Preparing you for Life@ISB — non placements things you need to know

To the newly admitted MBA candidate,

Congratulations on the exciting times ahead! With orientation week and few exams behind you, you must be thinking that everyone around you is 10x more smart, social, entrepreneurial than you and wondering how on earth you will handle the impending doom. Well relax, soon you will see the noise reducing, the seemingly silent overachievers rising, and amidst the chaos you will find your unique way. While being well-informed has never killed anyone, I urge you to take all advice (including mine) with a bag of salt — hear everyone out and eventually do what you think is best suited for you. After all everyone is only trying to make sense of the chaos (more often in retrospection).

Indian School of Business

Set your priorities and stay focused

While we all come in with a great zeal of enthusiasm to turn our life around and get that dream job — the enthusiasm is bound to waiver at times. There will be multiple things happening, be it in sports, social clubs, academics, competitions etc. and you would certainly want to be everywhere because you think everyone else is having such a blast with their bffs. While FOMO can get very real at times, it is more of a marketing gimmick, you aren’t really missing out on anything if you have priorities set.

What are my priorities?

“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there”

I suggest a two-fold approach to this problem (consulting jargon you will later use in case studies). Behind the widely misused ‘here for the experience’ lingo, we all want to accelerate our careers and gain some tangible skill set whether it is by networking, excelling at acads, winning competitions or getting a job.

“Remember this as the ‘1’ of your output value, everything else you do adds zeroes behind it — meaningless without the 1”

While many of us are clear-headed on the professional outcome we seek, we tend to miss out on the interpersonal development bit. This one year gives you a fresh platform to experiment with your personality — be the person you always wanted to be. Get out of your comfort zone without paying heed to what others think because honestly nobody really cares as much as we imagine they do. Take the LEAD course thought a step further to seek how exactly you want this one year to be.

Oh btw, get enough (it was 7 hours for me) sleep. Anyone who told you they survived with 4 hours of sleep — well good for them. A lot of things at ISB are an exaggeration. Be smart enough to distinguish between truth and hype. The earth will continue to rotate without your approval, parties will still be kick-ass and everyone will have the time of their lives — always remember to keep your cool while making decisions.

Now that I know my aim — how do I get there?

Well this is tricky since there is no secret sauce. Let’s start with some common choices in chronological order.

Managing your study group

Sheer luck mate — so not point overthinking. We play with the cards we are dealt with and try to do our best. Honestly, you only need 2/5 motivated members to stride through the terms peacefully. While it is a lot easier if you have all self-driven folks, I have seen lone warriors emerge far more accomplished. Don’t waste your energy cribbing because everyone has limited fucks to give. Instead, think of ways to get work done — Isn’t that what management is all about? While group discussions followed by work division is always recommended, don’t kill yourself if that doesn’t seem to work. Nobody can have it all so at times try divide and conquer based on individual expertise.

Academics

While I realise I maybe saying this out of privilege (engineers tend to have it easier than others owing to their ease with quant subjects), paying attention in classes (which also means attending all) and doing assignments yourself or at least looking at them after someone has done it is really more than enough before you start cramming for mid/end terms. Aim for the best (don’t keep a target GPA in mind since things change with a mark here and there) and then let it be — don’t fret over things beyond your control. If nothing, you ought to be smart enough to not get screwed because of HCC. Like seriously.

To the Engineers out there, while you may excel without indulging in class participation, realise that knowing how to launch a rocket is of little utility if you cannot articulate your thoughts clearly. Participate in class discussions, raise your voice — not because you need to get grades or show off your acumen but because there is always room for improvement in order to get closer to our best version possible — one step at a time. If you struggle, don’t give up — people who appear prodigies have slogged their way at some point or the other and it’s never too late to be whatever you want to. Compete against yourself since there is no shortlist cutoff and you don’t want to leave with a regret of not having given your best shot.

What else apart from Acads? (euphemism for resume-building):

GSB/Club President

Take up positions only if you are really passionate about the role (to hone leadership skills etc.). Do not do it from placement perspective if you think you won’t be able to manage acads / placement prep simultaneously because a 3 month stint may not necessarily add the spike you are looking for. So to minimize regrets later — know how much you are willing to take on your plate. Another popular view is to take up smaller roles. While I think it tells you how to work in teams and may aid you in applying for awards at year end, it might add very little value from a job perspective.

ELP/FIRP

ELPs are often taken with the view that they may aid in consulting shortlists since you will have a client project to write about. While this is a great thought, I would give the same advice as with PORs above. ELPs will take a considerable amount of your time and won’t make or break your shortlist. Having said that, if you are interested in the company/project go for it. Choose your team wisely — you need to work with them and at times make them work. So see to it that there is common understanding wrt. commitment and skill set.

Making friends

I entered ISB with a very transactional purpose — I will focus on x and y to reach z. I wasn’t (still not) the networking type and did not come with expectations of forming lasting friendships. However, I am glad to have found people who genuinely cared and wanted my best. Let’s be honest, like you everyone here wants to be loved and form strong connections. Therefore, don’t try too hard if you haven’t yet found your gang — you will eventually and organically. Its fine if you don’t fit in with the lifestyle that majority folks represents — be yourself and people who admire you for who you are will by default find you. Do not belittle your self-esteem over noise and the glorious Facebook posts and fall into the trap of am-I-good-enough, if you haven’t realised it already — it is the highlights being showcased while the insecurities and deepest fears remain well hidden.

While parties are a great way to let your hair down and meet new people whom you would not have had a chance to interact with, there is nothing wrong in taking some time out for yourself or to be with those few folks who are home.

Finally

Remember to have fun — there is ample time to do so. Like the O-week, this year takes you through a ride of emotions and a self-discovery of strengths and weaknesses, thereby bringing out the best and worst in you. Amidst finding new friends, don’t forget the ones who got you till this point. I often make this mistake by taking people who care the most for granted. Remember campus life is a simulated temporary ecosystem and at the end of the day you need the conviction that you did good across all metrics.

If you ever wonder ‘am I good enough?’ — the answer is a yes or steps needed to get there.

That’s all for now — more specifics on scholarship and placements later!