Profile Evaluation!

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Profile Evaluation!

by Nee_T » Mon Jul 20, 2009 10:15 pm
GMAT - Second attempt at the GMAT - Expected score is 720+. First attempt a year ago was unimpressive (due to paucity of preparation time) - 660
Background - Indian, Male, Non-engineer (Commerce Graduate with a CA Professional Degree).

Education - B-Com from RA Podar College (My aggregate in college was 71%). I have also successfully completed my CA (Chartered Accountancy, equivalent to the CPA in the US, albeit much tougher). I scored pretty well in my professional course as well. I have also completed 1 year of Law, but abandoned it after a year since I wasn't able to meet justice to my CA preparation alongside work and law.

Work Experience - 5.5 years with Ernst & Young, India. Currently working as a Senior Consultant in the Risk Advisory Team for the Retail vertical. I have also had a 6-month stint in New York working with E&Y. Cumulatively (factoring in other 1-2 month client stints abroad), I have an international experience of 1 year.

Leadership Skills - Most of the leadership experience has been gained over the past 2 years. I typically work on consulting projects, leading a team of about 3-4 members. I work on 3 live projects at any given point in time. So I work with a team of 8-10 people at a point. I have also been working on a lot of Business Development initiatives, in cohesion with the Senior Management along with my day-to-day consulting responsibilities.

Volunteering - I have been associated with the Lions Club, Mumbai for the past 4 years and have led several initiatives in the past period.

Passions - Travelling (have travelled extensively in Europe/N. America on backpacking trips), soccer (played soccer in school/college and also watched the World Cup in Germany!), fitness (addicted to Kick Boxing and Yoga), food (Experimental cook) and movies (English and International Cinema). Plan to travel and study another language (preferably Spanish or French), once I get my applications out of the way.

Future Plans - I want to major in Finance or Strategy (or both), and the career paths that appeal to me are - Strategy Consulting, Private Equity/Venture Capital. I have worked in the Retail/Telecom/Travel and Hospitality Consulting verticals of E&Y so far. Eventually I want to start my own venture, and I have been working on a B-plan of starting my own bar/pub for the past year. However, I am just in the exploratory phase, and I want to pursue enterprise only some time down the line.

What I look for in a B-school - Diversity (Cultural/Experience/Background), reputation, resources (infrastructure/faculty/alumni network) and most importantly learning not only within but also outside of the classroom (through peers, projects, clubs, affiliations, judicious mix of case and practical learning)

Something else - I spent 7 years of my early life (from the time I turned 9) in a Boarding School in India (Rishi Valley - one of the most prestigious schools in the country), and I felt this was an amazing character building exercise. I would want to talk about it in my essays, as it helped me in becoming very independent/self reliant/adaptable/tough/mature individual

Target Schools - Wharton, Chicago GSB, INSEAD

Other schools in the consideration set - Michigan Ross, LBS

Applying for - Round 1 and Round 2. Will try to stagger the application depending on how the essays evolve

Couple of specific questions which I want to ask

1) How can I choose schools, when most of them talk about the same things - diversity, leadership etc? Wharton/Chicago are top schools of choice because I have some first-hand accounts from friends/family members who have studied there, and also because I would love to be a part of a city-school, which is a good school for finance/strategy. I have been a part of the MBA World Tour/chat discussions/podcasts, but honestly without visiting the school how do I arrive at a final list? Especially a safe school?

2) How can I bolster my chances for admission in the interim period? How can I demonstrate that I am keen to bridge the gaps if any in my profile and an ideal candidate? Take courses? Volunteer more? How?

3) How do I choose my second recommender? The first one is my immediate supervisor from work (a Senior Manager). If I choose the second recommender as the Partner from the Current practice I work for, he might have similar things to share about me as the manager himself. However, since I have assumed most of my leadership roles in the past 2 years, choosing someone who had worked with me earlier, might not be able to highlight my obvious leadership responsibilities. Please help!

4) Do I need to convert my graduation marks into a GPA? If yes, how? I have percentage marks from graduation (71% to be precise).

5) Also since I am an Indian, male, I have fears of belonging to a huge applicant pool with very high GMAT scores, stellar acads. How do I distinguish myself? Also will the past score - GMAT 660, work against me or will they look only at most recent scores? I have my test date on July 27 and I expect to get a good score (higher than the average for the schools I am targeting).

6) Is it true that the top programs are increasingly looking at younger students, which reduces my chances? (I have 5.5 yrs of experience)

7) What are my chances of getting into the top programs of my choice? How can I work harder towards it? Should I take the TOEFL too? Will a very high TOEFL score reflect positively on me?

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Re: Profile Evaluation!

by Graham » Mon Jul 27, 2009 8:25 am
Dear Nee_T,

Thanks for your post. I've offered some quick thoughts/replies to your profile and questions below, but I strongly encourage you to reach out to Clear Admit directly for a free one-on-one phone session with one of our counselors - since you clearly have a number of questions you'd like answered!

Here are my thoughts:

GMAT - Second attempt at the GMAT - Expected score is 720+. First attempt a year ago was unimpressive (due to paucity of preparation time) - 660
>>I'm glad you are planning a retake, as a 660 will not cut it at your target schools - given that you fall into an over-subscribed group in the applicant pool. You should be aiming for 720+.

Background - Indian, Male, Non-engineer (Commerce Graduate with a CA Professional Degree).
>>As an Indian male, you fall into a very large group in the applicant pool. The fact that you are not an engineer will help slightly, however, busienss ugrads (from all countries) are also very numerous in the pool.

Education - B-Com from RA Podar College (My aggregate in college was 71%). I have also successfully completed my CA (Chartered Accountancy, equivalent to the CPA in the US, albeit much tougher). I scored pretty well in my professional course as well. I have also completed 1 year of Law, but abandoned it after a year since I wasn't able to meet justice to my CA preparation alongside work and law.
>>Do you have a 4-year ugraduate degree? Some schools insist on this (or a 3 year + a masters). As to your results, they sound fine. Did you have a class rank? With regards to the CA, this is a nice additional aspect to your profile, but it will largely be viewed as a professional qualification as opposed to an academic credential. The law studies make things a bit complex, as they could suggest indecision on your part when it comes to career planning....

Work Experience - 5.5 years with Ernst & Young, India. Currently working as a Senior Consultant in the Risk Advisory Team for the Retail vertical. I have also had a 6-month stint in New York working with E&Y. Cumulatively (factoring in other 1-2 month client stints abroad), I have an international experience of 1 year.

Leadership Skills - Most of the leadership experience has been gained over the past 2 years. I typically work on consulting projects, leading a team of about 3-4 members. I work on 3 live projects at any given point in time. So I work with a team of 8-10 people at a point. I have also been working on a lot of Business Development initiatives, in cohesion with the Senior Management along with my day-to-day consulting responsibilities.
>>This all sounds strong. You are with a name-brand employer and have taken on a fair amount of leadership responsibility, worked in teams, worked internationally, etc. Keep in mind that folks from firms like E&Y are fairly common in the pool, but my hope is that your tenure there will help give you a bit of an edge.

Volunteering - I have been associated with the Lions Club, Mumbai for the past 4 years and have led several initiatives in the past period.
>>This sounds promising. I'd need to know more about what you've done.

Passions - Travelling (have travelled extensively in Europe/N. America on backpacking trips), soccer (played soccer in school/college and also watched the World Cup in Germany!), fitness (addicted to Kick Boxing and Yoga), food (Experimental cook) and movies (English and International Cinema). Plan to travel and study another language (preferably Spanish or French), once I get my applications out of the way.
>>I'm glad to see that you have a wide range of interests - as these should come in handy in your applications (and when you join an MBA program and get involved with clubs, etc). The language training/travel plans (post-application) will not be terribly relevant in the admissions process b/c you haven't actually pursued them as of yet.

Future Plans - I want to major in Finance or Strategy (or both), and the career paths that appeal to me are - Strategy Consulting, Private Equity/Venture Capital. I have worked in the Retail/Telecom/Travel and Hospitality Consulting verticals of E&Y so far. Eventually I want to start my own venture, and I have been working on a B-plan of starting my own bar/pub for the past year. However, I am just in the exploratory phase, and I want to pursue enterprise only some time down the line.
>>Your goals sound a bit scattered. Strategy consulting and PE/VC are rather different (the former likely being a safer, more feasible bet in light of your background). In addition, opening a bar/pub is also entirely different from your other potential goals....and may sound a bit too informal for the purposes of your applications.

What I look for in a B-school - Diversity (Cultural/Experience/Background), reputation, resources (infrastructure/faculty/alumni network) and most importantly learning not only within but also outside of the classroom (through peers, projects, clubs, affiliations, judicious mix of case and practical learning)
>>Most of the leading MBA programs can meet these criteria.

Something else - I spent 7 years of my early life (from the time I turned 9) in a Boarding School in India (Rishi Valley - one of the most prestigious schools in the country), and I felt this was an amazing character building exercise. I would want to talk about it in my essays, as it helped me in becoming very independent/self reliant/adaptable/tough/mature individual
>>While it would depend on the essay topic in question, I'm not sure I'd advise relying too heavily on an experience that dates from when you were between the ages of 9 and 16. I could see a brief mention, or perhaps a more elaborate discussion (in essay questions that explicitly ask about your childhood), but beyond that it's likely a bad strategy to focus on this (as schools like recent experiences, accomplishements for they fear that applicants who write about grade school/high school too much are simply devoid of any recent milestones to discuss).

Target Schools - Wharton, Chicago GSB, INSEAD
Other schools in the consideration set - Michigan Ross, LBS
Applying for - Round 1 and Round 2. Will try to stagger the application depending on how the essays evolve

>>These are all great programs. R1 apps across the board would be the best path to take, given that you fall into an over-represented portion of the pool.

1) How can I choose schools, when most of them talk about the same things - diversity, leadership etc? Wharton/Chicago are top schools of choice because I have some first-hand accounts from friends/family members who have studied there, and also because I would love to be a part of a city-school, which is a good school for finance/strategy. I have been a part of the MBA World Tour/chat discussions/podcasts, but honestly without visiting the school how do I arrive at a final list? Especially a safe school?
>>In terms of adding more programs, you might look at the NYC programs (NYU and CBS) - given your expressed desire to be in a city and study finance and strategy.
>>In terms of how one can learn more about fit/culture/choosing programs, I agree that this can be highly challenging for applicants - especially when visiting is out of the question. Your best bet is to speak with current students, comb the web sites of the programs, read the various forums and download the Clear Admit School Guides https://www.clearadmit.com/guides (in-depth research reports on each of the leading programs).

2) How can I bolster my chances for admission in the interim period? How can I demonstrate that I am keen to bridge the gaps if any in my profile and an ideal candidate? Take courses? Volunteer more? How?
>>First, focus on securing a very high GMAT result - given that your test is today! Second, my sense is that it's not so much a question of adding/expanding on activities/work exp. as it will be working hard to ensure that your application materials are truly superb (so as to differentiate yourself).

3) How do I choose my second recommender? The first one is my immediate supervisor from work (a Senior Manager). If I choose the second recommender as the Partner from the Current practice I work for, he might have similar things to share about me as the manager himself. However, since I have assumed most of my leadership roles in the past 2 years, choosing someone who had worked with me earlier, might not be able to highlight my obvious leadership responsibilities. Please help!
>>This is the sort of question we tackle with our clients in great detail. Without knowing a lot more about you, it's hard to steer you in a specific direction. My guess is that the second letter will need to come from E&Y - but that you will have to work hard to ensure tha your writers are touching on different aspects of your work. You might also consider using a supervisor from the Lions Club....

4) Do I need to convert my graduation marks into a GPA? If yes, how? I have percentage marks from graduation (71% to be precise).
>>This depends on the school, but many of the top progams do not require you to translate - they just want the raw data/transcripts as you received them.

5) Also since I am an Indian, male, I have fears of belonging to a huge applicant pool with very high GMAT scores, stellar acads. How do I distinguish myself? Also will the past score - GMAT 660, work against me or will they look only at most recent scores? I have my test date on July 27 and I expect to get a good score (higher than the average for the schools I am targeting).
>>You will fall into one of the most competitive areas of the applicant pool. The old GMAT will not hurt you - provided you can secure a very high score this time out. Keep in mind that the average score for Indian males who get into the schools on your list is likely higher than the general average. As such, merely topping the average by a few points may not suffice.

6) Is it true that the top programs are increasingly looking at younger students, which reduces my chances? (I have 5.5 yrs of experience)
>>Some programs have more of a focus on this than others. I presume you are roughly 27 years old, which shouldn't be a major issue for the prgorams on your target list. At the same time, you will need to show that you fully intend to be an active student, etc (older applicants often have a reputation for participating a bit less in XCs, taking a more utilitarian approach to getting the degree and getting out, etc).

7) What are my chances of getting into the top programs of my choice? How can I work harder towards it? Should I take the TOEFL too? Will a very high TOEFL score reflect positively on me?
>>If your ugrad language of instruction was English, there is no reason to take the TOEFL (for 99% of programs). Your chances of getting into a top program are hard to peg without knowing a bit more about you - hence my prompt for you to send your resume to [email protected] and set up a free call. The GMAT result will clearly be important, along with several other factors (your writing skills, caliber of recommendations you can secure, etc).

Best of luck,

Graham
Graham Richmond
Clear Admit, LLC
[email protected]
215 568 2590

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by Nee_T » Tue Aug 04, 2009 1:05 pm
Hi Graham,

Thanks for your detailed responses.

I did not achieve a GMAT score I expected. I was awarded a score of 670 on my GMAT. This score was not remotely close to that I had expected. At present, I plan to retake the GMAT in September.

However, I have commenced with the applications process. As per your suggestion, I would be setting up the half hour call with Clear Admit today or tomorrow (India time). I will also revert with more specific queries but till such time, I had a query to raise.

While selecting one of my recommenders, I accidently did not waive the right to view the recommendation prior to bit being submitted. This is clearly against what I had planned. Is there any way that I can change this? I logged in to my account on the website but this field is not editable.

Please help!

Thanks and regards,
Nee

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by Nee_T » Sun Sep 27, 2009 2:46 am
Hi Graham,

Hope all is well. I retook the GMAT and scored a 710. Althought this is not as good as I had expected, it is certainly better than my previous score, 670.

With R1 deadlines around the corner, I had a few quick questions to ask:

1) INSEAD states the word limit to be approximately XYZ words. In such cases, what is the maximum number of words that you can exceed the limit by? Likewise for other schools.

2) INSEAD has two job essays and it does not request for a resume. In this case, is there a specific way in which the job essays should be worded? Should they be worded in a way that they substitute the resume?

3) Is there a specific resume format that the schools expect? Are we to mention only the achievements in the resume?

It would be great if you can send me your responses soon.

Thanks,
Nee