Experts’ Global: Hi Vanshika, thank you so much for giving us your valuable time and interviewing with us. May we request you to please share your journey and your story in your own words?
Vanshika: Sure! I guess one word that describes my journey is interesting. As I reflect today, my path thus far can be broadly divided into several stages. When I first thought of pursuing a global MBA, I was a fresh college graduate around seven months into my first job, at eBay. Unsure about my way forward, I considered a profile shift as well, and finally decided to prepare for the GMAT while discharging my professional duties too. Experts’ Global’s GMAT preparation online toolkit helped me make the most of my curtailed study time.
The next stage of my path arrived when I secured a good GMAT score but remained unsure of what business schools to target. My list of possible business schools was long and unstructured, and Experts’ Global’s MBA admissions consulting was vital in paring it. The team at Experts’ Global helped me structure my school selection process and curate a list of schools best suited to my experience and ambitions.
With Experts’ Global’s aid, I got into my MBA, embarking on a stage of my life wherein I met people from all over the world and broadened my professional horizons. Thereafter, I proceeded with my job search, a challenging hunt unlike any other. All the while, I was focused on how to best position myself for potential employers. All’s well that turned out well, however, as my job search succeeded and I have been working in Singapore for the past two years. An interesting rollercoaster of a ride, throughout!
Experts’ Global: In your opinion, what are a few factors or actions you took that made all the difference?
Vanshika: I think one of the most important factors, even for my securing interview calls from some decent schools, was my tenure at Bain. I owe a lot to Bain for molding me into a more confident person while I was going through the application process. While eBay was my first employer who polished me from a fresh college graduate to a budding professional, Bain was the employer that took my growth skyward. In my role at Bain, I got to speak to several senior stakeholders almost daily, thus becoming confident in controlling conversational flow and learning how executives think.
Quite honestly, no matter how much people try to downplay the importance of big names on your resume, I have seen the impact of such names for myself. Most of the time, the reason that people even want to connect with you is that you come from a particular school or a particular company. A classic example of judging a book by its cover, but unfortunately, that is how the world works.
Further, I would say that reaching out to as many people as I could was something that also made a big difference in my MBA success. I have not always been the most outspoken individual, and I always preferred staying in my comfort zone. Reaching out to people throughout the admissions process really helped me overcome this inhibition, and taught me so much about the world.
Experts’ Global: It is quite inspiring how you actually got out of your comfort zone to network with people! So, with the benefit of hindsight, what are a few mistakes you think you committed in the process?
Vanshika: Overall, I would divide the process into two parts; one being the GMAT aspect, and the other being the applications aspect, when one actually starts with the essays and other work for schools.
For the GMAT aspect, I regret not practicing consistently when I first began my preparations. I had been scoring well on GMAT practice tests and felt that the syllabus and question difficulty was quite manageable. However, when it came to taking the GMAT in an actual exam environment, the complexity of the test became quite clear.
I was unable to maintain my mental and emotional balance when I was taking the GMAT. During my first attempt, I remember being thrown by a couple of questions and thinking that I had gotten them wrong. When I started the next section, my confidence was completely gone and I felt my errors had made the situation hopeless. This negative mindset led to a wasted attempt. Looking back now, had I been able to keep my cool, I could have given even the second section my best shot and still saved that attempt. People who are going to take the GMAT should know that they have a margin for error, as long as they keep calm.
About my application journey, I think not reaching out to people early to get my essays reviewed was quite a blunder. On my end, I had been writing essays since I was in school, I was the one who best knew my journey, and I trusted myself to articulate my path well. I sat on my first essay drafts for a long time, until a friend suggested that I should have them reviewed by alums from the business schools I was targeting at least. Following through on my friend’s advice got me a lot of good perspectives on my essays.
Experts’ Global: What would you like to say about your experience and learning from managing the application timeline?
Vanshika: I relied on Microsoft Outlook a lot! I would set application-related reminders for myself with my Outlook work calendar, putting me in the mindset to approach my applications with a deliverables-oriented outlook. I blocked time on my calendar, usually after office hours. Around four hours daily would be blocked on my calendar, and I would use the time to research my targeted schools, conduct student and alumni outreach, and reassess my essays.
Having four hours blocked off daily, in addition to the eight hours I spent at work, geared me mentally to persevere. I have always been a person who likes to go by the clock, and having my entire day planned out for me helped me stay focused through the application process. I always made sure to complete all my application tasks for a particular day before leaving the office. I would just say that one should not leave one’s office without working on one’s application there. An office is the best setting for serious work, as it is a space built to get things done.
Make sure that you have your applications in place well before their respective deadlines. If you are reaching out to people for their feedback on your work, do it at least a week before the deadline so that you can incorporate any changes necessary. This also gives people the margin to respond to your outreach well in time. All in all, time management is essential to a successful application.
Experts’ Global: Would you like to describe your interview experience with the process?
Vanshika: Looking back, I think I was a rather underconfident applicant. When I first spoke with Aanchal from Experts’ Global, I remember she told me that I had a good profile and that I was underselling myself with my shortlisted schools. I was then only considering specializing in human capital at Cornell, but its Ivy League pedigree seemed unattainable for me.
Experts’ Global really helped me build the necessary confidence to tweak my application and positioning strategy in a manner that any admissions committee is intrigued by your profile, and wants to converse with you. This approach worked wonders, and my very first interview call was from Cornell! You can imagine the relief I felt, although I must admit I shanked the interview.
My Cornell interview was held on a day that turned out to be quite busy for me, and the interviewer was stoic throughout the process. I was unable to fully relax during the interview and ended up being waitlisted at Cornell. The Experts’ Global MBA interview preparation process helped me learn from my experience and have a calmer frame of mind heading into my interview at NTU, the school that I ended up attending.
Experts’ Global: Can you tell us more about your MBA experience?
Vanshika: My MBA experience gave me all that I was looking for from a global program. I met people from all over the world, a far cry from my experiences before the MBA, experiences that had been limited solely to India. At NTU, I was part of a class comprising people from all over Southeast Asia. I interacted with classmates who had moved all over the world in their childhood, and were able to give me a unique transnational perspective.
Even the professors at NTU were diverse! The faculty comprised Singaporeans, Indonesians, Vietnamese, Filipinos, Americans, and Indians. Each professor was amongst the best in the world and had their own unique teaching methodology. Overall, my MBA experience broadened my outlook exponentially.
Experts’ Global: Can you please tell us about your job search experience during the MBA? What tips would you give to future MBA applicants about the same?
Vanshika: My job search experience was not ideal. I graduated in June of 2020, right when COVID-19 had Singapore firmly in its grasp. In early April of 2020, Singapore was under complete lockdown, and my MBA classes were proceeding online. The program was about to end, and as an international candidate, I was discouraged about my job prospects considering the push towards hiring locals due to the economic impact of the pandemic.
The initial months of my job search were tough. I think the thing that kept me going was the habit of reaching out to people that I had inculcated through the application process. I made sure to reach out to people in fields that I was targeting for employment and asked them about how they landed their jobs and how their work life had been.
In the process, I learned that it is vital to sell oneself well while job hunting. This was an approach that the application journey had already taught me, and I was able to apply the same to position myself as employable. I would also say that I met some very helpful people that motivated me to chase loftier positions in moments of self-doubt, and helped me clarify my ambitions further.
Experts’ Global: What would be your final message and suggestions to the future aspirants and MBA applicants?
Vanshika: When preparing for the GMAT, use a free GMAT practice test to see where you stand and map out your prep timeline accordingly. Dedication and focus, as cliché as they may sound, are vital. As I mentioned earlier, when I reflect on my journey, I can divide it into different stages. When I was juggling my job responsibilities and my GMAT preparation, I really reinforced my desire to succeed, and dedication was necessary to do so. Also, just believe in yourself. Do not ever downplay your skills or the kind of work experience or educational background you have. If you are not convinced with your value proposition, how can you persuade the other person?
Further, I think that the resume is the initial obstacle that all applicants struggle with. Often, since you are so involved in the daily process of doing your job, you are unable to take a step back and describe it in a gripping way. A good way to overcome this impediment is to put yourself in the shoes of your hiring manager. When hiring managers create job descriptions, they present a big-picture view of the value the role in question. You need to look at your job profile while creating a resume in a similar fashion. No matter how mundane the tasks you carry out, try and identify the value that they create, and express that value as best as you can!
Experts’ Global: We would really like to congratulate you on your journey. You have come a long way, and we are sure that your suggestions are going to help a lot of future applicants. Thank you so much for interviewing with us. Knowing your story and journey, it was amazing!
Vanshika: It has been a while since I reflected on my experience, and this was a great opportunity for me to look back. Thank you!