Did you know? Every morning in Africa, when a gazelle wakes up, it knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up, it knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. Life at a B-School is wickedly analogous to this anecdote. It doesn’t really matter which B-School one has sought admission into. The core modus operandi essentially remains the same.
And actually it doesn’t really matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle. When the sun comes up, you better start running. Because there is fierce competition even within the B-School. And there is a damn good reason behind it. Think of it as a specially designed miniature blueprint of the unforgiving corporate world outside. The values of competitiveness and time-management are intentionally inculcated during the course so that they are innately ingrained in your personality after getting through those gruelling two years.
Your B-School knows that you are good and that you are capable of executing a given assignment proficiently. So it is going to test you by making sure that you don’t get enough time to do multiple assignments simultaneously. Ultimately, time management is what they want to teach you. And that too the hard way! The result of this hard-hearted yet ubiquitous approach clearly reflects in the quotidian time-table of a quintessential B-School fresher. Just a few days into it and you’ll quickly realize that the usual schedule is much tougher and hectic than you had heard.
Here is what is roughly looks like:
You wake up to a mildly irritating cellphone alarm and sleepwalk through the customary drill to make yourself rather presentable. At this point, you have to take some important decisions regarding time management (especially if you are a guy). Usually, you’ll have four options:
Option A- Have a bath and breakfast (rare phenomenon)
Option B- Bath but no breakfast (manageable for gals)
Option C- Breakfast but no bath (not uncommon for guys)
Option D- Neither (a distinct possibility)
After arriving at the college campus, meet-up with your classmates at the canteen/reading room. Exchange notes about the forthcoming lectures. Discuss with your preformed group regarding any presentations or group assignments that are supposed to be delivered today. Push off to the lecture hall.
9:00 – 10:15 AM
Find a strategically placed back-seat if you are feeling sleepy. Though I would advise you against it as paying attention inside the class would eventually pay you rich dividends at the end of the semester. That ways you would have to study less after college. Actually, it saves a lot of time, which will be a precious commodity during the entire course. Active class participation, however boringly nerdish it may sound will certainly help you in the long run. There are about 40-50 people in a class. You’ll tend to open-up and learn much more when you are proactive. Its an underrated technique to simultaneously hone your soft-skills as well as your hard-skills.
10:15 – 10:30 AM
Your first mid-morning break. Smell the coffee and gear-up for an impending group presentation on marketing management. At ICFAI (my alma mater), the class constitution remained uniform during the first year of the course. So there was quite a bit of familiarity amongst us. Which led to a certain level of comfort. So presentations were relatively easy unlike surprise quizzes and tests, which induced goosebumps every time they cropped up. The main reason for the anxiety was that they directly and majorly contributed to our semester GPAs, which in-turn was the basis for good placements.
10:30 – 11:45 AM
Around 4-5 group presentations can be accommodated per session. After every presentation, a brainstorming question-hour ensues. The audience (read adversaries) raise distressing queries on the subject matter to which logical replies are expected with infallible spontaneity. Whether you crack under pressure or not entirely depends on how prepared and CONFIDENT you are. And remember you are being attentively watched and marked by your examiner. It creates a more stressful situation and tests your limits to the core.
11:45 – 1:00 PM
Right after a mentally exhausting and seemingly interminable session, a much dreaded surprise quiz on Financial Accounting suddenly pops up. You’re in a soup and more so in case you belong to a non-commerce background. Somehow, you eventually get used to this recurring feeling of impending doom. India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni was once asked in an interview about how he deals with the combined pressure of being a wicket-keeper, captain and finisher of the game. He replied, “It’s like having 100 kgs put over you. After that even if you put a mountain, it will not make a difference.”
During the course, especially during the first two semesters, your predicament will be somewhat similar. But amusingly every time you experience it, it makes you stronger than before. I can say that now with the benefit of hindsight. Every single episode in which I personally endured tremendous pressure subsequently transformed me into a different person.
1:00 – 1:05 PM
Time for a short recess. Have a cup of hot tea and pull your socks for the next joyride. One unique feature about an MBA course is the excitement derived from its inherent unpredictability. You actually don’t know whats in store for you next. As a result, the assortment of quandary mysteriously adds to the already existing thrill-factor and the fear of the unknown. Now, get set for the next escapade.
1:05 – 2:20 PM
Usually, Human Resource and Soft Skills classes are conducted alternately in most B-Schools. Considered extremely productive for the long-term, a Soft Skill session can be equally invigorating and de-stressing depending on how you use it. Moreover, proactive participation and whole-hearted involvement will do a lot of good to your GPA as well. In addition to hard-skills, soft-skills (however underrated they may be), will always be an exceptionally high-yielding asset to you after even 5/10 years down the line.
You’ll have loads of role-plays, inspirational pep-talks, mock-interviews, mock GDs etc. which will help you come out of your comfort zone, open-up and articulate more effectively. After all these years, I still think that if you are able to communicate well with your colleagues, then the chances for a vertical growth of your both your professional and personal pursuits will increase manifold. Very valuable and a scarcely found asset indeed!
2:20 – 3:00 PM
Lunch break. You’ll find the college canteen flooded with bustling students to have a quick bite and then invest the spare time preparing for the next class/test/quiz or whatever.
3:00 – 4:15
Usually the longest and the most agonizing session of the day as its just after lunch but is of the same intensity. Experienced professors are always on the look-out of bone-tired students catnapping under cover. So beware! The only way out is through. Brutal – isn’t it?
An Operations/IT class is generally scheduled during this time of the day. Both of them are considered comparatively undemanding and less harsh on you. Even for people from non-engineering background. So relax as you can take it easy for a while.
5:30 – 7:00 PM – 12:00 AM
The last class ends at 5:30 PM but this is not the end of the day. You have to attend several pre-arranged meetings with your respective groups as a pre-preparation exercise for various presentations/assignments which are due for the following day. By 7:00 PM, you wind up, go back to your PG/Home. Listen to your favorite music. Relax your nerves for a while and re-energize yourself. Do your homework and complete pending assignments. Finally, get ready for the next day’s battle after getting at least a 6-hours sleep!
Contributed by Pranshu Awasthi ( Class of 2007, IBS GURGAON )