Back in 2013, I was at a crucial juncture in my life. I had graduated one year earlier from IIT-BHU, a premier engineer institute, and was working at one of India’s largest manufacturing companies as a quality engineer. Responsible for reducing warranty claims by improving processes and products, I was able to drive multiple projects simultaneously, interact with senior leadership teams at the vendors, and achieve cost savings of INR 1M+.
However, merely within a year, I swiftly came to realize that I wasn’t going to be a great engineer. Maybe, at best, an average one.
I had always considered myself a creative person and had been heavily involved in various marketing activities and events during college. I knew that I needed to transition into a business-side role to be able to make the most of my abilities, and that’s how my application journey began!
ISB had launched their Early Entry Options around the same time, and it sounded like a great opportunity for me to get a kick-start in the business world. The EEO option would have given me a secured seat at ISB and allowed me to defer joining the school until I had the requisite amount of work experience. The deferred admit would have also allowed me to take more risks with my career and look out for options to help me move to business roles.
The Application Journey: GMAT Prep
I realized that GMAT was absolutely essential to crack. There were two main reasons for this conclusion:
- Though I came from an IIT, I had a pretty average academic record in college.
- A great GMAT score would have allowed me to stand out more easily compared to peer applications.
Just to add, when I had applied, most business schools did not accept GRE scores. However, today almost all schools accept the GRE – so if you feel more comfortable with the test, it’s perfectly fine to submit a GRE score instead of GMAT.
Coming back to the story – cracking the GMAT proved much more difficult than thinking about it 😊
I followed a 3-pronged strategy for my GMAT preparation.
- Fixing a timeline: I started my prep in mid-June, so that was already quite late to target round 1 application which had their deadline mid-September. However, I absolutely wanted to apply in Round 1, without compromising on my GMAT prep. So I decided to take the GMAT right before the deadline – leaving me with a one-shot chance for R1 applications, but almost 3 months to prepare.
- Fixing a schedule: Every single day, 4 hours, post-work – without fail. That meant that I had to leave office on time (no extra work), say no to countless parties, and forego all my social life for 3 months. This worked for me, it may not for someone else. The idea being that you have to figure out what works best for you. There is no one schedule that will work wonders for everyone.
- Fixing the mistakes: I made sure that I analysed my errors in-depth, revised the concepts and worked on fixing those errors repeatedly.
Sticking to these 3 rules helped me score a 750 in my first attempt at GMAT, and I was one step closer to my goals.
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The Application Journey: Choosing the Right Programs
While preparing for GMAT, I also started researching more about ISB and other potential programs which could have helped me with my goals. The research led me to Master’s in Management programs (MIM) – which ultimately changed my life.
MIM programs seemed too good to be true. They were meant for a younger audience, people with less than 2 years of experience, cost significantly less compared to international MBA programs, but could provide very similar results as to what I was looking for. As I researched more about MIM programs, I was more and more convinced about applying to them.
Finally, I applied to the University of St. Gallen’s SIM program in Switzerland (the world #1 MIM program, 10 years in a row now), and Essec Business School (world #3 MIM program).
I worked on the essays extensively, seeking help from my seniors and a few friends. I had always been a decent “writer”, having had published a novel during my college years, and hence the essays were not a huge pain-point for me. Further, as a received some constructive pointers from my friends and seniors, I was able to bring out the best in my essays quite easily.
I had already finished up my essays, resume and the overall application while I prepared for GMAT – so once I received my scores, all I had to do was to put in my scores and be done with the application!
Fortunately, I was offered admits from both these programs!
In the end, I also applied to ISB EEO, but the fervor of joining ISB had vanished. I did receive an interview call from ISB as well but ended up botching my interview since I didn’t prepare well. However, I had no regrets since it was already finalized that I was moving to Switzerland for my masters at the University of St. Gallen, Strategy and International Management.
Coming Back to India
When I returned to India in 2019 after spending almost 5 years in Europe, working across Zurich, Geneva and Amsterdam with incredibly international teams, debt-free within 4 months of my job, and with enough savings to start my own venture, I realized how many candidates are unable to find the right guidance at the right time when it comes to potential career-changing situations. Moving to Europe and working with amazing people was an incredible experience for me and allowed me to further my career tremendously.
Today, I help candidates who are in similar shoes as I was – juggling with their career choices, aiming for the best possible options for them, and needing help in their journeys. I started Management Masters to work with such candidates and help them get to the best business schools around the world.
Related Article: MBA and MiM Admissions Consulting
Over the last few years, we have helped candidates get admits from top schools such as Wharton, Kellogg, London Business School, HEC Paris, Cambridge, ISB, and others, and have received rave reviews because of our no-nonsense approach and honest feedback.
In this article, I have shared my journey from IIT-BHU to St. Gallen, and what it took for me to get there. In the next article, I will talk more deeply about how I navigated the European experience, finding jobs in Europe, and the potential opportunities and pitfalls of life in Europe!
Featured Image Source: Access MBA