“There are some 45 days left for me to join a B-School. What all should I do in this time period?”, a frequent and relatable question that haunts most management aspirants. To make your academic life simpler should you study economics or accounting since you don’t have a commerce background? Or should you chill out during this period with the full knowledge that you won’t be hearing about the word ‘sleep’ when the rampage of a B-School begins? Or should you study for some certifications which would make shiny additions into your CV?
During the first year a management student in most B-Schools studies subjects from all disciplines of management. You will typically be facing Accounting, Economics, Marketing, Social Psychology, Strategy, Organisational Development, Corporate Finance, Communication, Statistics and IT to name a few. Should you be studying bits and pieces of all these before you join? I wouldn’t recommend doing that. Two months is too short a time to even barely start cutting into the vast depth that these subjects offer. What you can however do is understand what these subjects are and understand in what way would these subjects be of use to a manager. How should that help you?
Firstly, you would not be blank on the first day of the class. Talking from an engineering perspective, since I happen to have one and so do a lot of the aspiring management students, subjects like accounting or economics or social psychology tend to be as far from the spectrum of the studies that engineering graduates have indulged in as possible and some might find the learning curves for those subjects to be steep. Some management aspirants may have gone out of their way to explore a few subjects outside the realms of their graduation stream and might have developed taste for them, but in general, looking at the vast subjects that a management student typically studies in his/ her first year, there typically would be some subjects that you would know nothing about.
Secondly, introspecting how a certain subject would help a manager would ensure that you’ll be aware of the seriousness of the subject. One month into a B-School, you will be assigning weights to subjects in the order of importance that they will have for your upcoming life and studying accordingly. A finance aspirant may give a low weightage to subjects such as social psychology to give an example. An awareness of the way a subject would help a manager in his job would ensure that no subject gets too less a value from any student. Let us face it, the subjects are taught because managers at some point or the other need knowledge about all the disciplines of management and not just what they majored in when they were students.
Starting your B-School journey having no long-term aspirations is actually fine. It would ensure that you’re flexible for opportunities and are discovering yourself. What is dangerous is having aspirations that you think are right for you but are actually wrong. But how could an aspiration be wrong? It is what I want to do after all, isn’t it? To put it this way, we all have a certain personality, a certain set of strengths and weaknesses. Many a times the finer points of one’s personality are left undiscovered, strengths and weaknesses go unexplored and thus many a times the long-term aspirations do not factor in an individual’s personality. Since the talk has taken a dramatic shift towards personality, you would be thinking if you need to perform an MBTI analysis at the earliest or do a SWOT analysis of yourself. That won’t be required, not at this stage. Doing MBTI might actually end up confusing you and without the guidance of a trained MBTI practitioner might result in an incorrect interpretation of the results. What you should do instead is, take up a book and pen and write down what you can remember about your achievements, not in a sentence like ‘Won Blah Blah award in 20XX for ABC’. Describe it in detail, what helped you to win that award or complete that accomplishment, what were the issues you faced and how you solved those issues.
How should this exercise help you? For starters, it would give you a glimpse of your strengths. This assignment will allow you to understand yourself better and this would in turn help in all the choices that you make not only as a management student but also in your professional life. Secondly, this exercise will help you to add points when you will face a panel of interviewers and you will be facing a lot of them. This introspection would make you confident, at least answering questions about yourself. Who knows, that might even play a part in landing up that dream job of yours.
The trap of certifications
Should you study for any certifications? There’s no denying the fact that they would be a great addition to your CV and would give you weightage over your peers during your interviews. However, pursue such certifications only if you’re very sure about the choice of discipline that you want to study. Pursuing an FRM certification and later realising marketing is much better for you would do no good, would it?
Also indulge in the below:
- Focus on your hobbies: Short story, life in a B-School would be hectic, yes those rumours are true. Although that is not to say that you would not be able to devote some time to your hobbies when you’ll join a B-School, it might not hurt to indulge in the hobby given the amount of time you have. Love to play any instrument? Great, enjoy it like it’ll be the last time you’ll be touching that instrument in your life.
- Meet your friends: Before you start your next journey, meet every one of your friends at least once. You may never know where life would take anyone in the next two years and if you’ll be seeing them anytime soon.
- Sleep: I don’t think any elaboration is needed, do you?
In addition, collect certificates of all your achievements, however small. You may never know when you’d need that certificate proving your participation in your college fest.
Love reading? Better get used to it since you’ll be doing a lot of it during your next two years. Listed below are a few books that I’d recommend reading before you start your journey. Some of you might already have read them and I congratulate you for your preparation if that is the case.
- Who Moved my Cheese by Spencer Johnson
- If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Happy? By Prof. Raj Raghunathan
- Flow by Prof. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Some reference videos for you to go through: