Candidate: Sumedha Uppal (current PGP2 student, MLS Member)
Interview Date: 14th March, 2018 (First Slot)
Venue: MICA Campus.
Panel: Two Men- One CCC Prof and an Industry Professional (MICA Alumnus), A lady Prof. from the Core Faculty.
Duration: 30 minutes
10th–95% 12th–95% Graduation-B.Com. (Hons) 80%
Ample ECA experience in college.
Zero Work Experience, 7 months gap
(NGO work and an internship in Marketing Management).
(As I waited outside sitting in the plush red sofas staring at the big triangular silver logo beaming ‘School of Ideas’ my little trance is broken by the lady professor who walks out the interviewing room (I was in panel 2, 4th in line) and calls out my name, ‘Sumedha, Please come in.’ She had one of the warmest smiles on her face, which was stuffed with the cookies she was eating and I had absolutely no idea what awaited me. She walks out, asking for some water maybe.)
So when I walk in, it is a classroom with two gentlemen staring at me.
As I sit down, I am asked ‘Ye itna sab haath mein kya hai?’ It is the CCC Prof. Let us call him M1. While I talk of how I have a picture poetry initiative. How I collaborate with amateur artists and photographers and reduce the gap between pictures and poetry to zero, Urdu for which is Sifar, the journey being Sifarnaama. Both the men in the panel nod.
M2: “Ah. You read what is written outside right?”
Me: “The School of Ideas.”
M2: “So, this is an idea too.”
Me: “I smile.”
M1: “So do one thing, read your best work to me.”
Me: “Sir, with all due respect I can’t do that for you.”
Me: “For me as a writer to choose one as my best would be an injustice to the art form. You ask too much of me in that regard, it is unfair.” (Smiling)
M1: “Um. So read one you think is suiting this occasion, this moment, the best.”
Me: “That is better, I can do that. So I write in Urdu and English both. Any favourites?”
M1: “Just let her come back.” (Indicating to F1’s absence).
Me: “I have a total of 70+ poems to my name till now, in the duration of 7 months.”
M1: “Abhi 3 mahine aur hain.” (Smiles)
(So far so good, I tell myself. But then the horror began.)
M1: “Till she comes, let us talk.”
Me: “Sure Sir.”
She walks in.
M1: ‘Karna kya hai? (This was the CCC enthusiast in him talking) I mean you apparently write well, this is some good stuff, do you not want to take this further?’
Me: (Covering base) “Sir if you think I can execute this well, I can assure you I plan and strategize better. I have a three-year-long experience in organizing debates, symposiums, conclaves, fests and in NSS. I have built on ideas and taken them home with conviction. Writing is my passion, it shows how I look at the world, I brought these for in them you can see how I see the world. It would help you understand who I am as a person.”
M1: “All this is fine, but interest kahan hai?”
Me: “Sir, I have an interest in the specializations of Branding, Advertising And Media Management offered at MICA. I have not zeroed down on which one yet which I am hoping that my second year at MICA would give me further clarity on. It would tell me where I best fit in.”
M2: *hears advertising and goes berserk* “Do you know how an agency functions what are the functional department divisions in an agency?”
Me: There is media, art, production, copy, contact and PR department in an ad agency, some are responsible for ideation whereas, others are client-facing which cater to the needs of the consumer.
M2: *Not at all satisfied* “Want to work for the agency or the consumer?”
Me: “Consumer. Also, apologies for not answering that question to your satisfaction because I was asked what my interests were, I told them on the basis of whatever knowledge I have of them from my graduation. I am a fresher and I am looking forward to learning the intricacies of it in my second year of college as I mentioned earlier.”
M2: “No, No, No. This is an MBA program, you can’t tell me your layman understanding of things.”
Me: “Well, Sir that is all I have at the moment on it, for I lack the formal education and experience to suffice it.”
M2: “I am confused. You write, you debate, you worked for NSS, you have these research papers, you organized stuff, tumko branding bhi karna hai, advertising bhi acha lagta hai, media mein bhi you’ve gone through debating. I AM UTTERLY CONFUSED. YOU HAVE SO MANY ASPECTS TO YOU!”
Me: “All of which I am pretty good at. My credentials speak for themselves, sir. So do my academics. If I have stepped in something, I have given it my 100%.” *Smile but dying inside*
M2: “Let me tell you. Picks my form. Reads my name. *Sumedha, let me tell you. I have interviewed 12 candidates since yesterday. I have not seen an enthusiastic candidate like you”. *Smirks and laughs, Other two join with him.*
Me: “Is that not a good thing? Last I checked, MICA appreciated enthusiastic people.”
M2: says nothing, but that constant sarcastic smile on his face is plastered.
F1: “Have some water and a cookie.”
Me: “No Ma’am I am fine.” I smile.
M2: “Acha tumko Agency nahi pata kaise run karti hai detail mein koi baat nahi, Marketing toh aata haina? Samjhao.”
Me: Marketing is the management process, which is responsible for creating, communicating and delivering profitably. It includes everything from development to the delivery of the product and continues even after that.
M2: “Na na. Definition hai ye. sabko aata hai. Tumne 3 Idiots dekhi hai?”
Me: “Yes Sir”.
M2: “Toh wo Aamir Khan tha na, Rancho. Uski tarah samjhao. And ye needs and wants mein farak kya hota hai? Wo bhi.”
*What happened next is hilarious, for I explained Marketing, needs and wants with the help of Briyani*
Me: “Sir, suppose you’re hungry.”
M2: “No, I am not.”
Me: “It is a hypothesis Sir, You’re hungry”.
M2: “Okay. I am hungry, maan liya.”
Me: “And there is nothing in the world that is edible but these cookies. So you’d have to eat them, or you’d die. It is a matter of your sustenance. You don’t have a choice. This is a need. If you want a Briyani and I give you anything and everything in the world to compensate it, but that wretched Briyani. God knows nothing would come close to satiating your want for it. So that is a want.
So the journey of my offerings (Cookies and Briyani) to the satisfaction of your needs and wants is marketing. It is the procurement of them, their branding, their advertising, their distribution, their packaging, till you consume them, basically everything.”
M2: Laughs very hard. “So tell me, what generation do we belong to? A need-based generation or a want-based generation?”
Me: “It is what I have observed around me, in my peers. This is what makes credit cards sell. Their whole business model is based on the people wanting stuff they can’t afford. Our wants exceed our means. It is the good old ‘Jitni chaadar nahi hai utne pair pair pasaarna' philosophy’”
F1: “Marketing creates wants where there ain’t one.”
M2: “Nah, I don’t count myself in your generation.”
Me: “You look young enough to me.” (He looked like he was in his early 30s)
M2: “But see the point is I don’t identify myself with your generation, I am happy fulfilling my needs.”
Me: “Marketing and marketers would disagree with you, they’d tell you that hey, this is a want, a desire you never knew you could have wanted this bad.”
M2: “Ah. Leave all this. Are you confessing you are want based too?”
Me: “I don’t quite understand what you’re trying to get at.”
M2: “I mean WHO ARE YOU? YOU NEED OR YOU WANT?” *Almost shouting, leaning towards me*
Me: *I pause* “I need to learn and I want MICA.”
F1: “Why do you want MICA? I mean you want to learn, *picks up form, puts its high in the air* you’re good, *rephrases*, If you’re this good, go to any damn college no? They are plenty of colleges out there. Why MICA? *Names a few colleges including the IIMs*
Me: MICA is the only Bschool in the Asia Pacific region dedicated to Strategic Marketing and Communication. The unique pedagogy, the engaging course structure, the remarkable infrastructure, and the rare, yet very relevant, specializations make MICA stand out amongst other B-Schools. With a niche in Strategic Marketing and Communication, MICA has the course designed in such a manner that a person not only becomes a great manager but also a socially responsible individual. This made me apply only to MICA and not any other Bschool
F1: “You’re telling me you applied nowhere but MICA?”
Me: “Yes ma’am it is the only B. School I applied for.”
F1: “BAD STRATEGY! BAD STRATEGY! BAD STRATEGY!”
Me: “What is a bad strategy to you ma’am is a conviction to me. It shows how much faith I repose in the institution. Why undermine its worth by calling it a bad strategy?”
F1: “Because it is. I read you want to teach. Do you have any idea that you would be disbarred from pursuing a PhD after this degree? How will you teach? Bad Strategy Bad Strategy Bad Strategy!”
Me: “I would take a fellowship if that is what it takes, I come from a family of academicians and having seen how rewarding the profession is I have no qualms in saying I see myself teaching 10 years down the line. And I’d do so with requisite industrial experience. I know as a matter of fact many MICAns who did the same.”
F1: “We have an FPM Program for that.”
Me: “I am aware. But that needs a postgraduate degree for that. I’d be happy to continue at MICA if it augurs well.”
F1: Laughs. “Right now you’re a PGP candidate.”
Me: “Hence, My focus on the PGP program does not stand faltered.”
F1: “Go get any other post-graduate degree then. Why the MBA at MICA?”
Me: “It is not the MBA which brings me to MICA, it is the knowledge and pedagogy it offers. If you’d have called it an M.Com. I’d still be happy to take it.”
F1: “If it were an M.Com. you could get a PhD.” *Laughs*
M3: Last thing. Do you have any questions for us?
Me: “You as interviewers are looking for what qualities in a prospective MICAn?”
M3: *Poker face*
*Folds hands, in a Namaste Position*
“NO. SORRY. THANK YOU.”
Me: *Sheepish Smile* “Okay then if you don’t want to answer that, tell me how could I have improved and possibly made this interview better?”
M3: “Train nikal chuki hai. Life mein chances na baar baar nahi milte. *laughs very loudly* I told you! One question is all you get, one question is all you got!”
Me: “Fair enough.I’d keep that in mind.” *And shot one of my widest smiles at him*
Nodded at all three.
(I kept a smiling face throughout the interview. Was badgered a lot, it was not a typical chit-chat smooth MICA interview, it was stressful and I thought I blew it. I did not know what to make of it.
My two bits of advice to everyone giving a MICA interview would be, you don’t know what they like in you. If they use sarcasm, give it back to them politely, maybe that is what they’re looking for. My interview had nothing to do with my SOP or my form, it was a ping pong of sarcasm with the Alumnus. And some poetry.
A stress interview is the perfect chance to prove your grit. Don’t lose your shit in it, stand your ground.