Sunday, May 4, 2014

Half MBA

When someone opts to go for MBA, there are primarily two things on his mind. First, a major salary hike after 2 years of MBA. Second, an improved profile to leverage upon in the future. For a select few, networking is part of the agenda too, which surely is a very important aspect of MBA. Everyone knows that the way through these two years is hectic. However, a new entrant is not exactly sure what ‘Learnings’ are going to be there in this journey. You talk about getting value addition through an MBA course. But you do not know how exactly is the ‘Value’ going to get ‘added’ to you? That newcomer was I, around 10 months ago.

The first lesson came quite early. Just after the induction program, we had to prepare for the Fresher’s cultural night. The senior heading the induction team had a word of advice - “There is no limit to the number of events in which you participate, but it would be advisable to go only for one”. I took his word and became a part of fashion show only, but there were others who participated in 2 events and found it difficult to manage time. MBA course repeatedly makes you figure out what you want to do and what you don’t want to do. It’s an epic lesson in ‘Self Awareness’. You realise that the strengths and weaknesses asked in interviews are not just random HR questions. A more self aware person is likely to adapt quickly to the demands of MBA.

Linked very closely to choices in MBA is the whole scenario of ‘Decision Making’. During your work, your managers make the decisions for you. In college, as members of clubs and teams, you take many decisions and implement those on your own. You drive events in the college, be it organizing workshops, business fests, academic sessions, alumni sessions, media interactions, admissions etc. The learning and networking through these activities are immense and these activities also form the core of the senior junior bonding. A select few become the Heads of Clubs and Teams and if they do good work, this Position of Responsibility often becomes the highlight of their college life. Your decision making ability helps you make the right, or for that matter, wrong choices! But this is one aspect which really enhances your personality. More so in a place like my college, where anything and everything is driven by students, the admission process being a testimony to that claim.

One very important thing that you do is that you learn to stay busy. You leave behind that comfortable life of a software engineer (a fair generalization I think, considering the number of software engineers who go for MBA these days). In that comfortable life, you find that two new movies ‘Die Hard’ and ‘Twilight’ are releasing on the same Friday. You can’t miss ‘Die Hard’ and your girlfriend will break up with you if you don’t take her for ‘Twilight’. Thankfully, you have two of your best friends called ‘Saturday’ and ‘Sunday’. So you watch one movie per day! These best friends go for a vacation during your 1st year of MBA. You would be beyond yourself with rage if your boss called you for work on a Saturday. However, it is a pleasant surprise if you get a Saturday off during MBA. Working on Saturdays and Sundays slowly and surely gets into your system. This is the part where you learn to stretch your limits. After all, a high profile manager needs to learn to walk that extra mile.

At the classroom level, you also get associated with several groups. For your presentations and projects, the class gets divided into groups. 90% of the work in MBA would be done in those random groups. And unlike your workplace, where there is a boss who everyone is supposed to listen to, a group here has no boss. Who allots work? Who takes accountability? That’s the uniqueness of group dynamics one faces. There is always someone very dedicated and there is always a free-rider in the group. Your quest for balance in a group is a fascinating experience. And it’s not just about the amount of work everyone does in a group. It is also about working with individuals of different cultural backgrounds that adds to the richness of your experience.

A scary and funny incident which repeats itself too often for one’s liking is the exam. There is a mid- term exam and a term end exam. A new term comes in 2 months and again there is a mid-term exam and a term end exam. Then there are the surprise quizzes which beats the hell out of everyone. Being a 99 percentiler, I never thought I would sit down to study one day before the exam fighting to survive the paper rather than score well in it. It is not that the subjects are too difficult. It is just too much to comprehend in too little time! This pressure you face during exams will hold you in good stead when you face similar situations in your work as prospective managers.

The things I have talked about so far give you their own sweet and sour experiences. However, the best part of my Half MBA has been the opportunity I have got for extra-curricular activities in my college. The amount of extra-curricular activities that students take up is huge and these activities often help you unravel your hidden talents. A batch-mate of mine has taken more than 10000 photographs after joining the college and people are crazy for his photography. Another friend has rekindled his love for athletics and is winning all the races. Another friend just keeps on winning all the poetry competitions organised here. On a personal note, I have taken up writing in a more serious way than I had ever done before. If you have talent, you are bound to get the opportunity. How well you grab your opportunity depends on you.

All in all, if I have to choose one thing which MBA does to a person, I think it would be “Structuring”. You do not learn any rocket science in your MBA course. All you do is learn a few basics, develop a keen eye to detail, work in groups, network with people, develop decision making and diplomatic abilities, and improve your personality by overcoming the pressure and deadlines of your work and extra-curriculars. That is how you structure yourself.

And that’s only 1 year I have talked about. My 2nd year is yet to unravel its mysteries. I have observed my seniors in that path and I have seen how sentimental they were in their last days of college. The emotions overflowed and everything they did came with a hash tag of #OneLastTime. It was all about how they were going to miss their most beautiful college and the most amazing MBA life. Amongst all this, I find it quite intriguing how you realise the importance of a place or a person once that place or person is beyond your reach. The best moment is always the moment that has passed. You never think deep enough to realise that the moment you are living in could be the most priceless instead. It is really difficult but you need to develop that foresight; the foresight which tells you how you are in the midst of a phase which you will miss terribly once all of it is over. That is what I have decided; to get into my 2nd year thinking of it as living the best moment of my life yet. All of it starts in July with the induction of the Junior Batch. Well and truly looking forward to it. The end of Half MBA. The beginning of Half MBA.

by,
Mridul Shandilya
SJMSoM'15

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