I got admission in Oxford MBA program. Finally my chase for a good business school has come to an end. I’ve gone through an arduous and (sometimes) stressful journey to reach here. I now realize that everything, ranging from a small food distribution drive to a crushing rejection from ISB, contributed to this achievement. I never considered Oxford University as a place where I can dream to study. But little did I know that my work and involvement in multiple initiatives made my profile worthy enough for an interview call from Oxford.
As soon as I got a score of 700 in GMAT, I started gathering details for MBA Application. At this time, I was aiming for a seat in Indian School of Business (ISB). This school was my dream since a long time. As it was located in my city, I used to travel to this school and stare at its gates with aspiration and desire to get in one day. This kind of crazy obsession has driven me to build my profile and seek opportunities where I can improve myself, or to create one if none existed.
My MBA Application strategy was based on either winning or losing i.e. I applied to ISB only, so that I can focus all my strengths into getting admission from ISB, knowing very well that if I fail I don’t have a back up. In hindsight, I think it’d have caused less disappointment when I got rejected from ISB had I applied to another school. But at that moment, for me it was ISB or nothing.
While I was finding answers about myself, why MBA, goals, etc, I worked with NGOs and started my own social initiative. None of this came knocking at my door. I went out of my way to get in contact with NGO (ShareKhayr) founders and convince them for enrolling me as a volunteer. Though I was pitching for core team member role which is responsible for promotion, event planning, fundraising, and strategy, they offered only basic volunteer role. I gladly accepted this because a) the founders were very dedicated to community development b) this provided me a platform for driving community service programs. During my time at this NGO, I proposed and lead Food Distribution drive for homeless people.
Immediately after getting relieved from GMAT prep weekends, I thought about an idea to create a social impact. I started a socio-economic study to determine the effect of undetected poor eyesight among underprivileged students. My hypothesis for this study was that poor vision is one of the factors responsible for causing decline in academic performance or, much worse, creating disinterest towards studies among students from low income households. I wanted to neutralize this factor and compare academic performance of this set, pre and post vision correction. For doing this study, I partnered with schools and eye hospitals. Note that I wasn’t backed by any organization for this. This whole initiative was self-organized and funded, by leveraging my network and convincing hospitals and schools about my purpose.
Throughout this phase I did excessive networking with my colleagues and friends. Talking to people made me feel relaxed and reassured about what I was trying to accomplish. I’ve built strong professional relationship with people who inspired me at office. This bond was established by maintaining high standard of work and culture over a long period of time. Meeting with friends, helped me to destress and focus on the goal. It is important to have friends who will back you in times of failure. These people (my inner circle) were more confident in me than what I was in myself.
Facing rejection and getting back up was undoubtedly the toughest part. I was rejected by ISB, though I was called for an interview. This was a big setback, given the amount of effort and time I have put in for this. It was win-or-lose for me, and I lost. I felt terrible at this and thought to give up. My parents counselled me to never give up and suggested to try colleges abroad. It was then that I started to research about Business schools in Europe. After only three months from my worst rejection, I got admit from Oxford University.
It was not even a dream!
The journey continues…I will keep you posted.
Below are some of my hideouts while I was preparing for Oxford interview. Of course coffee was fueling my intellect. 😉