Nithish, a re-applicant, was accepted into 5 good MBA programs- Mays, UNC Kenan Flagler, ISB, McCombs, and Rice. Three US B-schools- Kelley, Rice, and Mays also offered him substantial scholarships.
In this video interview with Poonam, Nithish talks about:
- His background
- Planning for MBA
- Planning for GMAT
- Career Goals
- Why RICE is the best ‘fit’ for him
- Challenges during the application process
- Tips for Reapplicants Interests/ Hobbies
Poonam: Congratulations on admit offers from 5 top 30 MBA programs.
Nithish: Thank you, Poonam.
Poonam: Which schools you have been admitted to, and which schools have offered you scholarships?
Nithish: I have been accepted to Rice, MAYs, UNC, Kelley, and ISB. Kelley, Rice, and Mays have offered me scholarships. Kelley has offered a $30,000 scholarship and has also given me the opportunity to work within the campus where I can work 12 hours a week and earn $34,000 over two years. It is a graduate assistantship. Mays has given me a $15,000 scholarship and has offered me in-state tuition, so this also becomes a $30,000 scholarship. And Rice has specially offered me a 75% scholarship.
Poonam: Wonderful. This is a huge accomplishment. So how does this feel?
Nithish: It is great to have all these offers, especially because this is my second year of application. I got rejected by Rice and ISB last year, but I was accepted this year, and Rice also gave me a 75% scholarship this year. This does not mean that if you get rejected the first year, you should not apply to the same school again. I am pretty sure if you strengthen your application and grow on your interviews, you will get into the schools that declined your application once. I feel extra special to get into these schools after getting rejected by them the last year.
Poonam: Very True. You are an inspiration for the re-applicants. Nithish, Can you tell us a little about yourself? Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? What you do now?
Nithish: I grew up in Chennai, India. I did my undergrad at the National Institute of Technology, Trichy, one of the top ten colleges for engineering. I majored in Chemical Engineering. After graduation, I started my career in Petrofab, an oil and gas service provider. We build oil and gas processing plants and refineries for our clients. I am a process engineer in the Engineering Division, so I am into the pure engineering stream. I design the manufacturing processes for these facilities, and the last project I worked on was a $2.3 billion refinery project in Oman.
Poonam: When did you start thinking about an MBA? Why now?
Nithish: I always had an MBA in my mind as I wanted to get into the business side of the industry. But I started preparing for an MBA after my international experience in Oman. While working at the construction site, I learned that I was very good at interacting with people, leading them, and managing clients. In India, I did not get the opportunity to lead people, as I was in the pure engineering stream. But in Oman, I was given a different role by my project manager. My experience at the site made me realize my strengths and understand that an MBA is the right path for me. Soon after coming back from Oman, I took my GMAT and started with my application process.
Poonam: Can you tell us about your GMAT prep?
Nithish: I actually took GMAT twice. The first time I scored a 700, and the second time I scored 740. In practice tests, I was getting 720. So after the first attempt, I went online and asked a couple of people for advice about what should I do? They said you are consistently scoring 720 in your practice tests, so there is no harm in giving another attempt. So I decided to put a little more time and improve on my weaknesses. Since I was not scoring very well in verbal, I focused more on verbal. I ended up getting 38 in verbal and 51 in Quant, and I got a 740. So I suggest that if you are consistently scoring a particular score in your practice tests and score less than that in the actual GMAT, you should retake the test because another 20 or 30 points will help.
Poonam: Definitely. What are your career goals, Nithish?
Nithish: I am working in the Oil and Gas Industry, and I want to continue to do. Post-MBA, I want to work in the business development part of the Oil and Gas industry. I have targeted schools in and around Texas, so that I can work in Houston, in one of the major oil companies. That is the reason Rice and Mays are on top of my list.
Poonam: That is what I was going to ask next. You got accepted into all the schools you applied to, but you finally chose Rice. Why is Rice is the best school for you?
Nithish: First, Rice is one of the best schools for a career in the Energy industry. It is situated in Houston which has all the major Oil & Gas Companies. Secondly, around 25% of the class makes it into the Energy Industry. We have a lot of Alumni in this Sector, which makes your career research and job placement much easier. And last but not the least, I got a 75% scholarship from Rice which makes my decision easier.
Poonam: True. Congratulations again. I remember you had earlier planned to apply to all the schools in Round I, but you moved some schools to Round II because of work pressure. Can you share your application strategy, planning, and preparation with our readers?
Nithish: I know it is more difficult to get accepted in later rounds. So I thought it would be my best strategy to put all the difficult schools in Round I. I knew it is much easier to get into Mays so I moved that to Round II. Actually, I wanted to apply to Rice early too, but because of the immense work pressure, I was not able to do that. Rice had one video essay that needed a significant amount of time to prepare.
Poonam: Looking back, what was the most challenging aspect of the school admission process? How did you approach that challenge and overcome it? What would you advise other MBA applicants who are facing similar challenges?
Nithish: For me, the most challenging part of the application was the essays. I am not used to writing essays. I come from the engineering field and for me, it is all about Math and Science. So when someone asks me to write in detail about my goals, and why I want to choose a particular school, I always have trouble doing that. What I actually needed was some guidance and ideas on what to include in my essays and that is where you really helped me. Sometimes I would get the structure of the essay wrong, and sometimes I would get the complete essay wrong. I remember one time the school wanted to know about the personal strengths, and I discussed my professional accomplishments. But I am fortunate that I had you to guide me through the essay writing process and fix those errors.
Poonam: Thank you. It was my pleasure. Did you face any other challenges?
Nithish: Yes, I found interviews to be more challenging when I applied the first time. It took me a few interviews to become confident. The interview reports from the GMAT club helped me significantly. I would advise the prospective applicants to do a few mock interviews before facing the actual interview. After putting all your efforts into your essays, you can’t afford to mess it up in the interviews.
Poonam: True. What is the Mantra of your success? You succeeded at 5 schools and three of them offered you good scholarships. Would you like to give some pointers to prospective applicants?
Nithish: Yes. Start the preparation of your application early, say by April or May, and apply in Round I. Never ever apply in Round III. I applied to Rice in Round III last year and was rejected, and then a few months later, I applied in Round I and received an admit offer with a 75% scholarship. The competition gets fierce in Round III as there are very few seats remaining. Also, for re-applicants, it gets more difficult because they have to write a re-applicant essay and explain in what ways they have strengthened their application this year. Since they only have a few months between Round III and Round I, it becomes very challenging to justify how their application has improved.
Poonam: I totally agree. I am sure it has been an arduous journey, and you must have made some personal sacrifices also. How did you deal with the challenges?
Nithish: Actually, managing my work and applications together along with the school selection took a whole lot of my time. I wanted to create the best application possible, but the hardest part was to make time for these after work. And as you are aware, I was working on the weekends too. In the end, I just took a week off from work to do my applications. No matter what, you have to make sacrifices to make your applications your top priority. For months, my personal life was non-existent. It was work, essays, and a few hours of sleep.
Poonam: That is true. What are your interests/ hobbies? What are your favorite books?
Nithish: I love science fiction. My favorite book is Jurassic Park by Michael Craton. It is much better than the movie; the science part is amazing. I like adventure sports like rippling, rock climbing, kayaking, and go to places around Mumbai to pursue these activities. Also, I play football regularly after work. I like to have some physical activities to keep my mind fresh. Recently, I have also starting learning to play the guitar.
Poonam: Great. All right, Nithish. Thank you for sharing your story with us. It was nice chatting with you.
Nithish: Thank you, Poonam. You have been a great help. I could not have done this without you. Thank you for everything.
Poonam: It was my pleasure to be part of your MBA journey. I wish you good luck with your Rice experience and continued success in your career.
You can connect with Nithish via LinkedIn.