''How is Life at IIM Calcutta"
If I had a penny for every time someone asked me that question, I would probably not need to take a loan to pay the fee…. Okay, maybe Ten bucks, if not a penny.
My initial perception of IIM Calcutta before I came here was nothing. I had no idea what there was, and I had no idea what to expect. So I did the best thing I could, and I flew down to Kolkata for my first year with a blank slate. Each week in the first two terms was a life changing one. And so, I’ve broken them down exactly so.
Life Changing Paradigm #1: Relationships. My undergraduate institution was a relatively new one with very little scope for a culture to develop in the campus, and therefore very limited ‘bonding’ amongst the students even during the course of four years. IIM Calcutta being the oldest IIM had over 50 years of history and culture attached to it into which each person of each batch was woven intricately into. Magically, it took barely 2 weeks for everyone to be a part of the same fabric. I had seniors who were up to 4 years younger to me, and batchmates who were 7 years older, and yet, there was absolutely no difference between anyone. And the warmth and inclusion with which each one of the 460+ people in our batch was made to feel at home, has made me call IIM Calcutta “Home”.
Life Changing Paradigm #2: Academics. You think you know what Finance, Marketing, Organizational Behaviour, Operations is. 90% chances are that you’re wrong. But give it 6-7 classes of each of these subjects, and you will know what they are actually about. Yes, it was a little difficult to get back to making notes in classes and taking examinations after 4 years of work experience. But it wasn’t school or college that you were spoonfed and explained concepts to like a child. I remembered being classes from back then and wondering “When on Earth am I ever going to apply these concepts in real life or a job?” But here classes are not about knowing the concepts. You’re expected to do an infinite amount of reading on your own for that. Classes are about the implementation of these concepts in a case based structure, which is legitimate proof that what you learn here is what you will actually do.
Life Changing Paradigm #3: Sports and Cultural Activities. I missed playing my favourite sports as a Business Analyst. To be honest, I thought that with growing up and getting a job, I would never ever be with a set of like minded people who enjoyed playing as much as I did. And especially after being hit with the expectations of the first two terms here, my beliefs strengthened; only to be broken down harshly with a series of intra-college and inter-college tournaments. Captains took their team performances seriously, and people had the dedication to attend practices even if they were at 5:30 in the morning.
A constant barrage of debates, quizzes, writing competitions and what not made sure that nobody could attend every event and everyone would be able to attend something. I was debating over topics such as “The chicken came before the egg”, and choosing whether to participate in quizzes about Marvel/DC comics or taking part in a t-shirt designing competition for the lack of time.
Life Changing Paradigm #4: Placements. If I say that placements are overrated, I would be lying. We prepared for months, reading the unending material, making infinite versions of our CVs and participating in GDs till 3 am. At the advent of our journey, we were told, “At Joka, we leave no one behind.” I said,” That is lame. It’s just one of things people say.” Wrong again! Never had I seen 900+ people so passionately working towards a five-day event for over four months, taking each and every person along with them. When we felt enthused at a shortlist at 8 am, there were people to rejoice with us. And when we felt pressured and depressed at 3 am, then too, there were people to lift up and spirits, put their faith in us and push us to go through with every stage with them standing right beside us at every step of the way. 900+ people stayed together from 7 am to 1 am for 5 days taking everyone ahead with them, and since we worked so hard for so long, we partied even harder once we had succeeded.
Thank god I came in with a clean slate in my head.