Going a little ahead, and peering into the crystal ball, one year down the line, as students of any regular MBA we would have to again make a choice. This will be crucial, compelling and at times cruel choice.
So what is this choice which we have to make which is likely to have us splitting our hair?
Exact after the first year of our MBA ends we will be asked to choose our specialization (streams) and our elective subjects.
All students who have decided to pursue their MBA after their engineering degree will be asked by the society, friends and family (not the college of course) to take up Finance.
All Humanities graduates will be asked to take up Marketing and all women, well will be expected to take up HR. Human Resources being regarded as a so called ‘soft role’ further reinforcing the stereotypes we already have.
Engineers, on account of their supposed familiarity and comfort with numbers need not necessarily do well in Finance. The same is true for graduates of Humanities stream as well. Engineers might actually be better at marketing (some usually are!).
Post the completion of our school life, we have been constantly given the chance of choosing between various electives. And yet, our choice is usually predetermined by others in most cases and very rarely by ourselves.
The electives we choose, be it in languages, or a course in accounting, or a course in digital marketing will define whatever course we take in our professional lives.
Choosing these electives is not merely a matter of formality-studying for them since the course requires it. These electives will actually define how well rounded we are, how we are able to judge and make through many difficult situations. These are skills which every recruiter and every company looks for in a candidate.
We must choose an elective with the sole aim of learning, not merely because the market sentiment echoes taking up of the said elective or simply because majority of the batchmates are signing up for it.
Electives in the second year of our MBA are a natural continuation and expression of the summer internship which every student of a regular MBA course must undergo.
The agonizing decision over electives must be made well before the onset of the summer training programme and the onset of the new semester.
There is no one elective which will make or break your professional life. Rather, blindly choosing electives without a thought as to where your strengths, and your interests lie could be detrimental to your career.
Very obviously, a flair for numbers is required for taking up core Finance, however, don’t let your interest and acumen in finance be dampened by a few formulae in mathematics.
If your basic understanding and grounding of any subject is good, the syllabus will not be too much of a hurdle for you to learn and yes eventually clear.
The age old adage-if you love what you do, you will never have to work a day in your life rings absolutely true. There’s absolutely no sense in pursuing in a course or elective in which you don’t have an inkling of what’s going on and worse still, don’t have an inclination as well.
As students, once we have decided to undergo preparation for an MBA and spend a valuable two years of our precious professional lives into investing into a course as deep as the MBA, we as students must spend time on deciding on electives as well.
Dividing electives merely on the basis of Marketing, Finance or HR is a gross injustice of the MBA program.
Unlike many other postgraduate and graduate programs, the MBA is a highly interactive program, requiring active participation of the students, who are used to merely attending the lectures and skimming through exams, an average MBA course requires much hard work and thorough preparation on part of the students.
This diligence also extends, but obviously to choosing of electives as well.
There is a very real and distinct possibility of students getting trapped in electives which they have no clue how to study for ( in the best of cases) and what the course actually is ( in the worst of cases)!
Electives can be thought of as a final icing on the cake after one finishes of the MBA. Since any MBA is not merely the sum of a few subjects here and there and does not specifically involve breezing through lectures, electives add the necessary component of lateral and out of the box thinking which is actually a skill-it cannot be taught or ingrained. In other words, it can only be acquired-through making informed and judicious choices which includes choosing electives which will make us more informed and skilled.
Without realizing it, when any course or institution offers us a choice of choosing electives as per wish, we should treat it as an opportunity to express ourselves as freely as possible. As students, we very rarely get the chance to actually pursue our wishes and our calling especially when it comes to education and courses.
Choosing from an array of electives, introduces to us as students the options available to us to hone up our skills, to create knowledge for ourselves and also in many surprising cases, a God sent opportunity for many of us, to actually study something which we long wished for but were never able to pursue it for a variety of reasons-the chief culprit being never having had the opportunity to actually get a choice.
Choosing electives is a thought provoking exercise, intended to make us choose between various topics and subjects with the express intent of enabling us to build a new knowledge base (by studying for topics,subjects and areas which we never knew existed or about which we didn’t know anything hitherto).
We must make wonderful use of this opportunity and not squander it by treating the choosing of electives as one more formality.There in lies the catch.
Contributed by sunil iyer ( Class of 2008, IBS GURGAON )