From a Full Stack Application Developer to a CMU MISM grad: The story of Adarsh Budholia

Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) is a dream for a lot of students who want to pursue their Masters degree. CMU’s brand and reputation as a world-class innovator in educational practices, and alumni which includes several Nobel Laureates and Turing Prize winners, makes it highly ambitious in any school selection strategy.

CMU attracts more than $380 million in research funding each year and was recently named among the top 10 U.S. universities for technology transfer. That makes it a hotbed of tech giants like Apple, Google, Amazon and Facebook, looking out for their next data scientists and AI developers. Naturally, the most coveted jobs in the Silicon Valley is up for grabs at CMU and its research centers.

But, this also makes CMU highly competitive to get in. Looking at the past trends of admissions, the acceptance rate to CMU’s graduate programs like Master of Science, Master in Information System and Management (MISM), or Business Intelligence and Data Analytics (BIDA), stand at around 10-12%. Thus, while applying to the MISM program, Adarsh was naturally skeptical of his chances.

About Adarsh

Adarsh completed his undergraduate from Sardar Patel Institute of Technology, Mumbai. With a 8.37 CGPA, he was among the few to be selected as a Software Engineering Analyst at JP Morgan Chase. While working as a full stack application developer, he discovered aspects of cloud computing and got hooked to it.

After working with JP Morgan for 2.5 years, Adarsh set his sight on upgrading his skillset to advanced areas of cloud computing. His career goals were to be at the forefront of research while developing solutions such as true serverless computing, implementing better scalability algorithms using Machine Learning, and improving the viability of the Gaming-as-a-Service concept.

With this in mind, he was applying to the CMU’s MISM program. His GRE scores stood at a healthy 321 (167 Q 154 V), but given the reputation of CMU, all he could do was to write a sparkling SOP, fine tune his CV, speak with his recommenders to give him excellent LORs, and then…. PRAY!

Master of Information Systems Management (MISM) program

CMU’s MISM program is a 12 or 16 month track offered by Heinz College, with a comprehensive curriculum in technology design and implementation, business strategy, professional communication, and management. The course is is an great fit for students who not only want to design and implement technology, but wish to be leaders in this space with the ability to drive business decisions, communicate value, manage projects, and inspire others. The world’s top firms across technology, finance, retail, and consulting seek CMU’s MISM graduates, often offering six-figure salaries right out of school.

The coursework is a three-semester program, with Core Subjects, Concentrations, and a capstone project built into the program. A typical program would look like the following:

  • Internet of Things
  • Object-Oriented Programming in Java
  • Database Management
  • Organizational Design and Implementation
  • Statistics for IT Managers
  • Economic Analysis
  • Writing for Information Systems Management

  • Telling Stories With Data
  • Consulting Lab
  • Managing Analytics Projects
  • Distributed Systems for Information Systems Management
  • Decision Making Under Uncertainty
  • Financial Accounting
  • Principles of Finance
  • Professional Speaking


  • Information Systems Capstone Project
  • Intro to Artificial Intelligence
  • Blockchain Fundamentals
  • Web Application Development
  • Design Thinking
  • Digital Transformation
  • Managing Disruptive Technologies

Application Strategy

Adarsh started working on his applications in early April. He visited a lot of study abroad education fairs to get an understanding of the Masters programs offered by the Top 50 Universities of the world. He also reached out to alumni of his target universities, asking them for guidance in shaping his thought process.

Carnegie Mellon emerged as his first choice, due to the stellar brand and course structure. Once he had prepared a list of colleges, he had one major pain point – how should he go about the essays? Although he felt confident on his writing skills, he was skeptical whether he would be able to bring out the ‘best version’ of himself in his applications.

After talking to a lot of study abroad consultants in the market, who claimed that his profile did not suit the class requirements of CMU he had a conversation with Subhkirti, founder of Gradsmiths. In his own words:

“Subhkirti asked me the right questions, went deep into my profile and had a very granular structure to the application which I did not find with any other consultants who I had previously spoken to. Shubh really heard my story and brought light to aspects which could help me have a fighting chance at my dream university”.

He signed up for the Masters Consulting 5 Schools Package with Gradsmiths. The process was far more exhausting than he thought. Subhkirti helped him create a tactical plan to target all the university deadlines. He started drafting his essays around June and was ready with the final version by August. Meanwhile, he connected with the alums of all his priority schools, and Subhkirti helped him prepare comprehensive questions that would give insights into his preferred program.

His work experience with a reputed financial brand like JP Morgan Chase gave him something to play with in the introduction paragraphs. Using this as a starting point, we helped him in charting out a story that brought out his goals in cloud computing and why that specific school is a good fit for him.

His exposure to Agile and Lean Methodology for the Software Development Lifecycle burnished his story further in terms of preparedness for grad school.

After about 3 rounds of edits, we reached the final master draft, which was further customized to universities such as Carnegie Mellon, Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Texas A&M

SOP that made it to CMU



Adarsh got into three programs including CMU, which was his top priority to begin with. His strategic approach, beginning with early preparations for the applications helped me avoid any last minute stress. We are super proud of how he has shaped up his career at CMU

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