To Lucknow with love. J&K MBA students bag summer internship at IIM-L and enjoy every bit of it

J&K; students pose with Prof H Rai of IIM Lucknow

Eleven students from Srinagar’s Central University will forever remember this year’s summer internships, which have just concluded. No, not because there were mighty stipends to flaunt, or fancy company names to drop but because the two months were packed with pure and simple learning and loads of fun.

These eleven students, in fact, spent their summer internship in confines of a b-school! To be precise, at the Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow (IIM-L).

And guess what; the students say that this unique summer internship has definitely taught them much more that what a side-project at a corporate house would have.

PaGaLGuY caught up with these students just as they were heading back home (Jammu and Kashmir.) They sounded ecstatic and that partly came from the fact that for many of them, this was their first trip outside the state. Said Umer Mufeed, a student keen to set up his own firm in the future: “We did a lot of different things in one single stint at IIM-L. From visiting companies, to live debates on different subjects, to plain listening to lectures and hosting events. Every experience was different and varied.”

The idea for this rather extraordinary summer internship first gained ground when Dr Himanshu Rai Professor of Human Resource Management and Chairman for Corporate Communication and Media Relations (CCMR) at IIM-L visited Srinagar last year on an invitation from the University. “The thought was put across to me. While it seemed an unusual one, it meant getting a lot of things in place in Lucknow,” said Dr Rai.

First and foremost, he had to make sure that faculty were going to be around and available to take a few class special sessions with the students. Second was hostel accommodation, since 11 students was not a small number to house. “But the job that took most of the preparation time was speaking to companies in and around Lucknow and arranging field visits. Though most companies agreed to host this rather different bunch of students,” said Prof Rai.

Companies that agreed almost immediately when approached, were TCS and Tata Chemicals. Visits were also planned to other educational institutions like Lucknow University and places of tourist interest.

Dr Mushtaq Lone, Assistant Professor with the Central University told PaGaLGuY that the faculty at the University pondered over this idea for a while. “We felt it would be good for our students to learn in an IIM and from IIM faculty. The IIMs have set a standard in MBA education and we want our students to know the kind of research methodology, teaching and learning practices in an IIM.”

Kubra Wafai, one of the students who is in her second year at the Central University of Kashmir (specialising in marketing and HR) said that the learning at IIM-L was a welcome change. “IIM-L was a different learning process. Although there were no regular lectures I became aware of the research methodology gained additional knowledge in my area of research work. ”

For Kubra, the field visits also made a lot of sense. “The TATA motors visit was particularly important for me as I got to know about the performance appraisal system followed at TATA motors. I would never have had such a detailed interaction if it were not for IIM-L.”

The feeling of fulfilment was more pronounced because, according to the the students, opportunities in J&K; are limited for both types of MBA graduates – those who want to start their own ventures, and those who would like to work for a company. “We have looked at learning in a particular way for so long. At IIM-L, we realised there were many more ways and many more things to learn and hence get closer to our goals,” added Umer.

Kubra adds: “Our University is in its infancy, established only 3 years ago. Due to this, we lack the robust infrastructure which often hinders effective working .The management events which are a routine at IIMs are almost absent at our University. These events give a lot of exposure to the students.”

Kubra also found that the books prescribed at IIM-L and at her University are not very different but the difference in pedagogy was evident. “Case studies and discussions are more integral part of learning at IIM-L than it is at my school.”

Kubra also found that in the IIMs, the faculty have more of an expertise at the subjects they teach “while our teachers are mostly generalists in management and not specialists. But our faculty put in great efforts for our effective learning which I feel is commendable.”

For IIM-L, it was an exceptional experience hosting the students.

According to Prof Rai, the students from J&K; definitely have a mind of their own and well-informed about things. “They are bright and intelligent and if given a proper platform can work wonders with their careers. There were lots of healthy debates between the students and IIM-L students and faculty on an array of subjects, not just MBA. We also discussed politics.”

Dr Lone added that the companies that his students normally intern with are Tata Motors, CMIE, EMAAR, Goodwyn, SMS Global, Doctus, Sony India, J&K; Bank, Indian Copper Ltd, Aircel, etc.. “Now, we can add IIM to that list. And definitely we are going to try out best to make sure that a batch of our students intern with some IIM every year.”

J&K;’s MBA students will definitely be more than eager to see that happen. After all, every learning in this world cannot be connected to the stipend at the end of the day.