Pratik Agarwal, the first Indian at the HBS 2+2 program is a true gem. A graduate from IIT Delhi he was born and brought up in Jodhpur, Rajasthan. He also represented IIT Delhi at Harvard College in an international exchange conference on ‘Sustainability and Urban development?. Besides excelling at whatever he does, he is also interested in photography and graphic designing.
Go2BSchool caught up with Partik Agarwal, the first Indian at HBS 2+2. Here is the transcript of the interview,exclusive and inspirational!
Go2B Team: Hi Pratik. Congratulations for being the first Indian to be in HBS 2+2. How does it feel?
Pratik: Well that was a couple of years ago, But it feels good. Three others have got in the last year. So, now I am not the only Indian.
Go2B Team: Why did you choose HBS 2+2 program?
Pratik: I actually got to know of the program in my third year itself. And it was the only program of its kind and it was very unique in the sense that you could apply in your third year and if accepted, you are guaranteed admissions after 2 years of work experience and this kind of program did not exist at that time and I thought it was an excellent opportunity to take some risks.
Thanks to 2+2,immediately after graduation, instead of trying to look for a conventional job I had the flexibility to work for a startup of my own which I actually did. In that way it was very attractive to me. That?s why I applied. Besides, HBS is an excellent institute to do MBA. Everybody knows that!
Go2B Team: Were you selected elsewhere as well?
Pratik: No. I only applied for this. I also tried for Reliance Stanford Scholarship. I was one of the finalists but HBS admits came before Stanford applications.
So I did not apply there.
Go2B Team: How was the Ad-com interview like?
Pratik: The interview was pretty straight forward. Especially for the Indian people, many perceive interview which is something very grilling where AD-COM try to get the best out of you. It was nothing like that. It was more like a conversation. They just wanted to make sure you that you are the kind of person that comes across as in the application that they invited for the interview. And they wanted to see if you are a fit with the business school.
Every business school has some kind of stereotype on what kinds of people go there. In HBS the people are generally more aggressive compared to other schools and most of them are interested in management rather than a specific interest in something like finance etc. They just want to make sure you are around that. There’s a pretty high acceptance rate after interview about 50%. So they just want to make sure you are a fit with them.
Go2B Team: What are your tips for future applicants for an interview and also HBS 2+2?
Pratik: If I speak about 2+2, a couple of things. If you get selected for an interview they already like you very much. An applicant should understand this. A lot of people who come to me are very nervous and like ?Oh! God its interview what should I do… ? and things like that. Just go there and be yourself. Be very short in your answers because if they want to know more they will ask you. Typically it is a timed interview of 30 minutes. They already have a lot of questions prepared for you so they want you to just talk about them. So it?s good to keep short.
Other than that, just be confident. This is generally a problem for Indian aspirants because most of them have never traveled abroad. Especially while waiting, sitting with students from Stanford, MIT and knowing that they are being interviewed along with you might be intimidating, just make sure you are comfortable. My observation was that they like Indians very much. They have taken more and more Indians this year.
Go2B Team: Do you think more Indians should opt for HBS 2+2 program?
Pratik: I dont think there is a same answer for everyone . You should first decide whether you will be doing an MBA or not. Whether you will like to do it this soon. It is always a good thing to apply because if you would like to do MBA eventually you will get an idea of the applications. The essays are also same and they are very critical in the application process. Even if they do not get accepted right now they will get an idea of what to accomplish in the coming years before you apply again.
Go2B Team: We want to know what your short term and long term goals are after HBS 2+2?
Pratik: I did my engineering from IIT Delhi. Right now I am working with a couple of startups. One is Mentorpolis which you might know. I have been working on it since college. I am thinking of starting something else now. After HBS I am pretty sure I want to come back to India right away because there is lot happening in India right now. If you start working now especially around a lot of startups you have a lot of opportunities. Then I would like to do more startups and keep doing more of them I guess.
Go2Team: How did this idea of starting Mentorpolis came to you?
Pratik: It started a long time ago actually. I belong to a small town Jodhpur in Rajasthan. I used to participate in a lot of competitions Like Olympiads etc. in my school and met lot of interesting people. Ever since I have been kind of infatuated with finding opportunities and getting better education. I got into IIT Delhi with the help of some excellent teachers. Even in IIT Delhi professors helped me a lot in figuring how my career path should be.
So I basically understood that if you are in touch with good people who would mentor you in different stages of your life it would make a huge difference in your growth. Currently there are many Indian students in two tier and three tier cities which do not have THE necessary infrastructure. Not everyone is lucky enough to get into IIT. Since I was already admitted in HBS 2+2 I could take some risks.
Me along with some IIT alumni started Mentorpolis to mentor students in two tier and three tier cities. It?s been going well. We have around 3,500 mentees and about 130 odd mentors. It?s doing alright. We are right now looking at how to scale it up and make it accessible to more people.
Go2Team: What do you think will take IIM?s to reach HBS? What?s your take on this?
Pratik: First thing is you cannot compare IIM and HBS directly. In IIM?s you specialize. But many foreign universities actually offer a general MBA. Other than that what was a plus point for me was if you see the class profile in HBS, they are not only diverse in nationalities but also academically .There are people from different backgrounds like commerce, engineering, arts etc. Whereas the fact is that in IIM?s the majority are engineers.
I believe a lot of quality education that you get in an MBA is from your community. That is the main distinction. Other than that regarding career prospects I’m sure IIM?s also have excellent placements on par with foreign universities. A small difference is that IIM PGDM is not exactly an MBA. So, your job prospects kind of depend on your work experience. Again, the basic difference is the diversity.
Go2B Team: Have you met with your 2+2 class? How was the experience?
Pratik: yeah I met them and we had a couple of case studies and informal dinners. It was a terrific experience. I could see the impact of case method of HBS from the day one. We were discussing a case on ethics and it was interesting to hear different points of view.
I couldn’t imagine that diverse community in India anywhere and also could not imagine it happening anywhere in the world. It was unique in the sense that people of different backgrounds like engineering, arts participating in it. It was also good to have informal dinners and discussions.
Go2B Team: Thank You Pratik for sharing your experiences with us. All the best for your future.
Pratik: Thank You very much.