On to Fuqua

I am working on my applications for Duke-Fuqua now. I wasn’t sure if I would apply to Duke – I hadn’t visited the campus or had much interaction with the alumni. Most of the people I interact with who have MBAs are M7 alums.

I thought of Fuqua as a school where most of the people were ex-military or from the south. Being a big city person, living in Durham didn’t appeal much to me either. But my impressions have changed.

After attending an info session, reading some student blogs and generally getting to know the school, I am kicking myself in the foot for not looking at Fuqua earlier. At least I have time to cobble together an application for submission in R1.

So here it goes. Another wild goose chase begins!

Chicago-Booth on my mind

I was curious to see if I was getting any traffic and Raj, our office’s resident tech guru recommended I install a web traffic gadget. I did (ok, I just logged Raj in and he did his magic) and it sent me my first summary by email.

I jumped off my chair when I noticed that I’ve had visitors from the University of Chicago. Even if it was for 0 seconds, I at least got their attention. Well, whoever you are, my good friend, I compliment you on your excellent choice of operating system. Macs rule, PCs suck.

And if you’re on the adcom, I just want to tell you that I <3 Chicago-Booth.

PS: I’m a better suck up in person, than on a blog. So invite me to interview!! :)


btw: mad props to Raj for helping me set up this blog site – he did all the fancy graphics for it too.

Kellogg Interview

I submitted my part 1 sometime in late September and followed up with part 2 on the deadline on October 14th.

I was perplexed that I hadn’t received an invite from the admissions committee until someone mentioned on the BW Forum that his invite was buried in spam. Sure enough, Kellogg sent me an interview assignment a 4 days after I submitted part 1.

We scheduled the interview for Oct 26 at 6pm at a coffee shop. Before arriving on a final time, my interviewer rescheduled a couple of times. I’m guessing he was really busy. In retrospect, I probably should have pushed the interview until after the MIT deadline, but I decided to take the first available slot.

He arrived, 45 minutes late. I was quite furious and nervous at the same time. To his credit he did send me a text message, but I didn't get it until he actually showed up. Damn Verizon!

He was a KSM’09, worked in management consulting and now that he had his coffee, we got to business right way. He pulled out a sheet, probably a cheat sheet that the Kellogg adcom provided him and looked at it a couple of times during the interview. He asked me for a copy of my resume, which I remembered to bring.

I’ll give you the list of questions he asked, and then share my take about what I felt he was probing for.


  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Why did you study [particular major] and how has it helped you advance in your career?
  • I see that you were very active in student government. What did it teach you?
  • Tell me two things you loved and hated about your major?
  • What do you like about your current role?
  • What do you want to do after your MBA, 5 years after your MBA, 20 years after you MBA?
  • How will Kellogg help you get there?
  • Kellogg places a lot of emphasis on team-work. What would a person who has been on a team with you say about you?
  • Kellogg is committed to both learning inside and outside of class. Share some experiences from college or work where you have contributed to the learning of others. How do you plan to do this at Kellogg?
  • You were actively involved in student government and volunteer activities. How would you translate that experience to benefit your peers?
  • Share some of your strengths and weaknesses with me. What are you doing to address them?
  • Tell me about a time when you contributed to someone else’s success. Why and how did you do it.
  • How will you use Kellogg’s resources to become successful?
  • Have you visited Kellogg? Attended any info sessions?
  • How did you like visiting Chicago and Evanston?
  • Which schools are you applying to? Why?
  • Do you have any questions for me?

Our interview lasted 70 minutes. I enjoyed it and thought it was rather conversational and laid back. The interviewer had a flight to SFO the next day so left in a hurry, but told me that he would submit his feedback that night.

The things I think (caveat emptor) he was probing for were:

Self awareness and maturity – Had I researched what I wanted to do, my reasons for my choice and how Kellogg would help me get there. Did I have a clear idea of who I was a person.

Kellogg (school and culture) –  Had I researched the resources that would help me move closer to my career goals. Was I specific in citing those resources.Was I aware of Kellogg’s focus on contributing to peer development. Had I taken the time to engage with the Kellogg community to determine fit. Did I have a clear idea of how I would contribute to the growth of my peers? Was I committed to attending Kellogg if I was admitted. Who was the competition. 

Legacy – How what I did in the past predicts (or doesn't) future success. Have I been intelligent about the choices that I have made. What were my reasons for these choices. Do they demonstrate a consistency in purpose and mission.

I hope this helps. If you have any questions, post a comment and I’ll get to them when I have a few minutes to spare. Good luck everyone!

Done with MIT

It’s a surreal feeling. For weeks leading up to this moment, I have been a nervous wreck. But now that I am here, hours of essay writing, painstaking research and schmoozing alumni to share the secret sauce are over and it’s such a relief. I just need to hit that shiny submit button.

Over dinner, my friends compared applying to MBA akin to giving birth. Yes, I agree but the only difference is that you go through the trauma several times during the 9-month period from the R1 deadline to the time that all the waitlisters hear about their fate.

Sloan is done. Everything is locked and loaded. I’ll submit tomorrow after I’ve had one last look to make sure that there are no typos or formatting errors. Having read and re-read my essays and cover letter a zillion times, I doubt I’ll fine anything new.

Fingers crossed!

UPDATE (10/27): Submitted MIT. The wait begins.

Advice from a MIT Sloan Veteran: Cover letter, essays and beyond!

I wanted to share my take on MIT Sloan essays for 2009-2010. So, if you’re applying later in the year, read away!

Career Vision

Unlike most traditional MBA applications, MIT Sloan does not ask you to discuss your career vision. This makes the task of the applicant that much more difficult. If you don't get a chance to tell the adcom what you want to do with your life, how will your essays and cover letter add up to support your reasons for wanting an MBA.

There are two strategies to attack this problem: if you have little time, slice and dice your career vision essay and add it in the supplemental essay section. Many people who I have spoken consider this sneaky and renegade, but worth considering. The recommended strategy, is to use a narrative of an accomplishment has some logical connection to your long term and short term goals. Use this narrative as the main fabric of the cover letter and include information about your goals, motivations, timing and contributions as a seeker of an MBA from MIT-Sloan to add color.

Attending an information session or visiting Cambridge really helps distill this information. Even attending an online chat from the MBA adcom (which they cap at 100 attendees, so don't be tardy) is a good way of getting a sense for the program. (Just a quick aside, attending a chat will make you feel way more prepared than most people – there are a bunch of nutty people there who ask bizarre and outright stupid questions. Needless to say if you do get into MIT Sloan, your peer group will be way smarter.)

Cover Letter

The cover letter should follow the rules of standard business correspondence. What does this mean? It means that just like a cover letter for a job, you need to ask Rod Garcia to admit you. Your story and reasons for going to an MBA should make a compelling case, but you need to ask him in one way or another to “Pick you, Choose You, Admit You.” (Blame my girlfriend for the reference, that’s what happens when your SO is catching up on Grey’s Anatomy while you’re trying to convey your life story in 4 pages or less.)


Lets also chat a little bit about the essays. I really enjoyed doing MIT Sloan essays. The recommended formula for most b-school essays, especially for behavioral essay prompts is to pick one example each that demonstrates personal, professional and extracurricular success. I am not going to discuss what you should write for each prompt, there are a  ton of resources such as the ClearAdmit blog which can be a good start. But I will tell you what are some themes to touch upon in your essays.

The reason why MBA schools ask you to write essays is to understand  how good you are at self evaluation. Next, they match up what you say with your recommenders. So it’s very very (I repeat very very) important that you present yourself as a human being. What do I mean by that? Help the reader (a tired, caffeinated, irritable adcom member who has probably ready 20 essays from applicants, all of whom claim to be the next best thing since Jesus) connect with you.

Help him go “Hmm… This guy/gal sounds like a genuine person. And their work experience, goals, accomplishments and recommender evaluations all add up.” Get him to become your supporter  and fight for you when you application goes to committee.This is difficult but not impossible.

Second, be authentic aka you better make sure that you don’t sound like a car salesman. Don't manufacture a personality on paper that is completely different from who you are in real life. Adcoms are very good at spotting this and if you do get an interview (very unlikely), you would have lost your chance at getting in (ever) once they figure out that you’ve been deceptive.

Third, demonstrate humility. Yes, you broke the bank with your billion dollar bonus, or saved the dodo from extinction, but instead of focusing on numbers, awards and what others thought of you, focus on yourself. Why you did what you did, what you got out of it and why you will continue (or not) doing it in the future. We are good at the things we love to do, tell them why you love doing what you’re good at.

If you forget everything else I’ve said, just remember that being yourself will pay off.

Good luck!

Booth begins sending interview invites

Forums are reporting this morning that Chicago-Booth has begun to send out invites. The first wave has gone out to international students (as reported by GMATClub) and early applicants (as reported by BW Forums.)

The number of invites being reported so far is fairly small, so I am expecting that over the next few days invites will start trickling out in greater numbers. Nov 7 is smack dab in the middle of the two weeks (Oct  26-Nov 11) during which Chicago-Booth will be sending invites, so if I haven't received an invite by Nov 7, I’d be a little heart broken.

Good luck everyone and remember to share your take on Chicago-Booth or anything else for that matter. =)

Two down, many more to go

I’m a little late to the MBA blogging scene, but there’s no reason I can’t join the band wagon now.

Just like the most of you, I have been uber busy for the last five months. The rigors of managing a job that steals 10-12 hours every day, and even weekends sometimes, in addition to the GMAT, recommendations, essays has simultaneously been a WOW! and UGH! experience.

Hopefully, there will be one school which will have me, cause it would be really unfortunate if I have to go through this process all over again.

As soon as my MIT-Sloan application is done, I will write more about my Booth, Kellogg and MIT experience.

Stay tuned and good luck to y’all on your b-school adventure.