A minute for your feedback please

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Don't "burn bridges at work" and 4 other tips to clinch that summer placement

The IIMA summer placements just ended recently with the entire batch getting placed under the new cluster system.  Competing with 400 of your peers for the summer placements is a totally different experience from even admissions. In all other activities(classroom, sports, extra currics) we do co-operate but this is quite intense competition. Yet, people did co-operate in the best interest of the institute in things like questions in company PPT;s, helping in last minute prep.

People come here hoping to make a career shift(mostly into Fin/Consult thogh that trend is changing). But ontrary to what many people may think, this battle is often won even before you step into the institute.  What I'm stating below holds true only for IIM-A but may apply to other institutes. Without much ado, I'll delve deep into the points an MBA aspirant should consider during his/her prep for MBA, to ensure good placements.
  • Stellar undergraduation scores : Think of it as a hygiene factor. When a recruiter is faced with 400 CV's, s(he) would take the easy way out of setting a GPA filter. Not all companies do so, but the ones who do so often overlook all other stellar achievements and reject the CV. I've seen many friends with GPA of even 7-9 getting overlooked due to this factor despite their all round excellence. 
  • Undergrad college: Again this is not in your control. For that rare person who's reading this 4 yrs ahead of time, remember that a brand like St Stephens, IIT, few NIT's, St Xaviers, Poddar, BITS etc carry that much more weight with recruiters. By chance or otherwise, the shortlists of top Consults/Fin cos often contain exclusively students with those brands. If you are from a college considered as second rung, do make that extra effort to shine in GATE, GMAT, GRE, inter-college festivals etc, to display your excellence.
  • Extra Curriculars/ Student Clubs: Involvement in these things indicates your ability to multitask well, and so is viewed favorably, specially by Consulting firms who view this as pre requisites.  And merely writing about a bit role does not count unless you can substantiate it via examples, incidents etc.
  • Academic excellence/understanding: -Do not confuse this with high GPA's. Often the interviews test merely the basics and not rote learning(actually true for IIM interviews also). So be prepared to be grilled on your logic, rationale and what not. The first year portion(taught from July-Oct) is generally not tested unless you are applying for a Finance role.
  • High quality work experience: For candidates with work experience, do not burn your bridges at work. Never. It may sound tempting to resign from your job before CAT, do badly at work on grounds of CAT/GD prep but that would back fire when you need substantiation of your work experience, letters of referral and the like. And in this small world, it just takes a call for the recruiters to check you out. And do not take shortcuts like early offs etc. The more variety of work exp you gain, the more valuable you become to recruiters. Think of whether you are working 100 days or 1 day 100 times over..do not let it become mechanical/ routine 
        Each campus has its own post entry patterns of summer prep so I do not discuss that on this forum.  Considering that companies prefer the summer placement route to recruitment,  aspiring MBAs should not underestimate the importance of their background to the whole process. In an ideal world, there would be assessment centres, day long multiple interviews and the like. That is not possible here so background assumes much more importance.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Creating your own Niche

Niche is a marketing concept as well as one of IIMA's best run clubs but that is not the topic of this post. Summer Placements 2011 are over in IIMB/C and are well in progress here. During the break, I had time to  introspect over a book by Garrison Wynn-Real Truth about success(http://www.flipkart.com/real-truth-success-wynn-book-0070702276) and then the truth hit me.

We try hard to conform with the rest whether it be presentation techniques, academic curriculum etc. If an engineer is weak in FRA or a CA is weak at PS over here, they typically work more towards overcoming their weakness than on reinforcing their strengths. From what I noticed of my classmates preparing for summer placements, they were focussing on the weakness based approach(get good on their weak areas) rather than be an expert on their strong ones. That is why in the HR type questions "What makes you different/Why should we recruit you" etc they badly faltered. If they had focussed on their unique strengths better, things may have been different.

I am not advocating that one should not work on weaknesses. But in this competitive world, there is no need to play by other's rules by using a certain type of skillsets only. In a batch of 95% engineers, it is safe to assume that there is little to distinguish them in the core areas of quantitative ability, under-graduation grades etc. Both in placements and later on in work, what would bring top performance and excellence is not what is common with others but what is unique.

That is why instead of competing with others on their homeground, is is better to pick your battlefield and then win.