Life at a B-school and what to expect out of it - Shiladitya Bhowmik, IIM C
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Shiladitya Bhowmik is a graduate of IIM Calcutta, batch of 2016. He will be joining Pepsico. India, the organization where he did his summer intern from. He did his under-grad from Jadavpur University, Kolkata, where he studied Computer Science & Engineering. Besides academics he also happens to be an avid sports lover and an ardent fan of Manchester United. He also takes interest in travelling & writing.
Every MBA aspirant harbors the dream of securing admission in one of the premier business schools that the country has got to offer. To achieve this feat students put in massive amounts of hard graft, grit and burn the proverbial ‘midnight oil’! First comes achieving a high enough percentile in the written exams to merit an interview call, and if one successfully clears the second hurdle, the doors of the much coveted pantheon are finally thrown open.
Once this is achieved, a sense of sheer excitement is bound to run through every sinew and that is only expected. However this ecstatic feeling might also be accompanied by a modicum of apprehension and a pinch of doubt regarding what actually lies ahead and how to make the most of the glorious opportunity that has been carved open. Let me take you through the various aspects of life at a B-school and how to enjoy it to the fullest while extracting the maximum out of it.
One of the most vital aspects of a business school life is the sheer rigor of academics that it makes every student go through. The first year is composed of compulsory courses spanning across a wide range of disciplines like Finance, Economics, Marketing, Operations, Statistics, Public Policy, Legal Sciences etc. The second year in almost every school consists of elective courses that students are allowed to pick and choose.
The sheer rigor and challenge that one is made to face should be viewed as an opportunity rather than an insurmountable obstacle. This routine actually helps one to learn the art of ‘prioritizing’ & ‘collaborating’. You will have to prioritize your assignments and studies efficiently and help out one other even inside a fiercely competitive environment. These skills will be assets for the rest of your lives. While becoming a master of efficiently allocating time and energy one must also garner as much knowledge as possible in the two years.
Well truth be told this is one of the major reasons why people set foot inside the premiere business schools and you should absolutely take advantage of the brand value and platform that your school has got to offer. There are 2 phases of placements, the summers and the finals.
Summers will get you into your internship and a possible pre-placement offer from it (read happy ending). The summers is extremely vital as it gives you your first stint as a manager, and possibly shapes your career for a considerable amount of time in the future. Keep a preferred sector in mind and a back-up sector or two while preparing for your summer placements. However it’s possible to opt for a different sector in the finals.
The final placements will be tougher than the summers as firms will test your subject specific skills more than they did during summer placements. The level of competition is also understandably higher considering this is the final opportunity to fetch your preferred job from the b-school.
Preparation for the placements is of paramount importance and it also involves CV making besides sector specific preps. This is where prep groups consisting of close friends will do a world of good to you. Divide & conquer is the mantra & don’t hesitate to help and take help.
Every premiere B-school provides you with the opportunity to meet & rub shoulders with some of the brightest minds of the country. Friendships that will last a life time will be made here. This high quality student cross section can be used to one’s advantage. There is a lot that you can learn from your peers, right from academics to various other stuff like people skills and things from their work-experience. Study & prep groups can and should be formed to take on the challenges head on and in a more holistic manner.
You should also hone your networking skills and connect & build relationships with your friends, seniors and alumni. The importance of networking cannot be stressed enough and will come in very handy moving forward.
Besides the peers, the B-schools also give an opportunity to come across some of the best professors in the country. The professors at most b-schools are really helpful and interaction with them will always benefit the students. One should use this golden opportunity to gather knowledge and also seek to grow oneself as a person and a professional.
Along with the full time professors there will also be a plethora of part time visiting faculties and guest lecturers, many of whom will be from the industry. This is your chance to get a very vivid account of how things actually get done on-ground.
If you are by now under the impression that life at a b-school is all hard graft and no fun then let me dispel that myth!!!
It is much more fun than you can imagine. These wonderful places have plenty to offer.
If you are a music aficionado, then you can join the college band and perform in numerous activities that keep on happening throughout the year. If you are a dance enthusiast then you can mesmerize the college with your steps by becoming a part of the choreography club. For the writers and poets the literary society waits with arms wide open!
Besides the above there are still plenty of other clubs and activities that keep in happening on campus and also during inter college competitions.
For sports enthusiasts too opportunities to showcase your talents is rife. Sporting activities ranging from simple on campus matches between friends, or Table tennis/pool in common rooms to inter college tournaments like Sangharsh & the legendary IIM C – XLRI meet, you take your pick.
And if these wide range of extra-curricular activities are not enough to thrill you, there are the wonderful and vibrant on campus parties that keep on happening.
A few other thoughts
Along with the aspects that have already been mentioned there are a few other things as well that keep on happening in b-schools. There are plenty of case-competitions involving the leading MNCs which come with exciting prizes. Along with case-competitions there are loads of live projects. Both of these provide great learning experience and allows one to put their theoretical knowledge to use and compete with others not just on campus but across campuses. It also teaches students how to become efficient team players while bringing their own thoughts to the table.
In a nut-shell, two years at a B-school are going to be marked with some of the most memorable events of your life. It must be enjoyed to the fullest, because if you are not enjoying it you won’t be able to make the most of it. It is an experience of a lifetime!!
Note: The above article is based on my 2 years experience at IIM Calcutta, but I am pretty sure things are more or less similar at other leading B-schools as well.