How I got into MEST
By Ahmad Bilesanmi
If you have a dream of becoming a tech entrepreneur some day, being a part of the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) community is one of the best ways to achieve it. It offers a lot of opportunities and resources for you to be able to achieve almost anything.
You get the opportunity to make mistakes and learn without being hurt. You also get free training from people who are some of the best in their fields, from around the world and have a strong network that can propel you to great heights.
Another awesome thing about MEST is it’s free–free meals, accommodations, and transportation from school to the hostel. At the end of your stay at MEST, you also have the chance to start your company with your team and get support to make it successful. However, getting into MEST is where problems can start.
I joined the MEST community in the 2016/2017 class. Before the application process, I had never heard of MEST from anyone or even read about it anywhere. I didn’t even know there was a company called MEST or Meltwater.
I will say getting into MEST was a miracle for me. More than 2,000 people applied for just 60 slots–that’s about 30 people competing for one spot. As much of a miracle as it may sound, I still believe I deserve to be here and for you reading this, you should find your way here if you want to be a successful tech entrepreneur.
To help you, I wrote this post to share how I got into MEST and hope it prepares you for the next application period.
So let’s start:
Apply on time
Like I said earlier, I never knew about MEST until I got an email from the Google Developer Group (GDGLagos) mailing list. I saw it and I knew I wanted to be a part of the opportunity. So I went to the MEST website to learn more. Reading more about it blew my mind and I applied immediately. I was lucky I saw the mail a few days after the application was opened. This gave me ample time to complete my application satisfactorily.
Take your time with the application
In my case, it took 2 weeks to complete my application. This was because I didn’t have all the answers to the numerous questions being asked. I also had to update my CV so that my latest activities would be seen and help me get a higher chance of entry into the program. This is also important because your application profile may save you even when your aptitude test doesn’t go too well.
Prepare for your aptitude test
After I submitted my application, I got an email two weeks later that my application was accepted and that I was to move on to the next stage which was the aptitude test. It was stated clearly that we would be tested in maths, English language, quantitative aptitude and verbal reasoning. I had not taken tests on those subjects in a very long time, so I was quite nervous. I sent an email asking what topics will be covered to better help me prepare for the test. I didn’t get a reply, but I went online to find questions on algebra, trigonometry and logarithms. Khan Academy was particularly helpful.
Get to the test center on time, early if you can
I really can’t say if this helped me in any way. I was the first person to get to the center. One thing I know it did for me was to put the exam phase behind me as soon as possible because of how much I hate being in exam centers. I also got to settle in conveniently.
Prepare for the interview
I got a text message telling me that I had been invited to come for an interview. At this point, I had a strong feeling I was going to be part of the program, but I still wanted to put in my best until the end. One interesting thing about the text message was that it emphasized my profile. That is why I recommend making sure your application profile is on point. Preparing for the interview was not so intense because I didn’t know what I was going to be asked and I really didn’t want to let that bother me. I just went to the MEST website and continued learning more of what people did there and the activities involved. I realised it was a very hectic program (even though I didn’t expect it to be as hectic as what I face now). Reading about MEST helped me immerse myself in the culture and helped me think more about why I needed to be there.
This part of the process is particularly interesting because this is where you meet some really strong competitors and that could get you scared and lose confidence. This is where the recruitment staff of MEST wants to meet with you in person to learn if you really have the stuff they are looking for in EITs.
As expected, you are to be at the venue early enough before the interview time. The interview process is in two stages. The first is a group interview where a group of candidates are tested on various life skills like teamwork. Different activities are done during the group interview. The second interview is a one-on-one interview with the panel.
First, the candidates are introduced to the idea of MEST and what they do. This introduction is followed by the candidates introducing themselves and talking about their interests in technology and entrepreneurship. Next, the candidates are divided into groups and are expected to come up with a tech-business idea and discuss its viability within 3 minutes. The idea will be pitched to the panel and questions are asked.
The next activity after the business pitch is the group debate. Yes, I know you are thinking, “Now, this is too much.” I thought so too. To be honest, I can’t remember the topic my group was given to talk about. But I remember that I gave myself a second chance to debate with a lady who could not get a group. Our topic was “Which is better, wealth or happiness?” I was to speak in favor of happiness. When we were done with the debate, we were told to ask questions and give feedback on the activities we participated in. That was the end of the first interview and we were told to leave the room and wait for their call to inform us about those who have progressed to the next interview.
One thing I felt got me going was that I didn’t want to pretend to be someone else. One thing you should remember is that you are going to a school and not taking a job, so MEST is looking for people who are teachable and willing to learn. So don’t try to prove that you are the best in the room and you don’t need any more schooling. During the group interview, I thought I was not going to make it because people were competing so much. Can you imagine someone starting his introduction by greeting the panelists in three different languages including Japanese, French and Spanish? I felt like standing up and going home out of intimidation. In the end, I was surprised that none of the so-called ‘good guys’ were chosen for the second interview.
The one-on-one interview is where the fun begins. For me, it felt like I was gisting with the panelists. They made me feel comfortable and made me realize it was my last chance to prove that I needed to be at MEST. At this point, the main thing the panelists were looking out for was my commitment. They want to know they are investing in someone who won’t get fed up of the program. Someone who really needed to be at MEST. So basically, just convince them as much as you can by telling them how much you want to achieve your dream with the help of the program. Sadly, this is not something you can lie about. You can’t lie about your passion, so just say the truth about what you want with your life.
I hope I have been able to help you get closer to your dream by making the decision to apply to MEST. I’ll also be writing about life at MEST, so you have an idea of what to expect when you get admitted to a place where dreams are achieved.