As a part of the pooled MBA Q&A series, the placement cell of Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee Government Arts & Commerce College collaborated with Non-Engineers to collate the MBA-related questions of their college students. In this post, I will try to answer them one-by-one.
I. CAT Preparation & MBA
Q: What is an ideal profile of a non-engineer with average academic scores?
A: Academic scores are of a lot of importance when it comes to most B-schools because the only criteria that account for the shortlisting process of most B-schools in India are:
Now, if you don't have good academic scores, then the only resort for you to get a shortlist is to work on the other two components, of which CAT percentile often holds more weight.
Having said that, once you get a shortlist, an ideal profile should be a mix of achievements - be in co-curricular, PORs or extra-curricular buckets to justify the utility of your time.
Q: How important is the name of the college? If my college is a tier-2/3 college, can I still make it to the IIMs?
A: Yes, you can. There were examples in my batch - students from tier-2/3 colleges not only got into IIMs, they earned a lot of respect for their knowledge and skills and got into top tier consulting and PM Tech firms.
What matters is not the name of your college, but what you do there and how you make the most of the opportunities that you get. The reason why most students at IIMs are from IITs, NITs or DU is because most their students have a culture of preparing for this exam, they already have good academic scores, access to coaching nearby and the like. So, it could very well be that they form a large share in the applicant pool itself and also end up making the cut. It doesn't stop a tier-2/3 college student in any way.
Q: What factors should I consider to choose a B-school for the MBA program?
A: I'd suggest to consider two major factors and both align with the role you'd want to get into upon graduating from the batch - the quality of faculty and the placement opportunities of the area you're interested in. You can get the best feedback from the current/graduating batch.
Other factors like ROI should not worry you because most banks provide collateral free loans for admission to the top B-schools. You can learn more about the loans offered to IIM students here.
Q: Why do most non-engineers fear QA? How to overcome that fear?
A: I was once in the same boat, so I guess I can answer that. One of my biggest apprehensions was that I was competing in a pool of applicants, of which many were engineers. Engineers tend to be good at QA and consequentially also at DI, so I feared lagging behind in that section due to the relative standing.
Moreover, I had barely studied any mathematics during my college, so not being in touch with the subject was another concern. However, having crossed that barrier, I can share a couple of points:
Firstly, as a non-engineer, you do get some diversity points that can help you compensate for it.
Secondly, you don't need even 11th or 12th standard mathematics, the primary level is enough.
And finally, I learned this at IIM-A that not every engineer is good at math and not every non-engineer is poor at it. So, one must not generalize this.
The best way to overcome this fear is to prepare in advance. And this is true for any section. I'd recommend that if you find yourself weak at a particular section, take 3-6 months and prepare for it in advance using self-prep material. I used Arun Sharma's QA Book and found it to be worth the price paid.
Q: LRDI is one of the toughest sections, what should be one's strategy to attempt sets in it?
A: One of the guest posts by Shourya Gupta, an incoming IIM-A student deals with just this. I totally second her thoughts. One must spend some time in selecting the sets before attempting.
I used 3 parameters to do it:
topic of interest
If a set looked like I had solved it earlier, was short or was from an area I liked (e.g. arrangements), then I attempted it first. I spent about 5 minutes in this section to simply order the sets in which I'd attempt them. It really helped me. You can also read a post on the preparation tips for DILR which should help.
Q: Does corporate life feel as promising as it seems? How was your experience?
A: Though my joining is due in July, you can read my internship experience at Mondelez here. I'm not sure what the general expectations from a corporate career are, but I totally enjoyed my summer internship at Mondelez. It is in fact a highlight of my MBA journey for me because I was a fresher when I joined IIM-A.
Q: What can we do if our college's placement is not as good?
A: I can understand, I was in a similar position and had to take a call between going for not-so-interesting jobs or do an MBA. My first and foremost suggestion would be to never choose a company basis package. Always choose interest over CTC. It'll help you in the longer run.
So, even if you're getting a lower pay job at your college but the role looks interesting to you, go for it. Often, such opportunities offer a lot of exposure and experience. Having said that, if you don't have such opportunities available, then approach the relevant leads on LinkedIn.
As a placement cell member, I can tell you how PCs approach HRs on LinkedIn. They share the batch's profile, past placement records and invite the companies to conduct a drive on campus. You can do the same. Just replace an invitation with your resume and request for a telephonic interview.
Before applying to any company, it is advisable to check if the company is hiring. You can also try building a strong LinkedIn network and post about your job requirements.
If none of these options work, you should go for an MBA. It'll help you up-skill yourself and get the required opportunities. That's one of the reasons I didn't sit for many companies in my college and chose MBA.
Q: How can we enhance our learning beyond the curriculum of our college?
A: That's a good question, you must look beyond your curriculum. Here is a starter's post on how to build a strong CV. The simplest, yet value adding activities you can take up are online internships (check Internshala), free courses (check Coursera) and case study competitions (check Dare2Compete).
If you're interested in a particular field, then here is a repository of posts on how to gather relevant skills pertaining to that fied.
Q: Every MBA college has a different curriculum, how can one level-field it?
A: I'm sure that to a large extent, it is the same. At least in the top 20-30 B-schools, the subjects offered are similar. The difference is in the quality of teaching and the opportunities offered.
The best way to cover up for it is by attending workshops, events, corporate competitions, B-school competitions and enroll yourself for a student exchange program in these campuses.
III. Skills & CV Building
Q: What are some skills every MBA aspirant should work on?
A: I have just the right post for you - Top 10 skills to acquire before MBA.
Q: What skills (specific to specializations) will be more relevant in the coming scenario (post-Covid)?
A: The placements may suffer for the current batch but are soon going to pick-up. The B-schools will try their best to provide opportunities but at the same time, you must keep yourself abreast with the latest changes in the industry. For example, for someone aspiring to join the marketing sector, keeping an eye on supply-chain and sales related changes is a must. Similarly, tracking customer affinity to products and a change in demand is also important.
Here are some specialization specific skills that you can acquire during this period:
Hope this helps you all, let me know if you have any follow-ups in the comments below. Would be happy to take them up. Wish you the best!
P.S. A special thanks to Mayan Kurariya and the entire placement team of Government Arts & Commerce College to coordinate with Non-Engineers for this endeavour and help pool-in queries of their students.
Kudos to the team's efforts!