Not In A Club At Your B-School? This Is How You Can Make The Most Of It

Clubs, committees, events. They really are the high life at IIMs when you’re not suffering with assignments, aren’t they? We’ve all heard about the amazing events, in fact, Sangram, the south Indian IIM sports meet was only a week or two ago. Typically, clubs organise these events – Sangram, for instance, was organised by IIMB’s Sports Council. Exchange is handled by ExchangeCom, Culcom does awesome stuff for us all year long, and after you leave, AlumCom steps in to connect with you.

But let’s look at numbers for a moment. Take IIM Bangalore. There are 430 students in the PGP batch of 2018-2020. For all the clubs, the number of Junior Coordinators totals around 190. Let’s be generous and say 200, spread over 25+ clubs and 5 societies. There are people who are in more than one club, with an average of about 8 JCs per club, not including the big 3 – the Forum for Industrial Interaction, the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Cell and Culcom. This means that over half the batch isn’t in a club.

Shocking, in a way, isn’t it? Getting into a club is like a mini-placement process. While big-picture terms say that every other student gets into a club, this isn’t a strict metric, since not everyone applies to all the clubs. So what do the people who aren’t in a club do? Well, they form ChillCom, of course.

ChillCom isn’t a real committee – I should probably debunk that theory at the outset. It’s an affectionate term for all those people who either don’t make it into a club, or don’t want to be a part of a club. I am one of the former. There are people who only apply to clubs from a fear of missing out – FOMO kicks in. There are others who are incredibly talented but don’t add much to the club’s teams, and so find themselves without a process. I remember when the results were out, I scanned the list eagerly but didn’t quite make the cut. Throughout the process, I was fairly single-minded in my choices. There were only two clubs I wanted to join, and I focused all my efforts into making it in. The disadvantage of that is, of course, a dearth of fallback options. But when I didn’t make it, I’ll admit, I felt pretty bad. Everyone tells you that the process is a precursor to placements, and looking back, it was, in a way. But I had to move on.

What do I do? Well, I have the envious benefit of averaging about 6 to 7 hours of sleep a night. There are long nights of course, and there are days where I sleep in. But without ancillary commitments, I am able to take care of myself. It may seem silly, “This guy is proud of sleeping? Must be a nutcase” but it’s incredibly important to maintain that state of mind. I’ve accomplished so much more being able to sleep every day than I would’ve had I been sleep deprived. I’ve had goals of my own set out before I came to IIM. I also have a number of hobbies that I can now pursue.

One of the things I love doing, that I used to do a lot in my fourth year of engineering, is gaming. I’m a pretty hardcore and competitive gamer, and while that declined pre-placements, now I have the time to actually play and compete. Gaming is both a way to keep my mind sharp and to relax, and I am really glad I have the time to play now. It’s always fun going back and beating those old Pokemon gyms in the newest game. One of my other hobbies that I’ve attempted to nurture is my photography. I try to make it a point to go out and spend some time around campus with my camera in hand, and the relaxing environment makes it very easy to develop and grow my creative skills. I’m an avid reader, and I don’t think I would have been able to retain that if I was distracted by club commitments.

I’ve done a lot of new stuff in my free time! I’ve honed my talent with new software, I’m designing my own website, and I decided to learn how to play the guitar. All in all, the number of avenues that free time opens up for you is quite broad, and exploring them allows you to develop a skill set outside of the realm of academics. In fact, I dare say that my skill set is more diversified than many others, as a result of this free time.

Am I slightly sad that I’m not a part of organising the amazing fests in IIMB? Of course! But at the same time, now I can participate in them. I was a finalist in a Private Equity investment thesis competition, and, as someone who wants to enter private equity long term, that taught me some pretty valuable lessons, that helped me immensely during placements. At the same time, I can help my friends out in organising these events, and above all, I can enjoy them and take pride in the fact that IIMB is pulling something so amazing off. Honestly, if I could turn back the clock, I don’t think I would change a thing. Well, except perhaps slapping my post-club selection process self-topside the head to knock some sense into him.

If I had one thing to tell someone who is about to go through this process, it would be a recommendation to work out why they want to join a club. If it’s FOMO, well, I’ll just say that with enough self-motivation, you can probably achieve more outside the club framework. If you want to do something that you enjoy, then you should, and I’d say use the opportunity you’ve been given to do just that.

Anish Malladi

Anish is a first-year student at IIM Bangalore. He draws inspiration for both his writing and photography from extensive travel - he's visited over 18 countries around the world. He started writing to inspire himself - he now chooses to write to try to inspire everyone else.