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What you always wanted to know about Electives but were too afraid to ask.

The title is wrong. You were never afraid to ask “What Electives should I opt for?”. It is the second most commonly asked question, after “Who is that girl?”

Everyone has a different answer to this question (the first question). Whether the choice of electives really matters in the final placements or even in your career is debatable. But since you are expected to choose them, might as well choose them wisely. And there is no dearth of advice, both good and bad. Allow me to lay out some common strategies. Know and use them cannily.

Generalist

This strategy involves selecting courses from multiple departments. That means you will have a few courses from Finance, a few from Marketing, a couple from Operations and so on. In most cases, the split is mainly between two departments. Usually taken up by people wanting to get into consulting or general management roles. The people are generally from upper and lower ranges of ranks – the toppers trying to get into the exclusive consulting roles and the bottom feeders trying to hedge their chances during the placement process.

Specialist

This is the most favored option for those looking to get into the financial industry. They look at only courses offered by their department, and only opt for other courses if the credit requirements are not met. This can only work if the department offers enough courses to make up for a majority of your credit requirement. Usually not a problem for Finance or Marketing, but might be a problem for IT, HR, etc when enough courses are not floated.

“T”

A variation of the Specialist strategy. Here most of the courses are taken from only one department, but a few are taken from other departments. This can be because of either great faculty or the course complements their core courses. (Editor’s note: For example, Fin students and Marketing students following the Specialist strategy will exchange nothing more than cold stares and sneers of outright contempt. One group can hardly be expected to socialize with the other even in the canteen. However, if a course from the Strategy department is offered, they will all forget their differences, make a beeline for the course, and work with each other because nobody wants to look ‘Unstrategic’.)

Professor

Here is my recommended option – choose the courses offered by the best professors, regardless of department. Not the simplest of the lot because it involves some background research. You need to ask seniors or perhaps reach out to alumni for feedback about the professor.

Some electives will be floated by visiting faculty. They might not have visited the campus last year. It may even be the first time that they are taking this course on your campus. Therefore it becomes important you get feedback from reliable sources.

Bonus Strategies

Use these strategies to decide between two equivalent courses, although nothing prevents you from using them for selecting all the courses.

Freerider

It’s obvious from the title who this strategy is for. The basic game-plan for this involves opting for only those courses which have a very high component of group work in the evaluation criteria. By going for these courses, you can work less/not at all and your group would have to carry your weight.

It helps to not antagonize your group completely by showing up for some meetings or volunteering for menial tasks such as final formatting and printing of assignments.

You need to avoid the tag of a freerider in the first year for this to be effective, because once you are branded as a freerider, the image tends to stick and many groups will shun you. The worse outcome is when you end up with a group of fellow freeriders. Then it becomes a game of chicken, i.e. who will fold first and do the assignment, sometimes ending in it not getting done at all.

Anti-Freerider

As the name suggests, this is the anti-thesis to the freerider strategy mentioned above. Here, you only go for those courses which have the highest individual component and minimal or no group component. You avoid the pains of working in a group where no-one contributes and you are left to do all the work but the credit goes to everyone.

Let me know in the comments below on what some of your strategies have been when it comes to selecting electives.

 

– Koganti Greeshmanth

(The writer is an alumnus of IIM Indore – Batch of 2011 and currently works with HCL Infosystems)

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10 Essential Software You Need in a Business School in India

 

1) Mozilla Thunderbird

What – “Mozilla Thunderbird is a free, open source, cross-platform e-mail and news client developed by the Mozilla Foundation.”

Why – Email is the most important form of communication in a B-school. Your mail client will be the single most used application in the time you spend on campus. While GMail and online mail clients are becoming more popular, due to poor reliability of internet connectivity, you need a solid offline client to get your mails and attachments even if Internet is not available. Latest versions integrate extremely well with GMail and have solid support of POP3 and IMAP access. It also allows you to access newsgroups.

Where – Download Mozilla Thunderbird

2) Microsoft Office

What – Word, Excel, PowerPoint. Nuff said.

Why – Needs no explanation. You need to write documents, prepare spreadsheets and give presentations all the time. MS Office is the de-facto standard in the business world. Mastery of Word, Excel and PowerPoint will allow you to be more productive and in some cases score some extra marks. When it’s 5am in the morning and you have been working all night, the last thing you need is to battle with formatting, so invest some time in learning the ins and outs of Office. I promise it will pay dividends many times over.

Where – Ask your cousin/brother/friendly computer guy

3) Google Docs

What – The online version of MS Office. Well not really, but close enough.

Why – Google docs is the easiest way to collaborate with your group-mates and your batch. Be it working on an assignment, or making a survey, Google Docs provides you with the tools to get everyone involved easy. It is especially useful for Class Representatives, Committees and Clubs members to collect data from the batch.

Where – Access Google Docs

4) Dropbox

What – “Dropbox is a Web-based file hosting service that uses cloud computing to enable users to store and share files and folders with others”

Why – You need to backup your data. No matter how many times you have been told this, you still refuse to do it. Dropbox is a god-send for people like us. It automatically backs up all your files online without you having to lift a finger. It also comes with some excellent collaboration tools such as shared folders, so that you can share documents with your groups. With features such as versioning, you can even get back accidentally deleted files or get previous versions of file you were working on.

Where – Download Dropbox

5) Microsoft Security Essentials

What – Free anti-virus software from Microsoft that doesn’t suck

Why – You are always sharing files and documents with each other while on campus; either through mails or through pen-drives. This increases the chance of your machine being infected by a virus by many folds. MS Security Essentials is a resource efficient and free anti-virus from Microsoft that just works and keeps your machine safe.

Where – Downlaod Microsoft Security Essentials

6) Google Reader

What – Online RSS Reader

Why – You need to keep abreast with the latest happenings of the world. It’s not always feasible to read the newspaper daily.  With Google Reader and the right RSS feeds, you can get the news delivered to you. You can choose when and what you want to read. You can save articles that you want to read for later or save them for future referencing. All major news sources provide feeds on their website.

Where – Access Google Reader

7) Digsby

What – “Digsby is a freeware proprietary multiprotocol instant messaging application”. Chat with your G!Talk and Facebook friends from a single application

Why – You will most probably have an chat account or two in your life previous to joining a b-school. You will be given another email account on campus. You can either have two or three different chat clients running continuously, or you can use Digsby to consolidate all your chatting onto one platform. Besides doing that, it can also check your email accounts and keep a track of your Facebook and Twitter updates.

Where – Download Digsby

8) VLC

What – Media player which ships with almost every codec known to man

Why – All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Probably one of the most used applications on campuses across the world, VLC requires little explanation. Now stop watching movies and get back to work. It can handle also every type of media file known to man, which is what makes this program one of the most beloved across the world.

Where – Download VLC

9) foobar2000

What – Music Player

Why – A light weight and highly customizable music player. It can also play radio feeds and its play-list management is top notch. One play-list for partying and another for last minute cramming before the exams.

Where – Downlaod foobar2000

10) DC++

What – File sharing application

Why – To share files with one another through your campus LAN network. Last years questions papers, latest photographs from the recently concluded cricket tournament are some of the many files you can easily get to from a well organized DC hub.

Where – Download DC++

Conclusion

Have I missed a software or two? Write about your favorite software(s) in the comments below.

– Koganti Greeshmanth

(The writer is an alumnus of IIM Indore – Batch of 2011 and currently works with HCL Infosystems)

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5 Awesome Parties in Europe

Prague – Pub Crawls

Prague

The whole city throws a party every night, Prague is without a doubt the No. 1 spot for having a great time. From old churches converted into clubs to playing beer pong with strangers, this is the capital of parties in Europe. If you are looking for the kind of crazy parties you see in movies, head to Prague.

Going on a pub crawl in Prague is the perfect choice to experience the party scene. There are many pub crawl operators and you should check with your hostel on the best ones. They cost around 20 euros and you get some complimentary drinks. There are many discounts on offer so ask around. If you are going on any walking tours, you can also check with them if they run any pub crawls.

But what if Prague is too far away or if it’s too cold for you. That’s when you head to…

Barcelona – La Rambla

After a great day spent on the beach, nothing can be more fun than roaming the streets of Barcelona hopping from one club to the next. La Rambla is a central street in Barcelona with many arterial streets spreading out from it. You can spend days exploring the area.

In the night the street comes alive with many clubs and pubs. The parties start late and go on till the early hours of the morning. Do not forget to indulge in some hot samosas between each hop.

But where can you spend a day drinking with friends, new and old, from morning till evening? The answer to that is in…

Munich – Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest needs no introduction. It is a must-do in your student exchange trip, even if you are not a beer drinker. Held on the first weekend of October, this annual festival attracts millions of beer drinkers from around the world.

Apart from great beer, the food served is excellent. It is here that I discovered one of my favorite dishes – Curry wurst! The carnival atmosphere with rides and games and millions of drunk people is what makes this the single most important event you just can’t miss.

Courtesy : Ankit Doshi
The Embarrassed : Koganti Greeshmanth , The Embarrasser: Ankit Doshi


Be sure to book your accommodations at least 4 months in advance. I cannot stress on the importance of this. As soon as you have been selected for student exchange, book your hostels in Munich.

So you partied in Prague and got drunk in Munich, but what about the techno rave you keep hearing about? That can be found in…

Paris – Technoparade

What you see in the photograph is a man wearing a chicken head standing on top of a red light sign. This is what you can expect in one of the craziest and surreal experiences in Europe. The annual festival goes through the streets of Paris leaving behind a wake of destruction.

Safety is a huge factor which keeps even many locals away. During our trip, one of us was mugged, so always be alert.

So you are all partied out. Time to get away from it and rejuvenate. Time to goto…

Interlaken – Balmers’

The adventure base camp town of Interlaken is definitely not known for its’ party scene. So why is this included in the list? Because of Balmers’ hostel. Everyone I have met fondly remembers the place and the great time they had there. Good music coupled by a great set of people is the perfect way to end a day of adventure or begin a new one.

Stop and stay the night on your way to Jungfraujoch or Titilis.


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Costs of a Student Exchange Programme – 5th term of IIM

Introduction

Student exchange is without a doubt a very expensive affair. In this article let us explore some of the costs of going on an exchange programme. The information is Europe/France centric but most of the headings are equally relevant for other countries.

Tuition/Fees

Home University

Cost: INR 0 to INR 2,00,000

Some colleges don’t charge any tuition fees on the term that you are on exchange. They might also exempt you from paying hostel and mess charges. But most of them do charge tuition fees. Some might even ask for hostel and mess charges. So depending on the applicable policy of your instituition, the cost under this heading can vary significantly and form a large chunk of the costs involved.

For eg. IIM Indore takes tuition fees for the term but exempts the students from hostel and mess charges.

Partner University

Cost: EUR 0 to EUR ?

Most partner universities don’t charge any tuition fees from incoming students. There might be some exceptions. There might also be other fees such as administration expenses or facilities usage fees (computer lab, library, etc.)

For eg. EM Lyon does not charge any fees from incoming exchange students.

Travel

Campus France

Cost: INR 7,000

The first step to the visa process for France is to visit Campus France and get all the documents verified. They charge INR 7,000 for this service.

Student Visa

Cost: EUR 50

Embassy charges this Visa fees for processing your visa. Student Visa for France costs EUR 50.

OFII

Cost: EUR 55

Once you have entered France, you need to get a OFII stamp if you are on long-term visa. So if you are planning on staying in France for more than 90 days, you need to get this done. If your planned trip is for less than 90 days, you can apply for a schengen visa instead.

Insurance

Cost: INR 1,600 for Visa, EUR 100 – France

There are two insurances required. One is required in India when you go for your visa interview. The other is the resident insurance which all students are required to get when in France.

Air Tickets

Cost: INR 30,000 to INR 45,000

Depending on how early or late you book and your destination, air travel costs can vary by as much as 50%. You might also need to take a train after you arrive to your destination. You may or may not want to use the Eurail pass this early in the trip.

Eurail

Cost: EUR 0 to EUR 1250

Some opt not to take the Eurail pass. They instead either take flights or not travel. The cost of eurail passes vary drastically with the cheapest starting from EUR 34. A three-month global pass costs EUR 900 (after discounts) for people under 26 years of age. This is the most popular option.

Train Reservations

Cost: EUR 3 to EUR 20 per trip

All night trains and high-speed trains require reservation. Depending on how often you use high speed trains and night trains this can become a significant cost in your travel budget.

Bus/Metro/Trams

Cost: EUR 1 to EUR 2 per trip

Most city travel will involve using some form of public transportation. You can look for any student passes available in your home city. Most cities you visit will offer a 24-hour pass or a similar arrangement.

Stay

Rent

Cost: EUR 160 to EUR 350 per month

This is the rent that you will be paying for the apartment that you will have to rent in the home city. This can also be for accommodation provided by the partner university in their dorms. The rent varies from city to city but most end up between this range.

Hostels

Cost: EUR 10 to EUR 20 per night

While traveling you will have to spend nights in youth hostels. The average youth hostel across Europe charges on average around EUR 15 per night. Hostels in Greece and Portugal are cheaper whereas in countries such as Italy or Switzerland, the charge is usually higher.

Some nights stays costs can be avoided by utilizing night trains to travel.

Food

At Home

Cost: EUR 2 to EUR 5 per meal

With a combination of ready to cook meals and cooking from scratch, a meal at home typically would cost somewhere around 4 euros.

Eating Out

Cost: EUR 10 to EUR 20 per meal

While traveling, eating out averages to around EUR 10 and more if you are drinker. Kebabs are very cheap, followed by McDonald’s’ and other fast food joints.

Example

Let’s take an example scenario to understand the costs better. The student is going to EM Lyon from IIM Indore. She will be staying in Europe for 100 days, 50 of which would be spent traveling.

She will be taking 12 trips, each involving 2 nights of stay, 4 train reservations each. Also she will be using 8 night trains during this period. Because she has planned for such extensive travel, she has taken a 3-month global pass.

She will be renting an apartment for EUR 200, but she has to pay the rent for all the four months.

  • Tuition/Fees
    • Home University – INR 1,00,000
    • Partner University – EUR 0
  • Travel
    • Campus France – INR 7,000
    • Student Visa – EUR 50
    • OFII – EUR 55
    • Insurance – INR 1,600 and EUR 100
    • Air Tickets – INR 35,000
    • Eurail – EUR 900
    • Train Reservations – EUR 264 (4 trains reservations * 12 * 3 euros, 8 night trains * 15 euros)
    • Bus/Metro/Trams – EUR 210 (70 days * 2 trips * 1.5 euros)
  • Stay
    • Rent – EUR 700 (200 per month * 3.5 months)
    • Hostels – EUR 360 (12 trips * 2 nights * 15 euros)
  • Food
    • At Home – EUR 300 ( 50 days * 2 meals * 3 euros)
    • While traveling – EUR 1000 (50 days * 2 meals * 10 euros)
  • Total
    • INR 1,43,600
    • EUR 3,939
    • Total – INR 3,99,635

Summary

I hope that through this article and a very simplified example you get an idea of the nature of costs involved. You can refine and edit the headings to suit for your particular situation to get a closer fit.

Shopping, spending on activities, entrance fees to attractions, etc. are not accounted for here. So the above estimate is definitely on the conservative side.

Costs Excel File

The excel file used to calculate the costs in this article. Download it and modify it for your own calculations.

Costs Breakdown Excel File

– Koganti Greeshmanth

(The writer is an alumnus of IIM Indore – Batch of 2011 and currently works with HCL Infosystems)

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