How Does Life At An IIM Shape You For What Lies Ahead?

A study by the Economic Times has found that only 7% of India’s B-school graduates are employable. While this may seem shocking at first, knowing that there are 6,000+ B-schools in India puts things in perspective. So yet once again, as over 2 lakh applicants battle it out over the CAT and the rigorous selection procedure of the IIMs, here’s exploring what makes life at an IIM different from other B-schools and how this shapes one for the journey ahead.

Making it into the IIMs itself is a tough fight and knowing that you are up against the crème de la crème can be overwhelming at first. Like 450 others, I entered IIM Lucknow, or Hel(L) as it popularly known, excited about the journey that lay ahead and at some level also dreading the hellish rumours. IIM-L is known to be a stickler for punctuality and it took me a while to get used to the morning dash to make it on time to the classes. On one rare occasion, I also paid a fine of Rs. 1000/- for being precisely 16 seconds late to class. (Thankfully, the money goes towards social initiatives. So no qualms there!) But, that moment instilled in me a new found respect for time. Over the course of the term, some more lessons followed suit, like live each day at a time. With the regular classes, the 23:59:59 deadline for assignments and group projects, surprise quizzes and a bunch of on-campus activities, it is next to impossible to plan the week ahead, let alone the next day. With the 6 day week and working Sundays to compensate for public holidays, weekends became an elusive concept and before I knew it, I was part of the grind. It is true that the campus never sleeps!

At the IIMs, the intellectual faculty sparks interest in a field and acts as a guide but the onus of learning lies on the individual and goes well beyond the classroom. Professors stay up to date with emerging global business perspectives, revamp the course content to keep it from becoming redundant and use case studies to bring the classroom discussions alive. But that also means one puts in the effort to actually read and prep for the case. Projects are centred on research and application of practical learning from the industry in tune with the macroeconomic trends and the high standards of reports and presentations expected to nurture an articulate presenter. Frequent guest lectures from the who’s who of the industry and case competitions further enrich learning and force divergent thinking. I was particularly fascinated by the career trajectories adopted by some of them, like Mr Mehmood Khan, who quit as the Ex-CIO of Unilever Global to follow his calling and become a social entrepreneur.

After class, the opportunities to associate with the numerous clubs and committees on campus or run a student venture, give one a hands-on experience of applying the management ‘gyaan’ and tackling operational issues first hand. Right from the rigorous selection procedures to make it through, to planning and organising events once in – the journey leaves one with loads of learnings and friendships. With the strong alum network and support from seniors, the tough life of an IIM also forges bonds stronger than steel. Going through the daily grind and living and ideating together, the IIM life brings people together and forms relations to nurture and cherish for a lifetime.

As iterated time and again by each Alum revisiting campus – Life at an IIM leaves you with no dearth of opportunity and resources, it is what you make of it that counts. It is after you enter the industry that you realise that in preparing you for the worst, the IIM life has groomed you to reach your full potential. Like pressure makes diamonds, the hardships of the IIM life brings out the best in each one.