The first year of your MBA journey could be a very rigorous one, full of demanding academics and a lot of slogging to do. Given the challenges you may face, I am here to share with you some tips for first year MBA students.
It is common for you MBA aspirants to walk into their dream B-schools and be clueless about what to do next. Most of them are not completely clueless though, they know they need to make the most of their first term.
I have come across this query each year from MBA students like you. And therefore, I have put together this video on what you must do as an MBA student in your first term.
To understand what to do before your MBA starts and in the first year of your MBA journey, you have to understand the three important aspects and must dos associated with them. Watch this video where I walk you through each of these three aspects in detail.
Aspect #1: Cultivating the Right Mindset
You’ll often get tips on how to get a good placement or ace in the academic front, as soon as you get into a B-school. However, the first and foremost thing that you need to work on to be a good MBA student is the right mindset.
B-schools guarantee fierce competition and you as a new student are likely to end up imbibing this ‘war-zone’ thought process.
And this is really interesting. The reason is that even when you have fought such a big war (i.e. CAT) you never get out of that War Zone mindset.
I’ll further share an example to help you understand about the human thought process more.
As a CAT aspirant, you were among 2.5 lakh other aspirants with the impression of this whole process being a war! You qualified that and then were called for the interviews.
Even as a part of your B-school interview process and some 1500-3000 other aspirants, you had the war-zone thought process. Fair.
And now, when you’re in your B-school with 300 to 400 batchmates, it’s the same!
The point is, your Mind always wants to keep you in that ‘war-zone’ state! You need to understand that even if there would have been 3 to 4 batchmates in your B-school, that thought process wouldn’t have left you.
How to thrive in a ‘War-Zone’ environment?
It is important to understand that you have made it through a B-school and it’s no longer a war! Even though your CAT entrance process might have given you that perspective of a cut-throat race, you need to understand that this time, it’s more about your learning, collaboration and team efforts.
I’ll share some ways in which you can ensure that even if everyone else is seeing it as a war, how can you thrive in that environment.
Create. Do not compete!
Right from your first term, start to focus on creation instead of your competition and you won’t have to be as concerned about your competitors. Creating elevates you to a new level where you can significantly increase your value.
To beat the competition, create.
Creation could be a lot of things. This could be about:
- creating a unique personal brand for yourself
- working on a body of work that could speak for you
- creating assets that could help you stand apart from others.
In fact, all three of them are connected. You could start off by acquiring and implementing new skills. For example: You could start a blog of your own!
How would that help you, you would ask?
That's what I never thought when I created Super Heuristics in the first year of my MBA program at IIM Udaipur. I just created it and wrote at least one article each week from whatever I had learned in marketing that week.
Gradually, not only did I build a library of good content that went viral across B-schools, I was also able to create an asset, a body of work that spoke on my behalf. I practiced my skills of Digital Marketing and Analytics beautifully through this blog.
But for you to be able to really do this, you need to digest another important aspect. Which is about prioritizing your hard-skills over soft-skills.
Prioritize your hard-skills over soft skills!
In the first year of your MBA, it’s important to prioritize and start working on your hard skills. Those hard skills help you stand apart from others and make you a suitable candidate for a job.
Think about what is relevant to excel in your chosen field and what skills will help you stand out in the coming years. Think from a future perspective.
For example: given the rising demand and opportunities, you could start working on your digital or analytical skills. Soon, you could start implementing them and the whole creation vs competition thing will also start making sense!
Do watch the video I have shared above because that is where I have explained it in much more detail.
Aspect #2: Progressing towards Desired Outcomes
To make sure you maximize success in your MBA program, you need to start working towards your desired outcomes. It could be a good placement or a start-up of your own!
I often come across MBA students who would go around and understand roles and responsibilities associated with different fields. It’s important to understand here that a particular role is not the same for all the companies and different skills might be required even for a same job role!
The best way to be prepared is to do your own research of different companies appearing in your B-school and this is what we call ‘back-hacking’ the placement process.
How to ‘back-hack’ your placement process?
Here is a tip for first year MBA students with a clear aim of getting a good placement.
I would suggest you research on the combination of different companies and the job roles that they’ve offered in your B-School over the last five years.
This will help you get the idea of the skills that are required for those combinations in your B-school specifically. It all goes back to prioritizing your hard skills and focusing on creation!
And this is how you back-hack your placement process and become a good MBA student!
Aspect #3: Focusing on Better Learning
Now that you know what to do in the first year of your MBA to maintain the right mindset and achieve the best results, I am sharing some important things and tips for first-year MBA students to improve their learning through the program.
Learn how to analyse case studies
My first advice to you would be to focus on and start learning the ‘art of analysing case studies’. The entire process of B-school learning is through cases.
Learning through case studies is not only the best way to hone your problem-solving and decision-making abilities but also to give you an enriching experience, easing the way through your first term.
So, it’s important to understand how to analyse cases and solve them efficiently.
My second tip for you to become a good MBA student and maximize your learning would be to indulge in ‘relevant’ networking.
The most important thing about ‘Relevant’ Networking is ensuring that you’re targeting the right people who can actually give you good advice about what you should do in the first year of your MBA.
Your network must have the potential to provide you with relevant professional advice and insights into different fields. And therefore, it becomes important to have a good pitch and follow best practices for networking.
The first term of your MBA is a great time to network. As soon as you enter your second year, people start recognizing you as a person looking for a job and might end up not interacting with you. So, it’s the best time to build relevant relationships and make the most out of this entire process.
A good network of influential individuals is one of the most important thing for an MBA student.
To conclude, it’s important for you to focus on three important aspects of manifesting the right mindset, working towards desired outcomes and rigorous learning to maximize your potential in the first year of your MBA journey.
Remembering the above tips for first year MBA students will not only help you navigate through your first term easily but also make the most out of your B-school experience right from the beginning.
It will be a hectic period, but keep in mind that the more you put into your MBA, the more you will get out of it—both during the program and later in your career.
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