Saturday, November 26, 2011

Kellogg Interview

So today I had my first MBA interview. It was with a Kellogg alumnus in Gurgaon at his office. There was something unsettling about it though, as it was a hospital and seeing critical patients being whizzed in and out while I waited in the lounge hardly made me feel comfortable. Anyways, his office had a great view outside - the office had full length windows. I entered and he was busy with his computer. I said Hi Good Afternoon, he said the same and asked me to sit. He spent the next 2 minutes engrossed in his laptop, then the conversation began. Btw, although I had already emailed him my resume, he asked me for it - glad I took the printouts with me.

He asked me about me - gave him a brief overview of my grad + work ex. He smiled and said thats only about work, not really about you. I thought to myself, you idiot! after all, whenever I interview and ask this question, I too always expect the person sitting across the chair to tell me about themselves holistically, not just about work. So I proceeded to give him some information about me - family, soccer fanaticism and love for skiing. And also about my stand up comedy thingey.

Then he asked me a couple of questions regarding the things I had put in the extra curricular part in my resume. Answered those. Then he asked me about an MBA. Told him about my short term and long term goals, why I think I need the MBA, why MBA and not a specialized masters in HR and so on. He didn't look convinced, grilled me a bit on why HR in consumer industries, why international companies etc. Think I answered them fine. Then asked me for plan B, I showed dedication to purpose here and didn't waiver from my answer about finding a job in HR. Also told him that I am aware about the challenges of coming to Kellogg, maybe not finding enough support on campus regarding HR jobs, but linked it to my experience and said I would handle it.

He then asked me about strengths and weaknesses - I didn't answer this well. Weaknesses were actually quite weak themselves and I actually said I hadn't done well in teams although I had worked on it! Not sure how he will take that. We spoke more around why kellogg - i think i answered this really well. He asked me why would he want me sitting next to him in class. Said something about being amiable and pleasant but he said I dont think I'd want to pay $100K only to sit next to someone pleasant. I said the $100K direct relation was a bit stretched but went on to tell him about how I'd contribute to class, the enthusiasm I would bring in and my contributions outside of class in clubs etc.

He then again asked me about career related questions, answered those. Then he asked me if there was something else I would like to say that wasn't already addressed etc. - did that. Then asked him 2 questions - 1 on clubs as I had noted he was a member of the Improv and Net Impact club and I too wanted to join these. He asked me how I knew that he was in those clubs, told him about having read the newsletter. Gave me some thoughts on these. Also asked him about the alumni club in India, linked that to a conversation I had with another Kellogg alumnus. In the end we said our byes and I made a comment which made him laugh. I also made him smile 3-4 times during the interview.

All in all, I am unsure of how it went. Could I have done better - yes! but that would almost always hold true for any interview. Was this my best attempt at an interview - NO, and that is the more important aspect. I could have spoken about my community involvement, but I didn't - felt stupid about that afterwards. Anyways, what's done is done. I'll hope for a positive outcome and the next 3 weeks will furiously speculate on how today went.

How did I prepare for the interview? - well I din't do much. I ordered a seminar for $30 off which was quite useless for me. I asked for help from a friend I made during the app process, and she was kind to have a mock interview with me on skype. I must point out that Elizabeth (cheetarah1980) has been TREMENDOUSLY helpful! I sincerely wish she and I both make it to Kellogg - would love to have her as my classmate.

So done with the interview and now unsure of what next. My application at Duke and Tuck continues to be under review and I will hear from Duke only by 14th Dec and Tuck - god knows by when! Hoping for the best ....

Sunday, November 13, 2011

An Interview and a Movie

I am absolutely THRILLED about getting an invitation to interview for Kellogg! After having my interview waived earlier, I was fearing a ding at the school. I understand my stats aren't really with me - 690 GMAT, 3 years WE at matriculation, non IIT. But getting this invite is a HUGE morale booster for me - makes me think that the thought process behind my applications was pretty good after all! I emailed my interviewer today, and should hopefully be interviewing with him sometime early next week. I am traveling this week, so will utilize that time to get hold of some resources to better prepare for what may be my only interview this season.

I am still in two minds about applying to Cornell for their MBA/MILR program. Let's see, will work on the essays and ask for the recommendations. Deadline is 30th Nov, so have some time before I need to apply. Will speak with some current students as well.

I saw Rockstar yesterday
The movie started on a very promising note. The music is ABSOLUTELY brilliant. Although you always expect A R Rahman to do really well on his score, this outscores most other soundtracks. The songs "Tum Ho', "Jo bhi Main", "Phir Se Ud Chala", "Saada Haq" and "Katiya Karun" are brilliant. However, the story is OK - nothing you haven't seen before - and the execution is very poor. Ranbir kapoor's acting is solid, and this is probably his best performance ever. Nargis Fakhri is a statue - she can be admired when still, but acting is just not her thing. Dialogue delivery is poor and her face kinds screws up when she talks. Overall, not really a highly recommended watch. Also, this is the second movie where AR Rahman has had injustice done to him - his soundtracks for Rockstar and Delhi 6 are probably the best he has ever come up with. However, in both movies, songs weren't metted out the treatment they should have gotten on screen. Picturization was poor and sometimes even the whole song did not play out on screen.

Anyways, as mentioned the next week or so would be completely devoted to prepping for my Kellogg interview. Hoping I do the best I can ...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Tuck Submitted

I just submitted the application for Tuck ... well not just, submitted yesterday. It is my absolute favourite school, and I have resolved that even if I don't make it anywhere this year, retaking the GMAT next year will solely be focused on Tuck. Here's why:

1. Human Process - The overall vibes I got from the school were the most 'human' amongst all business school What do I mean by Human - well for starters their alumni and students do not have any airs at all about themselves and where they went to study. Amazing people. I got a response from each and every Tuckie I reached out to, some followed up even though I sometimes forgot to do so. Their comments were amazing - one of the alumnus told me straight up that if I wanted to go to Tuck, my essays needed to have different career goals. The ones I had wont fly. Other schools such as Columbia, their alumni were so stuck on the brand name that they never put up a red flag! They were like 'well everyone's doing something or the other, so I'm sure you'll be able to carve out your own niche here'

2. Beautiful Environs - I haven't been there, but I've seen official and amateur videos+pics of the place. And it is stupendously beautiful. The small class sizes and beautiful setting is idyllic, and something that really draws me to Tuck. Why not a Duke/Cornell then? well they do too, but Tuck's overall repute and strong focus on general mgmt. edge them out

3. Amazing faculty - Tuck has the highest % of full time faculty, and when a school commits to such a high number of faculty, their commitment shows right back. Saw essays via youtube of classes at almost all the b schools I applied at - Prof. Finkelstein clearly stood out.

4. Career services - I am not too well versed with this aspect, but seems Tuck always figures in the top 3, if not the top, schools with the highest % of students in jobs 3 months after graduation. Wow! - talk about consistency and the career services commitment, not to mention the school's amazing brand name

5. Alumni - this is clearly an outlier. I rate their alumni network the strongest, and got a sense of it when I spoke with students. Not one person was there who did NOT exemplify how strong the network is. And the stories were remarkable. Compare that to a Wharton, where even the alumni who lived in Delhi itself, met for the first time at the admissions reception only. You may feel that this can be quite common, and I agree - but that's exactly how tuck stands out!

Anyways, my rant here is just to show how much i absolutely love the school. As I wait with bated breath (read that somewhere, too dramatic) I sincerely hope that even if I get rejected w/o interview everywhere else, I make it to Tuck. Will probably not ever want anything else in life, well atleast for the next 2 years ;)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Consultants ... yet again!

So I exchanged some emails with EssaySnark - awesome guy/girl/persons. Gave me a lot of good gyan on applications and general advice. Felt very 'human' about my application, speaking with them - something like Tuck's admission process.

I also got a review done by Precision Essay and all I can say is Wow! - amazing stuff! Their high quality of edits was phenomenal - especially as they gave me a high level suggestion on how to improve my essays instead of just pointing out what the shortcomings were. Recommend folks get a free review done by these guys - would be very helfpul

Moving along

After Duke, my (hoepfully) last application is at Tuck. I had actually intended the Tuck app to be my first. Wanted to apply EA but my recommender had some issues at his end and absolutely said NO to submitting within the timelimit. To be fair, he was extremely apologetic but I empathize with him as he was facing a personal issue within his family. Knowing that he would be able to provide the best reference, I waited to submit in Round 1 instead of EA.

I have realized that as we move along the application process, the quality of essays substantially increases. If I compare what I submitted at Columbia and what I will be submitting now at Tuck, there is a WORLD of difference. Does this mean applicants should save their most important apps for last? not quite. I think in this respect, admissions consultants add the maximum value as they cut to the chase and take an essay from mediocre to wow immediately. For someone like me who cannot afford the consulting service the price we pay is late realization around actual quality an individual can produce.

However, there are upsides as well. I used beatthegmat and gmatclub forums, and had many users there give me their opinions on my essays. I believe they helped me tremendously. I then used a cheaper proofreading service to check my essays for errors etc. I sent them 2 essays first, and once I got the results, I sent them the others. Was very happy with what they had done. I recommend Great rates, good turnaround time and very good edits. Coming back to the upsides, I was able to make new friends, had a holistic quai consulting experience with them and now know what to compare my consultant with, if I ever hire one. Further, I did a LOT of research which I am sure I wouldn't have done if I hired an admissions consultant, as he would have all that data ready with him.

That said, all school have now released some interview invites and it is quite disheartening to read the messages on gmatclub etc. announcing interview invites. Some of the posts made by those invited to interview (how do I log in? What kind of username makes sense? When should I interview - later or sooner, what time?) are so ridiculous, it makes me clench my teeth in annoyance as to how such individuals could be interviewing at schools like Harvard! I can't speak about other demographics, but seeing Indian students pose such questions really pisses me off! I have always been someone who concentrates a lot on the softer skills (presentation, diction, dressing sense, sensibility of conversation) and hence my displeasure.

One thing I advise anyone who reads this blog and wants to get as much of 'free' stuff that they can, is to use the free editing services some companies provide. be selective here though, because everyone will give you different views and given that you feel these are credible authorities, they may end up confusing you real bad. I highly recommend essaysnark ( for his (or her?) humourous undertone to the GMAT and MBA admissions. I submitted an essay to them a week or two ago, and they reviewed it yesterday. (
I was very happy to get a good review from them, and the parts they have mentioned are lacking are actually present in my essay, albeit the structural issue they mentioned is very valid. I am rooting for an interview invite from Kellogg. EssaySnark too felt my essay 4 was really good, and I felt the same. But an application is an overall package so cannot really base my hopes on just one review.

I got comments on my Tuck essays from two current students. One of them gave a glowing review, another felt the content was good, but some things needed to be added/deleted and the structure modified. Will work on these before submitting on the 9th.

Here's to much more waiting ahead!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Duke Application

Just hit submit. I am unsure of how this will go - application went in but I felt I didn't really push it that much. lets see.

I am REALLY pepped about my application to Tuck but my low GMAT score is sure to play spoilsport. If I apply next year, it will only be Stanford, Harvard, Kellogg and Tuck. Hopefully, it won't reach that stage.

Reading about others getting that interview invite, while you are yet to see such an email, is really depressing. God! hope that changes soon,