For me, the easiest part of applying to business school was writing the essays. Essay questions for potential schools included: “Talk about a significant cross-cultural experience.” HA. I was honestly tempted just to be like, “Well, I wake up to the doorbell of someone coming to clean up pigeon carcasses off my windowsill, then I take a rickshaw across a river of poop from the slums to my office of 3,400 Indians. That’s all before 9am.” Editing to 500 words was a bit of a challenge.
One of the hardest parts was learning about the schools from so far away. I have no idea how Indian applicants handle this component. Since I couldn’t run off and visit every school, I based a lot of my decisions about which schools to apply to and how to approach the applications on internet rumors, online brochures, and pure speculation. I had a few family friends who connected me with people who gave some guidance, but for the most part I was kind of feeling around in the dark.
For better or worse, since India is such a huge market for MBA programs in the US, many of the top schools have info sessions in Mumbai or Delhi.
The first and only info session I went to was for Dartmouth. The admissions woman organizing the event was a blonde American woman. She and I were the only two white people, and two of very few women in the room.
Everyone else were Indian young men, some in work clothes and some in plain clothes. Most had the low-slung backpacks that I’ve learned to absolutely detest during my time in India.
There was a nice Powerpoint presentation, and some handouts and that all went ok. One overly well-dressed man came in late, and loudly sat down in the front row. After this presentation, there was a question and answer panel with some alumnae, and that’s when things started to go downhill. The five or so all-male alums from India all went around and introduced themselves, their career history and some story about their time at Tuck.
A few of the alums mentioned the informal cricket team at Tuck.
I could hear ears perk up all over the room.
Indians frickin’ love cricket. Literally nothing in the whole world will get Indians fired up like cricket. Not even Bollywood anymore. Go ahead, call me a racist.
Hands started to go up around the room.
“Yes, hello I am a graduate of [some acronym I can’t remember] with [some grade percentage that doesn’t make sense to me]. What are my chances of getting in and also how often does the cricket club play?”
“Uh, myself [some Indian name, like anyone cares]. Basically, I am from [somewhere, again, who cares]. I am having a question about internships. And also whether the cricket club practices on weekends or weekdays.”
Some common themes emerged 1. randomly rattling off your test scores to a room of strangers, 2. asking whether or not you will get in, and 3. obsessing over what I imagine is a pretty minor part of the Tuck community, the cricket club.
After everyone had obviously decided to apply to Tuck to further their cricket career, the guy in the front row with the pointy white shiny cowboy boots and hair highlights shot up his hand.
“Well, I’m mostly interested in luxury goods. What kind of programs does Tuck have for luxury goods and what kind of luxury goods industry leaders can I make connections with in the luxury goods industry? Because I work in luxury goods. Like my family is from a luxury goods background and I want to pursue luxury goods.”
Got it. Luxury goods. Obviously someone didn’t Google image New Hampshire. Best of luck with your search, bro.
On the way out, I heard the luxury goods guy harassing one of the alums about opportunities in luxury goods.
Eventually, I finished all my applications despite my pathetic internet connection and got all my recommendations in on time. Then it was just waiting.