10 Things You Learn In The First Year Of B-School

With the whims and fancies of our likes and dislikes, a lot of us who end up in a Campus are similar in a way. If I talk about me, I met a lot who had spent a good amount of time questioning their decision to do an MBA. And surely all of us thought about the dream organisation we wanted to work in. We knew the rankings of IIMs and alike, we even knew what specialisation they were known for. But actual curriculum and pedagogy were something we had the least idea about. Somehow, we chose to be conveniently unaware of two years of rigorous training at the college. Almost everything that comes after Term 1 registration was a surprise.

Things you learn in the first year (TYLFY) 1: 
The devil of surprise is in the details, grinning and doing other devilish things.

TYLFY 2: That 4 to 5 word acronym (read Jargon) in parenthesis would later be used like common knowledge.

Among the things we shared were also those once a month what-am-I-doing-with-my-life moments. It’s like a panic attack of sorts, your mind dives rather deep into the process of self-doubt. When the world and its ways leave you dumb-founded and every right seems to be wrong. The desire to escape this feeling lagging behind, even when you’re just still, is what fuels the midnight oil during CAT/GMAT preparations.

But here’s the funny part – those panic attacks don’t stop even after you enter an IIM. Surely, though, living happily ever after with the acceptance of their existence is what they will teach you. In fact, there are some that learn to function better only when face to face with some meaningless existential crisis.

    3 months=1 year (Living life in Quarters, pun intended)

TYLFY 3 : There’s no better proof of you-can-do-it than a dozen slide presentation.

There are surprise classes, surprise quizzes, surprise guest lectures and surprise what-nots. The surprise strategically designed to keep you on your toes. And of course, two months into the course and those panic attacks are not surprises anymore. After all, by this time, you can prove it with a dozen slide presentation and a survey result that they only happen when you are not on your toes.

TYLFY 4 : Use of it in making memes can be done at your own risk. See example below:

Stereotypes and Reality (Suits, Suits Everywhere) *Those out-of-the-world art pieces were developed in lectures

By the end of two months, the commonly held stereotypes and the extraneous pre-knowledge about management domains would straighten out with a candid picture of their connectivity. Remembering faces gets easier and so does the process of networking and minding your own business.

The professional boundaries of an academic block are contagious to friend circles and hence, there’s a lot more free advice and lack of empathy. It is not unusual, it is a trailer of life you chose to be in. Quoting a friend- “you can’t be a good person and a good manager at the same time.” And believe me, most of your energies will be spent in trying to attain the balance. Until few months, when you get peacefully ensconced in your beliefs about interpretations of success. Believe me, agreeing not to agree is the only thing stopping this place from blowing apart. Diversity, bitches. (in the most formal tone possible)

TYLFY 5 : They would never listen to you, whoever you are.

Sixth months into an institution and discussing a case almost becomes like meditation. Unlike the best of engineering that we see in big R&D centres or laboratories, the best of management is out in the open, hidden in plain sight-served with a side dish of class participation marks. The insights that tell you how Kellogs cereals replaced Indian breakfasts or the similarity between the overnight success of AajTak & Patanjali. The syllabus is designed to train you by walking through the experiences of extraordinary problems faced by individuals or organisations. It’s not just learning, it’s constant reflection and a trial through countless ‘if you were there’ puzzles.

TYLFY 6 : Always think what would you do if you were there.

You’ll realise or are made to realise the difference between Clubs and Committees while preparing for committee interviews. The committees work almost like octopus hand extension to serve academics and extra-curricular activities. The clubs instead are student-driven interest groups for various activities which select you on the merit of your contributions throughout the year. Both of them would help you in pursuing your interests with constant supervision and guidance to change you more — in constant supervision being the key word. That’s the only thing that will keep you working.

Apart from the academic circles, i.e. your project/committee groups, it is entirely upon you who you choose to spend your time with. I am sure there are few who don’t meet anyone except their project groups for days. In the two years that they would spend here, everyday they will be moved out of their rooms inch by inch. Of course, the general tendency is to jump right back in the moment that lacks scrutiny. The life here trains everyone to get out of their comfort zone or devise a way to carry the task without doing that.

TYLFY 7 : Getting the task done! (and that’s practically the only thing that matters)

The above statement comes with the caveat of non-angel like practices, and I would be lying if I don’t say it’s on specialisation to audit specific. There are some professors who take it upon themselves to sell their subjects and some who spend their energies on proving their point. Hence, you don’t need to worry about learning if you’re listening and vice-versa. The first lectures are important, they would help you in finding loopholes, sadly only to work more.

TYLFY 8 : The commonly accepted unit for time is a minute, instead of an hour or its quarter.

Management is about learning to make best of available resources. The administration here takes it pretty seriously. And hence, the onus is all on you – to study eight subjects in three months, attend all classes while doing it, participate in club-committee events, organize events, participate in competitions, lots of competitions, prepare for placements, prepare for your interests, read newspaper, wear suits, occasionally write articles and of course, to work in prevention of those panic attacks. Don’t worry, it would be most productive years of your life till now — or you could just sleep them off in bed.

TYLFY 9 : Always make that list or it doesn’t count. Hence

  1. To study eight subjects in three months
  2.  Attend all classes while doing it
  3.  Participate in club-committee events
  4.  Organize events
  5.  Participate in competitions
  6.  Lots of competitions
  7.  Prepare for placements
  8.  Prepare for your interests
  9.  Read newspaper
  10.  Wear suits
  11.  Find and work in Live projects and internships
  12.  Attend and organise workshops
  13.  Occasionally write articles
  14.  Party
  15.  And of course, prepare for future

Like every campus, these clubs and committees would organise conclaves, management summits and celebrations but the differentiation of an IIM campus is the pace at which plans come alive and the conversations that lead to it. You would see brilliant skits planned in less than an hour or discover how to make best of free-riding resources. The differentiation lies in your methods, your learning, your learning from your peers and your peers’ learning from you. And the limited time you have to carry them out is the essence. For example, it took me a roughly 30 minutes to pen down this article. Believe me, if nothing, a day at IIM Rohtak will surprise you by the amount task you can get done in these 30 minutes.

TYLFY 10 : It’s not done until it’s summarised


Declaration: The above article is scheduled to be published in R-Letter, Annual Magazine for IIM Rohtak.

Amit Pandey

I write, I sell, I write to sell and occasionally, I sell to write. A digital native and driven by the art of storytelling, I can talk for hours just in emoticons.