Typical Day for an IIM Student...


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    Jay Puranik is pursuing his PGDM from IIM Calcutta. He served as the External Relations Secretary at IIM C and led the Mentorship Programme covering 1700 domestic and 45 international candidates shortlisted for admission into IIMC for the Postgraduate programme of 2013-2015. He also interviewed prominent dignitaries on campus such as former Indian cricket captain Sourav Ganguly and Malli Mastan Babu, a Guinness world record-holder for mountaineering.

    No two IIMs are alike, secondly, no two IIM students are the same and lastly, no two days are the same for a student at any IIM! However, let's follow an oft (ab)used framework, better known to some as the MECE (Mutually Exclusive, Collectively Exhaustive) approach to drill down into all the possible combinations and take a peek into their "typical" weekday for a random student at an IIM. To facilitate our analysis and subsequent narration, let us assume the following:
     
    Types of IIMs:
    (Note: Any similarity to any IIM (old or new) is entirely unintentional and purely coincidental)
    Type A: The academically rigorous ones, with a culture of questionable camaraderie and intense cut-throat competition among the students.
    Type B: The academically rigorous ones, with a culture of mutually-accepted indifference and reasonably hostile competition among the students.
    Type C: The academically rigorous ones, with historically-observed camaraderie among the students.
    (Note: All IIMs are academically rigorous; just saying)

    Intrinsic Nature of Students (regardless of the IIM they are in):

    Slog-stars: This is a bunch of folks who are fortunately or unfortunately the stereotyped image of IIM students to the rest of the junta. They will slog day and night, be extremely responsible and visibly paranoid about their academics and careers. No extra curricular stuff interests them, it is almost extra terrestrial to their kind. But yes, bring a business plan competition or investment simulation game, and they would throng to participate and win with apparent ease. They will not smoke, will have the occasional drink at large social outings and will often look with disdain upon the lesser mortals who have some mighty hearty vices. Needless to say these people are the toppers of the batch, and quantitatively can be categorized as the being in the top 10 percentile of the batch by academics.

    Aam Junta or the Mango People: These right here are actually the bulk of the students at the IIMs and represent the true essence of the student folks at IIMs. They will show variable interest in class, depending on their subjects of interest. They usually score anything between average to above average. They take part in cultural events, fight to be in various clubs/interest groups for reasons varying from  genuine interest to improving profiles for job interviews and so on. Quantitatively, they constitute the guys falling between the 30-90 percentile range of the batch by academic ordering.

    The Cheap Bestseller Inspirations: Yes, you know by now where this is going. These are the somewhat rare, but eternally existent guys who inspire books like 5 Point Someone and Keep off the Grass. They are the ones you see on the back benches, the ones who eat and/or sleep in class, score average on good days and variable grades depending on their location in the exam hall and proximity to Slog-stars or the Mango People folks. There's no need to describe them further, you all know who we're talking about here. Quantitatively, they are often in the academic percentile bracket below 30, although some of these species have been known to be equally true to their own selves even when in any higher percentile bracket. We now proceed to "A Typical Day for an IIM Student...". All events occur in real time.

    Between 09:00 am and 10:00 am

    Proceeding to describe this time window is a no-brainer now that we have accurately split the types of IIMs into three mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive types - Types A, B and C (I reiterate, all IIMs have academic rigor, you cannot cook up new hypothetical cohorts where academic rigor isn't so much. Also, the letters "A", "B" and "C" refer to no particular IIMs) and also taken into account the types of students, all we need is to refresh our memories from popular media and un-exaggerate (yes, that's probably not a real word,cut me some slack here!) some of the things we have learned from such sources.

    In a Type A IIM, a Slog-star is already in class by now. S/he is writing down notes, recalling things from the cases read the previous night and discussing the same actively in class, taking every precaution that nobody else steals their valuable class contribution points.In the same IIM, the Mango People are in an intense battle. Trying to stay afloat amid the chaos, s/he desperately attempts to speak out in class, looks here and there frantically to get notes and concepts off the ongoing academic pyrotechnics around them.Somewhere in the back, a Cheap Bestseller Inspiration is profusely sweating. Without a doubt, the toughest questions are flung to the back benches farthest away from the prof, just like how snipers shoot distant targets. Sometimes, onlookers are also brought into the discussion by the prof, thereby successfully replicating the broad-area damage of a mortar strike.

    In another part of the country, a Type B IIM is also in action.
    Group Project presentations are going on, and all groups magically seem to have a great combination of Nature 1, Nature 2 and Nature 3 students. Ok, so let me fill you in with some dope here.

    The Group Project is truly a magnificent tool of management education. It automatically brings about a hierarchy of reporting, division of tasks to skilled and unskilled labor (yes, I said exactly that), occasional bureaucracy and a fine MS Powerpoint presentation with some backing data in Excel sheets.

    Beyond all doubts, a Cheap Bestseller Inspiration type of student opens the presentation with a very, very globe (random, vague, beat-about-the-bush talk) introduction. Most of the time is spent in reading out case facts, introducing each and every team member and spending an undue amount of time on the agenda and  contents of the presentation  ensuring with great pain that absolutely no value is delivered to the audience.

    Almost sensing the embarrassment of the onlookers, a Mango People type of student abruptly interrupts and plunges into a parrot-routine. Random Business jargon is heard, a little value is delivered and some sense of the problem at hand is made. Just when the thin ray of hope in the group begins to fade, a Slog-star steps up and takes the presentation to a whole new level.

    Finally, in a Type C IIM, a class test is going on. Slog-star students set the paper on fire with blazing speed and desperation to write the longest answers they have ever written in increasingly smaller boxes for answering. The Mango People students make their typical examination sounds including but not limited to head-scratching, pen-dropping, water-drinking and throat-clearing. A Cheap Bestseller Inspiration student walks up and leaves the hall, submitting the answer-script on her/his way out, promising herself/himself, "Agli baar pakka padhenge... Ya kam-se-kam kissi slog-star ya mango people ke aas-paas baithenge."

    Between 10:00 am and 02:00 pm

    The charade continues, across different lectures till it is time for lunch.
    At around 1 p.m., a gargantuan horde of students rushes for lunch, splitting into different directions at the various hostels. Often it is seen that the Cheap Bestseller Inspiration students lead the pack (paucity of books and stationery material makes packing up and leaving rapid), a dense, indiscernible mass of the Mango People follows and most Slog-stars are seen flocking around the professor for doubt and query resolution, often leading to skipped lunches and caffeinated substitutes to keep the juices flowing.
    Classes (an integral part of the usual charade) resumes post lunch. The time is usually around 2 pm.

    Between 02:00 pm and 04:00 pm

    Even the most determined Mango People students are seen droopy and sluggish in this session. This when Slog-stars are fresh as ever. Experts believe this has its explanation in the lunch consumption by the Mango People students as opposed to the caffeine intake of Slog-stars.
    Cheap Bestseller Inspirations are usually reluctant to attend these sessions. But they often attend the afternoon classes - a contradiction? I think not. Empirical research has shown that morning classes are sometimes humanly impossible for these students owing to late night partying and hence the afternoon sessions become crucial to meet the requisite attendance.

    Between 04:00 pm and 10:00 pm

    Snacks and dinner are the highlights in this period, not to mention sleep. Often, across all types of IIMs, this is the time for various club meetings, full student body forums, presentations by guest speakers and other such social activities happen.

    Between 10:00 pm and 09:00 am

    Well, this is the toughest part of the answer as the proceedings depend on the time of year - freshman welcome, examinations, placements or the chilled-out 24 hours post an examination. Let's generalize consistent behaviors across various situations.

    A Slog-star in any type of IIM exhibits fairly predictable and consistent behavior. Group assignments or individual preparation is the agenda, day in and day out. They have the uncanny ability to convert any group project to an individual project by strictly overruling the contributions of others (usually Mango People and Cheap Bestseller Inspirations - who sometimes have groundbreaking theories, unknown to contemporary management education, which I suppose is again due to the domination of Slog-stars in the field). The occasional birthday of a friend (more accurately a wingie, as they don't have too many friends per-se) or a late night phone-call from home (as if it was going to be a significant other!) may be the only acceptable deviations from an otherwise fixed routine. Sleep is optional, and often banked upon once the clocks hit 2 or 3 a.m.

    The Mango People often while away hours on Facebook or other such online social media. Assignments are done only on the last day when submissions are due. These people demonstrate the most unpredictable behavior in terms of social-loafing as the parameters are varied, ranging from interest in the subject, aptitude and determination to succeed, but most importantly, the game theory concept of not caving in moments before the others do.

    Here's how it works. Each one of the Mango People is paranoid about submissions. But they play it cool, you know, the less-than-least bothered attitude so as to coax their peers into doing the assignment. As everyone is thinking the same way, it leads to tense, cold-war-like situations where finally one guy gives up and does the whole thing. Others chip in for moral support and gladly volunteer for the high-tech areas of formatting, making the index, handling the references section or making the MS Powerpoint presentation's globe slides. Sleep time varies from 1 a.m. to 2 a.m. or thereabouts

    The Cheap Bestseller Inspirations are doing exactly what gets them their name! Now they do have a slight dependency on their institute, but overall are generally seen watching random videos in darkened rooms, listening to arguably some of the best music ever made, socializing better than what any technology can possibly allow, romping around the hostels, getting to know people -  networking - the right way!

    Sleep time you may ask? Well, the Cheap Bestseller Inspirations have the amazing superpower to sleep in bursts of 2-4 hours, spread across the day (and sometimes night). Researchers and empirical results indicate that their prime sleeping hours are:
    6 a.m. to 10 a.m.
    12 noon to 2 p.m.
    3 p.m. onwards.
    Insomnia kicks in at 10 p.m., after which sleeping is impossible!

    Note to the Reader (for future research purposes) : If you wish to identify the category of the student for furthering the study, you can perform the following litmus test to safely categorize without worrying about incorrect classifications.

    Test: Check subject's night canteen bill.
    Map the bills for the subject over a month's period with the following classification chart:


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