If you’re someone who has read a lot of profile reviews of MBA applicants or students, I’d imagine many of them follow a similar script. A person started working in a particular sector or industry, maybe switched around a company or two, worked for about 5 years and then decided to take a leap and do their MBA. This certainly is the most common path seen in most “traditional” MBA applicants.
Today, however, we’re hearing from Nakul Arora, who spent 8 years making a mark in schools and hotels, before being accepted into Tuck School of Business, at Dartmouth University with a merit scholarship!
My long journey to Tuck School of Business, started in one of the least business-like careers one would typically imagine. After graduating from IIT BHU, I began my career in the non-profit education sector by joining Teach for India, which was still at a nascent stage at the time, and I was in fact part of the first batch of Fellows in Delhi.
My decision to join TFI was driven by my love for teaching, and upon completion of my fellowship, I decided to continue in this sector for another three years in different managerial roles, concluding with my work at Teach for Bangladesh. After five years in these incredible organizations, I moved back to my hometown to set up a hotel on an old property my family owned. The hotel I set up did really well and grew 4 times over in 2 years and became an asset to secure my family’s finances.
It was in this process of taking this hotel from what was just an idea in my mind, to a fully functioning business that I realized that I really enjoyed this process and the business side of things, and at the same time, also recognized gaps in my own skills and knowledge when it came to running a business. It was this combination of experiences and realizations about myself which led me to the decision of applying for an MBA.
MBA applicants normally consist of two sets of applicants; those who have worked for 4-5 years and want to do an MBA to accelerate further, and those like me with more experience for whom it provides an opportunity to make a significant shift in terms of our career path. Belonging to that second bracket did pose challenges, especially given my background. Having been my own boss for 3 years, it was a challenge to get past the initial inertia of how complex these applications are, and I really had to push myself to start doing my research, preparing for the GMAT, reaching out to recommenders, and of course working on the essays.
When the time came to complete the applications for Tuck and the other schools, there were two key elements to my process. The first was understanding my reasons. After a varied career, I was very clear that I wanted to do an MBA to pivot in my career, as the hotel business was left for my family’s financial security, and I also realized it was a massive commitment of time and money. I had to be crystal clear of my priorities and aspirations from an MBA, which helped me write the essays. The second element was the process of writing the essays themselves. I’ve seen many people strive for perfection straight away when they begin writing essays but for me, it was a three step process which involved just listing down all of thoughts and ideas on the topics, coming back to those ideas and drafting them more like an essay, and finally completing the necessary edits and changes to get the polished, final versions. Dividing the writing process in this manner allowed me to get more ideas and thoughts across, which undoubtedly gave the schools the most honest representation of myself.
After getting into Tuck, my experience at the school has been excellent. It is a school with a small cohort, which gives you the opportunity to really get to know your peers well, which is a key part of the experience. This has obviously been affected by the current pandemic, but I continue to hope for the best for the rest of my program!
To all prospective applicants to top business schools around the world, the most important piece of advice I could probably share is to once again underline the importance of knowing your why. The decision to do an MBA should not be one born out of desperation but rather should be one of growth. Having this clarity about why this program, why now, and how does it get you from Point A to Point B in your career, will be immensely useful in writing an honest and convincing application!
Everything involved with a top MBA is immense in scale, from the opportunities it offers, to the resources that schools have, and yes, the investment involved as well. So it’s important to remember that the effort and process of getting into these schools is a marathon as well, and not a sprint!
Watch Nakul's complete video interview below
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