Surviving an International MBA a Part 2

Things start looking too big and you go through the motions of everyday life without really savoring it. My advice, take it easy! It is just a 2-year stress period in life, all the hard work will pay off and at least you will know how much you are capable of stretching yourself. You survived Term 1 and I am pretty sure you will survive this one too, just keep the ball rolling. In Term 2, you essentially start off networking with alums and second years. You are ideally supposed to start off-campus research at this point but I can count on my fingers the number of people who actually did this.

Networking is the BIG thing in B-schools.You network with maximum number of people, on and off US! 😉 Many people shy away from it as it makes them uncomfortable. Yes, networking is an art in itself, some people shine in such things but it is something that can slowly be picked up if you are really interested. Come on, why did you land in a B-school?! To meet people and to overcome challenges; now, networking helps you achieve both of these. But I like it because it takes a lot of nerve to do it initially. But, slowly, as you talk more often, it will make you a lot more confident and soon you will be clear of what your strengths are. I still need to do tons of this myself to land in a good internship position but the sooner you acquire this skill, the better for you!

And from my experience, I can tell you that the courses in Term-2 are harder than the ones in Term-1. This might not be the case in all the schools but at least we felt so at Fuqua. What might be the reason? Maybe the first Term was just meant to start you off. With so many guys coming from the work force, there is no point in loading them and scaring them right away. So, Term 1 is like… well, things might get mad & Term 2 is crazy! We had the biggies like Finance, Accounting, Marketing etc. Week in Term 2 makes you feel that Term 1 was indeed a cakewalk! But you will have enough courage to go through the strains of Term 2. You will just be used to stretching yourself and it won’t seem like a chore. And then again, if you haven’t had a Finance course, trust me it is interesting! It is hard but if you are lucky enough to get a great professor, you are truly blessed.

In all this academic work, I would ask you guys to be heads up about internship opportunities. You know, Investment Banking and Consulting sounds good in B-School Admission essays but it is really hard to get close-listed for interviews and make through multiple rounds. For these things, you basically work your hearts out! And even if you do, the chances of making it are pretty less as you will face a lot of challengers from other Top schools. So, all I can say is, be realistic but keep working. The campus recruitment season starts off even before you know it. During the break between Term 2 & Term 3, you work on your interviewing skills, writing skills, other communication stuff etc. The Career Management guys will assist you with much of it but at the end of the day, you are the only one who would be calling your moves. So, go out and learn. Reach out to second years, fellow classmates, professors, alums and talk to them about your career ambitions. Have I done all this… err, as I commented, so long ago, ‘Don’t we all learn from our mistakes’. Once the official recruiting season begins, you see a whole lot of activity and you really wish that things were simpler and you didn’t have to try so hard! You get rejected at places where you thought you did well and you get calls from places where you think you had pretty much bombed the interview. You see weird things happening and somewhere deep down start doubting your own abilities. Don’t. It is not really you, it is them! Recruiters look at different things, your experience, your passion, your commitment, your personality etc. It is hard to impress everyone At the end of the day, realistically, you need to impress only one. But you don’t know which one! People get placed during Term 2 and some in Term 3. And others much later. You need to accept all this in your stride and move on. But be prepared for uncertain painful times. It is not as easy as it seems. MBA from a Top school doesn’t necessarily mean that there is this long line of people waiting to recruit you. You need to search for people! You need to step out of your comfort zone. You can’t put all your faith in the school and keep quiet. There are companies coming on campus but they necessarily do not accept too many. They take the best and before you know it, the number of companies coming on-campus will start diminishing.

Term 3 is fine academically, as you are less burdened with school. It is either that people learn how to master things or they get philosophical about accepting ‘life’ as it comes. Our priorities, kind of, shift towards issues other than grades. Many people slack off after getting internship offers and others begin working full-time once they are placed! Of course, there are no rational reasons to why people behave the way they do! You will get a good mix of quantitative and qualitative courses and you will love at least one course each Term! 😉 Some schools start offering Electives in Term 3 while at Fuqua, we waited till Term 4 for the electives. It is hard to say, which one you should pick. Just stay on board with your interest level rather than how it will come across for your recruiters. Term 3 just rushes past you and you pretty much race against time. Hopefully, by this time around, your internship hunt has begun in full throttle off-campus too. Off-campus basically means, talking to people, alums, second years, recent graduates, other b-schoolers, old friends, relatives etc to get leads and follow them up. You need patience, which is something I totally lack. I hope to give you guys a slightly better view about internship but at present lack the insight! Hopefully, I will have something substantial by the time I write my next article. Good Luck till then! Alrighty!

The authoress, Sowmya aka Simba is one of the moderators of PaGaLGuY forum. She has diverse interests in various activities that are beyond the scope of this small introduction. She is currently a first year full time MBA student at the Duke University, Fuqua School of Business. She believes there is much to b-schools than just being accepted and hopes to give a bird’s eye-view of the life of a B-Schooler.

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