B-School Selection
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My 2 cents from a lifetime experience called MBA

Over the past few years of mentoring there are always students who keep in touch even after they graduate from b-school. Some to express gratitude once they get their final placement, some to sort out their post MBA dilemmas and others just to have a nice chat about everything under the sun :-).

Likewise this year a student of mine wrote to me, just after a graduated, saying that he felt investing in an MBA was the best thing he did and over the course of a few mails I asked him to do a guest post about his MBA experience.

Given that a lot of aspirants who made it to b-schools will be debating the pros and cons, thinking about the cost involved whether it is worth it, the better schools you missed out on and stuff, this post is timely.

Two years back I remember this student also being in the same dilemma. He was wondering whether it was really worth leaving his job at Ford to do an MBA. I felt he should since over the longer-term you need an MBA not just to be given the big roles but also to do justice to them.

This is his take on his MBA experience. Please note that this purely one student’s take based on his personal experience. 

As the euphoria of finally becoming an ‘MBA’ from a top b-school (NMIMS Mumbai) settles down and I try adjusting to the slow paced life of Kerala (Read: missing Mumbai Meri Jaan :-(), I take a look back the at the rollercoaster 2-year journey.

Should I do an MBA or Not?

I belong to the ‘IIM’ category – Indian IT Male and yes an Engineer too :-).

(Read: mechanical engineer not worth his salt :-), i.e MBA – exit strategy!).

However, there was only one problem. I was a ‘Serial CAT Loser’ who just couldn’t make the cut. Meanwhile, I was working as an IT Business Analyst at Ford Motors and kept punching at Management entrance exams. When I finally managed to clear NMAT and CDPI process at 3.5 years of work-ex, I faced one of the biggest Dilemmas of my life

Does quitting the job from a reputed MNC at this stage of career makes sense?”

“Is investing 2 years and a whopping sum as fees justified??”

“What is the ROI ?”                                               

“Can I survive the fierce competition in the B-school Rat Race?”

“ Do I have it in me to secure a dream Job?”

 Though these questions haunted me, I took a leap of faith and took the MBA plunge

First-year Snapshot

Trimester 1

After one week of hectic, but insanely fun induction program trimester 1 lectures started. The first class of MBA was Financial Accounting and madam greeted us with a surprise Quiz! Being a ‘Pseudo engineer’ who doesn’t know the difference between debit and credit, FAA test was a tight slap in the face. I looked around desperately only to find my neighbours circling answers vigorously! The icing on the cake was the DCP (Read: Desperate Class Participation) that followed and I sat there thunderstruck, quiet as a mouse! Being a self-critical ‘mallu’, I decided to keep my mouth shut and let people wonder if I am stupid rather than open my mouth and dispel any doubt :-).

Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse with assignments, case studies, and presentations, I was flooded with cell applications. I can confidently say my junior placement committee interview was the toughest interview I faced till date and it was quite an experience on its own! I got neck deep in academics, cell work and the pressure began to mount. I struggled, but I survived. Trim 1 went in a blur and before you know it was time for summer placements.

Trimester 2

Madness followed. With God’s grace, I managed to scrape through my first shortlist at GE and breathed a sigh of relief. I saw students ecstatic in converting dream companies. I saw people crumble under pressure with their dreams shattered. I saw people partying like no tomorrow. I saw people waiting with bated breath for the dreaded shortlist (Which no astrologist can ever predict!). I saw them struggle, but they survived. It was during this phase, I discovered my passion for helping people with Hygiene questions and SOP’s. I conducted mock GD’s and PI’s and helped some of them sail through placements. The experience was truly humbling.

Trimester 3

The highlight of Trim 3 was the civic engagement program where I got an opportunity to interact with the less privileged sections of the society and undertake community development activities. It was humbling to realize how oblivious I was to the weaker sections of society around me and what an opportunity we have to make a small difference to their lives.

My 2 cents to those embarking on their dream journey

1.MBA is a marathon, not a sprint

The best thing you can do to yourself to help you run this exhausting, nerve-wracking, yet fulfilling marathon is to try and make few non-transactional friends. (Yes you can find gold in copper mines if you dig hard enough 🙂 ) Invest your time and energy in the gems you may find in MBA life and you will reap rich dividends. They are your family at B-school and they will get your back when the going gets tough whether it is the dreaded placement season or when you question “the purpose of life” (read — why am I doing MBA! over a bottle of beer by Juhu beach). You will be knocked out in a couple of sprints, but keep punching till finish line and marathon belongs to you.

2.Peer learning:

As clichéd as it sounds, your class is an amalgamation of highly talented folks from all over the country. From the finance wizard who is kind enough to help you pass FAA to the guy who makes killer presentations to the gal who can teach you just enough moves to impress your prospective date in next party, nothing can replace peer learning. Not to mention the goldmine of wisdom from your seniors who fix your CV (read — most important paper of your life) and share their 2 cents on just about everything you need to know to run the race.

3.Committees and Cells:

In my opinion, cells are a great way to “network” (most abused word of MBA) with a larger group of students, teachers, and corporates. It will push you out of your comfort zone and makes your MBA experience lot more enriching and fulfilling.

P.S: If ‘cold calling’ and managing a team without a stick or a carrot does not teach you patience, nothing ever will 🙂

Second-year Snapshot

Trimester 4

Competitions, competitions, and some more case study competitions. Nothing has ever pushed me to apply the concepts learned in the classroom and forced me to try and find a solution to a real-life business problem than case study competitions. I learned the basics of making an engaging presentation and faced my fears while presenting to Mahindra CEO for Mahindra War room competition.

Tip: Get your hands dirty in competitions and you will be the wiser. Not to mention interesting learning experiences you can share during placements which are worth its weight in gold.

Trimester 5

“Winter is coming!!! “: The dreaded final placement season has arrived and it’s time to put your best foot forward. You will meet two kinds of people in the season.

  • The ones who are lucky enough to get placed early, who post #MBA Over (read — if you got it, flaunt it attitude) and party like crazy oblivious to everyone around them.
  • The ones who get placed early, but have the grace not to flaunt it and make it their personal mission to help fellow batch-mates sail through the storm.

The journey of cracking the elusive shortlist, managing to say the right things at GD-PI process and waiting countless hours for the results with bated breath will take a toll on you physically and emotionally. The hardest part is to dust yourself up, put on a brave face and go back to battle again wearing the same coat and tie…This is where the relationships you have invested in during the course of MBA life could prove to be priceless. Fortunately, I escaped from “winter”, thanks to GE who was kind enough to offer me a PPO and I resumed ‘Jerry’s school of GD-PI Preparation :-)’

Trimester 6

My only 2 cents: Party, party and party some more. As a wise classmate said “ Make memories, not PPT’s”

As I look back at the questions that haunted me before joining, I can confidently say the answer to each one of them is: A resounding YES

Final Words:

“MBA life will throw many opportunities at you….”

Keep punching at them and you will finish your marathon in flying colors“

All the best,

Jerry Alex


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