Hello, from Ithaca! I am Mani. I worked at a top Analytics firm in India prior to b-school and my goal was to get into consulting after my MBA from a top US university.
The first step was to decide whether to take the help of a consultant and after talking to friends and students I decided to take help. Taking a consultant is personal choice. I took one as I thought it would add value and the competition from India is very high. Choose your consultant carefully and trust her or him once you start the process. (I worked with Rajdeep Chimni at).
I found it helpful to start 6 months before and outline an exhaustive plan leading up to the deadlines so that I could map everything out and there was no rush. This helped me submit applications in R1 rather than scrambling later on. One advantage is that you can see the round 1 result and act accordingly in R2. It also allows you to take more risk as you have more time to do applications.
The second part was building the resume. I suggest you customize your resume as per the goals. Everyone knows the STAR format but there are different levels of implementation depending on whether you understand the 'situation' of the work you are doing. My resume took 22 iterations but from there my stories were set and I learnt how to portray myself both on paper and in an interview.
Next, was the outlining of the goals. Usually you have an overall goal but please look into the specifics like which industry, how to align this with your overall profile or if you are a career changer what skills do you currently have. I would say talk with the maturity of someone who is 3 months into those goals rather than someone who wants to do something but has not totally researched it.
Keep your personal style in the essays and customize each essay to the school. Do not use the same essays if you think the prompt is similar. Whet your essays once even after you have whetted them. Even my optional essays were tailored to the school I was applying to.
I thank the team at Admissions Gateway for helping me meet my goals. These are some tips I learned and hope they help you. The last thing is that you should continuously improve from each application and interview, absorb the feedback and become better. This build up will lead you to good results in the end.
Best of luck,
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