Tête-à-tête with Dhruv Mehta – 2012 Darden Admit
In conversation with Dhruv Mehta, a Microsoft engineer who fulfilled his dream of getting into Darden School of Business.
Congratulations on your admit Dhruv! Would you tell us a little about your profile & background?
Thank you! I am a software engineer and I took my GMAT 3-3.5 years ago, in 2008. At that time, I had 3 years of work experience, working for a small technology firm. I moved to Microsoft a little after the test, and then to Darden 4 years later.
That’s interesting! So when you took your GMAT in 2008, were you motivated to pursue the application process right away or was it just the GMAT then and the application process later on?
Yes, I took the GMAT first and thought I would apply to schools a couple of years later.
Would you tell us about your GMAT preparation –things like how you studied, how long you studied etc…?
I prepared for the GMAT on my own, relying on the Official GMAT Guide. I recommend test-takers to start their preparation by taking a mock test, even before they start studying for the test. This is the best way for a student to figure out how many months of preparation he/she needs.
I have typically found 1.5 months to 4 months to be enough, depending on their target GMAT scores. I also recommend test-takers to fix a practice test rhythm early on (such as one practice test every week), and sticking to it. Most students postpone the practice tests until they have finished most of the preparatory work, and I think that is a bad idea.
In my own experience, I realized pretty quickly that there were some areas I needed to work on, and others that I didn’t need to work on. For instance, in Quant, I was making mistakes but when I analyzed my work, I realized that there was nothing I didn’t know or couldn’t do. I was just making silly mistakes! I didn’t need to solve hundreds of math problems; all I needed was focus and concentration during the test.
So instead of just jumping from one test to another, you were doing this analysis which a lot of people skip. That’s awesome! What else would you like to share with us?
In Verbal, I identified that among all the sections, Sentence Correction was one area where practice would help me improve. This is because the colloquial English is often not grammatically accurate. So, I focused primarily on Sentence Correction and improved over a couple of weeks.
For other sections like Reading Comprehension, even if I read a dozen of books in 1-2 months, it would not have helped much. In this section, it makes sense to skim over the passage quickly, read the question and then revert to the content. This is because once you know the question you will be able to focus on finding the answers within the stipulated time frame.
This is a great tip Dhruv! Did you take any tests apart from the practice tests?
I practiced with the two Official GMAT Guide tests and some others. In addition, I also had a section-specific preparatory material with practice questions in them, such as one focused on Sentence Correction.
Dhruv, what is your motive behind pursuing an MBA?
Over a period of time I have realized that I am more of a ‘breadth-person’ as opposed to a ‘depth-person’. An MBA would open up a host of new industries and functions to me, and even let me continue working across them, post-MBA.
And how did you go about selecting your B-Schools? I mean, what was the rationale behind whichever schools you zeroed down to?
I had a good job before getting an admit to Darden School of Business. So I figured that spending so much money will only make sense if I did it through a very good B-school, and I applied only to the top 15 ranked B-Schools. B-Schools often promote themselves on the basis of location, exceptional culture and diverse classrooms.
However, these didn’t matter to me significantly. I did look at the schools’ strength areas in terms of industry, and preferred ones that were strong in one or both of consulting and technology industry. With these criteria in mind, I also explored Asian and European schools including China, Singapore etc.
Dhruv, is there anything you wished you knew at the start of the application process?
Yes, one crucial factor I would like to share regarding the application process is that it is important to apply in Round 1. This is particularly important for Indian engineers. This is because there are several engineers from India who have a great profile, a strong academic background, a good score in GMAT and experience working in reputed companies, who apply to their dream B-Schools.
Differentiating yourself in this applicant pool is tough. If a B-school has already admitted a certain number of engineers from this pool in Round 1, differentiating becomes even tougher.
Dhruv, who did you take your recommendations from?
The schools I applied required two recommendations. My direct manager at work wrote the first one. The other was from a colleague at work – though we didn’t work together, we used to play football together and I happened to be the captain of the company’s football team!
That’s quite interesting! And how was your interview process?
I was interviewed by Ross, Tepper, and Darden. Interviews for the first two had the typical questions like ‘Why do you want to pursue MBA? Why now? What are your goals post-MBA?’ Ross’ interview was an alumnus interview, while Tepper’s was a skype interview with an Admissions Committee member.
The Darden interview was also a skype interview with Admissions Committee, but in a different format. They asked me to express my ‘life story’ at the start of the interview and then let me speak for the next half an hour. ‘Life story’ meant all of my personal and professional background, stories, and whatever else I want to throw in.
How are you planning to finance your MBA?
I have taken an education loan negotiated by the Darden Business School with the lending agency.
Finally, how did CrackVerbal help you to fulfill your MBA dreams?
I did one or two mock interviews with Arun and Aruna. Those were good experiences! Everyone should do a few practice interviews. I got two different perspectives from Arun and Aruna based on my answers that were handy during my actual interview process. Everyone has their stories, but what is important is to articulate them skillfully during the interview in different situations in front of different people.
Thank you Dhruv for this interview!
I am glad to be able to share my thoughts with prospective applicants! Thank you CrackVerbal for all your support!