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Monday, November 19, 2012

Self-driven Learning enables students to fully compensate for insufficient reputation of Tier 3 MBA institute

Because of the proliferation of MBA institutes in the country, it has now become more and more difficult to get jobs. There are Tier 1 institutes which consist of IIMs, IBS and others where one gets job quite easily. In Tier 2 institutes like Symbiosis, PUMBA, JDBIMS and others, getting a job may be easy, although getting a desired job takes some focussed effort and planning. In Tier 3 institutes, even getting a job is difficult. Many students are not placed at these institutes. Students in Tier 2 and Tier 3 institutes therefore have to take extra effort to achieve their goal.

Getting desired job for students of Tier 2 MBA institutes and below

In Tier 2 MBA institutes, if a student has to find a desired job, he/she has to do some serious plannng and engaged in disciplined effort. If you have seen the figure in the earlier blog, you will undersand that this is the step 2 problem. The MBA student has to understand one's strengths, match with one's desire, and then determine the domain ( such as FMCG, Software or telecom) and function ( sales, marketing or servicing) in which one should pursue a job. Only after this thinking has been done, a MBA student should make a list of 'probable employers'. Because of the rigor of thinking that has been done in step 2, the student will be able to match the right employer ( which is step 4) and therefore be able to increase his chances of getting the 'desired job'.

Getting a job for students of Tier 3 institutes and below 

Students in Tier 3 institutes have a more difficult challenge if they have to get a good job after finishing MBA. I have also met some students from these institutes who not only manage to get a job, but even succeed in finding a job of their choice. What do they do differently?

Firstly, these successful students of Tier 3 MBA institutes are self-motivated and self-driven. They know why they are doing MBA and consciously know the risk they are taking which getting admitted in Tier 3 insitutes. So even if they have decided to get admitted in Tier 3 MBA institute due to monetary or other reasons, they are aware of the downsides and do not delude themselves in believing that 'jobs will come to them'.

Secondly, they therefore work out a plan that will help them compensate for their poor reputation of institute.  To make this plan. they take help of a mentor who is working in industry, or take help of a professor who is well aware of the challenges, or a senior student who has been successful in the industry. I have also coached many students in my coaching practice. They will make a Learning plan.

In the learning plan, they list down subjects they will learn till Stage 2( Please see this blog to understand three different stages of learning.).They will also list down subjects, such as Financial Management or Statistics, where they plan to deepen their level of understanding till stage 3. By understanding their own strengths, they will also clearly describe the reasons for learning a subject till the deeper stage 3.

In MBA, because the subjects are connected with the working in a company or organisation, it is easy to deepen the learning till stage 2/3 because you can see the actual functioning of these concepts in a company. For instance, if you are learning budgeting, you can actually go to a company and see how they 'budget' and if the 'academic principles of budgeting' are being followed or not? And if they are not followed, what are the practical reasons of not following it? Be it performance appraisal system in HR, or Branding in Marketing, or three stage calling of Sales, every course in MBA can be learned at a deeper level by seeing how it happens in a working company. This is one big advantage of doing MBA.

These successful MBA students use different tricks to facilitate this learning. As time is limited, they chose the subjects that they must learn in depth. These students also do projects in groups of 3-5 students so that limited time can be productively used for learning. They make full use of visiting faculty (who is working in a company) to increase the depth of their learning. They take help of their parents and friends of their parents to approach companies where they can do live summer projects, instead of doing projects done by last year students. They extensively use Harvard case studies ( available on net in free) to enhance their learning.

Because these students in Tier 3 MBA institutes are driving their own learning, they also look more confident and assured. In short, they not only compensate the disadvantages of Tier 3 institute, but also use it to learn a non-cognitive trait which is rare: confidence and grit. In short, they convert crisis into opportunity. Which company will not like to recruit these kind of students?

If you want to follow the practice of these successful MBA students in Tier 3 institute, find a mentor, senior, professor or a coach who can guide your learning.  

Thursday, November 1, 2012

You are rarely rejected in interview due to inadequate English communication

Last week, I went to a MBA college for conducting a seminar on how to 'deliver an impactful interview'. These kind of  seminars are quite popular in MBA colleges. Mock interviews are planned in these seminars to help students get a sense of a live interview. Here is a case of a girl, that was interviewed, called Priyanka.

Priyanka had an excellent resume. She was a confident Arts student who had passed with distinction. Had participated in different kinds of activities like dramatics, elocution, debate and others. Had done a certificate course in German. It was a dream resume for a recruiter. 

However, when a question was asked 'Why have you done MBA?'.  She was unable to weave her background and present a 'convincing case' of what made her leave Arts and do MBA? Why did she take up MBA finance? She gave reasons that 'forced' us to ask more questions. With more and more questions, her lack of reflective thinking got exposed. Instead of emerging as a person with a strong profile, she emerged as a confused person with no sense of direction. Despite strong credentials, anyone would have rejected her in an interview. 

Then we interviewed another person, Sadanand. 

Sadanand had a working experience of 2 years in manufacturing companies of repute. He chose to do MBA in production. In the mock interview, he could not demonstrate that he is strong in concepts of Production, because he was unable to speak coherently about his 2 months summer project he did in a manufacturing company. Neither could he explain his 2 years of experience of production and the difference that MBA has made in his thinking. Surprisingly, he spoke about his experience in details which made us realise that his experience was good. But he was unable to explain how it increased his capabilities. Despite his excellent background experience, anyone would have rejected him in the interview. 

What went wrong in the interviews of Priyanka and Sadanand?

On the surface both examples look similar. Both seem to be having 'communication problem' of English. But, if you dig deeper, you will realise that ' inability to communicate' is just a symptom. Root cause lies elsewhere. To help you understand the root cause of the problem, please see the diagram below and pause for a while. You will realise that 'interview' is the last step in the process of getting a job.

If you have seen the above diagram, you will realise that Priyanka's rejection resulted because of the step 1, not because of lack of English communication. Because she did not understand her 'arts strengths' or the principles of 'excellence' to utilise arts in management, she never made a PLAN for herself. And because she never made a plan, she did not do consciously use the opportunities in MBA to channelise her arts background. Because she had not explained to herself why she was doing MBA in Finance, despite being good in Arts, how could she explain it in interview? Her problem of communication occurred because she had not thought about her strengths and constraints and made her 'Excellence Plan' consciously. Here problem of communication in the interview was just a symptom. Her root cause of Interview rejection was her inability to think through her strengths and excellence principles and make a plan that will help her strengths productively. In the interview, this lack of thinking only became visible. 

Sadanand's lack of communication, on the other hand, resulted due to step 3. He did not draft his resume properly. For instance, his resume explained his summer MBA project in 2 lines and his two years of production experience in 6 lines. Because he could not 're-articulate' his production experience and summer project, his mind could not 'connect' them together. And because his mind did not connect the two, he was not ready to weave together a coherent 'narrative' ( a consistent story) that will display his strengths in production. In other words, his problem of communication stemmed from his inability to integrate and connect his 'experience of 2 years' and his 'MBA project' with his MBA degree, not because of his lack of communication. I even requested Sadanand to explain his strength in his native language, Marathi. He could not still communicate this integration. Root cause of Sadanand's interview rejection was not communication, but his inability to integrate his experience with MBA. Because he had not 'connected' his production experience and summer project, he could not draft his experience in the resume properly. He merely drafted them in few lines. Many MBAs make this mistake. Unable to understand how resume can be utilised to 'lead' the interviewer to ask the 'desirable questions', they miss the opportunity and curse themselves later.

Sometimes, the root cause of the problem is in step 2. Unaware of one's strengths, one chooses wrong employers, or wrong jobs, and hope that one can get selected by chance. Sometimes the root cause may also lie in Step 4, but not in communication. For instance, even if you learn to present your credentials in the interview in an impactful manner, you may still not get selected because your 'skill sets did not match with what the employers required'. MBA's miss this 'matching step' because they are not aware of the skill market and therefore do not think in advance about the skill mismatch. They go unprepared for the interviews and get rejected because they are not prepared to answer the questions on 'mismatch of skill sets'.

Conclusion

As you will observe from the above diagram, the cause of 'Interview rejection' is rarely 'English communication'. The 'lack of english communication' is merely a symptom that is visible in the interview. The root cause of interview rejection lies in the earlier steps, either step 1,2 or 3. In my experience of coaching students of last 5 years, i have not observed a single student where the root cause of 'interview rejection' was due to difficulty in 'English communication'. 

In short, the problem symptom of getting a desired job in MBA may become visible in the interview, but its root cause lies in the earlier steps. If you plan to maximise your investment of time and efforts in MBA, you must think through right from step 1. That will help you gain maximum advantage of your opportunity of doing MBA. Step 1 of drafting an excellence plan is perhaps the most important step. I have observed some students fare excellent in an interview, despite their poor English communication, simply because they have undergone the Step 1 diligently. 

If you think for a while, the same principles of four steps are also applicable if you are doing engineering, commerce or any other graduation. 

Students fare poorly in the interview not because they cannot communicate, but because they have not made any plan that integrates their experience and skills. They just meander around in doing MBA (or their graduation) and waste multiple opportunities of excelling, thus robbing them of the self-respect. It kills their curiosity. It makes them sit as ducks waiting to be fed. It forces them to accept the 'instructions' of their teachers meekly without questioning their purpose; it makes them copy patch-up solutions for problems for which they must have dug deeply.   And then, is it surprising to find, that when they finish MBA( or graduation), they lack any confidence to take charge of their lives ( leave alone interview)?