More than 5 months ago, I joined Business School right after 4 blissful merry years in Goa (where I also studied my engineering). I oppose the whole I-am-suffering-so-much and I-have-no-time-to-follow-news-on-Aishwarya’s-baby ramblings that somehow every person in a B-school feels entitled to. Those special meltdowns are chosen and reserved for my friends who know me well or wish they hadn’t.
So, this post is about those things I wish someone had told me long before I got here. Things like which subjects to focus on, the importance of sports and how you must absolutely read the newspapers. So, frankly, a good part of this post will be most useful for parents who have paid the advance in JEE coaching classes for their kids in standard four. Recently heard, mothers are reading out Resnick Halliday to their unborn child.
There are some subjects that are absolutely essential in life no matter what you decide to do. Alright, maybe not everything. But if you belong to the majority of our country who become engineers without knowing the difference between electronics and electrical and want to escape everything by pursuing an MBA, you should pay attention to a few subjects more than you would normally do.
Probability and Statistics tops the charts of subjects that haunt you throughout your life. It is like the staple milk that we are forced to drink as kids. You either devour it with greed or be strongly disgusted by it, but you can never ever escape it! If you don’t have a good professor, take efforts to understand it with basics, it is always around the corner waiting for you when you think its almost done. Same holds for optimization and linear programming. Grab every opportunity to learn Accounting whenever you can. Take the elective, or attend extra classes or beg that elder brother to teach you, do anything to get familiar with it. Grasp the basics of Economics with or without the desire to do an MBA. It is a delightful subject that everyone should study at least once. Guess who else arrives as an uninvited guest! Queuing models in Operations that are taught with the most painful details. If you are lucky enough to have studied this King of Dry Subjects, Operations, try studying them by connecting to the applications. The internet is a great tool to do this and one of my regrets from engineering is that I didn’t use it too well to gain more knowledge and clarity. Students in this age are blessed with this enormous gift and barring facebook and the whole social brouhaha, this can be your best friend at times.
Engineering is unique because it gives us so much time to explore different things. Get into clubs you are interested in and do justice to the clubs you are a part of. The experiences are brilliant and I personally had some of the best times in college while working for them. It lets you work with people and develop skills you cannot otherwise. Be pro active in anything that requires you to understand people, work with them, negotiate and achieve results together. Keep challenging yourself and take different tasks everytime. If you organized once, try doing the logistics another time. Compere for an event, grab opportunities which improve your communication and presentation skills, get nervous and overcome all your inhibitions.
You’re the same today as you’ll be in five years except for the people you meet and the books you read - Charlie Jones
This is true irrespective of the subjects you choose and the career choices you make. Read like a mad person. And don’t stay with fiction or what you find enjoyable and comfortable. Keep challenging yourself and read on new topics by good authors. And make it a habit to read the newspapers beyond the page 3 news. Be actively aware of what is happening in the world. The benefits are immense and it takes time to make it a habit, so start early!
Play a sport. It is one of my biggest regret in life to not have played any active sport. It is the best way to destress no matter where you are and what you do. It keeps you mentally strong and helps you develop that attitude where you don’t give too much importance to any particular thing beyond what it deserves. Trust me, it is one of the best gifts that you can give yourself. Play a sport and follow sports actively. People have the best conversations and bonding over sports where I feel like a complete bonehead. I have put it on my list to achieve this sometime in my second year.
Last but not the least, make good friends in your undergrad years. And stay in touch with them! They know you like no one else and keep you grounded. They pull you out when you are knee deep in troubles and make you see the silver lining in every dark cloud. Live your undergraduate years to the fullest. Study well, stay active, crack bad jokes, laugh a lot, have silly crushes and cry your hearts out over them. Sometime, somewhere, when you sit absolutely dejected by what you planned and what actually happens, the memories never fail to put a smile and comfort you no matter which side of the brick wall you stand.