What I learned at IIM Ahmedabad, outside the classrooms! - Krishna Bharadwaj, IIM A


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    Krishna Bharadwaj is pursuing PGDM from IIM, Ahmedabad ( 2015 - 2017 ) batch. Krishna did his BE in Information science and prior to MBA, worked with Yatra in the Partner Marketing division and also as a verbal faculty at IMS. He loves sharing his thoughts in various forums related to MBA and Science.

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    As everyone knows, learning in the classroom, while necessary, is not sufficient. Although at IIMA, ~75% of learning [figure based on gyaan disseminated by knowledgeable seniors and alumni] happens within classrooms, there’s no denying the fact that out-of-classroom learnings are present. Let’s take an example student, Student McWatsisname. (I could just list out the points, but I like telling long, rambling stories. If you hate stories, just read the text in bold. It makes more sense in context, and you’ll have a laugh or two, I promise.)

    Sit down, my friends, to listen to The Long Tall Tale of Student McWatsisname, who studied at IIMA. Student was good at academics for most of his career. Not necessarily topper material, but just good enough to make it into IIMA. Student has never lived away from family before. He has just landed at IIMA, registered for the course and settled into his dorm room. It’s summer in Ahmedabad, which means pretty much everyone is bathed in their own sweat. Student has bought and installed a cooler for his room. He thinks he has beaten the heat.

    Haha, no!

    Just over a week later, the classes are in full swing. IIMA does not pick up the pace gradually - the students just go from zero to “Wait, what?” overnight. Student being one of them, he attends some classes and finds the learning curve is fairly steep. The inevitable day - the one where every PGP1 receives a message informing them of their first FRA quiz - finally arrives.

    With just an hour to spare, Student has to learn the first lessons of prioritisation and time management as he realises he spent a little too much time on eating lunch, and now has to brush through whatever was covered in the last four sessions.

    The quiz ends finally, and Student comes out feeling somewhat woozy from the experience. The First PGP1 Quiz tends to do that. Student now feels sleepy, since the last few days have been a wee bit hectic, what with class prep, placement work and more. But can Student honestly afford to sleep now? Not a chance. Student takes stock of the work he has to do. There are three club applications he needs to complete, two cases he needs to read, and a big assignment to be submitted in two weeks. Student arranges these in some order and begins working on them.

    After some time, Student has hit a roadblock of sorts; a case he’s preparing for is being particularly unreasonable, and he has no clue how to proceed. Warily, he knocks on one friend’s door, hoping to get some help. This friend, a closet muggu, resorts to RG very often. He opens the door partly, makes up a story about how he hasn’t begun with the case yet, and as soon as Student is gone, resumes reading the case. Student gloomily knocks on another friend’s door (Friend McWatsisface, who Student is less familiar with than the first guy) and Friend generously lets him in. They study together and Student finally gains some insight about the case. That’s when he realises he’s made a new friend. (Many months later, Student will probably realise he should have learned a lesson about how to choose friends appropriately. Or not; sometimes this lesson takes years to learn.)

    The deadlines fast approach, but Student has been a bit tardy - a relic of his old lifestyle. Although the deadline is 23:59:59 one day, Student takes it easy and submits the assignment about an hour late, ignoring the warnings of his friends and seniors. The next day, he receives a mail informing him that due to the late submission, he will receive a subgrade penalty. This means that from getting a measly C, he has slipped to a borderline C- at best. And with that, Student learns the importance of meeting deadlines. He also learns that many other things IIMA does to him are mainly to make him learn this lesson more thoroughly.

    Student has been given his first group assignment, involving a ten-page report. The team splits up the work evenly and submit it (on time, of course.) A few days later, the group receives a mail. Since the report contained more plagiarism than allowed, irrespective of who was responsible, the entire group shall receive an F, with no scope for revision. Ouch. Student has just learned a very harsh lesson in taking ownership of a task - even if it’s a team task.

    With the club selections over, Student finds himself settling into a fairly hectic schedule consisting of classes and class prep, club activities, placement work and the occasional fearsome quiz. The time management lesson sinks in deeper as Student figures out how to spend the little time he has.

    During this free time, Student gradually realises that IIMA has a highly diverse population, with the brightest minds from all over the country gathered and put into a small place. Student, who had a fairly limited worldview earlier, learns a few things about understanding and working with people from different backgrounds.

    Being on the organising teams of two events, Student learns a little about how large teams function. This involves lessons on how to interact with a wide variety of roles - light-and-sound setup technicians, contractors, professors, etc.

    Placements are here now, and Student learns firsthand just how much people change under pressure. Luckily, our lad is made of stronger stuff than most, and he does not change due to the pressure. The placements, while quite good, do not always end in a dream job for everyone. Student however gets an offer he wanted, and leaves for a term break.

    Before Student can realise it, PGP1 is at an end, and PGP2 is waiting on the other side of the internship. Student returns to the institute and begins to apply all that he learned in first year and the internship, ready to graduate from IIMA in less than a year’s time. But PGP2, while not a cakewalk, is far easier to manage than PGP1. Mainly because Student is not unprepared. As a result, Student can often unwind with his buddies with the occasional party on campus. Student learned how to work last year, and this year he will learn how to combine work and fun.

    Student, until he got into IIMA, used to feel nothing when wasting time. Towards the end of the course, whenever he spent more than a few minutes watching a movie, his mind would start working, trying to recall whether there was something more important he ought to be doing.

    …But such is IIMA. If you’re free, you’re probably forgetting to do something more important.

    Are these the only things one can learn at IIMA? Maybe not.

    Are these things one can learn only at IIMA? Definitely not.

    Are these things one will learn within the two years of IIMA? Pfft, no. These are things one does not realise having learned except through hindsight.

    But will they ever come in handy? Absolutely. No matter what Student chooses to do, no matter where life takes him, he will find these lessons are highly valuable. You’d be surprised by how many people lack these traits. IIMA does a fantastic job of teaching its students to be more responsible and efficient.

    And that, folks, is the story of Student McWatsisname, who graduated from IIMA and learned as much outside the classroom as he did inside it, and lived happily ever after. (After he quit his plush job and published a novel that got turned into a blockbuster movie, that is.)

    The Globish Glossary (for those who didn’t understand some of the lingo used above, or for those of you who want a good laugh)

    Gyaan - Knowledge, often of questionable truthfulness, disseminated by seniors and people who want to look like they know something you don’t. Said knowledge often carries some very profound truths (Case in point: The above answer, written by yours truly) encased in a load of rubbish (Case in point: The case in my lap right now, which seems to be telling me nothing important)

    IIMA - Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad. Widely considered the best B-school in India (except by those who support IIM Calcutta.) IIMA relies heavily on the case method of teaching, which means anyone who isn’t prepared for class is at risk of getting kicked out. By the way, IIMA also has a student blog where (cough, cough) someone you know has written a short story.

    FRA - Financial Reporting and Accounting, a course in the first term, the mere mention of which is known to strike terror into the hearts of the bravest students in IIMA. FRA quizzes start and end with the summer season, but it is suspected that FRA quizzes in winter would be a good way to make students forget the cold.

    PGP1 - First-year student of the PGP (Post Graduate Program in management) course at IIMA. Profs love to torture them, PGP2s love to joke about them (and help as and when needed.) The PGP1 will often be found lurking around eateries late in the night, worrying about the next day’s classes.

    PGP2 - The enlightened soul that arises from the treatment undergone in PGP1. PGP2s have more experience with the profs and hence can figure out the best elective to take, the best prof to chat with, the best prof to work with, etc etc. The PGP2 also loves to add insult to the PGP1′s injury, as long as this does not reduce the latter to tears.

    Muggu - Also spelt maggu. Someone who was born for mugging. Muggus tend to score well in exams, and are often those people who get upset at ranking second or third in the class in an exam. Muggus also tend to resort to RG very often, as it helps them maintain a lead over the rest of the class. Please note: Mugging is to the Indian what swotting is to the Brit (and rote learning to the pompous.)

    RG - RG per se stands for Relative Grading. In this context, it means RG-giri, which translates to “selfish a*****e pretending to be at a disadvantage to make others complacent, thus gaining an advantage themselves.” A malady that plagues any institution/establishment where people are evaluated relative to others. This RG has nothing to do with the politician, a malady that plagues all of India.

    Globish: adj. form of globe. Globe, also known in other IIMs as gas, refers to something grandiloquent which can (and often should) be distilled into simpler form (such as the word grandiloquent, which is a polite term for globe.) Rumour has it that the term was coined by a prof at IIM Bangalore telling a student “You are going all around the globe to give me an answer sitting right in front of you” when the student answered a simple query in a very roundabout fashion.


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