The 2010 QS Community Scholarship winner talks to TopMBA.com about stepping into the business school classroom at Cranfield School of Management.
“I wish I knew that going through the whole process of MBA admissions is as good as doing a mini-MBA,” Mahajan says. “I always thought the tough part of the application process was over and everything else would be easy. However, each and every step extracted the best out of me to yield the best results.”
Indian-born Mahajan is currently working for information technology company CSC India Pvt. Ltd, where he is responsible for a data protection team encrypting sensitive private insurance data as per German data protection laws, in addition to working on various projects involving complete software development cycle. It was during a work placement in Germany that he attended one of the international MBA fairs that are a part of the QS World MBA Tour.
“The best part of the fair was the way it was organized,” Mahajan says. “We got prior information about everything related to the fair via emails and I got a chance to talk to the representatives of various schools in the Connect 1-2-1 event, which was really helpful to me in deciding which schools to apply to.”
Mahajan said it was his desire to build a career in the management line that made him first consider an MBA.
“I aspired to learn as much as possible about the different sides of business – how it is done across different industries, in different countries, what makes organizations successful and how they manage.
"When I learned about the excellent career growth a business school could offer, I decided to apply.”
With ambition to pursue a career in the field of management, Mahajan began short-listing business schools accordingly, and found the most valuable source of information to be alumni at MBA fairs.
“Their advice on essays and applications was very valuable. I also attended the information sessions, where I was able to meet admissions officers and students and understand what schools had to offer.
"At the same time, I was able to understand my own criteria for choosing the best school for me.”
Mahajan advises other MBA candidates to do some homework in order to get the best out of any MBA fair.
“The first thing one should know is why do you want to attend the fair? What are your requirements? What is your expectation from the MBA?
"Once you are clear on all these questions, visit the websites of various schools and research their requirements, as well as what they offer. Then shortlist the schools you would like to talk to at the fair.
It is very difficult to talk to every school representative during those three or four hours, so you must be prepared with a set of questions you can put forward to the admissions committee of your shortlisted schools.”
Mahajan’s other selection criteria included school reputation, alumni network, and class diversity, but it was the funding and career services that ultimately helped Mahajan choose Cranfield Business School as the school in which to enrol for his MBA.
“I got one reject without an interview, one waitlist after interview and four offers from various reputed schools, but I selected Cranfield based on its reputation in the UK, the career services it offers, its strong alumni network and finally, although it was the most important part, the finance.”
Cranfield is associated with HSBC Bank and, as such, Mahajan found getting a loan to be the easiest part about financing the Cranfield MBA. He was also one of five winners to receive a 2010 QS Community Scholarship.
Sourcing finance for his MBA was just one of the challenges Mahajan overcame to enrol at business school. He also had the GMAT to get through, not to mention the MBA essays to write.
“Cracking the GMAT was not an easy task for me since I took it very lightly in the beginning. Later, I had to face the consequences of my negligence by sitting it more than once to get the desired score.”
As for the MBA admissions essays: “They’re actually about the applicant and have nothing to do with anybody else,” Mahajan says. “So, the only thing one has to follow here is being honest. Be yourself and any essay will be easy to write.
“I had always tried to write about various experiences when it came to the application for a particular school. If I spoke about my community services in one essay, I tried to cover other strengths as well as weaknesses in the other essays.
"I tried to communicate as much about myself as possible via my essays. In one of the essays about leadership experiences I wrote about my failure while acting as a leader and this was liked by my interviewer since I had touched base upon both aspects in a single essay.
“The only mantra to succeed in the MBA essays is to try to be different, yet be yourself,” Mahajan says.
The MBA is highly regarded in India and Mahajan says companies understand the benefits of this prestigious business degree.
“Companies do understand that an international MBA degree gives their employees exposure to the latest trends in management across the globe and allows the companies to expand their business based on the international network their employees have built,” says Mahajan.
It is this network that Mahajan is most looking forward to at Cranfield Business School.
“Since I love to experience different cultures this will be the best year for me to study in a completely international atmosphere in addition to making lifetime friends. Not only this, Cranfield’s focus on personal development will surely be an asset to me in the long run and I’m sure the MBA will play an important role in my overall development.”