MBAtious People - Palak Marwah, IIM Bangalore

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    Palak Marwah is pursuing her Post Graduate Program in Managementfrom IIM Bangalore and holds an Engineering degree from VNIT, Nagpur. Palak was Selected as the Indian Delegate to Harvard Project for Asian and International Relations (HPAIR) Conference, Harvard US-India Initiative Conference (2015), International youth exchange program - JENESYS (Japan East Asia Network for Exchange of Students and Youth) in 2010 and World Business Dialogue - Germany,2016. She Launched a campaign - "Donors Are Heroes" with an aim of spreading awareness about organ donation and encouraging people to pledge to be a donor.

    Hello Palak Marwah, Can you give a brief about your profile?

    I am a 1st year student in Post Graduate Program at IIM Bangalore. I am a Fresher and I graduated out of Visvesvaraya National Institute of Technology Nagpur this year. Like most others here, I am an engineer. I realized my interest in management in my 2nd year of BTech itself, after pursuing a core internship, and then pursued multiple management internships – both in Marketing and HR, which are my areas of interest. I also attended a few conferences to get exposure. I believe this has helped me crack IIMB Interview.

    You have done lot of internships in various domains. What are your best learnings out of these stints and what is your take on the role of internships in the holistic development during the young formative years?

    Everybody has different perception about why should an undergrad student to an internship as each one of them looks forward to different kinds of gain from an intern. In general the reason for doing an internship is stepping out of the black and white, the books and theory. An internship gives you a firsthand experience of how things work which somewhere would be of use to you, if you choose your internship wisely. Many students also feel that it is a short term method of earning a few bucks in addition to learning experiences (in case of paid interns) or some companies offer a PPO (Pre Placement Offer) on basis of your performance in their internship. A few undergrad students pursue internships only because it looks glorious on their resume and do not have very much interest in learning anything new. Right or wrong, is your choice to make.

    In my opinion, an internship gives you the chance to experiment almost free of cost and sometimes even help you earn for your experimentation (if you are lucky and talented enough to gain a paid intern). How great is it that you get to experiment about your likes, dislikes and comfort zone free of cost? In addition they give you an insight of what work feels like under a boss and may ignite the entrepreneur in you. It is like a net practice of handling pressure and deadlines before you wage into the real job phase. So it is a win-win situation. You can experiment with the nature of interns and different places of interns, nature of work and different factors of work life and assess what you really want to do after graduating. Most importantly it helps you set up a network of immensely talented and helpful professionals on a personal level which would later be an asset for you professionally and personally. I have published a journal on undergraduate internships which can be read online. A prologue to same is available on my blog

    One of the internship you have done, the one you did at IIM Ahmedabad, should definitely catch some eye balls in the MBAtious world. What is the procedure to apply for such opportunities and how was your experience?

    The procedure is simple yet tough to follow. You can either go through any current students who can refer you to their professors, or you could take the indirect method which I did. I looked out for Professors from the domain I was interested in and sent emails. I had sent out close to 100 emails and only a couple of them replied. I then interned under Professor Sanjeev Tripathi from Marketing domain. It was based on writing research based case studies on 3 sports leagues in India. It was a great experience for the fact that I could work flexibly from home and I got to learn a lot of structuring your ideas, presenting them succinctly and where to look for during research.

    From internships let’s move to international engagements. You attended HPAIR 2015 and JENESYS 2010 as an Indian delegate. Can you walk us through the high lights and learnings?

    The highlights of both these engagements remain to be the immense amount of exposure of interacting with people from different countries and varied paradigm. The best experiences, moments and learning came from people who did not realize that they are teaching me something in the course of the conversation. I have a detailed account of my HPAIR experience on my blog. It gave me a clear understanding of what things are really important and how others are mere trivial worries.

    Can you elaborate on the social campaign you launched - Donors Are Heroes

    I was looking forward to make some contribution to society directly and hence did not want to go through already established NGOs which have enough volunteers. Hence with 6 of my friends of Harvard US India Initiative Conference that I attended in Delhi, we launched an awareness drive on organ donation. We collaborated with MOHAN foundation, got donor forms printed and led awareness drives in 6 cities across India. We were able to gather over 400 pledges in 2 months apart from support on social media.

    What would be your advice to CAT aspirants on how to be prepared for their exams and GDPI phase?

    I believe for CAT you need to know what you are good at and make the rest work out for you in addition to your strong sections. I personally do not see a point in giving mocks that are way tougher than CAT level because the aim is to do well at CAT, not to master Quants, Verbal or any other section. For GD PI Phase I strongly recommend that you have a clear understanding of what makes you want to do an MBA. There have been people who sail through despite not having a clear understanding of their aspirations and with borrowed ideas but it doesn’t help once you are in a fast paced environment like in any of the top IIMs. Moreover your SOP should be a story describing what got you interested in management and where do you aim to go after IIMs. Hence it is an exhaustive description of what you were, are and aspire to be. What worked out for me was that I had sufficiently presented all my work in my SOP and hence my PI revolved around my profile and what I have done, despite being a fresher. It is a safe zone to be in. Many people will advise that freshers need to know current affairs because there is nothing else that the interviewers can ask them due to paucity of work experience. That was not true for my case. The questions I was asked, all revolved around what I have done. You can find a detailed interview experience on my blog.

    What is your idea of Being MBAtious

    I believe being MBAtious starts with clarity in thought. All decisions that you make after that must reflect out of your understanding of what you can do and what you want to do. Beyond that it is also about experimenting outside of your strengths and interests. At a B-school your amount of learning depends on what you want to extract out of any interaction – in or outside class. Hence being MBAtious is also about learning how to learn from observing people, their behavior and decisions.

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