitte Consulting, which sponsored my school tuition. However, last year during the internship search I used the career office often, for resume and cover letter reviews, interview prep, and guidance when deciding between offers. The alumni network is also very valuable, and industry-specific alumni career coaches provided some of the best feedback and advice I have received to-date.

And I can’t forget the Executives in Residence! These individuals may or may not be alumni, but they are all veteran executives with expertise in a specific industry and hold weekly office hours to discuss career questions with students. I met with two in my first year when I was exploring options.

Accepted: Can you share some advice to incoming first year students, to help make their adjustment to b-school easier?

Kendall: If you are coming from a non-traditional background, I would suggest brushing up on Excel skills and getting a primer in either accounting or corporate finance. Yes, these are both core classes, but it’s better not to be caught flat footed. Getting back into the swing of weekly (or daily) homework assignments was hard for me, and it does require careful planning because there are so many things vying for your attention, and you constantly feel like it’s the “last and only opportunity” for everything.

Accepted: Looking back, what was the most challenging aspect of the MBA admissions process? How did you approach that challenge and overcome it?

Kendall: Most challenging for me was nailing down exactly what I wanted to do after school, and being able to create a coherent and well-developed narrative that tied in the MBA. It sounded clichéd, when others said I needed to have an exact job in mind. Wasn’t I going to school to figure that out? Once I was able to do that, writing my essays became so much easier, and I was able to seek out the schools that best fit my goals. Many people do change their story, their minds, once they get to school – but two years is only so long, and you don’t want to spend all of it trying to figure out what you want to do post-graduation. At some point, you need to lock that down so that networking, training, and interviewing can be focused and successful.

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

 You can read more about Kendall’s journey by checking out her website, http://www.kendallmiller.co/about/. Thank you Kendall for sharing your story with us – we wish you loads of luck!

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MBA In Sight: Focus on Finance
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B-School Student Interviews

Interview with a Techie at Chicago Booth

Click here for more b-school student interviews!This interview is the latest in an Accepted.com blog series featuring interviews with current MBA students, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at top MBA programs. And now for a chat with Andrew Edelman, a student at Chicago Booth.

Accepted: We’d like to get to know you! Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? What was your most recent pre-MBA job?

Andrew: Thanks for featuring me on Accepted.com! I was born in Paris, France, but grew up here in the U.S. where I spent most of my youth in the Boston area. Needless to say, I really enjoyed the outcome of this year’s Super Bowl!

I attended Davidson College in North Carolina where I received a B.A. in Economics with a Concentration in Applied Mathematics. At Davidson, I was captain of the Men’s Division I Swimming team and met my future wife who was captain of the volleyball team. We now have two amazing sons, the second of whom was born during my first week at Chicago Booth. I always say my wife is my secret weapon during this business school journey.

Immediately before attending business school, I was a Vice President at Corrum Capital Management, a boutique alternative investment management firm headquartered in Charlotte, NC. Upon moving to Chicago and before starting classes, I did a two-month internship with a classmate’s startup that was participating in Chicago Booth’s Polsky Center Accelerator Program. My experience was actually featured in a recent WSJ article about pre-MBA internships and was an exciting opportunity to diversify my skill set before starting summer internship recruiting.

Accepted: Where are you currently in b-school? What year?

Andrew: I’m a second year at The University of Chicago Booth School of Business. It’s hard to believe I’m already entering my final quarter; graduation is less than 100 days away!

Accepted: Why did you choose Booth? How would you say you’re a good fit for the program? Which other programs had you considered?

Andrew: I choose Booth because I wanted to surround myself with extremely intelligent, high quality people. From the incredible faculty to my impressive classmates to the accessible alumni, I’ve been fortunate to learn from such a diverse and humble group.

I’ve personally benefitted most from Booth’s pay it forward mentality that permeates career preparation and recruiting. I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to give back as a member of the Graduate Business Council and co-chair of the Booth Technology Group.

My business school decision came down to Booth and UC Berkeley (Haas), both great programs. It was a difficult decision, but after visiting Booth during the admitted students weekend, now called First Day, I knew it was the right fit for me.

Accepted: And if you could change one thing about the program, what would it be?

Andrew: With evening, weekend, and PhD programs, Booth is unique in the sheer number of working professionals concurrently pursuing their MBAs. Although I’ve taken a couple evening classes at our downtown Gleacher Center, I feel that most of my academic experience has been centered down at the Harper Center in Hyde Park and kept separate from evening/weekend students. With more work experience on average and equally diverse backgrounds, I wish I had more organized opportunities to interact with these students to expand my network and learn from their experiences.

Accepted: Where did you intern last summer? Can you tell us about the role Booth played in helping you secure that position?

Andrew: I did my summer internship at Google in Mountain View. I was an MBA intern with the Global SMB Solutions team, which is responsible for increasing product adoption and driving revenue growth with small and medium businesses. It was an amazing experience!

As a career switcher, from financial services to tech, the preparation and mentorship offered through Career Services and the members of the Booth Technology Group were invaluable to my success securing a coveted spot at Google. I also benefited from the advantages of Booth’s flexible curriculum that permitted me to take courses early in my first year to prepare for the internship, including the experiential Developing New Products & Services course that paired my group with a leading digital media company for a consulting project.

Many people assume that because Booth is in the Midwest there are fewer opportunities in the technology industry, but that’s a common misconception. I had internship interviews with five of the largest technology companies in the world and was one of a dozen Boothies at Google this summer. In fact, Booth placed more students from my class in tech internships than investment banking, second only to consulting. It’s a trend that is developing at business schools across the country and it’s exciting to see Booth leading the way!

Chicago also has a very underrated tech scene that is booming. Booth has been a large contributor with successful startups growing out of our New Venture Challenge like GrubHub, BrainTree, and MuSigma.

Accepted: Likewise, if you have a job lined up for next year, can you talk about how Booth was involved in that process? What’s recruiting like on campus? How early does it start?

Andrew: I’m excited to be returning to Silicon Valley as a Management Associate with Box in their Rotational Leadership Program. I was looking to join a smaller tech firm full-time, so the majority of my recruiting this year was done off-campus. I was able to leverage the Booth network and my experience at Google to gain access to several high-growth tech companies.

Although I didn’t participate in on-campus recruiting for my full-time search, I can tell you that it does begin very quickly, pretty much right when we all return from our summer internships in late August. There tends to be a flurry of on-campus activity the first two weeks back, which this year included tech firms like Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and Samsung.

Accepted: Looking back at the MBA application process, what would you say was your biggest challenge? How would you advise others who are facing a similar challenge?

Andrew: The biggest challenge for me was managing the surprisingly demanding application process while balancing my career and family responsibilities. Looking back, I wish I had started the process earlier to meet the Round 1 deadlines and not felt obligated to push my applications back to Round 2. In addition, it’s become increasingly difficult to fully showcase your whole self in such a short amount of space and limited word count. Getting to an interview was my biggest objective because I knew I could better convey a sense of self than I could in an essay.

Accepted: How are you enjoying your time in Chicago? How does student life differ there than in North Carolina?

Andrew: My wife and I always joke that if you could remove the harsh winters from Chicago it would easily be the best city in the U.S., if it’s not already. We’ve honestly loved our time here in Chicago. We live downtown where we have several world-class museums, an abundance of amazing restaurants, and even the sandy beaches of Lake Michigan right at our doorstep. Having grown up in the Northeast, the winters have not been too bad for me, but I definitely feel for my classmates from South America who are experiencing true winter for the first time.

It’s hard to compare my undergrad experience in Davidson, NC to my graduate student experience here in Chicago. Overall, studying business at Booth in a big city like Chicago has been a great complement to my liberal arts education at a small school in rural North Carolina. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed both experiences!

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

You can read more about Andrew’s journey by checking out his Twitter and LinkedIn pages. Thank you Andrew for sharing your story with us – we wish you loads of luck!

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A Window into Life at Harvard Business School

Click here for more mba student interviewsThis interview is the latest in an Accepted.com blog series featuring interviews with current MBA students, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at top MBA programs. And now for a follow up interview with Tim Massey, who is about to complete his first year at Harvard Business School. (We first met Tim last year – you can read our first interview with him here.)

Accepted: Since we last spoke you applied to and got accepted to HBS. Congrats! How has your first year been so far? It b-school as you expected it to be? Any surprises? 

Tim: The first year has been an incredible ride. I’ve really enjoyed pretty much every aspect of it so far and I haven’t regretted my decision to study in the US for a second. The students here are an incredible bunch of people, and it’s really evident that the professors love teaching here. We’re fortunate enough to meet many of the protagonists of our cases or leading business leaders who come to visit our campus. The worldwide draw of HBS really enhances the experience. Without particularly seeking these opportunities out I’ve been able to listen to Peter Thiel (founder of Paypal and hugely successful investor), and Alan Mullaly (former CEO of Ford and Boeing).

HBS also is far more friendly and collaborative than I expected. It has a reputation for being a tough dog-eat-dog place, and that’s not really been my experience at all. Yes, it’s competitive but certainly not at any cost.

My biggest surprise is quite how busy I’ve been (despite HBS’ reputation) – it’s very different from my undergraduate studies and I’ve barely had a minute to myself from when I started right up until the Christmas break at the end of the first semester.

Accepted: Which MBA programs did you end up applying to? Was HBS your first choice? 

Tim: I described HBS originally as my joint first choice. As an engineer, I was also keen on MIT, but MIT made it an easy decision for me! I had a few other applications that I withdrew from early as I knew where I was going to be, and HBS is pretty much one of the first decisions you get in Round 1.

Accepted: If you could change anything about the program, what would it be?

Tim: My least favorite aspect of the whole MBA experience has undoubtedly been recruiting season. In contrast to many other parts of the experience, which tend to focus on self-growth and really achieving something meaningful, this seems very much stuck in the past.

I am sure this is borne out of necessity to compete with other schools and maintain league placing high up the recruitment league tables that applicants look at. But depth of support is really variable between traditional MBA industries (finance/consulting) and other more creative directions. It is very much at odds with the rest of the course and HBS’s mission to ‘educate leaders who make a difference in the world.’

I have a strong suspicion this is not unique to HBS and I think the competitive stats-based ranking system for admissions to the top business school really influences behavior here. Any school that deviates from promoting the top highly paid starting salaries and internships will suffer from a disadvantage in these metrics, and this promotes a ‘groupthink’ approach.

Accepted: Are you involved in any clubs on campus? How central to student life is club involvement?

Tim: There is a pretty huge array of clubs on campus to join, HBS definitely benefits from its size in this respect with members forming based on range of different interests. The majority are based around either professional/career interests (e.g. VCPE club (venture capital/private equity), Tech club), geographical locations (e.g. Euro club/LatAm club) or sports, with some special interests thrown in.

I’m been involved in helping to organize several of these, which is a bit of a throwback to my undergrad days when I was also heavily involved in the student body.

The main difference is a slightly more ‘professional’ edge than undergraduate clubs, with most designed to help navigate and network amongst the diverse student body, and attract specific career opportunities to campus.

Accepted: Can you tell us about  your experience with HBS’ FIELD program?

Tim: So far, I’ve travelled to Chengdu in China on FIELD 2, working with a social enterprise focused on promoting recycling electronics (I wrote about this in a little more detail on my blog here). It was a great project and really allowed me to get a unique perspective on awareness of environmental issues in China. As a whole experience, it really challenged some perspectives I had before I went.

At the moment I’m in the thick of FIELD 3, in the early stages of starting my own business with a group of other students. I’ll be sure to write more about it as we make progress!

Accepted: Have you been keeping up your blogging? Can you direct us to one or two posts that will further help us get up to date with your b-school adventure?

Tim: In addition to my post about FIELD above, I wrote down some of my perspectives on the first semester here.

I’m trying to keep up the blogging, but the strain on my time commitments makes it a bit more difficult to find time than it used to be! I try to write once a month or so – I’m in an incredibly fortunate position to write about what’s it like on the inside – I try to answer the questions I had as an applicant, and if anyone has any suggestions of things they’d like to know more detail about, I’m happy to take requests!

For one-on-one guidance on your b-school applications, please see our MBA Application Packages.  To read more about Tim’s b-school journey, please check out his blog, The Adventures of a MBA Student. Thank you Tim for sharing your story with us!

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An HBS Reapplicant’s Success Story

Read more MBA student interviews here!This interview is the latest in an Accepted.com blog series featuring interviews with current MBA students, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at top MBA programs. And now for a chat with Prerit Jain, a future MBA student at Harvard Business School.

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?

Prerit: My parents moved to New Delhi when I was less than a year old. This is where I grew up, went to school, college and have worked. In fact, it’s the only city I have ever lived in. (Well, you have to discount living out of a suitcase as a management consultant; more on that later.)

I went to the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi to study mechanical engineering, and did quite well academically, graduating at the top of my class.

Hoping to get diverse experiences, early in my career, I chose to start my career in consulting. Booz & Company had just opened its office in India, and seemed like an exciting opportunity. I worked there for more than three and a half years, before moving to my current role in early-stage venture capital with the First Light Accelerator Fund. I have been in my new role for only about a year now.

Accepted: Can you tell us about your application/reapplication experience? Where did you apply the first time around? What was the outcome? Where did you apply the second time?

Prerit: I submitted my first set of applications in Sept.-Oct. ’13 (R1 for the class matriculating in fall ‘14). I had worked at Booz for about three years, had been promoted twice, had a clear idea about my long-term goals and how an MBA would help. I was sure that I needed the MBA and the time was right. I applied to four schools: HBS, Wharton, Booth and Kellogg. I was interviewed by all four schools and in my view they all went well. I felt confident of getting admitted to more than one school. However, when the decisions came out, HBS put me on a waitlist and the other three said “thanks but no thanks.” I thought the world had come to an end and spent the next 2 weeks sulking!

Thankfully, I came out of that feeling in a couple of weeks, and began looking ahead. I decided to reapply. However, I realized that my learning curve at Booz had plateaued, and I needed to pursue something else. I was lucky to quickly find an exciting new opportunity (in venture capital), and by February, I had kick-started my new role.

Six months later, I reapplied in Sep ‘14 (R1 for the class matriculating in fall ‘15) to three schools: HBS, Booth, and Columbia. I was interviewed at all three schools, and finally received admits from HBS and Booth. I will be heading to Boston in the fall!

Accepted: What do you think went wrong the first time and what did you do when you reapplied to improve your candidacy?

Prerit: We can only speculate here! When I applied for the first time, I had only worked in one over-represented industry – consulting. Moreover, in hindsight, I perhaps did not practice my interviewing as much.

When I reapplied, I had gained some diverse work experience, and had some more interesting stories to tell. Also, I put in hours of practice before the interviews. I got several of my friends to interview me and I video recorded myself to observe softer elements such as body language and posture.

Accepted: Can you share some tips about applying to b-school as an over-represented minority? 

Prerit: Being an Indian-male-engineer-consultant, I knew I was indeed in a fiercely competitive pool. I knew I needed to show that I am both competent and interesting. I looked through the different parts of the application – the resume, application, essays etc. – and made choices about how I would use each of them.

Hard facts and stats went into the CV and the application form. The more differentiated and interesting personal qualities and experiences went into the essays.

Accepted: I see you got a 760 on your GMAT – amazing! What are your top 3 GMAT tips?

Prerit:

• A few weeks of dedicated preparation go farther than months of insincere efforts

• Practice those 4-hour full-tests. The GMAT is also a test of stamina.

• Right from day 1 of your preparation, get used to working under time constraint. Never attempt a GMAT question without having a timer in front of you.

For one-on-one guidance on your b-school application, please see our MBA Application Packages. For specific advice on how to create the best application for Harvard see: Harvard Business School 2016 MBA Essay Tips & Deadlines 

You can read more about Prerit’s journey by following him on Twitter at @preritjain1988. Thank you Prerit for sharing your story with us – we wish you loads of luck!

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• Harvard Business School 2015 MBA Questions, Deadlines, Tips