I was going through the old folders of my computer and came across a folder named “MBA Essays”. I haven’t had a look at this folder for the past one year. It has the essays that failed me in getting an interview call from at least one B-School for the academic year 2012-14. I glanced through the essays and a particular essay caught my attention. I wrote it for Cornell University. The exact description of the essay as the school asked for is “You are the author for the book of Your Life Story. Please write the table of contents for the book. Note: Approach this essay with your unique style. We value creativity and authenticity.” I didn’t know much about the school when I first saw this question. But this question got my interest and I ended up applying for the school just because I liked the question.
When I started writing this table of contents, the biggest problem I had was… well… there isn’t any content in my life to tabularize. I haven’t any significant activities and notable achievements in my life since I reached my adulthood. Unlike some of my friends who actually did something, I did not become the president of my college, or I did not start any NGO to educate people about the environment, or I did not reject a lucrative IT job to follow my dream, or I did not leave my manager job to teach poor children. I led the life of a routine software engineer like most of the well-educated Indian youth. So I need an eye candy presentation that makes up for this lack of content. After a lot of brain storming, Thanks to Stanley Kubrick’s “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb”, I fixed on the particular style and decided to use oxymorons in the title. The rest was easy. I selected/coined some oxymorons, wrote down the incidents in my life in a dramatic manner and just did the “Match the following”.
After completion of the essay, I felt that the essay lacks content and tries to magnify trivial things. But I loved it as a work for its beautiful construction and fable-like narration out of nothing. It has a unique style. It is creative and authentic. But it is not valued by Cornell later. I didn’t get an interview call. At the end I failed the exam and left with a beautiful* answer that I wrote to a question. (*beautiful according to me. The essay might have failed to meet the basic expectations of the admission committee altogether. 😀 )
Pre Script: We were never poor and I had a great childhood. And none of the incidents I mentioned in the table of Contents are imaginary. It’s just that I used the them to create maximum impact.
Table of Contents
- A Laborious Comfort or: How a 14-year old village farmer girl got married and gave birth to me as her second child
- A Deep Blue Sky or: How I was fascinated by the reflection of the sky in the rain water accumulated around my house
- A Juvenile Matureness or: How I answered it “A Rich man” when I was asked by the teacher what I would become in future
- A Redundant Essential or: How I wondered why I should learn English, which appears only on soap and tooth paste covers
- A Conscious Dream or: How I slept on the floor in a government hostel and dreamed every night that I would stand as state 1st in 10th class
- A Victorious Failure or: How I got only a 7th rank in state and my village witnessed 10 or more cars coming in for the first time
- An Easy Difficulty or: How I shifted to English as medium of instruction in 12th and managed to get into the best private university in the country
- A Muggle Wizard or: How I was influenced by Stanley Kubrick and by English literature and Adobe Photoshop
- A One-sided Equilibrium or: How I scored a zero in Advanced Thermodynamics but managed to make a winning entry for “Horsepower” cover page
- A Crystal Cloud or: How my team won second prize in nationwide marketing competition, though it failed to demonstrate basic marketing principles
- An Ephemeral Immortality or: How I decided to spend my last semester on-campus, though I was offered an internship
- An Equivocal Affirmation or: How my parents asked me to continue studies instead of start earning and I rejected
- A Resistible Siren’s Song or: How I had to prefer software services industry to advertising to work and gave my family a much needed financial support
- An Abysmal Shallowness or: How my estimated stint of one year stretched to over four years, mainly because of the economic slowdown
- A Lonely Duet or: How I started working on company posters and Engineering campaigns
- A Bound Freedom or: How I decided to start a new career and planned to pursue an MBA in marketing
Post Script: After reading it, my wife said, “You should start writing your autobiography with this table of contents. It would become a best seller.” 🙂