I availed of MER services because I needed objective feedback and advice on my resume, essays, and letters of recommendation. I believe that well-written, polished, and impactful stories will increase my chances of getting admitted to business school. I also read highly positive reviews on GMATClub, where I learned that the pricing on MER’s service packages is comparatively much lower than the exorbitantly priced services of other consultants. Therefore, I could have all my documents reviewed by a professional without breaking the bank.
1. Free consultation
I was impressed with the free consultation. Poonam took the time to review my short profile before the consultation. We discussed my goals, the schools I have chosen, and the timing of application submission, among others. Since it was a free consultation, my signing up for MER services was not yet certain. However, Poonam approached me as if I were already her client, so the free consultation was incredibly informative and helpful. By then, I knew that Poonam was my best choice as a consultant. Immediately after the consultation, I signed up and paid for the 3 schools' basic package.
2. 1- hour counseling session on Zoom
Poonam and I scheduled our 1-hour counseling session after I submitted to her the accomplished brainstorming questionnaire and the initial drafts of my resume, goals essay, and leadership essay. It was also the perfect opportunity to understand each other’s working styles and personalities. Through this counseling session, we had a fruitful discussion as we ran through each of my submitted documents. She gave me a lot of useful pointers on how to improve them. I liked her idea of starting the essay writing process with my third school of choice before proceeding to the essays of my second choice and finally, my top choice. She explained that as I slowly get used to writing essays, I could produce the best outputs for my dream business school. Finally, I sought her opinion on my choice of recommenders, and she advised me to explain my decision on it in my optional essays. At first, I only thought about explaining my employment gap in those essays, so without Poonam’s advice, I probably would have had a glaring missing piece of information in my applications.
3. Essays: Content (Understanding your profile and positioning of stories)
Poonam’s brainstorming questionnaire helped me draw out stories and ideas that I could use in my essays. She ran through my responses to the questionnaire and gave her comments on them. She also pointed out which of my responses did not sufficiently address the question so that I could choose another topic. The questionnaire served as a pool of ideas for the essays and gave Poonam a deeper understanding of my profile, especially on my personal traits, family background, interests, and memorable experiences. She used the information to give me the most appropriate feedback and advice when reviewing my drafts. For essay topics that were not part of the questionnaire, I wrote two short stories for her and she explained to me which of the two stories would be the better choice for my essay. Lastly, Poonam made me realize that the best way to address the essay prompt is to break it down into parts and answer each of those components before combining all of them to make one cohesive essay.
4. Structure/ organization: (Organizing details to make the story flow better)
Poonam taught me how to best present my ideas through the sequence or flow of my story. Her most important advice regarding essay structure was about using the STAR method to address behavioral essay questions. This method served as my guide in writing the leadership essay.
5. Editing Skills: (Sentence structure, grammar, punctuation)
Poonam is a master in editing. She rephrased some of my awkwardly written or lengthy sentences to make them sound natural without changing my tone or writing style. Word limit was one of the biggest challenges that I encountered in essay writing. I had to remove some parts of my story to comply with it. Poonam, however, revived those parts by shortening other wordy portions of my essay, so we could retain all key details of my story without compromising the word count. Also, she replaced some adjectives with more powerful ones and changed my sentences from passive voice to active voice whenever possible. Poonam handled the editing of my essays with great care and attention.
6. Resumé Review
The resume review was immensely useful in crafting a resume that was a lot more impressive than my first draft. Through her brainstorming questionnaire and 1-hour consultation, Poonam identified parts of my career and personal experiences that I failed to include in my resume, such as higher-level responsibilities I undertook at an early career position, volunteer experience, and interests/hobbies. She also suggested that I quantify the results of my career achievements using numbers and percentages so that the reader will understand the impact of my contributions to the company. Lastly, Poonam instructed me to simplify the finance and accounting jargon that I used in my draft. All these changes drastically improved my resume.
7. LOR Review
Like her review of my essays and resume, her advice on the LORs was as detailed and thorough. She made her revisions without changing the writing style of my recommenders. She also provided valuable advice on addressing the requirements of the LORs, each of which had a different format, and helped me choose which among my strengths and weaknesses my recommenders could highlight in each LOR.
8. Answering queries
Poonam answered my questions with detailed responses in a timely manner. One of her most informative answers is related to my concern about the recommendation letters. I wanted to know how one of my recommenders, who is my mentor at a language institute, could comment on my leadership skills. She gave me an in-depth explanation including examples of how leadership skills can be demonstrated other than by managing people and teams. All the advice she provided me during the entire process has been incredibly insightful.
9. Turnarounds (Response time)
Poonam was true to her word. She returned my drafts with her edits within her stated turnaround time of 24-48 hours. Most of the time, she does it within 24 hours, so our progress moved at a reasonable pace. In fact, we finished two weeks ahead of our agreed deadline.
Poonam exceeded all my expectations. Through her thorough review and guidance, the final products were far more effective, straightforward, crisp, and concise than the original drafts. I am beyond satisfied with how everything turned out to be. Initially, writing the essays was an overwhelming and stressful task for me, but with her assistance, it gradually became an enjoyable activity. It was also a learning process for me.
Beyond her impressive storytelling and editing skills, Poonam is genuinely interested in seeing her clients succeed, so she did not treat our partnership simply as a consultant-client relationship. Her assistance to me over the past few months felt more personal. Not only did she provide constructive feedback and points for improvement on all my outputs, but she also praised my work whenever I did a good job. I found that very inspiring and motivating. I am deeply grateful for her sincerity and thoughtfulness.
Because I was applying to Japanese business schools, I feared that consultants will not take my applications seriously or will not prioritize them as much as they do for applications to Harvard, Stanford, INSEAD, or any other big-name school. When Poonam showed support for my goal of studying and working in Japan during the free consultation, that fear was put to rest. She also explained that the best business school is the one that provides a program that is most closely aligned with one’s career goals, so chasing after the top-ranking business schools as most people do may not be always appropriate.
If I were given the chance, I would gladly work with Poonam again. That said, I highly recommend MER to prospective applicants.
I have received admission offers from my dream school, Hitotsubashi ICS, with a nomination for the prestigious government scholarship, Waseda, and NUCB. Thank you very much for your kindness, patience, and dedication!Cheska,