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STUDY ABROAD Guidance

MBA Admissions - Thoughts for IT Professionals

When IT professionals enter the MBA admission process, they are  blissfully unaware of applicant demographics or that they belong to a  more competitive pool - namely the Indian IT applicant. Popular wisdom is that "differentiation is the  key" but many aspirants are confused on this issue. Advise for the applicants struggling to "differentiate" themselves.

Recognize stereotypes and work to dispel them

There are stereotypes that surround being an engineer, especially a software person - which is that such people are highly analytical individual contributors, and somewhat lacking in social graces. Those who've worked in the technology industry will know at least some people who fit this stereotype. Thus when you write your applications it is  important to try to avoid highlighting achievements or activities that perpetuate this stereotype by showcasing your "nerdier" abilities. The ability to remember the value of pi to the 199th decimal place is cool but will fail to impress most admissions officers. Focus instead on showcasing your achievements where engineers are perceived as weak - those involving collaboration and other people. Which brings us to -

Teamwork (or all those projects you were staffed on)

Since a business degree (and your future career) is often about teamwork, and social ability - its important to show in your essays that you have the ability to work effectively as a contributor in a team, a skill you will need to function in the program and to display to future recruiters. IT people in general have a huge ADVANTAGE here. Why, you ask? Unless you work in a very small company, chances are that the projects and problems you've worked on involve large numbers of people. Even as a fresh graduate in first job, most IT professionals interact with architects, project and product managers as well as with my peers. Complex technical work requires close collaboration with people, and an ability to persuade and convince them to accept your ideas and suggestions while listening to their own. Even more significantly, most work done these days is across organizational and geographic borders. That, in other words is great source material for -

Demonstrating Leadership

Several people have a variation of this basic query - "I've worked in XYZ (Big MNC Tech) Corporation for 2-4 years. I haven't really had a chance to be a manager/lead, so how can I display leadership ability in my essays?" To continue from previous point - mine your experiences working in teams to discover those instances where you influenced or changed the outcome of a (technical) discussion. Remember that discussion about the design of some new component interface? How did you get your ideas across? What was the strategy you used to convince your boss or peers? Most technology applicants have ample such examples, but fail to recognize that this is potentially great seed material for highlighting your ability to motivate and influence people. However there's one thing that you should be wary of while writing your essays -

Avoid clichés

If your essay has the words "scalability", "reliability" or "innovative" in it, hit delete and start over! OK, that was an exaggeration, but in reviewing essays written by engineer friends it is observed that they tend to write wordy, yawn-inducing sentences such as - " My future goal is to lead a company that transforms enterprises by creating cost-effective and scalable IT solutions for reengineering". Do you really want to sound like Dilberts pointy-haired boss? Since our essays are really stand-ins for our selves in the mind of the admissions director, wordiness and clichés make us look dull and boring, when instead we should aim to -

Be creative

Previous point does not suggest  that people one cannot write about scalability or reliability if that is related to their career goals. If that be so, then  be creative in how you present it to the reader. Wherever possible, use pictures or imagery to describe your thoughts. While few have the lyrical ability of a lake poet, it is not difficult to inject some life and color into essays by using your imagination. All this is obviously easier to write about than to implement in practice.

Successful "techies" admitted to B Schools are able to achieve the above with some success. Finally, although "five thoughts" has a nice ring to it, the overarching thought that has not been talked about (but should be patently obvious) is to not look at your IT background as a liability that statistically impairs you, but rather as an asset that has added value and contributed to your development as an individual. This kind of positive approach will yield the best results.

 
 
 
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