Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Prep & The Story (Part 3 of 3) - EARLY ENTRANTS

In the final concluding section of this series, we bring to you two students who were "early-entrants" - students who were way younger than the average B-school student.

Carmen Magar from Germany, worked across the world with SAP while Nidhi Patel worked as a agricultural consultant before school.

Brief Profile/ Background
Carmen: I worked at SAP in a rotational general management program, completing my undergrad degree at the same time. I am German, but lived in Saudi-Arabia, UAE, China, and well, here of course. This summer I interned in consulting.
Nidhi: I spent 2 years working in agricultural consulting and education programming before my MBA.

What motivated you to pursue an MBA?

In that program at SAP, my favorite department was the internal strategy group. There I got to meet some wonderful people, and what they had in common was an MBA. Plus, I didn't feel like I was done learning yet.
Nidhi: To bring to the public/development sector the know-how of the private sector.

How did you prepare for the admissions process?
I was terrible at school research, my interviewer told me about the reputation of the schools. I knew what to classes to take though ;) I put a lot of emphasis on the GMAT in my preparation because I'm calculator addicted,. I really enjoyed the essays and encourage you to be yourself in them. The process of writing them was self-exploratory, so either way its not a waste. If you know what your motivation for going to school is, it's not hard to decide on a school. Being German (and naive, I guess) I didn't know that B-School is a lot about recruiting and networking, not only academics. Hence the one factor for me that helped me decide were the classes/ academic quality - really superior at Booth.
Nidhi: I tried simply to state exactly what it was I wanted to get out of the program. I had to develop and really understand my own reason for applying and once I could get that in story-form, it was just transferring that message to the interviewers and the application. I took the GMAT, no classes, just used the Kaplan book for studying about 2 months prior to the exam. Luckily for me, I was only 2 years out of college and therefore studying was still easy for me. This is an advantage because I know many smart people who felt they needed classes even if to simply structure their studying.

How has your school experience been so far?
Having come here expecting "only" a great academic environment, I have been wowed and blown away by 1) my classmates 2) the service orientation of the school 3) the doors that have opened to me.
Coming in with a different career goal than most of my peers, it has been difficult to gain a support system and be able to utilize the career help of the students/faculty. That being said, the classes have significantly shaped the way I approach strategy issues and has increased my financial analysis capabilities. Great academics but can be challenging if you are not going into one of 4 major career buckets.

What has surprised you the most about B-school till now?
Carmen: Same as my previous answer... and how beautiful the winter garden is in reality!
Nidhi: How nurturing the professors are - not all of them of course, but you will find world-renowned professors take the time to answer rudimentary questions and even engage in helping students with their inidivudal career/academic goals. They show a sincere interest in student development if you are willing to take the opportunity to engage with them.

What kind of activities are you involved in outside of classes?
Carmen: Co-Chair of the Leadership and Influence Group, co-directed the cohort movie, organizing the fashion show, just got done with case preparation help for first years numbering 587!
Nidhi: Last year I participated in 3 consulting projects through the student groups - that kept me plenty busy. I also became a LEAD facil - that experience was a great way of connecting with the larger Booth student body.

How was the transition from work back to school?
Carmen: Easy for me because I came straight from undergrad.
Nidhi: Again, I was only out for 2 years and quite frankly, I was very happy to be back in a classroom. The transition seemed almost seamless though it was rather difficult leaving a job I enjoyed having only worked there for a short time.

Any advice that you might have for other early-entry applicants?
Carmen: If you're like me, you really really want to get your MBA, and decided to try despite lower chances as an early applicant, show that passion. You know you're ready, help them understand. Explain how you'll be able to create value for your later entry classmates, what you can contribute to their experience.
Nidhi: Job-wise, you are at a disadvantage with only 2 years of experience behind you. The class generally has around 4-5 which seems to be the average without having looked at the stats. I focused on getting some extra interview prep and help so that I could be a stronger candidate despite not having the same amount of experience as other applicants. You can leverage your limited experience by showing greater motivation to excel and move forward. It depends on the case, but there is always a way to spin a weakness into a strength :)

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