Preparing for Kellogg

I haven’t done many blogs lately since I’ve been busy preparing for Kellogg. I thought I should give you guys a quick update on what’s been happening the last few weeks. There is just so much to do! But sometimes, like now,¬†there’s a lull – I feel like I should be doing something productive, but instead I just laze around catching up on TV shows I love and spending time with family. ūüėÄ

These are a few things I’ve checked off my list:

  • Financing my MBA¬†(Apply for a loan & get personal finances in order)
  • i20 application
  • Visa Application
  • Visa Interview: Had my interview on 27-Apr-2015 and got a mail that my visa has been issued on 29-Apr-2015. Yaaayyy! I plan to do a post on Applying for a US Visa for international students.
  • Health Insurance & Health forms: Healthcare in the US is expensive. ūüė¶

What I still have to do:

  • Find an apartment: Since I’m moving to Evanston in the Summer quarter instead of fall, I’m having a hard time finding good deals.¬†I’ll do a follow-up post on how to find housing just as soon as I sign a lease.
  • Tutorials in Microsoft Office, Photoshop and Basic Accounting Principles
  • Complete 2 mandatory pre-enrollment online courses set by Kellogg: I haven’t done this so far¬†because the courses are not up on the website yet!
  • New technology: I’m thinking of buying a new phone/laptop but I might just do this once I get to Evanston.

It helps that Kellogg has a handy To Do list on the Welcome site for admitted students. I’ve just been checking things off one by one from that list.

But I’ve come across some incredibly helpful blogs online, these are some:

108 Tips for new MBA Students (by Matthew Kuo РUCLA Anderson)

A letter to an incoming MBA Student (by Rohan Rajiv РKellogg Class of 2016)

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My Kellogg Interview Debrief

This is a long overdue post! A lot of Indian applicants, having scheduled interviews in March, reached out to me asking about my interview experience with Kellogg.

I¬†had a Skype interview with a member of the admissions committee. Since it was my first business school interview, I was jumpy and nervous. As with most business school interviews, it was friendly and conversational, and within a few minutes of starting the interview, I was in the zone and calmer than I was when the interview started. ūüôā

The questions I was asked were fairly standard and there were no surprises there (thank goodness!). I made a note of all the questions I was asked during the interview immediately after it was done (you guys have no idea how long it took me to locate this piece of hastily-scribbled-on paper from months ago). These are the questions I was asked:

Give me a high level overview of your career till date – especially focusing on why you made the career choices that you did. Take your time.

Are you an individual contributor or do you work in a team? (If you work in a team, do people report to you?) 

Do you prefer working in a team or as an individual contributor? Explain your reasons.

What would your team say is your greatest strength at work? What would your team say was the one thing they’d change about you¬†at work?

(Same questions as above for “What would your manager say…?”)

Talk about a challenging professional experience that you had. What was your thought process? How did you handle the situation?

What are your short term and long term career goals? How will Kellogg help you achieve these goals?

Why did you apply to Kellogg?

How will you contribute to Kellogg?

What are your interests outside of work? (and a few follow-up questions about this)

Is there anything you’d like to add? If there’s anything that you think has not been mentioned in your application or that has not been discussed during the interview – you can talk about it now. (She did mention this was not a question to throw the candidate off-balance, but just an opportunity for us to address anything that we think they might’ve missed. I felt that I had¬†not adequately addressed how smitten I was¬†with Kellogg, so I spent a few minutes talking about MMM and my fit with Kellogg based on all my research. She seemed impressed with all the research I did on Kellogg, and commented on the fact that I was able to get so much information despite living halfway across the world.)

Then it was time for questions. I asked just 1-2 questions, and then we signed off. The entire interview lasted about 40 minutes.

These are my takeaways from the interview, and some important pointers:

– While the interviewer was friendly, it was not what I’d call an informal interview. You have to treat it like any job interview – be courteous, and be friendly, but retain some formality.

– Look at the interviewer and the camera. This is especially important in a Skype interview. You have to try and make eye contact to make it feel like a conversation. Don’t keep looking at yourself in the camera and adjusting your position accordingly (they can tell if you’re constantly checking¬†yourself out on screen).

– I think it’s very important to showcase your passion for the school and focus on your fit with the school’s culture. In your answers, focus on team work and collaboration. Talk about all the things that (in your opinion) make Kellogg the¬†best place for you to spend the next 2 years of your life. Admissions want to make sure that they take people who really want to join. Make sure they know that if you get in, you will attend Kellogg.

– Speak clearly and concisely. This is not really specific to Kellogg and you should do this in any interview, but Kellogg grads have a reputation for being good communicators – reinforce this image in your interview by enunciating clearly, not stammering and being as grammatically correct as you can be. It’s okay to take a few moments to collect your thoughts before answering a question. Don’t just rush into an answer without knowing what you want to talk about, or you’ll end up rambling!

Good luck to all the R2 applicants interviewing with Kellogg! Reach out to me if you have any further questions – I’d be happy to chat.

The Decision is Made…

And I have decided that I will be attending Kellogg School of Management. I’ve been accepted to the Kellogg MMM program, and I truly believe this program is a great fit for my future goals. There were a lot of factors that weighed in my decision, some of which I’ve listed out in an earlier post. I will do a longer follow-up post soon.

I am finally at peace about my decision and can get excited about preparing for business school. I will be flying out to Chicago¬†this June. Wheeeeeee! ūüėÄ

I can’t wait to hear my fellow bloggers decisions. Out with it!¬†ūüôā

Update from Indian School of Business

The results are in – and I’M IN.

This officially makes it 4/4. I got into all the schools I applied to. It’s a wonderful feeling! ūüôā

Interview Debrief:

I’ve¬†heard a lot of ISB interview horror stories, and I expected an interview that was a complete departure from my US bschool interviews. But it was a surprisingly candid and chilled out interview. I had 2 interviewers – one alum and an adcom and it was a Skype interview. I was asked fairly standard questions most of which centered around what I’d written in my resume. I think the interview would be very stressful indeed for people who exaggerate their achievements as they specifically asked how I arrived at the numbers I listed (in terms of revenue profits) and exactly how I achieved particular things that I’d listed.

I had my interview at 11.15AM. I got an admit email at 7PM. I must say, that’s quite the turnaround time!

Thoughts:

While I know that Kellogg and UCLA are leaps and bounds ahead of ISB in terms of rankings as well as the MBA experience, I can’t help but give it a serious thought. I intend to return to India post-MBA (in a few years) to pursue my long term goal of entrepreneurship, and ISB has a great brand name and network in India. It would also be much¬†easier on me and my partner if I pursue¬†a degree in India (my spouse¬†does not intend to move to the US with me while I study) and since ISB is a 1Y program, it means that I’ll be returning to the workforce sooner. The only thing I’m not excited about when it comes to ISB is the dearth of international opportunities post-MBA and the experience of studying abroad that I’ve always craved.

While a lot of people were surprised by my decision to even attend the last-minute interview, I believe I would be remiss to dismiss the many merits of the school and not consider the above factors while making a decision about my future.

I’ll make a final decision by tomorrow and share it with y’all. Until then, Ciao! ūüôā

The weirdest thing just happened…

….I received an interview call from ISB! And why is that weird? I applied in November, and decisions are due in 2¬†days.

I’m not sure what to make of it yet. This definitely is¬†a (welcome?) twist – and just when I thought I’d finally made a decision!! Huh. We’ll just have to wait and see.

I’ll be back with another¬†update tomorrow after my interview.

Decisions, Decisions

decisions

It’s been a while since I’ve received offers of admission to the 3 schools that I applied to.¬†I’ve had a lot of time to consider¬†which school I want to attend this year, and it was really¬†tough¬†choosing between schools that I¬†was excited about while applying. But it’s a good place to be in and after a lot of thought (and a lot of “What if”s and back-and-forth) I’ve finally made my decision. But I don’t think I’m ready to share it¬†with the world yet.

These are some things I considered while making my decision:

  • Brand Value of the school
  • Kellogg’s MMM program vs regular MBA
  • Scholarship money & Financial Aid
  • Strength of the school’s alumni network in India and SE Asia
  • Alumni presence and recruiting opportunities in¬†locations and organizations of my interest
  • Fit with other accepted students, current students and alumni

I’ll expand on the above points further once I share my decision. Meanwhile, for those who are still deciding – Stacy Blackman has recently published an article on USNews about the¬†factors to evaluate while¬†choosing between business schools. [Caveat: This is not just a shameless plug-in since I was quoted in the article¬†–¬†it is genuinely a good read.]

While I’m keeping my cards close, it isn’t¬†any less exciting for me to hear what¬†TopDogMBA, NaijaMBAgal, Hugoness and FinanceFurry ¬†have decided.¬†I’m looking forward to seeing where we all end up, and I really hope we will all get a chance to meet up before joining business school.

For the others who still have their fingers crossed with R2 applications – I genuinely hope y’all hear some good news soon! ūüôā

Kellogg Video Essay Questions

Most Kellogg applicants I know are intimidated and stressed out by the Video Essay component of the application that has been in play since 2013. This year, there are some changes in the video essay section as compared to last year.

1. The applicant is expected to answer 2 questions – 1 behavioural (ice-breaker) question and 1 Kellogg-specific question.

2. Less time to prepare: Last year, applicants had 1 minute to formulate an answer to the question that was asked. This year, we get 20 seconds.

3. No option to redo the essay: Once you record an answer to your video essay question, that’s it. Irrespective of¬†it went, there is just that one chance to record your answer.

Video Essay Questions List

I have listed real video essay questions that applicants have encountered in the 2014-2015 admissions cycle.

Behavioural Questions

What is the best piece of advice you have ever gotten?

What is your favorite TV show?

Tell us about your first job.

If you could teach any course, what would it be?

What is the one thing you have always wanted to try?

When did you realize you were good at your job?

What interesting or fun fact would you want your future Kellogg classmates to know about you?

[I found this blog by Piyush Jain immensely helpful while preparing for the behavioural question section – he’s listed out a ton of questions from last year as well.]

Kellogg-specific questions

Why are you applying to Kellogg?

What do you anticipate will be your contribution to the Kellogg community?

What makes you a great fit for Kellogg?

What is your favourite club at Kellogg?

Advice for applicants attempting the Video Essay section: Be yourself. Do not try and give scripted responses to the questions that are asked. It is good to be prepared so that you know what you want to talk about in the answer to each question listed above – so make sure you introspect to really know yourself. But apart from that, just be casual and confident. The adcom is not looking at the strength of your vocabulary or your oratory skills – they just want to know that you can speak in a clear, concise manner and that you can articulate your thoughts and communicate them to your classmates effectively.

It’s okay to be nervous, but remember that this is just one part of the application. It is an important part, as you get to show the admissions committee a side of you that they don’t get to see on paper. But it is just one piece of the puzzle, so relax and give it your best shot.

All the Best, and let me know how your video essays went!