From Dentistry to MBA- My Journey

DISCLAIMER : My journey is neither extraordinary, nor one of its kind. The only reason for writing down this post is many people ask me how did I manage the transition from BDS to MBA so early in my career. And it’s not possible to answer this question succinctly, without narrating the entire story-because what looks like an abrupt career shift was actually a smooth transition over the years.

“I’m convinced that the only way to get ahead in this world is to live and sell dangerously. You’ve got to live beyond your means. You’ve got to commit yourself to an act or vision that pulls you further than you want to go and forces you to use your hidden strengths.” – John H. Johnson

It was during the mid of October 2011, during a very tiring day after Prosthodontics Pre-clinics, when I came across the notification about AIUGC (All India Undergraduate Conference) by IDA, Chennai. My first year in the dental school was over by then and it had left me completely perplexed. I wasn’t doing bad but I was convinced that I was just another face in the crowd. The notification of the conference fueled a hope in me that it’s a way to come out of the well and connect with the outer world of Dentistry, to know how exactly the Indian Dental scene is. But the issue was I really had no idea how and what to present.

At that time my online ventures – A dental blog “Dental Dominion” (it still exists, though I haven’t updated it since many years- http://dentaldominion.blogspot.in/) and the Facebook page ( https://www.facebook.com/bachelorofdentalsurgery/), both of which were created out of randomness, were doing good and getting great response from students across the globe. I had even got two advertisement offers for my blog- one from AIM MDS (Online Coaching Centre for MDS Entrances Exam) and the second one by Dr. Gowri Shankar (Author of Dental Bytes and TextBook of Orthodontics) for his private coaching center. I had even started social media marketing through my facebook page, working for a few dental clients, helping them in their businesses while earning a few bucks for myself (my first experience with ‘Entrepreneurship’)
I thought of making a report on everything and came with this really lengthy title for my presentation “Use of Dental Informatics in general and internet and social networking sites in particular in gathering the dental students on a single platform and disseminating information among them – A report”.

Since it was HUES (annual fest of my college MCODS, Manipal) time, I had to go all alone and the time spent in Chennai was memorable and very informative. It was a feeling of immense joy coming back to college with the Best Paper Award (Later the same presentation won me 2nd prize and a cash prize of 200 Euros in Virtual World Congress of Dental Students in May 2012).

Next reason to smile was to end up 3rd in the world among 2000 applicants from all around the world in the Campus Ambassador competition organised by iversity in January 2012, a German academic website. It was yet another wonderful experience I was blessed with. Iversity is a German higher education course management platform which merges an online workplace and a social network. I started a dental study group in the website which soon attracted attention and thus I ended up being 3rd in the competition. Along with the prize money of 250 Euros, I was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation as well as a Recommendation letter from the CEOs of iversity.

In February 2012, I came to know about ESA (Elsevier Student Ambassador) Competition by the renowned publisher Elsevier. After clearing 3 round of a competitive online quiz (Based on Human Anatomy, Physiology and biochemistry), an essay and a 25 min interview over the phone, I was finally selected for the post. I even won the 1st Prize (Apple iPAD 2) in JUDGE THE BOOK contest for ESAs where my book review on “Pharmacology for Dental Students’ by Shanbhag, Shenoy and Nayak was adjudged the best reviews among the reviews submitted by 55 ESAs (Medical and Dental UGs and PGs from 5 countries).

I went ahead with presenting papers at conferences and winning most of them (3rd Prize in the 1st International Students’ Dental Conference, Sharjah, UAE and 2nd Prize in Dentistry 2012 conference organized by IDRR (Indian Dentist Research and Review).

But the phenomenon which will keep my undergraduate life etched forever in my life is the launch of IDJSR (International Dental Journal of Students’ Research). I realized I can leverage my strong web presence and traffic to do something substantial and hence with 2 other dental students from Delhi & Karachi (Pakistan), I launched International Dental Journal of Students’ Research (http://idjsr.com/), world’s first peer- reviewed medical research journal started by undergraduate students, in 2012.

The 1st issue of IDJSR  (online and peer reviewed) published articles from 5 countries and hence we launched with a bang!  During that time the journal was completely free and was under the aegis of Indian Medical Students’ Association (now Indian Medical Association- Student Wing). In December 2014, I (along with my co-founder and executive editor Dr. Harsh Rajvanshi) registered my startup with the name of Cephorb Medline International Pvt Ltd and brought the journal under this registered company.
Today IDJSR has seen 18 issues with articles published from more than 30 countries, making it an international journal in a true sense. It has an exhaustive Reviewers Panel comprising of more than 40 reviewers from around 10 countries and it is indexed in more than 10 databases and online libraries of various universities across the world. We have also started publishing the journal in print with around 10 Dental Schools subscribing for the print version.

My efforts  eventually didn’t go unnoticed. I was awarded with ‘The Budding Dentist Award’ by IDRR (Indian Dentist Research and Review) and ‘ Best UG Student of the Year Award’ by Orofacial Chronicle in August 2014, just before I started with my internship.

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Receiving the ‘Budding Dentist Award’ by IDRR (Indian Dentist Research & Review) by Dr. Sibi Xavier- August 2014
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The Group Picture at IDRR Awards, August 2014

 

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Receiving the Student of the Year (UG) Award by Orofacial Chronicle at Indore, August 2014
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At Famdent Excellence in Dentistry Awards, Mumbai, December 2014
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Student Of The Year (Undergraduate) Award by Famdent- December 2015

Because of the various initiatives that I undertook in the digital media space, I got the job of Marketing Manager at Oliveboard, an Ed-tech startup, where I joined immediately after finishing internship in August 2015.  Transitioning from dental clinical practice to digital marketing & business development was smoother than I had thought and within 2 month I was able to get results. Oliveboard, at that time, was bootstrapped and hence the allocated marketing budget was limited. I had to strategize & plan each marketing and ad-campaign in a cost- effective way and hence I learnt a strategic and structured way of solving problems and identifying unmet market needs. I relied heavily on consumer insights and customers’ data to continuously tweak my marketing campaigns and product offerings to optimize the same.

After joining Oliveboard, I started preparing for GMAT and appeared for it in January 2016 and then applied to ISB after scoring a 730 in GMAT. I got through ISB via the EEO (Early Entry Option), which meant I was supposed to join after one year, ie April 2017. I continued working at Oliveboard for that one year and finally joined the flagship MBA course (called as the PGP- Post Graduate Program in Management) at the Hyderabad Campus of Indian School of Business.

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My First Lecture at ISB

I hope this post helps dental students/Dentists to take an informed decision while making career choices post graduation.

I will be writing more about career options post BDS. Just hit the FOLLOW button (right side of the screen if you are reading on desktop/laptop and on the bottom of the screen if you are reading on mobile phone) and subscribe to the blog. It will help you get notified whenever I post in future.

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How to build your profile for B-School admission.

CV

“How to build my profile” is the most common question that the MBA aspirants face as some of the topmost Indian B-Schools (such as Indian School of Business and SPJIMR) are relying heavily on the profile of the candidate while considering them for the admission. Even for other B-schools, having a strong profile is always advisable as it will help you to stand out during the Interview stage and will help you to present yourself as someone having an all-rounded personality. Importance of a strong profile further increases for freshers as they have to compete with those having Work-Experience. I am listing a few ways through which you can improve your profile and increase your CV points. Please note that the list is not exhaustive and only includes of activities that I could think of while writing this post.

Internships

I am not from Engineering background so don’t have much idea about it but I am pretty sure that quality internships done during your undergraduation years help you a lot. You can search for internships in the following forums :-

Internshala :- An amazing website where you can enter all your details and requirements and they will mail you all the internship opportunities in your preferred location.

AIESEC  – AIESEC is making its presence felt in many campuses and it is a good organization to gain some leadership experience as well as international internships.

Campus Ambassador Programs

Various national and international organizations and institutes have campus ambassador programs. You can apply and be the face of the organization in your campus. This will provide you leadership opportunities and you can add this experience in your CV. Here are a few such programs.

Online Courses

There are various websites from where you can learn almost every skill on this earth online. Most of these courses are free while a few are priced very nominally. Join a relevant course, complete the assignments and earn a certificate! Some of the online learning forums are Coursera, EdX, Udemy, Iversity,  etc.

Content Writing

If you are good at writing, you can search for content writing jobs on internet and earn your pocket money. ContentMart is one such place where you can find such jobs. Do not forget to ask for a certificate from your employer

NGO

Voluntary Experience is valued a lot during B-school admissions and also during campus placements post-MBA. Find out the NGOs in your city and contribute on weekends.

Certifications

CFA Certification for Finance Enthusiasts is an extremely valued certification. If you can afford, prepare hard (it’s not easy) and go for it. It will pay huge dividends. Join this facebook group for more info.

For Sales & marketing enthusiasts, you have SMStudy certification. Similarly, there are certifications for Product and Project Management.

Foreign Language Course

Join Alliance Francaise in your city for French, Cervantes Institute (or certified by Cervantes Institute) for Spanish and Max Muller Institute for German language. They have weekend courses too which you can conveniently join. For other languages and other centers, you can search on UrbanClap. If you cannot afford classroom courses or don’t have time, you can even learn online and earn certificates on EdX.

Paper/Poster Presentations

Undertake small research projects with the help of your faculty and present them in various national and international competitions. They will act like a jewel in your academic crown.

MUN (Model United Nations)

MUNs are extremely profound platforms to hone your public speaking skills, to keep yourself aware of recent happenings in the world and to make new friends. Find out which MUN is taking place in/near to your city and take part.

Initiatives

Nothing is considered more valuable than building up something on your own. It can be as grand as getting your own startup/NGO registered or having a regular tech/movie/food review blog. Think, speculate, brainstorm. Do not sit idle.

Hobbies

Apart from all these, you can also choose to just indulge in your favorite hobby and win accolades in that field. It can be music, sports or anything under the sun that interests you. The catch is to build an all-rounded personality.

That’s all I can think of now. Do FOLLOW my blog (Green colored tab on the left side of the screen) as I will be writing more on GMAT, MBA and Indian School of Business. If you are following the blog, you will get an email whenever I publish a new post.

-KA