One thing that failure does to you every time is make you tougher. You may not realize it then, but it always does. People don’t realize how often people fail, people around them, successful people, people who seem to have it all. But the truth is failure is the only way we can move forward. We just have to learn from them. One application season made me so much smarter than what I was just four months back. I started telling people what NOT to do, and immediately I could see how much I had learnt, only by doing things I shouldn’t have.
If you read my story in part 1, you know that by March 2007, I was left dejected and in complete shambles. But two great things happened in my life. Not by chance, it’s never chance, but by positive attitude and risk taking. I joined another company. It hadn’t even started by then, but I jumped ship anyway. It was a small company, trying to start operations in Pune. It was a great opportunity for me, to leave the routine IT job and become a part of an Animation Technology company. It was great. It gave me three things: startup responsibility, role which used my tech and artistic skills both and most importantly something to do which I was passionate about. It also took my mind off the B-school application disaster. The other great thing which happened was I found the love of my life. In fact I met my wife because she was preparing for GMAT and needed my help. We had a great time together in Pune after which she left to pursue her MBA at Tepper, Carnegie Mellon. She scored a 740, another testimonial of my awesome teaching skills
The next two years were fun, lots of learning and a complete transformation in terms of professional maturity. I was a completely different person. I knew what I wanted in life, I knew where I was headed to and I had a vision. And there was always this inner voice which kept reminding me that I had to apply very soon, which kept my target in front of me. I was just trying to figure out a suitable time. I had some free time in between which I used to clear the CFA Level 1. At the time I did not know why I took this certification, but I am glad I did. It has enhanced my knowledge at least to an extent where I can go through a business article without as much as looking up the Wikipedia every time in vain. I understand so many things and I am much more confident going into a B-School with this level of knowledge.
June of 2009, four months before Round 1 deadlines end. Time to prepare for war. The competition was going to be tough. Post recession, the pool of applicants was crowded with Investment bankers, consultants and basically everyone who had a lower opportunity cost outside a B-School at that time. And this as a tough pool to compete with, because everyone already had the right kind of credentials to start with. And here I was, with a totally non-traditional background. But I was game. I reckoned it was the right for me, because by the time I will start school, my wife would have finished it and we could live happily ever after. But life is not so simple. Is it, ever?
Once again the era of sleepless nights and tiring days ushered. I meticulously planned the entire application strategy. Starting with a list of schools, categorized by rounds to apply in, deadline dates, number of essays, recommendation questions, additional documents, application website logins, special requirements (TOEFL, etc.); everything was filed properly. Made a schedule as to when should the first draft of the essays should be finished, and which schools will be taken up first, etc.
The plan was great, everything looked good. I wrote beautiful essays. I showed them to alums, friends, and people with English language skills. Everyone liked them. This time the essays were structured, answered everything in a logical manner. My goals were crystal clear, the vision was believable, and the fit was well portrayed. The applications were submitted well before deadlines. I was all set to make it big this time around.
A few rejects here and there, but I still got interview calls from Booth, Wharton, Kellogg, Duke. And Stern wait listed me. So it all looked positive till I got a reject from Wharton, and then from Duke. Then Booth and Kellogg wait listed me too. Now I was on three wait lists and things started looking very dim. I went into a state of total dejection. I was disappointed and desperate: a bad combination. I wrote additional letters to improve my candidacy, but nothing worked out and eventually I was rejected from all them!
Now I was in a total quandary. I did not know whether it was the insane competition or sheer bad luck or was it my profile/application. My plans for my life went for a toss. I had to get married, and if I had to stay with my wife in US, I had to find something quickly. And so much of other nonsense. Basically everything looked very dismal.
This was the worst phase in my life. Basically my plans, my backup plans, everything bombed. And I was under a lot of pressure. From people around me and even career wise I thought I was about to become stagnant very soon. I hate to admit, but I was literally in tears. I did not even know where to go from there! Is applying again worth it. Is there something I can fix or decide better to have it all sorted out the next time? Time was against me. My awesome score could only last the next year and after that it would be useless. I had to do something!
Next read about how I picked up the pieces from here and succeeded eventually!