A Letter From An IIM Student To The Incoming First Year IIM Students

As you settle through the first fortnight, you already feel like part of flow much mightier than you. There is plenty to do and very less time. Classes, Group Meetings, Sports, Cultural events, run towards clubs, parties, Outbound plans, Haneena, Night Canteen and what not. Pre-reads and Post-reads are also there but with a lesser priority for most of the Junta, as leaving it doesn’t make you feel left out.

While most of the guys are going with the flow, few are perplexed. For most, an MBA was supposed to be the gateway to a newer better career. How this newer and better thing looks, one hardly had any idea about. These perplexed guys are the ones going through turmoil. It is not that the others are clear about what they want to do with an MBA; it’s just that most of them don’t want to get into those complexities. They believe in the existing design that things will fall in line as time progresses.

Before most of the entrants realise, they have already traded a few things for a few others. One has to choose between various offerings of these campuses which range from quality education, clarity about one’s aspirations, clarity about career directions & goals, networks, personality developments, professionalism, individual values, learnings by doing, sports, parties, hobbies, instant gratifications, highest salaries and a lot more. The trade-off is always there.

More rigour, more thrill and sweeter fruits! Is it always true? Mostly yes. But something more important is the direction. Every piece of knowledge is kept in the veil of darkness until the right time. Neither the time is plenty, nor can you always be there on time. One, who get access to this knowledge before others, wins the race here. But race for what? Race for something which you really want, or race for something which you want because most of the others want it?

MBA has a pool of talents from different backgrounds, in term of industry, functions, interests, experiences, gender, age, personality types and others. How can each of those who enter the four walls of their respective B-schools in June have the same wants and aspirations? And if the goal is different, shouldn’t the path also be different? An MBA is going to offer different things for different persons. The need is to identify what you want and customise your experience of this beautiful world, for which you need what they call ‘prioritisation’.

The aspirants live here for 18 months, but for many of them, the MBA experience and career direction is determined by the initial four months. The grades in the first term will decide whether you can experience an exchange-term or not. And what determines those grades? Not your performance in the end-terms alone, but your overall experience with academics through midterms, quizzes, projects, class participation, and end terms. The days of graduation are long-gone.

A little over four months at your B-school, and you will find yourself in an experience called the summer internship placements process. You will be preparing for this from the day when you enter this side of the world. Ironically, you wouldn’t know what you want. A graver issue is that you would not know what you absolutely don’t want. So what would determine your choice in terms of companies and function is your surroundings? The general ranking of companies and functions would become your own preference. At other times, the temptation of getting the highest stipends will dominate your minds. At his point in time, remember – don’t let just your past academics, temporary temptation and gut feeling determine your choices. Even if you remember this, you may end up making mistakes. Mistakes are temporary truths. What would matter in future is – did you own that mistake for life?

This write-up may create more confusions than solutions. Yet it may stir your mind. What should you do with your MBA? That is for you to figure out. No one can answer that for you. Sometimes, getting into the flow can be the best thing but not always, and not for everyone. The first year is the year to explore. Know yourself, know your expectations. Know all the paths, choose the most suitable one.

In short, put your thinking hats on as you cross those gates!

You may also be interested in reading the Ultimate B-School Starter Kit For Incoming MBA Students, and 7 Commandments To Follow For New MBA Joinees.

Devendra Kumar

Author is second-year student at IIM Bangalore.