10 Things I learnt During My MBA Which Are Not Taught In Classrooms

Every student has a predefined notion about a MBA degree:- hefty packages, good job opportunities, improvement in position and salaries but how many really know the journey of being a MBA student?

Learning  management jargons, frameworks and business models, analyzing case studies & and eventually hopiing to reach the peak of self-actualization on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs pyramid.

Besides the academic part, a major portion of the course is trying to build up the resume through competitions, live projects/ internships, certifications,  and of course trying to get a good GPA. But this blog post is not about events which eventually become a useless relic, rather it is about the unconventional lessons that are learnt by experience.

Disclaimer: These are insights derived from my own experiences and reflects my personal opinion but I hope you can take away something from a new perspective.

1. Get out of your comfort zone


According to me, one of the important lessons that a MBA student can learn. Especially as you move out to a residential program when you have been used to living at home surrounded by familiar faces all your life.  As you get out of your comfort zone, you learn new skills and gain new experiences which make you a better manager and decision maker. It could simply be taking initiative to talk to new people despite having an introvert personality.

If you aren’t convinced check out these reasons on why getting out of your comfort zone is important:http://www.forbes.com/sites/kathycaprino/2014/05/21/6-ways-pushing-past-your-comfort-zone-is-critical-to-success/

2. When travel is more than just sightseeing.


By travelling, I don’t mean sightseeing like tourists but travelling to new places as a student on an adventure where you overcome all challenges thus boosting your confidence, enhancing your perspective, exploring new opportunities and no doubt take networking skills to the next level (more on this later)

3. Learn the way of Jugaad

Jugaad comes naturally to us Indians so much so the term was even added to Oxford Learners Dictionary recently (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/OMG-Oxford-dictionary-does-a-jugaad-in-changing-times/articleshow/45971198.cms).

In the MBA context, we reinvented the definition as the use of skill and imagination to find new and alternative solutions when a problem cannot be solved by conventional means. It is often misinterpreted as an easy fix but in reality it’s just applying unconventional thinking to unstructured challenges and should never replace hard work.

Here are some crazy jugaad websites that helped me work smarter :http://www.buzzfeed.com/jessicaprobus/33-amazingly-useful-websites-you-never-knew-existed?bffb&utm_term=.onEnrKRjm#.qiXDPJbz8

4. Read like a monster

A no-brainer here. Throughout the course you would be expected to read a long list of management books but in reality a longer list has been written by management gurus, achievers, experts and leaders which will stimulate your thought process and bring new perspectives and facilitate development of new interests. My personal favorite being Clayton Christensen’s The Innovator’s Dilemma and The Innovator’s DNA. Also Rashmi Bansal’s Stay Hungry Stay Foolish is an easy read for aspiring entrepreneurs.

Having said that, do not restrict yourself to only books, there is an unlimited learning resources available online through the medium of articles, blogs, TEDx  videos and MOOC platforms (like Coursera , EDx).

5. Know ‘why it is being said than what is being said’

A crucial part of  the learning curve of a to-be manager is understanding people psyche. In fact, I would not be exaggerating if someone declared that a person who did not understand people never became successful. Also knowing a person’s thinking process is a very important factor in developing soft skills to effective communication. As a management student aspiring to enter into the corporate world, getting a flavor of group dynamics and mastering the game of office politics can go a long way in becoming successful.

Check out this interesting read on mastering the game:http://danwaldschmidt.com/2015/03/business/only-idiots-dont-play-politics

6. Learn to mingle but find people with whom you ‘clique’

A management degree teaches you not only to master the ethos of business world but also working in diverse teams. In fact a large chunk of evaluations involve group projects,presentations and competitions where you may have to often work with individuals/groups which are incompatible. And this is exactly the kind of challenge that one needs to overcome to really become successful. As a professional you are required to work in cross functional teams in multiple locations and in concerted manner to successfully implement a project.

A helpful life hack is observing and finding people who may differ in most things but share common interests.Such friends can form your core support system in college. Just remember that a fist is stronger than five fingers and creating a strong network of friends is one of the key benefits of  an MBA.

Having said that, fret not if you are not part of a group, remember the intention is not to make people like you or just to be with the masses, some of the greatest leaders in the world tread a lonely path because their vision and dream acted as a beacon to others. It is only essential for us to remember that business no longer work in silos and a collaborative team effort can give a better output in much lesser time.

7. Find the right mentor

In Ancient India, a Guru was someone who was not just a teacher of knowledge but someone who was genuinely interested in your development and helped you learn the ropes till you were sufficiently able to do so on your own.But today, a mentor could be anyone who would motivate you , knowledgeable and experienced to facilitate the path to your goal. Just remember to do some clever searching and hustling to find someone that could fit above criteria and you could be well on your path to success

Check out this insightful blog by  Omaid Homayun on finding the right mentor : http://www.forbes.com/sites/omaidhomayun/2015/05/04/how-shark-tanks-daymond-john-taught-me-how-to-find-the-right-mentor/

8. Pursue projects that interest you rather than just look good on your resume.

Go to any school/college in India and it’s not too hard to find students  pursuing courses that they hope will make their resume look good by compromising on ideas closer to heart. But for a minute, just take a step back, review your purpose and why are you doing whatever you are doing. You will find that prospective employers are actually need indepndent individuals who listen to their heart and not just blindly follow the mob mentality. Your ultimate goal should be finding happiness and following your passion, only then can you really succeed in whatever you do.

9.  Failures are hidden steps towards success so never give up!

We are inherently conservative in nature, in the sense that it’s not easy for us to think positively if we perceive the probability of failure as being too high. Similarly even while doing challenging projects, there comes a time when you may get the feeling of jut giving up.  But consider this, if Wright brothers did not keep on trying after multiple failures, air travel would have been impossible. If Thomas Edison had stopped inventing after his failures in Invention, we would be still living in Dark Ages.

It’s easy to give up especially when we are very close to achieving the goal. The reason? Failures are not appreciated in our society. But unfortunately very few realize that failures actually help us discover areas of improvement and act as pedestal bringing us closer to the end objective.

So do not give up and hesitate to take risks, who knows the goal maybe just a step away.

10. Create your Brand Persona.

Arguably the most important learning I could get from my MBA experience is the importance of creating your own brand. With 3 lakh MBA graduates and only 10% employable every year, how do you stand out from among the crowds to potential employers? Creating your own specialized brand is key element to getting an edge over the competition and developing a superior career profile.

The way about doing this could differ for each individual but as a start, you could begin by practicing the steps mentioned above in your daily routine.

Some cool steps on how to build your personal brand:http://www.forbes.com/sites/joefolkman/2015/11/24/how-much-thanks-are-you-giving-6-ways-to-recognize-others-more-often/

A word of caution, note that everything you post online forms a large part of your personal brand and leave a permanent digital footprint, so best think twice before posting that embarrassing party photo on Facebook (even if you use the privacy controls prudently)

If you are already a MBA student or MBA aspirant who has had similar experiences, do share it with me in  the comment section, I would love to hear your stories and insights.

About the Author:  I am an amateur blogger currently studying in my final year of MBA at SIBM Pune specializing in a unique course of Innovation & Intrapreneurship. After consuming zillions of bytes of content from all over the Internet. I have finally been inspired to start something in the blogging domain to share my experience, create interesting content and of course share some love. My favorite blogging topics are brands, innovation, strategy and entrepreneurship. I have really just begun learning the ropes here, so looking forward to your inputs and suggestions on content that you would love to read.

Till then signing off!




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