MER (myEssayReview) Student Tanay Natrajan holds a bachelor’s degree in telecommunications engineering and worked at Nokia as a senior R&D engineer. To fulfill his goal of becoming a product manager, he decided to pursue management education and applied to four MBA programs last year. Unfortunately, he received a rejection from all of them. However, he did not give up on his MBA dream and decided to seek the assistance of MER to improve his application. As a result of our guidance and his hard work and dedication, he received three admission offers with scholarships (worth $100000) from Boston Questrom, Maryland, and Carlson. After careful consideration, Tanay ultimately decided to attend the University of Maryland's Smith School of Business.
In this interview with Poonam, Tanay talks about:
- His background
- Why MBA/Career goals
- Application experience as a reapplicant
- His preference for Maryland over Boston Questrom and Carlson
- Challenges during the application process
- His advice to re-applicants
- Interests/ Hobbies
Poonam: Can you tell us a little about yourself? Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? What do you do now?
Tanay: My name is Tanay, and I am 25 years old. I am originally from Bhopal, located in the heart of India. Growing up in Bangalore, the Silicon Valley of India, I became interested in technology which prompted me to complete my Engineering in Bangalore in the field of telecommunications. Since completing my degree in July 2012, I have been working in the telecommunication Industry with Nokia Networks Division as an R&D Engineer. During my almost four years at Nokia, I have worked on software development and have taken on various roles, including Team Lead for a team of eight, Code Guardian for an Automation Suite, trainer for new joiners, mentor for interns, and presenter in various customer demonstrations. I also host and organize various social functions/events at the company.
Poonam: When did you start thinking about an MBA? Why now? What are your career goals?
Tanay: Honestly, the idea of an MBA has always been on my mind because of the infinite opportunities it presents. However, during my time at Nokia, I became more aware of why I needed the MBA to reach the next stage in my career.
I believe now is a perfect time for me to pursue an MBA because I have had the opportunity to pursue my passion for technology at Nokia and achieved what I wanted. Having worked on software development for products, I now want to work in a position of influencing the customer to buy these products. My short-term goal is to work in Product Management at a technology-based company, a role that will allow me to combine and leverage my existing technical skills with the skills I acquire at B-school. Over the next 5-6 years, I plan to continuously innovate and work on different products as a Product Manager. Ultimately, my long-term goal is to become a Leader of Innovation at a Fortune 100 company.
Poonam: You applied to some schools last year as well, but your applications were rejected. Please let us know in what way your application this time was different from last time. Could you please identify key areas of improvement this time? When did you start preparing for your application this year?
Tanay: When I applied for the fall 2015 intake, I underestimated the importance of the application I submitted below par essays and résumé. In fact, my résumé wasn’t even in the right format. Additionally, I applied late in the season. After receiving rejections, I spent the next six months introspecting and figuring out what I needed to improve to make my application stand out. However, I realized I needed guidance from a seasoned, experienced consultant who would help me enhance my application. That’s precisely what I received this year with myEssayReview. I signed up with Poonam in August 2015, and we started working immediately on the essays.
From the get-go, your guidelines helped me introspect. I definitely had to put more effort into thinking creatively to come up with a story-like approach for my essays. I bookmarked your essay analysis on the GMAT club and read it repeatedly until I could come up with a creative answer to the question asked. Your guidelines gave me an idea of how many words to use for each part of the question and what examples to provide, which helped me construct my essays. Your strict feedback on my first essay helped me to refine and polish the other essays.
As a result, this year, I was able to present myself in the best possible way through my essays and resumes, and this was the key difference in my acceptance into schools. Here is my detailed feedback on MER's services on the GMAT Club.
Poonam: Thank you. You applied to 5 schools and were accepted into three (Boston Questrom, Smith- Maryland, Carlson- Minnesota) with scholarships. You finally decided in favor of Maryland. Why?
Tanay: I had a $30,000 scholarship ( per year) offer from Questrom, a half-tuition scholarship ( each year) at Carlson, and a first-year waiver and GA at Smith. While making my decision, I didn’t look at rankings. I based it on my interactions with alumni, the location of the school, and my post-MBA goal. And in these three aspects, Smith stood out for me and felt like the best fit. From a financial point of view also, it made sense. Even though the other offers were equally good or even better, I valued being completely free from a financial burden in the first year more than having a scholarship split across two years, as I would be living in a new country. Additionally, I believed that having a GA in the first year would make it easier for me to convert it in the second year. An internship in the summer would also help ease the financial burden for the second year.
Poonam: Looking back, what was the most challenging aspect of the school admissions process? How did you approach that challenge and overcome it? How would you advise other MBA applicants, especially re-applicants, facing similar challenges?
Tanay: I had three attempts at the GMAT (580, 600, & 710) and two attempts at the application process. I faced challenges throughout the process and felt like giving up many times during times of failure. However, the thought of going to business school kept driving me. I always had high expectations of myself and kept working hard towards my goal. From the GMAT point of view, I found eGMAT’s online course the best out there for working professionals. The video format of learning really suited me as I found it really difficult to attend classroom coaching. But eGMAT’s verbal, especially their sentence correction techniques, are incredible and helped me push my verbal score (V40). From the application point of view, as mentioned above, I really underestimated the importance of essays in the application. But after rejections, I was confident of doing better next time with another year of work experience. I identified the flaws in my application and pushed hard to pick up various leadership roles at work, which enhanced my application. Also, being an Indian IT male, I worked hard to distinguish myself in the personal attributes essays. These changes helped make an improvement in my application. My advice to re-applicants is to keep working hard and believing in yourself.
Poonam: What are your favorite non-school books? What are your hobbies?
Tanay: I am not really into reading books. I am a musician and play the guitar. I was in a band earlier called Hybrid Octave. On the weekends, I also help teach kids how to play the instrument. Apart from music, I also enjoy playing sports. I like working out at the gym and became a fitness freak after losing 15 kgs last year.
Poonam: Thank you, Tanay, for sharing your story with us. Good luck with your Maryland experience and your future endeavors.
Click here for Tanay’s testimonial of MER Services.
Click here for Tanay’s GMAT Club Review.
Since 2011, Poonam has helped applicants get accepted into the top 20 MBA programs worldwide. (MER owner Poonam is one of the top 5 most reviewed consultants on the GMAT Club.)