This interview is the latest in an Accepted blog series featuring interviews with MBA students, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at top MBA programs. And now for a chat with Top Dog, a first-year student at MIT Sloan. (We first met Top Dog last summer – you can read our first interview with him here.)
Accepted: It’s been more than a year since we last spoke – can you bring us up to speed? At that time you were preparing to reapply to b-school. So….did you get in??
Top Dog: Haha. Yes, I’m pleased to say the whole application process went more or less according to plan! I got offers from INSEAD and MIT Sloan but was dinged by Wharton after spending the summer on their waitlist.
Accepted: How did you decide between MIT and INSEAD? How was MIT Sloan a better fit for you?
Top Dog: It took me longer than I expected to decide between INSEAD and MIT Sloan. In the end I’m not even sure I know exactly what decided it. All I can say is that, deep down, I just knew that MIT was the right place for me, especially as a career switcher with a big interest in entrepreneurship.
Since I made the decision and arrived on campus in August I’ve just been blown away by my awesome classmates, the sense of exciting things happening all the time and the incredible resources available to help me make my next move.
Accepted: As someone who was dinged on your first try, can you share some advice to our readers on how to deal with getting dinged and tips for picking yourself up and reapplying?
Top Dog: For me the ding experience had a few different emotions: denial (I’d spent so long preparing for it, surely someone had made a mistake!?); anger (against the admissions system and how unfair it was); despair (is this the end of the road for me, after all that effort!?); and then the fightback, when I realised that I still really wanted to go to b-school and just had to do it.
Anyone who’s thinking of reapplying needs to take a critical look at their applications and be honest about where they took short cuts. It definitely won’t work to rehash your previous essays, you need to get help from friends, peers, managers, anyone who can give you fresh perspective on your resume, essays and interview strategy.
Be sensible when you choose your target b-schools, research them like crazy (and if you’re applying to schools that dinged you last time make sure you have a compelling story about why you’re re-applying and why things are different this time).
Accepted: Have you ever lived in the U.S. before? Are you excited to be living in Boston for the next few years?
Top Dog: I used to cover some clients in the US but had never spent more than a couple of weeks here until now. Boston is a beautiful city, there’s no doubt about it! And then there’s the prevalence of tech and start-up opportunities everywhere around campus, it’s really opened my eyes to a new career and convinced me to move into that space when I graduate.
Speaking of moving countries, I wrote a comprehensive guide for planning your move overseas which you can find here.
Accepted: Do you think you’ll move back to Europe post-MBA? Do you have any post-MBA plans?
Top Dog: My goal is to do my summer internship either in a large tech firm or at a start-up. I’m already working toward this goal and will hopefully use that experience in the same sector or co-founding a start-up when I graduate. I’m keeping my options open but really see the US as the best place to achieve those goals, in the short term at least.
Europe is a lot less exciting for me but it does help not to have to worry about those visa issues, so you never know!
Accepted: Can you share your top 3 admissions tips with our readers?
Top Dog: Sure!
1. Be prepared! There’s enough information out there for you to keep on top of your applications, that means writing something every single day. I wrote about the planning tools I created here.
2. Get as much help as you can. I was tempted to just plough ahead writing what I wanted without listening to others, especially when their advice was critical, but you need to get as many people as possible to review your whole application and then prepare you for interview. If you can’t find any suitable people, consider hiring an admissions consultant.
3. DO NOT underestimate the interview! I’ve met so many people who were so excited about getting an interview invite that they didn’t really prepare for the interview – big mistake! The interview is your final pitch to adcom about why they should admit you and should be treated as such. Be meticulous in your planning, have several different stories about your experience and practice, practice, practice. I’m sorry there are no short cuts here!
For one-on-one guidance on your b-school application, please see our MBA Application Packages