5 things you don't know about IIM MBA Specializations

Updated: Jun 29

If you're someone who wants to do an MBA from IIMs in India but is not sure which specialization to go for, then this post will enlighten you. Here are the 5 things you need to know about specializations at IIMs:

1. Specializations don't exist at IIMs - As strange as it may sound, there are no specializations offered at IIMs in India. The MBA degree that you get upon graduating from an IIM certifies that you're competent enough to be a manager i.e. the degree you've obtained is of general management. There are about 40 courses that you would have studied in your first year at IIM and they are from a host of different functions including marketing, HR, finance, PQM, strategy etc. You're made to study them so that you have a holistic perspective of things.

2. Your background doesn't define your specialization - If you worked in accounts function before joining an IIM, it is not necessary that you will only get those internships or jobs that require a background in accounts. In fact, many people join IIMs in the hope of switching from their existing career fields and IIMs provide that opportunity very well. No doubt, you'll have better chances of getting a shortlist from a firm that requires the experience you have, but it doesn't stop you from getting into a different field.

3. Your internship doesn't define your specialization - If you've have interned in finance or consulting after joining an IIM, it's not necessary that you're going to get only those shortlists during the final placements. In the IIM-A placements of 2018-2020 batch, there very several students who went for marketing roles after having interned at consulting firms and vice-versa. So, the switching is possible even within an IIM.

4. You can show a pseudo specialization - Even if the IIMs don't claim to offer specializations, students can show inclination towards specific fields by mentioning the courses they opt for (in the second year) in their CVs or LinkedIn profiles. Many students write about the courses they took, the courses they score well in, etc. to show a pseudo specialization. In fact, we prepare 4 CV formats for firms with different specializations in each.

5. Second year courses don't depend on first-year - Since in the second year, students are required to bid for courses (and hence pick courses of mixed specializations), it might occur to you if these courses have anything to do with your score in the first year courses. The truth is, it doesn't have anything to do with it. Your second year courses are determined by your choice and the bid you offer for them. So, if you liked marketing courses in the first year but scored poorly in them, you can still go for them in the second year.

How does it help an IIM aspirant?

This means that you need not be clear on your preference for the specialization because specializations don't exist at IIMs. So many students worry every year that what would I say during the interview when asked, "Which field are you interested in?" The thing is, you'll never be asked this question. The question that is asked is - "Why do you wish to do an MBA?" The MBA of course is general MBA - it equips you for all functions.

Having said that, if you prepare your profile according to a particular specialization, e.g. if you do an internship during undergrad in finance and also take up free finance courses, you'll be able to convince the interviewers of your interest in a particular job role much easily. The interviewers also tend to think from the perspective of the recruiters who hire from the IIMs and hence they might like your story more if it is around a specialization.

Hope this helps. Feel free to message me in case you have any query regarding the IIMs or CAT.

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