Interview of Kaneisha from ArtofApplying

Hey folks, how are you doing? Today I bring you someone special for a guest post. Well, not exactly a guest post but an interview of hers: Kaneisha Grayson. Some of you might have noticed her in few of my posts earlier sometime: a notification post followed by a debrief about her webinar that I attended. Apparently, we felt she got good amount of publicity through this blog and hence, we decided to do a quick post about her and her aspirations. She is really kind enough to give a short interview for my blog. In past few days, I have come in contact with Kaneisha and I can tell you that she is really smart and can make wonders for you. She is an HBS alumni and has recently started a consulting firm, The Art of Applyin g. So, here we go with the interview:

1. For the benefit of readers, can you give us a summary of your background? Education, current job, previous jobs, interests, etc

Kaneisha: graduated from Pomona College in Claremont, California in 2006, lived in Ghana for a year as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar, and then went on to earn my MBA & MPA from Harvard Business School and Harvard Kennedy School. My current full-time job is running The Art of Applying, my essay and career coaching company. I call myself a lifestyle entrepreneur, because my main goal is to use my gifts, skills, and talents to work for myself, provide a valuable service to people, and maintain the income and autonomy over my time that I desire. I don’t hope to grow this business into a huge company. I want to stay nimble, flexible, and responsive to the needs of my life and my customers.

2. You run a popular blog:crazygirlnations. What inspired you to start “artofapplying”?

Kaneisha: I started The Art of Applying so that I could finally start getting paid to do what I had been doing for years for free!

3. You went to HBS for business school. Can you tell us why you chose HBS?

Kaniesha: I knew since I was a senior in high school that I wanted to go to Harvard not for college but for graduate school. It was the summer before my senior year of college that I realized I wanted to go to Harvard to study policy and business.

4. What sparked your interest in MBA consultancy as a career? Can you tell us about your entrepreneurial experience with the artofapplying?

Kaneisha: It was a very natural transition. I had been coaching my friends and classmates into competitive schools and programs for years before I ever got paid to do it. Last summer, I held a free conference call about the Harvard MBA/MPP joint degree, and I got my first major client shortly after that. Once I realized how much I enjoyed coaching people–as well as how effective I was–I decided to give it a try. I fleshed out the concept initially in an HBS class called Managing Service Operations. Then I wrote the full business plan when the HBS Entrepreneurship Center announced that students could get a $10,000 grant for submitting a business plan for a venture they planned to start post-graduation. Once I received the grant, I knew I was truly going to pursue the entrepreneurial path.

5. How different it would have been if artofapplying would not have happened?

Kaniesha: If I had not started this company, I’m not sure what I would be doing. I love working for myself, so I probably would have found another way to do that!

6. What do you think are the most important lessons you took away from HBS?

Kaneisha: Even if you don’t have all the time, money, or information that you’d like, sometimes you have to sit down with what you do have, make a decision and move forward. That’s what we do everyday when we use the case method to learn. I’ve realized that this is a principle you live by in business. You’d always like more money, more time, more clarify about what you should be doing, but you have to analyze what’s in front of you and then act.

7. I know this question is huge for readers, and you seem as well-placed to answer it as anyone: what would you say is the single most important thing one must keep in mind while applying to a business school?

Kaniesha: Be your authentic self and not who you think Admissions Committees want you to be.

8. Any personalized tips for readers applying to HBS,in particular?

Kaniesha: Don’t recycle essays you’ve written for other schools for HBS.

9. Any last words of advice to prospective applicants?

Kaniesha: Make sure you apply to at least two dream schools. Sometimes, it’s better to be a dreamer than to be so realistic as to clip your own wings. It breaks my heart to hear about people who really wanted to go to HBS or some other top school and didn’t apply because they didn’t think they’d get in. Don’t take yourself out of the game by your preconceptions of what they are looking for! You might be just what they need to make the class whole.

10. How should readers get in touch with you?

Kaniesha: Go to the contact page on my website:

PS: The interview was done via email communication and I declare that all the answers were as Kaneisha emailed to me.

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