“Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder.”
I don’t think there is one ideal answer to “How one should spend his two years at an IIM.” Everyone has his own priorities and accordingly he/she invests his time in various activities. So, in the following points, I am sharing the perspective that I have gained from my experience. Likewise, you can learn many more points from other people who have experienced the ambience of the b-school.
Focus on skill development, not ‘only’ grades:
I am not one of the toppers, but I have worked on multiple real-time digital marketing issues. On many occasions, I have managed events at IIM Trichy. I have practically learned the concepts of Digital Marketing. I have dealt with internal and external stakeholders of IIM Trichy and managed one whole admission process for my junior batch.
The result – a mercurial growth in my confidence and people-management skill.
For long we have run after grades and judged people by their academic results. Let’s not do it now for the very reason that in today’s world, skills outweigh grades substantially. At IIM, please do not fret about your grades. Instead of that, work on your skill development. I am being very frank now. I have seen toppers struggling to get a job and average candidates bagging some dream roles. So, try to enhance your skillset. Learn new skills. Learn to do the 360-degree analysis of a business problem. Read about businesses and their journey. Learn to manage events. Learn to speak without any fear. Most importantly, learn the skill of people management. Because in the end, no one will give a damn to your grades, people will be more interested in judging you by your thought process, your analytical skills, people management skills, and soft skills, among many others.
Don’t be a part of the rat-race:
There were lots of competitions and live projects floated in which students were taking part in, I chose a few. No one thought of doing a course on writing in his MBA, I did.
Most people get into b-schools because they found themselves stuck in their job. However, unwittingly, we again start following others in the rat-race and eventually meet the same fate again. So, stop being part of the rat race. Explore things and find what floats your boat, and then learn more and more about it. If you work on your interests, you will enjoy the work.
If I talk about myself, my grades are pretty average, but I did invest a lot of time in things that I love to do. I learned a lot about digital marketing. I did not only learn the theory, rather I leveraged the lessons of marketing in my writing, and applied the concepts of marketing on my blog. This was different, but I enjoy it. I spent hours doing it without feeling tired. And guess what, I leveraged these learnings in my job interview and bagged the job at ONGC.
During my time at MBA, I would come across many problems that I found tough to solve. But I had a good network, and so I would reach out to different people to help me with my different problems. After all, each one has one quality or the other that differentiates him from others.
For me, it has been the major takeaway from the MBA course. In my MBA, I have networked with myriad people from varying backgrounds. Many of them have taught me things that I would not have thought of otherwise. I have been able to find solutions to many tough problems just by networking and making relations with other people. I have interacted with seniors, my batchmates, my juniors, and faculty. This has made me more social, more agile and more versatile. And in future also, I feel I would be able to leverage this network to help myself and others. So, network as much as you can. Meet as many new people as you can. You will gain what we call experience, and that will help you grow. It will help you grow personally, professionally, and intellectually.
Learn to be versatile:
I learned diving in the swimming pool for a competition, took part in the fashion show for the first time in my life, addressed the audience of 250 people in the auditorium, learned dance at which I am awfully bad.
As you get into the corporate world, you may be required to wear multiple hats at times. So, be braced for it. Experience things. You don’t need to be perfect at everything, but sometimes, you should do things for experience and fill the gaps in the system.
Do Live Projects:
I did four live projects in 20 months. And that helped me know about real-time business problems and how to analyze them. It enhanced my network and confidence. It gave me practical points to talk about in the interview and not just bookish things.
Today, employability matters more than anything else. If you are a topper, but you are low in confidence and do not know how to address a meeting, you may be deemed unfit for the job. The live projects give you the feel of the corporate world. They help you learn about real-time business problems and help you think realistically. They help you learn how to deal with internal and external stakeholders, which is important in any job today.
Most of the practical things that I have learned at IIM are from the experience of my friends and faculty.
At IIMS, you will find a bunch of intelligent folks in the form of students and faculty. If you just listen to them, you can learn a lot. So, do talk to faculty and students and learn from them. Their rich experience can help you learn things better.