Meet The Indiana Kelley MBA Class of 2017

Priyanka Karnik

Priyanka Karnik 

Indiana University, Kelley School of Business

Hometown: Troy, MI

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Michigan, Ann Arbor – Economics

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:

Omni-Channel Buyer, Decorative Accessories and Furniture (07/2014 – 07/2015)

Merchandise Strategy and Insights Expert, Decorative Home and Domestics at Target Corporation (10/2012 – 07/2014)

Senior Business Analyst, Girls Toys at Target Corporation (9/2010 – 10/2012)

Recalling your own experience, what advice do you have for applicants who are preparing for either the GMAT or the GRE? Preparing for the GMAT was likely the most daunting part of the application process for me. Know that while it’s an important factor in the admissions decision, it doesn’t define your entire application – essays, interviews, and your past experience are all crucial pieces of the puzzle. Start by setting a goal test date and hold yourself accountable (it’s too easy to continue pushing it out). Consider if you want to give yourself an opportunity to re-take the test and be sure to build that step into your timeline. Finally, practice, practice, practice. The toughest part of the test for me was the time constraints on individual sections and the framing of the questions, often built to trip you up. Working through questions and taking practice exams that simulate the test date environment (time, lack of calculator, etc.) were the most beneficial for me.

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? Spend some time thinking about what you want to get out of your MBA experience and what is important to you. Rankings can be a good starting point, but ultimately there are numerous distinct factors that set each program apart and make it the right fit for any individual. Consider the strength of the specific program or major that you intend to focus on, research the companies that recruit on campus, and look at where alumni from the program have gone – not only post-MBA, but also where they’ve landed 5+ years out. Once I felt like I had a solid list of schools that met these criteria, I moved on to the attributes that I valued from a personal perspective – location of the program (not just where across the US or globally, but being located in a city vs. college town can drastically change your experience), class size, and cultural fit (think carefully about whether the current students you meet and engage with are people you want to be friends with and include in your network).

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?  Doing a thorough job developing my target list of schools based on my personal and professional goals, researching programs, and speaking to family, friends, and mentors helped me tremendously in preparing for the actual applications and interviews. Most programs are looking for cultural fit in the admissions essays – show them who you are and how you plan to not only gain from the program but also uniquely contribute. Personal anecdotes of campus visits and interactions with current students and alumni can be great additions to your essays. When asking for recommendations, think about those who know you well and can best speak to their experiences interacting with you. I found that these people were often the direct managers with whom I had worked closely, rather than those in the organization a few levels up with a great title but limited knowledge of my working style, career goals, and personal aspirations. Finally, be confident walking into your admissions interviews. Prepare for standard behavioral interviews that will require you to share stories of past experiences that embody the core values of the school you are interviewing for.

What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? Knowing I want to pursue a career in consumer marketing and brand management helped Kelley stand out in terms of the strength of the academics –  but even more so based on the academy structure and ability to gain hands on, industry knowledge prior to even pursuing a summer internship. Kelley also fit my criteria in terms of a small class size and school in the Midwest that had small town feel over the big city hustle and bustle. Most importantly, I felt a strong connection to the students and alumni with whom I interacted with prior to joining the program. Everyone was willing to go above and beyond to help me through the process and even when I was accepted into the program. Kelleys were more interested in helping me find the right program rather than pressuring me to choose their school.

What would you ultimately like to achieve before you graduate? I always thought that the two years I would spend pursuing an MBA would be focused solely on professional growth – expanding my business knowledge and recruiting with top companies in my field of interest. While that remains a top priority during my time at Kelley, I’ve realized that developing relationships with my classmates, faculty, and staff is much more important to me. I hope to build life-long friendships, be pushed outside of my comfort zone, and learn from the vast array of experiences and perspectives that I’m exposed to, all of which I hope to bring with me in my post-MBA career and beyond.

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