I made myself comfortable on my black leather chair in front of the computer monitor, well prepared for my first college interview. I tried my best to lower my anxiety and nervousness, although at first glance, anyone could sense how tense I was, and for valid reasons; I considered the interview to be a do or die situation for my top college choice. My interviewer, an M&T alum and now an entrepreneur, was based out of Mumbai, India while I was a resident in Egypt, which meant that this would be a Skype interview.
After taking a good five minutes or so to settle down into the surroundings, I heard the very familiar Skype ring tone; it was my interviewer. I was expecting a formally dressed person with cold expressions and pierced-through eyes. Instead, on the other side of the screen was a smiling young man in a light casual outfit and a very welcoming personality. He started off by stating that I should consider this as more of an informal chat: an opportunity to share who I am, what I look for in the M&T Program and to get to know more about life at Penn.
The interview started off with him asking the more generic questions like why I was interested in M&T, what extracurricular activities were most important to me, and what I planned to do in the future. Soon, we transitioned into talking more about my first-hand perspective of the Egyptian Revolution and the whole process of my family getting evacuated from the country. He had been following the revolution quite closely through social media and it was very interesting to talk about how what I had experienced first-hand was in various regards not in line with what the media necessarily portrayed. Soon enough, I realized that I felt very comfortable talking to him because this wasn’t like the “typical interview” where the interviewer did most of the questioning and the interviewee simply stated the answers; this was much more like a conversation, with both of us addressing questions to each other, talking about our experiences, and getting to know one another.
Soon enough, after having spent a lot of time on the ongoing topic of the Revolution, we transitioned into talking about what he did after graduating from Penn. It was very interesting because he had left a very well-placed job to pursue his passion by starting his own company in Mumbai, as he did not enjoy his job as much. I found this to be very inspirational, as there are few people who have the courage to do so in today’s fast paced society; learning from a person who had done so was an enlightening experience. During the interview, my pre-held ideas of working with a tech startup in the future (my reason for applying to M&T) became much stronger as I saw how passionate my interviewer was about what he was doing. The notion of doing what you love just gave me the vibe that “there was nothing better I could possibly be doing.” He also shared his experiences during his four years of college and I could not help but notice how excited he was when talking about M&T and Penn.
After a good 45 minutes of conversation, he had to end the interview in order to attend another important meeting. Contrary to my initial anxiety and perception of the typical college interview, I found it to be a very thrilling and enjoyable experience. In fact, I am still in touch with my interviewer and occasionally drop him an email or a message on Facebook. This goes to show how this interview was an amazing opportunity to interact with an M&T alum and at the end of the conversation, I felt like I knew the interviewer well. This grooming of professional and personal skills that M&T emphasizes makes one feel the same level of comfort under any circumstance and I am very glad to have chosen the M&T Program and Penn as a whole.
Naman, originally from Egypt but now based in India, is a current M&T in the Class of 2017. He is contemplating studying either Electrical or Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics in Penn Engineering and has yet to declare his concentration in the Wharton School.