Within just 20 years of its existence, the Indian School of Business (ISB) has established itself as one of India’s most reputed business schools, as reflected by the recent Financial Times rankings (source) (#1 in india, #5 in Asia, #23 in the world). In 2020, it became the 100th triple-accredited business school in the world, putting it amongst the elite across the globe. 

With top-notch instructors and facilities, and an ever-expanding and accomplished alumni pool,  ISB looks set to remain the most sought after b-school in India.

In this blog, we take a detailed look at ISB’s Young Leaders Programme (YLP), a foundational programme for high potential final and pre-final year college students which guarantees a deferred admission to ISB’s flagship PGP / MBA program.

What is ISB YLP:

Similar to Harvard Business School’s 2+2 programme, YLP guarantees admission to ISB’s flagship 1 year PGP after the successful completion of 20 months of work experience post the candidate’s bachelor’s/master’s degree. 

It also incorporates various learning modules, in the form of online courses and learning weekends, which are completed on-campus every 6 months. This helps them in experiencing life at ISB and learning from the world-class facility even before they start the PGP.

The learning sessions focus on comprehending and enhancing the leadership quotient, understanding the importance of a B-school education and exposing the students to potential opportunities and career options post-MBA. 

Why YLP:

The benefits of the programme are as follows:

Treatment on par with the rest of the PGP candidates: Once admitted to the PGP, YLP candidates are treated on par with regular entry candidates in all respects. All opportunities, academic or career-related, are offered to all PGP students and YLP students get the benefit of such opportunities even earlier. 

Networking: Frequent visits to the campuses during the two-year period between selection and joining allow YLP students to connect with the current PGP students. Networking sessions with Club Presidents and the Graduate Student Board (GSB) help them gain insights into the opportunities the one year at ISB offers, how it shapes them as a person and transforms them into a better professional.

Learning Weekends: The learning and mentorship weekends allow YLP candidates to learn from the world-class faculty at ISB.

YLP scholarships: ISB offers scholarships worth Rs 1 lakh to every YLP admit and the candidates stand a chance of getting further monetary assistance afforded exclusively to YLP selects.

Most importantly, the two years between the YLP selection and admission to the PGP provide candidates innumerable opportunities. With the MBA admission out of their way, it is much easier to experiment and try their hands at different lines of work they may want to pursue.  

Hence, the Young Leaders Programme is a win-win for both ISB and the selected candidates. While ISB is able to attract candidates with high potential who may bolster the school’s reputation in the future, the candidates get to take up the coveted ISB PGP quite early in their career – the class average being 4-5yrs of work experience.

Pre-requisites and Application Process for YLP:

To apply for the YLP, the candidate must be in the pre-final or final year of undergraduate or post-graduate education. 

The candidate must also complete 20 months of work experience prior to starting the PGPM course. 

Admission to the Young Leaders Programme is a three-stage process:

Stage 1: Detailed application form and an essay to be submitted along with the application fees of INR 3,000 by March 27,2022

Stage 2: GMAT / GRE score, TOEFL/IELTS score (for candidates who didn’t attend English medium schools/colleges), an essay & one professional evaluation) to be submitted in August 31,2022

Stage 3: Personal interview Between August 31, 2022 and November 5, 2022 conducted by senior ISB alumni, followed by final results (on a rolling basis by first week of February 2023).

ISB YLP: Stage one essay analysis

Essays are an extremely important part of the application, even more so for YLP candidates who don’t have much basis for differentiation since they do not have work experience and a majority of them are high-performers. It is extremely important to put your best foot forward and present the qualities which set you apart and make you worthy of securing an admit.

The topic for the stage 1 essay for 2021 applicants is:

“Describe a personal incident or achievement which changed you as a person? How did it change your perspective about yourself and others?” (300 words)

Before approaching the essay questions, it is important to understand the school’s objective behind asking that question. 

Here, ISB ideally wants the candidate to narrate an incident that led to self-improvement/ introspection and inculcated qualities in them such as leadership, empathy, dedication etc which weren’t prevalent earlier. Since many people don’t have a standout incident to report on, the candidate must take a long and hard look at past experiences and carefully pick out an event that showcases personal growth. Since the stage-1 application doesn’t have any space to mention your internships, you may incorporate them in your essay as well.

While the first part of the question stem demands a detailed description of the event, keep in mind that you still have to meet the 300-word limit so the information you deliver must be succinct and crisp. The second part of the question stem mainly deals with the impact the incident had on you and the people around you, presenting a chance to showcase your personal growth and most importantly, your leadership traits, which are a primary requirement from YLP candidates. 

Some quick points for this essay are:

  • Keep it simple, but don’t oversimplify: An application essay should not look like the candidate used a thesaurus to write every sentence, at the same time, it should convey to ISB that the candidate has a strong command over language.
  • Maintain logical order: The story must be narrated chronologically and in a manner that the adcom doesn’t lose track at any point. 
  • Structure: Break your essay down into 3-4 paragraphs. It is important to add breaks between the introduction, body and conclusion to make it structured.
  • Keep your primary purpose in mind: Always keep in mind that the essay is being written to strengthen your candidature and you need to convey your strengths and differentiators in 300 words. It is extremely important to remain focused not to get carried away by adding unnecessary details which may have no impact / value addition.

The enriching process of looking within and discovering new intricacies about your character is reason enough to work hard on your essay, regardless of the outcome.

This blog has been written by an ISB YLP admit. Views are personal.

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