Darden Interview Preparation & Few Userful resources

After tasting the 1st moment of success this Monday for being admitted to Tepper and being selected as Forte Fellow, its time to get more enthusiastic about the MBA application journey and my next important milestone is the Darden Admissions Interview which is scheduled on January 7th. It will be a telephonic interview and I don't know who my interviewer is. I have read that Darden conducts blind interviews where the interviewer knows nothing about the applicant and has no previous access to applicant's applications.

I have always felt a great fit for Darden. The Darden admission reception and brainstorming/writing/rewriting the Darden essays were all great experiences. Now that Darden has embraced my thoughts in the form of my essays and extended interview invite, I hope I can articulate my fit with Darden and project my candidacy the right way in the interview so that I can get accepted at Darden.

I feel the key to succeed in interview is to clearly understand the natuhre of the interview and its a bonus to know the interviewer. But we should never over do the latter part to the extent of pestering our interviewer or scaring him/her away with a sense of over enthusiasm. But it definitely helps to have a clear idea about how the interview is going to happen. One major resource that has been helpful in my interview preparation is the "UVA DARDEN SCHOOL OF BUSINESS: CLEAR ADMIT INTERVIEW GUIDE"

what I liked about this i/v guide

This I/V guide is a well researched, extensive guide to applicants. ClearAdmit has compiled many relevant data points regarding the interview and compiled it in a very readable way in this guide. Applicants can gain all the relevant information at one place through this guide. My specific takeaways from this guide which will also help fellow applicants are

  • Darden conducts blind interviews where the interviewer is either an adcom, trained second year student (for on-campus interviews) or Alumni (for international interviews).
    I would like to add here that as in my case, Darden also conducts telephonic interviews when alumni is not available in the applicant region. And blind interview gives you the freedom to reiterate your skills/achievements/aspirations that you have already expressed in you essays without the risk of sounding repetitive to the interviewer.

  • Darden Interviews are by-invitation-only and every applicant is interviewed prior to getting accepted. So interviews are an essential part of the admission process and hence to be dealt with meticulously

  • The interview typically lasts for 30 - 45 minutes but might stretch upto 1 hour when alumni is involved so its important to be flexible and prepared. Darden is famous for asking just one question in its interview which is "Tell me your story from cradle to chair". So be ready to present your life story in a way which makes sense in a MBA interview.
    My idea is to touch all the important milestones of life and articulate the reasons for my choices in life. Why I chose a particular college, company, career path, community activity and why it makes sense to my overall career vision.

  • Guide also has first hand interview experiences from past applicants and also a set of expected questions.
    I have found that the Clear Admit wiki page http://www.clearadmit.com/wiki/index.php?title=DardenInterview and http://www.accepted.com/mba/InterviewFeedback.aspx  contain useful i/v feedback from previous i/vs.

  • For those going on campus for interview, this guide gives all information needed to reach, visit, stay and interview at Darden. So US applicants watch out for this section. 
Things I had wished to see in this guide

I am a international applicant who won't be doing a on campus interview but a telephonic interview. So it would be a real value addition to this book if it has a dedicated section for "remote interviews" like telephonic and skype interviews.
And the book should provide links to the Darden Interview page on Clear Admit Wiki to help the readers. This will give some extra resources to the readers and at the same time readers will be encouraged to share their interview experience with the world through this wiki. Other than these I feel this guide can be really useful to applicants preparing for their Darden interview. The last section - "General Interview guide" can help you out in any MBA interview not only Darden.
I am also planning to talk to current students about the remote interviews to get some sense about how it usually goes. So that's about my Darden Interview Prep. All the best to fella applicants who are getting R1 decisions or submitting R2 apps. Happy holidays and a Merry Christmas !

P.S - Thanks ClearAdmit for providing me with a copy of "UVA DARDEN SCHOOL OF BUSINESS: CLEAR ADMIT INTERVIEW GUIDE.  You can check out more about the available clear admit i/v guides here

Tepper's cool new acceptance video

Yesterday morning when I received the Tepper decision email, it had a link to this cool new acceptance video. Thought I will share it on my blog

While doing this I learned how to grab the flash videos from web and embed them in blogs :) Yeah :)


The first taste of Success - Tepper says welcome :)

My 1st moment of  success in my MBA journey is here :) Without any further ado, I am admitted to Tepper class of 2012 and have been selected as a "Forte Fellow".

Now for the full story -

I am a round 1 applicant to Tepper CMU and was interviewed in November. Today morning when I opened my inbox, there was a mail from Laurie Stewart, Executive Director at Tepper school of Business waiting for me and the subject line said  Exciting news from the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon. This gave me the initial good feeling about the results. The mail read

Dear M,

Hello from the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon! I am writing with exciting news. To learn more, select the link below (or paste the link into your browser). The link will open a brief flash application. Once the application has ended, please click on the buttons for additional information.


Laurie Stewart
Executive Director - Masters Admissions
Class of 1987
Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon

I followed the link and there it was - I have been admitted to Tepper class of 2012 and have been selected as Forte Fellow. This is really a honor to me to be selected as Forte Fellow and my admission letter said the reason for this selection and I am delighted to hear that :)

We have chosen you as a Forté Fellow because of the high regard we have for your credentials and our view of the positive impact you will have on our entering class.

So that's about my 1st moment of success :)

Beautiful B-School Photo Contest - Bring it on !

Last year when I had just started my MBA research, I often read about this contest and here I am this year, as a judge to this year's Beautiful B-School Photo Contest! and I am really excited. Thanks accepted.com for this opportunity !

A bit about the contest. Be sure to check it out and submit your entries to win some cool prizes.

It's that time of year again—time to visit your top choice b-school campuses and show off to the world what you've found. Put your artistic talent to the test by submitting your favorite campus photos to the annual Beautiful B-School Photo Contest!
Last year's 1st place winner presented this dramatic picture of Columbia:

You can view other photo submissions from last year on Accepted.com's Facebook page.
Add an extra element of fun and creativity to your b-school visits by snapping photos of grounds and scenes that inspire you. And then share them with us to win great prizes!

Social Media in MBA admissions

In this age of  social media, MBA admissions is no exception from coming under the influence of social media tools like twitter, blogs, facebook and etc. Almost all schools have their twitter feeds, maintain blogs and facebook pages. Veritas Prep has come up with a detailed report on this phenomena - http://www.veritasprep.com/whitepapers/VP_Social_Media_Audit.pdf.
Some important points include
  • Despite all the buzz in the past year about Facebook and Twitter, good old-fashioned blogs still seem to be the most preferred method for communication, with more than 60% of the top 50 U.S. business schools maintaining a regular blog presence. 
  • Many school approach social media as they do all forms of media: as a way to push out their messages to their intended audience. However, that's only half of the potential of thee channels. The "pull" approach invites applicants to talk back, getting their questions answered and giving instant feedback to the school, as well as helping the admissions office learned more about the individual applicants. As Martinelli explains, "We learn more about our applicant needs which helps us to design better communications. Plus, these exchanges provide us with valuable content that helps us in the evaluation process."
  • “Leveraging authentic institutional voices in social media outreach also offers applicants a glimpse of the
    MBA program’s community.”
I really like the Veritas Prep's efforts to research the MBA application aspects in detail and share it with the world.

Video of six core principles of good management

Check out this ten-minute video summary of Awesomely Simply by John Spence. It’s a good overview of the six core principles that determine a company’s fate.

Darden interview invite and a relaxing weekend !

Hey all,

After finishing a gruelling mba application schedule on Friday, I decided to take on a different route this weekend. I packed my bag and left to Mysore. Mysore is where I did my graduation and the place I love the most. Its a heaven to be in and I have some zillion memories of life and some most special persons associated with this magical place. I had a relaxing 2 days at my grand ma's place and with my friends. I came back to Bangalore and I had one more good news awaiting me in my gmail inbox.  My dream school Darden had invited me for the interview :) :). After a great experience at Darden admissions event and fit with Darden culture, I had applied to Darden in round 1. Darden application had  seemingly simple 2 questions.
But answering them was by far most demanding but immensely enjoyable exercise. It made me think about my past experiences and my future plans and how to bridge the both. I had taken a very unconventional path to answer these essays. Unlike my other school essays which underwent reviews and structural refinement, Darden's essays were straight from my heart (and ofcourse mind and brain too). Darden has understood my wavelength and it feels great :)

This is what Darden had to say :)
Dear M,

You have been invited to interview with the Darden School of Business. Included in this email is important information to help you plan your visit. As a reminder, we do need you to schedule your interview or contact us in the next 10 business days if you are interested in continuing the application process.

Please visit the website below for scheduling instructions and information on events during the interview days.
If you have any questions about scheduling your interview, please call or email the Admissions Office.

Admissions Visitation Coordinator

Sara Neher in her video  blog had said that international students will have alumni i/v. I have mailed Darden adcom about it and will keep my progress posted here. I wish I could have gone to Darden for a oncampus interview and campus visit. But this doesn't look possible given the travel, visa and work issues. Nevertheless if things go well, I will be @ Darden next fall :)

Wish me luck guys !


Some recent job market trends for MBAs

Here is a link to some recent job trend reports. Useful for MBA aspirants to do a reality check.
 Some important learnings
  • Overall, the global demand for MBA graduates has decreased by five percent. This decline is particularly noticeable in the financial services sector, in which new hires have decreased by ten percent. Only the consulting sector has seen a three-percent rise despite the declining trend . In contrast, the demand in the industrial sector remained the same, while the technology sector saw a one-percent increase.
  • Despite thousands of career casualties, the crisis has not made MBA students any less eager to charge into the front lines of finance.A third of 2009 full-time MBA candidates plan to pursue careers at finance and accounting firms, level with the past two years, according to annual surveys by the Graduate Management Admission Council, a nonprofit group that administers the GMAT.
  • The MBA degree is clearly becoming increasingly important in the emerging markets. Companies here are looking for graduates who can help them exhaust their growth opportunities on the global market.
  • 77 percent of the employers surveyed prefer MBA grads with over three years of professional experience. The demand for younger graduates is lower than ever before, as only two percent of employers look for graduates with less than one year career experience.
  • The averages usually reported by schools tell prospective students only part of the story. Means and medians, like the ones reported on BusinessWeek's Web site, mostly gloss over the experiences of students in atypical careers such as microfinance or public service. And numbers outside the averages or ranges can be hard to come by, leaving students to play an uncomfortable guessing game in the shadow of student loans.  
  • One of the more stark divisions represented in the data is the pay disparity between different programs. According to PayScale, graduates from the Top 10 programs will make nearly twice as much as the typical MBA. And that pay advantage wears off fast after the Top 10, says Al Lee, PayScale's director of quantitative analysis. "Outside of the Top 20 [ranked schools], you're under six figures," he says. Even worse news for students at lower-ranked programs: "By the time you get out of the Top 30 you're talking just a small premium over the average school,"


    A welcome change from The MBA Tour

    Few days back I expressed my concern over how MBA tours can go futile because of large number of participants in my post My 2 cents about MBA Tour.

    Yesterday I got a mail from The MBA Tour informing about the next series of The MBA Tour in 2010. And I was really happy about the step they are taking to ensure that only genuinely interested candidates will enroll to the event. They have set some basic criterion for registration and also asked for resume. I am sure this will do a good job in keeping out random attendees. Good Job guys! Here is what they had to say :
    Join MBA admissions directors for small group round table discussions about MBA program features, the admission process and career opportunities.
    View video

    Delhi, 12 January 2010
    Lalit New Delhi
    Barakhamba Avenue, Connaught PL
    New Delhi 110 001, India

    Bangalore, 14 January 2010
    Hotel Taj Residency
    41/3 M.G. Road
    Bangalore 560001

    Mumbai, 16 January 2010
    JW Marriott Mumbai
    Juhu Tara Road
    Juhu Mumbai 400049, India


    The event is FREE and space is limited. You are eligible to attend one of these events if you fit the following profile:

    » Have an interest in a full-time, international MBA experience

    » Have already completed your undergraduate studies

    » Have plans to begin your MBA studies in the next 18 months

    To attend, send your resume to register@thembatour.com

    Forward this message to your friends and fellow prospective MBAs!

    The Nothingness syndrome !!

    I have a peculiar nature of feeling totally empty after a busy schedule gets over. Instead of feeling happy about completing the task, I kinda feel sad that I have nothing more to do at the end. Its mostly got to do with my disposition to enjoy the journey more than the destination.

    yesterday I submitted a round 2 app which was very demanding and had kept me busy for long time. When I finally finished the essays and submitted the app, I started feeling that nothingness again. My next school deadline is one month away and I have decided to take a much awaited break from MBA apping process. I am hoping to get interview invites in this period and the wait continues. Darden are you listening ? Other than this, I have no MBA apping item on my plate.  I am so used to research B schools, write/edit/rewrite essays that it feels weird not to have to do any such thing.

    I am thinking to start with MBA essay reviews which I have been doing for my friends and now want to expand to online friends as well. So if any of my readers want to get your essays reviewed, contact me.

    MBA Virtual Neighborhood : Start your MBA research here

    Forte foundation has this cool new feature called MBA virtual neighborhood to explore MBA programs from across the world who are associated with Forte foundation.It  is a portal to information for prospective MBA students. Find all of the information you need on Forté sponsor schools - the top business schools - in one convenient place.  Read blogs, listen to podcasts, watch school videos and find information about annual events for women.  Start your journey today!


    Impulsive mail check syndrome

    We all know how hard it can get to stop ourselves from impulsively checking our inbox and MBA forums for MBA application updates. Off late I was also suffering from this syndrome and thought its high time I find a way outta it. These things can lower our productivity in a big way. I have a big release lined up this month at work and I can't afford to suffer from this impulsive disorder anymore.

    As a quick fix I installed this small piece of software called GMAIL Notifier. As the name says this software starts screaming out for attention whenever a new email arrives. Not only this, we can also read the emails, mark them read or even delete them through this simple interface.

    After installing this, I never keep my gmail inbox open n this saves me some valuable time. How are you guys dealing with this impulsive disorder ?


    MBA Financing: Alternatives to traditional MBA loans

    Financing your MBA needs lot of research and effort. In this post I would like to share information about alternatives to traditional MBA loans and private vendors. These are called social networking loans or peer to peer loans. (Forbes featured a related article titled "An Alternative To Student Loans." )

    Person-to-person lending (also known as peer-to-peer lending and social lending) is, in its broadest sense, the name given to a certain breed of financial transaction (primarily lending & borrowing, though other more complicated transactions can be facilitated) which occurs directly between individuals ("peers") without the intermediation/participation of a traditional financial institution. Organizations which facilitate such loans connect people who want to loan money with people who want to borrow money. Loan rates are usually fair and are fixed for the life of the loan. Here are some sources of P2P lending for your MBA
    Lookout for these options when planning your finances for MBA. 


    My 3rd post on MBAinTheUSA - MBA Thanksgiving

    In my 3rd post on MBAinTheUSA I celebrated thanksgiving in my own way :  by thanking all those people who have helped me in my MBA journey. Check out the post here MadBubbles Experiences an MBA Thanksgiving

    Financing your MBA - What, When, Why and How ?

    Courtesy : Simon Howden

    As its been said multiple times, MBA decision can be one of the most important decisions in one's life and it doesn't stop there. As every applicant is aware, the MBA process starting as soon as from the GMAT time is highly expensive. One needs to really put some sincere effort towards planning his/her finances for MBA. People usually tend to postpone the finance planning till the last moment of MBA application process as the pressure of other aspects like school selection, essays, recommendation, interviews gobble up the major share of applicant's time. But this may not be the wisest thing to do as there are lot of financing options available which needs to exercised at a much earlier stage of application process.

    I just finished reading the E book - Financing your future by Accepted.com and found it useful for planning our finances for MBA. The book has a lot of information about the types of financial assistance available to applicants. Not only that, it also goes on to the way in which applicants can win those scholarships by aptly planning for it. In this post I am gonna share few useful pointers for applicants to help in their finance planning.

    Takeaways from the E book - Financing your future
    •  Start planning early. Never ignore the financing part. Parallel the financing research with your school research. Many schools offer merit based, need based and special criterion based awards. Make sure you know what your target school has to offer. E book offers a really well planned timeline for the financing part and also offers great insights on type of awards available to students and the differences between them.

    • There are a lot of external funding available for MBA students. For example Forte Foundation offers fellowship for women students, The consortium offers the Consortium Fellowships for minority students. These prestigious fellowships go beyond the financial aspect and offer  professional mentoring and networking opportunities to selected candidates. So keep your eye open for such tremendous opportunities. You can also search for scholarships in external online databases on Scholarship-Experts and Fastweb.

    • Treat the scholarship application process (if any) with utmost sincerity and diligence as the efforts can pay rich dividends. While some scholarships have a elaborate application procedure which includes essays, SOPs and recos, some school scholarships doesn't need any extra application but will be decided based on the merit of the application.

    Things I wished to see in the E book

    While the book has some very useful resources for domestic applicants, it would be more useful for international applicants if the book adds some more dedicated resources for international applicants.

    MBA applicants should also research for school specific financing information which is available on school websites or by contacting finance office. Let me know how you planned your MBA financing and any other sources which you found helpful.

    PS: Thanks to Accepted.com for providing me with a copy of this e book. You can check out more about the book here.