Some times a place makes you feel so much at ease, with all the support, care, love, comfort that you start calling it Home. That is what a year at ISB did to us. Our graduation farewells were bid on a note to come back home soon and revisit the time spent there.
ISB goes strongly by the thought “One School, Two Campus”. The relatively newer ISB Mohali campus was my home, but any visit to the Hyderabad campus was equally welcoming, be it during Solstice, the Alumni homecoming event at Hyderabad, or during one of the placement season rounds or just generally to party.
Time flies. From the first week, known as the Orientation Week, when almost all of us are awed by the alums, the energy reverberating within the walls of the campus, to becoming the alums organising the O-week for the coming batch; the year had a lot to offer. It taught us humility, provided us with opportunities to interact with the best minds across
the country, learn from people who came with an experience of almost 20 years, talk to the best professors from across the globe, make friends for a lifetime, only to leave with a wish to repeat the madness again.
To set expectations right, let me not paint a very rosy picture. The first term hit us. Our O-week ended with a farewell party for our alums and from the very next day, everything just started. Every event was our responsibility, the college was our responsibility, the classes were phenomenal, Finance subjects were dreaded by all, we all got lost in a whirlpool of studying, assignments, cases, college events and parties. Suddenly, the exams loomed over our heads.
For every aspiring consultant, this was a crucial period(for the others as well), but I saw my friends taking a lot of pressure for every single mark lost. Believe it or not, if you are looking at the top consulting firms, your GPA will matter a lot. Make sure you work towards it from the very beginning. A poor, non-performing start will only leave you miffed and striving to increase your score later. The GPA criteria might not hold for the other firms, but that does not mean you do not study! It is a school after all and learning is what you came for. Be it in any form 🙂
We were blessed to have a set of amazing people amidst us, all CFA levels cleared, CA’s who spent their relatively free evenings and nights, teaching us and making sure we do not suffer in our exams or assignments. These guys were there for us throughout the year, at 4am – two hours before the exam or at the lunch table helping us get done with our assignments.
The environment at ISB is collaborative and not competitive. By competitive, I mean overly competitive. Competition in itself is required for any individual to strive and do better.
The study groups that are assigned to you at the beginning of your first term and remain for two terms, become your family. You eat with them, spend almost all your awake time with them, study together, wrap up multiple-day long assignments with them, and miss them dearly when you are assigned your new study groups in the third term. And the cycle repeats.
Post fourth term, when you are given the freedom to choose your electives, you are also allowed to form your own study groups for every different subject you choose. I would suggest, reach out and meet new people, your previous study group mates will always remain your buddies but the whole point of spending a year with your amazing batch, is to know each and everyone! I can say this with complete conviction that every possible interaction will leave you awed. Each and every one has their own story, they have done some brilliant things in life. From serving in the armed forces, to owning a start-up at a mere age of 21, from fighting cancer, to being a veteran in an industry for 20 years. This multitude of people around you is special. And never miss out on an opportunity to interact with any of them.
The pace eases out after the fourth term. By that time, you are used to giving sleep the least priority, not because you do not have time, but because there are so many things to do! Apart from being with a set of competent individuals you should also be prepared to match their spirits when it comes to partying! Every party is a sun-upper with dancing that goes through the night, till the wee hours of the morning, culminating with breakfast in the cafe and a class an hour later. Hangovers are forgotten when you are sitting in a lecture at 8am and participation is not a voluntary option. So there is no need to fret. Let your hair down at all possible parties, in the student lounge or at someone’s quad or studio. You will miss them dearly once you graduate 🙂
The Professional and the Social clubs are a great way of being a part of the student community and giving back to your batchmates and the college. Apply for positions you are passionate about and not because they can be a Resume point. I was the Dance Club VP, because I was passionate about it. Likewise, there were people passionate about Marketing, Music, Finance, Consulting, Wine, Golf, anything under the sun! Be a part of the frenzy, make a difference. This is the year for it.
You will get ample opportunities to interact with alums, who will come for speaker sessions, alumni homecoming events, casual visits to their home, resume reviews, etc. Utilise these times to get in touch with them and maintain contact. Question and question. They will not mind. They were in your shoes few years back and know the environment well enough to not deem any question silly.
Travel. Nothing works better. You have time one weekend, travel. We did. Every alternate weekend, we were in Kasuali, Shimla, Dharamsala, Spiti. You name it. Being in Mohali made it easier to visit the hills. But my Hyderabad counterparts did their share of travelling too. It is a myth that you cannot make time at ISB. There is time for everything and very soon you will be able to manage it as well. After a point, you might also get a feeling of owning a time-turner (cannot do without a harry potter reference), because you will surprise yourself by the amount you can achieve in a mere 24 hour day. Utilise all amenities available. It is a 5-star stay. The accommodation, the staff, the sports, music, party facilities. Everything. You leave your room in a mess in the morning and come back to an entire new room, with the bed made et al. It spoils you. And your mother at your other home might admonish you for being pampered at ISB.
Coming to what becomes an ultimate goal for almost everyone who joins this school – Placements. Believe me when I say, which you will and I will be extremely honest. It is a scary time. Not because you lack a certain set of skills (you have completed those few months at ISB and it implies that you can sail through anything given you work hard), but then there waddles in the Fear of Missing Out(FOMO). It happens throughout the year and it happens during placement. You aim for those 5 firms that you really want to join, but do not get through and you start losing it.
“What if I do not get placed” “What if the ctc that I am offered is not up to my expectations” “What will my friends/parents say” All that jazz. Let me be frank, in that high pressure environment even the silliest of doubts will nag you. But do not, I repeat do not dwell on something that did not go right. I became irritable after not being able to clear an interview which I really wanted to, and I had thought I will sail through it. It just gave me direction. I knew what I needed to work on when I apply the next time.
Do not randomly apply to firms because you can. Be sure about what profile you want. Discuss. With your batchmates, with your loved ones, with your alums. Talk. Know about what people are doing post ISB, what their role entails, decide if that is what you want post MBA. We will be frank. If something is not good, we will say so. We all feel the need and want to be as transparent with you guys as our alums were with us when it came to these decisions.
When the placement season ends, you will be your old self. But in those two months, you will also see people, who were there for you and everyone, even when they were not placed. Tackle it like a family and you will sail through. There are ups and downs, no doubt. Some firms might delay the offer dates but there are ways and means to sort that out. You have a thousand alums at your beck and call if god forbid something goes wrong, not a single one will refuse to help.
The year culminates with the D-week, or the disorientation week. A week after your last set of exams are over and all you do is meet people, get involved in beer and barbecue events, have sun-uppers every day, till your graduation where you don the tassel-ed graduation hats and become a mixed bag of emotions, and every thing you do feels like chopping onions.
This might be long, but it is just a hundredth of what ISB is all about. Feel free to reach out to me or any other alum for any help. We adore and miss our home. It will give us joy to talk about it and answer questions for aspiring students.
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