TISS is something fundamentally different. And now that I have got that so very clichéd yet so very true statement out of the way, let us try and identify the things that make TISS the lovely place that it is for a student.
Before reading further, please do note that I write this as a student of one out of the many courses and schools at TISS – the Masters in Arts program in Human Resource Management & Labour Relations at the School of Management & Labour Studies. Typically speaking, this should offer you a limited perspective only but I think I should be able to do a little better than that.
So, without any further ado, find below some of the aspects of TISS that make it a great place to spend two years of your life, while also learning something very useful on the side –
The sheer variety on offer – From heated debates about the Kerala vs. Gujarat models of governance where arguments are borrowed from anthropology as well as economics to impromptu discussions about the film-making exploits of Hitchcock… TISS offers it all. You can, of course, revert that this is true for any institute worth its salt. But what isn’t true is that you get a chance to interact with people who are experts in areas so different from yours or are on their way towards becoming so. In my two years at TISS, I had close friends / room-mates who were studying courses like Development Studies, Disaster Management, Media and Cultural Studies, Social Work, Hospital Administration etc. If one tries hard enough, the broad perspective that one can develop well and truly beyond just management will hold him / her in good stead throughout his / her career.
6 internships – Yes, you read that right! Every semester in TISS (there are four of them) gives you an opportunity to go and work in a real organization, and this feature is called Fieldwork. In the first two semesters, the internship is limited to just two days in a week while one full month at the end of the third semester as well as the beginning of the fourth semester is dedicated to this. Throw the regular two month internship in between the first and second year, and the compulsory NGO internship at the end of the course into the mix, and imagine… you have actually worked in six different organizations before even graduating! The profs ensure that you get exposure to different sectors and industries, and even though a couple of these internships may turn out to be duds, the potential opportunity is simply huge. And did I mention that being located in Bombay helps a lot!
The academics – The first bit of this is actually an offshoot of the first point. There is a big Foundation Course (FC) in the first semester which students across many different courses have to compulsorily attend and your classmates for this class come from the different courses mentioned earlier. The FC has 40+ lectures and focuses on issues like politics, agriculture, tribes, gender, society, development etc. while keeping the story of India in the center of all discussions. The course is taught by a number of faculties together who are noted academicians and researchers not just in a specific area but the grey interdisciplinary areas wherein the roots of almost everything lie.
Talking specifically about HRM & LR subjects, the subjects are a mix of the conventional and the unconventional – you have Compensation on one end and Social Network Theory on the other. It should suffice to say that they teach you enough for you to excel in any chosen HR career path while teaching in a way that really refines your approach towards a people-related problem or a decision. The importance of Labour Law is acknowledged in the design of the course as well as in the outlook of all the stakeholders.
Just 60 students in a batch – Actually, the number used to be half of this in the days gone by. And it does assume greater relevance in times when 400+ batchmates are par for the course. One gets the opportunity to develop meaningful relationships not just with three batches but also with the professors themselves. The alumni community too is a close-knit one and supports the institute tremendously. Individual attention from the professors is an everyday reality at TISS.
Other reasons, big and small – The placements are top-notch with sectors, all and sundry, being represented by the best organizations for both summers and finals with cool pay packages on offer. There are a couple of awesome exchange opportunities and there is no dearth of industry interaction. Life on campus is pretty awesome because of the greenery as well as the heightened sense of activity almost all the time because of myriad events being organized by different courses and schools.
Areas where TISS can improve – Like every other institute, TISS can get better in a host of areas. There aren’t any organized student clubs or committees which cater to specific interest areas. For students of HR to succeed, understanding of how other functions like Marketing, Finance, Supply Chain work is crucial and that is where the pedagogy can improve significantly.
I will end as I began. Some of the above features may not seem all that appealing but they have to be experienced to be understood completely. They end up making TISS what it is, not your regular management institute but something that can make you a little more than just a manager.
- Abhishek Chopra
Abhishek Chopra idolizes Rahul Sharad Dravid. He dreams of visiting London one day so that he can take a rock music tour of the city. Somehow, he graduated from the HR course at TISS in 2012. His first-ever job has made him land at Guntur, Andhra Pradesh where he eats copious amounts of coconut chutney and watches Telugu movies every weekend. Find his stories here chopra.insideiim.com
Read the TISS Summer Placement Report 2013 here