Meet UCLA’s Incoming MBA Class of 2017

Pratik Gupta-UCLA-PoetsAndQuants-Classof2017

Pratik Gupta


UCLA,  Anderson School of Management

Hometown: Kota, Rajasthan – India

Undergraduate School and Major: IIT Madras, Civil Engineering

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation: Beroe – Research Analyst; Capital One – Associate; Flextronics – Assistant Manager

Recalling your own experience, what advice do you have for applicants who are preparing for either the GMAT or the GRE?  I prepared for GMAT primarily by utilizing The Official Guide for GMAT and GMATPrep® Question Pack. These resources were very useful as they benchmarked me against the real GMAT test questions as opposed to questions of varying difficulties, which you find over the internet. The key to remember here is GMAT questions are not essentially hard; it’s the application of concept which is tough. So focus on understanding the underlying principle and keep practicing. Some of the other resources which I utilized for practicing were Manhattan and Princeton test series.

Based on your own selection process, what advice do you have for applicants who are trying to draw up a list of target schools to which to apply? I would advise following three step processes:

Find your fit – Look out for people from your college or jobs who have similar personality like yours and find out from where they have done/are doing their MBA. Another way is to search for people on LinkedIn who have had similar career paths like yours and see their MBA schools.

Be realistic – Everybody has their favorite schools to apply to, but do pay attention to the statistics on class profiles published by each school. These stats are in no way indicative of your selection or rejection, but give you a fair idea about the competition.

Divide your risk – Give your GMAT early and try to apply to four schools in Round 1. I divided my school into three categories – dream, target, and safety schools. I applied to one Dream, two target and one Safety school in round 1 and prepared a strategy for Round 2, depending on their results.

What advice do you have for applicants in actually applying to a school, writing essays, doing admission interviews, and getting recommenders to write letters on your behalf? After you have determined the schools you want to apply to, start researching each school and program. I recommend following resources:

  • Website – Browse the website to understand the course structure, experiential learning opportunities, student clubs and career support. This is your primary resource of information, so be thorough with it. Avoid asking those questions to students or the admissions’ team, answers to which are available on the website.
  • Students – Talk to as many students as possible. Search for the students through the college website and LinkedIn. Prepare an extensive list of questions before talking to them so that you can utilize the time of students wisely. There is a core philosophy of the school and try to understand that through your conversation. If you have showcased that spirit somewhere in your life, try to bring that out in your essays.
  • Blog – There is a lot of information present in the student blogs. This source will help you understand the latest happenings in school, which you can further use in your essays or interviews.
  • Google Search – Look for school profile on websites like ‘Poets and Quants’. Also, search for interviews by admissions’ team/dean. The school shares its future plans over these channels and you can use that information to present how you would be a better fit in the school.
  • Webinars & Information sessions – I would say it’s a must to attend an information session or online webinar, unless you have a strong reason. In the least, watch the recordings, if available. There are two benefits – Firstly, you can ask questions directly to the admissions’ team and secondly, it’s a good platform to showcase your interest towards school. Admissions’ team does remember your name and face.

These resources will help you draft your essays and prepare answers to your interview questions. One piece of advice that I found really useful for my interviews was that school conducts interviews not only to judge your decision to pursue the MBA, but also to determine your personality (read likability). So try to make a friend out of the interviewer.

Regarding recommendations, the biggest mistake you can make is writing your own recommendations. An admissions’ team reads thousands of essays every year and they recognize the similar writing style. So leave the job of writing recommendations on your recommender. What you can do is provide pointers of your work example to your recommender so that he/she doesn’t miss out on any point.

What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? UCLA Anderson fosters a community which is very collaborative. When I experienced that through my interactions with students and the admissions team, it got me convinced that it is the right place for me.

I was also very impressed with the near complete customizable curriculum and hands-on opportunity, like AMR, but what fascinated me most was the diversity which Anderson offers. It’s probably the only school which has about35% of students from non-traditional backgrounds, like Entertainment/Media, Real Estate etc. And I, for one, believe that a person should keep learning new things and the most effective way to learn is from people around you.

I have a strong interest in Internet of Things (IoT) and UCLA provides a location advantage that no other school does. Being on the west coast, amidst the tech hub of the world, gives you the kind of reach which is very unique.

Lastly, I have been associated with the Indian startup industry in one way or the other and this is one area which really fascinates me. UCLA has a great startup culture and Business Creation Option (BCO) gives students a hands-on experience in starting a company. The only pre-requisite is a completed business plan. So you never know if your room neighbor is the next Mark or Bill.

What would you ultimately like to achieve before you graduate? 

By the end of March 2017, I would like to make my acquaintance with all my batch-mates (including junior and senior), visit three countries and attend film appreciation class in UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. Plus become a Management Consultant.  

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