Over the years, we have received numerous stories of MBA students sharing sneak peeks of the good, bad and the ugly of their B-school lives. While thousands of stories exist about 'learning' and 'opportunities' and 'friendships', only a handful have the courage to share stories of the 'reality of MBA' in India - stories of what goes on behind the scenes; and that too, anonymously.
Here, we have compiled some such realities that B-school students (some of whom are now alumni) claim to have experienced during their time as MBA students at their respective business schools.
Note - The following points are excerpts from articles contributed by MBA students (some whom are now alumni) on InsideIIM, the sources for which have been mentioned at the bottom of this article.
Reality of MBA In India - Admissions
2. "Most of the time interviewers try to get the best talents for the B-school. We all know what all things matter during the PI. But the most important thing they look in a candidate is that will they be able to get him/her placed? If you are fit for the job and industry ready then everything is secondary. Most of the time the interview panel is disappointed with the interviewee but they always strive to have an intellectual conversation with a candidate and when they find one, they start asking questions and throwing situations. So, if you are being asked more questions than others, it may be a good sign."
Reality of MBA In India - The B-School Life
3. "Everything about a business school is artificial. We like to portray ourselves as liberal people with progressive thoughts as we are supposed to be the so-called “cream of the nation”. But we don’t let go of our judgemental attitude and hypocrisy that we use to fool ourselves every day. We are worse than those middle aged aunties when it comes to gossips, we literally go gaga even if a guy merely hangs out with a girl."
4. "In all probability, 25% of a person’s CV is fake. Exaggeration is the key word here. I mean if he was the Vice-president of a fest which is attended by 1000 people, it will be shown as “Managed India’s biggest management fest with a footfall of 10,000+ people”. Sometimes I don’t know what is more fake – an IIM student’s CV or Salman Khan’s charity work."
5. "So there are 8 subjects per semester. Every semester there are 2 exams – Mid-terms and End-terms. So in essence, there are 6 exams and 24 subjects to learn – crammed up in a 9 month window, with the major focus being placements! In this environment, how can you expect the kids to actually LEARN the subject? Most of the students are content with just looking at the past years’ papers and faculty PPT. The environment is not conducive to learning subjects but to rather manage to handle stress and manage time efficiently."
6. "You have to dish out your A-game or you will be beaten by your peers. A 1-2 mark lead can go a long way in changing your grade! Most to your colleagues have been toppers in the past. If you relax for a few days, you can face serious backlog!"
7. "The pathetic quality of teachers will shock you! There are various types of teachers you will find – a sadistic one who is waiting for you to fuck up, a professor who perennially finishes his class 10 minutes after the designated time and eats away the break, a professor who knows 100% about the contents in her book and 0% outside that, etc. (I have special disregard for the one who finishes the class late. I mean, you are a MANAGEMENT teacher, don’t you know how to manage your time?) In spite of the teachers being Ph.D.s and highly accomplished, they really have no connect with the students. Obviously, this is just 1 side of the story. There are a set of professors who are brilliant and talking to them really broadens your understanding of the subject."
8. "Phone. Chits. Writing on body parts. Deciding a time to meet in the washroom. Anything is fine as long as it helps in improving the grade. And except for a handful, everyone indulges in it. Religiously."
9. "MBA, simply put, is all about putting jargons to common sense. The biggest skill that you need to survive the MBA journey is THE ART OF GLOBING. Three things that you need to understand here:
(a) Globing helps you get immediate attention, of peers, professors, and companies.
(b) Everyone wants to globe. Yes, everyone!
(c) Eventually, everyone becomes a Globe-Master.
P.S: Globe refers to a bombastic verbiage laced with fancy business faff, usually making less or no sense."
10. "No, all IIMs are NOT EQUAL. The brand IIM is no more restricted to just three letters ‘IIM’, but is now defined by what follows these three letters. The holy triumvirate of Old IIMs is a league apart, not just with regard to the placement scenario but the general culture, pedagogy & peer mix. The older IIMs, XLRI, FMS, MDI swiftly catching up. The new IIMs and baby IIMs are nowhere close. The tag of being in an IIM (what if new or baby) might bloat them up with pride, but they know the grim truth of stark differences deep within. Not just them, but the recruiters know it too."
11. "The DISCRIMINATION AGAINST ENGINEERS doesn’t end with you making it to a B-School. It continues. The courses, the shortlisting criteria, the entire process is crafted to give an edge to the non-engineers."
12. "We might call it the ‘INDIAN’ Institute of Management, but it is further divided by state groups and regional groups."
13. "You will easily find people to socialize, hang out with, go on trips with, but it’s very tough to find a REAL FRIEND in the midst of these socialisers. The place is inherently so competitive that it finding real friends is rare."
14. "Networking at an IIM is more about pretending you are interested in being around someone, just for the sake of leveraging their acquaintance later. Those who would wave to you enthusiastically on day one are quite likely to loathe you with a pure yet expertly concealed passion. Only a handful of people are interested in actual friendship. Rest all are just curious to know you. Once their curiosity is satisfied, you become a boring person for them."
Reality of MBA In India - Placement Reports
15. "Inflated Placements figures – A CTC of 25 lac does not mean the candidate will be earning that amount. In the 25 lac package – roughly 15 lac would be the fixed element, 3 lac would be the joining bonus, 2 lac the maximum achievable bonus and 5 lac worth of stock options which will vest later. So even if you manage to earn 20 lac (if you get the full bonus) in the first year, 3 lac will be deducted from your CTC in the next year! And 80-90% of the times, forget about the stock options!"
16. "Mean Salaries – Mean salaries, even though widely reported do not give a clear picture of the state of affairs. Thanks to the law of averages, for every 20 people who get a salary of 30 lac there are plenty who get salaries of 10–12 lac as well. So not everybody has a happy ending during the placement season. This is something no one takes into account."
17. "How many B-schools get their placement reports verified by an external agency? How many of them follow the Indian Placement Reporting Standards (IPRS)? Out of the myriad of B-schools in India, only 10 have their placement reports IPRS audited. Yeah, just 10! Institutes making tall claims need to do this fact check."
Reality of MBA In India - Placements Process
18. "As placements approach you, the level of PPTs you need to attend goes up exponentially. So, at a point in time, you are preparing for exams, sitting for corporate PPTs and even attending lectures. Any missed PPT will land you in a coup with the placecom team. You can even be barred from applying for that company! This entire process leaves you exhausted."
19. "For the 40-50 forms you will fill, you will probably be shortlisted by 5-6 firms. The disappointment after every rejection really hurts your confidence. And it does not end here. Just because you are shortlisted for an interview does not mean you are going to be called for one. God forbid they select their candidates before your chance comes. Then you can buzz off."
20. "Placement committees cheat. It’s an open secret. They consider it as their right to get into top firms because according to them they slog hard. College authorities are busy filling some survey ranking forms to project their institute as one of the premier b-schools in India. They care for the 100% placement mark & not anything else."
21. "Having passed out of a B-School where I was part of the Placement Committee, I could spend hours telling you the inside story-how a certain organization might impose a blanket ban on male engineers, how a particular recruiter has an affinity for pretty female candidate; the tales would only be as scandalous as society is."
Also read - 50 Things You Need To Know About IIMs, by the Founder of InsideIIM.
22. "Let us assume you have five shortlists in a single day. By the time you reach your 5th interview, you start doubting your capabilities. Even if you were super confident at the start of the day, nervousness creeps in. You think you are being rejected because you are not good enough. Even with that thought, you have to put up a smile and face the next interviewer."
23. "A normal placements day starts at 5 in the morning and ends by 1 in the night. You have to be present the whole day, all suited up because your chance can come anytime. So if you are not placed for a couple of days, you can bid your sleep goodbye."
24. "Imagine you have 2 great shortlists – ABC and XYZ. Personally you want to go to ABC but XYZ calls you first. You are done with your first interview in XYZ and are waiting for the second one. Suddenly you hear the process for ABC has started. But by placement rules, you cannot leave this in between. The XYZ people keep you waiting for an hour and they eventually reject you in the end. By that time, the process for ABC has ended and they are not entertaining more people."
You think this is a one-off event? This is what happens with 30% of the people!
25. "So you see your friends get in and you are left stranded. The amount of self-doubt that creeps in post such things is immeasurable. It is not about jealousy but getting free of the process. You can see a group of people just relaxed, smiling and you are there fighting for a spot in a tier-2 company!"
26. "So what if you were ill during your 12th exam and couldn’t score 90%. Or you took a drop to start something of your own? Companies don’t care about that stupid illness and failed startup of yours. They will use your percentages in 10th, 12th and graduation to see if you are worthy of a shortlist. And any academic gap and you are doomed. By the way, you made a big mistake by taking engineering, cause companies prefer ‘diverse’ candidates. Also, if you are not from IIT or SRCC, those triple 9s in your resume can’t save you. They are just worthless."
27. "Along the time you are struggling to get placed, you see placecom members being pushed for by the placement coordinator. This really pisses you off and it seems like you are a second-grade student in your own college."
28. "Want a good shortlist? Lick. Yes, you gotta lick. If you are interested in getting a shortlist from a company, go to the seniors who interned in those companies and lick. Remember their birthdays. Praise them for their (non-existent) qualities. Help them to organise parties. Buy them liquor and do anything that you can to please them.
29. Placement committees literally rule the institutes. Popularly known as the ‘placecomm’, these people literally rule the 2 years of MBA. The perks of their job include violent shouting, penalising the batch-mates on personal whims, attendance concessions from all the guest lectures on campus, free food, and database of all the corporate competition PPTs (which they cleverly use to win more competitions!). But the most important one is their ability to rig the placement process and get the best of the best placements for themselves."
30. "We have heard about this quite a few times – the placement team giving preference to their friends/girlfriends. The IIM Lucknow story of girls sleeping with the placement team members is evergreen after all. Whatever be the reasons, placement season is the worst part of MBA. There is a reason why most people want to get a PPO and be out of the process. It is one of the most brutal and randoms processes you might see in your life; but truth be told, it has to be done! Everyone is in for money after all."
31. "There is a huge number of people who get plum jobs but not in the sector they wanted. I know a CFA level 2 cleared person who finally got a sales and marketing internship! There is a clear-cut mismatch!"
32. "If you ever happen to attend a GD during summer placements, you will be shocked to see the mediocrity on display. In a group of 10, you will always find 1 person not opening his mouth, 2 people constantly raising their voices and 1-2 people with irrelevant points. It’s a fish market."
33. "Entire batch placed in 2 days? BS. This is one of the most prominent myths. It’s impossible to place 350+ students in just a couple of days. There are multiple pre-rounds that take place several weeks before the actual placement process starts. Also, the no. of days that are told to the press are completely unrealistic and false. These b-schools have multiple cohorts, multiple day-0s, day-1s and day -1s too. Then there is a GD day, a consulting day, a bank day and what not. The entire process takes anything from 5 days to a couple of weeks."
34. "Friendship is something which is the biggest casualty in this highly competitive process. Students prefer to form study groups with the people who have high chances of getting shortlists. Nobody shares their prep material or strategy. They free-ride on projects and assignments, yet are the first ones to take the credit for the same. You are judged on the basis of no. of shortlists that you get; and if you are the poor soul who hasn’t got any, then you’ll be neglected by the most of the people. Competition is not only fierce but dirty too. This is a dog-eat-dog game, and everyone is a Labrador here."
35. "In the rush job of matching candidates to companies, entire lives are reduced to a few columns on a spreadsheet. Your dream company could put in one small filter on that sheet to end all your hopes of a shortlist. And why these seemingly bizarre rules of shortlisting? It’s because in this absurd universe, there seems to be a penalty to everything. Have work experience? That’s a problem. Don’t have work experience? That can also be a problem. Studied engineering? Sorry, we can’t take you. But if you aren’t an engineer, we will give you deeply analytical tasks that maybe an engineer could have done more easily!"
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