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 ice cream flavor?
The MBA Story: I am originally from India and not surprisingly, I have a typical profile similar to most Indian applicants :). I did my undergrad in Electronics and Communications Engineering from an institute that ranks among the top 10 engineering schools in India.
Since I decided not to pursue my interest in Communications, I moved on to work with software products at SAP Labs for around 3 years. Realising that I was keen to learn about the business side of things, it became very natural for me to pursue a degree in Management. Incidentally I was recommended very early in my career by my first boss to look at Management for furthering my career.
My favorite flavor of ice cream changes over time. It has been different versions of dark chocolate for a very long time but these days I am equally inclined towards berry flavours!
Accepted: Where did you attend b-school?
The MBA Story: I have graduated from NUS Business School after completing my full-time course and majoring in Strategy.
Accepted: How did you choose NUS? How would you say you were a good fit with that program?
The MBA Story: Honestly I had planned to apply to business schools over a 2 year time-frame. I would be looking at Asian schools for the first year and non-Asian schools in the next. I looked at the top 3 schools and NUS was right among them.
NUS looks for well-rounded students with a good mix of academics and work-experience. It helps when applicants have additional interests as it can bolster their applications. They also keenly try to figure out how well you would contribute to the class and student community. Most importantly, MBA at NUS is slightly tinged by a focus on the Asia-Pacific. That itself has been a great aspect for me because other than gaining specific knowledge and experience, the Oriental focus on practicality and humility helped to keep myself grounded throughout my studies and post-MBA career.
Accepted: Did you only apply to Asian b-schools? Which other programs did you apply to?
The MBA Story: Yes I did apply to only Asian schools in my first year of applying to business schools. Apart from NUS, I also applied to Indian School of Business, HKUST MBA and IUJ GSIM. I also wanted to apply to AIM but opted out at the last moment due to some feedback on placement services.
Accepted: What did you like best about living/studying in Singapore? What did you like least?
The MBA Story: There were a lot of great things about Singapore, including the great support from our MBA Office. Life was easier thanks to them. In fact, the MBA office and my friends have been the best part of studying at Singapore. It helps to stay in a foreign country which has great public infrastructure, security and support. Singapore scores very strongly there. There are also few benefits for students which help a lot, since they manage to lower your overall expenses.
The worst part would have to be the high cost of food and stay. Being post-graduate students, we could not take advantage of the lower cost housing at school which was offered to few select married students. We had to stay near the school and spend on higher rentals, travel to and fro from school. Although Singapore is a food lover’s delight, it is still quite expensive compared to a lot of countries including my own.
Accepted: Did you stay in Singapore/Asia after you graduated?
The MBA Story: I did plan to stay in Singapore after my graduation. I was going to start off working with P&G Singapore. However life had other plans. I returned to India for personal reasons and continued to stay and work here.
Accepted: What was your experience with NUS’s career services department? What role does the school play in helping students (and you specifically!) find internships/jobs?
The MBA Story: The experience with Career Services has been a mix for me and quite a few of my friends. They do work with the students and try to help them find jobs and internships. They also each out to alumni from time to time to connect and seek help. However, there is a variety of reasons why the results are still not as great as we would want them to be. However, being low on expectations and high on self-efforts helps a lot. I had 3 job offers when I passed out (graduated) during the recession, so nothing is impossible.
Accepted: What would you say are your top three tips for b-school applicants?
The MBA Story: The most important thing for a b-school applicant is to know why s/he is on this journey. Unfortunately an MBA is not only a 1 year or a 2 year destination with the dream job in the final semester. It is part of a journey and it helps you to chart one for yourself.
• Why are you pursuing a MBA? If you don’t have a one line answer (typically a sentence or 2 at most ) to this , chances are that your reasons are not clear or strong. On the other hand, if you are very clear about this, rest of the nitty gritty details fall in place.
• Research, research and more research: You need research to figure out which school you would like to go to, which school you can afford to go if scholarship doesn’t work out, which school has an amazing alumni, etc. The process never stops and continues well into the interview process. Get into the habit and it will help you through b-school including those 1 minute sudden conversations with people who could be possible recruiters.
• Money matters: It is highly important that you have financial estimates worked out for each of the schools you plan to attend. While it would be great to land that scholarship, you should have Plan B worked out. Also, you should not miss out on a slightly lower-ranked school because the finances did not work out on the ones you shortlisted and were accepted.
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