An Engineer’s Guide To Surviving A B-School
Congratulations! You’ve finally made it to a b-school. After 4 years of engineering, and (possibly) some work experience, you now stand at the gateway to the next level and achieving your dreams.
Let’s hold up here for a second, and see what brought you here in the first place. You completed your engineering studies, (presumably) worked in a job for close to 2 years, then finally decided that the work wasn’t for you and that you needed something more – quite like Self-Actualization in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. In essence, you realised that your true calling lied in managing people, businesses, and yourself. You thus decided to put in the effort to take a crack at the melange of MBA entrance exams. Now, here comes the tricky part – You’re engineering skills helped you sail through the logic and quantitative ability sections, but perhaps the verbal ability section was not your cup of tea. Still, you managed a good score, and secured calls to top institutes. The problem gets compounded further by the fact that if you fall in the General Engineer Male (GEM) category, your opportunities will be limited. Still, your grit and determination help you pull through and secure admission to the college of your dreams.
You begin your b-school studies with an orientation program, and then, it’s time to hit the books. This is the moment you realise that an MBA is not as easy as it sounds. Right from the get-go, you will be flooded with pre-reads, assignments, quizzes, project work, committee work, and of course, exams. This is where you can differentiate yourself, among the other students at a b-school. Your engineering studies and work experience will instil in you the work ethic and rigour that are typical of engineering roles and will allow you to maximise productivity on a range of tasks. Remember, engineers are experts at completing work at the last-minute, with surprisingly good results, but ideally, you should complete your assigned work on time, so as to devote the time saved to other activities.
Keep yourself calm and composed, work hard, and be humble. Believe in yourself. This is the mantra to survive a b-school, as it can get quite strenuous at times. Know this, and also be mindful of why you joined the course in the first place. Don’t let the stress get to you, and you should be fine. A b-school is the perfect battleground to showcase yourself among the best of the best. Join a committee, or join several of them. Interact with your seniors and alumni. Learn, unlearn, and relearn. Apply your planning, organising, and controlling skills learned from engineering, and add a new skill from the MBA program – Leading.
We live in a VUCA world, and the sooner you learn how to deal with this, the sooner you will be able to adapt to taxing situations that you will face, both, at your b-school, as well as in your career.
A management education will bring forth skills of effective stakeholder management, an ability to deal with ambiguous situations, and an appreciation of sector focus in you. Most importantly, a management education will teach you the value of time, and how to manage it effectively. What you learn and do at a b-school will play an important part in determining how successful you are in your career.
I hope this article is of some use to you, dear readers, and I wish you all the very best for your future endeavors.