Why I Coach—Sarmed Rashid

Sarmed R., an expert Leland coach, Wharton MBA, and Harvard MPA, outlines why he chooses to coach and what it means to him.

Sarmed R.

By Sarmed R.

Posted August 22, 2022

Now that I’ve received my MBA, I can be candid about why I REALLY applied to business school:

1. I come from a family where it’s expected that everyone receives an advanced degree, and I felt it was my turn.

2. I was stuck at what I felt was a dead-end job, and after being medically DQed from applying to the military, I was scrambling for an escape.

3. I wanted to go to a prestigious school.

If you’re thinking to yourself “these are pretty bad reasons,” you’re absolutely right. Transparently, because I didn’t start my business school experience with a plan, goals, or the right motivations, I did not fully enjoy my experience at Wharton. Did I make amazing friends, and did the experience ultimately help my career? Yes. Absolutely. But I couldn’t embrace my two years in Philadelphia the same way many of my classmates did.

Had I done more introspection or followed my gut, I would have realized that I (a) didn’t have a plan for what to do while in school to pivot my career, (b) should have gone to a school with a more compatible student culture, or (c) maybe shouldn’t have even applied to business school in the first place.

But with everything I had going on during the application process, none of this came out. Studying for the GRE, chasing down recommendations, and writing essays—all while trying to live life—is exhausting!

Since completing business school, I have worked with over 30 applicants. My goal as a coach is to help my clients learn from the mistakes I made, fully understand the (expensive) decision they are about to commit to, and find time to really reflect. I want them to have a plan for what they want to do in school and to evaluate their choice schools based on both a professional and a cultural fit. If they haven’t thought through this information, I help them figure it out, because I’ve realized that self-reflection is crucial to submitting an outstanding application, and more importantly, to getting the most out of the experience.

I’m also a big believer in the utility of non-traditional students at a business school. They’re amongst the most compelling people in the program and have some of the most interesting career paths afterwards. My biggest takeaway from business school was learning from incredible people representing all different backgrounds. I coach to make sure that these people—the nonprofit workers or graphic designers or teachers—have a seat at the table.

Interested in working together on your MBA application? Click here for my Leland coaching profile.

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