Campus Life at IIM Ahmedabad- Pushkaraj Mahendra Dhake completed his B.Tech in Electrical Engineering and is now a PGP1 student at IIM Ahmedabad. Pushkaraj in his interview with Careers 360 discusses the selection procedure at IIM Ahmedabad and gives special tips on how to attempt the Written Ability Test effectively. Furthermore, Pushkaraj talks about his initial days at IIM Ahmedabad and how he became part of certain clubs and committees in the campus itself. In his interview wiith Careers360, Pushkaraj talks at length about the infrastructure at IIM Ahmedabad, facilities, placement cell and much more.
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Careers360: How has been the campus life at your college? Tell us something about your daily routine as in how is the time divided between study and having fun activities. Also, tell us something about yourself as in from which place do you belong so on and so forth
Pushkaraj: I am Pushkaraj Dhake, a PGP1 student at IIM Ahmedabad. I am from Aurangabad in Maharashtra. I have completed my B.Tech. in Electrical Engineering in 2018 and directly joined IIM A after that. The first year at IIM Ahmedabad has been an adventurous experience like a roller coaster ride.
The day of a PGP1 (1st-year students of two years PGP program at IIM A) student starts with the first class at 8:45 am. Typically every day we have three lectures of 75 minutes each with 20 minutes break in between lectures from 8:45 am to 1:10 pm. Classes are mostly case discussions that students are supposed to study and analyze before coming to class. After the last class, we rush to mess to have our lunch. 1:45 PM is the time when all the students have fingers crossed. Students wait outside the mess at 1:45 PM to see if we have a surprise quiz that day from 2:45 PM. We also get a mail and an SMS regarding the surprise quiz at 1:45 PM. If it happens, the whole syllabus is studied in 1 hour in groups or individually by students. And if it doesn't happen, students take a good nap for 1 or 2 hours. Then, at 4 PM we would start reading the cases for tomorrow. Typically one case would take 1 hour to read and 1 hour to analyze. And as there are 3 lectures every day, we usually have 3 cases to prepare. So, 4 PM to 6 PM one case and then half hour tea/snacks break and again 2nd from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM before dinner. After dinner, students have some frisbee throws at Louis Kahn Plaza and I used to study the remaining case after dinner from 10:00 PM to 12:00 AM. After 12 AM we would see if any assignments and projects are pending. People are grouped into 5-6 people .which are called study groups. We discuss in study groups about assignments and projects at night and then sleep at 3:00 AM to 4:00 AM. Apart from this, the club activities also go on and our schedule changes accordingly. Typically I would sleep for 4-5 hours at night and 1-2 hours in the afternoon if a surprise quiz doesn't happen or we do not have too many assignments/projects. This is the day at IIM A.
Careers360: Tell us something about the selection process as in the personal interview, group discussion. What were the topics on which the questions were asked? Do you have some special tips for future aspirants?
Pushkaraj: The selection procedure for IIM Ahmedabad and other IIMs also is of two steps. The first step is the CAT exam after which you get interview calls from IIMs. At IIM Ahmedabad, on the interview day, there are 3 things which applicants are required to go through. First is document verification which is done initially once you reach the interview center. Then, students are divided among the panels. Typically 6-8 students are allotted to every panel. The panel conducts Analytical Writing Test (AWT, Written Ability Test (WAT) for other IIMS except for IIM A) for their group and then conducts interviews. Every panel has 2-3 interviewers of which some times 1 is the alumni of that IIM and others are faculty of that IIM. In AWT, there are 2 types of questions. Either you are given a statement or you are given a conversation between 2 people. You have to analyze the statement/conversation. In this test, they test your writing skills and analytical skills. You are not expected to repeat the facts given in the statement/conversation, but to analyze it and present your view on that. For example, in a conversation, you should analyze and the state whose statement is strong, whose statement is weak, if the statements of a person are inconsistent, illogical, not followed by later statements, etc. In the interview, as I was a fresher, I was asked my favorite subject in engineering and was asked 3-4 questions on the same. If you have work experience, they may focus on work experience. But they at least expect answers on the academic part which you have studied in your undergraduate studies. I was also asked about my home town. As my home town (Aurangabad), is a historic city, my interview went in that area. I was asked about the history of my hometown and then a further history of the linked emperors. My interviews were not focused on the current you should at least prepare 2 subjects very well from your undergraduate studies, read news and know about the things in detail which are directly related to you. For example, you should know about the history of your home town, your family background, the meaning of your name. These are small things which if you don't know, might leave a bad impression in the interview.
Careers360: How did you get adjusted to the new environment at the institute. Did you face any problem, if yes what were they and how did you overcome them?
Pushkaraj: The rigour at IIM Ahmedabad is very high. It is rightly said that A in IIMA stands for academics. I didn't have reading as a habit. So, initially it used to take a longer time to read cases, but with time, I got used to it. Also, in my initial days, as the case method at IIM A was very new to me, I didn't understand concepts very clearly from the case discussions. But then I understood that the clarity in concepts is proportional to the amount of preparation you do for the case before the class. It was very difficult for me to prepare all the cases along with other club activities. But, after term 1, I got so used to it that I would take lesser time to prepare for the classes and could find time for other activities. There are so many clubs, so many events and activities happening in the campus that it is not possible to participate in all of them, but you need to choose where to participate and where not to. I learned to manage my time over the year. I learned to utilize even a small time to maximize my participation in other activities along with academics.
Careers360: Does your institute organize casual college or corporate trips. Share your experience about it?
Pushkaraj: There are so many clubs at IIMA. Some clubs organize industrial visits or casual trips. We had a visit to the Amul factory organized y Food and Agribusiness Club. A stargazing trip to Kutchh was organized by the student interest group, Stargazers. Heritage club organizes heritage walk around the historic places in the city of Ahmedabad. Other than these, students plan their own personal trips in groups to nearby places like Udaipur, Mount Abu, etc.
Careers360: Apart from the regular studies, what are the activities that take place at your institute? Do you have clubs and committees? If yes, are you part of them and which ones?
Pushkaraj: There are 46 student managed associations (SMAs) at IIM Ahmedabad. There are career-related clubs like Beta (finance club), Consult club, General Management & Leadership Club, Synergy (HR SIG), Niche (Marketing Club), Product Management & Technology Club, etc. which organize career-related activities like speaker sessions, competitions and provide guidance for placements. Then there are clubs in other areas like Music Club, Footloose (Dance Club), IIMACTS (Dramatics Club), Heritage Club, Prakriti (Nature & Sustainability Club), Entre Club, IDEOS (Social Innovation SIG), Stargazers (Astronomy SIG), etc. Different festivals are organized by student bodies like The Red Brick Summit (Management Festival), CHAOS (Cultural festival), Sports festival, entrepreneurship summit, etc. I was a part of Stargazers in my first year and now I am also a part of Entre Cell and IDEOS. Stargazers organize stargazing sessions on different occasions like Lunar Eclipse or any other astronomical events to observe, moon, stars, Mars, Jupiter, etc. It also organizes a space competition which gives a mission to be completed in a simulated space environment.
Careers 360: What is the faculty-student ratio at the institute? How is the infrastructure? What are the facilities that are provided at the campus that makes it distinct from other institutes?
Pushkaraj: There are around 1100 students on campus in different programs and the faculty-student ratio is approximately 1:10. Though the campus at IIM A is older, the facilities provided are state of the art. The Vikram Sarabhai Library at IIM A has a huge collection of physical books, but more than that, the ebooks, journals, magazines, and industry databases. Students get access to many databases that help to get industry insights in whatever area you want. Classrooms are also equipped with a computer, projectors, black and whiteboards. Students typically have fixed seats and the nameplate in front of their seats.
Careers 360: How is the hostel facility? What are some of the popular hangouts close to the campus?
Pushkaraj: The campus is divided into 2 parts, old campus, and new campus. The old campus has hostels that are made of red bricks only and relatively smaller rooms than the rooms in the new campus. The rooms in the new campus are relatively larger. All the hostels have basic amenities like washing machine, fridge, oven in the common room. Washrooms are common in almost all hostels. There are 35 hostels which are called dorms. Dorm 28 to dorm 35 have attached washrooms in every room. Dorms also have other facilities like Table Tennis tables, pool tables, foosball tables, etc.
Careers360: What do you do during your leisure time?
Pushkaraj: In my leisure time, I read about the Maratha history. I also used to play one or two pool games when I would get bored.
Careers360: In which particular field are you specializing?
Pushkaraj: There is no particular specialization at IIM Ahmedabad. Subjects from all the areas of management are taught in the first year and the second year is of all electives. In the second year, you can choose the courses from all the courses running subject to minimum and maximum credit requirements. I have an interest in finance so I will be taking maximum electives from the finance area in my second year.
Careers360: What are the types of companies that come for recruitment and how has the recruitment been in the past few years in terms of placement.
Pushkaraj: All types of management related companies visit the campus for recruitment. Major areas according to function are management consulting, finance, sales marketing, general management, product management, BFSI, etc. The placements have always been 100% at IIM A. For the past few years, students are preferring consulting jobs over others. IIM A has a clustering process for placements, unlike other institutes that have day placements. This process clubs similar companies into cohorts and all the cohorts are divided into 3 clusters according to the preference of students. This helps students to get more opportunities in good companies in subsequent clusters even if they do not get the job as per their choice in one cluster.
Careers360: Were you given any training ahead of the placements or you prepared on your own?
Pushkaraj: The formal training was not given for placements. But different clubs have events for guidance in placements. Also, seniors help a lot while preparing. Students form small groups among themselves and collaboratively prepare apart from individual preparation. Alumni Relations body also connects the alumni mentors with students for placements related guidance. Though there is no formal training, more than enough directions and guidance is provided to students in informal ways.
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