Experts’ Global: Hi Jalaj, thank you for agreeing to this interview! Could you kindly share your journey in your own words?
Jalaj: Oh, sure! I began my career as an Engineering Consultant at Honeywell. As I gradually grew into maintaining entire projects on my own, I wished to build on my experience with helping clients in different countries reform their energy operations. Wishing to understand the business aspect of things in depth, I decided to pursue an MBA, with MBA admissions consultants Experts’ Global’s aid. Following my Rotman tenure, I have been targeting a move into tech consulting.
Experts’ Global: What decisions do you feel made all the difference in your success?
Jalaj: Looking back, I wish I had put more focused efforts into my GMAT prep. I spent over a year-and-a-half studying for the exam because some work or family commitment would pop up at the most inopportune time and extend my prep. At some point, I realized that I had to take control of my circumstances. Only at a later stage in my preparations did I adopt a strategic approach and take a free GMAT practice test as a diagnostic for my readiness.
Experts’ Global: Going back to your GMAT preparation phase, what were the main resources you used and what advice would you give to future aspirants?
Jalaj: I used the official material from the GMAT website as a primary study resource. Thereafter, I also spent a lot of time on GMAT Club, tackling its Question of the Day daily and going through discussions on the trickier GMAT questions. In particular, using the Experts’ Global GMAT test series helped me get used to the actual GMAT feel, and I think this definitely improved my actual GMAT score by about 20 points. Overall, you should definitely try and avail of a high-quality GMAT online course to augment your self-study, and have a series of checks and balances in place to track your errors and measure your improvement.
Experts’ Global: What did you learn from managing the application timeline?
Jalaj: Concerning managing the application timeline, I was really helped by Experts’ Global’s advice. They asked me to apply to all my targeted schools in the same round, so that I would have all my admissions results in hand around the same time and so be well-laced to take a call on what MBA to choose. Further, even when things got tight for certain school applications, Experts’ Global maintained a very quick turnaround time for any requests I put in. Overall, I learned that asking for help in a tough spot is a sign of being a mature professional.
Experts’ Global: How were your MBA interviews?
Jalaj: My business school interview experience was made much easier than it would have otherwise been due to my association with Experts’ Global. Their MBA interview prep process, which involved my taking a series of probing mock interviews, helped me collect my thoughts about my story. By the third round of mock interviews, I felt more than ready to take on the final hurdle to my Rotman success. Having become greatly comfortable with the atmosphere of an MBA interview due to my practice, I was able to have largely conversational interactions with all the panels I encountered.
Experts’ Global: Regarding the MBA itself, what is your lasting impression of the program?
Jalaj: The MBA journey was challenging and pushed me to redefine my personal limits at many stages. It is absolutely a marathon rather than a sprint, and those who are assured of their ambitions will find the MBA a nourishing environment. In terms of time pressure, especially, the MBA experience prepares one for life as a management professional in a truly volatile global economy.
Experts’ Global: How have the pre-application phase and the MBA experience contributed to your post-program evolution?
Jalaj: The pre-application process, and the reflection it involved for the essays, in particular, was quite useful to me. In order to present my candidature as truly exceptional, I dug deep into my motivations for the MBA, my lessons from my failures and successes, and my notion of leadership. This reflection continues to guide my path even today.
The MBA experience helps one learn how to manage multiple personalities. The group activities really test your ability to work in a team as per a common vision. Making sure that all team members buy-in within a non-hierarchical structure is an interesting project. The lessons on leadership in the MBA, especially those gained through conversations with peers, give one an expanded cultural viewpoint to fit into today’s globalized world.
Experts’ Global: What was your MBA job search experience like, and what advice do you have for other aspirants?
Jalaj: Doing an MBA in a foreign country means that your post-MBA job search will be all about the kind of networks you have built up. All good business schools have alumni networks and considerable brand recognition that can give you that leg up. Further, when you reach out to people during your job search, do not have a transactional attitude. Understand the value and nature of the role they play in their own profession, and try and see how it organically enhances your network.
Do not lose hope if you do not get into a leading MNC. Just like the MBA itself, the benefits of the program become apparent over a marathon, not a sprint. Rejections during the job search are a part of the process, and a means for you to refine how you sell yourself further. Keep an open mind to roles and profiles that might offer differentiated exposure.
Experts’ Global: What is your final advice for all the MBA aspirants out there?
Jalaj: Be very measured with your GMAT prep. Take a healthy number of GMAT mock tests, track your progress by noting your errors, and focus your studies on your weaknesses. Early in your application process, really think about why you are pursuing the MBA; your answers will light your path through the rest of the MBA gauntlet. Just getting into a top business program is not enough and you will be challenged intellectually and culturally during your studies. Self-doubt can be an obstacle when every single one of your peers is an overachiever, so try and bond with your classmates personally to build a collaborative milieu.
Experts’ Global: Thank you for sharing your inspiring story with us today!
Jalaj: Thanks for having me here!