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  • Writer's pictureMalvika Patil

Communications Professional Bags Scholarships Worth $330k

Updated: Jan 30



With an undergraduate degree in Finance, a 3.9 GPA, and a GMAT score of 750, Nikita’s stats were outstanding. However, she works in the Communications field, where MBAs are relatively uncommon. So, Nikita’s challenge was explaining why she needs an MBA.


Together, we did it. Nikita secured admits from Chicago Booth, NYU Stern, and Yale, with a whopping $330,000 of scholarships in total. That’s just about the most scholarship money we’ve ever seen in one round. She picked Booth, and is all set to join Booth’s Class of 2025.


Nikita was kind enough to share her story in an interview on our YouTube channel. Here’s what we discussed:


Why an MBA for Comms


As a Corporate Communications Associate at a Big 4 firm, Nikita’s was far from the traditional consultant/ finance/ tech profiles that usually apply to an MBA. Given that PR & Comms is a fairly underrepresented field in business school, some people suggested that she should have instead applied to a Master’s in Communications.


But Nikita’s goal was to pivot into a leadership role in strategic communications in tech, for which she would need to understand the wider business factors that influence strategy decisions. She spoke to colleagues and seniors and found that an MBA would best position her to build business acumen, naturally making her a better communicator. Having also worked with several leaders as part of her job, she knew that business school would teach her to speak the language of the C-suite.


How to Choose Schools


Finding the right business school takes a great deal of research. In our interview, Nikita explains how she was unprepared for this. She expected that most of her application time would be spent writing essays. But to write a good essay, or even know which schools were a good fit for her, she needed to lay some groundwork first.


So, before she started the application process, she attended admissions events, talked extensively to people at the schools she was interested in, and used social media intelligently to understand which school would be a good fit for her. That’s what we recommend for all our clients.


LinkedIn, she found, was an especially good resource. She connected with people who had graduated from her target MBA programs and also worked in communications. These connections helped her narrow down her school shortlist to the business schools she felt fit her goals.





Application Surprises


Nikita also talks about how she went into her applications with a few notions of how she’d expected it to be. She’d heard that the process was very introspective, and that applicants came out of it learning more about themselves. But she didn’t realize what that meant until she went through it herself.


As we worked together, Nikita shared some deeply personal stories that she never thought would have a place in an MBA application. She credits having an admissions consultant with helping her navigate the unknowns, which allowed her to be more vulnerable in her essays and stay on top of her anxiety. Being able to reach out to me and share the pressure helped Nikita focus on what’s most important for an MBA application - showing up authentically.


Like many applicants, Nikita expected her anxiety to ease after hitting Submit. That wasn’t to be the case. To take her mind off this, we channeled this energy into more applications. In the end, Nikita applied to 7 schools!


The MBA Interview


In her career, Nikita interviewed at several notable companies. But she reckons the MBA interview was much more fun!


During our mock interviews, it was clear that Nikita’s communications skills and personable nature would work to her advantage. She aligned her answers to motivation questions to each school’s culture and values, and leaned on her professional experience to answer tricky behavioral questions, like how she worked in a team or overcame a challenge.


But the main difference between a job interview and an MBA interview, she found, was the person on the other side of the table. In MBA interviews, these are often alumni or second-year students, which gives you more room to get personal and be yourself. It also felt like she was interviewing them, in a way, by trying to assess her cultural fit with the program and what it could offer her.




Why Booth


Nikita eventually received offers from 3 top schools, including chunky scholarships from all of them. But ultimately, she chose Booth.


There were 2 key factors that drove this decision:


One, the scholarship money. With a $60k/year award and a Forte fellowship, Booth’s offer was attractive. Nikita hadn’t gone into her applications expecting a scholarship, but she was glad to receive financial support. Business school is expensive!


Two, Booth’s curriculum and culture. In the interview, Nikita discusses how she wants to go to business school to grow as a leader, both professionally and personally. The Booth program’s quantitative focus will challenge Nikita to think differently and grow her skill-set. As her work experience for the last 2.5 years has been heavily communications and writing oriented, she is excited to be around people with different goals than her.


Then, the people. Every time Nikita reached out to a Booth student, alum, or applicant, she was surprised at how friendly and forthcoming they were. Everyone was always willing to meet in person, grab a coffee, or set up a virtual chat to discuss their experience. She loved this ‘pay-it-forward’ culture. Now, she can’t wait to be part of the Booth student community.


Thinking of applying to Chicago Booth? Check out MBAconsultant.com for the full Booth application course, with example essays from successful applicants.




Advice for MBA Applicants


So, what advice does Nikita have for other MBA applicants?


1. Negotiate scholarships: The first scholarship Nikita received was a huge full-ride scholarship. This gave her the confidence to (humbly) ask the admissions committees at other schools for scholarship support. This negotiation is a process we go through with all of our clients, particularly those who receive several offers.


2. Play your own game: Nikita recalls moments during her application when she felt discouraged by someone she talked to. It often felt like a step back.

“There is a program and a school and an opportunity that is right for everyone…you’re going to find something and it doesn’t matter what other people say. Believe in yourself, put your best foot forward, and something will work out”.

3. Take small steps: Take your application journey one step at a time. Before she sat her GMAT, Nikita kept thinking about how hard the application process would be. Then, during the application, she became anxious about interviews. After the interview, she was constantly thinking about the next thing. She reflects that slowing down and tackling her application one bite-sized part at a time would have helped her manage stress better and enjoy the process.




Inspired by Nikita's story? Watch the full video interview.

 

Need a professional to discuss your application and scholarship strategy? Book a free 20-minute chat with one of our experts.






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Hi, I'm Sam.  I'm the founder of Sam Weeks Consulting. Our clients get admitted to top MBA and EMBA programs.

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