Tuesday, 22 July 2014


Did I just take a huge risk? Did I manage to successfully portray who I am? Was this really it? These were the questions running through my mind moments after I hit the 'Apply Now' button at the Rotman Application page back in January 2014. Isn't it strange that the moment you let go of something, knowing that you will never be able to get that moment back, a billion ideas of how you could have made that moment better just pop up in your head out of nowhere? It is always the moment you find yourself to be absolutely helpless.
In my case, multiply the billion ideas by 100 and add different permutations to it. Why you ask? Well apart from the normal set of 'post-moment after thoughts (PMATs- yes that is what I will call them) I had the added (self-inflicted) risk of applying to the only one B-School. This ofcourse generated its own set of PMATs. Let's just say it wasn't a fun time.

I would say that I was lucky to have been acquainted with Ms. Lynda Patterson since July 2013 (Lynda, I just called you Ms., we shall laugh about this at drinks sometime), when I attempted my first ever Skype call with an Asst. Director of Recruitment and Admissions.  I was a nervous wreck focusing more on how to look rather than on what to ask (in my defense, I had a really bad haircut that week). I was ill-prepared, couldn't hold up a proper conversation (at one point I think I even found myself faking an American accent), managed to say a few things out of context, but somehow, I pulled through. Now, one year down the line I realize how important that experience was and how much it taught me. Thank you Lynda Patterson for not judging me based on that single call.

It was from that moment on, the secret dawned upon me, I knew what I had to do, I knew what must be done, I knew that all the answers were right in front of me, all I had to do was begin my journey of googling "What not to dos....", "What not to do during a Skype interview", "What not to do when you meet an Admissions Director", "What not to do when you realize midway that you may have unknowingly offended the person you are speaking to"(true story).  I knew I was in good hands. People, if you haven't tried it...give it a shot).

Besides writing and re-writing and re-re-writing my essays a kazillion times-oh what fun! (sarcasm), I think I enjoyed the video interviews the most(thank God I saved it for last). Funny story-So here is an area, where I thought I could stand out, be different, make them know I am special. I decided to print out a huge "ARJUN CHAKRAVERTY -ROTMAN 2016 MBA APPLICANT" banner with my name, Indian flag, the Rotman logo and everything for the background. Trust me, it wasn’t as simple as it sounds. Now, it was pretty evident that I was neither an artist, nor an interior decorator after countless attempts at sizing and re-sizing the printouts to fit the camera screen (and to think engineers are good with measurements). I turn on my webcam only to realize that voila, the letters are inverted! Great news! Now, I would have to invert the letters on the banner(which took me half an hour to figure out). So I remade the banner, disposed off the previous one, checked the webcam and was good to go... So there I was, all dressed, in my shirt, blazer, tie and night boxers(relax...they couldn't see below the waist) and all set to start my video essays. So now, when I clicked on the link and managed to get the website camera started, I suddenly realized that the website camera software had fixed the inversion problem and set the view right. It was plain annoying! I would have to reprint the banner and paste it in the background, yet again! Took me an additional 20 minutes. I finally got everything set and started with my video essays.

Google had warned me to NOT look away from the camera while speaking and NOT lose eye contact with the camera and to ALWAYS smile. After rambling through my first video essay, it suddenly dawned upon me that I missed Google's advice. So I did the next best thing. Realizing that I had 10-15 seconds left on my timer I stared directly into the camera and gave the creepiest smile possible for 10 seconds. It just couldn't have been more fake. I did the same with the second essay as well. I would love to know the poor Rotman Adcom member who reviewed that video and had nightmares for the next few nights. Everything aside, it was a fun experience nonetheless.

For people who missed out on the RPSC... Not bragging but I was among the 100(wadup? coolface) invited and made it to round 2. Again, I think the Skype interview thing ruined it for me. (note to self: work on Skype conversations) Anyhow, that experience at Rotman(apart from the tons of free bacon) actually sealed the deal for me(well, it's not like I had a pot full of b-schools to choose from but ya, you know what I mean). So, for those of you who do not know the details, we were divided into random teams and asked to come up with a business idea and use social media to market the idea. We had to give a presentation encompassing all aspects of the business starting from idea, concept origin, target audience, target country, quarterly financials (including costs and expected losses/profits), what if situations etc etc. All teams were given 5 hours and individual rooms (to which I carried a plate full of bacon-told you about the bacon) to come up with their presentation and boy, was it stressful fun! Despite being mentally exhausted and submitting the soft copy of the presentation on time, our team (team Q-as we were lovingly called) sat around(snacking on leftover sushi), post the social gathering, to discuss the next day's strategy(we were to present our idea to a panel of judges the next day). We sat around for hours (from around 7.00 PM to 9.30 PM) and discussed all the ins and outs of our business plan. We were exhausted but we were having such a great time. One of the team mates and I had to make it to the 'Duke of York'(a place all you new Rotman admits will find yourself most often) around 9 pm. It was a social hosted by seniors. Even while sipping our drinks and having a great time, we were discussing our (evolving) business plan (ya, we were thinking of going big now). I think the take-back for me here was the realization that despite being tired, stressed, exhausted and  not to mention nervous about the next day, I was really enjoying myself. For me, it was a snapshot of what life at Rotman would be like. Assignments so interesting that you cannot take your mind off them, business cases so intriguing that your sole intent is to reach a plausible solution, competitions so compelling that winning them would be the only thing that mattered and teammates so diverse and interesting that bonding with them would be inevitable. I was SOLD! We gave it our best shot the next day. Needless to say, we didn't win anything at the RPSC (no scholarship whatsoever) and I even got a comment by one of the judges asking me to not yell at them while presenting.  Guess I was over-enthusiastic.

That was pretty much all the fun I had during and post application. Now, let's come to the post-admit part. People keep talking about culture shock and how people, life and situations would be really different, once in Canada. I beg to differ. No no no, I do not disagree with the establishment of culture shock facts in Canada. Those obviously do exist. What I disagree with is the ‘time’ at which the culture shock begins. For me it was immediately post-admission. Here's how...

So I am an Indian and have lived in New Delhi, India for almost 20 years now and as a Delhiite, the one thing I have learnt about Delhi culture is how to be aggressive and fight your way through to whatever you want out of that particular situation. Now, by fight, I DO NOT mean the figurative 'fight' , I literally mean 'fight' fight coupled with arguing, yelling, screaming, boxing, punching and sometimes even kicking(true story) to get your way. It's absolutely normal to see two people on the road trying to kill each other over trivial issues such as parking space(which probably belongs to neither) or bad driving(I must admit, I have been under the influence of road-rage quite often). Fighting, quarreling, abusing...it's just an everyday normal thing for us Delhiites. Even during school and college,  I have seen the greed, jealousy  and hatred channelize into tampering with other people's notes, bad-mouthing peers and even fake complaining to teachers, just to ensure that the person you feel threatened by has some form of disadvantage in his/her wake. And for all you Delhiites thinking- what rubbish! that doesn't happen here, well...deep down, you know what I’m talking about...don't you?

Now here's the funny part, as a newly admitted Rotman student, meeting his would be Delhiite Rotman classmates for the first time, I suffered multiple spasms of culture shocks when I found out how courteous and polite the Delhi admits behaved. The first time I met my classmates at Hard Rock, it seemed like I was a part of the Great Gatsby movie, walking into a room filled with well dressed people indulging in intellectual gab. It didn't stop there, they were (and still are) actually willing to help at every step post your application, giving you their inputs, their documents, their personal notes. It was and still is, really scary. Very unnatural for Delhiites. Biggest culture shock for me right there. Still struggling to get over it.

All jokes aside, I must admit that it truly has been a great experience so far. Meeting some really good people, getting to know them and their interests has been great fun. What's funny (this time I am serious) is that I already feel likeI know most of them really well, which is strange, as it takes years to form good bonds. However, in this case I am hoping that it takes only 2. Cheers to all you guys and I look forward to bonding with you all pretty soon. ;)