Success Stories: How I got a $170,000 scholarship to NYU Stern MBA
Sejal was admitted to NYU Stern's MBA program with a $170,000 scholarship. Debt-free, she adds, with a proud smile.
She also has admits to Michigan Ross (with a $30,000 scholarship) and UVA Darden. Three top MBA school admits, two scholarships, and one determined woman.
Sejal works in tax tech consulting at a Big 4 consultancy, and envisions pivoting to management consulting, specifically organizational change management. In the long run, she wants to move into the non-profit sector with UNICEF. During her MBA application process, we had to factor-in her crazy work hours, a sharp pivot in her professional goals, and her passion for non-profit work.
Once her admits started pouring in, we sat down to discuss her recipe for success.
Win #1: An Early Start
“Start as early as you can. The minute you’re sure you want to do an MBA”, she nods.
Working full time in a demanding job, Sejal knew that the only way she would be able to manage tough MBA applications was by making a step-by-step plan. If she had a tighter window, the stress from her full-time job, test prep, student networking, MBA event attendance, and application work would have certainly piled up. So, she started her journey a year and a half in advance.
Having gotten her GMAT out of the way, in May 2021, Sejal began reaching out to admissions consultants to lay the groundwork in other areas of her applications. We clicked immediately! Because she wasn’t in a hurry, we had plenty of time to get comfortable talking through each step of the application process. We started by shortlisting her top choices to maximize her chances of success. Identifying the schools that most aligned with her goals, Sejal selected her top six options.
Win #2: Demonstrating Passion
Sejal set the foundation for her long-term goal right in 2014, when she was in college. While completing a double major in Finance and IT systems, Sejal simultaneously led UNICEF initiatives, actively pushing for an end to child poverty. She stayed connected with UNICEF while working, and tutored students for the US Citizenship and Naturalization test. She had a passion for community action, and it was palpable.
In fact, UNICEF was the first thing her NYU Stern interviewer asked about! After our brainstorming discussions, she was able to demonstrate clearly that she had found her passion and engaged meaningfully with it in a professional and personal capacity. This made her a memorable candidate.
Her professional passion was also evident. At her company, she had had an opportunity to experience change management and had led a high-level organizational change within her team, finding that this was something she thrived in! After her MBA, she wants to pivot into change management consulting, which she hopes will one day lead her to Program Management at UNICEF.
Win #3: Getting Personal
We took our time with this. 4 months, to be precise.
The first thing I told Sejal about MBA applications is “You’ve got to put yourself out there.” Initially, she thought all we’d be discussing was her work and education. But her most compelling stories came when she opened up about her personal life, her struggles, passions, and everything in between.
It took some time for her unique personality to shine through. But because she’d reached out to me so early, we had enough time to help her break out of her shell when it came to divulging personal stories. These were important, because for Sejal especially, her job was only part of her profile, and gradually by asking the right questions and nudging her to go into details, we gradually built a powerful narrative for her essays and interview.
The lightbulb moment came when we were talking about work-life balance. We uncovered the story of her being involved in an organizational change project. It was clear that this was what she wanted to do going forward, and I pointed her towards some specific roles where she would be doing this full time. Already having experienced her target job, it was easy to position her as having the required skills and traits.
Win #4: Knowing What You Want
From her three admits, Sejal chose NYU Stern. What swung it for Sejal was her love for New York City’s diversity, Stern's proximity to the United Nations headquarters, and the (huge) scholarship award they offered her.
In addition, while researching schools, Sejal realized that NYU has deep connections with the UN and UNICEF, such as alumni and professors with ties to both. Aligning with her prior experiences and long term goal, it made perfect sense.
She also loves the high rises of NYC, the buzz of Times Square, and the promising opportunities the city offers. She is excited to meet a diverse MBA cohort from across the globe, something she feels is missing at present.
Moreover, winning a scholarship to Stern was no small feat! Sejal’s dream of moving to NYC now didn't have a hefty price tag attached, which further influenced her decision to say yes.
Sejal is a star. Working a high-pressure job while planning an MBA application requires a great deal of effort and dedication, and she smashed even her own expectations!
I ask her if she has any advice for other MBA applicants. Sejal smiles, “Everything will work out. Try as much as you can, definitely put in all of your effort in creating your story, working with your consultant if you have one, attending events, managing your recommenders - just give it your all. After all that, it’s just a waiting period till you get to hear back.”
Congratulations, Sejal. Go take a bite out of the Big Apple!
While Sejal gradually opened up to share her story, this Indian engineer had too many to tell! Check out how Harsh restructured his narrative to include his most impactful stories and received admits to two of the most prestigious MBA programs globally: INSEAD (with a €15,000 scholarship) and Cambridge Judge Business School.
If you'd like to follow in Sejal and Harsh's footsteps, book a free 30 mins chat with me right away.