They say hindsight is 20/20. With the completion of a year at IIM Calcutta, and a lot of reminiscing over the year with batchmates and friends from other campuses, here is a list of things we wish we knew when we joined the brand:
1. Forgo sleep: Complete your quota for a year’s worth of dreamy sleep before you come to campus. Because as soon as you come in, you’d first be hit with a wave of assignments and readings, following by CV reviews and finally the internship preparation. Going to bed at 3 AM will be a luxury and watching the sunrise will be a common affair.
2. Tell your friends not to worry: One of the unanimous complaints of friends and family outside IIM has been the lack of communication with them since you have been in school. The sheer number of parallel strings in your life will leave very little room for regular communication. Tell them in advance that this may happen, but they needn’t worry because you’ll be back with time on your schedule in a few months for sure.
3. Sort out your paperwork: Within a couple of months into IIM, you will need to provide proof for everything you have ever done. From your class to dress-up races to your internships or projects at work. Sort out everything beforehand, so you don’t have to fly off in a scurry to sort out things at the last moment.
4. Network: It’s one of those clichéd points that you probably mentioned as one of your reasons to want to join IIM during the interview. But it’s important enough to mention over and over again. Make sure you reach out to everyone, in some form or the other. But make sure to do it in a professional manner. You don’t want to get too friendly too soon.
5. Have a hobby: You’re in an IIM with 400 other people. You had similar scores in CAT and possibly similar scores during under-graduation. You all probably have a few months of experience and all of you have had “hardships in life which have made you the person you are today”. But is there something that differentiates you from them today? If you’re good at a sport, practice every day and aim at captaincy. If you love writing, then take some time out to write something other than just assignments every week; even if you don’t let anyone else read it. Have a hobby, not just for a USP, but for your sanity in the super busy life of a PGP1.
6. Speed Read: Get into the habit. This is not the advice you’ve been hearing since school. You may or may not get the time to read books or newspapers once you start. But be sure of the fact that you will be required to read tens of pages (if not hundreds) on any given day in preparation for class the next day. The sooner you learn to finish it, the more time you will have to spend on other things.
7. Learn to ignore: Everyone in an IIM is there because they are strong people. Everyone around you will have strong opinions about something or the other. It will often seem like they’re making a life-and-death issue out of every tiny thing. Figure out what is important for you and learn to ignore everything else.
8. Be prepared for anything to happen with an open mind: From our first week of induction to farewell to the seniors in the last week, we constantly encountered shocking incidents in varied manners. It may be as simple as some of the people we met, as gruelling as the assignments, cases, quizzes and exams, as complicated as the placements, as emotional as farewells or as colourful as language can be.
9. Be open to possibilities: We may have come in with preconceived notions on what we were good at and what we wanted to do. But reality sets in when you start with your classes. You may have been with buzz with money and numbers, but ten lectures into the course, you may find that you enjoy marketing more. It’s great to follow your ambitions, and if it’s your groove, ride it into the sunset. But don’t force-fit what is not meant to be.
10. Do everything you can: You may have never danced before, but go to that dance club audition. You may have been a drama-queen/king in front of your friends and family but test it out in the drama auditions. One of the best things about b-school is nobody thinks the worse of you for trying. A new attempt is always applauded. And try taking more people in it with you, More the Merrier.
And most importantly:
11. Question everything. Assume nothing.: You know those annoying children who would ask “Why?” for literally everything? Be that. There are no right or wrong answers in b-school. Think about something till your opinion about it falls out of the grey area. You can either accept someone else’s thinking construct as your own, or ape someone else blindly; and aping is not what you're going to b-school for.