B-School Selection, CAT Strat
Comments 40

How to build your profile for an MBA

This is a question that I get asked often by students and a very important one at that — how do I build my profile? So before we get on to the answer, let us evaluate what elements of a profile are.
Your profile is the impression that various elements in your resume create as a whole.

  • Academic Performance
    • Your marks in X, XII, Graduation
  • Work Experience
    • Number of months
  • Academic Pedigree
    • The brand of the institution from which you have graduated or will graduate
  • Academic Achievements
    • Ranks secured at school (X & XII), college and university level and/or performance in national or state-level entrance tests
  • Co-Curricular Achievements
    • Ranks in Olympiads, NTSE, Paper Presentations, Journal Publications and any other academics-related contests outside of regular school and college work
  • Extra-Curricular Achievements
    • Achievements in non-academic pursuits singing, dancing, sports, games, NCC, martial arts etc, Model UN etcetera
  • Positions of Responsibilities
    • Official posts held at a school, college, and university-level, or bodies such as AIESEC, Rotract etcetera
  • Pursuits of Special Interests
    • Any extra-curricular interest pursued out of passion but with or without achievements — reading, writing, sports, games, singing, dancing, painting, trekking, photography, short-film making

Most of the things that would go on to a resume can be fitted into one of the above labels.

What is a “good profile”?

A good profile is one which would rate as “average” or “above-average” on most of the elements listed above and have a spike on at least one of elements.

A spike is a level of achievement on a parameter or attribute that indicates that you are really better at it than most of the other people in the fray.

A few examples of what spikes are:

Academic Spike — Someone who has above 90% in X, XII, and Graduation will be considered to have a huge spike in academics. The key is the 90 in graduation since most aspirants (at least in this part of the world) tend to have 90s in X and XII, it is the 90 in your graduation that will put you in the outlier category.

Sports Spike — Those who have participated in individual or team sports or games at a district, state, and national level will be viewed as having a spike since most aspirants will have played but not professionally. A student I met recently told me that the moment he put forward his national-level badminton at the under-13 level in front of the NMIMS panel the interview changed (he made it despite the fact that he had just cleared the cut-off). Even running the marathon or cycling if done seriously with achievements to speak about can be a major spike.

So similarly you can have a spike in any one area it can be leadership spike if you have always held positions of responsibility. It can be an extra-curricular spike if you have participated in a lot of dramatics, singing or dancing at college-level. It can be a special interest spike if you have formally taken up dancing, singing, painting, languages or any other interest and are pursuing it seriously.

Does your profile impact your MBA aspirations?

Your profile plays a major role in three things:

  • The probability of you getting a call from premier institutions
  • The conversation you are going to have in your PI
  • The shortlists you are going to get during your summer & final placements

But all of the elements listed in the profile factors do not equally influence all the three things mentioned above.

Getting a call from premier business schools
Each b-school has a different set of criteria based on which it shortlists applicants for the second stage. The usual elements that come into play are

  • CAT Score, Academic Profile & Work Experience

Each b-school gives each of the three components a different weightage and in some cases no weightage at all to calculate a Composite Score (they might use a different name)

IIM-B gives weightage to work experience, IIM-I gives more weightage to XII marks etc.

Freshers need not worry since most b-schools take in a healthy percentage of freshers (about 30-40 per cent). The weightage for work experience will make it easier for working professionals to get a call — they can get in with a lower percentile when compared to freshers. Also, for the first call, it is only the quantity of work experience that will play a role and not the brand of the firm that you are working with.

What is important to note is that these criteria might change from year to year.

Do not worry about what you cannot change — your marks in the past — let the IIMs decide their weightage and give out calls based on their calculation, focus on what you can change.

Those who have graduated and have poor graduation marks need not worry since IIM-C gives a very low weightage to the same; get a good CAT score and you are in!

Also please note that Academic Pedigree — IIT, NIT, Stephen’s etc. — plays no part in this stage of the process since there are no marks allocated to the brand of college you have graduated from. The whole process is purely mathematical. If a college has X seats and it calls 5X candidates for the second stage, the top 5X candidates as per Composite Scores will be given calls for the second stage.

The conversation you are going to have in your PI
Most top colleges send out a form to be filled out along with the call the next round. This form will ask you to fill out not just details about your academic profile  and work experience but will also ask you to

  • list achievements — co-curricular, extra-curricular and work-related (if applicable) and
  • write answers to questions such as
    • why do you want to do an MBA
    • what are your career plans
    • what are your strengths and weakness
    • what is the biggest challenge you have faced in your life so far
    • what is your biggest failure and what have you learned from it
    • what are your hobbies and interests

The panel will have your filled-up form when you go into the interview and you will be asked questions based on what you have filled up. This is where the achievements and interests elements of your profile come into the picture. You can have a look at a sample form, that of S.P.Jain last year, here.

Even if a college does not have a form and starts off with a tell me about yourself, the interview will be based on the things to tell about yourself that are not captured in the CAT application.

The two elements — brand value of the college where you pursued (or are pursuing) your bachelor’s degree and the brand value of the firm that you are working for are not evaluated objectively, which means that there are no marks allotted to the same separately based on any criteria.

The panel will make it a part of the overall marks it awards to you in your PI, based on how you perform in the PI. So a good college brand by itself does nothing unless you do a good job in the PI.

Getting interview shortlists for summer internships & final placements
You will be having your summer placements 3 to 4 months into your MBA. This means that your resume will not have changed at all. So the profile you have before getting into the b-school is what you will have while applying for summer training.

It is at this stage that the brand value of the college where you pursued your bachelor’s degree and the brand value of the firm that you worked for become important.

Firms will have loads of resumes from all b-schools and they tend to make their jobs easier by giving out shortlists to those with big brand names on their resumes. So this is where the real value of the IIT-tag kicks in! Also, all firms do not do this, only the big consulting firms tend to do this.

How to build your profile

As mentioned earlier, you need to focus on what you can change in your present and hence your future and not your past. The objective of this post is to give you a realistic idea of the selection process and help you chart out your future course of action. So do not get deflated but start looking at the ways below to improve your profile.

Take up certification courses aligned to your career aspirations

I am an engineer and I want to get into finance! Well, to do this you have to show what steps you have already taken towards your goal.

A lot of engineers who are dead serious about getting into Finance are taking up the CFA exams. A student of mine at IIM-C, the mecca in India as far as Finance aspirants are concerned, said that there are now on average about 70 students who have cleared at least Level 1 (out of 3) of the CFA! This number is bound to go up. The CFA is neither an easy nor a cheap exam to prepare for and take. But if you are really, really serious you need to take it up.

Other options for those keen on pursuing Finance are taking up NSE certification courses about which you can learn here

A great option for those looking at any specialization be it Marketing, Finance, Analytics or Operations are the certification courses from premier international schools such as Wharton on Coursera.

You can choose courses by specialization and college (just ensure that you choose top-rung colleges).

Freshers can really benefit by taking up a few courses especially in Marketing and Analytics since they will give you an introduction to the world of business as well as ammunition for the PI.

Take up positions of responsibility

This is one thing that freshers should really go after in the next semester. Forget publishing a paper as part of the symposium, organize the symposium! There are loads of committees and clubs on campus, you need to get into at least one of them, actively organize things/events as part of the committee/club and ensure that you a certificate for the same.

Take up social impact activities

While both freshers and working professionals can take this up, it is easier for the latter to become an active contributor to the CSR initiatives in your organization. You can also sign up to do volunteering work for an NGO working in the field of your interest — education, health care, environment etc.

One specific thing that freshers can look at is applying to and joining student organizations such as AIESEC (they have city-wise chapters) or take part in their initiatives.

Take part in contests, events, and cultural festivals

If you are not interested in organizing then take part in inter-college events based on your interest be it — case study contests, b-plan contests, singing, dancing, acting, sports whatever you are passionate about. The idea is that you should come across as someone who does more than just going to college and back.

Take an interest in the Entrepreneurship Cell of your college

A lot of people keep saying that they want to become entrepreneurs some years down the line when asked about career plans or Why MBA. But mostly the line is similar to — any they lived happily ever; nobody knows how we are expected to take it at face-value. So show some interest and become a part of the E-Cell if your college has one!

Take your interests to the next level

Your IIM interview can revolve entirely around your passion or interest. So take whatever interest you have and explore it seriously. If you like languages then take up learning a language and clear at least a level. A student of mine liked to read Manga (Japanese comics) and she ended up learning Japanese and clearing a few levels.

If you like outdoor activities such as trekking or cycling join the Chennai Trekking Club. If you have always wanted to train for a marathon then train to at least do a fraction of it.

Improve your public speaking skills by joining Toastmasters

Those of you who want to really improve your communication skills with a view to doing well in the interviews should join Toastmasters — it is a not a training institute but a club for people to improve their spoken English. Once you become a member you can also take up positions of responsibility within the local chapter that you attend.

Do you do more, do you stand above the crowd?

As aspiring management professionals, you need to display that you are capable of doing much more than others. You need to show that you do more than just go to college or work and back. You need to show that you passionate about things apart from what is required. You need to show that you have the potential to perform on a much larger canvas.

So pick a few things from the list and get started.


  1. Hello sir,
    Gave CAT 2020 and scored 99.11(73.03/97.45/99.83), XAT 92.79(Quants 89 ,Verbal ,99 DM 42)
    I’m a GEM Fresher from a tier 1 College.I did not sit for placements since i wanted to get into a top 10 B-school and hence prepared for it . However I’ve got only CAP calls as of now which I don’t intend to join. I’m considering to take a drop and take my shot at CAT again . But what I’m worried about is what if i mess up again next year? Should i look out for a job and prepare for CAT 2021 or since i want to pursue finance , so should i prepare for CFA level 1 and give CAT 2021? I’ve been literally confused and i’m not able to decide the way forward. Need your guidance.

    10 10 cgpa
    12 87.6
    grad 7.5 cgpa
    (State level TT Player and a National achievement in school)


    • Hi Ashu,

      Not a bad job at all for a first attempt! Looks as if you too came unstuck in the VA section like most others did.

      I would suggest taking up a job since it will take the pressure of your second attempt since although you have not taken a drop, you did sit out of placements.

      There is no way in hell you need to prepare 8 hours a day from now on for CAT and CFA.

      I would suggest all three: CAT, CFA-L1, and the job!

      I think you can do it since CAT Prep will (have to) be very minimal.

      Go for it; you might surprise yourself.

      All the best!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Vrishank Vajpayee says

      This is the exact same story I have Gem Fresher 98.74(71.29/99.66/98.47), did not sit for placements either, and have only CAP and Rohtak.


      • Hi Vrishank,

        Given that you have a 98.74 it is very clear that you will not need a full day’s CAT Prep going into CAT 2021.

        I think taking up a job (a CFA if you want to get into Finance ) and having another go at the CAT is what you should be looking at.

        You can also consider joining Rohtak if you can do so wholeheartedly and make the most of it without thinking that you could have done better.

        Hope this helps,

        All the best!


  2. Sir, my acads are 88.8 in 10th (ICSE) , 91.2 in 12th(ISC) and 80.3 so far in Btech .

    1)Is this score good enough for most B schools and the placements ?

    2) My university does not give marks easily. Even the topper has around 87-90% at max. But there are many universities that give away marks freely. Similarly it’s much difficult to score in state boards than in ISC/CBSE

    I wanted to know if the B schools do any normalisation for the 10th/12th and UG scores

    3)) I had a backlog in UG, which is now cleared but the score is only borderline pass . Does it affect my chances at any stage?

    4) Does the UG college reputation matter ? The B Schools take in the candidates which are best suited for getting as better a placement as possible, so logically thinking amongst the engineers, it’s the NIT/IIT/BITS folks who would be the most sought after. Since my university is the state university and not reputed at all , does it lower my chances at the PI and in placements?


    • Hi SS,

      Your academic profile is more than good enough to get into top b-schools.

      The specific marks do not matter since it is about slabs — for X and XII, for example, the highest slabs start at 90, whereas for Grad it is 80.

      Institutes say they normalise but there is no information if all of them do it and how they do it.

      The backlog will not matter (I had one as well); all that matters is that you should not have any backlogs at the time of joining.

      As I wrote in the post, UG college brand name matters only during b-schools placements — among the candidates who are selected to an IIM, they shortlist IITians/NITians etc but the converse is not true, professors in interviews do not select more IITians merely because they are IITians, they evaluate solely on the basis of potential to an MBA — I have colleagues who had 100-percentiles on CAT and are IITians and yet got rejected in the b-school interview!

      To cut a long story short, stop worrying keep prepping!

      All the best!


  3. VAL says

    Hi sir,hope you are fine!
    I just needed a fresh perspective and guidance.
    My X/XII/graduation marks : 96.2/89.25/70. Have worked at Simon Carter for four months in retail as a fashion consultant.

    I had a test series from IMS for CAT 2020. Didn’t perform well in CAT. I have been offered a place at SDA Bocconi Asia center.
    I attended XLRI interview but it didn’t go very well. I have also written TISSNET. I think I performed well but the results aren’t our yet.

    I also have a gap year after graduating in november 2019. I need your guidance about whether I should take another year off with freelance writing and certificate courses or even a job that isn’t too heavy to bother my prep for CAT next year (or) to accept the offer by SDA Bocconi Asia center.

    Thank you


    • Hi VAL,

      Since you worked as a fashion consultant you will know that it’s never only about are these clothes nice but will these clothes look good on X or Y.

      Similarly one cannot compare XL, TISS, SDA on an absolute scale but in whether they are offering you roles post-MBA that you are excited about.

      A two-year gap year can be a drag on your mind as well as the profile. So unless you are dead certain that you can crack a much higher ranked college it does not make sense to take another shot since I am assuming you had plenty of time at your disposal for the CAT20 attempt.

      I suggest reading the post – open the blog on a laptop – on should you retake the CAT, answering the questions I have posed in it and then closing the decision.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!


  4. Amey says

    Hi Tony Sir,
    Interacting with you after a long time. Really miss your lectures.

    Sir, I am a Mech. engineer with a work ex of one year (right after my graduation) in operations at an overseas location. I left my job in september2020 to take CAT’20, because I wanted to switch from operations to finance (at least I thought so). But my CAT did not go well. AT ALL!
    Currently, I have couple of calls (not yet converted) from Tier 2 colleges based on my other exam scores. Also, I am preparing for MH-CET, CMAT.
    But I want to take another shot at CAT. So the options that I am currently evaluating are:

    1) Should I take a year gap for CAT and prepare for CFA 1 so that I will have something relevant to finance to show for?
    2)Get a job and prepare for CAT side by side?
    Although the latter may seem obvious, I am finding it surprisingly difficult to get a job despite of an experience.

    I would like to know your perspective on the above.
    Thanks 🙂


    • Hi Amey,

      Having a CFA will set you on the path to a great career in Finance (along with an MBA); so taking a drop to pursue both is not a bad idea at all; take up some minor profile-building things on the side and you should be fine.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!


  5. Deepanshi says

    Hello Sir
    I am a science graduation student ( chemistry ) and I dropped a year after my XII as I took admission in private engineering collage but unfortunately there had been a dispute between management and it was on urge that collage will close and there was lots of issues there so I took admission in another semi government collage and changed my course as Bsc chemistry .
    Now I am in 2nd year and I want to get admission in good B-school in HR . My academic scores X-10CGPA,XII-88%,graduation-8.5cgpa are this but I didnt have any other point that I can add in my profile .
    Now I m doing CAT preparation so I don’t have much time to join any club at collage or learning any other language. And if joined also they didnt provide me any type of certificate.
    Can you suggest me what I can do for my profile for HR or any other thing that I can do.


    • Hi Deepanshi,

      You can take up online certification courses related to HR on platforms such as Udemy or Coursers to learn more about HR so that you have something to back up your interest in HR and also know more about it.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!


  6. Anmol says

    Hello sir, I hope you are fine.

    I am in final year of my engineering and gave CAT 2020 and scored 83 percentile overall.

    My academic profile is 8/9/8
    When it comes to job profile does being having a sales job or an IT job have an impact on the B school placements. For eg , General Management profiles, product management profiles etc.

    I have a job offer in both the profiles and want to make a decision based on future opportunities.

    I intend for the CAT 2021 season to be my last and as such my workex by the time of interviews (if I qualify anything this year) will be 7-8 months .


    • Hi Anmol,

      Usually, placements are very strongly related to the profile and the kind of work-ex you have.

      For example, if you want to work in Product Management in firms such as Google Microsoft and stuff then you should take up a job in IT/Tech.

      If you want to build a career in Marketing/General Management then you should take up the Sales job.

      But given that the overall work-ex is not going to be more than 7 months, it will not have much of an impact, so in effect you can take up whichever role you think you will enjoy doing and learn more in.

      Hope you have seen the All About Specializations webinars — https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLZLYq7TWue8lNn1U5ZkRqnNtj7X-jxKot

      Hope this clarifies,

      All the best!


  7. Aakriti Dahiya says

    My greetings sir thankyou for such an insightful blog. I’ll be giving CAT this year my Academics are as follows
    10- 7.2 cgpa ( 68.4%)
    12- 84%
    Grad- 82%
    Female , non-engineer
    Do I really have a shot at CAT or am I wasting my time. I want to Apply in marketing and I’ve been trying to mould my profile into something that’s suitable for a marketing student. Any suggestions sir ?


    • Hi Aakriti,

      I suppose your doubts about the suitability of your profile stem from your below-par X and XII marks.

      But you are forgetting is that you are a female non-engineer — the one profile that b-schools want to maximise to create a more diverse student body.

      So yeah, you are not wasting your time at all!

      Take up everything you can related to marketing mentioned in the post and yeah, do watch the All About Specializations – I webinar — https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLZLYq7TWue8lNn1U5ZkRqnNtj7X-jxKot

      It has everything yo will need to know about Marketing and thus the profile for the same.

      All the best!


  8. Anushka says

    Hello Sir, I am a final year commerce student (graduating in July 2021), I had taken the CAT20 but didn’t perform well. The reason for the same was my engagement in various extra curricular activities which I didn’t want to miss out on as I was in my last year of graduation. Now that I am confident about a good profile, I seem to be contemplating my career trajectory after graduation. I am certain that I want to take the CAT21 but I am also not sure whether I should take a drop or try for a one year diploma degree in communications/advertising/marketing as I want to switch my career from accounting to marketing now. I have also received an offer letter from a reputed instituted for a one year post graduate diploma in Liberal Studies (a fellowship program in India). I am not able to make up my mind whether I should engage myself in a one year course while preparing for the test or take a drop and prepare for CAT21. I am also thinking about the fact that if my performance in CAT21 goes south, I would have wasted two years with no return. What would you suggest is a prudent idea in my case?


    • Hi Anushka,

      I think the call on whether to take a drop or not purely depends on your capability vis-a-vis the CAT.

      If you feel given your level you will need a whole day for CAT prep from now until November then go ahead and take a drop year.

      If you feel that what you need is consistent regular prep for a few hours every week then ensure then take up the Liberal Studies fellowship and prepare for the CAT at the same time.

      CAT Prep is not like JEE Prep where the syllabus is so vast that one would need an entire year solely to crack the test.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!


  9. Vrushabh says

    Greetings of the day sir ! Thank you for such an insightful blog. I’ll be giving CAT this year, my Academics are as follows
    10th- 10 cgpa (CBSE) (School Topper)
    12th- 83.10 %(Maharashtra Board) (was in top 1% performers)
    Grad- 8.52/10 (from 4th rank college in Maharashtra), 2020 Passout
    Prepared for GATE but lost intrest in the middle, thats why did not do well in placements. Changed my mind to persue an MBA.
    Wrote CAT 2020 with 3 months minimal prep. Got 72.22 %le (53/71/81). Just gave IIM Bodh Gaya interview, but not much hopes from it.
    Started working in an MNC from Dec 2020 in SAP Domain. Aiming to do better in CAT 2021. Managed an Event in college fest. Participated in a couple of events in college fests. Published 2 IEEE papers. Did an excel course on Udemy. Passed the intermediate level of NSO in class 10th. Was House captain in school for 2 terms.Other than this no other major achievements in life.
    Want to get into top 20 ranked B-School in the country (with an avg/median package above 12 lpa)

    Do you see a vaccum in my profile ? And how should I fill it ? Eagerly waiting for your guidance.


    • Hi Vrushabh,

      Your profile is above average. You can take up two things

      1. Certifications in the domain you are interested to work in post-MBA: Marketing, Finance etc (to figure that out watch the specializations webinars in this playlist

      2. NGO work since you do not have any

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!


  10. Abhishek Arora says

    Hi sir,

    #LongPostAlert but please padh lena Mata rani Kripa barsayegi! 🙂

    A bit about me:

    – 10th (84.57) and 12th (82.2) from an ICSE board
    – BMS (71.92) from DU with a specialization in Marketing (2016 Graduate)
    – Worked in the sports industry for 3 years (2 years full time and 1 year as a freelance content writer with Sportskeeda)
    – Have a 1-year gap
    – Looking to pursue an MBA in Marketing
    – SIBM Pune was my dream college but I got 95.8 percentile and didn’t even get a call :/
    – Honest reason to pursue MBA – Get a 20 LPA+ package

    I gave CAT 2020 got a 90.85 percentile but have failed to convert any good college till now.
    I have only converted SIIB and IMT – Dual Country Program. I had scored 255 in NMAT and have been waitlisted for NMIMS Mumbai (which I initially thought would be my backup XD).

    IMS Mentors also gave positive feedback in all 4 mock interviews I have given till now.
    However, the actual interview process has been mentally taxing as despite having good interviews I couldn’t even convert IMT Ghaziabad (core). Maybe due to a subpar percentile and maybe as I am from the General category and the competition is intense :S

    A few results are still pending but I am really looking for a good backup option now. I have to do my MBA this year itself and giving CAT again is not an option. I have been shortlisted for IIFT and that is my best bet now.

    I am also seriously considering a GMAT attempt now. I have given a few mocks and have got scores in the range of 640-660. I want to push them up to around 700 and apply to schools such as the Rotman School of Management. However, I am a desh premi and my first choice would be to continue living in India and contribute to our economy. Also, as my sister will be off to Kannedaa (Canada) this year anyway so I want to stick around in India and be in close proximity to my parents.

    Meanwhile, I have also started looking for a job opportunity and cover the upcoming IPL. Additionally, I have also started doing some online certifications.

    Is it possible to conduct a morale-boosting session for someone like me? I was initially all pumped about the process but the energy has fizzled out and I am a little shattered. I really don’t want to lose confidence and let it affect my upcoming interviews. I sincerely hope you can take out time and conduct a session for people like me who are a bit lost now. Seriously aapse bohot seekha hai sir, bas thodi aur guidance and advice chahiye hamari zindagi ke iss ain mod par :p

    Also, what is your honest opinion regarding BITSoM? Is it worth applying there as it will be the first batch?

    Best regards,
    Abhishek Arora


    • Hi Abhishek,

      Your writing style kept me entertained through the longish post 🙂

      If you ask me the best bets right now are IIFT, NMAT and SIIB (a person I know pretty well with a similar, in terms of work-ex and gap, got a pretty good break there).

      Instead of loading yourself for a GMAT right now and adding to the stress you should just stay relaxed and do the best you can in the interviews.

      There is no point hyper-analysing an interview as long as you felt relaxed; we can only leave the rest to the excel sheets to do their job.

      If you get into any of the above colleges join this year.

      Else, take a shot at the GMAT and go to Kannaeda 🙂

      Am on vacation right now. so no sure about when I can take a session.

      Also, somehow I do not see myself as a motivational speaker; I think what I do is to enable people to do the right strategically during the test or interview both in terms of technique and mindset.

      So, I do not even know what I can speak in a session other than what I have already covered in the PI webinar that I took as part of the IMS NAW.

      Hang in there, one does not need the energy to be pumped or down; an even temperament with loads of mental energy in reserve is always the way to go.

      I would suggest working out or taking up a fitness thing — weight training and yoga — with the goal to enter the b-school this year in your best physical and mental shape.

      Treat this phase as the one time you will get before you join a b-school to train your mind and body to develop a routine that will always keep you battle-ready.

      Off on a trek now 🙂

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!


      • Abhishek Arora says

        Thank you so much, Sir. This really helped a lot. Hope you have an awesome trek!


  11. Shyamli says

    Hello Tony sir,

    My profile is as follows: 10th- 96%, 12th- 94%, graduation, B.Tech (NIT)- 7.55cgpa
    I completed my graduation in 2019.
    I did not work after graduation as I was preparing for UPSC 2020 attempt, however, I flunked the UPSC exam. I gave the CAT exam in 2020 with one month preparation and scored 75 percentile.

    In March, 2021, I joined as Associate Business Analyst at Merkle Sokrati (Dentsu Network).

    I feel, my biggest drawback is that, there is nothing in my profile from May19 to March 21. I would like to know whether I will be able to convert top B-schools given the 2 year gap. Should I go for other other profile building courses?

    I thank you for taking out time to reply to our queries.

    Best Regards,


    • Hi Shyamli,

      Well, the gap will be a bit tough to justify but not impossible.

      You can say that you were very clear that your skills were suited to a career in administration or management and thus aspired to the UPSC or the IIMs. You gave a shot at the UPSC and then decided against wasting more time took up a job and shifted your focus to management.

      You can take up certification courses in Analytics or whatever area of management interests you to demonstrate your interest in the field.

      All the best!


  12. Rupal Saini says

    Hello Sir,

    My Academic details – (10th – 10 cgpa) , (12th – 75 %) , (B.tech – 7.9 cgpa)
    **Going to be graduate in April 2021**

    my work experiences

    As I have completed several internships in fields of marketing and business research during my first half of 4th year and now i have got placed in the Accenture for the ASE job role.

    Actually I am in confusion that my onboarding will be going to happen in between june-july and the CAT is in Nov.i should work or not ?.
    Also i have done my internships are in field of marketing and i will be doing the engineering job .In which way it will affect my PI (+ve or -ve) ?

    Is 7 month gap (from april to nov) will impact badly for chances to be in top b-schools or I should work with my cat prep ?

    Please respond to it .It would be great help for me

    Thank you in advance

    Best Regards,
    Rupal Saini


    • Hi Rupal,

      Your profile is always evaluated with respect to the roles you want to take up post your MBA and not in isolation.

      So, your work-ex as a software engineer makes sense only if you wish to take up roles that require prior work-ex.

      Sales & Marketing and Finance have nothing to do with software engineering and thus have no use of your work-ex.

      Also, working for 7 months is not going to get you too many points for work-ex. Ideally, a work-ex of 20 or more months is what makes sense.

      If you want to take up roles in Sales & Marketing and Finance, the job will not beof any use — the only benefit is the security and income it offers.

      If you want to take up roles in General Management or IT/Tech work for two years and plan for a 2023 intake but do give CAT 2021 a serious shot with full prep.

      For more in-depth info about MBA in terms of profiles & specializations, watch the All About Specializations webinars in this playlist — https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLZLYq7TWue8lNn1U5ZkRqnNtj7X-jxKot

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!


  13. Kimi says

    Hello Tony sir,
    First of all a huge fan of your blogs and pedagogy. Makes the picture crystal clear and helps the canditate take calculated decisions.

    Now moving on to the core part, I need your wisdom to help me make the best out of my choices.
    I am an NIT (Mechanical) passout. Took CAT this year and underperformed to my standards(Got 97.77%ile). Got calls from IIM Rohtak and CAP.
    Had a blast in the CAP interview round so hoping to convert some new IIMs.
    Moreover, I already have booked a seat at NMIMS (Score:260, ML:414).
    WL in SIBM Pune at 226. (SNAP: 97.96%ile)
    Following is my profile: (91.2/92.2/86.7- X/XII/Grad), good extra curriculars and held various posts of responsibility in undergrad.

    Now ideally I should be going for another attempt, but a) this was already my second attempt and b) I have been jobless for a year owing to the pandemic. Do not have the motivation to go for a job or to study another year all over again.

    So all in all, NMIMS and new IIMs are my only options.
    Have been posting in various platforms to get an opinion, but your advice might be a full stop to my queries.

    Between NMIMS and IIM (Udaipur/Trichy) what would you advice to go for? I am looking to opt for Marketing specialisation. Really need to know your thought process for opting either. It would really be a blessing for me at this moment. Looking forward to your reply.

    Thanks in Advance! :))


    • Hi Kimi,

      Firstly, congrats on the converts!

      It is not easy to resolve your dilemma but what I can give is my take on the same.

      1. In terms of placements, there are very high chances that NMIMS will ensure a higher package as well as a wider width of firms to choose from. The whole experience might not be an immersive, transformational, b-school experience but will deliver the job and package — a bit like Bombay in general: bring your own soul, the city will give you money.

      So if you have clear targets in mind in terms of firms and packages, join NMIMS.

      2. If you want your MBA experience to be an extension of your NIT experience and you are sure that your interviewing skills will help you easily convert interviews, then given the fact that you will get shortlists (you have a great profile), it makes sense to join one of the new IIMs. The entire superset of jobs on offer might not be great but the top 50 jobs will definitely be great.

      Purely from a Marketing standpoint, NM might edge out the new IIMs but not by much (check out the Marketing firms visiting the new and baby IIMs)

      From a super-practical standpoint — NMIMS; from a slightly idealistic/romantic/elitist(NIT-IIM) standpoint — the new IIMs.

      It all depends on what is more important to you at this point.

      And do not ask me what I would do if I were you! If you are a true student of mine you should know that by now 🙂

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!


  14. Sukrit says

    Hello Sir,
    I hope you are doing well. ​
    CAT 2020 was my first serious attempt and I scored an overall 87.81 percentile (VA-67.47 / DILR-97.9 / QA-72.51) and I have decided that I want to go for another attempt (thanks to your previous post on to retake or not to retake).
    My profile 10th/12th/Grad 2019(B.com Hons finance)-79.8 / 88.6 / 69.5
    I have 18 months workex in marketing and business development at a Small enterprise.(It was the best job offer I had at that moment).
    I want to build a career in corporate finance or banking.
    As discussed that my target b-schools should be in synergy with my profile.
    Sir can you please suggest some good b-schools for me to target, according to my profile so that I have a good chance at converting calls from them.
    It would be of great help if you reply sir.
    Thank you in advance sir.


    • Hi Sukrit,

      Assuming that you will do well this time and get a percentile in the mid-90s at least I think you should apply to all the top schools such as MDI, SPJIMR etc. and also take the NMAT, IIFT, and SNAP since all of them will offer you decent roles in banking and finance.

      Good to see that you are following the blog and making the most of it!

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!


  15. shreem says

    Hi ,
    Xth- 8.6 CGPA
    XIIth- 67.2% commerce
    Grad- 70% in Hotel management
    Work experience – 5 months as of now and cont..
    My acads is very low in terms of 12th , how badly will it affect my profile for good colleges ?
    Though I am a female , non engineer with a different background completely , will it help in grabbing good colleges?


    • Hi Shreem,

      You will drop points or rather get lower marks for XII and gain points for gender and education diversity, both of which are now a big part of the selection process for most schools. IIM-A, for example, gives calls to non-engineers at percentiles as low as 85 — a NIFT girl got a call and a final admit a few years back.

      So, forget about your XII marks and go ahead full steam, there is no better time to be a woman, non-engineer!

      All the best!


  16. navin says

    Sir, I hope you are in excellent health.

    I have a couple of questions
    My acads are somewhat good(8/9/8)GEM in the final year, UG from what you call Aam Aadmi College. I am also introverted and do not talk to people much. I will most probably take a B school in CAT 21 season only if I manage to convert any.

    1)From the perspective of B school admissions and B school placements how bad is it if I don’t have any POR in, nor a good spike in extracurricular(like state/national/international level). I only have a couple of college-level wins and 2 months of social work in my college’s social services club.

    2)I am interested in sales/marketing or IT. I watched your Specialisations webinar on Youtube. My personality and profile do not align with either. What to do in this case?


    • Hi Navin,

      I am doing well.

      To answer your questions:

      1. There are no specific marks awarded to PoRs and stuff in the b-school admission process, barring that of SPJIMR and even that can be countered with great academics. In the b-school placements process, PoRs do have a role to play, especially in General roles with firms such as ABG and TAS but not as much in other firms; PoRs and ECAs are a good bonus to have in addition to the core aspects of your profile — Academics and Work-ex.

      2. This is really tricky to answer but I’ll take a stab at it. Introverts can be bad at Sales but not necessarily at Marketing so if you manage to somehow do well in the sales stint before you move on to Marketing that will work.

      Another option is to look for opportunities in sectors such as e-commerce or analytics that are in general open to most profiles.

      And do not forget that you can go into the b-school and use those two years as well to improve your CV on various counts, align your profile to particular streams through specializations and co-curricular activities such as contests and paper presentations, and work on aspects of your personality as well.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!


  17. Chinmay says

    Hi sir, I’m GEM fresher, mechanical engineer my acads are (10th/diploma engg/ degree) = 88.40%/83.13%/8.76cgpa. CAT 2020 was my first attempt but because of some personal reasons I didn’t scored well in it. now I’m focusing on CAT21 hopefully I will do better this time. I’m looking at Operations as my specialization, coincidently I had selected Operation research, Production planning and control, Project management as my elective subjects in final year so I have now little bit of knowledge about operations, inventory, game theory, supply chain , 6 sigma etc. Apart from this I have done diploma in project management practices from Alison.com, lean manufacturing certification from alison.com, six sigma white belt from MSI. As I don’t have job right now I’m focusing on completing any other operation based certification to overcome disadvantage of not having workex, please guide me on this topic which certification shall i go for. There are Agile scrum certifications, six sigma green/black belt certification, BA certifications, QA NDT Level2 (This certification workshop will be conducted by my engineering college in next week, shall I took this) out of these or anything that you think is relevant for operation field at this stage of time please suggest me.



    • Hi Chinmay,

      One of the things about a good profile is the diversity within the profile. You seem to have done a lot of certifications and stuff with the field of Operations so doing more purely from the perspective of an MBA resume will have minimal incremental utility.

      If you like learning about these things, the courses you have mentioned, then go ahead and do it. Else, I suggest taking up social work or a Position of Responsibility since it is better to tick that check box than doing more in a checkbox you have already ticked.

      I would strongly advise you to take up an Ops job since most Operations roles go to people with work-ex in Ops, rarely any freshers — I have explained why in this webinar — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5GHha7GcKbU&list=PLZLYq7TWue8lNn1U5ZkRqnNtj7X-jxKot&index=4&t=2s&ab_channel=IMSIndia

      You should evaluate the utility of these courses from a job perspective as well.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!


  18. aksh says

    Hello Sir
    Another post from GEM fresher.
    I am a CSE final year student from a tier 1 college, also have a decent placement offer that I just took as a backup
    My profile is :
    10th : 10cgpa
    12th : 93%
    grads : 89%
    CAT : 95.5%
    Though i know i could not score as per expected in my CAT paper but i knew that interviews had always been my strong point and i could convert some creame la creame institutes. i got calls from spjimr, mdi, cap and nmims. But the point is seeing their selection criteria i could not figure out a way i could get selected even if i got full marks in the interview.
    My interviews went so well that i know i cannot give better interviews than them. The interviews were like, they were asking me all the questions that i wanted them to ask.

    NOW MY ONLY CONCERN is that should i even think of attempting CAT again in 2021 because my profile wont change much i will still be a fresher with work ex of 5-6 months and again no diversity points so getting in the top 10 institutes, i dont know if it will be possible.
    another thing if work ex is given so much weightage there must be some advantage of having it ????


    • Hi Aksh,

      Congratulations on the calls and hope most of them convert as well.

      Well, to put it quantitatively, the impact of no work-ex means that you will have to score above a 99.50, to stand a chance to have a shot at the old IIMs and FMS.

      If you feel you definitely have the bandwidth to push your percentile north of 99.50 go ahead and take another shot.

      Another reason to take another shot will be gain the two years of work-ex and have a realistic shot at both – calls from old IIMs and also at jobs that demand work-ex – General Management, Techno-Management, Ops.

      If you are not interested in these roles and are primarily looking at Sales and Marketing or second-rung Consulting firms, go ahead and join the best schools out of the calls you currently have.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!


  19. Mayank says

    Hi Sir,
    This time results are being declared and now the dilemma has started. Same for me for now I’ve converted SIIB-IB, SIBM-B,SRCC-GBO, and good chances for baby IIMs cant sure about New. So its hard time for me as I have read your article related new and baby IIMs. So I just need your opinion regarding college. Also I m an engineer with 2 years of Xp in finance and management. Also want to pursue my MBA in Finance.
    If you cud suggest me anything. It will be very helpful.


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