The MBA remains the most sought-after professional degree the world over. So is the case in India. With thousands of business grads coming out every year from B-school campuses, the competition for quality jobs is only growing. One would imagine that employers are delighted with the array of prospective employees before then, but that's not quite the case.
It is common to hear and read that employers find prospective candidates lack essential skill sets--a polite way of saying that the majority of B-school grads are, well, unemployable or at least underprepared. With sincere years spent on expensive campuses, with internship experience to boot, this must come as a rude shock to many! So what is it that they missed out?
The MBA program was never about classroom lessons alone... it has always been about gaining knowledge and skill sets which could be applied in the real world.
To begin with one needs to remember that the MBA program was never about classroom lessons alone. It was developed to serve the exciting, fast-changing and complex world of modern businesses. The program has always been about gaining knowledge and skill sets which could be applied in the real world. A distinguished B-school harmonizes classroom wisdom with real world skill sets; provides bigger platforms and greater opportunities to hone real B-life skills and competencies; broadens your world view. Yet, there will always be limitations and that's where your own initiatives come into the picture.
So if you are dreaming of a bright corporate career, arm yourself with five attributes and skill-sets to have that extra winning edge over the competition.
1. Communication skills
A good communicator distinguishes himself, that's true. But please remember communication is not synonymous with oratory! Communication should reflect depth of knowledge, clarity of ideas and a certain grace. And, it should reflect in the way you communicate in all forms--whether spoken, mail or video. So what are the ways you can develop it? Group discussions, speaking practice, recording your speech, increasing your preferred career domain knowledge... truth is, we all know the answer but somewhere we either forget to devote time regularly or think of them at the last minute before placement interviews. But setting aside a dedicated time for developing this most essential skill set would be time well spent.
A good communicator distinguishes himself, that's true. But please remember communication is not synonymous with oratory!
During the course of your MBA program, the ongoing college activities will teach you how to master communication skills in three essential areas--speaking, listening and writing. Speaking platforms such as debate competitions, seminars, group discussions, festivals etc, will give you the chance to harness control over fear of being judged, improve your body language and shine more profoundly with practice. One-to-one interactions with the faculty will help you fine-tune your understanding of when to listen and when to speak, while working on student papers will help you master written communication in English.
2. Domain knowledge
Building a good knowledge base about the industry or sector you wish to join is important, and comes in handy to establish your credentials during interviews or group discussions. Unfortunately, grads rarely think beyond the surface when are deciding a career choice. Domain knowledge is what keeps you ahead once you take up a job too as much as it helps the company. Keeping track of current trends and news relevant to your industry is part of continued learning and gives you a competitive advantage.
3. Time management
Time is the most precious commodity in life, more so on B-campuses. If you ask me, learning to manage your own time is the biggest life management lesson of all, and keeps you in good stead for as long as you live. Time management flows from realizing the value of time, advance planning, prioritizing tasks and having a good degree of commitment to the process.
Time management flows from realizing the value of time, advance planning, prioritizing tasks and having a good degree of commitment to the process.
During the period of your degree, you'll be put through situations where you will have to handle more than one task or a set of responsibilities at a time. The trick is to figure out the importance of each task and prioritize. If you can't cram everything into your head, write it all down. Make it a habit. It will help you manage your time if you know exactly what is competing for it. Once the setting up of priorities is done, set up an alert system before a deadline; don't delay what's scheduled.
4. A teamwork-oriented attitude
Fundamentally, an organization is a set of people working towards some common goals. People don't work in isolation--it's always team work, a cooperative undertaking. So, you must learn to work in groups and maximize the team's output through collective effort. Of course, it's easier said than done given that individuality is often emphasized in our upbringing. You definitely need to reorient oneself and learn the art of team work. It boils down to developing the right attitude and cooperative frame of mind.
[D]uring your placement interview, nobody will ask you about your personal experience as an intern. They will ask you about what you learnt from it.
5. Maximizing internship experience
For most, internship is the first step into the real world of business. A kind of first rite of passage into the corporate world, it's an eagerly awaited part of the MBA course. Still, actual internship can be a tough experience. Your supervisor may not have enough time to guide you at every step or you may be given a very small and repetitive job (or one that nobody else wants to do) that leaves you questioning its relevance to your learning. But remember, during your placement interview, nobody will ask you about your personal experience as an intern. They will ask you about what you learnt from it. So, whichever company or industry you have interned with, develop a good knowledge base about it (such as the nature of business, products, competition etc).