The clock is ticking!!! We are reaching fast and steady towards the D-day. Going for an MBA from prestigious institutions might be a dream of lots, but getting into it is a reality of few. In the anticipation of the written exam, we tend to forget that there is still fight left even after CAT. It is always a plus point to know it from the people who have done it before, they have the wisdom to convert this dream into reality. We have interviewed the best there can be Mr. Gaurav Parashar. Finished his MBA from IIM Bangalore and a young entrepreneur who is working tirelessly to revolutionize study culture with his start-up Exambazaar.com. Not only he is going to tell about his journey, but we are also going to ask him about the mantras to make the best out of this opportunity. So, let's get ahead and it’s time to address the elephant in the room and see what he has to say on his ode of MBA
Ambuj: Can you tell us about your journey to IIM, what inspired you to pursue this?
GP: In 2012, when I wrote CAT, I had completed my Bachelor’s in Computer Science at IIT Bombay and had been working in an Investment Bank in India for 2 years. Banking jobs were sought out around my time and I think they still are. But with a keen interest in business and the aim to gain international exposure, I wrote CAT Exam, gave my interviews, and decided to join IIM Bangalore. MBA is a generalist degree, which makes you a jack of all trades and master of some in a relatively short time frame.
Ambuj: How can we know if it is the right time and choice for an MBA?
GP: Well, it depends on the individual & circumstances. I would suggest to work at least for a couple of years before joining an MBA school as you can extract more value out of the course and network better, but it is totally cool off if you want to pursue your masters right after your graduation, it totally depends on one's preference. If you feel that your current job isn’t offering you growth and progress you desire, or you want to switch lanes, MBA offers a good launching board to you. Deciding between MBA and other Master’s degrees are relatively easier as you should have a keen interest in Finance, Strategy, Marketing and, Organizational Behaviour to do justice to your MBA course.
Ambuj: How did you prepare for your exam?
GP: I did not have a lot of time outside work to prepare for CAT, which I think is the challenge faced by a lot of aspirants. To offer a solution, I think what’s important is that as soon as you decide to write the exam, solve around 3-4 previous year papers (around 12 hours of time investment). Don’t try to prepare or brush up your concepts out of the bat. After you have written the exam, analyse your result honestly and be critical. Post this analysis, you would know the areas which you need to focus on. Prepare a conversion matrix as to which topic is weak and then relate it with which is important and write it in columns. Whichever is weakest and is more important start preparing from there and move on.
Ambuj: What makes an application outstanding?
GP: Well, that’s a loaded question. A lot of candidates have exceptional resumes while they apply to CAT for a seat in IIMs. There are toppers from IITs, NITs, BITs, DU colleges (SRCC, Stephens), experienced professionals looking for a career step up or switch and then there are some street-smart people in the lot, but don’t get disheartened. Focus on your story and your strength that will make all the difference in the application. Always remember that you have something unique about you. Don’t get bogged down by below average academics or extra-curricular, but instead focus on a very essential question you should have an answer to – what do I personally want to achieve out of this MBA course? What is the best-case outcome, highest-probability outcome and why does it matter to you? If you can communicate this simply to the admissions committee, your application will stand out significantly.
Ambuj: What is the one suggestion you can give from your past experiences for an interview?
GP: IIM interviews typically focus around your profile (college and work experience) and your goals from the MBA program. The admissions interview committee sits down with a lot of candidates across the years. Hence it is important to leave them with 3 things to remember about you at the end of the interview. Identify about 3-5 strengths of yours and try to communicate them effectively in the interview. You can’t bluff your way through interviews and more importantly, don’t try to fake your goals or inflate your achievements. Be real and stay focused during the interview, they have seen a lot of applicants trying to do so.
Ambuj: What are the chances if I have a weak profile and how I strengthen my profile?
GP: It’s okay if you feel that you have a weak profile. Don’t brood over it. I have had a lot of batchmates who felt so too. Remember that MBA Admissions Committee look for growth in your career or skills and sometimes on growth of this growth. To demonstrate your qualities, you should gain more or different work experience. It’s okay to switch jobs as well. If you share a good rapport with your manager and team, do ask for a Letter of Appreciation / Recommendation from them. Also reach out to your Professors from undergraduate, teachers from school to know if they would be willing to write you a Letter of Recommendation.
Ambuj: What are some really good resources for online preparation?
GP: Truly speaking, there are online coachings, but not many of the online forums guide us for CAT, that has motivated me to launch Exambazaar.com. We focus on the best techniques gathered from past toppers, coaching classes to simplify your preparation. You can tune in to Exambazaar CAT Blog for extensive resources from 100 percentilers and CAT coaching faculty.
Ambuj: What was your approach to GD?
GP: Well, I am a not an outspoken person which made me a little tense for the GD but I followed these three pieces of advice by my seniors which made it a cakewalk to clear this round. Keep them in mind and you can clear it without breaking a sweat. First be Calm, do not panic and the rest will follow, second have a decent posture as the level of attention can be easily judged by your it and last but not the least be assertive but not aggressive, remember that a GD is not a TV debate.
Ambuj: Finally, if you have to give 3 golden rules for success in MBA school what would that be?
- Network, network and network: It is usually the first time you will realize how useful your advice/analysis and opinion can be to others. So, get involved and help in business settings wherever you can. Everyone loves a guy/girl who can take care of things and get them done. Hence network with a purpose build lots of good faith.
- Become a Task Master: Being efficient in handling a lot of things together is handy in MBA school. That goes hand in hand with quick decision making. Ability to prioritize things and let go of insignificant things is important too.
- Make Friends for life: MBA school can be tough or hectic. But make sure that you make amazing friends who you can maintain meaningful relationships (both personal and professional) in your life. You will need time to chill out and relax after the hectic classes and assignments.
Hopefully, this encounter with Mr. Gaurav was a fruit basket for all of you and would have guided you into your pursuit for an MBA. According to him, there is something special in all of us and it is on us how we make use of our resources and time to magnify it. Wishing all of you luck on your journey!!!
Ambuj Dixit is a Computer Engineer, Blockchain Enthusiast and avid writer who loves writing about Education in India and Exam Preparation for MBA Exams. You can find more of his writings at Exambazaar Blog.