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Freshers, be ready for b-school: Here's how!

Last updated on: June 27, 2012 09:41 IST

Freshers, be ready for b-school: Here's how!

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Preeti Kulkarni, Pagalguy.com

If you have just enrolled in b-school and want some gyaan to prepare you for this fresh academic start, here are some helpful tips.

Come June and b-schools, which have gone silent these last few months will resound once again with the 'at-home' chatter of students.

The second year pupils have probably started filling up hostel blocks already, while the freshers will make it there soon.

We are certain they have a lot of questions right now -- what to read, what to wear etc. In the following pages, seniors try to answer these very queries. Read on.

Did you feel overwhelmed or lost in your first year at b-school? How did you manage to settle in? Share your experiences with fresh-off-the-boat students so they know what to expect. Post your messages on ZaraBol below.

Illustration: Uttam Ghosh




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What to read

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Those who are fretting over the selection of what books to read before the first semester starts can take it easy.

Vipin Mohan, a second year student from the SP Jain Institute of Management and Research (SPJIMR), Mumbai says that there are some which are sacrosanct and must be read before the start of school -- "Philip Kotler's 'Marketing Management' for the marketing guys and Sunil Chopra's Supply Chain Management for the operations guys."

"In addition, one should also take up light reads like Straight from the Gut by Jack Welch, The Machine that Changed The World by James P Womack, Daniel Jones and Daniel Ross and Freakonomics by Stephen J Dubner and Steven D Levitt," says Vipin.

He adds that The Undercover Economist by Tim Harford and The 8th Habit by Stephen R Covey are good for starters too.

According to Vipin's peer Chetan Heda, books such as Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki and Fish! by Stephen C Lundin, Harry Paul and John Christensen should also be on the list, as they give students an insight into the business world.

"Those without any background in commerce can go through Class XII commerce textbooks," suggests one student from the Jamanalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies (JBIMS), Mumbai.

Another, Sthitaprajnya Samal, who is joining the Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar, (XIMB) this year says that it is good to brush up on basic statistics and read Snapshots from Hell: The Making of an MBA by Peter Robinson and Dork by Sidin Vadukut.

And Nishika Bajaj, an alumnus of the Faculty of Management Studies (FMS) Delhi University says that a fresher must read books covering the fundamentals of accounting, economics, operations/production and marketing basics.

"If you're not from a commerce background, just buy Tata McGraw-Hill's Fundamentals of Accounting and that should give you a working knowledge of accounts," she adds.

Did you feel overwhelmed or lost in your first year at b-school? How did you manage to settle in? Share your experiences with fresh-off-the-boat students so they know what to expect. Post your messages on ZaraBol below.


Photographs: Rediff Archives

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The gadget must-haves

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Having a laptop with a decent processing speed and 2007 version of Microsoft Office is a pre-requisite for any management student.

Vipin is not in favour of using netbooks, as that means downloading heavy software which can make the system slow.

"We at SP Jain are provided with a list of basic hardware and software requirements, so we know what to get beforehand. It is the same practice in many other schools too," he says.

Stressing on the importance of having a smartphone, Manas Ranjan Kar, a second year student of the Narsee Monjee Institute for Management Studies ( NMIMS), Mumbai says, "It is necessary that to have a phone through which you can access mail easily and also download, so that you can browse on the go."

Manas adds that it is helpful if one has a mobile version of The Economic Times and other important dailies. "Also, Quickoffice Adobe Reader is a basic but very important application for opening documents and PDF files." He also recommends that students start subscribing to Wharton and Harvard Business School websites.

Sushrut says that many of the bigger b-schools tie up with hardware companies that provide students with laptops at a discounted rate.

Ameya Joshi of the XLRI School for Business and Human Resources say that a basic calculator is fine to start with and over time more fancy items can be procured. He adds that people do equally well without owning a smartphone. "But what they should not miss out on is reading newspapers everyday. They give sufficient global and domestic knowledge which is important for course work."

Did you feel overwhelmed or lost in your first year at b-school? How did you manage to settle in? Share your experiences with fresh-off-the-boat students so they know what to expect. Post your messages on ZaraBol below.


Photographs: Brian Snyder/Reuters

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Mobile phone apps

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There are a couple of phone apps which are used in b-schools. Some of these include:

Thumb Jot, which helps students take notes, eliminating the need to write them down.

The Wall Street Journal Mobile Reader, which is a real-time news wire app that provides the latest updates from The Wall Street Journal.

Documents to Go for those possessing an Android, iPhone or Blackberry. It is used to view and edit file types like PDF and Microsoft Office documents, including Power Point Presentations.

Evernote allows photos, web screenshots, typed text and spoken information to be recorded and organised, offering features such as searchable text in photographs. Manas says that he used this app for an international project as his team members were in four different corners of the world.

Dragon Dictation, with which you can record speech into the device and watch as it is instantly typed. You can dictate a text message, e-mail, social media post, tweet and status update, or even send notes and reminders to yourself.

Did you feel overwhelmed or lost in your first year at b-school? How did you manage to settle in? Share your experiences with fresh-off-the-boat students so they know what to expect. Post your messages on ZaraBol below.


Photographs: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

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Wardrobe essentials

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The usual notion is that one cannot dress informally at b-school, but that's not true.

Nishika says that clothes are really no sweat, as students can wear what they want.

"Some faculty may have restrictions on clothes such as daring shorts and off-shoulder tops. Going comfortably casual with denims and tee-shirts should be just fine," she suggests.

Sthitaprajnya has asked around and been told to keep a set of traditional clothes handy for formal functions.

The scene at XLRI is slightly different, as there is a strict sari requirement for a course or a two. At IIM-Lucknow, on the other hand, one is expected to wear formals -- a shirt and trousers -- for company presentations during placement season.

Some schools ask students to get blazers stitched near or on campus, so that the style remains uniform, while others also provide fabric for the same.

Did you feel overwhelmed or lost in your first year at b-school? How did you manage to settle in? Share your experiences with fresh-off-the-boat students so they know what to expect. Post your messages on ZaraBol below.


Photographs: Rediff Archives

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Painkillers, first-aid kit...

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The demanding life at b-school can mean a lot of aches and pains.

Popping a pain killer is quite a common occurrence, but Sthitapragnya advises against excessive usage and recommends daily exercise to keep the body and mind healthy.

"In addition, a first aid kit equipped with anti-acidity, fever and digestion medicines is good, so also an antiseptic bottle. Generally, all schools have a medical advisor," she adds.

Ameya, on the other hand, says that last year there was a medical doctor in her batch who used to voluntarily practice for a couple of hours in the morning and evenings.

Sushrut, who himself is a doctor, says that if his colleagues approach him for minor ailments, he does suggest medication.

Did you feel overwhelmed or lost in your first year at b-school? How did you manage to settle in? Share your experiences with fresh-off-the-boat students so they know what to expect. Post your messages on ZaraBol below.


Photographs: Rediff Archives

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On extracurricular activities, getting enough rest and more

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All the second year students and alumni stress the importance of establishing a rapport with the seniors.

Sometimes, it so happens that a senior is actually younger to a junior by way of age or work-ex -- and these dynamics are interesting to observe. Here is some general advice seniors have to give.

Sushrut: "The most cliched advice is that an MBA helps you establish a network, so get to that as soon as you can. Once you have that life will get stable. B-school education is not merely academic and the major part is learning soft skills; taking part in competitions and extracurricular activities should be taken seriously."

Nishika:" A b-school student manages roughly four to six hours of sleep considering the work load but there are 'after-hours' sessions with seniors which should not be missed anyway. Here, extremely useful gyaan for surviving b-school, managing grades and placements is disseminated."

Manas: "It is a common phenomenon that students change their specialisation four months into the course. Many of them are finance enthusiasts who find it difficult to cope and then change to either marketing or human resources, so be prepared for that. Also, sometimes even four hours of sleep is a luxury with assignments piling up everyday. Squeezing in some time to rest during the day is a good idea."

Chetan: "A student is exposed to an incredible number of activities during the MBA course ( apart from academics), which includes industry projects, exchange opportunities, international competitions, conferences, extracurricular activities etc. Take up as many activities as possible, as they increase the takeaway from the course manifold, though one should be judicious in planning and prioritising these activities."

Did you feel overwhelmed or lost in your first year at b-school? How did you manage to settle in? Share your experiences with fresh-off-the-boat students so they know what to expect. Post your messages on ZaraBol below.

Illustration: Uttam Ghosh




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