India to Wharton - The Journey of a Lifetime
Grandeur, mystery, pomp, glory, and legacy- getting into an M7 school is nothing short of a magical journey! Dare we compare it to the feeling of getting into Hogwarts? No, not really! Unlike magicians at Hogwarts, even a muggle can get into their dream school with sheer consistency and dedication.
To understand what exactly drives one’s application to be successful, we sat down with Sakshi Jain, a Wharton MBA student, to decode her journey of a lifetime! Read on to know the spells, skills, and strategies she used to ace her application journey.
Graduating from IIT-BHU in 2012, I worked with various organizations such as Evalueserve, Google, and Careem. I recently resigned from Careem as a growth manager. Overall, I have eight years of technical and analytical experience.
Even though I was on a great trajectory at my current job, I yearned for a shift in my career. I had two options: to either start at the very beginning in a different function or to pursue an MBA that’d help me jumpstart my new career. I realized that neither my current peer network nor my profile would help me make the transition; therefore, an MBA was the most logical next step in my professional journey.
One of the most significant aspects of the application is the GMAT. I initially took an official mock test to gauge the amount of preparation I’d require. After assessing my weak areas, I made a structured plan keeping the deadlines in mind. Having a clear timeline helped me stay calm and efficient. I consistently solved at least a few questions from both quants and verbal sections every day. GMAT is not about quantity but quality! So, instead of solving numerous questions blindly, I spent time assessing my mistakes and making a note of the same. I revisited every exam after 2 weeks to ensure my mistakes weren’t repeated. My mantra to ace the GMAT was simple - be consistent and assess/re-assess your mistakes!
When it came to choosing the schools, I realized it was a very personally-driven decision. It’s important to consider not only your fit but also your expectations from the MBA experience. With 8 years of work experience in my pocket, I wanted to pursue an MBA mainly for the network and global exposure. I targeted the M7 schools and shortlisted my top choices based on ROI, academic opportunities, networking opportunities, and finally the rankings.
With my school list ready, I began working on the applications. One of the most important steps of the entire process that I found was to dig deep and understand my journey thus far: understanding my USP. I reflected on my journey deeply, maintaining a detailed document summarizing all my life-experiences. This pre-work took me almost a month, simply going over my experiences and identifying my own story, and served as the holy grail for all my school applications. Once I was ready, each school application took around a week to complete. This process of working proved to be extremely efficient and helped me provide a holistic view of my candidature to the AdCom.
I have two pieces of advice for anyone fretting over essays. First, go on to the school’s website and spend time to understand what the school values in a candidate. Second, reach out to the alums. Ask them about the school culture, programs offered, networking opportunities, and all the important questions to get a deeper perspective. It is essential to obtain first-hand information to bring in a holistic and convincing approach to your candidacy.
Once you have all the information about a school, start writing your essay as though you just signed with a publication house to write your autobiography! No achievement is trivial. Pick and choose the experiences according to what the school is looking for. Your overall application should sing your story in harmony!
To sum it up, intense self-introspection to understand your fit is the key to ace your applications!
If I had to share any advice with prospective applicants, it would be to own your journey and experiences. We all have diverse profiles and that’s what makes each of us stand out from the crowd! What truly matters to the AdComs is your passion to create an impact. Never lose your sense of wonder. Be curious, be confident, be empathetic!
As for my experience at Wharton up till now, I consider myself privileged to be a part of this awesome community. Given the COVID scenario, I had my apprehensions. However, constant communication from the school, professors, and my peers has instilled a great sense of comfort and confidence. That’s just one of the many perks you get when you’re part of such an esteemed institution!