When I entered the much talked about red brick-walled buildings of IIM Lucknow, I was just another of the many starry-eyed engineers who had finally put behind her years of endless dry code, years of shop floor sweat and grime, years of a stream she may never have taken if not for ‘the kid next door’! A month into my MBA at IIM Lucknow, here are a few first impressions for all those engineers dreaming and working towards entering into the haloed portals of a top B-School.
When you were told in the 10th Std that the brightest students are supposed to take Science, you could have said ‘No’!
In a class of 60, with 50 odd engineers, you would think the simple principle of majority rules would win. But, hey presto, the first week itself puts things into perspective. When ‘diversity’ is the key guideline to be followed when forming a group for a competition, case study discussion or say what you, an engineer happens to NOT be the most preferred candidate! After all, it’s nothing but a demand & supply problem! There are no surprises here because financial analysis seems like Greek & Latin, organizational behaviour seems like just another fun humanities elective from undergrad (until the first quiz is thrown at you in which moods, feelings and emotions all seem alike!) and let’s not even get started with the pain of the irrationality of corporate law! I am sometimes left questioning were it not for the CAT, would our B-schools still be dominated with engineers?
When you pitied yourself juggling a 9 to 5 job and CAT prep, little did you know that a storm was awaiting you once you crossed the finish line!
I am a person who worships sleep, and sleep has always taken precedence over burning the midnight oil for anything, be it exams or likewise. Inductions, CV iterations, case preps and the tsunami of opportunities in the form of clubs/committees, events, extracurricular ‘nocturnal’ activities, case competitions etc taught me that to make the most out of one’s 2-year stint at an IIM, the key is ‘post-dinner time management’!
When you prided yourself in creeping into class unnoticed, you hadn’t met the concept of 23:59:59!
While ‘deadlines are sacrosanct’ is something you will routinely hear from Day 1 at IIM, failing to adhere to these deadlines has far worse consequences. Be it the time for a student body meet, an application form deadline or just the closing of doors before class starts, time is the most precious commodity at B-School and everyone adheres to punctuality right till the last nanosecond! This is a far cry from the tendency for all events at engineering college to start half an hour after the scheduled time.
When you conquered the JEE and felt that the rat race couldn’t get any worse, you had unknowingly just created the first ‘spike’ that would help you in the ‘CV race’!
There are engineering placements and then there are B-school placements; the gap couldn’t be wider; the stakes couldn’t be higher! I still remember the tense atmosphere in the air during placement season in engineering, but 3 weeks into B-school, one meets fierce competition around every corner. Surviving in an atmosphere where excellence is mundane and ingenuity is valued drives you to spend your entire first month in B-school striving to perfect that 1 sheet of paper that is going to be your stairway from HelL to heaven! And the twist in the tale is that all those technically challenging engineering internships suddenly have far lesser value when compared against equally challenging ‘CA internships’ which happen to have so much more ‘impact’!
When you pictured B-School life as a 2-year sojourn filled with plush facilities and a life of comfort, you had fully forgotten the fundamental principle of Indian Institutes - all hostels are alike!
Coming from an NIT where I had survived 50 degrees heat with a rattling desert cooler and rooms that were filled with families of lizards, I was looking forward to a drastic change in living conditions. However, my heart sank the day I pushed open my room door at IIM. Engineering days flashed back- the same matchbox-sized room, the same cooler, the same shared bathrooms, the same mess food. But B.V Doshi’s architectural beauties house an air-conditioned library & computer centre that are accessible 24/7 and here lies our refuge.
All in all, to each and every one of you engineers out there, it’s time to say goodbye to all your prejudices and biases, and embrace possibly the last 2 years of your education with an open mind! Make some great friends from all across the country and all walks of life, learn from some really approachable and inspiring teachers, and have fun along the way as you get placed and enter the corporate world. For after all an engineer has always been about jugaad, it’s just that initially, everything seems to be ‘globe’ to us at B-School!