Nishant Dhanendra – Kellogg MBA (Class of 2022)
“There’s no way you’re getting into a top-15 program, leave alone Kellogg.” Stunned by the feedback and shunned by an admissions consultant, this Indian Male Engineer embarked on a journey to apply to MBA programs, with Kellogg being his dream program. At that point, his father provided him the inspiration to pursue his dreams and believe in himself. Eventually, Nishant was able to gain admits at five top global MBA programs with $100,000+ in scholarships. However, the path to those admits was founded on a strong desire to succeed and unwavering perseverance.
Nishant was well aware of the fact that there were aspects of his candidacy that did not make him stand out at first glance. For instance, he was not from an IIT, had a low GPA and was not from a feeder firm like McKinsey, Bain or BCG. Nishant commenced his application process almost a full year before his applications were due, thereby giving himself adequate time to plan to mitigate these factors, to the extent possible. Nishant believes that being honest about where he stood was important, as it instilled in him a strong desire to persevere ‘come what may’. This also allowed for him to not become demotivated during the humbling moments.
When it comes to picking a consultant, Nishant advises reaching out to as many people as possible and following your sixth sense. He says, “When it clicks, you’ll know.” For Nishant, it was important to figure out if he would get the critical feedback that would help him identify and course-correct for his flaws.
Another important factor that contributed to Nishant’s success was not getting swayed by the noise or speculation. Nishant did not read any blogs or forums. As incredible as it might seem, he learnt about GMATClub, Poets & Quants and Clear Admit a mere two days before his admissions decisions were going to be announced. This allowed him to focus on the things that were important in his own applications. In speaking with fellow admits, he realizes this was a blessing in disguise, as many of them shared how reading could be detrimental in two ways, (1) It would be a huge time sink as one could spend hours on these platforms, and (2) These readings served to heighten the anxiety, which was a non-productive endeavor.
One important piece of advice that Nishant has for applicants is to enroll everyone in your different communities into the MBA application process. This could include groups such as colleagues, friends, family members and bosses. In Nishant’s words, MBA applications were what he talked about extensively with these different groups and everyone was okay with that. People started chiming in during different stages. For instance, for one essay, Nishant was able to source the story idea from a colleague who reminded Nishant of something he had done at work. In another instance, this enrollment helped Nishant during the interview process when he had an interview scheduled during a weekday. Since Nishant had his bosses enrolled and had put in the extra hours earlier, they were able to provide him the flexibility he needed at this stage.
Nishant also emphasizes the importance of research to assess fit with the different schools. He held several conversations with students and alumni at each school he applied to. He advises applicants to not rely on a single input and speak to at least 5-6 people at each program. These conversations also helped Nishant communicate his fit more effectively and shine through in interviews. In fact, Nishant shares that interviewers are looking for two things, (1) ‘Is this person the same as who’s listed on the resume?’, and (2) ‘Do I see this person as a member of the class?’ And, Nishant believes that fit truly helps with the second point. From the start, Nishant was clear in his desire about finding the right fit and stated several times during the course of our engagement, “If a lower-ranked program is a better fit for me in the long-term, I would choose it over a higher-ranked program”.
Finally, Nishant believes that his desire to learn and grow through the process, so he could become a more capable individual, was an important enabler in his success. He believes that his continuous focus on growing and learning with each iteration made applying to schools more fun. This is also why he has fond memories from applying and actively misses the process.
The incredible advice from Nishant can be summarized as follows:
- Introspect as that helps with self-awareness
- Persevere, more so in the face of setbacks
- Secure the right mentors around you, including an admissions consultant you trust
- Filter out the noise so you can focus on actions you need to take to create strong applications
- Enroll key stakeholders and people in your life into your MBA application process journey
- Focus on finding your right fit
- Approach the process with a mindset to learn and grow
I hope the above account can help many of you in your MBA application journeys. If you would like to get your profile evaluated, you can contact Crack The MBA at firstname.lastname@example.org. I wish you all the very best in these unprecedented times. Stay safe and healthy!
Today’s guest post has been written by Nupur Gupta, Founder of Crack The MBA and President of The Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants (AIGAC). Crack The MBA is an MBA admissions consulting firm whose clients attend top-10 MBA programs globally every year. To get in touch, please email email@example.com.