How I applied

At the start of my last job search, I felt demoralized after failing over and over at technical interviews. So I signed up for a night school that specialized in technical interview coaching. I met other people who, like me, were also being rejected. We supported each other, consoled each other after losses, and celebrated each others’ wins. I finally started to get the hang of the interviews and eventually got offers from Google, Facebook, and Palantir. But it was that community that kept me going until that point.

That’s why, for this career change, I knew I’d increase my chances of success with a community around me. I split up the process into two, and resolved to find community for both parts:

  1. Studying for the GRE
  2. Writing the application essays

For GRE studying, I signed up for a weekly online class with TestCrackers. It turned out I was the only student for that session, so I wouldn’t call it the “community” I imagined. But I liked the teacher, Marty, and I got all his attention. I’d answer his math questions for two hours every Sunday and that kept me motivated to do the homework over the week. (The verbal part I did on my own – I just went on long walks with flashcards). I tested in April 2022 and got a 167Q and 165V. I was happy with this score, and the process that I followed to get there.

For the application essays, I reached out to a friend at HBS and asked how he did it – he mentioned he worked with a consultant. So I reached out to that consultant and signed up to work with them on my HBS, GSB, and MIT essays. I started writing in earnest after taking the GRE, and sent in my first GSB essay draft in May. I wrote draft after draft of essays for six months, writing after work and on the weekends. I’d receive comments from my consultant on each draft – these were typically high-level questions and pointers to parts of the essay that didn’t make sense. In total I wrote about 25 drafts of various GSB essays and 15 drafts of my HBS essay.

At the end of the process, I had essays I was proud of, and that I knew I had given it my all to write. I gained an appreciation for how hard it is to come up with a story for myself and back it up with experiences – I can remember crying in the shower after one writing session because I felt overwhelemed trying to figure out my story. And for that sacrifice I now know my own story. I know which experiences really shaped me, what I liked about them, and how they led me to where I am today. And I can take that knowledge and create a plan for tomorrow.

The thing that kept me going throughout this process was the end result of getting into HBS. While this didn’t happen, I did work that I’m proud of, and I honed skills I can take with me wherever I go in life. And I am better for that.