Whatcha Thinkin’, MBA Freshers ?

“How did it get so late so soon?
It’s night before it’s afternoon.
December is here before it’s June.
My goodness how the time has flewn.
How did it get so late so soon?”

The Freshers of an MBA College

As an MBA College freshman enters his college gates for the first time, he suddenly gasps as a volley of emotions hit him in an exciting, sudden and chaotic whirlwind. Foremost, he’s exhilarated. He’s made it! It’s the beginning of the rest of his life, a life which will see him as a person very much in control, with regard to his career, and everything else he can think of. Anxiety strikes him next- Will he fit in? Is he dressed okay? How long before he sinks in with a familiar circle of friends? Is ragging in MBA colleges really as harmless as they say it is? But most of all, he is overwhelmed by the thought of how his childhood has flashed by, and how few years stand between him and life as he’ll know it once he starts work. How did it get so late so soon?

The trick to cracking the first few MBA days, along with much else in life, is to not sweat it. Now, you might say, how does one simply decide not to sweat it? There’s all this stuff plaguing you on your mind! Well, you’ve just gone and hit the nail on the head. It is really as simple as all that. You decide not to sweat it! You take a conscious decision to be cool and confident, and to work hard but not too much, and to have the most fun you’ve ever had, and watch as the Universe does all the conspiring it’s rumored to, and everything falls into place.

If you’re worried about entering an unknown universe, don’t be. Many top business schools start with meets with other students as well as seniors well before college starts, so the freshers are already well acquainted with them when it does. Add to this social networking sites like Facebook, and it’s a rare MBA student who enters college oblivious of who he’ll be meeting there.

Sandeep Krishnamurty, Professor and Director, Business Administration Program, University of Washington, Bothell, has highlighted several basics that would be useful for an MBA fresher. These may be summarized thus:

  • Management is not analysis: He says that analysis, or tools and techniques, are what you’re taught in school. For an MBA student, however, analysis is only one of the ingredients. If you have the best analysis in the classroom and brilliant answers to every question, but sit among the back-benchers in the classroom, afraid or reluctant to express yourself, the MBA will not accomplish much for you.
  • It’s not just about being smart: It’s a common misconception that the smarter you are, the more likely you are to achieve easy success at an MBA. Which is not to say that it’s easier for dumb people to make it here-it’s simply that it’s not only about being smart. This is why anyone can tell that Einstein, while brilliant, would’ve made a terrible manager.
  • Communication’s the key: If you have a great idea, but communicate it blandly, it just won’t work. A manager must, to lead, motivate, or sell, have superb communication skills. This is why so many political leaders, with all their faults, attain such a huge fan base.
  • Nice guys finish first: Don’t lose touch with morality. Don’t buy it when wrong comes dressed in pretty clothes, and don’t use your smarts to justify wrongdoing. Stand up against it, speak up against it, and remember what your mama taught you.
  • Stay current: Get a blog, make presentations, learn how to limit your Google search to only PDF files, modify Wikipedia pages. Don’t fall into disrepair, the world’s moving quickly. Don’t get obsolete.
  • Reinvent yourself: Refuse to be stereotyped. Even if you’re amazing at one thing, outgrow your label. The world remembers Benjamin Franklin because he was a scientist, printer, diplomat, inventor, civil activist, writer, librarian and philosopher.
  • Take smart risks: Something dragged you to an MBA program. Whether it was a desire to outgrow a niche or to jumpstart a career, don’t forget what that was. Don’t be afraid to take smart risks and initiative with regard to your career if it’s likely to take you where your compass initially pointed.
  • Dream big, and don’t stop dreaming: People over-emphasize vision, and talk too little of the importance of dreaming big. Narayana Murthy was an Indian electrical engineer who grew up in a middle class family. He dreamed of building a world-class company in India, and inspired an entire generation of entrepreneurs. This is what made him different, and for this, he will be remembered.

If you’re apprehensive about ragging in MBA Colleges in India, then know that it’s legally banned in India. Still, it is very much prevalent regardless of that, but takes on the healthy form of a friendly, harmless ritual in MBA schools, for the most part. Go ahead and join in, and it’ll lead to more bonding than anything else. In the rare situation that a senior crosses the line, and makes you uncomfortable, feel free to refuse, or to remind them of the legal ban.

Lastly, while choosing your wardrobe, keep in mind that the dress-code varies from one MBA college to another, and it need not be excessively formal everywhere. Though you will need a few formal suits for presentations and placements, it might be casual most of the time.

So, keep in mind, you want to study hard, party hard, and your heart’s your yellow brick path. And remember to do what you do for the right reasons, because sometime these reasons itself matter more than the achievements they lead to- Like Odysseus says in Troy, “Let Agamemnon fight for power, let Achilles fight for honor, and let the Gods decide who to glorify”.

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