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Life at IIM(of an average student)
Most business articles or books are written by super- achievers, the ones who have always stood among the top 10-20 in their class. You should definitely listen to them as there is a lot to learn from the toppers. But, for a 360 degree view of things (the phrase which you will hear a lot in the next two years) the viewpoint of an average student does wonders to you. Let me start by briefly telling you a bit about myself. I am Harley (as they used to call me in IIM- Ahmedabad), an average student who could never make it to the top 50% of the class in the two years, but eventually bagged an offer from P&G (one of the top recruiters on campus).
Based on my experience on what works and what is important, I will take you through the minimum effort which is required to sail through successfully in these two years at the top B-school.
- What got you here won’t get you there.
Give yourself a pat on the back for making it to the country’s best B-school. That’s it, now forget what you just did and listen carefully. The effort and the skill set that got you till this place is very different from the effort and skill set that will help you sail through these two years. The ladder of life is a geometric progression. Uniform efforts at all stages of life don’t make sense here. It is completely different and the sooner you forget about clearing your CAT (entrance exam) the better it will be for you.
- Under-grad days are over.
Gone are the days of bunking classes and making merry all day. Every B-school has a disciplined classroom culture of its own and it is in best interest of everybody that the sanctity of the community is respected. However, this does not mean that you need to attend all classes. If the institute allows 80% attendance make sure you do not miss more than 2 out of 10 classes.
- Make a rough goal but don’t kill yourself over it.
Sit down and commit to yourself what you will achieve at the end of two years. Like getting a CGP of 3 out of 4.33, or holding a top post. Make sure your goals are always at the back of the mind but please don’t kill yourself if you miss your goals. You are in a place where all the students have been toppers at one point of time. Most likely you will miss your goal and that will only teach you how to handle failures better. If you happen to chase the goals, great job!
- Life will be hectic, find your vent.
On many occasions you might tell yourself. Dude, I have no life! Such is the life at a B-school. You will be bombarded with assignments, cases, exams and what not till for an entire year. In such trying circumstances, it is very important that you have something to do which takes your frustrations away. A vent is extremely necessary. This vent could be playing sports, partying on weekends, writing poetry, dancing, music, spending time with friends or your loved ones. Just make sure you find it and keep it safe with you
- Great teams make great leaders.
There is a reason why the Australian cricket team produces some of the best captains in the cricketing world year after year. The reason is the team is just too great. Living among winners make you think and act like a winner yourself. Have a set of friends that you truly admire and respect for their superior abilities. Work with people who are far better than you in at least one department. You will gain a lot from them. As long as you have incremental growth in life you should be happy.
- Make friends Group Dynamics will be bad.
It is very difficult to work in groups of equals if you are not in agreement and you are pressed for time. This is a very common situation in B-schools. In situations like this maintain calm and composure is very important as fights can lead to serious damage in not only the group grade but also friendship.
- Wear camouflaged clothing in classrooms.
Not always will you be hundred percent prepared for classes. If your luck is bad you will be ‘Cold called’ on the very day you are unprepared. How to escape from being cold called on these days. Make sure you know the colour of the background to where you sit. Wear same coloured clothing and be camouflaged. It is natural for the professor to spot bright coloured or contrasting shirts from the classrooms.
- Stay outside Professors span.
If your classroom is semi- circular in shape. Try to find a seat at the edge of the semi- circle. I used to sit in this location . You can escape the professors rant easily if you operate from here.
- ‘Cold - play’ theory.
Cold- play theory says – When cold called play dead. Don’t answer for the first 2 minutes when the professor cold calls you and you don’t know the answer. Chances are that the guy or girl next to you will freak out and start blabbering.
- Don’t read all cases.
It is inhuman to read all cases. But, having said that be very attentive in classrooms. There is no parallel to learning in classrooms. However, when you read cases apart from the case learning also focus on whether this company is suitable for you as a prospective recruiter or not.
- Make money by participating in competitions.
What do you do if you don’t read cases. Participate in competitions. You can make a lot of money by participating in B-school competitions and of course if you win this will be a great point on your CV. Some recruiters even gauge your interest in the firm by your willingness to participate in their competition.
- Work – life balance applies in clubs as well.
There are a lot of clubs which operate in a B-school. Do join the serious career oriented clubs which interest you like the Finance club, Marketing club or Consulting club. Having said that, make sure you have a balanced portfolio of clubs by joining clubs which genuinely interest you. Like the poker club, dance club, music club etc
- Internship is God.
Internship is the most important thing when you join campus. Make your CV very very carefully and nail a good intern firm. A pre placement offer will be a great relief in second year. Otherwise, you will be fighting the battle till the last day of college.
- Everyone judges you in Internship always be at your best.
Once you are on internship don’t think that you can relax and fool around. Even if the recruiters make you feel super comfortable, they would be judging your actions and work every single day of your internship.
- Love plus 1 theory.
When preparing for internship or finals, always have the Love plus 1 strategy. What this means is that you prepare very well for your favourite sector. Say, finance, but, also make sure you have a decent preparation for one other sector, say, consulting. You never know which way the market might swing or which way you placement season might take you. Hedge your risk properly.
- Talk till you drop.
The more you talk to people the more info you will get. No point in keeping to yourself in a B- school. Go talk to seniors and understand how a particular field or company or club is to get the real picture. Talking endlessly will also give you confidence to ace the presentations in class and give you significant exposure.
- Grab chances for party and travel with both hands.
For 99% people an M.B.A is the last couple of years of student life. After that even if you plead for mercy no one will give you your freedom. Your actions will affect not only you but others as well. So, don’t spend all your time in studying. If life throws an opportunity towards you for partying or travelling, do that.