How To Select The Right Specialisation?

“Oh, you are a fresher? You would surely get shortlisted for all FMCGs!”

“2 years + work experience? Try for B2B sales or marketing”

“3 years plus? Dude, Operations is the field for you!!”

These are the most commonly used statements students in all b-schools hear right from the day they join, till the day summer placements start. Nobody knows the origin of these “pieces of advice” or myths but everyone seems to believe it. Students restore their faith in it when they match a candidate, his profile, and his company. There is nothing wrong in it. It is an age-old saying which, if nothing, at least helps students set the right expectations.

The problem arises when students decide on sectors and specialisations based on these myths. Students with higher experience, often make up their minds against FMCGs and in case they get an interview call, are unprepared. The same goes with freshers who do not apply in the operations sector, in the light of these myths.

So, how do you choose the company/sector/specialisation if you are unclear about it before joining MBA? The first option is to understand your interests. What kind of work would you like to do? What resonates well with your personality?  It is fairly easy said than done and the rat race makes it even more difficult. Therefore, the first step is to read and listen. Read diverse topics across fields, listen attentively in classes (I know it is too idealistic), and participate in case discussions. These are the gateways for you to get an idea of what your calling is. Secondly, think and rethink what you have done in your life, in terms of your graduation, job experience, competitions etc. and introspect which sector or specialisation syncs well with the story. Think of opportunities which you loved working on. This obviously should not overpower your calling for a field but it makes the task a bit simpler. Thirdly, talk to as many people as you want to about the kind of work they do. Understand the internship and corporate projects undertaken by your seniors, talk to professors about their experiences (a lot of them have prior industry experience), go through LinkedIn profiles of people in that field. These interactions combined with your introspection should give you enough if not full clarity.

But most importantly, job fit is the killer factor in the long run. If you are not meant for sales, no matter how well you are paid, you would never be happy and would never be able to excel in it as well. It might be the most lucrative job out there but look for one that is the most lucrative to you and not to the whole world. In this era, where change is the only constant, you have to learn-unlearn- relearn over and over again. You can only do this successfully if you enjoy and fully appreciate what you do.

If you still do not have clarity, then let the company/sector decide it for you. Apply to every sector and hope for the best. If the interviewer feels you are not the perfect fit, they would definitely not take you (provided you be at your best in the interview and not fake it).

In the end, always remember that there is no learning greater than learning from your own failures. A summer internship is undoubtedly a stepping stone but it is certainly not the end. It is an opportunity for you to explore the unknown and decide the path for yourself. In a career spanning 30 years, 2 months can easily be spent on experimentation so that the rest 358 months are spent in peace!

Kuhu Johri

Kuhu Johri is a first-year student at NMIMS, Mumbai. She is an affiliative extrovert, singer, writer and a small towner at heart.