The youth of today are increasingly chucking their jobs away to go back to the campus to take a break and secure a professional degree. J.S. Bablu talks to a few students of the Indian Institute of Management, Kozhikode, who are on this track.
They left their lucrative jobs to plunge into a different world - a world they were used to some years back. Some of them were married but that did not deter them from switching to the role of a student yet again.
The decision to leave their jobs and take up the role of a student could have been a well-thought out process. They not only had to convince their dear ones but also steel their own nerves. But they are not alone, they are part of a growing number of people who now are bitten by this bug - work for a couple of years, take a break to acquire a degree, mostly Master of Business Administration (MBA) and then land a job most probably more lucrative than their previous ones.Jaidev Rajpal, a medical graduate who quit his job as a Group `A' officer in the Civil Services (he has seven years of experience at middle-level management) to join Indian Institute of Management, Kozhikode (IIM-K) says one is never too old to learn MBA. "One of the concerns of people with work experience is: When shall I do my MBA. I would suggest the right time would be at the juncture when you have 18 to 24 months work experience, you can go in for a MBA," says Jaidev who has nearly 55 months of work experience.
Matters of pressure
Sunil George Mathew, a science graduate with 58 months of experience in American Express and Duetsche Bank warns those with work experience not to compromise on the institute one wishes to join for an MBA. Akshay Minocha, with a 35 month stint at the Computer Science Corporation, says that it was difficult for a person work experience to take a decision. "There will be pressure from the parents to marry (if you are a bachelor). You have to convince everybody. The most difficult thing would be to leave the comfort zone you are in while you are working," he says.
Sriram Karra, a Master of Computer Science, with 40 months experience in HCL Technologies, says that those who are studying can continue to pursue an MBA with the whole-hearted support of their parents. But the case was different for a person with work experience - he has to quit the job and then join an MBA course.Jaidev and Sunil, both married, also spoke of how helpful their wives have been in standing with them at the time they took a decision to resign the job and go for an MBA course.How about the transition from work to study? "It was difficult for a short period. It is difficult to read the books," says Sheeba D'Mello, a commerce graduate with 20 months experience in Fidelity Investments. Pooja Hathi, computer science graduate with 30 months experience in TCS, says that joining a course was "a break from my routine job," she says. MBA often provides the flexibility of accommodating students from diverse streams. "MBA offers a wide variety of options," says Pooja. "Management is not a course, it is an experience," notes Akshay. "Whenever I learn a new thing, I thought of how it can be applied in the office where I had worked," says Sheeba.
But persons with work experience have certain advantages. Sheeba says the ability to meet deadlines during jobs also comes in handy while studying for the course in an IIM. Persons with work experience most often enrich the classroom. They could bank on their rich experience to throw more light on what has been taught in the classroom. "Also we must say that our faculty encourages discussion and sometimes act only as moderators," observes Jaidev. He also feels that management is one area where persons with work experience can handle better.
What motivates you to pursue an MBA even after you are in a lucrative job? "I think it is value-addition. Also you can change the nature of the job or foray into a new area itself," says Sunil. Sheeba thinks the whole experience is important especially when one is studying at an IIM. Saji Gopinath, Associate Professor, IIM-K, observes that students with work experience have a lot of practical knowledge. "Often youngsters/freshers would come up with some ideas which may even be weird. But students with work experience can even add a practical angle to that idea. Now we are encouraging students with more work experience to join eMEP (interactive Executive Management Education Programme). We have now fixed 5 years of minimum experience as a requirement to join that course," he says.People with work experience would be more exposed to teamwork than the freshers. However, Pooja feels that working with a new team provides new experience. Also, Jaidev is quick to point out that though they might not have been able to take a risk while working as a team doing a particular job, here at IIM-K they feel free to take risks and need not worry about mistakes. "In fact, our professors say that if you want to make a mistake make one in the classroom," he adds.
Sriram observes that while engaged in teamwork at IIM-K, students with work experience do not have the authority that they had at their jobs earlier. Pooja adds that there is less time at hand for an experienced person to mix with the team. "At work, you know beforehand the type of persons in the team when you work as they are your colleagues working with you for many years perhaps. But as students, you do not know how capable each team member would be, so you are liable to make mistakes also," says Pooja.Jaidev chips in to say that such an uncertainty in fact increases one's ability to handle ambiguity. "Consider a team having three members with IT experience, three with average knowledge of IT and four others with no IT experience. All the members of a team may not be able to finish their tasks at the same time," notes Jaidev.
The experienced students also help out the freshers in academic matters. N.S. Narayanan, member media cell, at IIM-K, and also a student with work experience of 34 months with Canbay, says that the students have formed special interest groups - for marketing, financing, etc. - where the students with work experience mainly share their experience with the freshers.
Preparing for CAT
It is pretty difficult for those who work to find time to prepare for the all important Common Admission Test (CAT). Sheeba who had taken CAT before says she had her hands full and could devote only two hours a day from August onwards to prepare for CAT. She took mock CATs at a coaching institute for self assessment. Akshay feels that Sheeba was lucky to allocate two hours each day for preparation. "I used to come late from work and I was able to prepare only on Sundays when I had to take mock CATs also," he says.Jaidev, knowing that he would be tired by the end of the day chose to study in the mornings for CAT. "I used to drag myself out from the bed," recalls Jaidev, who received full support from the Government to pursue an MBA as long as it did not hamper his work.