Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Accepted at Teach for India!

My plan-A has till now deceived me but my Plan-B has worked! I have been accepted to Teach for India. It's an affliate to Teach for All and one of my dream organizations to work for.

The best part is I spent so much enerygy, money on my business schools plan but I never reveceived a beautiful email. But today I have received a congratulations email and I never spent same amount of energy and money (actually no money!) in pursuing it.Its true when they say that you are going to get a good news from where you expected least!

"Dear Prospective 2011 Teach For India Fellow,


It is our great pleasure to offer you admission to the 2011 Teach For India
Fellowship. We are inspired by your past achievements, drive, and commitment to educational equity, and believe that you are ready for the challenge of teaching and leading for two years in an under-resourced school.

Congratulations on your acceptance into this selective Fellowship, offered
to less than 10% of our applicants—an acceptance rate that is at par with
leading institutions like Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, The
Wharton School of Business and INSEAD. This makes you one of the top
leaders in the quest for educational equity for the nation."


I actually felt a lump in my throat when I received an acceptance! I am really happy that I have been accepted at least by one place I wanted to be at and the year is not ending that badly as it has been all throughout.


I am going on the yatra tomorrow. I hope to write while traveling in the train.

Thank you guys for all your support and lovely comments. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Waitlisted at Tuck

Oh...The result is out....and I have been waitlisted....Dont feel very positive about it...but negative energy in me has been reduced to an extent....Congratulations all who got admitted...It should be a great feeling

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Dinged by Kellogg!

Bad news have started rolling in. I got a ding from Kellogg yesterday. I initially got a waiver and was never got a phone interview invite from the AdCom, so kinda expecting it. But its hard to see your fears turning to reality.
All the best everybody!

I know lot of  good things are written for me but I know now that Kellogg isn't one of them

Friday, December 10, 2010

Reaching My Mukaam – A Yatra will be my first destination

Hello guys! I am sure you have found this post as a result of keeping yourself updated in whatever part of MBA application journey you are – GMAT Preparation/R1 and waiting or R2 and preparing! The journey is stressful and I may soon be the one who never found out a good outcome after year and half of hard work in pursuit of a good business school education.

Never mind! As the comments from all of the fellow aspirants on my last post read “It’s not end of the world”, the time has come that I prepare myself to “Move On!” So, here is what I am going to do to end this year with a brighter note.

I am going to travel 9000 kms all throughout India on a train for continuous 18 days, meet social entrepreneurs spread all across my country. Exciting. Right? It is. I have been shortlisted out of 20000 candidates (three times more the number of people who appled in my dream b-school last year) and made it to final 400. (trying to be optimistic!)

This Yatra (called TATA Jagriti Yatra) aims to make Indian youth aware about few of our countrymen who are making lives of thousands of impoverished in the country better. It’s a great opportunity for me personally and I am really looking forward to meet these Social Entreprenuers. Sounds like a learning expedition!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The end of the tunnel

I have been deliberately out of the blog-sphere for a while....Hiding.....because howsoever good I have been in my applications....how much honestly hard-working I have been...how much purely I was wishing to get accepted in a good business school....I have started feeling beyond a point nothing is in my control...I have controlled what I could control...and now the result is inevitable.

Waiting is dreadful.....because it gave you a sense of loss that is round the corner....I say loss because the way things have turned out in round 1, I have felt that is what I am going to end up with.

The calculus of my psyche is working in only one direction - What I am going to do if I get dinged from all business schools that I have applied to?  What will I do in round 2 ? Should I use same career goals? or my leadership stories? or description of my extra-curricular activities? Or in another next month I revamp my essays? Will I be able to introspect and find out what's wrong in my vision of my career or in my way of being a leader so that a good business school accepts me? Or does it mean I am still not ready for a good business school right now? Or I am not ready at all?....Waiting is a dragon and howsoever I try to console myself that this is not going to happen....that a good business school will accept me. I will get a beautiful 2KB email saying Congratulations...may be even a phone call that says we would love to have you here. May be within a month I may join facebook group of accepted candidates. But honestly, I know somewhere deep inside a dreamer's dream all this is...

I was invited for interview from 2 of 4 schools I applied to. And I screwed up one interview which I wanted to be so damn perfect. Those 30 minutes of that interview keep on haunting me since as many days and nights I have been past it, wishing that the interviewer saw my honest efforts and realize my potential behind the rambling I did. I may get acceptance from the second school but that is not really what I wanted to end up with, so decision of accept from that school may not compensate the loss I foresee from three other schools. The three losses will hurt me higher than one win can make me feel good.

I have heard when you really want something right from your heart, you will get it. I sincerely pray that I am not an exception to this rule. I have lot of optimistic things in my life and I hope they give me strength if a difficult time is written for me ahead although I know Krishna will bless!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Lessons learned during MBA application process

After a long time, I have got a weekend free at home and I spent time to pause and analyse what I did so far in this entire year that took me closer or away from my plan of an MBA. I have been fully energized since the beginning of this year to pursue an  MBA degree from reputed institute and take my career in the right direction. But I took few steps that helped me and some that hurt me.

The MBA application process is a very demanding process and it can be rightly classified as a part-time job in which you have no other incentive other than a hope that a top-rank MBA institute will recruit you soon.It has that perinneal ensuing uncertainity in which no one can be easily confident that he will get exactly what he wants. As much as the reputation of the instititute matters, the entire process becomes a matter of personal ambition and whether in the end you are compromising or getting the best deal you think you deserve.

After appearing for GMAT last year I postponed the idea of applying and I had a year in my hand to plan on the process and also a chance to improve weaknesses in my profile.The initial plan went like this:
1) Work dedicatedly in improving the profile till June 2010.
2) Shortlist schools till June end
3) Start writing essays for one school since beginning of July and give each school not more than three weeks.
4) Apply to atleast three schools in Round 1

What I actially did:
1) I did improve my profile till beginning of June
2) I shortlisted schools by July end
3) I strated writing essays for Ross but was never able to complete them till two days before deadline. I started writing apps for Tuck after one month of starting Ross without finalizing even one essay for Ross.
4) I was never able to officially start Kellogg essays.In the essays I submitted I think I would have done few minor things differently.
5) I trusted my reviewers and while waiting for their responses I kept on updating my essays. All my reviewers gave me good feedback but in retrospect I think it's better to take a professional feedback which I did mere three weeks before the deadline. I say this because students and grads of the school have limited time and they cannot give proper justice to your essays on continous basis. So trust your reviewers but don't expect a lot. They will never be in frame of mind of AdCom but their review would help you to understand what's absolutely crap in your essays.

During last week, I was in tremendous pressure which is the situation one should avoid. If I had sticked to my plan then I would have been very confident of three applications I submitted. But the last week's pressure I really should have avoided. I felt I was completing few part of the apps for the purspose of completing them and even when I was reading them second time, I wasn't able to critically evaluate what I have written. i have to sleep over only to find out what stupididity I have done the previous night. thankfully, I had completed most part of the apps earlier but I still edited a lot during last days which certainly was traumatising.

I think the biggest fault was not to submit the app much ahead of the deadline. This was obviously factored by delay in right feedback. I would say that it's really very important that you make a definite target of submitting one app much ahead of its deadline.

I dont think I coluld have made apps better if I have postponed to round 2 but I did feel this process deserves much definite timeline and assured reviewers because a wrong reviewer can hurt your timeline badly and a improper time schedules can destroy your application. Also, I agree with Richard Montauk viewpoint to start with app that has longest essays and in which you have more content to cover such as that of Kellogg.

I am still in phase of waiting but now I have stopped worrying. Now I have got some time to pick few incompleted taksks again and I am not going to waste it on worrying. Que sera sera!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The real Bangalore!

Last week for me was pretty hectic. I submitted four apps – Ross on Friday, Tuck on Tuesday, Kellogg on Wednesday and Rochester on Friday – huff..huff…huff. I still dream about what I have written on my final essays - sometimes I feel good and sometimes I feel it's not up to the mark. It goes like this…for last line of third essay for Tuck, I think adcom will smile but the second example of leadership essay for Kellogg, they may say this girl looks absolutely normal. I doubt if she can bring something wonderful to Kellogg. Let's keep this app in the rejection pile. AHHHH! I am scared. No doubt… It's a matter of months and months of hard work for us and half-hour job for them. Especially for Tuck, I have that feeling that since I haven't visited campus, they might compare my profile with someone who has, and choose him instead of me.

I am not able to get over with it. I am in phase of constant worrying which I know does not make any sense. Anyways, It's a huge relief for me that I decided to shift with my sister his weekend. OK…Let me rewind it a little bit. My baby sister got a job in Bangalore but her office is in southern-most part of Bangalore while mine is in North. I was living farther North from my office in a beautiful locality, in a wonderful house and around great people. So, if she had stayed with me, it would have taken her around two and half hours every day to reach office – that makes five hours every day. We eventually decided that she stays close to office and I will move later with her. Meanwhile, I got a job opportunity in another city which I declined at last moment. During the time I decided, she shifted in a small house – smaller than mine and twice the rent - in one of the most happening part of Bangalore. This area has many PGs, many "live-in" and much more traffic jams. Honestly, I was living in suburb with families all around and now migrated to the city. The transition is not that easy. I used to open my eyes in a balcony where I could see not even a single person, just a beautiful lake, ducks, cows, birds and trees. Here are two pictures from my balcony:



And now I wake up to a concrete jungle – don't have a picture right now but I think you can easily imagine. But that disappointment is miniscule in comparison to being with family. After staying alone for around two years, it's really so full-of-warmth to stay with my sister. I want to spoil her, do shopping for her and cook food for her. I want to take her along with me wherever I go for MBA. I am not sure how will I make that possible!

I am still getting acquainted to this place but staying with my sister has given me a little time-off from constant worrying about the results for R1. It was damn difficult to hit the submit button for four apps and I am just keeping my fingers-crossed. No more worrying, I promise.


 


 

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Appmentor services: Get a sanity check for your completed essays!


After completing my essays for Tuck last week, I absolutely needed an experienced eye for verifying my essays.

As I posted earlier, the feedbacks that I was receiving for my essays were confusing me and I was losing confidence after continuous thrashing. So, I decided to research for a professional service which can give me a critical eye. While talking to a friend in Chennai who works at 4GMAT Institute I asked him if he knows any graduate student who is in admission consulting business and can give me right feedback on my essays. He redirected me to AppMentor where a group of current students and graduates from top business school provide a feedback service.

Since I was just looking for feedback on my essays and resume, and not editing, I found their service absolutely suitable and decided to hire them.

After skimming through few of the mentors on their website, I chose a mentor who was in admission consulting business for a while. She told me absolutely what's wrong in my story and even appreciated what's right. She broke my career goals essay into three halves and explained what's impressive and what's not. Following her feedback, I was quickly able to fix my essays and felt confident that my essays were not that bad after all. She even pointed out what's missing from an admission committee perspective. As an icing on the cake, I received feedback within 24 hours of my submission. After waiting for weeks for my essays from my reviewers earlier, this was absolutely delightful.

One thing I want to note here is that AppMentor will not provide you any editing service. They may point out few grammatical mistakes and let you know where to break a paragraph but their purpose is to give you the feedback on overall strategy of your essays as well as on the minute details. For example – for my challenge essay, my mentor noted that the essay is chronological and comes from the heart but told me exactly what detail is missing.

After continuous confusing feedbacks for weeks, AppMentor service was a relief for me. I found them very ethical and supportive in their approach which was exactly I was looking for.

Disclaimer : I have received 10% discount on service fee for writing review on AppMentor services on this blog. These views above however are purely from my experiences and the reader should assume that discount that I am availing does not impact my analysis above.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Tuck and Ross essays: feedback that I have received so far

Hi guys! I have been struggling since last month to write one perfect essay. And I haven't. I see essays everywhere. While sleeping! While eating! In cab! In office! During lunch while talking about range of topics from Black Magic to Hindu mythology to NGOs in India! I search for a powerful anecdote, for a wonderful idea that I can put in. The truth is that I am transforming my essays a lot but I am not sure if I am getting closer or farther. I have given essays to my reviewers from different B-Schools –Harvard, MIT, Kellogg, Simon, Booth, Ross. But I have got some feedbacks difficult to include and some just bull's eye.


 

Let me tell you few statements right out from feedbacks:


 

  1. Your story is interesting but your ending does not have a climax. It's flat!
  2. Your story seems to get lost in the middle. You have the content but you don't have a flow
  3. Content of your career-so far is too generic. Doesn't look like that you have done something in reality.
  4. Your Why Tuck content is good. It's interesting, but its lacking smoothness
  5. Your why Tuck Content is not good. You have not written about the exclusivity of Tuck.
  6. You have too much 'I'.
  7. Your career goals are not in a story form!!!!! This so far has been the most difficult to implement. I have started with the first paragraph with a story but its eating words from my answers:
    1. Why Tuck?
    2. Why now?
    3. Why Short-term? What in short term? What in short-term will connect to you to your long term goal?
    4. What in long term

    Tell me guys, have you guys able to write our career goals in a story format and still able to accommodate answers to all these questions? Its seems to be the most herculean task so far

  8. You have told about yourself right from college but what about your life before college? This has come for Introduce Yourself 100 Words essay for Ross. This essay has killed me so far the most.


 

The conclusion that I have derived out of this entire story is few feedbacks really helped me but few I can never implement in my current essays. I have to scrap them off completely to include such feedbacks. Some are contradictory from each other, some are really helpful. Sometime I try to implement one thing and loose another.

As deadlines are getting closer, I have realized I am not done even with one school's essays. And it's looking like a distant dream now. Panic is about to grow and to add more spice to life, Murphy is at its best. My modem has started crashing. It remains alive for five minutes than its lights start dancing and broadband stops working!!! Even while I was writing this post, I have restarted modem thrice.

Long live BSNL and their modems!!! I am not sure what wrong I have done to them. Please forgive me!

Uffff!!!


 

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Peaceful Warrior

To fight for that coveted spot in my dream school, I have learnt a lesson. I have to stop worrying about what will be the outcome of my essays while I am writing them. I just have to be in that moment, answering the question, writing my story. I have to free my mind.

Peaceful Warrior represents how to be warrior while keeping your mind at ease, at peace. It's easy? No it isn't. Think that you are in right front of Live TV Camera and you just have one shot and you are not allowed to make a mistake. You are bound to give a perfect shot. This way you will reach excellence in your essays. Just think about the best answer of the question, write you story, express your thoughts, pour your heart. You will see that you will reach closer to that perfection.

The toughest part is its one thing to think that you are in front of Live TV when you are actually not. But I firmly believe if we follow this practice, we would be able to write those essays - our best shot - at once. Those versions of the essays will be written on which I want to hit the submit button. This is not an easy task and if someone is able to do it, let me know. But its a great thought.And of course, not mine. I am just a medium.

Source: Harsha Bhogle, TV Cricket Commentator on his lecture in IIM-A on How to reach Excellence ,
             Peaceful Warrior -Hollywood Flick

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Great Debate: Resolve

I have a situation here and I have to decide within this week. Resolve:

Current Job - Great Organization, Great Work, Nice Team, Lot of friends in the city and especially my younger sister came to the town recently, decent pay, Bad job title (Software Engineer which I am not working as, and management couldn't change it), "May" get a trip to US before December (my own visa got rejected so looking forward to visit schools)

New Job -  Great Organization (More known), Better Brand Reputation, New City - hardly know anyone, May get a month's break between jobs - will get more time to complete apps and prepare for CFA level 1, Very good pay (best by industry standards),and best part is Great Job Title (Specialist - they were looking for six years work ex but they are hiring a 3-year, may be a great thing to highlight in resume if I m called for a B-School interview)

Please help me with your vote.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

LinkedIn, MIT Sloan, CFA and Pink Floyd


Barring the last one in the title above, remaining three are connected and they have made my day. On Friday last week, I was updating my profile information on linkedin when I had this weird although very fortunate idea of searching "CFA MBA" on it. I found a guy in my organization who is a CFA charter holder and an MBA from MIT Sloan. I sent him an email if he can spare some time and wolla! I talked to him today. He gave me all details about what all possible options I have. He was a mechanical engineer turned into software writer into MIT Sloan Grad into Consultant into Quantitative Analyst. He knew so many things about Finance and the best part is since I had told him that I am a technologist, he was explaining finance things to me in plain English.

He has given me a great idea on how to improve resume. He said go to a job portal website, look for the job you want to be in and highlight in your resume, skills that you have developed related to that kind of job. I had shared my resume with him before the meeting.His input was that your career goal does not seem to be connected at all to the work you are doing although he understands as a career-changer it will rarely be the case but it's good to have something related. Even if you are doing something additional beyond your current job for your career goal, give a weight to that in your resume. Great point. Isn't it?



About the last part of the title, I was listening to Pink Floyd's "Wish you were here" on Friday after charging iPod after years and the music keeps ringing into my ears ever since. There is something different about it, something unique.

"So you think you can tell heaven from hell?"

Wish I was there…..in my dream school…Its long struggle and sometimes I feel so much discontent writing and reaching that perfection. You might be aware that Pink Floyd mixed several of their experimented compositions into one to make music of "Comfortably Numb". May be I have to write essays several times to make them as perfect as this song is.

Child has grown, dream is gone………..With six hundred words I cannot write a line as impactful as they have done with just six words. I am not that good yet.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Header that keeps me motivated - Stephen M. Ross School of Business

The essays that I have created word documents for were looking plain till I gave them a crown of the school they belonged to.


That gives me motivation and keeps right in front of my eyes the name of the big destination I am targeting.

I have finally been able to compress Introduce Yourself essay to 100 words. Yipppee!!
Took ideas from different people - my younger sister, her friends, my cab mate, a girl in 12th standard, a fellow applicant at office and of course Mr.A . I felt nice after naming the document "Introduce Yourself Final Version".
What was most fun writing this weekend was the frustration essay (the one in the image). I was recalling how the frustration filled compassion in me for others. And sub-consciously, how I made efforts to help others, improve my behavior and stayed down to earth. The truth is disappointment makes you realize what's important for you. Wow man! I never thought of these things when I was doing them. But all these things have now become part of my story. I seriously relate to the fact that writing essays gives you lot of time for self-reflection.

Stay focused and healthy.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Stephen M. Ross school of Business : The others this weekend

The first essay of introducing myself is finally approved by somebody who do not usually approves things easily - my sister. I had a surprise lined up in my mailbox when I returned from office saying its perfect.
That gives me some confidence to move to other essays though I now have to figure out those 15 words from that essay that are responsible for overshooting the word-limit


As I said earlier, my career goals essay is missing crispiness. So, the first target of this weekend is that essay. I also have to draft Why Ross? in that. The essay question reads:

2. Describe your career goals. How will the Ross MBA help you to achieve your goals?
(500 word maximum)

I was earlier thinking to draft first versions of essays all schools that I am applying to in first round. But I am stuck with first school's first essay since an era.

Career goals essay - my essay's structure:
1) Clearly my goals
2) My experiences that derives me towards those goals
3) My professional experience (I am a career changer) and how will it help me towards my goals
4) My short term goal and what I want to do in the role I aspire to be in.
5) How my short term goal will ultimately lead me to my long term goal. What I intend to do?
6) Why I need an MBA for my goals
7) How will Ross help me (pending)

So here I am - chiseling my career goals essay to bring that missing crispiness. Hey experts out there - What do you think of my approach?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Stephen M. Ross school of business. Introducing Myself has never been that tough

I tried moving to Tuck's essays as I mentioned in my previous post but while discussing at lunch in office about one of the recent happenings in my team during which I was quite frustrated, I found the idea of Ross' frustration essay. I wrote it down and my first reviewer A agreed with only last two paragraphs out of five!

So my first set of essays are taking shape but at the snail's speed. I had my career essay reviewed by a Kellogg recent grad who liked the content of my essay but found the crispiness missing.

Amongst all of the essays, I am particularly surprised by amount of time I have devoted to Intoduce Yourself essay. Its 100-words essay and I guess that makes its most difficult. I tried following three different approaches-
1) How people describe me, What good things they find in me and used that as a base for the essay. Captured too less information about me.
2) How I describe myself. Scrapped it after first version. Felt like self-boasting.
3) What my experiences have been? What my interests are? What my career path is?

I have frozen the third approach after reading recommendations from three different usual sources on how to write this essay - SBC, ClearAdmit and Accepted.com. I am too lazy to attach links today!

I liked Linda's approach from accepted.com who asks to write about your elevator pitch (I have wondered several times What's my pitch???) and what is the first thing you want them to know about you. Also, I think ClearAdmit is correct in saying that you have to introduce yourself as a candidate. This is not an introduction to your peers.

The essay that I have written has taken a good shape. I think! But I am still dancing to the tunes of word limit.
Hope to have this done. Yes Richard! Its draining. No second thoughts about it.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Tuck Tuck Tuck!

This morning has been dedicated to Tuck. Actually I wanted to find out essays on Tuck's website and I have still not found them. I googled essays on its website as well and  didn't get any link on essays. It was easier to find them on clearadmit.
So my collection of Tuck search (other than Tuck's website) so far:
1. A slice of Tuck :
http://tuck06.blogspot.com/
2. Indian at Tuck BW Forum thread
http://forums.businessweek.com/n/pfx/forum.aspx?tsn=21&nav=messages&webtag=bw-bschools&tid=73289
3. Richard's Tuck Visit
http://money9111.blogspot.com/2010/03/dartmouth-tuck-visit.html
4. Tuck's essays question :
http://blog.clearadmit.com/2010/07/dartmouth-tuck-essay-questions-2010-2011/

I haven't visited Tuck yet but I really want to. Sadly, Tuck does not also have information session in Bangalore this year. This time many schools are not having information session in Bangalore - Kellogg, Columbia and Tuck are few that I have figured out till now.What's wrong with Bangalore?  If its about advertising about the school then I can surely say in all sessions that I have attended so far, I have found a huge crowd.Many students from Chennai, Mysore travel to Bangalore for information sessions.Lot of admitted Indian applicants are Bangalore based I am sure. Then why they have taken such a decision? Tuck discontinued after 2008 and Columbia is not having this time.

Anyways, I have written first draft of three essays for Ross. Still not able to figure out the right choice for frustration/disappointment question.So, I have decided to move to Tuck. I wanted to write first draft of all schools that I am applying to before fine tuning essays. I was earlier thinking of applying to Tuck in second round but I think I want to move it up as Tuck is increasingly becoming my first choice. I think its an ideal place for a studious person like me. I really need that calm setting to study!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Stars are all alone when they shine ...but they still give light

I am philosophical today. Since the time I have written my last post, something has jinxed my peace. I have taken tremendous pressure. Expectations weren't fulfilled even before but now I am taking stress when they are not being met. I didn't go to work on Friday and my sleeping cycle has hit badly . Good things may come - I may get a job I have given interview for. I wont give further details. I don't want to jinx something again. I wrote Ross' essays first version. So, things are not that out of track as I am feeling.But I am drained out. Why? I myself have no answer. I just hope when I get what I want, I am still shining......and not be dull as I am today.

 I am tired today even after a three days complete break. May be that's the reason. It's not the time to take a break. I saw three movies since yesterday classifying them in my break No point as I know that I am supposed to do many other things.Let me do something which I have not been able to do since a long time.Sitting in front of computer isin't giving me energy anyways. I wont write anymore as I want to write with a better frame of mind.Take care. See you!

Monday, July 12, 2010

What is the MBA application process teaching me?

Preface-  Nothing in this post is intended to be self-congratulatory or boastful. its an honest account of what journey to a b-school has done to me so far. So much so that even if I don't get it, I will not have anything to lose.

I think this is going to be one of the longest post on my blog ever. I wanted to write down today how much the journey itself to a B-school has been inspiring for me. Eight months back I was still figuring out why I should do an MBA and decided that I was not completely ready. I actually left my apps at the altar!

When I started my professional career three years back, I was inspired to work hard and be smart. When I moved to Bangalore, i decided to stay alone. These things have actually molded me well in last two years. At first, I became domesticated. I learnt cooking, sweeping and wiping  the floor (yes I didn't hire a maid!) and running! I used to run upto one hour. I was having congenial heart disease and as a kid I was a declared weak! But like Forrest Gump, when I started running, I kept on running! So on  a typical week day I would wake up at 6AM go to jog, clean the house, cook breakfast and lunch and then get ready to go to office; Work around 14 hours a day, come back and cook dinner. and sleep. It used to be perfect. Then there were attractions. I got attracted to Namaste Yoga and I started practicing that instead of jogging. After reading an article in The Hindu about why education should be returned back to community, my love for teaching got enticed and I started teaching the daughter of the lady running the parlor. That girl has a great respect for me today and I think that's one of the most selfless job that I ever did. This continued at my workplace as well when I assumed responsibilities of three people who left our team. I vividly remember the expression on my manager's face when he said that I am one of the most efficient individual he has worked with in his 10-year career. I think I tasted success that day. Has it ever happened to you that when you returning from work at 10PM in the night but you are smiling about something. This used to happen with me everyday. I was not sure what I did, that made me feel that way, but in hindsight I think it was the hard work that I was putting in. Nothing was pre-defined or disciplined, I just somehow was able to do it. This was the life I lived for almost six months after I moved to Bangalore, until the day I decided that I will give GMAT (and not MBA). I had too little idea about what are the other parts of the application process and why I should do an MBA. When GMAT prep began, I left every other responsibility that I had taken - hired a maid, ate food at workplace, discontinued jogging, seldom practiced surya namaskar. But I still slept properly and still worked immensely. In fact, GMAT helped me to be more analytical and had improved my reasoning skills and that was always shown at my office. I think continuing education always does that to you! I felt this more stronger with my CFA prep days.

When GMAT got over, I talked to few people. They told me that having a faint idea on what you want from an MBA is sufficient. You just have to get in, you will figure out more things on your own. When I attended my first admission information session in October, I heard a booth alum of 87 batch talking that he had followed the same career path as he wrote in his apps. At that very moment, I realized that I will not be justifying myself if I apply. But I still continued exploration and thought may be in a month I will figure out whatever I was thinking I need an MBA for, is actually the reason I need an MBA for. But MBA apps are no Archimedes' eureka moment. They require constant underpinning. They require you to be crystal clear and AdCom doesn't need to tell you that. You will realize this yourself when you are writing your essays. I discontinued my applications and I didn't apply at all. That is I think is one of the wisest decision that I made because I listened to my heart and my brain. It was an informed decision and I have not regretted it till date.

So what should I have done next then? When I have got more time to evaluate myself I realized that I need to do some work in that area I was intending to be in. But that industry wouldn't take me today because I am not qualified for the job. I spared my mind for some time and joined bollywood dancing classes at Lourd Vijay Dance Studio for three months. But my mind was not meant to be spared. I kept on exploring options that could make me qualified. I talked to few friends who were in that industry already and learned that enrolling in  CFA Program will be the best step that I can take.CFA exam preparation has made me wiser and clearer that whatever I  intended my goal to be , it is the goal meant to be.

Shall I tell you how this entire process has made me better? I am more confident than ever. i know today more than ever in my life how things work and especially how I can make them work. I inspired few more girls to take GMAT. I never said anything directly . They say they just loved the way I have grown in front of them. I joined CRY and developed so much love for the village that I know that I have been contributing really well. I still cook many times, still dance sometimes and tomorrow after a long time, i will be going for a a jog. When you reach a situation in your life that says "Been there, done that" then you know what exactly you want out of life!

Why I am telling you this today? Because this Saturday when I was supposed to take an off, I went to office to meet director of finance in my organization. (It was not that I knew him from before. i wrote him an email on Friday that I want to meet to know about finance more and he responded that Saturday is an easy working day for him). For the first time in my life, somebody told me that whatever I will decide to do out of my life, i will have no problem in achieving it because I have that drive and talent. And he said I cannot plan everything, I can just set my direction. The way he listened to me and reflected my thoughts back on me, has boosted my confidence enormously.

I don't know what is in store for me on MBA front but I think it has been a while that I have any fear of losing anything from that store! good day! stay healthy and stay focused!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

“if Stanford will dismiss this, they are going to regret it"

No these are not my words and I have not reached that mukaam yet where I can say this. I was going through Adam Markus blog where I read this interview of current Stanford student. While writing essays, I think this this is a great objective to begin with. One should actually target becoming so well-prepared and confident about essays that one can say it's school's problem if it is not considering.

However, if you think about it more, it will turn out to be a chicken-egg problem. Your essays can be good only if you are good at first place. Despite this realization, I think the key is to be well-prepared. One of the brightest idea I got in recent times (no not mine - recently grad Harvard student) is to prepare your essays 2 months in advance and send them to as many current students of the school as possible. Even if you get a response from one or two students you will get lot of insights on whether you are thinking in the right direction and where do you stand with respect to intelligentsia of the school.

With all schools out with the list of essays for this year, no credit to me for saying that the season has begun!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

One year of my GMAT!

It has been an year that I gave GMAT - exactly one year. I have never written about my GMAT day but I can tell you it was an exciting day. When I got the score, I actually jumped on eerie staircase of Pearson center in Bangalore. The only disappointment was that I forgot to look at time after I was left with last SC question and as soon as I was moving my mouse to mark answer as "D", I got the most dreaded alert of any GMAT test taker - Your time is up!
After this disaster, I was expecting my score to be less than 700 and in those 10 minutes after that stupid message box where they make you fill all sorts of things (I was so lost wondering about my score that I don't know what I filled in there), I was actually loosing heart. But somehow I actually managed to get a decent score. When I came out of the room, the man-in-charge said - Congratulations! You are third highest scorer of the day. I was actually wondering what he would have said if I had marked that "D"!
The ironical thing is that just a day before my G-Day, I attempted the two tests reinstalling them on my notebook from mba.com (yes two tests in same day and right before my exam!) and scored 730 in both of them. When I left for Pearson center - my elder sister said your score will be +-30 of 730 but nopes I scored just 730!
I never did anything else for my apps other than preparing for GMAT for those three months. I never missed a day of studying. I never studied quant other than going through it during full-length tests and I did only four full-length tests! But I studied verbal and studied it hard. I did all three OGs I had access to - OG10, OG11, OG12, GMAT Verbal along with Kaplan 800, Manhattan SC guide and Kaplan Comprehensive. At one point, I made no question wrong in CR and RC. I timed all my questions and I used to bookmark in OG all 41 questions from all three verbal sections that I had to attempt in that hour. But throughout, I remained a poor scorer in SC. Not once I got it all right. One of the best things I did was, in the notebook where I attempted all questions after the test, I used to write down my assesment- whether I was sleeping or feeling tired or wandering off or I was rocking the test or I was fresh, active etc. I also included in my appraisal why I marked a wrong question that way and how differently I was thinking with respect to OG. That did a trick! I improved considerably. It felt like you have reached to the paradigm where test-makers are.
But even after putting so much hard work in verbal my break-up of score is 50 Quant, 38 Verbal. LoL! Quant is like in my blood and verbal cannot even be an acquired trait. So I may not be right person to give you verbal advice but I can tell you to get a great score never miss a day and be your own critique.
After being a GMAT instructor for short time, I can also tell you that if you can stay discipline and focussed, you need no coaching. If you want to spend money, spend it in buying original GMAT books. Even the smell and color of those books can inspire you to study.
Always have a pen and a notebook to write down. Howsoever good I was in quant, I wrote down step-by-step each quant question I attempted. And with verbal, I always created ABCDE graph and eliminated the wrong answers.
Huff! I am done writing! Just have to say GMAT day had set direction of my life and is a first step of my aspired career. Rest all my hard work after GMAT howsoever more than it is than I put in GMAT, is actually a step beyond it.
Thanks for reading the post. Please do leave your comments - whatever they are - good or bad.

P.S. What a coincidence that I have got my 730th visitor today

Thursday, July 1, 2010

What I did in last 15 days to shortlist schools

After a brief period of hibernation, I have come back to write a post on the final list of schools that I will be applying. My rigorous research on schools after CFA Level 1 (on June 6) has brought me now to a logical closure on list of schools in my "dream" category.

My research criteria -
1) Whether the schools can place me in the job I seek after MBA, target industry and recruiters.
2) Practical Exposure provided by the school beyond the case studies and lectures!
3) No. of students in the class, collaborative environment, people not running behind grades (grade non-disclosure non-discussion environment).
4) Being an international candidate, preferring city where my target recruiters are present in the city itself so that I can find a job faster as most Alum, Job recruiters will be present nearby. Though I may have to trade-off this attribute with high cost of living!

Schools that I have come up with -
1) Columbia - for points 1),2) and 4). Absolutely for the new york advantage and strength in finance curriculum.
2) Booth - for points 1),2) and 4).inspiring place, flexible curriculum, great recruitment in finance.
3) Ross - for points 2) and 3) (practically no grading at all). Programs like MTrek, MAP etc and because Ann Arbor is wonderful city.
4) Kellogg - for points 1), 2), 3) (very strong) and close 4). Kudos to Kellogg for making such a great collaborative community.
5) Tuck - for points 1), 2) and 3). The most conducive environment for studying. No distraction, strong sense of community, less students. And because I am clearly impressed by Tuck's leadership course.

My research sources:
1) Business Week guide to Best Business schools (2003 edition) (bought from Flipkart.com)
2) Grads/current students from the schools. (Kellogg, Booth, Ross, Harvard)
3) How to get into top MBA programs by Richard Montauk (bought from Flipkart.com)
4) School's website
5) Other sites - clearadmit.com, blogs of students

I will be applying in the following order:
Columbia - Early decision
Booth -Round 1
Ross -Round 1
Kellogg - Round 2
Tuck -Round 2

Other than three dream schools in October, I will be applying to two more schools in Round 1 - one in each reach and safe category. I still have to research on those schools.

I am not sure how to end this post but I think writing this is a relief as now I have created formally a final list of schools.
The decision was tough because I have wandered. Somewhere out there might be a school that I have missed in my list and where I could be happier and better positioned. Also, somewhere out there could be a dream school that I have left out but where my chances of getting in were brighter.
But now the list has been written and decision has been made. And I am confident that I have made the right decision. In worst case scenario even if I haven't, I will have to turn the tide.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Shortlisting Schools - Day 8

Inflation is on a high in India and there is a blockade in Manipur. So there are many people out there like me resolving issues but the difference is sadly I am resolving an issue pertaining only to me - How to shortlist schools?
Well, I have heard back from my friends in Kellogg and Booth. Kellogg guy has asked me not to typecast any school as finance or marketing school especially the one which is amongst top 10 because all top 10 schools can make you reach where you want to - any industry, any company. So while I shortlisted Wharton, Columbia and Booth on first go because of their great reputation in finance, I am again back to square one.
After learning from him about Kellogg, I am not able to take Kellogg out of my list. He says its a great collaborative school with deep impetus on extra-curricular and leadership activities. You can do general management or deep dive into any specific area you want. So Kellogg can turn out to be a finance school for me. Yes, Kellogg has placed more people in consulting then in finance unlike schools like Harvard, Booth, Columbia and Wharton but that doesn't mean that students in Kellogg who wanted to get into finance couldn't get into it. So going for a school because of how its type casted is no longer a criteria for me. The criteria now has changed to:

a) How much active finance clubs are in the school? For example - whether the clubs bring different people from finance to talk to students or whether the clubs hold some seminars, competitions in finance. Like I got to know from the Wharton event that since last two-three years in Wharton business case competition has been won by Health Care junta. So somebody who is looking for getting into health care can take a cue from this. I may have to figure out cue like this for myself.
b) One thing is kindda getting obvious to me that a school which places more people in finance will have strong alum base in finance which means that if you want to get into a specific role in which an alum is already placed you have an easier shot at it. Probability (wow! I am in the flavor for Saturday class) of this is higher in a school which places more people in finance. So yes, placement stats is got to be my criteria! But I have to weigh that against my other criteria of teaching methods and collaborative vs competitive environment in the school. This is why Kellogg is not yet out of my list because its bringing other things to me (like more extra-curricular) than probably Wharton (where student dive into books more)

Tired of writing. Got to get ready for office also....Will post about reply from my Booth's friend sometime later. The list of criteria to shortlist school is still on. And I am now starting with other generic questions that I have to answer through my essays - Why MBA? and long-term and short-term goals. Interesting days ahead!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Will be conducting GMAT classes from next Saturday

I have got an opportunity to teach GMAT Maths. I will be conducting classes from next weekend - for total six hours. I think its great opportunity to handle an audience in a subject in which I have been good at. Additionally, this will give me an exposure to be challenged on the spot in front of a group.
While attending train-the-trainer session today I observed how much hard work is put into conducting one class. I definitely have to spend some time during weekdays to come at par.
The first area that I will be covering is Probability - the subject I used to dread before CFA Level 1. Lets see how this turns out.
Wish me luck guys and my students too!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Shortlisting Schools - Day 5

Between day 1 and day 5 not much has changed. I am still finding criteria to shortlist schools.I have mailed few of my friends in Kellogg, Booth and Harvard to know more about the schools. The only difference in my mails is that I have become more specific in asking questions then I have been before. Anyways none of them have replied yet. So I have moved ahead and wrote the outline (even not an outline if you ask my friend) of my first essay - Undergrad experience. There are few points in the essay which I have covered -
1. Since my school is not known much outside India, I am giving details about the school ranking etc.
2. Since my degree was rigorous and I had a double dip in my GPA, I am addressing the trend in my GPA by highlighting more on my extra-curricular.
3. I had poor grades in Maths in my second year but topped the class in final year. So I am hoping if I can cover that somewhere as well.
4. There were few events in my undergrad that shaped me as a person. I have chosen one of them which I think has greatest impact on me.
Lets see the above section of my outline is just a kind of kick-off. May shape it better if readers contribute. Looking forward for your suggestions.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Shortlisting Schools : Day 1

This is officially the first day when I have started the process on what schools I will apply this year. When I first dived into the pool of B-schools last year my first reaction was - Any top school would be good for me and Harvard should be perfect for me. If its best B-school, its best for me as well. But now I don't think that way.
So what has changed? Yes brand value is still a great sought-after virtue but there are other factors today which have become important for me. For example - I don't want to be in a school where I am studying most of the time. Let's evaluate one of the top schools in my list against this - Harvard has a case-study method. Yes I like that. For example I will love class more where I am being challenged for deciding on behalf of a CEO than being taught on how principal-agent problem works. But If students just study day and night into case study then Harvard is not a school for me. Actually, even Harvard does not make you study that much. Read a day in the life of Harvard student HBS Student. So, now I am good with case study and fine about the fact that I don't have to study 12 hours a day. The next criteria is whether the school has competitive environment. Yes in case-study method students fight for air time in class room and some part of your grades are based on your class performance. Additionally, Harvard has recently dismissed its no grade-disclosure policy. A current Harvard students say that despite all these potential reasons for competition, students still are collaborative. Same is claimed by Veritas Prep.Then how do I judge whether school is collaborative or not? What can be measurement criteria for judging school as competitive or collaborative? In other words I don't think students in one school are more competitive than other schools. It has something to do with the policy of institutions which makes them competitive.Also,I don't think degree of competitiveness should be judged on the basis of comparison amongst schools. Its a stand-alone quality and should affect only as much as much of anybody's decision as much as a difference in score of 730 and 700 in GMAT affects decision of AdCom.

Its end of day 1 and I am still on first school, first three criteria. Damn slow man!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Child Rights and I

I joined Child Rights and You (CRY) a month back after realizing that I need something which keeps me humble and at the same show some different picture of the world. CRY has been a fantastic journey so far. We are screening a short animated movie for the children today at the aanganwadi. But before today we have been discussing all along what issues we can address. Next week we are planning to take the survey in entire area and assess child rights issues, if any, existing in the area.
On my first visit I remember, there was a kid named Sunil who got attached to me. He used to drew something and show me every time. He came following me for saying good bye.That's when I knew, that it is good sign. I may be good at this. I may be good with children and their welfare.
One good thing is my fellow volunteers are mostly college students. They are full of energy and are very religious about whatever they do. And they are as confused as I was about what should be their career path. CAT is unanimous choice. Its not about MBA they think, Its about winning over the CAT.
We are participating in Bangalore Marathon as CRY ambassadors. I will be running 10K for Child Rights soon.
We really have some great people working for CRY and thats make it more attractive for volunteers like me. You really learn so much from them. They have made Child Rights their life and you could see their passion in their talk. All in all, it has been a great experience and I am sure it will continue to be!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Stanford Reliance scholarship essay June 2010

How do you aspire to shape your country's future? in 250 words is a difficult task.
As I see it, there should be four parts for the answer:
1) What impact you had in your life because of which you aspire to do something for your country? (20-30 words)
2) what have you done related to the impact so far? (50-60 words)
3) How our work so far on the lines of this impact along with your MBA at Stanford can contribute in larger picture of shaping India's future? (50-60 words)
4) How will you actually in future contribute (realistic ideas you have) to address the gaps that you think exist in the area where you contribute? (If you are able to follow the word limits above then you have lots of words left for this portion)

After three iterations this is what I am targetting. Will post whether I succeed or fail in creating this structure

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Back to blogging!

I am back to blogging now and will try to update my blog frequently.
So let me start with what am I doing since my last post:

1. I postponed my admission to B-Schools by one year. I think I was not ready and I was having hard time to write apps when I was not prepared with why MBA, which B Schools etc This happened in October. Since then I am in quest to find answers.

2. I purchased a book named "How to get into top MBA programs?" by Richard Montauk, I found in it a tremendous resource and its helping to join the dots and plan for my apps.

3. I realized that for getting into finance, I need a base in finance. My knowledge has been a liitle too vague. Though working in financial service industry has given me some responsibilities in Finance (Income tax on assets, chargeback on assets etc) but I am not yet part of my organization's core operations. So, early this year I decided to enrol for CFA program. I talked to some of my friends who are part of this program and talked to a representative of CFA Institute and found out what all areas it will cover. Its helping me tremendously to figure out what all possibilities exist in Finance for me. I am particluarly intrigued by derivatives!

4. I am also interested in Microfinance since last two years and read lot of literature on it. Last year I decided to join some organization which can help me in giving some experience in that area. Unfortunately, I couldnt get through anyone.

5. After I had a terrible experience five years back when my landlord tried to molest his child servant, I was specially looking for an opportunity to contribute for Child Rights. After saving that little girl, I never did. I was unaware until recently about CRY operations in Bangalore and when I did, i didnt waste another minute. I will write a separate post on my work at CRY.

6. I am still teaching Physics and Maths in neighborhood. Students in Bangalore target CET exams more strongly then they do IIT-JEE. In any case, I am proud that some of my students are quick to pick up vaious difficult concepts of Calculus and physics. i never thought I was so good at electrical engineering that it can help me in teaching electricity without looking at book. Additionally, it looks like I am doing well in solving problems of Irodov which were unconquered during my IIT-JEE days. Finally God gave that to me!

7. I have also got an offer to teach GMAT/GRE maths once a week. I am yet undecided on that. While GMAT/GRE maths is interesting, Calculus is more interesting!

8. I also planned to visit US during this time (Actually during April). Unfortunately, my visa got rejected. So that plan is postponed.


I have taken a week off to prepare for CFA Level 1 exam. Let me get back to studies.

Thanks for reading the post!