The Passing of the Torch – Second Year At MBA
So I’m a senior now. Like many of you will be – right now or in another 11 months. We managed to make it to second year; along the way some made their ancestors proud whereas some barely scraped through. And there have been a few who weren’t as fortunate.
It’s a good feeling, being a senior. It seems like the more difficult part of the journey is behind you and though there are many who still have one or two matters of slight concern (read placements) to attend to, the overall mood is one of cautious happiness. We survived first year, we got ourselves a summer internship and we powered through that cauldron too. What can year 2 throw at us that we haven’t been prepared for thus far? And in similar vein have most of us begun our second year, determined to make these coming 8 months or so truly memorable.
One thing that has increased though is the responsibility on our shoulders. It’s not something that we asked for; it’s something that was passed down to us. And it’s not something that we even consciously think about. It’s just the way things go – a sort of natural order. I speak of course of our responsibility towards the junior batch that is now beginning its journey, all green and wet behind the years and shivering with trepidation.
Why do we do it? I suppose the best answer is because the same was done for us. We also arrived apprehensive, ignorant and naïve; with only the barest hint that a B-school is a minefield but with no idea of how to navigate it unscathed. But we were taught. We were guided and instructed and at times when we felt blindfolded, we were led by the hand to safety. They educated us about the good and the bad, and when possible shielded us from the ugly. They told us the stories and the legends and steered us through the rites of passage. And it’s not like we had a lot to offer them at the start – we couldn’t even pass our own exams let alone help them with theirs. But that’s the way things work here. Every generation guides the next and hopes it will surpass even them – the passing of the torch. And that is why we do it.
But I must confess my junior batch has left me a little flummoxed. Every batch is different from the others but this one has made me wonder if there exists a major generational divide between us. For though we came all determined to do well for ourselves and learn a lot and get awesome jobs etc. we still had a desire to find out more about this old and famous institution that we were now a part of. We wanted to know the stories and legends and were only too eager to pick senior brains and chew off their ears (in a completely non-Luis Suarez way) in order to learn them. There is no questioning our drive and ambition, but we learned and learned quickly to balance it with other activities or with the plain-old making friends bit. However, the things my junior batch has been asking me have more often than not been of an academic nature. There just isn’t enough enthusiasm to learn more about the place or the people and pretty much every question I’ve fielded has been about grades or jobs. And the stark contrast in attitudes made me think.
So I decided to get in touch with some of my alumni to ask what it was that they remembered about their life on campus. And the response was never their grades. Nobody regretted not having devoted more hours to the library. And I spoke both to people who got A’s and those who barely made it (no sampling bias). They didn’t discourage me from studying hard, but from locking myself up in my room. To paraphrase one of the people I spoke to, “When you meet your batch after 15 years, nobody remembers your GPA, maybe not even you. It’s the other experiences you reminisce about. The late nights, the early mornings, the never-ending amount of work and juggling it with all the other things that you had to do, these are what you talk and laugh about.”
So if I may be so presumptuous – and surviving first year makes me feel like I know certain things a little better, deluded though that perception may be – I want to offer a piece of unsolicited advice (as most advice is). You’ve been given the chance to be a part of a great and iconic institution. You’re surrounded by amazing people who have so many stories to share. Don’t make the mistake of missing the woods for the trees. It’s imperative that you work hard and do well, but if you miss out on the little experiences here you’re never getting them back again. So don’t always focus on the short term. Life here is about a lot more than the next assignment deadline. Take the time to know the people around you a little better. Because as the veterans said, in a few years’ time even you don’t remember your grades.
Nadeem is still trying to make sense of Life, the Universe and Everything having just started his second year and planning to have a great time while he tries to figure all that stuff out. You can follow him at nadeemraj.insideiim.com
He’s an amateur storyteller at 42shadesoctarine.wordpress.com