On Campus

Classes at IIM-C sometimes feel like parliamentary sessions

| Updated on February 19, 2014 Published on February 19, 2014

Shubham Agarwal

Whenever friends or acquaintances have asked me about my experiences in Calcutta as a city, I have always had a standard response. The first thing I do is correct them. “ I’ve been living in IIM Calcutta, not Calcutta, and yes, it couldn’t have been better.” A disclaimer at the beginning; this is not your standard ‘life at B-school’ essay where I talk about the oh-so-awesome group projects and sleepless nights and the like. Call it the straight dope.

Changing priorities

A typical day starts with – oh wait! For a second there, I fell into the clichéd MBA life trap again. There is NO typical day in IIM Calcutta. Every day brings with it its own unique sense of opportunities and challenges. The submission, which was your top priority at midnight, may be completely dwarfed by this new case study competition whose deadline is approaching. What this does is make you so dynamic and adaptable over the course of the programme that you are ready for anything life might deem fit to throw at you at any point in the future. Make no mistake, shirkers still exist, but those who perform at this level are on a different level. Another thing I cannot stress enough is the pedigree of the people who you meet here. People here are so well read that they make you ashamed of your yearly, and solitary, Chetan Bhagat outing. People with such diverse and brilliantly-backed views that one of my classes, “India and the World Economy” sometimes feels like a parliamentary session with all the usual suspects, namely the conservatives, the liberals and yes, even the leftists.

I recall an incident from a Strategy class. Our professor had posed this question and one of the students thought it fit to reply with another question. The professor smiles, “I love this Socratic debate we are having right now but..”. Tells you something, doesn’t it?

Having good vertical knowledge of a particular sector or stream is fine, but these professors have such a vast horizontal base of knowledge that it sometimes amazes you.

Placement pressures

It is very difficult for me to summarise a year of my life at this place into one 300-word article. I haven’t even touched upon placements, our two fests or the exchange programme. Placements would probably require another novel or two of their own. Needless to say, the process is intensely competitive and you have to have the ability to survive and thrive under pressure. Also needless to say, the entire campus, and I mean the entire campus, from the laundry staff at your hostel, the cooks at your mess to the most senior professors, will stand behind you. No stone is left unturned to ensure that you have the right equipment; your mission is to go and complete the task at hand. And the process can be humbling at times. And also needless to say is that once you are through the process, I am willing to personally bet that life would have to foregone a considerable portion of its power to shock or awe you.

If you are reading this as a soon-to-be-interviewee, sorry for wasting your time. If you are reading this as a prospective applicant, go study and stop day-dreaming. If you are reading this as a current MBA student, well you know that I have wasted far too much time “trying” to write this and need to go back to my Strategic Management case. Toodles.

Published on February 19, 2014
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