Make best use of your learning
RESIDENTIAL MBA students get an opportunity to blend theory with practice
Pursuing an MBA is not only about assignments and text books, management theory and concepts. Rather it is pragmatic learning through case studies, and role plays; management games and projects - all aid in putting theory into practice. It is perhaps at this stage that one realizes the importance of time management, and optimization of resources. Full-time residential MBA students engage in different activities, for instance they stay up the whole night to prepare PowerPoint presentations and discuss it out the next morning with added zeal. It is indeed an opportunity to know a lot about various facets of business world – be it finance, marketing, operations or human resources. One also learns soft skills like leadership, communication and team work. Know more on issues as you make your way to be change agents of tomorrow.
Q. Is my degree/diploma not worth if not from IIMs?
A. Education is valuable and one should know how to make best use of it. It has more to do with your individual abilities and interests than any specific place of learning. There are innumerable examples of non-IIM graduates, some of them even from not so well-known management institutions, who have made a difference in the world by redefining success. However, there are many benefits that are attributed to the prestigious Indian Institutes of Management. According to Dr. Debashis Chatterjee, Director IIM Kozhikode, “The advantage of the IIM system is that it gives you multiple exit options. Almost everybody gets a job option.” He adds, “Management education address a wide range of activities in social and economic space. So when one graduates one should think of grasping broad patterns of the world. More than focusing on nuances of business, like the response to stakeholders, increasing the market presence etc., one should be competent in challenging the so-called stability of structures. And this is possible if the IIMs are able to identify their constituency - whether we are a global school or a national school with global ambition or a school with specialization in something. So the biggest challenge is to identify what you will cater to.” IIM Kashipur director, Gautam Sinha brings out another key factor on these institutions of national importance, when he shares, “IIMs regularly interact with industry to bring in the aspects of most recent practice into the learning process. Industry experts are closely involved in framing the curricula, especially in electives.”
Q. Any scholarships for MBA?
A. In the current scenario, the cost of higher education is on the rise when leading economies are recovering from recession. So, funding your education is a critical concern. A scholarship enables you to fully concentrate on your studies instead of worrying about monetary issues. An Indian MBA degree costs around Rs. 6 to 25 lakh. Abroad your budget may rise to anywhere between Rs. 20 and Rs. 60 lakh. Scholarships are awarded based on various criteria that reflect the value and purpose of its existence. Here is a compilation of select programmes offered at the Top 50 B-Schools ranked by Careers360. Log on to http://www.careers360.com/news/4051-scholarships-by-b-schools-MBA
|LIFE AT a campus instils a sense of team spirit and networking skills|
Q. How important is a student exchange programme? Am I missing anything if I don’t get on the bandwagon?
A. Students exchange programmes are an outcome of the tie-ups between two institutes for hosting each other’s students. This is aimed at enriching them with practical training and making them aware of the changing practices in a given profession. The other objective is to give them the chance to have a closer look at the people, the culture and tradition of the visiting country. Exchange students live with a host family or in a designated place such as a hostel, an apartment, or a student lodge. Costs of the programme vary as per the country and the institution. Participants fund their stay via scholarships, loans, or on their own.
A student from a leading B-School says, ‘If given an option for the top universities, a student exchange programme surely helps one experience varied course and teaching pedagogy. It remains a sought-after avenue to enjoy different foreign locations and enjoy bachelorhood.” Another from the same institute, says, “As far as importance of an exchange programme is concerned, it depends upon the priority of each person and the aim with which the person has joined the B-School. More than anything else, a student exchange programme is a vacation where we get to see Europe for three months and your parents are under an assumption that we are “studying” there. Also, how practical it is to shell out another 3-4 lakhs depends from person-to-person. Yes, I definitely miss all my friends who are enjoying the serene and picturesque beauty there and spamming the social media day in and day out.” He further shares that, 54 students out of a total of 75 from IIM Banglore, who visited various institutes across the world under the student exchange programme between September-December 2012, found the whole exercise ‘very satisfactory’. Twenty-one of them termed their experience as ‘satisfactory”.
But it is important to understand the limitations as well before you embark on the programme. Considering the fact that one would only spend a semester abroad, one needs to have limited expectation on the learning possibilities especially on the practical front. Most foreign countries do not permit you to work in the form of projects etc, unless it is expressly permitted in advance. So work experience is normally not an option for exchange students, and that must be kept in mind, before you opt for one.
Q. How’s the life at residential B-Schools?
A. It’s an exciting experience to be part of a residential programme. “Life at residential B-Schools has the potential to transform you forever,” shares Prof. Abhishek Kumar of BIM, Trichy. With tough curriculum and tight deadlines, the best option for students is to work in groups. Such interaction from students of diverse culture creates a space for both cooperation and healthy competition. Dr. Nilanjan Chattopadhyay, of IMT Ghaziabad says, “A manager’s life is all about working in groups. The two-year residential course grooms you for that.” Lovenish Atal, a 2011 batch student at IMT Ghaziabad says, “After class, we used to get surprise mails from professors to deliver presentations the next morning. We sat late night either at friends’ room or canteen. The group presentation was on a range of topics - from how to behave in office, act in an interview or how to talk to seniors. I was happy with the laundry services at college. It cost pretty nominal which comprised both washing and ironing. If I missed my mess which offered meals four times a day, the last resort was always the 24X7 Nescafe joint at the college.
Q. How do professional associations help?
A. Each campus invariably has functional clubs and associations, which are conceived and developed by students with assistance and supervision from faculties. These are good starting points for creating and building professional networks. Each functional area also has national and international associations like the National HRD Network, Asia -specific marketing professionals conclave etc. And all of them have the concept of student membership which one should avail of. There are also specialised certifying bodies like Charted Financial Analyst, USA, Chartered institute of Marketing. Chartered Institute of Management Accountant. Project Management Institute etc. These are internationally-recognised bodies offering certifications based either on a comprehensive exam or credits earned in your own programme. There are also 64 local management associations affiliated to AIMA. They too provide very good practical exposure through evening lectures, conferences, and specialized workshops. A good aspiring manager must make use of all these opportunities.
Q. What difference does a residential MBA make?
A. Most of the Deans and Directors that Careers360 has spoken to, recommend a full-time residential MBA programme which is truly comprehensive. Dean of Graduate School of Business at Stanford University, Garth Saloner says, “I think a two-year MBA programme which is full-time is a completely transformative experience where students learn in experiential ways, from speakers who come through, and from students in other schools across universities. It is an incredible experience and I don’t think in the near foreseeable future, online education is going to provide that richness. On the other hand, how many students in the world have the opportunity to avail themselves of the full-time experience? So, for a lot of those people to have access to at least some of the core ideas, is a tremendous advantage. So both these modes will have to exist side by side”.
Mr Harpreet Singh,
Q. Does fluencyin English matter a lot?
A. According to Dr. MA Khan, Registrar, University of Mumbai, English is the most spoken language across the globe which is also preferred for corporate interaction. India in itself is a culturally diverse country and English is the most commonly used language to break these barriers. With firms looking for expanding, not just within the country but globally as well, it becomes important for budding managers to have a good knowledge of the language. This will help them to articulate and communicate their thoughts, ideas and instructions, which is an important skill required for someone in a managerial position. Fluency in English is important but if a person is not very fluent it will not be the end of the world. It is your intelligence, perseverance and hard work which will help you excel. It is advisable to continuously work on improving your English as it is considered as an essential tool to put forth your thoughts.
Q. Can I start working after first year?
A. No, one cannot start full-time work until the studies are complete in the institution where he/she is enrolled. If one is talking about a two-year programme, some institutes do permit part-time work after students complete their first year. However, most of the institutes allow an industry internship or a project (paid/unpaid) only after a year-and-a-half, but the same cannot be pursued if the institution does not know about it. Students also have a mandatory summer internship programme that varies from 4-8 weeks where one can get a pre-placement offer. “After completing your studies, if you have 3-6 months of work experience in the corporate world, it always adds on to your value, but make sure that you work harder to maintain your studies well,” says Shefali Chopra, an alumnus of Amity Business School, Noida.
Q. What are the things one should keep in mind while choosing a specialization in MBA?
A. Experts say that most of the students think of good placement, lucrative salary package, future growth etc., whenever they choose specialization. But what they miss is self-analysis. They should try to understand their own capabilities and interest area. They should even talk to professionals to understand the job roles they will be assigned. Self-assessment will reveal if one is carved out for the same. For instance, if you want to take marketing, you should know that you may have to work as a sales person initially. Try to understand the respective industry scenario and then go for it. Some think that there is no hard and fast rule for this and at times its’ not even in your hand. “In most of the B-Schools, it’s not that you choose the specialization rather specialization chooses you. In some, the specialization is decided in the first year itself, though the students have to study common syllabus in the first year. In some institutes you get specialization on the basis of your performance in the first year,” says Anupam Sinha, an alumnus of IMT Ghaziabad. “I have IT background and specialization in that but I am right now working on a non-technical profile, so other factors are also there, but it’s advisable that always try to choose what interests you the most,” he adds.
Q. Is there a typical MBA teaching methodology?
A. The teaching methodology varies on the type of course (full-time/part-time, executive or distance learning). According to students pursuing the course, teaching comprises class lectures, case studies from the real world, simulation-based learning, replicating real-world business scenarios, etc. In schools where students come from diverse backgrounds and industries, much emphasis is given to participative and collaborative learning. Substantial learning happens outside the classrooms through various professional and social clubs, which are managed by students. Also, there are research projects which involve field-work, thus giving an insight on how industry functions today. This helps in aligning the students’ expectations to reality. The latest addition to teaching methodology is distance learning where students can learn over video conferences or webinars, thus reducing the distance which could be a hindrance in learning from the best possible institutes.
Saloni Mehta, a student of IIM Ahmedabad, says that most B-Schools follow a trimester system and case-based methodology. It is expected that a student puts in at least 2-4 hours a day doing pre-read and applying those concepts while discussing the case. Assignments and projects are an intensive part of the curriculum. A summer internship is undertaken in most schools to provide industry exposure, a tremendous source of knowledge.
Q. How do you relate theoretical knowledge to on-job practice?
A. Prapti Singh, summer intern with Unilever, Singapore and a PGP candidate at IIM-Kozhikode says, “Theoretical knowledge helps in learning tools and concepts of management such as problem-solving models and softwares for market research. However, on-job training opens up new avenues for learning new lessons and contributing to existing knowledge. Classroom learning through case-study method instils analytical and presentation skills, which are of high value in corporate world. During my stint with Unilever, Singapore, I learnt advanced tools of market research and analysis but I hone my classroom learning for presentation skills.”
Q. How crucial is course curriculum for a sectoral MBA?
A. Bakul Dholakia, Director of Adani Institute of Infrastructure Management, Ahmedabad says, “For a sectoral programme to succeed, availability of context-specific learning material and professional experience are crucial. A pool of experienced managers at Adani group and faculty at IIMA Centre for Infrastructure constituted the nuclei for finalizing the curriculum that went through multiple-iterations.”
Q. Apart from the campus placements, where I can look for job opportunities?
A. Make a list of the companies you want to get into. Go to their websites and check the careers section and find out the opportunities for yourself. Try to contact the start-ups. It is always easy to contact them. Talk to your alumni as they may let you know about the opportunities. You can also check the websites that list job opportunities.
Q. How can I check about the placement of the institute?
A. Its’ always best to talk the alumni and the current second year students regarding it. They can tell you about the real picture. Also you can talk to the faculty members. A few public institutes and private institutes publish their placement report, which you can check. But don’t rely solely on the placement data available on the websites of the institutes. Always cross-check. Don’t believe the figures blindly.
Q. How do I get summer internship?
A. “If you are having a healthy interaction with the placement committee you can get a summer internship easily. You should be actively engaged in organizing industry events as it gives you lot of exposure about different industries,” says Prableeen, alumnus of a B-School. “Try on your own also. If you are passionate to work in any organization, why don’t you approach them directly and it might help you to tell your value to the organization,” she adds. Get in touch with your alumni because they also help a lot in this regard.
Q. Does extracurricular activities play a role?
A. Yes. It does very much. MBA, is a programme of skills and, events, conferences, projects and festivals that each B-School organises are spaces for the students to hone their practical skills. One learns leadership, team building, being a player in a team, communication and project management skills by actively participating in these events.
Q. How do companies recruit from top tier schools?
A. The process of recruitment is planned and processed months in advance before the actual placement season starts. Initially, it is only shared with campus placement officer/student representatives committee. There are proper presentations (PPT of the company, job profiles, salaries) made by the HR/Line managers of the various companies, followed by taking rounds of interviews. Sector specific requirements are noted and asked by B-Schools concerned whether they can help in filling those gaps or not. In brief, the process is as follows:
Categorize institution into A-Grade, B-Grade
Job profile and package is defined accordingly
Consideration is given to remain visible across all types of institutions
Recruitment teams generally consist of at least one past alumni
Q. How to make best use of your summer internship?
A. Internships provide a good opportunity to students to gain understanding of a particular sector or industry. Students should decide upon the internship carefully as it could be used as a platform to decide if one wants to pursue his/her career in particular stream. Alumni of different institutes advise that you should try to get into work you love to do. Even if you don’t get the desired profile at least accept whatever you are getting. Do it wholeheartedly instead of doing it just for the sake of doing it. Whatever kind of experience you get, will always be beneficial. In fact, you get clarity about what kind of profile suits you. And it helps you to become very confident for your final placement.
Q. Does certification along with MBA set you apart during your job selection?
A. It helps if you plan to join IT sector, as it is largely driven by certifications. The only thing which you should keep in mind is that certifications should be relevant to your career domain. An additional CA/CS/ICWA/CFA for a candidate majoring in finance is appreciated, rather than French culinary baking degree.
Q. What according to you are the skill-sets desired by recruiters coming for placements?
A. It’s always best to talk the alumni and the current second year students regarding it. They can tell you about the real picture. Also you can talk to the faculty members.
Dr Subhajyoti Ray
Dr. Brahm Sharma
Dr. SK Singla
Q. Apart from the campus placements, where I can look for job opportunities?
A. Campus placement still remains the best bet for you to get a good job. So ideally you must try your level best to get a job there itself. Many students give up an opportunity for want of more money or location. Do not commit that mistake. But considering the fact that many campuses are not able to get you a job, you must seek out alternative objectives. First make a list of the companies where you would like to get into and which are recruiting at the moment. Go to their websites and check the careers section and find out if there are opportunities for yourself. The best place to begin a career is a start-up. Make a list of start-ups in your locality and visit them personally. Many are invariably short of staff. And if you do your homework well you might find an opportunity. If a classmate of yours works for a start-up ask him or her to refer you and most of them do.
Talk to your alumni as they may let you know about the opportunities. Visit conferences, events and seminars connected with your domain. Get in touch with executives who visit them and ask intelligent questions. Connect with them later and most would be glad to help you find a job. Moreover, there are plenty of job-oriented sites like Naukri, Monster, firstjobs, LinedIn Jobs etc. Keep a tab to find the right job.