NAVIGATING SMOOTHLY THROUGH THE “CHOPPY” WATERS OF MBA

Greetings to all the junior batches in the IIMs.

I know you all have worked hard and proved yourself to be at this stage presently. Congratulations on the same.

However, the journey is far from over. It is easy to enter an IIM, but very tough to exit from the same. And by the exit, I mean exiting with a degree in hand.

This article contains some suggestions to help you navigate the roller coaster ride called MBA. A word of advice though – treat this as a guiding document, not a gospel fact. The schemes which worked for me may not work for you. Yet, it is good to read this and have a starting point from where you can improvise upon.

I won’t delve into the intricate mechanics of the scheme of things, however, like time management, books to read, originality, ethics, etc. It is a fair assumption to make on my part that you all would invariably be knowing all such sacrosanct facets of life beforehand since you have crossed two major hurdles and secured a seat in such a prestigious B-School which would have equipped you with such skills. Moreover, a refresher course on such topics would have already been given to you in your respective B-Schools as well. These are hygiene factors and need to be followed word by word.

What I am going to tell you is something which may seldom be touched upon in your B-Schools in your classes or projects. Your seniors may not touch upon them as well unless specifically asked.

So, without much ado, let me begin by saying that time is not the only thing which requires your management skills.

What does that even mean?

In simple words, it means Prioritization.

In layman terms, consider this to be an extrapolation of what you learned inadvertently during the days of your preparation for CAT. Many of you might have focused heavily on some subjects and chapters and scored maximum in those. To simplify it further, you simply focussed on your strengths.

This skill will be extremely crucial during MBA, especially if you are in the first year of the course. You will be bogged down with things far beyond your academic coursework, viz., placement mock interviews, resume, club and committee selections, competitions, etc. Many of you might be involved in the mad race to differentiate yourself “just for the sake of it”. However, without a clear strategy, such efforts are going to create more mess than they can solve. A couple of pointers here can help you navigate easily:

  • Stick to the basics: Placement Mock Interviews, Career Counselling sessions, GD sessions, etc are crucial and will help you ace the game. Attend those without fail. After all, most of you came to pursue the MBA course for jobs and roles better than the ones available without an MBA. Hence, don’t lose focus.
  • Corporate Competitions: The Placement Committee of your Institute might force you to solve the case studies and submit the solutions. They are right on their part – they are trying their level best to attract the potential recruiter to your Institute by using participation as a proxy for the interest level. Moreover, Corporate Competitions are necessary for you as well – they are a great platform where you can showcase the applicability of the knowledge gained during the MBA. But as first-year students, who are yet to gain knowledge, such participation serves a zilch purpose other than statistics. My honest advice for the first-year students is: Participate in those competitions but DO NOT let it hamper your academics, club-committee work or projects. Learning about the concepts during the first year will help you ace those competitions in the Second year. Participating with half-baked knowledge at the cost of crucial academic concepts is too high a price to pay.
  • Clubs and Committees: Your seniors might create the impression of the club and committee being the sole means for you to even survive in the MBA course. Trust me, the truth is far from the hype, because of the simple reason that about half of your batch won’t get selected in any club or committee. But that won’t prevent them from getting decent jobs or winning Corporate Competitions.My word of advice: Go for the club or committee only and only if you are interested in the theme of that club/committee and think that such a partnership will be mutually beneficial. Don’t try to get into a club or committee just for a mere CV point. Doing so would ensure either or all of these scenarios:
    • You end up being a social loafer (read free rider) and thus, get expelled from the club/committee. Good luck with the lost CV point.
    • When the job role offered is in no way related to your club/committee. For example, if you love Finance and somehow got an entry in the HR club, then better have a good answer ready with you when the recruiter offering you an Investment Banking Role asks what you were doing in the HR club and how can you prove that you are interested in the current job being offered.
    • You face a cognitive dissonance between your area of interest or expertise vs the duties in hand, ultimately leading to the loss of your productivity and a waste of your time as well as the club/committee’s time.
  • Live Projects: Try not to miss them, especially if the project offered is related to your areas of interest. They can serve not only as a good point of differentiation but also a good source of knowledge and an avenue of application. Recommended for both the freshers as well as the experienced persons. And honor the deadlines without fail – both concerning the facets of quality and punctuality. Failure to obey this commandment will be a matter of disrepute both for you as well as for your Institute, in front of the Company. Nobody would want that to happen.
  • Guest lectures: Again, an extremely crucial component of your MBA life which should not be missed. Looking at the guest lectures from the lens of CV point is rather myopic. Instead, you should thank your lucky stars that your Institute can successfully call forth Industry experts and organize relevant guest lectures for you. Think of these lectures as an insight into the real industry straight from the lens of a veteran. And guest lecture is a place where you should not limit yourself to attending only the ones about your area of study. Gain a holistic view from such experts by attending their lectures. After all, nobody is going to make you write assignments based on the same.

    (Picture Credit: Abirbhav Mukherjee, MBA 2016-2018 batch, IIM Trichy)
  • International Exposure: Pray tell me, what would be a better avenue to learn about luxury marketing than working close to the luxury cosmetic brands of Paris? And how will you get practical exposure about the nuances of International Business without closely being in that very market itself? If your Institution offers any such avenue, in any form, I suggest making good use of the same. There can be several avenues for giving you a value-added global exposure, in addition to serving as a key differentiator.
    • Student Exchange: Don’t treat it as a free pass for tourism. Gain advantage of the immense opportunity to gain practical exposure to the concepts you have studied during your MBA course (A sample of which can be read here)
    • Elective Courses like International Business Practices: Gives you an opportunity to work with a Company on a live project, partly in India and partly abroad (A sample of which can be read here)
    • Indian Youth Delegation: A rare chance to represent your country as the Youth Delegate, and to add value to both the host country and India using your expertise (A sample of which can be read here)
    • International Internship, Seminar, Competitions, Conferences 

I think these pointers should help you get a hang of what is about to come up for you in the first year of MBA, and a direction towards tackling those effectively. MBA is a demanding course, which requires your thorough attention and efforts. But that doesn’t mean its not fun. Proper prioritization and time management can help you get maximum out of these two years of MBA.

Thank you, Sudha (MBA 2018-2020, IIM Trichy) for telling about the IIM-T Official blog. It is great, and I hope it helps the current and prospective students of IIM-T get a sneak peek into the life at IIMT.

All the Best for the roller coaster journey called MBA!

(Picture Credits: Google Search for all (except the one featuring the Windmills)

About the author:

Abirbhav is curious about the details and the logic behind the things around him. He also loves traveling, photography, and exploring the uncharted territories. Abirbhav is an alumnus of IIM Trichy (MBA 2016-2018 batch) and is currently working with L&T Hydrocarbon (Corporate Strategy). Passionate about the world of automobiles, Abirbhav has worked in various roles in Cummins, Keihin, and Mitsubishi Electric before joining IIM Trichy. Abirbhav was also a member of the InsideIIM Student Team 3.0. He has also won L&T OutThink 2017 B-School competition and has represented India as a Youth Delegate in SriLanka. He would love to hear from you on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Instagram.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s