width=200US national Shruti Malani decided to study for her MBA away from her home country, either in India or the UK. She explains to TopMBA.com why she crossed the Atlantic to study at London Business School (LBS), and how she conquered the complex MBA admissions process.

The interview was the most [nerve-racking] part of the admissions process since it's the one that can be least prepared for in advance, Malani explains. Besides knowing my application and résumé well, there was not much preparation that went into it. My interviewer and I had different industry backgrounds but I was able to provide my responses in an explanatory manner so that it could be easily understood and applied to any industry.

GMAT preparation

Instead of the admissions interview, Malani found that scheduling enough GMAT preparation time into her hectic schedule was the tricky part in the admissions process. GMAT prep was probably the most difficult hurdle, especially getting back into the swing of studying after focusing solely on your full time job for some time.

In my case, I gave myself three months to prepare and signed up in advance for the test. It gave me a deadline to work towards when planning my study sessions and preparation. It was tough balancing GMAT prep along with a hectic work and travel schedule, but giving myself checkpoints on topics and mock-tests really helped me stay on top of the planned preparation.

Malani also spent a great deal of time researching which business schools would be the best fit for her, along with giving her the greatest opportunities after graduation. During this time, she managed to attend multiple MBA fairs. I visited the QS World MBA Tour two years in a row when researching MBA programs, Malani explains.

It was extremely helpful to have the top MBA programs represented in one location and made it easy for prospective students like me to get their questions answered without individual appointments with each of the admission teams and MBA students or alumni. It was also the only MBA fair I found to be truly international in its representation, which was of particular interest to me as I wanted to attend a business school outside of the United States.

Pre-MBA work experience

Importantly, while Malani was researching the many MBA programs available, she gained valuable work experience. I knew I wanted to get my MBA after my undergraduate course; however I wanted to wait to pursue it until I had better defined my career direction and aspirations.

Working as a consultant at [the management consulting firm] Accenture gave me ample opportunity to learn and experience many different business functions and roles. The various IT and operations projects I worked on also helped me define my long term goals.

Finally, when Malani decided it was the right time in her career to invest both her time and money in an MBA, she decided to apply to two business schools; LBS and the Indian School of Business (ISB).

I was fortunate to be accepted to both the LBS and ISB programs, Malani explains. Although the two choices were great, I eventually decided to attend LBS due to the international outlook and composition of the program.

LBS classes have usually been comprised of well over 85% international students, representing as many as 60 countries. Moreover, I will have the opportunity to do an international exchange at ISB for a semester while at LBS.