The happiness that you get when you finally get into the top business school after the stressful months of preparation for the most awaited exams of the year, writing applications and essays, just to get into one of the top colleges. So you thought that was it? Wait till you take your first class. That’s when the realisation hits you like a bullet. We hardly plan little further than that. I remember preparing for CAT, one of the tutors told something which I can never forget, "Do not think you are preparing to get into a b-school, CAT tests you how good you would be after going to a b-school, as a future manager".
Finally, bags are packed, all set to achieve it all? Little did we know, what was about to come. Like everyone, we also wanted to prepare before joining. But let me summarise first few weeks of the first year of MBA for you before you step into the war zone.
The ‘MBA experience’ will bring you down to the ground, humble you and you will hit the rock bottom at least once (or a hundred times) before you learn to fly, before you learn Management. The pace of your life will accelerate, you will lose the visceral fear of change, that's when you learn Adaptability and Change Management. There’s really very little that can prepare you for it. Soon you will realise, everyone around you is overwhelmed, same as you. That's when you learn Team Building and Team Management and form bonds which will last for your life. There's so much more apart from classroom learning, rigorous placement procedures, it is towards achieving self-discovery, social and personal growth.
You will find yourself in between those SWOT analysis that you do in your classroom when you understand it's not about the last minute or one night studies before the exams anymore, it's about every single minute of your 2 years. Somewhere in between rushing for classes wearing anything and for meetings or placements in flat tucked in business formals, we learn to fit in. Having all-nighters almost everyday, learning to laugh at your problems with a bowl of Night- Canteen-Maggie, in the endless stress and endless fun, we live in a different time zone than the rest of the world does, we find the answer to the question "Why MBA?".
Few things to remember in those initial weeks of your MBA,
1. Mantras of MBA:
Don't scare yourself, just keep validating your feelings of stress and vulnerability. Discover them and learn 3 mantras of surviving MBA : Time, Risk and Disaster Management.
Always remember, you haven't hit the rock bottom. Because the worst is yet to come and shall pass by. Take comfort in the knowledge that you are not alone. Takeaways will be Communication skills and the huge Network of future CEOs, Entrepreneurs, managers and HRs.
3. Diversity and Self Realisation:
Always remember- Never compare yourself with anyone. You will be surrounded with people from diverse background. Learn from them, but remember the MBA experience is not really a competition. You are here to achieve some very specific career goals.
4. Decision Making:
"You always have to keep your eye on the ball lest you lose sight of your goals." These initial days are the base of your career building. You will be surrounded by plethora of opportunities , you can never have it all so, Choose wisely.
The academics and vast courses in between the hectic schedule might seem overwhelming. You probably have heard the derogatory, "Jack of all trades, master of none", Never try that in MBA. The secret is to start your journey in search of the few things that you want to master in, which will not only become your specialization but also your passion.
6. The panic button, remember never to hit that. Noone ever mentions the enormous course and the way they will blitz you with it. Half way through the first semester you might experience self-doubt and devastated. Help can always be found, remember everyone is sailing the same boat.
Always reach out for help (Not Ask). Here you will find valuable source of intelligence that you would otherwise not be privy to. You will be surrounded by the top most talents of this country, take advantage. When in doubt, always try getting perspectives.
7. Time Management: The last and most valuable thing only an MBA Degree can make you dexterous in. Priorities, that will navigate you through the labyrinth. Never be afraid to Multi task, always keep yourself busy. Get involved in committees, volunteer work, events, community work- build yourself and your network. Because remember if you are having free time in MBA (almost impossible), you are not doing it right.
MBA, the initial two weeks will transform you, help you find momentum personally and professionally. You will go through the toughest lows, highest of highs of your life. In between those you will become a Manager.
Good management is the art of making problems so interesting and their solutions so constructive that everyone wants to get to work and deal with them. - Paul Hawken
About the Author:
Satabdi Maharana, XIMB (2016-18)