Like most of my peers, leaving my job and leaving my family to spend a year in campus was one of the biggest decisions I ever took. Also, like only a handful few of my peers, living away from home was a challenge I was never subjected to before. Born and raised in Mumbai, pursued education and worked in the city, never had to move out, I could have been dubbed the quintessential homesick new guy in campus. A new city, 153 new faces barring faculty and other staff, a new schedule and a new lifestyle, the place had everything to fuel the introvert part of me.
But this introversion didn’t last as long as I thought it would. Made my first friend on day one, my roommate, who happened to share similar tastes in music and television series. Soon after PGPM kicked-off, our entire batch was taken to Rishikesh for a two-day camping trip, which was more like a bonding trip. With all the team activities which were lined up, I was surprised at the rate at which I bonded with more and more people. I went to the camp-site as a loner and returned back to campus with at least a bus full of friends. And the list has kept growing ever since, making friends even with those I thought were worlds apart.
My one year in the PGPM program has been nothing short of a roller coaster ride. I can talk about what I learnt on the academic front, but I’d rather restrict that to a job interview. On a personal front, it did make me push my boundaries. To begin with, I never realized I had the potential to stay up till 3 AM and still make it on time for the 9 AM class every day. Never have I been more independent and self-sufficient before. To say that I learnt to manage time would not do enough justice to my learnings here, rather I learnt to prioritize my activities and make the most out of every hour I had at hand.
But what I really admire about the program is the fact that it helped me amplify my capabilities beyond what I always perceived. I’ve always been into writing, be it short stories, or blogs. But I always treated it as a hobby and not something that I would build my career around. The AdCom here gave me ample of opportunities to hone my skills further, and seeing my articles on the Great Lakes website and social media came with its own sense of pride. And then one day, one of the professors asked me to write a story, embedding a concept taught in the Analytical Thinking course. The task didn’t end with the writing bit. I was also asked to conduct a session and guide a lecture in two classes with the help of it, a daunting task to say the least. Public speaking was never my forte and it often gave me the shivers. But that day, I changed. My peers supported me throughout the sessions and I enjoyed delivering them. My confidence broke its boundaries and I was no longer afraid of facing a crowd.
People usually come to an MBA program to pivot their careers and start a new life. Of course, I did get the dream job that would best suit my abilities and I would no longer have to wear the old IT shoes that I’ve worn for over 5 years. But what mattered to me more was the fact that I had a complete paradigm shift throughout this tenure. I learnt to approach a problem, any problem, professional or personal, from different perspectives and see the bigger picture. My mind opened up and I began observing the little details in everything. I learnt to value opinions and make better decisions. I believe if you have the zest for accepting change and the will to rise and grind each morning, you can make the best out of the same one year here and experience a complete transformation. As I get closer to the end of my stay here, I am all set to begin a new life as a changed man. PGPM may end soon, but my life as a proud Great Laker has only begun.