- Intake % of Indian engineers
- Teaching Methodology
- Curriculum and specialization.
I boil down A’s 2-5 to three which I rank as follows:
- Professional opportunity (roughly his 3 & a little of 6).
- Curriculum and school strengths (his 2, 4, 5, & 6).
- Personal preferences (A describes these as “tertiary” and for most of you that’s true.)
All the above have to be filtered through the lens of applicant qualifications and competitiveness, and I largely agree with A, except for one significant difference.
His #1 doesn’t appear on my list, and I’ll tell you why. The schools that seem to favor engineers –whether from India or Indiana — are also going to attract more applications from engineers. Furthermore, if you are attempting to break out of the engineering mold, attending a program that is very much in the engineering world won’t facilitate that change as well as a program with a different approach.
While I can certainly understand applicants wanting to attend a program where they will find others like themselves and feel more at home while thousands of miles away from home, you don’t necessarily need or want to be too much in your comfort zone.
Whether you are a career changer or enhancer, it is your job as an applicant to break out of the label and the mold “Indian IT guy” or “Indian engineer.” Don’t think of yourself first and foremost with the most generic and common labels in the applicant pool. Look at aspects of your experience and background that will differentiate you. My guess is that you will find them in specifics a few layers below the top level “Indian engineer” or “investment banker.” Focus on those details and highlight them in your application.
Finally, your school choice should be guided primarily not by the past or even the present. First and foremost, should be the future. What do you want to do after your MBA? Where do you envision yourself? What career options are worth uprooting yourself, spending all that money, and foregoing two years of income? (Leaving a job you hate doesn’t qualify, as was repeated over and over by adcom after adcom at the AIGAC conference, which I attended this past week in Boston.)
So “begin with the end in mind” as you plan your MBA future. Season your dreams with the reality of your qualifications as you choose your schools. But don’t let the most common label or denominator dominate your decisions.
For more on shortlisting MBA programs, please see Best MBA Programs: A Guide to Choosing the One for You.