Rohith’s story is one of honesty, perseverance, and hard work. Despite being younger than most MBA applicants (2 years work-ex pre-MBA), his journey to the USC Marshall MBA with a USD 100k scholarship is well-deserved and breaks several myths about MBA admissions.
In this article, learn more about Rohith’s journey, his tips for MBA applicants, and how working with Arvind helped him get into a US T-20 B-school.
From building an authentic narrative to crafting compelling essays, Rohith shares his application journey. Rohith also candidly shares his USC Marshall MBA interview experience and his tips for MBA applicants.
Over to Rohith.
I was born and brought up in Hyderabad and qualified my Chartered Accountancy (CA) in late 2020. Post CA, I joined EY in a statutory audit role to gain an understanding of businesses and work on the finances of big companies.
After around 2 years of working at EY, I wanted to do something beyond auditing financial statements. I wanted to advise clients on broader strategic topics, through a consulting or an investment banking role. When I took my GMAT attempt in mid-2022 and scored well (770), my aspirations for an MBA went big.
Why MBA and why USC Marshall
During the Covid lockdown, I started a finance consulting venture. Several of my family members, friends, and small business owners approached me and saw my potential in solving their business problems. Knowing that I was serving a niche segment by sitting in Hyderabad, I wanted to grow globally.
This motivated me to do an MBA, to pursue my short-term goal of getting into a strategy consulting or IB role and fulfilling a long-term vision of globalizing my start-up and helping businesses across sectors.
I wasn’t sure about selecting my B-school until I approached Arvind, my mentor and MBA consultant. While I applied by myself to some universities in late-2022, my first round applications didn’t work.
Arvind provided me with options for B-schools based on my past story, profile, and future aspirations. He helped me in researching about schools and encouraged me to connect with students and alumni of my target schools.
Subsequently, I found a mutual friend at USC Marshall who provided insights about the school. Marshall’s focus on consulting and entrepreneurship was in line with my goals. I particularly liked USC’s Trojan network, when I saw some posts by alumni who were helping each other in gearing up their careers during layoffs and recessions. The humble and friendly alumni network was one of the key reasons I chose Marshall and thanks to Arvind who helped me facilitate the B-school search and application journey. When I received a sizeable scholarship from USC Marshall, I was excited and had no second thoughts.
My age and work experience (2 years) are lower than the average candidate at a top B-school. I realized this was a challenge because of the high number of applications from more qualified and experienced professionals, however, I believed in my story and my career aspirations.
I reached out to several MBA consultants during my B-school search but most of them said it’s impossible to get an MBA admit to a top B-school with less than 3 years of experience. But Arvind believed in my story and my strong academic and professional capabilities.
Once I found Arvind, I was committed to his guidance and followed his instructions carefully without taking any risks. This approach was really helpful when I finally saw the fruits.
I was always a self-learner and used to maintain high intellectual curiosity. Asking the right questions enabled me to gain important and useful information which made my application go beyond what it normally was. Importantly, my continuous interactions and brainstorming sessions with Arvind helped me a lot in making my essays impactful.
I practiced a lot of mock interviews before going ahead with my USC Marshall MBA admissions interview. Though my initial interviews weren’t stellar, I developed an understanding of the process and learned from my previous mistakes. I also read candidate debriefs on online MBA discussion boards where I found insights about MBA interviews.
I’m not an extrovert, so it took me some time to get used to the interview process. This happened only with continuous mock interviews with Arvind.
Though there were some unexpected questions during my USC Marshall MBA interviews, the experiences and confidence I got from mock interviews helped me handle them more easily.
Remember that interviews are not interrogations, they are merely interactions with someone who wants to know about you. If you can articulate yourself, your experiences, goals, and motivations and deliver with confidence, you can crack it.
Here are a few tips to ace your MBA interview
Working with Arvind
Arvind helped me in many ways during my MBA journey.
Right from understanding what I wanted to do and what I had done in the past, he patiently and carefully listened to all my stories right from childhood. This enabled me to be completely involved with Arvind and his thoughts about my aspirations.
Arvind also made me articulate my thoughts well. I was open and shared every detail of my personal and professional journey with Arvind, which was really a thoughtful process. The journey with Arvind was amazing and it really helped me know more about myself.
It wasn’t a framework or a pre-defined solution that worked. It’s just honest conversations, how open you are and how well you connect with your mentor.
In a nutshell, Arvind’s guidance was instrumental in selecting the right university, crafting compelling essays, and exploring appropriate short and long-term goals for my post-MBA career.
His deep understanding of my aspirations ensured a perfect university fit. His expertise in essays shaped my ideologies and I was able to come up with winning essays. What truly set Arvind apart was his commitment to understanding my long-term career ambitions.
Advice for Prospective Students
Know why exactly you want to join a business school. It shouldn’t be only about money. It has to be something beyond that. Think deeply, be different, and articulate it uniquely.
Drafting strong essays is the crux of MBA applications. Everything else follows once your essays are thought-provoking. Continuous brainstorming really helps during this process. Commitment, confidence, and humility are also key for successful navigation.
Personalize your essays as much as possible. B-schools want to know more about you as a person and how deeply you have experienced your life. Be it your academics, personal, career, or professional journey, personalization makes you sound unique and true.
Be committed. Never fall back if you get any rejections. Try to improve and learn from previous mistakes. Every step you take in this admissions journey will bring you close to the admit. So, never give up!