Behind the Scenes of Overseas Education Counselling: Q&A with Amaneesh Kaur, Co-founder, SOP-EDITS
If you are a regular visitor of Stoodnt, you should have the idea by now that we are a platform that connects people (students, parents, and working professionals) with career counselors, test-prep trainers, subject-matter experts, and overseas education advisers & independent admissions consultants.
As a student/parent looking for career guidance and/or study abroad advice, it’s extremely important to know about the Counselor’s background, areas of expertise, and previous track record (reviews & testimonials). As a career & college guidance platform, we believe in complete transparency and integrity. We publish interview (Q&A) articles with Counselors on a regular basis. In this post, we will have a tête-à-tête with Amaneesh Kaur, co-founder of SOP Edits.
About Amaneesh Kaur (Chandi)
Amaneesh is from a Computer Engineering background and has worked with top names like J.P Morgan & Chase as a Chief Technology Analyst. To satiate her proclivity in management, Amaneesh did a short course in Strategic Management from the London School of Economics (LSE) and earned an A+ grade. She further went on to complete her Master’s degree from ESADE BUSINESS SCHOOL, Barcelona, and also attended Georgetown University, Washington D.C in Global Business as an exchange student.
In her free time, Amaneesh likes reading, going for long drives and listening to music. Apart from these, sipping a cup of tea whilst admiring nature is one of her cherished things to do!
Amaneesh has guided hundreds of students in their career choices before embarking upon her journey as a Partner and Senior Education Consultant with SOP-Edits Overseas Consultants, one of India’s Premier Education Consultancy.
In 2019, SOP Edits received an award for being the Best Education Consultancy in North-India, presented by Excel Research Group in the field of International Education.
Behind the Scenes of Overseas Education Counselling
Q&A with Amaneesh Kaur
Tanmoy: What was your motivation behind starting SOP Edits? How did you come up with the idea of getting into admissions consulting as a full-time career?
Amaneesh: I remember the time, in 2013, when I had to go for my higher studies abroad and there were very limited reliable resources of information that I could consider. Moreover, I struggled to find the right counsellor who had done a well-researched study of my courses that I’d like to pursue. To top it all, the concept of online consultancy had still not paved its path in India back then!
This is where the idea had just budded in our minds.
Whilst I was studying at ESADE, I began counselling my juniors, my peers, my subordinates, references and anybody who would approach me for suggestions and my advice on study abroad.
What was intriguing to me was that I could really understand their concerns, their questions, and could give them a practical overviewed solution for the same. This came very naturally to me as I was practically doing what they aspired to do. So, technically, had been in their shoes, and thus, it became very easy to resonate with them!
That was the beginning, and now we are, a fully operational online education consultancy that has already counselled 10k+ students and has many testimonials to its credit!
Tanmoy: You are from a Computer Science background. How did you end up at JP Morgan?
Amaneesh: My position at J.P Morgan was of a Business Analyst in the Asset Management department and I got this through campus placements. I chose to take a techno-management role owing to my inclination towards management.
While at J.P Morgan, I was the part of a technical team but I used to often get an opportunity to try my hands in the management aspect of things. I used to be the happiest when I was entrusted a task to team up with the operations team and work on a project coz that involved technical as well as management prerequisites.
So in all, my rigor to implement my learnt technical skills coupled with my tenacity to acquire management skills enabled me to take up the analyst role at J.P Morgan and I have never regretted that decision ever since!
Tanmoy: Could you please talk about your Short-Term Course at LSE? What were the key takeaways?
Amaneesh: It was a short-term program on Strategic Management that I enrolled for during my holidays. It was an on-campus program that had full-time classes of 5 days a week.
We were taught by some eminent faculties of LSE and used to have amazing class participation. The classes were very engaging and laid a balanced emphasis on theory and practical lessons.
The key takeaways were:
- I had very early on realised the importance of networking
- Class participation and sharing your thoughts, ideas and opinion is key
- Academics and practice, both form a very significant part of your study curriculum
- Understanding the fundamentals of management concepts is key
Tanmoy: Why did you opt for MBA? How did you come to the decision that an MBA would be the right step for you?
Amaneesh: As I mentioned, I had an inclination towards management. For me, the little things that I used to do during my UG college, organizing and participating in events, brainstorming on ideas, sharing my opinions, etc, gradually cultivated my interest in management so much that I began researching on the avenues this field had to offer!
My interest got reinforced while working at J.P. Morgan. I was brightened when was allocated a management project while a technical project would just look like a mundane routine.
Analysing my interests, evaluating them and then researching on my prospects made me decide on MBA as my next step and I am grateful to have taken that step at the right time in my career!
Tanmoy: Could you please share your MBA application journey with our readers?
It involved a lot of research as I was very new to this entire process and did not have any counsellor back then! It began with preparing for the GMAT exam while I was still working at J.P Morgan. I had created a time-table for the same to be able to utilise my time constructively. My work hours were flexible so would utilise the first part of the day at work, then come home and begin my preparation.
At times when I lacked motivation, I used to make a checklist of my dream colleges. I shortlisted some of them and researched them in my free time. Preparing an excel sheet at this point with all the deadlines, application process, GMAT score requirement, IELTS, etc, came in very handy. By this time, I knew my target GMAT score and prepared hard for the same. Since I had no counsellor to guide me, I made a lot of mistakes in my journey and learnt a big-time from them!
After my exam, I began preparing for my essays and applications. I remember not making it to the first deadline of many schools but I tried my best to make an entry by the time the 2nd deadline is over. I applied to 6 schools, a mix of the safe, target, and ambitious ones. I attended the interview round of a few of them and finally made it to ESADE with a scholarship!
Tanmoy: How was your experience studying at ESADE and living in Barcelona as an international student?
Amaneesh: ESADE Business School ranks among some of the top most B-Schools in the world. The school has a very established and distinguished alumni network and it also lays a lot of emphasis on diversity. I remember enjoying each day of my school, my classes, my project work, my dissertation.
The best part of ESADE is that the curriculum is designed in such a way that it makes you feel as though you are learning on the go! It is not a hard-hit theoretical study as it encompassed an equal balance of theory and practical. Moreover, as an international student, it is very important to make a conducive environment around you, indispensable to learn and grow! ESADE proved to be a fundamental ground for the same.
The networking through ESADE was also very efficient and prompt! The school’s Alumni base is its amazing strength. In all, my journey at ESADE proved to be even better than my expectations from a B-School and if given a chance, I would again go and study at that amazing school.
Tanmoy: According to you, how the international MBA experience shaped your career path?
Amaneesh: I have been fortunate to choose the right career path at the right time. I feel that the MBA has a lot to do with how I perceive the world today!
Apart from being a wholesome degree, an international MBA has developed my persona, has instilled self-confidence in me, the exposure you get on studying in a different culture, among multitudes of multinational people goes a great way in defining you in future. Thus, for me, it has proved to be a path I would never switch or replace for anything in this world!
Tanmoy: What would be your advice for the folks who are considering studying abroad (especially MBA abroad aspirants)?
Amaneesh: I often observe that students run behind the brand and university ranking when it comes to studying abroad. My advice to the young aspirants is to NOT just take the decision based on rankings on different sites. While they can consider those points too, but they should not rest their decision of studying into a B-School just based on that.
Other factors like employment, stay back options, alumni network, etc also should be taken into consideration. Next, make sure to know the ‘WHY’ behind going to study the next degree. For instance, if you are going for an MBA, make sure you know the reason, the aim, the short-term, and the long-term goal that you want to follow after completing it. This will even reflect in your SOPs and will make them more efficient and meaningful.
Tanmoy: Any career advice for the high school kids (and their parents)?
Amaneesh: Here are mhy suggestions to the parents:
- Allow your children to choose their own path, rather than you deciding it for them!
- Help them in enhancing their profile since school itself
- Do not let them succumb to any competition or pressure
- Be their guiding light and support system throughout their journey
- An all-rounded profile is never the one that excels in academics and nothing else. Please make sure you emphasize on the overall development of your child
Tanmoy: How do you plan to add more value to study abroad aspirants and what makes SOP Edits unique?
Amaneesh: Our USP lies in personalisation, we consider each student as a unique project to work on and put our heart and soul into it!
Secondly, we are a team of young leaders and professionals who have themselves studied abroad and thus, know the knacks of getting into top schools. We share our journey, network and experience with our clients and incorporate our learnings in their journey to make it worthwhile.
Every year, thousands of candidates send their applications to top schools and colleges. However, only a handful get in.
We’re sure you’ve worked really hard to get good scores on the entrance tests. Why let that effort go waste? When you’ve put your heart and soul into the admission process, why settle for something less?
One wise investment could help you secure admission into your dream university. Without beating about the bush, we’ll get straight to the point.
Tanmoy: In the broad field of admissions counselling, what are your key strengths?
Amaneesh: As far as my forte is concerned, I am more inclined towards the management side of studies. I like working on MiM, MBA, Master (MS) in Business Analytics, etc, type of courses for fresh graduates or experienced professionals!
Tanmoy: What are your thoughts on COVID-19 scenario? Any tips for the study abroad aspirants?
Amaneesh: COVID has been an unprecedented time in our lives. We have to adjust to this new normal. My advice to the study abroad aspirants would be to continue with their study abroad plans, get in touch with the universities to understand the measures they are taking to cope up with the present scenario and try to pave a way out through this! Waiting for things to become normal might end up in a waste of a lot of time. Instead, utilise this time for enhancing your profile, upscale yourself etc.
Here is a video on How to Utilize this Lockdown time for your Study Abroad Plans:
Tanmoy: Is it worth to opt for MS / MBA in Spring or Fall 2021? Is that going to help them to stand out in the competitive job market?
Amaneesh: For students who do not want to adhere to the online study format is left with no other option than to defer their plans for the next intakes. Thus, there is no harm in choosing either the coming fall intake ( 2020 online or hybrid learning) or taking the next intake.
As far as the job market is concerned, the students who enrol in this intake will get exposed to the job market after 1 year or 2, depending on the duration of their course. In that context, they should be really positive and hopeful on getting exposed to improved set of employments!
Tanmoy: How should international students make them more competitive in this situation to get a job after the completion of their studies abroad?
Amaneesh: Here are my tips –
- Upskill themselves with new skills and talents in this digital world
- Keep themselves updated with the latest techniques, tricks, and advancements happening in and around!
- Networking is the key. Making the right network and using it as a channel to steer your way in the competitive world is very important!
Tanmoy: Suppose if someone fails to get a job abroad, how should s/he go about job search in India?
Amaneesh: Through the right network, through references, through the alumni network of your own school or college. Never confine yourself to just one country. The beauty of a global degree is that it is recognized across the world. We just need to try to make through the right way!!!
Author: Tanmoy Ray
I am a Career Adviser & MS Admission Consultant. Additionally, I also manage online marketing at Stoodnt. I did my Masters from the UK (Aston University) and have worked at the University of Oxford (UK), Utrecht University (Netherlands), University of New South Wales (Australia) and MeetUniversity (India).
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