"Mein Kampf" - Experience of an IIML alumnus

 | April 05,2010 05:48 pm IST

It's been close to a year now since I crash-landed at this place, and to my utter surprise, I am still going strong. Honestly speaking, strong is a little bit of an exaggeration, but then I guess one is allowed to indulge in the occasional extravagance.

Soon it will be time for all of us to take a break, and head into various unsuspecting companies to try and relate whatever we have learnt and show them that we have arrived. I mean metaphorically.


In other words, impress upon the powers in the company how good we are, so that they can bring on that P.P.O. real fast. On that account, its about time to sit down, and take stock of whatever has happened over the last eight or nine months. For people like me, things are pretty much the same. I am still in the same state of ignorance as I was when I first came here, but there are others who will claim to have undergone a lot of value addition, whatever the hell that means and their case merits a closer look.


First things first. The C.G.s of all of us are in the public domain now, and like it or not, the weight of what one says is considerably affected by the C.G. he or she carries. No wonder then, whatever I say seems to be so insignificant to all. Apprehension was the overwhelming feeling when we first arrived here. Numerous exams, projects and presentations later, we have the measure of how things work in a B school and know how to scrape through with the minimum possible effort. At least that's what we like to delude ourselves with.


We know how to handle all those cases, which incidentally seem more abundant than nitrogen, with utmost ease. It's another matter altogether that the case analysis that we come out with generally has more holes than a piece of Swiss cheese. We know how those multitudinous projects need to be dealt with, or rather, we know how to divide the work so that no one needs to put in more than the bare minimum.


We don't angle for it, but mediocrity generally happens. The façade of a team still needs to be maintained though, for the professor wont exactly be a bundle of joy if he knew that his project was mercilessly ripped into tiny little pieces, and every one took care of his own with the team bit conveniently relegated to outer space. We know how to handle those presentations, for a lot has changed since the first term. In our initial, highly uninformed days, the norm was to go through the slides and rehearse whatever was to be said during the presentation, with everybody's portion clearly spelled out beforehand.


Now, everyone is an expert at impromptu speaking, and usually the speaker also takes his first look at the slides, during the presentation, along with the rest of the class. Sometimes, it does lead to awkward situations such as two people trying to frenetically gesture to each other that the slide on display was the other person's, but then as future managers, we are supposed to be good at dealing with contingencies.


On the face of it, there are a lot of subjects from variegated fields that we have studied, or more appropriately, passed, which make us the jack-of-all-trades. (The master-of-none part goes without saying). So anything from cash flows, demand supply patterns, marketing strategies to designing information systems can be handled with nonchalant ease by us. Yeah, I know that you are probably sporting a derisive snigger on your face, but I can't help showing off the fact that two terms have passed and they still haven't been able to find a way to flunk me out of the place. In the meanwhile, summers happened, which was quite an episode in itself, and dealt with in detail by this author previously. At that point, the offer made me ecstatic, for I had somehow made it through battling competition of the highest quality.


But now, as the joining date draws near, new and grave doubts crop up in my mind with regard to my overall incompetence and summary inability to be of any use whatsoever.


After many days of an unyielding and monstrously taxing routine, the annual festival happened, which for most of us was like the proverbial oasis in the desert. Adam's descendants had more than just a fleeting look at Eve's progeny, specially the ones who were not part of the rolls by a seemingly heavenly conspiracy designed to deprive us of all avenues of appreciating God's more beautiful creations. Sadly, it got over much too soon, even as the disbelieving junta was getting used to their good fortunes. Many of us couldn't bring ourselves to the more mundane tasks, such as attending classes immediately after the festival, and it was only by a superhuman effort that we managed to drag ourselves around the campus, with all the goodies gone.


One more significant learning, if you can call it that, which has occurred is that we have developed a knack for using the most abstruse sounding jargon when a simpler word would have had a much wider acceptance and understanding. But that would be below our dignity. It's like using the rather labored "Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster" when "Coke" would have sufficed. But then as Douglas Adams would have testified, were he alive, exotic words straight out of the Vogon lexicon seem to have a much more profound effect on the audience when your sole aim is to confuse the hell out of everyone, yourself included.


As the year draws to a close, another extremely anxiety-inducing event is doing rounds of the campus. And it goes by the name of Final Placements. Ask any second year student, and he will tell you how enticing the Himalayas as a permanent abode seem to be. It's the time when people from different companies are sent down to the campus, ostensibly to offer insights into their work place, but in reality, probably because of having nothing better to do. It's also the time when one realizes that the average salaries that the newspapers report every year are just about as close to the actual figures as Venkatesh Prasad's pace is to Shoaib Akhtar's. Unfortunately, now it's too late in the day to make any changes whatsoever, so with a heave-ho, forward we march.


Shortly, the seniors will be gone, to fight it out in the middle. The net practice for us starts soon. Let's hope we don't perform too badly at the World Cup. Amen. 

Contributed by -
Piyush Gupta,
IIM Lucknow.