Photographs: Rediff Archives Divya Nair
Five management graduates, who passed out recently, narrate their college experience and tell you what to be wary of while choosing a management school.
With just about 13,000 students making the cut out of 4,00,000 odd applicants this year, the demand for IIMs and other top management institutes in the country are only getting higher each year.
Even with a decent CAT/CET score, students have to battle with limited college seats, which nudge them to take prompt career decisions.
The less fortunate students, who have to choose between not-so-favourable management institutes in and around their city in the CAP rounds, can't afford to wait another year to better their chances.
Often, it's a choice between the college offering the best curriculum in the city and the college with a consistent 100 percent placement record. It's a calculative risk that students and young employees take at the prospect of boosting their existing career graph.
We spoke to students from Xavier's Institute of Management and Entrepreneurship, Bangalore; SIES College of Management Studies, Mumbai; NL Dalmia Institute of Management Studies and Research, Mumbai; Welingkar Institute of Management Development & Research, Mumbai and IES Management College and Research Centre, Mumbai who took similar risks in their lives.
While they realised that a lot of claims made by institutes remain on paper, these alumni members wanted to voice their concern about what aspirants should be aware of while making a career choice and offered suggestions on how to prepare oneself for the situation, given the current competitive scenario.
'Course syllabus should be updated'
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Institute: SIES College of Management Studies, Mumbai
SIES is conceived among the top preferred B-schools in Mumbai. Although the faculty here is good, pretty soon, some of us were disappointed with the quality of curriculum offered in a professional course. For example, the syllabus for Marketing, which is one of the most sought-after specialisations in a management course, was not up to the mark.
There was a subject called 'Social Media Marketing', which is a very promising and useful subject for future entrepreneurs. Needless to say, all of us were really looking forward to that subject. Although, it was not part of the core syllabus, the college tried to inculcate that in the process, which is a good initiative. However, we realised that we were learning about beaten-to-death formulas to impress consumers from dated textbooks and case studies.
One cannot blame the institution entirely, if the syllabus itself is not revised to match the professional standards. I believe that the authorities who devise the syllabus for professional courses should bear in mind that MBA is a professional course.
It is important that they do their homework to find out what sells in the industry and ensure to update syllabus from time to time.
Students who take up the course with no formal industry experience will certainly find themselves at great loss. Given the current state of affairs, students learn more from the internet and newspapers than from a management school.
- Even a good B-school doesn't guarantee placements of your choice. They are more concerned about fulfilling their 100% placement record than looking after your needs. Most of my friends have taken up jobs that they are least interested in.
- The advantage of doing an MBA is that it will give you an instant career boost. If you are lucky, you can become the CEO of a leading company in less than half a decade, which would otherwise require at least 10 years of loyalty and hard work.
'In house faculty is compromised'
Institute: Xavier's Institute of Management and Entrepreneurship, Bangalore
Most students seek admission at XIME lured by the exciting list of visiting faculty members, who are mostly industry experts. The funniest part is most of these members don't even visit the institute in the two year tenure, forget delivering guest lectures. That leaves us to deal with in house faculty members, who are highly educated, but have no industry experience to share.
Also the teacher-student ratio, as promised during admissions or as mentioned in the college prospectus is highly deceiving. In fact, there are more students in one class than a professor can handle, forget students getting personal attention.
As a professional institute, I believe that the intake of students per class should either be discriminated or care must be taken to ensure quality attention to students.
Considering the course fee i.e. approximately 3.5 lakhs per annum, most students who are disappointed with the academic treatment, eagerly look forward to placements. For example, most of my friends from Engineering or Commerce background did not want to work in an IT field. But the competition is such that individual choices are compromised.
The pressure to get placed from within the college is so high and some of the leading companies that visit the Institute during placement season are IT firms. A majority of them offer Consultation profiles. Well, the package is too enticing to be refused. So, it's a tough call to make, when you have a towering education loan amount to meet against a desirable career path to be chosen.
- Do not remain at the mercy of in-house professors alone. Do your own homework about your subject of interest. Be updated about new concepts from time to time.
- Read newspapers and the internet regularly for information.
- Interact with the recently passed out senior students before applying to an institution or taking up a course.
*Name changed to protect identity on request.
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'Lack of adequate branding can affect placements'
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Institute: NL Dalmia Institute of Management Studies and Research, Mumbai
There is no doubt that NL Dalmia offers one of the best courses in Finance in the city. The faculty here is good and the course content is also very competent. In terms of market presence, the institute suffers natural defeat.
Although the institute churns out the best academicians each year, during placements, students are offered a raw deal.
The Institute does not believe in branding at all. I am sure this educational policy made a lot of students proud to begin with considering that colleges like NL Dalmia does not admit students under management quota.
However, this emphasis on ethical conduct has been working to the disadvantage of some students. In this age of advertising, where one has to compete with other colleges in the city and country, students are left with limited choices.
Similarly, NL Dalmia is known for its command in Finance, but despite over 60% of students opting for Finance every year, during placements, students end up compromising on their job profiles for lack of options. This issue is common not only for NL Damia but for most B-schools across the country that promise 100% placements. Be aware that 100% placements do not guarantee you opportunity of choice.
Also, the location of the college (Mira Road) is a concern. When some of us tried to approach organisations individually, we realised that not many firms are aware of such a college. All thanks to lack of right branding.
After spending two years and 3 lakhs in a course of my choice, I did not get a job of my choice. Neither did I get a better remuneration. While it may not be fair on my part to blame the college for this, it is important for students to be aware of confronting a similar situation in their career.
The only thing that has kept me going is that, I knew, I had received the best education compared to my peers. And some day, I am sure that I will reap the sweet fruits of labour.
- Location of a college is very important. Choose a college that is well within the city limits and has a good market presence. Eg. Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies, K. J. Somaiya Institute of Management Studies and Research, Welingkar Institute of Management Development & Research, Sydenham Institute of Management Studies and Research would be some of the good institutes in Mumbai.
- Choose a college which offers preferential treatment to engineering students and students with professional experience. You don't want to end up earning the same package as your just-out-of-college counterpart.
- Do not be cheated by college websites that talk about 100 percent placements. Not just students are yet to be placed. It is advisable to talk to seniors from the college to get a better idea.
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'Identify your short term and long term goals'
Institute: Welingkar Institute of Management Development & Research, Mumbai
I would certainly recommend Welingkar Institute to my juniors. The faculty here is experienced; also the course syllabus is updated from time to time. The course is largely project oriented.
One advantage that students have is that they can seek help from the in-house counsellors to know more about the various courses offered at the institute before taking admission to know more about the courses offered by them. As far as I am aware, not many colleges have this facility.
At the same time, I have to admit that management courses can only act as a bridge between your abilities and a prospective organisation/career. They offer you a good training ground, but in the end, it's up to you how you identify your goals during the course period and make a career out of it.
A student who has imbibed the right knowledge of management concepts will definitely prefer to start his own company/business than go back and continue to work in an already established organisation. That is why IIMs are so popular. Even in Welingkar, you will find students talking about starting their own venture. The good part of studying in a good college is also that you get to interact with talented minds.
- Before taking admission in a B-school you must identify your short term and long term goals. No professor at IIM will be able to tell you how to optimise your educational and analytical skills. They can only guide you with educational concepts and inspire you with successful business models. How you exploit it, is left for you to decide.
- More importantly, have a definite career plan in place.
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'Don't let people decide what's best for you'
Photographs: Rediff Archives
Institute: IES Management College and Research Centre, Mumbai
I can say that I did not have a very exciting experience at IES. However I got to learn a few life lessons, which I would like to share.
In my case, since I was very certain about the course I wanted to specialise in, I had already done a rough homework about various colleges in the city. Among the colleges I was offered during my CAP round, I realised that IES was among the few colleges in the city that offered good course content in Operations.
Later on, I realised there are a lot of things about a B-school that affect the overall development and training of a management graduate. For example, although most professors at IES had a commendable academic background, there were times when we realised that they do not have sufficient industry knowledge or that they are not fully aware of the recent market trends, following which, they were not able to offer us the right counselling about choosing a career path.
The teacher-student interaction is minimal. While most professors advised students on pursuing a career either in Marketing and Finance, some of us were given an impression that a career in Operations was not good for girls in particular, considering there are very few openings available.
I felt the real pinch during placements. I was offered a marketing profile from a good company, which I clearly refused as I did not want to take up a job where my education and skills would not be utilised.
Since the companies that approached for campus placements were limited, I felt disappointed that the institution was not doing anything in particular to help us secure placements in our desired area of interest. But I was confident about my goals and had complete faith in my skills.
So, after completing the course, I applied independently and got placed on my own merit. Today, I am happy to have procured a profile that meets my expectations. I am glad I did not depend on my college to get a job, but at the same time, I realised that I would not have got the job had it not been for the right education.
- Choose a college which offers you good education i.e course content.
- Do not be dependent on your college to procure placement
- Don't follow the herd. Choose a course which suits your interest and abilities.
- While asking for suggestions is good, do your own research and follow your instincts. Do not let people decide what is best for you.