If you seek the help of brother Google, asking him about the trending articles on IIMs, you are extremely likely to find yourself waist deep in the overwhelming number of articles out there in the wild, imparting ‘gyaan’, covering topics ranging from ‘How to get into an IIM’ to ‘How to come out on top, now that you have got in’. And trust me, some of these articles will be packed with so much statistics and analyses that they will make you wonder who came first, Dr. Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis or the IIM grad. We people over here just love to analyse stuff. We even calculate the probability that you will not be thrown out of class, given that you have not gone through your pre-session reading material, so hasn’t 36% of the class and that there is a 23% chance that the professor had had a bad morning.
I am not that gifted when it comes to producing data, so I will keep things practical and try to provide an insight into how life is on the other side of the wall. This article will not help you crack the CAT and will definitely not help you to get a girlfriend in an IIM, like in 2 States. If that is what you are seeking, then your time well be invested elsewhere. Rather, this article will tell you what NOT to do in an IIM.
Contrary to popular belief, life is not ‘set’ once you’ve made the cut and you’re in. Frankly speaking, life will never be so messed-up and unsettling at any other point of time during the rest of your blessed life. It is not the bed of roses that the initiate would be expecting. Instead, you will find a 5’10’’x 4’3’’ single bed waiting for you in your allotted room where you can lie down quietly and think about the comfortable pillows you left behind at home.
Talking about beds and pillows brings me to my first “Don’t”. Don’t Sleep. Seriously. Do not sleep. I repeat, DO NOT SLEEP. There is something weird about this place. You can find students up and about in the hostel, going about their business at ungodly hours. Do not be alarmed if someone barges into your room at three in the morning, when the birds are roosting in peace, trying to engage you in a conversation that revolves around the latest monetary policy of the RBI. If you are feeling sleepy, just remember that your neighbours are not. They are inching ahead, day by day, hour by hour. Sleeping will cost you. As one of my professors keeps saying, “Do not sleep. China is coming.”
The second “Don’t” would be procrastination. Before you holler at me, saying that it is a general “Don’t”, let me say that procrastination has entirely new levels of consequences here. If it is your precious habit to keep putting things off till the last moment, then you have got two options. You can either change or you can sink. Let me give an example here. If your professor gives you an assignment and you think that being brilliant, you can manage to complete it in the twelfth hour, then you have thought wrong. The four-page assignment is just the tip of the iceberg and by the time it hits you that there is much more to it than those four pages, that there are entire two chapters and one case study that you have to go through just to make sense out of those four pages, it is just too late. You might as well give up, steel your mind for impact and go to bed. And when this kind of incident keeps occurring in a loop, you realise that you can no longer make head or tails out of what is being taught in class. Sorry pal, you are doomed.
Underestimating your peers would be the third “Don’t”. If you have made it into this place, then it is highly likely that you used to be one of the top rankers in your respective school and college. Yes, we understand that. What you should understand is that, so are your peers. You have to learn to accept that you are not the ‘know-all’ of the class anymore. Those days have passed. You are not competing with the average Indian boy here; you are in the league with the best. Collectively, these guys seem to know any and everything under the Sun. Get over the fact that you used to be one amongst the few students who used to have the answer to almost every question that your school teacher asked. Here, your hand would be just another one amongst the other forty raised-hands. Overconfidence will get you obliterated.
The fourth and the last “Don’t” would be, don’t study. Wait, that sounds wrong. Let me rephrase that. Don’t just study. There is a lot more to doing an MBA from an IIM than just studying. It is the experience that matters. Bookish knowledge won’t set you apart from the rest. Textual knowledge is abundant and accessible to everyone. The value-addition that you have to do has to be qualitative and experiential. Something that you will not get elsewhere. The college will provide you with innumerable opportunities to hone your skills and learn new ones, such as decision-making, crisis management, human relations management, event management, etc. The several committees and clubs will give you the platform to bring out the manager in you but it is your responsibility to take up the opportunity and make the best of it. The atmosphere here is like no other. Spending two years with some of the best brains of the country indeed has a huge impact at the individual level.
So what should you do? I would say, when an opportunity like this comes knocking, embrace it. You are urged to be as proactive as possible, be a part of everything, push your limits and rediscover yourself. This change is a good change. The best. It metamorphoses you into a more tolerant, capable and aware human being and the ideal manager of tomorrow.
Avilash Chowdhury, bookworm, pianist and a cycling freak, is famous for his very unconventional take on common events. Given the Grammar Nazi that he is, his being in the Editorial Team of the Public Relation Cell fits the bill.