Indian IT Male MBA applicants: MBA application essays
In the previous post of this series, we discussed preliminary MBA application strategies for Indian IT Male MBA applicants. In this post, we will discuss common dos and don’ts to follow as candidates start looking at essays and the stories that need to go into them.
1. Applicants (and especially Indian IT male MBA applicants) need to think of personal, and not just professional achievements to highlight
One of the key reasons that the Indian IT male MBA applicants face so much competition is that most applications from this group look the same. They focus on programming languages, on technologies (SAP/Oracle and the like), or onsite stints, and on creating tools, rather than strategies, that help IT clients achieve beneficial outcomes. No doubt some of these perspectives are important, but too often they mask the personal aspects of a candidate. What led you to choose Computer Science in the first place? What community and social activities have you bee a part of? Did you pick up a foreign language when you worked in Europe for a few months? All of these are just examples, but they can provide an important edge to your application and help you stand out in a competitive pool of applicants.
2. Think about and demonstrate leadership and teamwork
Sometimes an IT environment can be too analytical. Don’t get us wrong – being analytical is never a bad thing – but coding away in near-isolation to churn out that perfect application which solves the client’s payroll issues (example) is not going to win you much at the MBA sweepstakes. By design, the MBA program is meant to be collaborative, and so are most post-MBA roles. Your ability to initiate things, lead them, and work collaboratively is going to be closely looked at.
Also remember – just being part of a team is NOT enough. Everyone in IT works in teams, and most work in global teams. You need to go beyond that and prove that you aren’t just another team member but THE person in your team. Looking for the right examples here is not easy, so getting started early and thinking of multiple instances along these dimensions becomes very important.
3. Be honest – AdComs know what you are talking about. So should you 🙂
Some IT applicants erroneously believe that Admissions Committees do not know or understand IT, and so are unlikely to be able to see through exaggerated claims. For example, saying that you worked in a team to deliver a difficult project on time and under budget is okay. Saying that you delivered a solution single-handedly which provided $80 million in saving in the first six months alone is stretching the point. In rare cases, this is possible (and if it really happened you should provide a lot of context to help the reader understand the situation rather than only a brief description), but you get our point.
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4. Avoid ‘differentiators’ that aren’t really different
This one isn’t really the applicant’s fault. It has more to do with the fact that almost everyone out there says it.
Example 1: ‘I finished in the top 0.1% of candidates taking the engineering exam’. In India, if you got through the entrance, this is pretty much true. It may not mean much though, unless of course you finished in the top 100 of the IITJEE or something similar.
Example 2: ‘My outstanding performance helped me to gain admission to (unknown college), the best engineering college in my state’. If you are from an IIT, you don’t need to say this anyway. If you are not, don’t bother – it won’t matter.
Example 3: ‘My work with XX NGO over the last six months shows my commitment to society and to a selfless life’. Six months is too little for a sweeping statement like that. They know you did it for the MBA. Mention it, but not this way.
These are just three examples (and there are plenty more, but you get the point). Again, introspection, refinement, and review are the key elements that can help you get these right.
In the last post of this series, we will focus on MBA admissions interviews for Indian IT male MBA applicants (in fact, females too).