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?
• 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!