The title might give you a feeling that it’s New Year’s eve, well it’s not and the fact that what you read in the incoming lines might actually connect with a very few who have gone through the experience I describe but I sure tell you that this piece might answer the quintessential question that grapples possibly every MBA aspirant who plans to put his/her 2 precious life years and a whole lot more to opt for something they call MBA. The question which I’m referring to is, yes some of you guessed it right, “Why MBA after all” and regardless of the fact that I’m only a half MBA yet with a whole lot coming my way in the year to come, I surely can do some justice to answering the question with a fairly unbiased conviction.
Coming to the story, today happened to be a special day at IIM Bangalore. Today marked the last class of MBA year 1 at IIM Bangalore for PGP batch 2016-18 with it a realisation that they were not PGP1’s anymore and in the blink of an eye they had already lived through half of their MBA journey at the most prestigious business school in the country. It was precisely March 10th of last year when I sat for my IIM Bangalore interview with barely a clue of what I was getting into. The only thing certain was that if I get through one then I would surely be tagged with adjectives of praise beyond my comprehension and there would await a fat pay cheque in a top company after 2 years of toil. Halfway through I can confidently say that the above realization is not even 10% of what a program like MBA from a top b-school has to offer.
As a popular b-school saying goes, the process is more important than the destination. Well, a lot of what is been said in an MBA class might not stand apart, this one surely does. Talking about the process in stages, the first week in a b-school like IIMB was a week of “awe”, a self-realization that you have actually made it to this place and the sheer legacy of this place consumes you. Those stories you have heard from seniors, your CAT coaching mentors unfolding and showing glimpses of how a b-school life would be. As the first term kicks in the reality check follows and this realization possibly is the hardest one to tackle, it was for me at least. Sitting in a class of 70, you are set to compete against possibly the brightest minds in the country not only for grades but for almost anything and everything a b-school has to offer you. Be it club selections, sports team trials, class reps, fest reps selection and for that matter even courses, you find yourself competing against the best in the country. Nothing comes easy and to compete is the only way out.
For someone like me personally who came from a fairly mediocre undergrad college when compared to the likes of my fellow mates from IIT’s, NIT’s, SRCC and to top it up Chartered Accountants and a rare doctor, the realization of rubbing shoulders with them and battling it out for even a single little credit has been the biggest test of this journey so far. In the year gone by, there have been times when I have been beaten comprehensively, at moments felt like crying and giving up, have failed badly in my attempt to compete and for someone who always had it easy when it came to marks and recognition, the feeling of failure has certainly not come easy. There were times when my ego went for a toss and self-confidence dented when you gotta accept that the guy sitting next to you is way better than you in this assigned task and you can only learn to accept your defeat.
But then there have been times when I have triumphed and triumphed hard, the realization of standing apart from the best in the country and making a mark of your own fills you with immense pride. I have had appreciations, got recognized and being heard off from the profs and fellow mates which gain you the satisfaction you can only hope to achieve in a place like this. This I believe is a beauty of an MBA degree from a top business school. Nothing comes easy here, you certainly can’t bluff it up and there is no hiding place either. The way the entire program is designed tests you to your wits as you are always on your toes. Working round the clock, grappling through exams, submissions, club activities and all random stuff that comes your way, time management is the skill you hone which possibly is the biggest asset of a future manager per say. The learning you get is not only confined to classrooms as such. Besides the best faculty in the country teaching you tricks and trades of business life, the real learning I believe happens through your peers. Interacting and being connected to people from different parts of the country with not only stellar CV’s but equally quality opinions adds to the richness of experience. And yes, you make great friends like I have.
The amount of learning I have had over the past year in terms of diversity of new concepts I have been exposed to in disciplines which were alien to me easily surpasses the cumulative learning I have had till date before joining the program. Yes, the first couple of terms were a struggle, to be honest as everything taught was new and you had to grasp it up in shortest possible time to deliver results where the margin for error was so thin given you were not sitting in an ordinary class, rather an IIM Bangalore course class. You get rejected, you try hard but then you get rejected again. You pick yourself up and try harder the next time to succeed. Such is the MBA life. This place doesn’t give you time to remorse but ample opportunities to reflect on what you are doing wrong.
As the third term set in life became much easier as you could choose what you want in form of electives and I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The insecurities, the fear of failure and the lack of confidence from first two terms have given way to a new spirited desire to learn, compete and get better. I believe that’s how the MBA program functions; it gets better with time as you get to learn more about yourself, people around you and you kind of start figuring out what you want in your life. At the end, the grades probably won’t matter and your placements would be just another thing but one thing would surely matter is what all you did to reach what you have today.
Just to sum it up, from what I have experienced in this first year, I believe MBA is an experience not to be missed. It is not just a degree course but rather a rich realization of what you are, what you can be and what you eventually want to become. It makes you a better person they say and with each passing day, I’m adding to the better in me because things have changed and changed for good. With a hope that the coming year throws up even bigger challenges and better opportunities, it’s time to bid adieu to year 1 of my MBA life. An experience that I would surely cherish for years to come.
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