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MBA: Your success begins now

  Why do you want to pursue an MBA degree? Will it really help you? What does the MBA entail? All these questions, and more, will be answered in this article in brief - everything you need to know as you stand at the threshold of the world of the MBA.  

Welcome to the world of businesses and corporates. Where careers are made and futures built. Where innovation of every sort is woven into the very fundamental workings, and which utilises all sorts of skills, from the specific to the broad. This is a world where economies are sustained, policies of billion dollar enterprises made, synergies constructed across geographies. Welcome to the world of the MBA.
Now that you have decided to pursue your MBA degree, you will have certainly started formulating strategies on how to go about it. The entrance tests are, of course, of prime importance. Cracking them will require a lot of hard work. But you should know something about the world of management that you’re about to enter.

MBA — What’s the point?
An MBA is not just a degree. It is proof that you have the perfect combination of modern business knowledge and the skills and drive to perform and succeed. It tells the world that you can overcome different kinds of challenges and surpass benchmarks where others cannot. In the modern business environment, standardisation of processes and constant innovation are the crucial factors that drive profit and growth, and it is this quest that has spawned complex, transnational organisations. Naturally, on as large a scale as this, people who can constantly monitor and mentor the progress of the organisation are needed, and that’s where the MBA degree comes in — creating managers and leaders who can handle and control this complex, competitive environment.
An MBA helps you gain the requisite employability standards — of the highest quality — and that in turn leads to better pay, better prospects and a better career. During the course of your MBA programme, you will hone to perfection your communication, goal-setting and decision making skills. You will learn to analyse, plan and execute in innovative manners. You will understand the importance of teamwork, leadership and motivation, and how the people with whom you study will help you gain immense cross cultural exposure.
To cut a long story short, there are several reasons why getting an MBA will give you a leg up in your career.

Finding the right path
During the course of your MBA, you will be exposed to a wide spectrum of interests, ideas and specialisations. This will help you identify the career path that most interests you. The various clubs, team events and seminars that are a ubiquitous part of every MBA programme will also help you answer that very important question: “What should I do?” The MBA will force you to stray from your comfort zones and explore, which will in turn help you identify your strengths and weaknesses and make you grow as a leader, manager and individual.

Value enhancement in your industry
MBA programmes are quite varied in terms of what is taught and the skills you acquire. This is thanks to the plethora of MBA specialisations available, like finance, healthcare management, IT, accounting, media-marketing etc. If you want to stay in your industry, but want to move up in the hierarchy and handle more challenging roles and responsibilities, such an MBA would be perfect for you.

Career change
You might have been working in a particular industry for a while, but now feel the need to change lines. In doing so, you might find that your existing skill sets are not quite matching up. In such a scenario, both general and specialised MBA degrees will open many new doors for you, and give you additional leverage for a career change. In such a situation, you will also gain several skill sets that will help enormously once you make the decision to shift industries.

Who is the MBA for?
As far as the Indian context it concerned, there is no restriction. People with work experience and those without can do an MBA, in both public and private B-schools. Internationally, however, management institutes expect their students to have a few years of work experience after their graduation.
MBA programmes are of different durations and kinds; in India, the most prevalent is the two year full time programme. Of late, several one year programmes are also gaining ground, designed specifically for those who have had more than five years of work experience.

What you’ll get from your MBA
Even though you’re almost a year away from beginning your MBA programme, you should preparing yourself mentally for the experience. For starters, you’ll have to work very hard, probably more than you have till now. You will be constantly delving into new ideas and contemplations and information you didn’t even know existed.
Starting now, learn how to use the resources around you — from your peers, faculty, the libraries, Internet, everything. This will put you in the mode you’ll need to be in during your programme. Network within your own college (for freshers) or your organisation (for experienced candidates). Network with local businesses and entrepreneurs.
As mentioned before, you will also find out about your strengths and weaknesses, even while you’re simply preparing and studying for the entrance tests. Learn from them, and try to identify from them what makes you tick and sets you apart from the crowd. This will help you not only during the GD-Essay-PI rounds, but also during your course. The MBA itself will also help you differentiate yourself, develop and utilise your talents. It will involve integrated leadership training that includes coursework, executive mentorship, online and peer assessments, and regular coaching support. Your leadership competencies will improve in the areas of teamwork, influence, interpersonal communication, presentation, managing and conflict, for example.
Another huge advantage of the MBA programmes is the way they are taught – quite different from undergraduate studies. Here, you will come across experiential learning – where you will explore case studies, work on live projects, and even collaborate with companies, all as part of your studies. Nothing can trump this kind of learning.

Choosing your institute
This is another critical choice that you must make. Any management institute won’t be the right one for you; you must know which college you want to get into and why. There is no point in joining an institute which is known for its HR specialisation when you want to specialise in Finance — this is common sense, right?
So at this juncture, when you’ve just started preparing for the institute entrance exams in earnest, it is good to have an idea of which B-school you would want to study in for the next two years. Your choice will shape your career and your future, so ensure that you make the right one. Evaluate yourself and your interests, your profile, the industry and companies you’d like to work for, the cost of the course. Also try and find out as much as you can about the institutes – its reputation, course structure, faculty, its placement record.

Deciding on the tests
There are several entrance tests for management institutes. By far the most famous — and the one you are probably aiming to crack the most — is the Common Admission Test (CAT). It is purported to be one of the most difficult entrance exams in the country, conducted by the Indian Institutes of Management once a year. Almost all B-schools across the country accept the CAT score, so aim for a high score in the test, and once you get it, you will find more options available to you than you can handle!
Then there are other institute-specific tests, like the XAT for XLRI, the NMAT for NMIMS, SNAP for the Symbiosis institutes, the MHCET and the recently introduced CMAT, the entrance tests for TISS, IRMA, IIFT and others. Again, depending on the institute you’d like to get into, aim for those specific tests, but it’s a safe bet that getting a good CAT score opens the door to almost all institutes.
As you prepare to crack these tests, you still have a year on hand until your MBA programme begins. Study hard, make sure you know what you’re doing, and above all, have confidence in yourself. Your success
begins now.